Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Why the Tiny Weight of Empty Space Is Such a Mystery (quantamagazine.org)
120 points by digital55 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 143 comments



Question, if assuming a multiverse to explain the exactness of the cosmological constant is a defensible position, is there any reason not to consider the deist view and say the universe was created with the cosmological constant needed for life to form as an equally likely outcome?


Imagine a 'multiplanet' theory, in which there are numerous planets in the universe. Some of them are too cold and dry for life, others too hot, etc. Only a small subset have the right gravity, temperature range, chemistry, etc for life to evolve. We look at fundamental chemistry and find that the most complex and rich chemistry is Carbon chemistry, therefore that's the chemistry that is most likely to support life, and water is the most suitable fluid medium of all known chemicals, and our world happens to be rich on these materials.

The deist view on this would be that our planet was custom built by an engineer to support life, as against some natural theory of planet formation.

A multiverse theory is no more or less ridiculous or arbitrary than the planet formation theory. The only difference is that we can observe other planets, but cannot observe other possible universes. The deist explanation of creation of the universe is however no more predictively powerful than the theory of planet engineering.


Well if the deity would reveal its message to us then the theory would be validated.

Maybe in the digits of Pi as in the book CONTACT

Or perhaps... :)


Intelligence is just pattern recognition. And such patterns could arise as outputs of random processes happening over billions of years. Sooner or later some intelligent pattern cycle/phenomenon happens.

There was a tweet a few months back about a cloud formation resembling the map of United Kingdom. One way of seeing at something like that is saying, there could be no way a cloud formation resembling a complex geographical map on earth without an intelligent species making it. Another way of looking at is given how many billions of years earth has been in existence, eventually clouds could form resembling many things on earth.

I wouldn't surprised if we tomorrow discover some sequence of digits in Pi that show these kinds of behavior.

In short, over long periods of times, odds of these events happening approaches 1.


One difference is that the multiverse emerges as a natural extension of many existing physical theories (string theory, inflation, many-worlds, etc). The deist perspective is a more ad-hoc solution: it doesn't have any evidence that supports it directly, just that we currently don't know the answer to this problem.


>the multiverse emerges as a natural extension of many existing physical theories (string theory, inflation, many-worlds, etc).

I might have looked in the wrong places but I have looked a little why the multiverse is a good explanation but I haven't found anything of the sort.

The best explanations I have seen seem to amount to "we got lucky with our universe, the best way to explain that luck is that there are a lot of universes". I haven't seen any reason why it shouldn't be "we got lucky with our universe, the best way to explain that luck is that it was done on purpose". Would you be willing to explain how you get from observed data or well regarded theories to a multiverse?


Occam's Razor, essentially. The basic idea is that most multiverse notions arise naturally out of lower level mechanisms. A theistic explanation requires extra low level mechanics.

Say all of our experiments are explained by Theory X. Then positing Thoery X + God is a model with strictly more moving parts and equal explanatory power as Theory X alone.

On a wider level, explanations like "God did it" tend to operate on the same level as calling the phenomenon "magic"---it's an analysis that doesn't really provide any actionable information on how to influence said phenomenon.

In that way, I personally see "magic" and "God" as operating more in the realm of storytelling. Practically, I find good storytelling is helpful for things like identity-building and theatre, but if I wanna build a bridge then my money's on minimum Kolmogorov complexity, i.e. Occam's Razor.


Well, it's not quite that simple. A Deist theology basically posits that the universe was created by some entity that exists apart from the universe and doesn't interfere with the workings of the universe. A multiverse theology basically posits that the universe exists in some entity that exists apart from the universe that contains sufficiently many such universes that the improbability of our own universe is immaterial.

In terms of complexity, both theologies necessitate the existence of a space which is inaccessible to our own measurements. You can't favor or disfavor one over the other since there is no distinction in explanatory capabilities, and the complexity exists in an immeasurable state. In a sense, both theologies basically state that the universe is the way it is because it was made that way, and the means of that making is described via effectively bullshittery in both cases.


The difference is that e.g. quantum mechanics already operates on a vector space that contains all possible world-states, so many-worlds doesn't really add anything to the theory, it just interprets them differently. That's similar to the idea of a Platonic universe of mathematical truths, in that it doesn't give you any different predictions, just a different perspective.

What a multiverse "explanation " of the observed constants adds to that is a prior that puts probability mass on every possible state, from which we can get the possibility of our personal universe. (I think that's a bit dubious, since it only shifts around the arbitraryness to some meta-heuristic about priors, thus the scare quotes.)

Similarly, you could imagine a theology that takes all the same laws of physics and interprets them as "God's plan", which again is just a different perspective. But to get additional predictions, you then need to have some idea of what God's plan specifically is, which tends to require thick books of ancient stories that still don't explain everything clearly.

So in the end you could disfavor both theories based on the difficulty of getting them to explain what they are intended to explain.


Your point about a prior distribution over universes is a good one. It just got me thinking about the quantum version of the Sleeping Beauty problem. Apparently, Sean Carroll has used this kind of idea and Everettian mechanics to derive the Born rule.


> In terms of complexity, both theologies necessitate the existence of a space which is inaccessible to our own measurements

One has more side effects than the other. Your requirement that the creating entity exist “apart from the universe” and not “interfere with the workings of the universe” is not generally accepted by deists. It is also not a required consequence of the deist hypothesis.


>The basic idea is that most multiverse notions arise naturally out of lower level mechanisms.

I think this is the part I don't understand. I have heard no evidence-based explanation for what lower level mechanisms cause our universe that imply a multiverse.

>Say all of our experiments are explained by Theory X. Then positing Thoery X + God is a model with strictly more moving parts and equal explanatory power as Theory X alone.

In pricipal I agree with you. In this case I think we disagree. In my mental model, Theory X in this case is the multiverse. At which point you say X + God is more complicated and I agree. I think instead of X + God as the explanation it should instead just be God. In which case I don't see an objective way of saying if Occam's razor would favor multiverse or God.


> I have heard no evidence-based explanation for what lower level mechanisms cause our universe that imply a multiverse.

The example I have in mind is the Everettian interpretation of QM. Formally, we have a Hilbert space and decoherence. We can interpret decohered regions in the Hilbert space as separate universes. These mechanics are an artifact of the mathematical formalism.

Interestingly, the Copenhagen "interpretation" would get ruled out by Occam's Razor since it adds the notion of wave collapse on top of the formalism without experiment being able to differentiate between the two.

> I think instead of X + God as the explanation it should instead just be God.

If that works for your needs, then more power to you. We can also jump a meta-level with Occam's Razor though.

Say we take a firm stance on only wanting to keep around models that are constrained by scientific experiment. Then we need, say, the Standard Model and General Relativity, but I'm not sure the God Did It model would survive said filter.

For scientific progress (i.e. the cooperative human effort of science), such a hard-nosed approach seems to have worked unreasonably well so far. For questions of personal world-view and how that affects your subjective experience, then I doubt such a dogmatic stance is universally ideal.

Anyway, I ramble.


My understanding of the Everettian interpretation is that all worlds that are possible in QM exist and we exist in one of them, the wiki article for this is called many-worlds. I may be being obtuse but this seems like a fundamentally different claim than what I normally see as claimed when talking about the multiverse. The multiverse, in my understanding, claims that there are infinitely many universes, even some that will have different QM from our universe because those universes started differently.

To use a CS analogy, many-worlds says that the tree branches the maximum number of time at each nodes. Multiverse claims there are infinitely many trees. Do I have a different understanding then you when it comes to what constitutes a multiverse?

> Say we take a firm stance on only wanting to keep around models that are constrained by scientific experiment.

