Saturday, December 6, 2008

Materialism strikes back: We create the universe, not God?

In "Why it isn't as simple as God vs. the multiverse", Amanda Gefter (December 4, 2008) who seems determined to turn Britain's New Scientist into the "National Enquirer" of pop science mags, advises that
Pitting the multiverse against religion presents a false dichotomy. Science never boils down to a choice between two alternative explanations. It is always plausible that both are wrong and a third or fourth or fifth will turn out to be correct.

What might a third option look like here? Physicist John Wheeler once offered a suggestion: maybe we should approach cosmic fine-tuning not as a problem but as a clue. Perhaps it is evidence that we somehow endow the universe with certain features by the mere act of observation. It's an idea that Stephen Hawking has been thinking about, too. Hawking advocates what he calls top-down cosmology, in which observers are creating the universe and its entire history right now. If we in some sense create the universe, it is not surprising that the universe is well suited to us.
Well, that's a pretty remarkable idea: We create the universe?

Okay. Let's take a deep breath and think about what this means:

1. The mind is real, and it causes things to happen? So, let me get this straight: The mind is not an illusion created by the buzz of neurons in the brain. Not only is the mind not an illusion, but it actually creates the universe. Wowza! Has anyone told the folk at The Edge this?

Or more to the point, has anyone told their literary agents? Is there some way of getting back huge advances offered for hard line materialist works? Naw, I thought not.

2. The obvious reason that we do not, in isolation, create the universe is this: Many of our fellow humans would not intentionally create the circumstances they endure. As co-author of The Spiritual Brain, I would be the last person to deny the causal powers of the human mind. But clearly, other factors are in play with respect to how the universe works out.

It is becoming harder and harder to deny design in the universe.