Many Worlds, One God? Shift Happens
|September 27, 2006||Posted by scordova under Intelligent Design, Religion, Science|
Quantum computers are a reality and they indirectly speak to the issue of intelligent design and the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of Quantum Mechanics.
We don’t really comprehend what the equations of Quantum Mechanics signify, even though most scientists agree what the equations are. In human affairs we have written laws to govern our lives, but the courts argue endlessly over the interpretation of those laws. In like manner, we have a body of physical laws but scientists argue endlessly over the interpretation of those laws as well, especially the laws of Quantum Mechanics. In general, each interpretation yields identical experimental results, so the impasse has not found a resolution experimentally, yet….
From Wikipedia: Interpretation of quantum mechanics
An interpretation of quantum mechanics is an attempt to answer the question, “What exactly is quantum mechanics talking about?”. Although quantum mechanics is widely considered “the most precisely tested and most successful theory in the history of science” (Jackiw and Kleppner, 2000), many feel that in spite of this the fundamentals of the theory have yet to be fully understood.
The link lists a sampling of 8 interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. One of those listed is the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI). Another (my favorite) is the Transactional Interpretation (Single World Interpretation).
Quantum Mechanics reasonably accommodates the idea of MWI. This can be somewhat seen with the ability of a Quantum Computer to process several computations simultaneously in parallel, almost as if several computers in several worlds were working together in concert toward one goal.
Whether MWI is true or not, the picture of a Quantum Computer raises issues with ID at the cosmological scale, namely, if MWI is true, is ID false? Traditionally, MWI has often been used to argue against ID and many IDers presume MWI is an anti-ID position. However in this essay, I argue, that MWI on closer inspection is not inherently anti-ID, but at worst is neutral.
In the Peer-Reviewed Stealth ID Classic : The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1987), John Barrow and Frank Tipler argue the case for MWI. Several prominent writers presumed Barrow and Tipler’s book was generally unfriendly to ID. For example see Barrow and Tipler on the Anthropic Principle vs. Divine Design by William Lane Craig. I highly respect Craig, but I will argue that Barrow and Tipler are more friendly to ID than they have been given credit for.
What they actually conclude is that even if MWI is true, the ID hypothesis can and probably does hold. One can actually see an illustration of this in the case of the Quantum Computer. The many indeterminate states and lines of computing converge to one final teleologically prescribed state. All the parallel lines converge to one goal.
In similar manner, Barrow and Tipler argue that the Many Worlds (if they exist) must of necessity converge to the same goal at the end of time. What they demonstrated was that even if MWI is true, it can not ultimately be used as an anti-Design argument. They argue that even if MWI is true, QM predicts the one true God must exist. They refer to God however in their peer-reviewed Oxford book as “The Ultimate Observer”. I suppose that helped them get a favorable book review in the prestigious scientific journal Nature since they avoided the word God!
There is another body of ideas called Multiverses. I am not knowledgeable enough to discuss this except to say, Paul Davies (echoing Barrow and Tipler’s logic) points out that Multiverses can not ultimately be used to refute the Design argument either because one is then still confronted with the question of what caused all the Multiverses in the first place!
Some of the resistance to MWI has been theological. But theologically, for me, personally, I don’t know. The King James Version of the Bible gave me food for thought. It says:
[God] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds
Worlds is plural in the King James. Any Koine Greek experts out there to offer an opinion? If the King James is accurate then, well, one can’t completely say the scriptures frown on MWI.
Finally, some physicists like John Cramer and Shahriar Afshar have claimed experimental refutation of MWI. See: Transactional Interpretation of QM.
I personally don’t think MWI is the correct interpretation, but my aim is to show these various objections might ultimately be un-necessary. MWI is no threat to the Design hypothesis and may not be at variance with anything in the Scriptures either.
So in sum, MWI poses no threat to the Design hypothesis for the universe either theoretically or even theologically.
I was very pleased to see Frank Tipler become a fellow at ISCID and to see his endorsement on Bill Dembki’s book No Free Lunch. Tipler also wrote a chapter in the book Uncommon Dissent edited by William Dembski. I find these positive developments since I think Barrow and Tipler’s work are far more ID-friendly than presumed earlier, even though they are advocates of MWI.