My initial asking of this question is that it appears to me that the multiverse is not constrained by scientific experiment. I have read most of the comments and your gets the closest to something predictive but even then, it is still just one interpretation of QM. The other option is that there is something in string theory that implies multiverses but as of yet string theory is just theory and from what I understand string theory doesn't require a multiverse, it requires more dimensions which might cause a multiverse.

I ramble as well.


I see it as a something that arises out of first principles. Everything in our world has a cause, and something always comes from something else. Now a deity, being outside of our universe and separate from it wouldn't be subject to that rule necessarily.

The multiverse is an inductive line of reasoning that infers things to explain away observances. But is it measurable?

I'm not saying we should "God away" the questions, but coming up with inferences that we can't actually measure (and don't answer the question of where the multiverse comes from) really doesn't do much scientifically or philosophically.


That about sums it up right there.

Belief is a psychologial attitude towards a claim.

Atheism is a sort of psychological preference for SIMPLER things to be in the role of causes. It simply rebels against what Daniel Dennett calls a "skyhook". Dawkins pretty much straight up admits this in his books when he says he would be fine with an explanation from simple origins.

Also, we want to apply the same rules we have been applying. Dawkins' Ultimate Boeing 747 argument for example, or Occam's Razor.

But as we can see from eg quantum mechanics, our rules for understanding are only useful in a certain context, that includes our observational starting point. We really don't know what kind of rules there might be.

Even the idea of rules implies there is some simple reason for something. But we now know (with AlphaGo for instance) that there may be more complex explanations than can really be understood by a human mind, even in turn based games. Let alone fluid dynamics or a heterogenous multi body gravitational problem, chaos theory and so on.

It is quite arrogant to think that what has worked for us humans so far will let us probe to the end of every inquiry about the universe.

Enter... the multiverse theory. The proud partner of the anthropic principle, for those who care about the frequentist interpretation of probability.

(Because if you don't, then the question doesn't even arise. Just say "because that's the way things are" instead of "because we're in that particular universe".)

It's a bit similar to throwing enough time and space at a problem. For example:

"how did the first replicating organism come about if Kolmogorov complexity of the smallest one is so high in terms of chemistry that it would be astronomically improbable to come about by chance?"

"Panspermia"

"Ok but that just pushes the problem back to other planets. How about the first?"

"Well, primordial soup + lightning + billions of years + trillions of planets ... and maybe buckyballs"

"That is just theories, where is the testing"

"It's the best we got. One day science will tell us the answer. Your theory isn't even scientific."

So we have to be careful not to equate science (an approach) with atheism (a bias).

But here is my question in conclusion:

At the end of the day, given how many times scientific understanding was overturned, what is really the difference between KNLOWLEDGE and BIAS?


We would only say "we got lucky with our universe" if we already presume the existence of other random universes. If there's only one universe that was purposefully created, then luck had nothing to do with it.

So the equivalence you're trying to draw is more of an opposite. Saying "our universe was done on purpose" is the opposite of saying "we got lucky with this universe," in much the same way that carefully placing 4 coins heads-up on a table is the opposite of flipping the same coin 4 times.

Once you're willing to entertain gods as an explanation, then no other explanation is needed, or will suffice. You don't need to go so far as elementary physics before considering a god. You can just look around and say "a god created this one second ago, including our memories."

From the other perspective, if you want to consider the idea of a god scientifically, then the obvious question is, where did the god come from? If they were powerful enough to purposefully create our universe, then they must have REALLY gotten lucky to have evolved that way in their own universe, right?


Sure. For example, string theory posits the existence of an extra 6 dimensions of space, which need to be wrapped up in something called a Calabi-Yau manifold. The exact properties of this manifold determine some of the basic properties of the universe, such as the values of the fundamental constants and the number of elementary particles. The only problem: there are about 10^500 possible Calabi-Yau manifolds, each of which looks just as valid as another. Early string theorists had hoped all the extra manifolds would somehow be ruled out, leaving only one that would uniquely determine the properties of our universe. However, this avenue is now looking pretty hopeless; it seems we're stuck with all 10^500 possibilities. So, what does one do with all these manifolds?

Well, it turns out that the early universe went through a phase of incredible, extraordinary expansion called inflation. The inflation was boosted by something called an inflaton field, and due to quantum properties the inflaton field could spontaneously destabilize and spawn a bubble universe, each of which with a different Calabi-Yau manifold. It's possible that we are inside such a bubble universe, and outside of us the inflaton field is continuing to expand and producing more bubble universes. If this is the case, then it's not much of a surprise why our universe has the properties it does. Out of the 10^500 possibilities, a bubble universe spawned with the right Calabi-Yau manifold for life, and (unsurprisingly) we find ourselves living in that universe. This is the landscape multiverse theory. (I originally read about this theory in Brian Greene's excellent book The Hidden Reality, which describes many other multiverse theories too.)

Now, something important to note is that all this is still highly conjectural. String theory has many pleasing theoretical properties, but about zero physical evidence to support it. What then is the difference between string theory and deism? The difference is that for string theory (and more generally other multiverse theories) we actually have physical and mathematical theories that describe them. Deism doesn't. For string theory, we have papers, conferences, books, equations, and physicists and mathematicians who study this problem. We have something to work with. What do we have for deism? Well, pretty much nothing. No data, no theories, no anything. Deism is a fall-back theory when nothing else works out, and it has no theoretical roots and makes no predictions. This may change in the future, but as of now, deism is a scientific dead end. Of course, I don't know if string theory or another multiverse theory will pan out (indeed, the failure of the LHC to detect supersymmetry is raising some eyebrows), or even if deism actually turns out to be correct. However, on a scientific basis, string theory has more going for it now.


>The best explanations I have seen seem to amount to "we got lucky with our universe, the best way to explain that luck is that there are a lot of universes".

Perhaps you haven't looked that hard?

The idea of multiverse as the "best way to explaining our luck with our universe" was in the bottom of the list of concerns to theorize a multiverse - if it appeared at all:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse


I been to the wiki page before. If anything my question is common enough it is discussed in the wiki page which contains this quote.

>Indeed, invoking an infinity of unseen universes to explain the unusual features of the one we do see is just as ad hoc as invoking an unseen Creator. The multiverse theory may be dressed up in scientific language, but in essence it requires the same leap of faith.

— Paul Davies, The New York Times, "A Brief History of the Multiverse"

So while it may be at the bottom of the list, it very much appears.


I think one crucial difference is that this actually has scientific precedence. For example, the Earth lies in an incredible number of "Goldilocks zones", which have just the right conditions for life to develop. For example, the Earth lies at just the right distance from the Sun for water to be in liquid form. To close and it would all evaporate, too far and it would all freeze. Why is this? Early astronomers (Kepler, I think) spent many years trying to discover some physical reason for why the Earth should be at this particular distance. From what physical principles could the distance be deduced? As we know now, this search was in vain, because there was no fundamental reason. Turns out, it was just a coincidence! With the discoveries of the (appropriately) named Kepler telescope, we have discovered thousands of exoplanets in thousands of star systems. With the billions upon billions of stars in the universe, there are likely trillions of planets out there. With odds like that, it is almost certain that a planet with our properties would show up somewhere, which it did. As it turns out, astronomers do invoke an "infinity" of unseen planets to explain the unusual features of this one, and I doubt Paul Davies thinks that's a leap of faith!


I think you raise a good parallel with Earth but I don't think it applies directly to the possibilities for a multiverse because we cannot see other universes but we can see other planets.

Imagine if our solar system was inside a nebula and the only star we could see was Sol. Until we figure a way to send a probe outside the nebula we have no idea if their are more stars or not. Do you see a way to "send a probe outside" and see if there are more universes or not?


