Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Definitive Debunking of the misuse of the Anthropic Principle to support Intelligent Design theory*

The Anthropic Principle is much used by Intelligent Design advocates to argue for the improbability that our existence can be explained except by the invocation of a Designer who fine-tuned the constants that govern the physical laws and properties that make our universe capable of supporting intelligent life.
A modern variation of the teleological argument is built upon the anthropic principle. The anthropic principle is derived from the apparent delicate balance of conditions necessary for human life. In this line of reasoning, speculation about the vast, perhaps infinite, range of possible conditions in which life could not exist is compared to the speculated improbability of achieving conditions in which life does exist, and then interpreted as indicating a fine-tuned universe specifically designed so human life is possible. This view is well articulated by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986).

Some of the estimated proportions involved in cosmic "fine-tuning" are remarkable. John Polkinghorne, for instance, pointed out in 1985 that just one factor among many in the cosmos, the difference between expansive and contractive forces in the expanding cosmos according to then-currently accepted theory, depends upon an extremely fine balance of the total energy involved to within one in 1060 , a sixty-one digit number equivalent to taking aim from Earth and hitting an inch-wide target at the farthest reaches of the observable universe. George Wald, also in 1985, wrote in the same context that the conditions for something as fundamental as the atom depend on a balance of forces to within one in 1018. Proponents of the fine-tuned universe form of teleological argument typically argue that taken together, the various fine-tuned balances appear quite improbable, and hint strongly at something designed rather than accidental. And, of course, "designed" implies a "designer" of some kind.

In a debate with VoxDay on his blog, I wrote this reply to his contention that one cannot speak intelligently about probabilities without an understanding the basis upon which those probabilites are calculated.
This is a good point, and why I think the Anthropic Principle as an argument for god is so much rubbish. We are told that the physical constants that govern the formation of galaxies, planets, stars and living organisms are so finely tuned as to make the probability that they obtained their values from some random process to be astronomically small. Lets set aside the oxymoronic notion of a variable constant for now. All we know about the constants is the value that they have. If you are given a number, say 5, and are told that it was randomly generated, can you ascribe a probability to the result that it turned out to be 5 without knowing how it was generated? Was it generated using a six sided die, or a computer algorithm using a sixteen bit variable, or a 32 bit variable, or if it was drawn out of a hat containing twelve numbers? No, we can't.

On what basis can anyone say what potential values these physical constants can take, or whether they are variable at all?

* This correction was sponsored by Susan's Husband


Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Definitive debunking? Not a bad day's work for a lazy Saturday, Duck. Gonna take on string theory next weekend?

Except, as I understand it, the (Strong) Anthropic Principle isn't addressing the question of why you rolled five instead of another number. It addresses why there are laws of physics, mathematics and probability that let you roll anything at all in the first place. If the alternative to rolling five is to roll any one of a gazillion other numbers, that's mundane and you have a point. But if all of the gazillion historical random, non-teleological alternatives to your being able to roll any number are chaos or nothingness and most definitely no mathematics and no you, that's kind of mind-blowing and you have a different kind of problem, no?

May 11, 2008 2:56 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Yes, I think Duck is a might confused. The title claims a debunking of the Anthropic Principle, but the text only claims to debunk the use of the Anthropic Principle as an argument for a Designer. Not quite the same thing.

Further, I have read The Anthropic Cosmological Principle and the author Duck quotes completely misstates its argument. If anything, it argues against a Designer, even in the face of potentially random physical law and constants.

Basically, the Principle states that you can't learn anything about the odds of winning the lottery by only interviewing lottery winners.

May 11, 2008 4:13 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Any way that you contemplate the sheer reality of existence is mind blowing. But you missed the point I was trying to make. Who says there has to be any rolling of numbers? How do we know there was anything to tune? It's a baseless assumption, because we cannot peer backwards before the Big Bang and say anything about the conditions that existed. The tuning argument makes an assumption that the proto-universe was in some randomly variable state and that there was some action by some entity that acted on that flux to set the constants prior to the commencement of the Bang. It is purely speculative, just as the multiverse theory is speculative.

May 11, 2008 4:18 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

It is purely speculative, just as the multiverse theory is speculative.

