Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fine Tuning and the Intellectual Necessity

You have probably heard about the multiverse--the idea that the universe is really a large number of universes. The multiverse helps to explain why our particular universe seems so special. Our universe seems to be a finely tuned machine and the evolution of life would require low probability events. Is our universe special? The multiverse helps to deflect such thinking. If there is a large number of universes, then perhaps each has a different set of natural laws. And perhaps intelligent life can only be supported by a very particular set of laws. So the only life forms that would exist to observe their universe would be those that live in special universes. Presto, we're not special and fine tuning and evolution are explained.

There is, however, another type of fine tuning that evolutionists have not explained. In addition to physics and biology, philosophy is also fine-tuned. I suspect it can also be explained with the multiverse, but we need to start keeping a list of all the little things we sweep under the multiverse rug. Philosophy is fine-tuned in the sense that evolutionary theories of origin are both (i) fact and (ii) intellectually necessary. Let me explain.

On the one hand, evolutionists say they know that evolution (of one sort of another) is a fact, every bit as much as gravity is a fact. Life and all the species arose strictly by purely naturalistic processes. If you doubt this, it is equivalent to doubting the existence of gravity. It is remarkable that evolutionists have this level of certainty, but keep in mind they are very smart people.

On the other hand, evolutionists say that evolution (again, of one sort of another) must be assumed in order to do science. We saw how evolutionary thinkers, from the Joseph LeConte in Darwin's day to PZ Myers today, have illuminated this requirement. Here is another example from another evolutionist, Barbara Forrest:

Intelligent design creationism (ID) is a religious belief requiring a supernatural creator’s interventions in the natural order. ID thus brings with it, as does supernatural theism by its nature, intractable epistemological difficulties. ... I examine the ID movement’s failure to provide either a methodology or a functional epistemology to support their supernaturalism, a deficiency that consequently leaves them without epistemic support for their creationist claims.

In other words, in order to avoid "intractable epistemological difficulties" and get along with the business of doing science, evolution is a must. So, evolution is both a fact and intellectually necessary. These are two independent properties. It didn't have be this way. We could live in the universe where evolution is not a fact, but yet intellectually necessary. Or we could live in the universe where evolution is a fact, but yet not intellectually necessary. Either way things would be very confusing. I'm glad we're not stuck in one of those universes. Thanks to the multiverse, there are options. We live in a universe that is finely-tuned for truth, and full of evolutionists to explain this to us.