Off the top of my head I don't really remember, though Brian Greene does devote a whole chapter to the question of detecting other universes in his book, so that might be a good place to look further. At the moment though, this doesn't really bother me. For example, Giordano Bruno suggested the existence of exoplanets in 1584, and certainly he could not have predicted the modern techniques the Kepler telescope uses to detect them! It may be centuries before we have the theory or technology to determine if other universes are detectable or if they exist. A long time to wait perhaps, but this should not be a reason for ruling them out (though of course, solid evidence would be required before a multiverse theory could be accepted).


The problem with artificial creation (and simulation) theories is that they can generate universes of all kinds without restriction, including one that's consistent with our own in every way. I'm not sure that there could ever be a way to disprove such theories.

If theories are going to be useful, they'll have to predict something which can be confirmed with follow-up observations.


In fairness, the OP was comparing the merit of a deist creator to the merit of multiverse as an explanation of the cosmological constant.

Does the multiverse theory predict something which can be confirmed with follow-up observations or that is falsifiable in some way? I don't actually know the answer to this, but I've heard a similar criticism of simulation theories. Unless we add some more specific information to the theory, it's not really a scientific theory for that reason. How would a simulated/created universe look?


> Unless we add some more specific information to the theory, it's not really a scientific theory for that reason.

That would be why it's called the "many-worlds interpretation".


Good point. People using language carefully (as physicists usually do) call it an interpretation for a reason.

The OP's point on deism vs multiverse vs simulation (added later in the thread) is actually fairly interesting. Reductio ad deism.


Yeah, good question.


>If theories are going to be useful, they'll have to predict something which can be confirmed with follow-up observations.

If you can name something that the multiverse predicts that could be confirmed with observations (possible observations we will not be able to make in my lifetime) I would appreciate it. My current understanding is that there is nothing predictive about the multiverse theory thus my initial question.


I think that physicists do consider the deist view whenever they consider whether the universe is a simulation. You wouldn't call it a deist view, though, because it explores the minimum criteria, that the universe was created (Well, most specifically, that the universe is the result of a computation. The computation itself could be entirely incidental).

By whom or what is not useful to the exercise, and is omitted. Usually that part is important to deists.


Even assuming a multiverse explanation doesn't exclude a deist view. It just kicks the can down the road to one more level.

I think as long as we have a "something", we will want to understand where that comes from and what else there might be that is not that something.

Some argue a self-existant eternal universe, and some a self-existant eternal Creator.

Personally, I believe the Creator view, but both stances are articles of faith that would be impossible to prove definitively.


Even assuming a multiverse explanation doesn't exclude a deist view. It just kicks the can down the road to one more level.

Because the Creator theory is non-falsifiable. I forget which physicist used the phrase, but that would be termed, "Not even false."


I thought about editing my response to add that neither of them were falsifiable. Is there anything in this universe that could falsify a multiverse theory?

They both seem so meta as to be faith based, but I don't know enough to state for sure, so I'm happy to be proven wrong :)

Edit: and can the theory explain where the multiverse comes from, or anything about it? To me, it seems like another way of trying to answer the question with more questions, but no way of discovering the answers. A sort of "God of the gaps" line of reasoning that just s/God/multiverse/ the entire thing.


To me, it seems like another way of trying to answer the question with more questions, but no way of discovering the answers.

If you answer one set of questions, you get another set of questions. So what? Should we just make up an answer and stop asking? I don't find that very intellectually satisfying.

You're right that there's no evidence for a multiverse yet, so it's just one of many conjectures. If the point you're making is that the notion of God is just as unsupported as the notion of a multiverse, yeah, I'd accept that. They're both "Not even false." Occam's Razor them both.


I was simply asking how is a multiverse theory falsifiable?

I'm not contending that the idea of God has the same evidence as a theory of a multiverse, but rather what makes the multiverse falsifiable?

If neither are falsifiable then I'd say they're on equal footing, and it would seem odd to me that scientists feel comfortable using one as an explanation but mock the other.

> Should we just make up an answer and stop asking? I don't find that very intellectually satisfying.

Are you asking to find answers or to continually keep asking? Personally, I'd rather have a complete and holistic answer, which for me seems the most satisfying.

But either way, I hope our personal intellectual satisfaction isn't driving the answers we agree upon.


> is there any reason not to consider the deist view

No reason not to consider it, but the evidence against it is overwhelming. Specifically, the evidence is overwhelming that whatever the ultimate cause is, it is computationally simple, that is, its Kolmogorov complexity is small. That is fundamentally at odds with most people's conception of God.


> Specifically, the evidence is overwhelming that whatever the ultimate cause is, it is computationally simple, that is, its Kolmogorov complexity is small. That is fundamentally at odds with most people's conception of God.

The probability that the first cause (FC) is computable is basically zero, so it most likely won't have a Kolmogorov complexity. For example, not even entropy is computable[1][2], let alone FC.

[1] https://arxiv.org/pdf/0808.1678.pdf

[2] https://www.math.iupui.edu/~mmisiure/open/JM1.pdf


I think that when you talk about the "first cause" you mean something different than what I mean when I say "ultimate cause." I'm not talking about what caused the Big Bang, I'm talking about what causes physics now.

It is of course possible that whatever caused the big bang was computationally complex. There is no way to eliminate that possibility. But if it was, it left no evidence behind.


Just for the sake of asking interesting questions, and not in contradiction of your point about “most people’s conception of God”: Roughly speaking, the “God hypothesis” is simply that the ultimate cause is a person of some sort. What is the Kolmogorov complexity of “personhood”?


Well, no one really knows. But it's almost certainly more than a few hundred bits, which is the KC of GR and the Dirac equation.


What's the evidence that the first cause had low Kolmogorov complexity?


The fact that the laws of physics can be written as simple mathematical equations.


These "laws" of physics can be written as simple mathematical equations only because these equations make various simplifying assumptions.

Whenever mathematics is applied to the real world, there are always simplifying assumptions made. Otherwise, the problems become intractable. It does not matter what area that you investigate, you will find that assumptions are made to simplify the mathematics.

For our purposes, these "simple" equations work, but they are still limited approximations of what we see around us.


> these equations make various simplifying assumptions

Not the fundamental equations. Yes, a lot of complexity emerges from those, just like a lot of complexity emerges in the Mandelbrot set. But as far as experiment has been able to determine, the equations of GR and QM are exactly correct.


I have had my dinner and a wonderful dinner it was too - my wife is a brilliant cook. She pours love into every meal and it shows in the outcome.

So, with that out of the way, The fundamental equations all have simplifying assumptions. Even the equations of GR and QM are based on simplifying assumptions. Otherwise, you wouldn't have various scientists disputing their veracity.

I have copies of a certain portion of some work done in the 1960's which look at the assumptions made for the development of QM. The particular author quite clearly demonstrates the various assumptions made in the development of QM. In his case, he removed some of those assumptions and redeveloped the various models. He came up with a different formulation. I have over the years tried to have a good look at the work in question to see if there is things that can be engineered from the work.

There is a certain level of mathematics that I am still trying to wrap my mind about. It is used in both models (QM and his). From my perspective, it does away with the strong force as unnecessary by making a modification to electromagnetic theory and it gives what you see in experimental results.

Does it have merit, I don't know. But I am happy to put it on the same footing as QM as a possible explanation of what we see.

There is a model that also does away with gravity as a separate force. The model in question formulates gravity as a residual effect of electromagnetic theory. Does it have merit. Again, I am putting it on a similar footing. My attempts to use a CAS have only been partially successful as I need to understand a bit more about Maxima first and what I can do with it.

For me, these are ongoing interests (among many) which I dabble in when I have time on my hands. I am looking at one paper that does an analysis of SR and as yet I have not finished studying this paper. The author's main conjecture is that SR only works because Einstein made some simplifying assumptions by which SR then gets the measured results. His conjecture is that if those assumptions are not made then SR gives the wrong results. Does it have merit, I can't say at this point. It again hinges on whether or not I can get the work into Maxima. For the same reasons above, I only look at this when I have time on my hands.

