Thursday, November 23, 2006

Numbers made right

"There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all....It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe....The impression of design is overwhelming."
--Paul Davies (Astrophysicist)


Lifewish said...

You'll note that Davies also posits a non-design-related solution to the conundrum*. It's a bit of a quote mine to just mention the problem without mentioning the proposed solution.

*Or at least, he attempts to. I personally can't figure out what the heck he's on about.

Bro. Bartleby said...

I think Davies just likes to think. Which is good. But he does leave the door open for God.

"Might purpose be a genuine property of nature right down to the cellular or even subcellular level? There are no agreed answers to these questions, but no account of the origin of life can be complete without addressing them."

Lifewish said...

There are no agreed answers to these questions, but no account of the origin of life can be complete without addressing them.

Again, you don't mention whether his particular account does address them and come up with an answer of "no".

As I mentioned, I'm unsure as to Davies' credibility - he trips quite a few of my crank detectors - but if you're going to cite him you should probably make sure you give a representative sample of his viewpoint.

Bro. Bartleby said...

I cited Paul Davies because he is provocative. I have read one of his books, "The 5th Miracle -- The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life" in which his fertile and active mind picks up and examines most of what the science community currently has on the table. In this book he doesn't promote any one theory, but he does discuss in detail what he finds of interest in each. Also I find his not promoting a pet theory refreshing, as well as when he reveals that behind closed doors scientists are as baffled about the origin and meaning of life as everyone else. Davies doesn't come to a conclusion in this book, but rather ends with the current two "diametrically opposed world-views."

"On one side is orthodox science, with its nihilistic philosophy of the pointless universe, of impersonal laws oblivious of ends, a cosmos in which life and mind, science and art, hope and fear are but fluky incidental embellishments on a tapestry of irreversible cosmic corruption.

On the other, there is an alternative view, undeniably romantic but perhaps true nevertheless, the vision of a self-organizing and self-complexifying universe, governed by ingenious laws that encourage matter to evolve towards life and consciousness. A universe in which the emergence of thinking beings is a fundamental and integral part of the overall scheme of things. A universe in which we are not alone."

I know only from what I gather in this one book (I think he has written over two dozen), but I would recommend it to anyone interested in a non-scientific book on current views from the science community. And by the way, I didn't get any warnings from my "crank detector" ... I'm sure wiki has much more in his bio.

Lifewish said...

I'd very much disagree with his characterisation of the sides. On the one hand, there's positivist science, which insists that there actually be some evidence for something before we accept it as true. On the other hand, there's a particular variety of mysticism, which insists that our complete failure to detect any purpose to the universe should not restrain us from noisily pushing the existence of such a purpose.

In the middle, there's me. I don't think that science is all there is - but only because I don't think that objective reality is all there is. The totality of human experience contains other components that can be equally real for a given individual, although they will not necessarily be real for humanity as a whole.

What made my crank detector buzz was the conflation of quantum mechanics with philosophy. That almost never ends well.