Quite true, as is your theory that it was all just chance. But you aren't saying that these arguments are all equally speculative. You are saying one is rubbish and the others aren't. If someone says to you that the physical conditions for life had to be so finely tuned over eons that the chance of this occurring randomly was one in more than the number of atoms in the universe, it may satisfy you to say "I'll take those odds and I believe it was still chance", but you are hardly in any position based on science or objective evidence to claim that trumps someone who says he won't. We're in the dead zone of unanswerable questions. Disposition as much as knowledge will influence us heavily. If scientists can believe the universe is just one of those things, then why can't believers affirm God is just one of those things too? After all, most people do and always have. Why are you so anxious to convince believers to stop at the boundaries of the physical universe while indignant (freaked?) at the idea that physicists should push beyond it? I'm not the one claiming the Anthropic Principle "debunks" atheism or anything. It's you playing the tyrant here.

But of course the AP is an argument for Design, just like Acquinas's arguments were. How could it be otherwise? They are just not proofs in the scientific sense, anymore than your astronomical odds or the multiverse are. You're playing the same game Dicky-Boy played when he attacked them as if they were scientific hypotheses rather than philosophical arguments. But it's not a misuse at all.

BTW, maybe SH can help here, but I understand there are at least two and maybe more anthropic principles that suggest different conclusions, some creationist and some not, so we had better be careful as to what we are talking about, especially because I am in no position to verify any of them. :-)

May 11, 2008 5:17 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

The Anthropic Principle is actually an archetypal example of "Dunnoism", which makes Duck's antagonism odd. It says that because we, the observers, are also part of the question, we can't know how chancy our existence is, because no matter what the odds, we will always observe ourselves existing. I.e. we always have the winning lottery ticket, because if we didn't, we wouldn't be here.

There are variants of this, but all of them start with this point.

As for varying physical law, such theories don't necessarily presume any entity arranged the laws, any more than some entity arranged the cracks in rapidly freezing ice to be in a specific pattern. The main source of random physical law theory is String Theory, which posits an enormous number of possible sets of physical law. Argue with them if you don't like it.

Or argue with the physica community, because the roots are deeper. Such speculation arises out of trying to find a grand unified theory that answers the question of why all those physical constants have the specific values they do (such as the fine structure constant). Duck, if that's not just random chance, why is it 1/137? The Anthropic Principle argues that we observe it to be such because it's the only value that makes the evolution of intelligent life possible. In classic Dunnoism, the AP is silent on how that happened.

May 12, 2008 5:06 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

OK, I renamed the post to eliminate further confusion. But this discussion does point out something that causes confusion in many arguments of this type - the distinction between evidence and argument.

The only evidence that we have to consider is the existence of this universe, its measurable constants and the fact that it allowed intelligent life to develop. SH uses the metaphor of lottery winners, but that assumes that there was a lottery. There is no evidence of a lottery. We would need evidence of at least one other universe with different constants to make that assumption.

The reason that using the AP to support ID is rubbish is because it is an argument without evidence. But the ID'ers are claiming that the AP is evidence to support ID. That is the rubbish part. It is a false claim.

May 12, 2008 5:35 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Puleeze, enough with the "no evidence" whine. We aren't talking about divine tweakings of the eye here. The evidence is the universe and the laws that govern it. The question is what inference, or rather chain of inferences, can be be drawn through observation and reason. The choices are design, the most fantastically improbable happenstance imaginable or just one of a gazillion universes and therefore more probable. There is no evidence for any of them, just sentient beings using their brains.

May 12, 2008 7:12 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Now that Duck has clarified, I agree with his main point. If anything, the Anthropic Principle is an argument against Intelligent Design, in that it explains away any requirement for Intervention even in the face of very low probabilities for us to exist (whether physical constant tuning, or evolutionary contingencies). I.e., if there was a lottery, we will always been seen to have won it, so no Intervention needed. If no lottery, no Intervention needed.

May 12, 2008 7:57 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


Slow down. It's not an argument against ID in the sense of scientifically disproving or even undercutting a scientific assertion. It's a philosphical counter to a philosphical inference about how what is became what is. As far as I can see, no one is arguing or disagreeing on objective evidence and no one is any closer to the realm of objective probability or plausibility. I thought we agreed many moons ago that science can neither prove nor disprove design.

Please remember the argument today is not which side is right, but whether one side is stupid and talking rubbish.

May 12, 2008 8:35 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The universe is a postulate.

At least, if you think there is only one.

If there are more than one, the anthropic principle becomes jejeune.

Not an interesting question, either way.

May 12, 2008 8:47 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

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May 12, 2008 8:47 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 12, 2008 8:48 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 12, 2008 8:48 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Well, isn't that Duck's point? He's not debunking the Anthropic Principle, but its use in favor of Intelligent Design. I agree with that.