Many people assume that the E = mc2 is a specific formulation of Einstein's work. Yet in my engineering undergraduate days in the late 1970's, the same formula was developed directing from Classical Electromagnetic Theory with no recourse to anything that Einstein did. But even here, it is not a simple equation that is correct, you have to know what the E represents and what the m represents. It is context sensitive and you have to know what the assumptions are.


> Even the equations of GR and QM are based on simplifying assumptions. Otherwise, you wouldn't have various scientists disputing their veracity.

Only crackpots dispute the veracity of GR or QM. Assigning semantics to the symbols used in writing down mathematical equations is not the same thing as making a "simplifying assumption." Anyone who could actually demonstrate the slightest deviation of either GR of QM from physical reality would win the Nobel prize in physics. Indeed, one of the problems with physics nowadays is that no such deviations are known, which is actually impeding progress. It is known that GR and QM cannot both be absolutely correct because their mathematical structures are incompatible. But to decide how to fix them we need some experimental data to tell us which one is wrong (or if both are wrong) and we don't have any such data. All attempts to find it so far have failed.


I know this is a bit late as a follow-up comment, I've been busy with other matters.

You make an assumption that it is only "crackpots" who dispute the veracity of GR or QM. If someone does dispute this and provides some evidence to the non-veracity of GR and QM, what is the likelihood of them even getting published in any high profile journal?

We have plenty of evidence across many fields where dissenting voices are shouted down and are called "crackpots" because they don't follow the consensus view. Some of these even get the Nobel Prize decades later for what they were condemned for at the time.

All theories (and I have found none to the contrary) use some form of simplification and assumptions that remove complexity. This is in every field, especially in all fields related to science and technology.

If we did not do so, the problems would become intractable. The wonderful thing is that even with these simplifications and assumptions we can get something that works and is useful. It just doesn't mean that those models and theories are correct or true. It just means that they work well enough for us to get things done.


> If someone does dispute this and provides some evidence to the non-veracity of GR and QM, what is the likelihood of them even getting published in any high profile journal?

100%. They will win the Nobel prize too. The operative phrase here being provides evidence.

> We have plenty of evidence across many fields where dissenting voices are shouted down and are called "crackpots" because they don't follow the consensus view. Some of these even get the Nobel Prize decades later for what they were condemned for at the time.

Yeah? Like who?

> All theories (and I have found none to the contrary) use some form of simplification and assumptions

Yeah? Like what?

You keep making this claim, and you keep not providing any evidence or examples. That is the mark of a crackpot.


Isn't the whole problem that current QM equations are not the whole picture, and work on QM scale only?


No, QM works at every scale, it's just that at large scales the math is too hard to carry through and we have to use approximations.

It is true that either QM or GR (or both) as currently formulated will break down near the event horizons of black holes, but there is no reason to believe that once we figure that out the result will be significantly different in character than all the other laws of physics that have been worked out up to now.


> QM works at every scale

> either QM or GR (or both) as currently formulated will break down near the event horizons of black holes

These seem to be in conflict. Black holes is exactly what I was talking about.

From what I've understand there's no unified theory or anything close to a unified theory for certain objects in space, which means the landscape is very open for some weird, weird stuff. Physics is already extremely weird.

> there is no reason to believe that once we figure that out the result will be significantly different in character than all the other laws of physics that have been worked out up to now

I would consider both general relativity and quantum mechanics to be drastically different things compared to what came before, going from "this is reasonable" to "WTF", so I can't agree with this statement at all.


> the landscape is very open for some weird, weird stuff

Yes, that's true.

> Physics is already extremely weird.

Yes, that's true too. It is weird. But it's not complicated (in the strict computational sense).

> I would consider both general relativity and quantum mechanics to be drastically different things compared to what came before

In one sense yes, but not in the sense that matters for this discussion. GR and QM are conceptually very different from Newtonian mechanics, but they are similar insofar as they can be written down as simple (in the technical sense) mathematical equations. So there's no reason to expect that the next surprise will be different in that regard.


> In one sense yes, but not in the sense that matters for this discussion.

I'm not really sure when you decided on this, as I don't really evaluate the complexity of something based on whether it follows math. I evaluate it based on the nature of the logic and abstraction that needs to be used to follow it.

The fact that you can approximate the location of particles with a math equation doesn't really feel to me that we're doing the same thing, even mathematically, that we were doing in Newtonian mechanics. That seems very much in line with "These "laws" of physics can be written as simple mathematical equations only because these equations make various simplifying assumptions.".


> I evaluate it based on the nature of the logic and abstraction that needs to be used to follow it.

What do you think math is?

> The fact that you can approximate the location of particles with a math equation doesn't really feel to me that we're doing the same thing, even mathematically, that we were doing in Newtonian mechanics.

Huh? Are you referring to the fact that QM is probabilistic? That's not a simplifying assumption, that's a reflection of how the world actually is.


Along the lines of The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences (also, Hamming's one)?

One factor is that mathematical notation was shaped to describe natural laws (over many different laws). Though I agree that this doesn't seem to fully explain the simplicity and generality.

However, I do want to note that Occam's razor can justify whatever you like, if you're allowed to define the language you use without it counting as entities (like choosing a prior for Bayes').


> I do want to note that Occam's razor can justify whatever you like, if you're allowed to define the language you use without it counting as entities

No, that's actually not true. This is one of the cool things about Kolmogorov complexity, it is actually independent of the computational model. See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmogorov_complexity#Invarian...


But not independent of the description language. In fact, highly dependent on your choice of it.


No. That's the whole point of Turing equivalence. The description language doesn't matter at all. It only changes the absolute measure of KC by a constant factor. But we don't care about the absolute measure (because KC is not computable anyway). All we care about is upper bounds (because that's all we can compute) and the relative size of the KC of one system compared to another. No matter how you slice it, the KC of physics is orders of magnitude less than the KC of a person (or a god). That's the reason people can actually do physics.


A deist creator explanation is equally untestable, but is probably less parsimonious than a multiverse explanation.


What does "less parsimonious" mean in this context?

The definition has "unwilling to spend money or use resources; stingy or frugal" but I'm not sure what you're describing as less frugal. Is it a way of saying the deist explanation is more likely?


It means the deist explanation doesn't stand up to Occam's razor as well as the multiverse explanation. "Parsimony" in this context comes from the latin, lex parsimoniae, "law of parsimony."

Adding a deity to the explanation requires adding an "entity" completely nonexistent in the current models that are the basis for the multiverse, i.e. those within quantum theory and cosmology.


>the current models that are the basis for the multiverse, i.e. those within quantum theory and cosmology.

The root of my question is I am uninformed of anything with quantum theory or cosmology that makes a multiverse more likely than deism. Do you have specific examples from quantum theory or cosmology that makes a multiverse more likely?


I'm definitely on your side in terms of where I ultimately lean, but I don't feel satisfied that this is a strong enough answer.

I think the deist can insist "My explanation is the most parsimonous. I have just the one thing, a deity. You have a kludge of a dozen different forces and laws and variables."


That's why you see "Kolmogorov complexity" being mentioned all around this thread.

The "parsimony", the "simplicity", the unit in which we count entities - is that of Kolmogorov complexity. "A dozen different forces and laws and variables" is significantly simpler, Kolmogorov-wise, than a thinking entity. There is orders of magnitude less things to specify about the former than about the latter for a complete description.


Explaining multiple things, for a simple (though not full) definition.

Neuton's laws of gravitation/motion can explain why a ball travels in an arch, why the moon rotates around the sun and why an apple fell on his head. It's frugal in the sense that a dutch oven is frugal. You can use it to make pie, bread, soup...


I think in this context it means that adding a deity into the explanation is adding an unnecessary extra element where none is needed. Thus the explanation is less "frugal" than one where we assume a multiverse without any creator(s).


