An Ad Hoc, Capricious Creation
The ancient Greeks described the cosmos as a set of concentric spheres that rotated and rubbed against each other producing harmonious tones. We have always wanted a simple, beautiful world. Certainly that is what God would have wanted too. But nature has not lived up to our expectations.
In fact ever since Newton, physics has been backsliding and becoming increasingly complex. All this was well explained in a Quanta magazine article from last week about leading physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed:
in recent years one question about the universe has come to preoccupy him, along with the field as a whole. Particle physicists seek to know whether the properties of the universe are inevitable, predictable, “natural,” as they say, locking together into a sensible pattern, or whether the universe is extremely unnatural, a peculiar permutation among countless other, more mundane possibilities, observed for no other reason than that its special conditions allow life to arise. A natural universe is, in principle, a knowable one. But if the universe is unnatural and fine-tuned for life, the lucky outcome of a cosmic roulette wheel, then it stands to reason that a vast and diverse “multiverse” of universes must exist beyond our reach — the lifeless products of less serendipitous spins. This multiverse renders our universe impossible to fully understand on its own terms. As things stand, the known elementary particles, codified in a 40-year-old set of equations called the “Standard Model,” lack a sensible pattern and seem astonishingly fine-tuned for life. Arkani-Hamed and other particle physicists, guided by their belief in naturalness, have spent decades devising clever ways to fit the Standard Model into a larger, natural pattern. But time and again, ever-more-powerful particle colliders have failed to turn up proof of their proposals in the form of new particles and phenomena, increasingly pointing toward the bleak and radical prospect that naturalness is dead.
Like Ray’s seventeenth century findings about biology, today’s physicists are finding what seems to be a capricious creation. There is no natural explanation as the world seems to consist of a long list of ad hoc, randomly selected designs. One thing they know for sure: no creator would have done this. It must have arisen by chance.
Religion drives science, and it matters.