As for your other point, I see what you mean, but I would still consider the Anthropic Principle at least a counter-argument to the common "probability" argument of Intelligent Design. I would agree that it's not an argument for much except ignorance, in precisely the sense you write of.

May 12, 2008 11:07 AM  
Blogger James Redford said...

Concerning the matter of Designer, God has been proven to exist based upon the most reserved view of the known laws of physics. For much more on that, see Prof. Frank J. Tipler's below paper, which among other things demonstrates that the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics) require that the universe end in the Omega Point (the final cosmological singularity and state of infinite informational capacity identified as being God):

F. J. Tipler, "The structure of the world from pure numbers," Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. Also released as "Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything," arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007.

Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler's above paper was selected as one of 12 for the "Highlights of 2005" accolade as "the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website." (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, "Highlights of 2005," Reports on Progress in Physics. ) Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain's main professional body for physicists.

Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal's impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler's 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a "letter" as defined by the latter journal.)

See also the below resource for further information on the Omega Point Theory:


Tipler is Professor of Mathematics and Physics (joint appointment) at Tulane University. His Ph.D. is in the field of global general relativity (the same rarefied field that Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed), and he is also an expert in particle physics and computer science. His Omega Point Theory has been published in a number of prestigious peer-reviewed physics and science journals in addition to Reports on Progress in Physics, such as Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (one of the world's leading astrophysics journals), Physics Letters B, the International Journal of Theoretical Physics, etc.

Prof. John A. Wheeler (the father of most relativity research in the U.S.) wrote that "Frank Tipler is widely known for important concepts and theorems in general relativity and gravitation physics" on pg. viii in the "Foreword" to The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986) by cosmologist Prof. John D. Barrow and Tipler, which was the first book wherein Tipler's Omega Point Theory was described.

The leading quantum physicist in the world, Prof. David Deutsch (inventor of the quantum computer, being the first person to mathematically describe the workings of such a device, and winner of the Institute of Physics' 1998 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize for his work), endorses the physics of the Omega Point Theory in his book The Fabric of Reality (1997). For that, see:

David Deutsch, extracts from Chapter 14: "The Ends of the Universe" of The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications (London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1997), ISBN: 0713990619; with additional comments by Frank J. Tipler.

The only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to invent tenuous physical theories which have no experimental support and which violate the known laws of physics, such as with Prof. Stephen Hawking's paper on the black hole information issue which is dependant on the conjectured string theory-based anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory correspondence (AdS/CFT correspondence). See S. W. Hawking, "Information loss in black holes," Physical Review D, Vol. 72, No. 8, 084013 (October 2005); also at arXiv:hep-th/0507171, July 18, 2005.

That is, Hawking's paper is based upon proposed, unconfirmed physics. It's an impressive testament to the Omega Point Theory's correctness, as Hawking implicitly confirms that the known laws of physics require the universe to collapse in finite time. Hawking realizes that the black hole information issue must be resolved without violating unitarity, yet he's forced to abandon the known laws of physics in order to avoid unitarity violation without the universe collapsing.

Some have suggested that the universe's current acceleration of its expansion obviates the universe collapsing (and therefore obviates the Omega Point). But as Profs. Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner point out in "Geometry and Destiny" (General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 31, No. 10 [October 1999], pp. 1453-1459; also at arXiv:astro-ph/9904020, April 1, 1999 ), there is no set of cosmological observations which can tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

There's a very good reason for that, because that is dependant on the actions of intelligent life. The known laws of physics provide the mechanism for the universe's collapse. As required by the Standard Model, the net baryon number was created in the early universe by baryogenesis via electroweak quantum tunneling. This necessarily forces the Higgs field to be in a vacuum state that is not its absolute vacuum, which is the cause of the positive cosmological constant. But if the baryons in the universe were to be annihilated by the inverse of baryogenesis, again via electroweak quantum tunneling (which is allowed in the Standard Model, as B - L is conserved), then this would force the Higgs field toward its absolute vacuum, cancelling the positive cosmological constant and thereby forcing the universe to collapse. Moreover, this process would provide the ideal form of energy resource and rocket propulsion during the colonization phase of the universe.