>I think in this context it means that adding a deity into the explanation is adding an unnecessary extra element where none is needed.

I want to reiterate that I think the side you are arguing for is ultimately the "right" one, but I'm not sure I buy this argument.

Sometimes parsimony is having a fundamental thing that other things "reduce" to, that other things are explained in terms of. Someone intent on adding a deity can insist that it's not merely one extra thing among a dozen things. Instead, it is the one fundamental thing that gives rise to the dozen things. And therefore is more parsimonous.

I wonder if the right thing to do here is bite the bullet and admit that, yes, such a thing would be simpler, but you merely think you have a simpler thing when really you have smoke and mirrors.


The difficulty for any theory is explaining why anything exists at all, i.e., if there's no space and no time, isn't that a stable state? Without time, how could anything ever happen?

If a multiverse theory could give a way to get a universe out of nothing, it would be a lot more elegant than a deity theory. The deity theory after all is incomplete, it just supposes that our universe is embedded inside some sort of "outer" universe where deities live, but that outer universe also has to be created somehow.


I believe what he or she means is that it assumes more, and is thus less 'stingy' in this way.


Since neither has any explanatory power that is not already contained in the phenomena they are offered to explain, they are equally complete failures of parsimony, differing only in which aesthetic preferences they appeal to.


I disagree with this. I think you are 100% right when you say:

>Since neither has any explanatory power that is not already contained in the phenomena they are offered to explain,

That is what these different explanations have in common, for sure. However, you seem to be defining that as parsimony. But there may be a lot of different explanations that are equally wrong, that differ in how complex they are, and those differences are differences in parsimony.


> However, you seem to be defining that as parsimony.

No, it's just, essentially, the numerator of parsimony; the denominator is the complexity added to the model; but a zero numerator makes consideration of the denominator irrelevant. (Normally, you compare parsimony of explanations with non-zero explanatory power, so the denominator matters a lot.)


I see what you are saying, but I guess I just don't accept that definition of parsimony because it includes explanatory power as an input into the value of parsimony. In just about every context I've encountered the concept, it has been used as a means of distinguishing between theories of equal explanatory power.


is there any reason not to consider the deist view and say the universe was created with the cosmological constant needed for life to form as an equally likely outcome?

Occam's Razor.


The argument for multiple-worlds seems to be that if you take the most elegant possible formulation of the "equations of the universe", you find that some of constants in these equation have to be set to apparently arbitrary values to imply a universe like our own.

This seems to rest on an assumption that simple patterns tend to continue beyond our immediate perception, like if a person see a part of a sphere sticking out of the sand on a beach, they would tend to expect an entire sphere to buried beneath.

The two questions that appear would: is formulation really the simplest and does this kind of reasoning apply "outside the universe", given the universe is all that we use to make such judgments.


I am probably wrong, but I've always liked the (fictional, in my head) solution that black holes are these "buried spheres" and that all the problems we have with dark matter and energy are really result of black holes "draining" mass from one "world" to another. In my Sci-fi mind, the big bang is what comes out the other side of a black hole, so, when a black hole forms, it starts draining matter and energy from one universe into another.

Essentially, we'd never be able to see all the mass our theories predict, because we'd never be able to observe all the linked worlds/universes past the event horizons.


So the universe is not a closed system?


Maybe not! Some people think the universe is shaped like a torus, and that everything in the universe, all of the energy flow, all of the minute systems, also reflect this. If that were the case as well, it may make sense to say that the universe is not a closed system. This universe would be a toroidal aspect of a larger toroidal universe and so on. And perhaps in the middle of that torus, you would see energy merging to a singularity.

Obviously I'm not claiming any of this as fact. But it is interesting to think about. After a certain point there is non fact-based validity in applying philosophy to our conception of universes.


This is more or less the model of the universe in the Culture books by Iain M Banks.


Which book was that described in? I have read only a few of Banks' books (preferred Surface Detail, though The Player of Games was excellent)


I believe it is mentioned in passing in several of the books, but if I recall correctly the Hydrogen Sonata and Excession went into more detail. He does discuss it in his notes on the culture[0]:

> We accept that the three dimensions of space we live in are curved, that space-time describes a hypersphere, just as the two dimensions of length and width on the surface of a totally smooth planet curve in a third dimension to produce a three-dimensional sphere. In the Culture stories, the idea is that - when you imagine the hypersphere which is our expanding universe - rather than thinking of a growing hollow sphere (like a inflating beach-ball, for example), think of an onion.

> An expanding onion, certainly, but an onion, nevertheless. Within our universe, our hypersphere, there are whole layers of younger, smaller hyperspheres. And we are not the very outer-most skin of that expanding onion, either; there are older, larger universes beyond ours, too. Between each universe there is something called the Energy Grid (I said this was all fake); I have no idea what this is, but it's what the Culture starships run on. And of course, if you could get through the Energy Grid, to a younger universe, and then repeat the process... now we really are talking about immortality. (This is why there are two types of hyperspace mentioned in the stories; infraspace within our hypersphere, and ultraspace without.)

> Now comes the difficult bit; switch to seven dimensions and even our four dimensional universe can be described as a circle. So forget about the onion; think of a doughnut. A doughnut with only a very tiny hole in the middle. That hole is the Cosmic Centre, the singularity, the great initiating fireball, the place the universes come from; and it didn't exist just in the instant our universe came into being; it exists all the time, and it's exploding all the time, like some Cosmic car engine, producing universes like exhaust smoke.

> As each universe comes into being, detonating and spreading and expanding, it - or rather the single circle we are using to describe it - goes gradually up the inner slope of our doughnut, like a widening ripple from a stone flung in a pond. It goes over the top of the doughnut, reaches its furthest extent on the outside edge of the doughnut, and then starts the long, contracting, collapsing journey back in towards the Cosmic Centre again, to be reborn...

> Or at least it does if it's on that doughnut; the doughnut is itself hollow, filled with smaller ones where the universes don't live so long. And there are larger ones outside it, where the universes live longer, and maybe there are universes that aren't on doughnuts at all, and never fall back in, and just dissipate out into... some form of meta-space? Where fragments of them are captured eventually by the attraction of another doughnut, and fall in towards its Cosmic Centre with the debris of lots of other dissipated universes, to be reborn as something quite different again? Who knows. (I know it's all nonsense, but you've got to admit it's impressive nonsense. And like I said at the start, none of it exists anyway, does it?)

[0]: http://www.vavatch.co.uk/books/banks/cultnote.htm


I don't know, I guess it could be. It depends whether the multiverse has infinite "flavors" or not. If every black hole linked from one universe to another, then observably, we have many more drains, and only 1 know point we're expanding from. OTOH, maybe all black holes in this universe drain right back into the one we're expanding from and there are only 2. Finally, there could be more points of expansion than just the big bang in our universe, but they may be outside of our sphere of observation. I'll admit the one-ingress-many-egress thing bothers me a bit.


Or the connectivity between universes is sparse, so that we only have direct connections to a few universes. I guess the set of all universes might still be a closed system in this arrangement.

This is overall kind of an interesting idea, because it seems to me like it'd be more testable than some other more intangible multiverses. My (non-physicist) intuition has always been that black holes somehow are the key to many mysteries of physics, but we're still pretty far from really knowing I think.


(Fiction warning):

Riffing off that a bit, I think back to this illustration of spacetime - https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-time#/media/File:GPB... - and imagine a black hole being a place where that fabric is punched through. as if spacetime is just resting on another universe. Where things get massive enough, they punch through and the matter begins to drain away. We don't know what the rate of flow is, though.

I like this because referring back to the comment about not being able to see enough matter - we know black holes aren't massive enough to account for all the dark matter - but, what if the discrepancy of observation vs expectation gave us some idea of what the flow rate through black holes might be?


