Home » Multiverse, Naturalism, News » Reflecting on Jacques Monod: From materialism to multiverse?

Reflecting on Jacques Monod: From materialism to multiverse?

Someone reminded me of Nobelist (1965) Jacques Monod’s summation of the human condition:

The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose. [Jacques Monod, Chance and necessity: an essay on the natural philosophy of modern biology (New York: Knopf, 1971), p. 180.]

Monod (1910–1976) apparently equated the “kingdom above” with “scientific socialist humanism”. But in the end, socialism wasn’t the kingdom above. And many decided that yes, chance rules. But we are not alone! Nor is our universe. We can believe, if we dare, that there is an infinity of universes out there. And that is why what looks like design in our universe (much of which Monod might not have known about) is really just chance.

One wonders what Monod would have made of the multiverse. He died of leukemia during a period when it is fair to say that it was still ”a fringe interest of dubious scientific validity“. Because evidence still mattered back then.

See also: “But who needs reality-based thinking anyway? Not the new cosmologists” and Science Fictions – O’Leary for News

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7 Responses to Reflecting on Jacques Monod: From materialism to multiverse?

  1. O’Leary sets a new standard for the fallacy of It Does Not Follow.

    Somehow Monod’s musing on a socialist utopia means that she can now mention that the multiverse is without evidence.

  2. an infinity of universes out there

    Monod would not have liked the multi-verse if there were an infinite number of them because such a condition implies not only a god but an infinite number of them.

    Monod apparently chose 2 dead ends, socialism and atheism. What would he have done with an infinite number of gods?

  3. The multiverse is pretty much without evidence. Where are these other universes just like ours? How do we detect their presence? Can we literally see them? Stating, “Well, we think it works that way,” is not conclusive proof of anything.

  4. @LP
    It’s not a non sequitur at all. For someone who put all of his eggs in the chance and necessity basket, Monod, if he were alive today, would no doubt embrace the multiverse. How else to explain our universe’s fine-tuning and origin of life? The fact that otherwise intelligent people belive in the multiverse yet reject design is implicit acknowledgement that chance can’t explain just on flip of the cosmic coin.

  5. RexTugwell,

    “How else to explain our universe’s fine-tuning and origin of life? ”

    The claim that the universe is fine-tuned (for life) remains un-compelling for this reason;

    If we assume that there was no life as we know it at the start of the universe and at the start of this solar system but there is now then the hypothesis is that the chemical abundance of this solar system is a prerequisite to life as we know it to form spontaneously.

    But we do not yet know how abiogenesis works. *if* the universe is fine-tuned for life then it should be possible to simulate this event. Those that claim fine-tune thus should not criticise studies in abiogenesis but welcome these with open arms. I don’t know which way you stand but it seems that those that declare fine-tune seem reluctant to support abiogenesis.

    So given this ignorance then how on Earth can anyone claim that any other particular “tune” of fundamental parameters doesn’t also lead to life too (though it may not be life as w eknow it on Earth) ?

    Some people grossly tune some paremeters and then declare that there is not enough hydrogen or some such roadblock to life but there are countless possible tunings so it’s silly to claim that all except one cannot have life especially given we can’t even work out how this universe has life to start with and we know for sure it has life.

    As an aside, *if* god then honestly it doesn’t matter what the parameters are as a suitably god-like god should be able to win this race to life with whatever tuning god wants.

  6. If we assume that there was no life as we know it at the start of the universe and at the start of this solar system but there is now then the hypothesis is that the chemical abundance of this solar system is a prerequisite to life as we know it to form spontaneously.

    A non-sequitur. There is a difference between life forming spontaneously and life thriving once created. It is certainly possible that life might form spontaneously but current science says it is incredibly improbable. It does not say that once life arrives, that it is improbable that life could sustain itself.

    *if* the universe is fine-tuned for life then it should be possible to simulate this event. Those that claim fine-tune thus should not criticise studies in abiogenesis but welcome these with open arms… it seems that those that declare fine-tune seem reluctant to support abiogenesis.

    Same error on the how the term “fine-tuned” is used. I don’t think many people oppose abiogenesis research. It may lead to some interesting findings even if it never leads to a likely scenario for the origin of life.

    how on Earth can anyone claim that any other particular “tune” of fundamental parameters doesn’t also lead to life too

    I am not aware of many claiming this. It is not an issue unless one wants to show that other tuning would lead to something resembling life. A rather tough project since it is proved impossible to date to show how our fine tuning led to abiogenesis.

    it’s silly to claim that all except one cannot have life especially given we can’t even work out how this universe has life to start with and we know for sure it has life.

    Again no one is really doing this. I am sure you can find some commenters here or some people elsewhere who say this but I haven’t seen anyone in ID make these claims. It is one thing to point to some individual but that is quite different that saying this is part of ID.

    *if* god then honestly it doesn’t matter what the parameters are as a suitably god-like god should be able to win this race to life with whatever tuning god wants.

    A theological argument about the nature of God. Do you want to pursue theology?

  7. Wow! You could hardly get much more parsimonious than the multiverse, could you.

    ‘Imagine anything you want.’ It renders even John Lennon’s vacuous imagination regarding world peace and joy completely otiose. There’s just got to be a world out here corresponding to it.

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