Prof. Tipler's above 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper also demonstrates that the correct quantum gravity theory has existed since 1962, first discovered by Richard Feynman in that year, and independently discovered by Steven Weinberg and Bryce DeWitt, among others. But because these physicists were looking for equations with a finite number of terms (i.e., derivatives no higher than second order), they abandoned this qualitatively unique quantum gravity theory since in order for it to be consistent it requires an arbitrarily higher number of terms. Further, they didn't realize that this proper theory of quantum gravity is consistent only with a certain set of boundary conditions imposed (which includes the initial Big Bang, and the final Omega Point, cosmological singularities). The equations for this theory of quantum gravity are term-by-term finite, but the same mechanism that forces each term in the series to be finite also forces the entire series to be infinite (i.e., infinities that would otherwise occur in spacetime, consequently destabilizing it, are transferred to the cosmological singularities, thereby preventing the universe from immediately collapsing into nonexistence). As Tipler notes in his 2007 book The Physics of Christianity (pp. 49 and 279), "It is a fundamental mathematical fact that this [infinite series] is the best that we can do. ... This is somewhat analogous to Liouville's theorem in complex analysis, which says that all analytic functions other than constants have singularities either a finite distance from the origin of coordinates or at infinity."

When combined with the Standard Model, the result is a Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics.

May 12, 2008 3:15 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Heh, heh. C'mon, Duckians, at least you have to admit we've come a long way from the days when we just said a watch needs a watchmaker and left it there.

May 12, 2008 5:09 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

You've come a long distance, but I'm afraid you're no closer to your goal.

Precisely what SH said. My argument with VoxDay had to do with what constituted evidence for God. He was getting confused between arguments and evidence. The Antropic Principle may support an argument for ID, but it is not evidence of ID. I don't think it is evidence of anything. Certainly it is not evidence for God's nonexistence, as you pointed out.

the Omega Point (the final cosmological singularity and state of infinite informational capacity identified as being God)

James, thanks for the reading material. It will take some time to slog through, but I'll take issue with the above quote right off the bat. I don't think that describes what is commonly thought of as God. Communication is only possible when words have some commonly understood meaning, and what you wrote comes nowhere near the commonly understood meaning of the word God. A good rule of thumb is if you can substitute the definition for the words father/god in the Lord's Prayer and have it make sense.

"Our Omega Point, who art in the state of infinite informational capacity, singular be thy name."

May 12, 2008 5:38 PM  
Blogger Duck said...


Let this be a lesson for you. Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. You wanted science to prove God's existence? You got it!

"It is a fundamental mathematical fact that this [infinite series] is the best that we can do. ... This is somewhat analogous to Liouville's theorem in complex analysis, which says that all analytic functions other than constants have singularities either a finite distance from the origin of coordinates or at infinity."

All Glory be unto the Singularity! Conserved are his information!

May 12, 2008 6:27 PM  
Blogger James Redford said...

Hi, Duck.

The Omega Point is omniscient, having an infinite amount of information and knowing all that is logically possible to be known; it is omnipotent, having an infinite amount of energy and power; and it is omnipresent, consisting of all that exists. As well, as Stephen Hawking proved, the singularity is not in spacetime, but rather the boundary of space and time. So the Omega Point is transcendent to, yet immanent in, space and time.

Those are all the physical properties that have been claimed for God in traditional Christian theology. As well, Christian theology has maintained that there is only one achieved (actually existing) infinity, and that infinity is God. The cosmological singularity of the Omega Point is an achieved infinity.

And given an infinite amount of computational resources, recreating the exact quantum state of our present universe is trivial, requiring at most a mere 10^123 bits (the number which Roger Penrose calculated), or at most a mere 2^10^123 bits for every different quantum configuration of the universe logically possible (i.e., the multiverse in its entirety up to this point in universal history). So the Omega Point will be able to resurrect us using merely an infinitesimally small amount of total computational resources: indeed, the multiversal resurrection will occur between 10^-10^10 and 10^-10^123 seconds before the Omega Point is reached, as the computational capacity of the universe at that stage will be great enough that doing so would require only a trivial amount of total computational resources.

But yes, I do encourage you to read Prof. Tipler's 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper ( ) and to read over what is provided on the Theophysics website ( ).

May 12, 2008 7:38 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Using the AP to support ID is rubbish, for a reason more fundamental than evidence: the argument grabs its own neck by the scruff and hurls itself headlong off Occam's precipice.

It never fails to completely flabber my gast that people claiming sentience insist the only answer to the existence of a set of physical constants astonishing in their interlocking specificity is invoking an uncaused designer capable of such prodigious feats. If the former is impossible without outside assistance, then there is no leap sufficiently stupendous to arrive at the latter.

The evidence can neither prove nor disprove design, but one would think that those advocating such an end would have the awareness, or honesty, to admit their proposed solution only magnifies the original problem. For that reason alone, the design argument should be dismissed.