This is using the Anthropic principle to argue the point for the many worlds hypothesis because it is being argued that life is so fragile that it could not have formed without certain constants being how they were. So that there must have been a bunch of other realities that failed in creating sentient life.

The constants would apply outside the universe because the constants are invariant other all of our observations (the fine structure constant is an observed number and its value is arbitrary and if it was greater or less than it we wouldn't exist). But they aren't part of our perception they are part of our measurements.


This is using the Anthropic principle to argue the point for the many worlds hypothesis because it is being argued that life is so fragile that it could not have formed without certain constants being how they were. So that there must have been a bunch of other realities that failed in creating sentient life.

I don't think the existence or non-existence of sentient life in alternate universe is in anyway necessary for the argument.

If we assume possible universes is a set parameterized by a constant C and if we know only value X gives a universe with the properties we observe, we can deduce C = X.

If a value Y yields a universe with sentients that can't be us, we still know that isn't our universe and so we know C!=Y.


Quantum many worlds does not posit the existence of universes with different fundamental constants. The physical laws would be the same.


You correct but Quantum many worlds has no relation to the arguments of the article.


> Force fields have positive zero-point energies while matter fields have negative ones

This tidbit stuck out to me. Anybody able to offer a deeper explanation of why?


That's an explanation proposed for why we can barely measure any gravity stemming from the huge energy contained in the zero-point field. The idea is that the fermion field (matter) and the boson field (energy) cancel each other out. This theory is part of supersymmetry.


This answer is slightly misleading. Fermionic fields have negative vacuum energy, while bosonic ones have positive. This is an basic fact of quantum field theory, a consequence of Lorentz invariance and Fermi-Dirac statistics (resp. Bose-Einstein statistics).

Supersymmetry makes use of this fact: When the bosons and fermions come in pairs, their vacuum energies can cancel because they have opposite sign. But the association of minus signs to fermions and plus signs to bosons is older and more elementary than supersymmetry.


I wish I had an elementary conceptual explanation for why this association exists. It's a simple calculation, but hard to describe without resorting to equations. Maybe the best I can say is that when one writes down the energy function for a quantum mechanical system of many particles, it has a form which is _strongly_ constrained by special relativity. The variables which describe the creation of particles are perfectly paired with the variables which describe the annihilation of particles. For bosons, these variables commute, just like ordinary functions. For fermions, these variables anti-commute, picking up a sign when you exchange them. If you repeatedly exchange these variables to rewrite energy function as vacuum energy + energy of 1 particle + energy of 2 particles + ...., you discover that the fermions contribute negatively to the vacuum energy while bosons contribute positively.


Thanks. This is what I was looking for when I originally posed the question.

So, if I understood you correctly, the restriction of Lorentz symmetry on the Hamiltonian in turn requires QFT creation and annihilation operators to commute/anticommute (the anticommute part what then ultimately drives a negative energy contribution from fermionic fields when summing over all possible energy states).

What causes the anticommute properties? Is there a non-abelian symmetry group backing fermion fields somewhere?


That's about right. There's a tiny bit of confusion

The anticommutation of fermions is a consequence (the content, really) of the spin-statistics theorem, which is a consequence of Lorentz invariance & unitarity.


The Space Time Quantization theory of Prof. Auguste Meessen [1] leads to an explanation of the accelerating expansion of the universe, the cosmological constant suggested by Einstein (drak energy) and dark matter. It uses just simple and basic physics. The only new hypothesis leading to this theory is that measured distances would be quantified. That means that there would be a minimal measurable length.

[1] http://www.scirp.org/journal/Articles.aspx?searchCode=August...


This is totally based on zero evidence, but it seems to me, as a casual observer, that maybe there are elementary particles whizzing aren't detectable until they combine with other elementary whizzing particles and combine to make the detectable ones? So like hydrogen can be fused into helium (I know, easier said than done!), sometimes the they collide and create a detectable particle. This explains the Casimir effect in that there really wasn't nothing between the plates, just the stuff whizzing through the plates that we can't block.


AFAIK the only particles that appear out of nowhere (which would in your view happen when those non-detectable particles collide) are particle-antiparticle pairs[1]. It does explain the Casimir effect.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_fluctuation


I really like this article. I have read a lot of articles that bandy about terms like dark energy, the cosmological constant, and the multiverse. This was the first thing I have read that clearly explains how they link together.

However, I have a question. The article says that dark energy "presence causes the cosmos to expand ever more quickly, since, as it expands, new space forms, and the total amount of repulsive energy in the cosmos increases" But wouldn't this violate the first law of thermodynamics?


This post on Steve Carroll's blog [1], called "Energy Is Not Conserved", answers that question fairly clearly.

[1] http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/02/22/energy-i...


Thank you, that link answers my question.


The laws of thermodynamics only hold for closed (finite) systems. The observable universe is finite, but may not be closed (expansion from dark energy). The total universe may be infinite. In either case the laws of thermodynamics don't necessarily apply.


I was referring to the first law of thermodynamics, not the second. See tzs's comment for a link to the correct answer.


It wouldn't violate thermodynamics in any meaningful way unless you could actually use that increased energy to produce work.

Every formulation of thermodynamics I was able to find is specifically about deriving work from differences in energy.


See my response to SAI_Peregrinus above.


There are a lot of states of vacuum. Our space is either in rock bottom stable state or in metastable one.

Maybe it's just the state in which this energy is as small as it gets?



Would relativity explain a lot of it? "Empty" space isn't always empty. You put a camera anywhere in the known universe and almost instantly it will get bombarded by particles.

All those particles in flight, albeit sparse, have mass or in the case of photons can collide turning their energy into mass.

TLDR. What is the mass of all in flight particles?


No, even empty space, where there is not even one particle or even the thought of anything aspiring to be a particle within the defined area, will have a tiny weight.


But don't particles and anti-particles form everywhere constantly? Won't they add a temporary weight, before cancel out?


The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) has ~420 photons/cm^3 each with 24 meV, so about 10 MeV/m^3.

The Cosmic neutrino Background (CvB) has ~340 neutrinos/cm^3 each with 50 meV, so about 17 MeV/m^3.

As a comparison, the visible matter (baryon) density is estimated to be 1/5 protons/m^3, each with 940 MeV, so about 240 MeV/m^3.


> This fine-tuned situation suggests that there might be a huge number of universes, all with different doses of vacuum energy, and that we happen to inhabit an extraordinarily low-energy universe because we couldn’t possibly find ourselves anywhere else.

At a certain point "God" is going to be a simpler explanation than "infinite universes with infinite cosmological constant variance", etc.


Well, this depends on your conception of simplicity. It certainly makes for a shorter explanatory sentence, but at the cost of undermining our ability to truly explain anything at all, since we cannot know whether a given result is due to the laws of nature or is a miracle--or both. And if it's a miracle, we have no reliable access to its reasons for occurring.


When physicists (and you guys know who you are!) say things like "the universe arose from an infinite multiverse", they are bullshitting, because structure does not come from "infinity", structure comes from rules (which may generate some structure that is infinite), and if you can't say anything about the rules then the answer is simply "I don't know".


> structure does not come from "infinity", structure comes from rules

I can't say I understand this statement, but I'll venture this friendly amendment: explanations come from rules, or at least a method of description that allows us to say why result A obtained and not result B. (Or maybe an explanation that the process was random, and therefore that this part of the process cannot be explained.) So I think the problem--if there really is one--is with the word "arose" in your sentence, not "infinite." I can see no problem with invoking the infinite in a useful explanation (note that theists do this all the time!), but I can see a problem with having no account of why our universe "arose" and not some other one.

Of course, I think that just about every physicist would be happy to admit this! (Those that don't think they have an answer, that is--possibly involving the anthropic principle.) After all, answering questions is their job, so acknowledging an unknown is just the beginning of a research agenda, not an admission of defeat.


