Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Issue / Proof of the Existence of God?

The "proof of the existence of God" problem has been around since at keast the Middle Ages, and I won't claim that this is the last word, but it is interesting to consider the following line of reasoning.

First consider the idea that the universe might be infinite in size, as proposed by cosmologist Max Tegmark. Nodding to the "many worlds" approach of Everett, he gets to a similar place by postulating that we are inside a "Hubble Volume" of what we can see from here, which gets 1 light-year bigger every year, and then imagining there could be zillions of these strewn everywhere, out to 10 to the 10^110 light-years and beyond. A veritable infinity of universes, many just slightly different from this one, but all extremely far away.

Next add the fact that many physical constants of our Universe are very finely tuned. According to mainstream estimates, if these constants had been randomly set, the chance of our universe supporting life was less than 1 in 10^200. This is sometimes cited in support of the theological hypothesis of intelligent design (I-D), i.e., that some "designer" must have done this, since it's too unlikely otherwise.

But being human in a life-supporting universe, while certainly a great privilege, can't be the end of the line, because we have not yet peaked as a species and there's no obvious limit on how high we can go (assuming we steer clear of early extinction). Many things that we previously thought were barriers have been surmounted, and we are rapidly advancing on the others.

Hence (as various other writers have postulated) human evolution might advance far enough that we could affect the initial conditions of creation, of this or another universe. We're still a good ways from that now, but far closer than we were even 50 years ago, and showing no signs of slowing down.

Continuing with our "proof," we believe there must be competition at all levels for available resources. Despite the existence of an infinite extent of space (of whatever dimensionality), only some portion of it is available (or accessible) and in the proper condition to form into a particular universe, and once it goes into that universe, it can't be used to create a different one at the same time.

Only a tiny fraction of randomly created universes would contain life, including highly intelligent life that could eventually evolve far enough to adjust its own initial conditions, or do it for others. However, if we assume the cycle repeats, then universes that can recreate themselves should be overwhelmingly more likely to exist than lifeless ones that create no ongoing supply of highly intelligent beings to carry on the future work of adjusting the parameters!

As we advance toward a heaven-like state, we'll progressively overcome our material limitations, and many of us may retire or disengage, but some will no doubt choose to carry on the work of refueling the fires of creation. At least to assure that enough life-bearing universes get created. And over the expanse of infinite time, such designed universes should thus become overwhelmingly predominant. (Like a superior species that claims the good resources.)

Hence there is almost certainly a residue of advanced intelligence that influences the initial conditions of the universe(s) in order to foster Life, BECAUSE such a configuration is far more likely to be sustainable across an infinite expanse of time, rather than fizzling out after one or at most a few cycles. THUS if you assume we're at T = infinity NOW, with respect to the start of all possibility, then it's virtually certain (i.e., overwhelmingly likely) that this is how we got here.

The foregoing does not depend on the accuracy of Tegmark's theory (whether the background space is flat or higher dimensional), or on whether it is truly infinite in size although that seems like a reasonable assumption.

A more formal statement is as follows. We assume that a) TIME is infinite and that an infinite or "nearly infinite" amount of time has already elapsed, b) the creation of universes is a cyclical process, c) universes that sustain life are vanishingly rare under random conditions, d) there can be some communication of advanced knowledge from one universe to another, e) universes eventually run down and need to be recreated, if organic life and awareness are to continue, f) even if universes could still be created at random, it is more likely that advanced intelligence would seek to impose itself. Hence g) over an INFINITE period of time, this imposing influence (even if initially small) would eventually come to dominate virtually 100% of the time, with vanishingly few old style "random" universes remaining.

Originally posted 4-27-03, extensively rewritten 3-28-06.

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