Mr. Redford:

I found this article (from the Vatican Observatory Research Group, of all places) regarding Prof. Tipler's Omega-Point theory. This quote gives a flavor of the article:

As a physicist and a mathematician Tipler demonstrates an active and imaginative control over many areas of contemporary science, particularly quantum field theory, gravitational physics and cosmology, and information theory. However there are glaring scientific, philosophical, and theological flaws in his construction of the Omega Point theory, and particularly in his extension of its argument beyond the physical in an attempt to cover the personal, philosophical, and theological areas of reality.


It is difficult for the non-specialist to `zero-in' on the fundamental errors in the Omega Point Theory - there is an extensive technical fabric cloaking the theory, which, though questionable at many points, provides the impression of serious scientific scholarship. But the principal flaws are not technical. In this paper we specify major fallacies in Tipler's approach: scientific, philosophical, and theological, leaving aside secondary technical issues (some of which have been answered elsewhere [9]). In the light of this analysis, the Omega Point theory is seen to be based on uncertain physics pushed far beyond the limits of its applicability. Its principal components are grounded in assumptions which are attractive but unsupportable, and in a geometrical-physical construction (the Omega-Point) which is arbitrarily endowed with divine attributes through linguistic misappropriation.

I claim no particular expertise in cosmology, other than having glancingly studied the concepts during third-semester physics several lives ago. One of the things I do remember, though, is the intractability of the "Big Bang" theory going back in time further than (IIRC) 10^-43 seconds after the end of the singularity.

Why? Because math doesn't behave very well when the denominators start featuring zeroes. I strongly suspect Prof Tipler has leapt over those troublesome zeroes when they hindered attaining his desired goal.

The last para of the article is also worth quoting:

Our critique has supposed the Omega-Point theory is intended to be taken seriously as science and theology, or as an adequate replacement for a rigorous theology. Assuming this standpoint, then as we have shown, it is deeply flawed and quite unsupportable, the argument being inconsistent and arbitrary, with numerous unwarranted conclusions being simply stated as fact; so it cannot be taken seriously in either scienctific or theological terms. But perhaps our supposition is unjustified, and we have not correctly identified its literary genre.

May 13, 2008 12:14 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Duck, why do you keep on suggesting I want science to "prove" design? I hold no such hopes or expectations. My interest in all this is is to challenge the hubris of scientism, especially its popular versions, and its claims that faith is the province of the stupid and superstitious. Also the argument from diagnosis favoured by the dear, departed Brit that intelligent folks who claim to believe really don't even though they say they do.

But one thing is for sure, we're not in Darwinland anymore, Toto. Not only is the world of modern physics unintelligible and inaccessible to the layman, the version for Dummies is too. A major problem for both sides is recognizing and agreeing on what constitutes evidence because so much seems to come from a theoretical, even metaphysical, mathematics that produces theoretical conjecture and unseen, hypothetical matter. It reminds me of arguments over climate change predictions based on computer models neither side can access or understand.

However, design or no design, one scientific shibboleth appears to have taken a beating in the last generation or two. Stupendous advances appear to have been made in physics, cosmology, etc., but they don't appear to have "closed gaps" or brought us any closer to the fabled unified theory. Discover one sub-atomic particle and two more peek out at you, etc. In some ways, it appears the climate for confident, straightforward natural materialism was better in the 50's and 60's.


Yes, I was waiting for you to throw old Willy of Occam into the mix, but how does he help you here? On what basis can you say randomness in the unfolding of the fine-tuned universe is simpler than design. Most of humanity would come to the opposite conclusion. Do you just haul him out no matter what the odds?

Imagine you sit down to play bridge with three friends. I believe there are about 600 billion different ways the cards can be dealt. On the first hand, your host deals thirteen of each suit to everyone. He responds with bland, innocent looks to everyone's incredulity and no one can figure it out. Do you haul out Willy-boy and conclude random chance is the preferred, satisfactory scientific explanation? Would that really satisfy you intellectually? More profoundly, what is it about that particular hand that makes everybody feel so incredulous?


If you are still there, I need some help. Do you agree (more or less) with the following:

a) There are basically seven scientific theories of reality-- quantum theory, relativity theory, string theory, thermodynamics,, evolution, molecular biology and the macro-quantum concept of entanglement;

b) each one offers stunning insights into a limited domain and advances our knowledge and technical capabilities significantly;

c) They cannot be reconciled and are theoretically incompatible at a macro level.

May 13, 2008 3:15 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Mr. Burnet;

No. First we need to pare your list.

1) Quantum entanglement isn't distinct from quantum mechanics. The former is nigh omnipresent in the latter. That's why any thought of abanonding entanglement is a non-starter.

2) String Theory is really a variant of QM, or extension of it (as Relativity is to Newtonian Mechanics). I am also not willing to say that String Theory has offered insights in to anything. It's much more of an ongoing project than a theory and is no where near the status and utility of any of the other things on the list. It's like fusion research -- everyone thinks it's going to work but no one has actually made it work yet.

On to incompatibilities:

A) Evolution is compatible with all the others.

B) Molecular biology is compatible with all the others.

C) Thermodynamics and Relativity are compatible.

D) Relativity and QM have the entanglement incompatibility.

E) QM has the "arrow of time" problem, which creates incompability with Thermodynamics. That is, in QM time is just another variable in the wave function. There's no reason in the theory for time to flow one way or another. Thermodynamics is all about the flow of time in a specific direction.

May 13, 2008 6:52 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Depending upon taste, the Christian god either loves or judges (or both). I fail to see how an Omega Point does either, so it can hardly be equivalent to the Big Spook.


I was convinced by Pagels that probablility takes care of the arrow of time.

Any particular particle interaction can go back to its status quo ante, but that all will do so in sequence and over and over seems, well, improbable.

May 13, 2008 7:03 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Thanks, SH. Relax, Harry, our project to see whether we could use string theory to prove the Beatitudes was cancelled for lack of funding.

May 13, 2008 8:07 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Yes, I was waiting for you to throw old Willy of Occam into the mix, but how does he help you here?

Mostly rhetorically -- I happened to like the way the words ran together in making the inescapable point.

Which is, and should give you pause: if the universe is so improbable as to require a designer, how is it that invoking a far more improbable designer solves anything?

This is where Willy applies. If adding an entity provides no explanatory power -- indeed, in this case it greatly adds to the things requiring explaining -- don't.

Of course, the response is that the universe is caused, but the designer is uncaused. Such intellectual luminaries as Karen Armstrong have resorted to that transparent dodge. But why not avoid all the extra syllables and just say the universe is uncaused?

Imagine you sit down to play bridge with three friends. I believe there are about 600 billion different ways the cards can be dealt. On the first hand, your host deals thirteen of each suit to everyone ...

The problem with arguing from analogy is ensuring the analogy is appropriate.

This one largely isn't, and where it is, it defeats your point.

First off, no matter how the cards are dealt, the resulting combination is a 1:600^9 event.

So, why do you express amazement at one particular combination, and none at all at the rest, when they are all equally unlikely?

Next, you use your (presumed) knowledge of cards in order to arrive at the 1:600^9 odds. The reason I added (presumed) to that sentence is that you are assuming the deck is standard, and completely shuffled.

What if the deck has never been shuffled? Let's change the analogy a little bit, and consider a series of bridge hands dealt from new, unshuffled decks. In that case, every hand would be precisely the same. That result would not be the least surprising because of an entering constraint.

Just because we are here to be astonished at the fine balance of constants doesn't mean that balance is inherently astonishing, any more than any other arrangement would be.

Further, there is no knowing how constrained those constants might be, and even less way of knowing how many hands have been dealt.

Maybe there have been 600 billion universes in succession.

Hence, Dunnoism is the only intellectually honest response, although it doesn't do a darn for wish fulfillment.

I think it is occasionally amazing to ponder the fact of existence.

But, as Harry said above, as a question it is scarcely worth asking.

May 13, 2008 10:44 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

That was directed to the newcomer, Redford

May 13, 2008 2:57 PM  
Blogger David said...

Here is my fictional character, Michael. Say hi to the folks, Michael.


Tell me about the creation of your world and the beginning of life, Michael.

"My world was created billions of years ago through natural forces and life arose merely by chance."

Actually, I created you and your world a few seconds ago just by thinking you up.

"Don't be daft. I'm not falling for that."

May 13, 2008 4:03 PM  
Blogger James Redford said...

Hi, Hey Skipper.

Notice that Prof. George F. R. Ellis and William R. Stoeger don't bother to actually concretize their objections to Prof. Frank J. Tipler's book The Physics of Immortality (1994). Their objections remain purely nebulous. That's a flawed methodology, as one can object to anything thereby.

As well, they ignore Tipler's exposition in their critique. If one is willing to ignore what the critiqued individual wrote then, again, one can construct any objection.

Ellis and Stoeger's critique consists of the logical fallacy of bare assertion while ignoring Tipler's pre-written answers to their objections. For example, Ellis and Stoeger assert that life cannot exist at high temperatures, but they don't bother to provide a demonstration for this. What is important as concerns life is that enough energy is available in which to process information (i.e., manipulate bits) and that the information-bearing medium exists at an energy level high enough in which to process information at the given temperatures. Tipler demonstrates in his said book that such energy will be available and that the energy level for the medium in which to process information at the given temperatures will exist. But Ellis and Stoeger make no mention of this.

There was a previous paper published by Prof. George Ellis (along with Dr. David Coule) criticizing Tipler's Omega Point Theory ("Life at the end of the universe?," General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 26, No. 7 [July 1994], pp. 731-739), of which is citation No. 9 in the review which you quote, but in the same paper Ellis and Coule gave an argument that the Bekenstein Bound violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics if the universe collapses without having event horizons eliminated. Unwittingly, Ellis and Coule thereby actually gave a powerful argument that the Omega Point is required by the laws of physics!

Indeed, in Tipler's 2005 Reports in Progress in Physics paper he cites Ellis and Coule's paper in support of the existence of the Omega Point!

Also realize that Ellis and Stoeger wrote their critique sometime after Tipler's 1994 book was published (their critique isn't dated, so I don't know when exactly it was written, although I have been familiar with their critique for many years). Their critique doesn't make mention of the advancements in the Omega Point which occured after Tipler's 1994 book, perhaps because they didn't know of them at the time of their writing.

At any rate, the only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to violate the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics).

As well, the only quantum gravity Theory of Everything (TOE) which is consistent with the known laws of physics (and hence every experiment which has been conducted to date) intrinsically produces the Omega Point.

So we can be quite certain the Omega Point boundary condition is true, unless we're willing to abandon the known laws of physics (and hence abandon empirical science).

To point out again, Reports on Progress in Physics, in which Tipler's above-cited 2005 paper was published, is peer-reviewed and the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain's main professional body for physicists. As well, it has a higher impact factor than Physical Review Letters, America's most prestigious physics journal. Of course, the referees at the Institute of Physics would not publish Prof. Tipler's Omega Point Theory in their journal if they thought that it was demonstrably flawed.

Let me here further expand on the weight of "demonstrably flawed" as said above, and why it is particularly special in this case. Authors in physics journals are often allowed to expound on completely unphysical scenarios so long as they declare in their papers the physical paradigm that they are working in (even if it has no relation to our own physical reality), and so long as it is internally consistent so far as the journal referees can tell.

Hence the reason why we get so many papers on string theory, which has absolutely no experimental support and which indeed violates the known laws of physics (of which have been empirically confirmed by every experiment to date).

Yet Tipler's physical paradigm in his 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper is the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics). Indeed, that has been Tipler's methodology in all of his books and in almost all of his peer-reviewed science papers (many of which are on the Omega Point). So in a manner of speaking, he has set himself a high bar: the physical reality we actually inhabit. But then that's the only standard which has any relevancy to us; all else is mental masturbation.

And that is the paradigm in which Tipler's 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper received approval for publication, i.e., the peer-reviewing physicists could find nothing internally inconstistent about it nor could find anything about it which violated the known laws of physics.

May 13, 2008 5:29 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


LOL, but you missed the addendum to Michael's punch line.

"What, you've never heard of William of Occam?"

May 13, 2008 8:31 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

"My world was created billions of years ago through natural forces and life arose merely by chance."

"Actually, I created you and your world a few seconds ago just by thinking you up."

"No, I created you by projecting my bias for human agency onto the material processes of the Universe."

May 14, 2008 5:45 AM  
Blogger Duck said...


I can't begin to debate either side of the Omega Point question, but I think you are missing the point of what the word God represents. An omniscient being isn't the same thing as a singularity possessing infinite information. Information and intelligent self awareness are not the same. A book contains information but it is not self aware or intelligent.

God is conceived as an omnipotent, omniscient and personal being, meaning he shares personality attributes with people and is able to interact with people as a social, personal being. Whatever Omega Point theory purports to prove, it cannot possibly prove that.

May 14, 2008 5:51 AM  
Blogger James Redford said...

Hi, Duck.