No, "God" will never be "simpler" unless you also redefine the term into something utterly incompatible with most major religions. The instant you drop a god into the mix you're presented with far more questions, and "he works in mysterious ways" is not an answer.

___

Despite it's explicitly Christian focus, I like The Screwtape Letters as a kind of cognitive psychology fable, and this part seems apropos:

> I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us [devils], (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy [God]. [...] If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits”—then the end of the war will be in sight.

... If you're worshipping a property of physics you're doing it wrong. :)


I should rephrase. It's not useful to attribute something to God because then you'll never know how God did it.

But maybe instead of approaching every problem with the "how did this happen by chance" angle and answering it with ("infinite possibilities multiplied by infinitesimal probability = 1" i.e. "infinity/infinity = 1") and instead approached it with "how could this have been done intentionally by a sufficiently advanced species" angle, we may make more progress in this and related "mysterious" fields (abiogenesis, for example)


"God" is not an explanation. You're "answering" a mystery with an even bigger mystery.

Explaining lightning with Zeus instead of electricity just raises more questions.


Neither is "multiverse". That's just as untestable and unverifyable and mysterious as God.


Sure, but it is provides an explanation that is based on prior scientific work, namely statistics, rather than religion. But yes, your argument is valid: this theory is difficult to test. Many people reject anthropic arguments because they feel that they don't provide any testable answers.


We don't know if either hypothesis is testable. Multiverse is not as mysterious as "god did it" (a.k.a magic), it's a very specific hypothesis.

You can "explain" absolutely anything with god/magic, and many religious people do. Try that with multiverse. It doesn't work.


> Try that with multiverse. It doesn't work.

"Life arose because there is an infinite multiverse and we just happened to be in one of the infinite universes where both the cosmological constants that allow life to be possible are the correct values and chemicals randomly combined on the right planet to allow increasingly complex structures to evolve."

"The parting of the red sea story happened because there is an infinite multiverse and we just happened to be in the one where atmospheric turbulence whipped up a windstorm sufficiently powerful to move water in the red sea and someone documented it"

"Infinite Multiverse" means you can explain away any improbable event with "well, there are infinite universes so the probability actually approaches 1 across all universes"


> Multiverse is not as mysterious as "god did it" (a.k.a magic), it's a very specific hypothesis.

If you can test the existence of another “universe”, it's really the same universe.

Plus, even if you have a model of a multiverse in which the component universes have variation on particular axes, you can still ask why you have such a well-constructed set of parameters such that varying them will allow life somewhere on the multiverse. Multiverse is not only a non-terrible hypothesis, it's one that doesn't do anything but kick the problem it is meant to explain one step further down the road without transforming it's general shape.


> Multiverse is not only a non-terrible hypothesis,

Missed the edit window, but non-testable, not non-terrible.


I am going to assume you are a theist, at least in the US, theists have a reputation for being ignorant, self-righteous, and hypocritical (in the sense they talk about love but don't act on it). If you care about improving the general reputation of theists I suggest that you make an effort to be intellectually humble, open to evidence, compassionate, kind, and not belligerent.


Given how well-suited our universe seems to be for life, I feel like we should admit that one of 2 things is true...

(1) There is a God who decides how things are.

(2) Many universes exist.

Actually I usually feel that the second is simpler than the first, despite my prejudices as a near-Catholic. But I'm increasingly skeptical about efforts to maintain that there's only one, unplanned, universe.


It really looks like some miracle that our universe allows life, but I don't think there is any effort: I can only write this comment because I live in a universe that allows life.

It's like marveling about how come that those two (great/ugly/wonderful/annoying/...) people are my parents, given that there are so many people in this world. What are the odds?


"I can only write this comment because I live in a universe that allows life."

Sure; but my point is, it's really quite unlikely that the one and only unplanned universe would have life, at all. Life then seems like evidence for something...

"It's like marveling about how come that those two [...] people are my parents"

By contrast, I'm not sure what that would be evidence about.


There is at least one crackpot theory out there that supposes that life will do something in the future that will influence the properties of the universe earlier in time. The super-civilization that exists in the far-future of the universe--one that is beyond Kardashev Type III--re-engineers the universe to use it for computation, so they can exist inside a simulation (and add cheat codes). In the process, universal constants are tuned for more optimal conditions, and that twiddling ignores time completely.

The original version had a lot more religion in it, particularly Christian eschatology.

This also leads to the possibility that our universe is actually a simulation running in another universe with different conditions.

If you really want to screw up your brain, consider that the universe hosting the simulation of our universe might be the result of a simulation in our universe that hasn't been started yet.


How do you know it is unlikely? Currently, it is a fact.

Let's assume there was a state were any universe was equally possible. When was that state? Does it make sense to describe states before the big bang, the beginning of time as we know it?

Even if it does make sense and our universe is very unlikely. It still can be pure luck (what I was trying to say with the parents example). The existence of our universe is no hint of its likelihood.


But our universe isn’t well suited for life, our planet is.

So 1) there is a god or 2) many planets exist.


"But our universe isn’t well suited for life, our planet is."

I suggest that most possible universes would have zero regions containing life.


An "explanation" is required to be falsifiable in science. "God" is not falsifiable.

This is why so many scientists have heartburn with "anthropic" explanations. They can't be tested.


Note that testability isn't just an aesthetic preference in an explanation, it's deeply part of what it means to be an explanation with any utility; if an explanation for a phenomenon has no falsifiable implications, it adds nothing to your understanding of the universe than the bare knowledge of the phenomenon it is offered to “explain”.


I tend to think you're right that "God" (in the general sense) is not falsifiable.

But, as a Christian, and someone who studies the Bible daily, I can say that at the very least, the God of the Bible is falsifiable.

For instance, if you could prove any one of the following statements to be true, the Christian message would fall apart (and indeed, some of these are even called out in the Bible as essential to its message). If you want a roadmap to debate Christians, here you go:

    - Jesus Christ never existed as a real human being.
    - Jesus wasn't "sinless" (according to the Biblical 
      definitions of sin).
    - There exists at least one other person than Jesus who 
      has never sinned.
    - Jesus wasn't crucified by Roman soldiers at the behest 
      of Jewish religious leaders.
    - The resurrection of Jesus didn't happen.
    - Jesus' mother wasn't a virgin.
    - Jesus never actually claimed to be God.
Many falsifiable propositions are made in the Old Testament, too. These may apply to Judaism as well, though I claim no particular expertise in that religion other than where it overlaps Christianity. Proving these propositions false would go a long way to discrediting the God of both the Old and the New Testaments:

    - The Genesis account of creation.
    - The Genesis account of a great flood.
    - The Genesis account of the destruction of Sodom and 
      Gomorrah.
    - That Joseph interpreted a Pharoah's dream and became 
      second-in-command of Egypt.
    - That Egypt never had a 7-year famine which they 
      survived because of storehouses of grain.
    - That Egypt never enslaved Israel.
    - That the plagues mentioned in Exodus never befell the 
      Egyptians (notably the plague of the firstborn).
    - That Israel didn't walk across the Red Sea.
    - That the Egyptian army wasn't drowned in the Red Sea 
      in pursuit of Israel.
    - That Samson never existed.
    - That Esther never existed.
    - That Esther wasn't a queen who saved Israel from 
      genocidal annihilation.
    - That Ruth never existed.
    - That Jonah never existed.
    - That Jonah never preached in Nineveh.
    - That Jonah was never swallowed by a whale/fish.
    - That Daniel didn't serve in the court of the 
      Babylonian/Medo-Persian empires.
    - That Daniel didn't accurately predict hundreds of 
      years of political wars and intrigue in the Ancient 
      Near East before it happened [0].
There's lots more than that, of course, but it's a start. In short, Christians believe in taking the Bible at face value. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of claims which the Bible makes which are definitely falsifiable. Claims of particular events happening to particular people living in particular places at particular times. There's nothing stopping you or anyone from falsifying those claims.

