Friday, December 23, 2011

Physics = Faith

The accidental universe: Science's crisis of faith—By Alan P. Lightman (Harper's Magazine)

Man lives by faith -- we can't even really choose our faith. We can reject God, in which case Satan helps us believe we have no faith at all. Oh, but we do -- we are all play the eternal faith game at the price of our immortal souls.

As I've commented in other blogs, it has become quite well accepted in theoretical physicists that our goldilocks universe is WAY too precise to be anything but directly "created for us", or a happenstance in something like 10 to the 500th universes. So you get to have faith that our universe was the random accident in a huge number of existing universes, and then you believe that over billions of years with no intelligent selection, we happened to evolve here with consciousness, a built in desire to know our origins and a randomly selected meme to postulate an infinite God. You can either believe in that, or you can believe in God ... either way, you have faith in what you believe.

That same uncertainty disturbs many physicists who are adjusting to the idea of the multiverse. Not only must we accept that basic properties of our universe are accidental and uncalculable. In addition, we must believe in the existence of many other universes. But we have no conceivable way of observing these other universes and cannot prove their existence. Thus, to explain what we see in the world and in our mental deductions, we must believe in what we cannot prove.

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