Your critique fails, as indeed physics does provide the answer to your objection. The history of physics has been that of subsuming what was previously thought to be purely the concerns of philosophy or metaphysics (e.g., the nature of time; whether the universe has existed forever or a finite time; etc.), or indeed what had been thought of as unrelated disciplines (e.g., chemistry and astronomy). So one ought to be careful before making pronouncements on what physics supposedly cannot show.

At the moment the Omega Point is reached, all fallacies which are logically possible to refute will have been refuted, and all veridical knowledge which is logically possible to be known will be accepted. The Omega Point is the most rational state logically conceivable.

As well, since the Omega Point is also a physical singularity, it exists as a singular consciousness which is aware of all that is possible to be aware of in an exact moment of time. It exists as a perfected consciousness: a consciousness which has reached the highest state logically conceivable.

So the Omega Point is inherently personal. It exists as a (or more accurately, the) perfected personality.

May 14, 2008 9:48 AM  
Blogger James Redford said...

Harry Eagar, regarding the post of yours which you told another was directed toward me: the Omega Point loves you.

At the moment the Omega Point is reached, all fallacies which are logically possible to refute will have been refuted, and all veridical knowledge which is logically possible to be known will be accepted. The Omega Point is the most rational state logically conceivable.

As well, the Omega Point is the most pleasurable state logically conceivable, and infinitely so. The reason is because conscious actors unavoidably seek out what they anticipate will be a more pleasurable state for themselves (this also applies to people who sacrifice themselves to save another, for in that case they prefer the outcome of saving another to maintaining their own lives). Of course, they may fail, due to their expectations not being in conformance with reality, but such failures don't apply to a perfected consciousness, of which has rooted out all error which is possible to root out.

Since love feels good, love will be a prominent feature of the Omega Point. Indeed, infinitely so.

Interestingly enough, since sex feels good (when it is conducted via rational means, i.e., love--rather than violence or shame), the Omega Point will also be the most highly sexualized state conceivable.

Judgement is something we do to ourselves. We are inherently a part of this stream of information-processing, and cannot be abstracted from it. Hence, we each contain within ourselves knowledge of what is inherently good, even though it has been debased to a great degree in many (largly due to government and its intellectual bodyguards, which includes the enforced miseducation system and the mainline churches). But however debased it is in our Earthly lives, upon death it presents itself in full force. This Truth is the light at the end of the tunnel. One can only approach said light if one is willing to accept truth. This includes the truth of all one has done in one's life. So for a murderer, truth would literally hurt, since if he comes toward the light he must experience the reality his victims experienced from their own point of view, including all the pain with it.

Hence, many upon death flee from the light, as they regard it as evil due to it being a source of pain. But then, such is also the case with life, even quite apart from cases of murder, as that example was merely given to present it in stark terms.

So "hell" (even, or especially, on Earth) is simply the resultant product of refusing to accept truth. In death, the farther one flees from the light the further one is steeped in error, and hence the harder it will be for one to realize what is necessary in order to save oneself (i.e., extricate oneself from the unpleasurable predicament). But then, so also is the case with life.

If one is interested in the biblical exposition of the above process, then see John 3:19-21. See also John 14:6, wherein Jesus defines himself as a synonym for truth, and points out that one cannot reach God except via truth.

For much more on this matter, see my following post:

"Existential Truth," TetrahedronOmega, March 14, 2007

May 14, 2008 11:02 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Will the sadists and masochists be happy too at the Omega Point?

Why will the Omega Point be conscious? Perhaps that's one of those pesky logical errors that will be weeded out.

What about software development? Even if we accept Tipler's view that infinite processing power will be available at the Omega Point, I fail to see why this automatically entails the existence of software capable of using that processing power without error. Who's going to write it, the Omega Point Consciousness? Seems a bit of a chicken and egg problem.

May 14, 2008 1:38 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Will the sadists and masochists be happy too at the Omega Point?

Actually there are two Omega points, one decidedly warmer than the other. Don't ask me to explain, it's a mystery.

Hey, stop sneering. If you can have all those parallel universes, why can't we have a second Omega Point?

May 15, 2008 10:04 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Sorry, Redford, but I ran your post through the RANG (tm), and it came out the same as it went in.

A RANG score of 100 indicates only one thing.

That's an omega point, in a way...

May 18, 2008 5:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow? You people are real smart! I was wondering if anyone can prove that the physical universe is material at all? I figure if this is reality, it must have the answers. Since I cannot find anyone who has any answers, it might not be reality. If we cannot find answers here, maybe they exist elsewhere other than in this universe? Am going to have a big glass of wine and go to bed. ROSS

February 23, 2015 2:40 AM  

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