Not to do your job for you, but consider that there are several ways to do this:

    - Discredit the Biblical story's internal consistency.
    - Find contradictory archaeological evidence.
    - Find contradictory, reputable historical accounts.
    - Come up with valid textual criticisms.
... and I don't believe that's even an exhaustive list.

Good luck and Godspeed! ;-)

[0]: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/869-amazing-prophe...


1) None of these directly disprove God, only the founding documents of Christianity. And, it is awfully arrogant to assume that the Christian God is the one that needs to be disproven. You need to do a lot more to substantiate that position as the Christian religion is neither the oldest nor the most numerous.

2) You might want to go look up biblical archaeology. Quite a lot of the history in the Bible has been disproven.

3) Simply being factually correct is necessary but insufficient. Falsifiability is about disproving a prediction called a hypothesis. Very few religions have tenets that allow you to put the pieces together and make a novel prediction that can then be tested.

And, if I were being particularly uncharitable, I would argue that the fact that the Second Coming has been predicted over and over and yet still has not occurred is actually significant disproof of the existence of the Christian God.


>2) You might want to go look up biblical archaeology. Quite a lot of the history in the Bible has been disproven.

I often hear something to this affect, would you be willing to provide 3 specific claims/events documented in the Bible that have been disproven?


1. Noah's Flood

2. The entire book of Joshua. If that's not specific enough for you, the conquest of Jericho. Jericho was not inhabited at the time.

3. The existence of the unified monarchy of Israel under King David and Solomon.


I have read various bits and pieces of the evidence that is supposed to validate the claims that these didn't occur. What I found interesting was that the archaeological presentations either were very wishy-washy or the conclusion so presented were in direct disputation of the evidence presented.

Some years ago, I read a paper by two Israeli archaeologists disputing the idea that the northern Kingdom of Israel arose out of a split of the unified King David/King Solomon kingdom. What bemused me was that the evidence directly confirmed what the biblical record says and yet the conclusion was that the evidence had to mean that the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been independent from the very beginning.

I find it interesting that the Hittites were, for a long time, only known by the biblical records. Yet, it found in recent times, (the last two or so centuries) that it was a large thriving kingdom that disappeared from history.

As far as Jericho is concerned, what evidence have you seen that is was uninhabited at the time. I have seen various archaeological papers that directly support the biblical story.

One of the major problems that is faced today is that we have no sure way of measuring the time periods of the artefacts found with any real precision. The +/- errors are just too large to be sure of precise timing.

Unless we actually develop the technology to view the past, we will always be unsure of what and when events occurred. It becomes a matter of "faith" as to what you end up as believing as "truth".

What god, if any, you believe in is a personal decision. I believe that Jesus Christ is God (one with the Father and Holy Spirit) and that He is the creator of the universe and that He takes a personal interest in every single person who has lived, is living or will live. But whether or not you so believe is entirely up to you. He has given you the free choice to do so.

For those who think science "proves" that there is no God, my to you is why are there so many scientists who believe in a god and in particular believe in Jesus Christ as God, especially when they come from a background of no belief in any god or gods?

What made it compelling to them to change their minds and believe in Jesus Christ?

Of course, on the other side, there are those who believed and no hold the view that there is no god. One must also ask them why did they change their minds about the matter.


The evidence for pretty much the entire Bible before the return from exile generally ranges from non-existent to contradictory.

The biggest problem is that the conquest of Israel, as depicted in Joshua, is impossible. Joshua gives a lot fairly specific details about what kinds of regions would have been particularly despoiled, and while there is some archaeological evidence of war, they can't add up to the tale of Joshua, even on a superficial level (such as the destructions being a millennium apart, a pretty major chronological conundrum). In terms of historicity, Joshua has much in common with a kind of King Arthur mythology for the ancient Hebrews.

Furthermore, the entire history as depicted is pretty heavily massaged into a pattern of "king does well, Israel prospers; king does bad, Israel suffers." So much so that even most of the good leaders get specific episodes of transgressions resulting in punishment (Joshua is the only figure off the top of my head that doesn't have such an evidence). The text should therefore be treated as unreliable and nonindicative of history until we have corroborating evidence to support textual evidence.

The latter bit is where most of the archaeology to support the Biblical narrative falls flat. Sure, you can point to evidence that people lived in Jerusalem around 1000 BC... but that's all the evidence says. We don't know if they were even following Jewish law, for examples, least of all if Jerusalem was the capital of a major regional power.

Note that I write this as someone who would consider himself a Christian. But I do acknowledge that the Bible is not an accurate source of literal history.


In what way is the conquest of the region that became known as Israel impossible? You say that the archaeological record doesn't add up to what is described. So what? The evidence of the destruction that occurred in Europe during WW1 and WW2 is now very minor compared to the extensive damage done. That is only within the century. One should expect that residual archaeological evidence will be extremely small after a period of 3 millennia.

So to say that the amount of archaeological evidence is not extensive enough to validate the details found in Joshua and that the details given in Joshua are impossible is a bit extreme.

Your comment about the history of the kingdom following the "fortunes" of the various kings is also not matching what we can see in modern day history. If one looks at the modern histories of different countries around the world, one can also see similar patterns. Countries quite often follow the actions of the leadership of that country, bad leadership worsens a country, good leadership tends to better a country.

It doesn't always follow this pattern but for the discussion, close enough is an indicator.

To say that this should be treated as unreliable and non-indicative of history really means that we should treat all (and I mean all) historical records as completely suspect. As I remarked earlier, the only indicators of the Hittites was found in the OT until relatively recently. If it is correct in such a minor (extremely minor) point, shouldn't we expect it to be at least somewhat indicative in the major points?

You can either accept based on what we do have or not accept based on what we do have. That's your call. I have yet to come across anything that amounts to the biblical record being bogus. Even the stuff used to refute has not done so as far as I am concerned.

As far as "Jewish" law is concerned, the biblical record quite clearly says that the Israelites did not follow the Mosaic Law for varying periods of time during their history and that they followed after other gods. In point of fact, it evens tells of an event where one of the Mosaic books hadn't been know for at least a couple of generations, since it had been found hidden in the old temple for that entire period.

One of the interesting aspects of the OT, at least from my point of view, is that it doesn't hide the failures and foibles of the leaders and people of that time. King David, who is called a man after God's own heart, is described in terms that indicate how variable he was, good and bad. I mean to say, he slept with one of his leading officers' wife and then to hide the fact, got the man killed.

Stories like Lot and his daughters and their getting of child by their father or the actions of Tamar with her father-in-law Judah, or even Abraham and how he tried to hide his marriage to Sarah (by calling her his sister, which she was) from the various Kings he came in contact with.

These are the stories of real people not whitewashed for religious reasons.

Essentially, the bible is a book about the relationship between God (Jesus Christ) the Creator and people. It is not afraid to tell it like it is. The stories could be about anyone today, we are no different.

I listened to an Islamic Imam who was teaching his followers how to deal with Christians when they come. He basically was telling them that they should use all the "naughty" stories in the bible to get the Christians to run away. For those who don't understand what the books are about, this is a good tactic.

It is up to each individual to test the veracity of what they are told and to weigh up the evidence presented to them. This is applicable irrespective of the subject matter, irrespective of the field, irrespective of the consensus.


If you think anyone can prove negatives then you don't understand what falsifiable means. Further conversation is probably pointless because you're following different rules of logic to everyone else.

I can't prove that Jesus' mother wasn't a virgin any more than you can prove that my great-great-grandmother wasn't a virgin.


Assuming you mean God in the Echopraxia "Something that violates/defies current understanding of physics, or the Bolstrom "simulation Hypothesis" I'd accept that position.


Or for some, “simulation”.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: