NMT (No-Me Teaching) new series 33:
Prior to excerpting the Ramana Maharshi disciple, Master Nome in the text below we continue the series: Fine-Tuned Universe 24, the premise that a small change in several of the dimensionless fundamental physical constants would make the Universe incapable of Life.
Fine-Tuned Universe 24:
God behind, & Probability in Fine-Tuning:
The Fine-Tuning argument concludes that, given the evidence of the Fine-Tuning of the cosmos, the existence of a Life-Permitting Universe (LPU) significantly confirms Theism over the Naturalistic Single-Universe Hypothesis (NSU). Such confirmation is highly significant.
The challenge raised by the two most widely advocated versions of the Multi-Verse hypothesis – the unrestricted Multi-Verse hypothesis advocated by Lewis and Tegmark, according to which all possible Universes exist, and the restricted Multi-Verse hypothesis arising out of inflationary cosmology. I argued that neither of these is able adequately to explain away the fine-tuning or undercut the fine-tuning argument.
Finally, one might wonder whether there are other viable alternative explanations of LPU to that offered by Theism, NSU, or the Multi-Verse. One such possibility is various non-theistic Design hypotheses – either non-theistic supernatural beings or aliens in some Meta-Universe who can create bubble Universes. The postulated designer, D, could not be a merely “generic” designer but must be hypothesized to have some motivation to create a Life-Permitting Universe. Unless these hypotheses were advocated prior to the Fine-Tuning evidence, or we had independent motivations for them, they would not pass the non-ad-hoc-ness test of the restricted version of the Likelihood Principle.
Furthermore, from the perspective of probabilistic tension, these alternative design hypotheses typically would generate a corresponding probabilistic tension between the claim that the postulated Being had a motive to create a Life-Permitting world instead of some other type of world and the Beings’ other attributes, something that does not arise for classical theism. Finally, for some of these postulated Beings, one could claim that even if LPU confirms their existence, we lack sufficient independent reasons to believe in their existence, whereas under Theism we have such reasons; or one could claim that they simply transfer the problem of design up one level.
The only one of these alternatives is the Axiarchic hypothesis, versions of which have been advanced in the last thirty years by John Leslie & by Hugh Rice and others, wherein goodness or ethical “required-ness” has a direct power to bring about concrete reality. Whatever the merits of this hypothesis, it is likely to entail Theism. Since God is the greatest possible Being, it is supremely good that God exist. Therefore, it is unclear that the axiarchic hypothesis actually conflicts with theism. In any case, we have solid philosophical grounds for claiming that given the Fine-Tuning evidence, the existence of a Life-Permitting Universe provides significant support for Theism over its non-axiarchic contenders.
If Atheism is correct, if the Universe and its laws are all that is or ever has been, how can it be said that the Universe, with all of its Fine-Tuned features, is in any relevant sense probable or improbable ? There are no antecedent conditions that could determine such a probability. Hence, if the Universe is the ultimate brute fact, it is neither likely nor unlikely, probable nor improbable; it simply is.
Further, even if the Universe were somehow improbable, it is hard to see on the hypothesis of Atheism how we could ever know this. If we were in the position to witness the birth of many worlds – some designed, some undesigned – then we might be in a position to say of any particular World that it had such-and-such a probability of existing undesigned. But we simply are not in such a position. We have absolutely no empirical basis for assigning probabilities to ultimate facts .
In conjunction with the likelihood principle, probability is extensively used in scientific confirmation. Consider, for example, the arguments typically offered in favor of the thesis of common ancestry, continental drift theory, and the atomic hypothesis. The thesis of common ancestry is commonly supported by claiming that a variety of features of the world–such as the structure of the tree of life – would not be improbable if this thesis is true, but would be very improbable under other contending, non-evolutionary hypotheses, such as special creation. Consider, for instance, the following quotation from evolutionary biologist and geneticist Edward Dodson, in which he summarizes the case for evolution, understood as the thesis of common ancestry:
All pieces of evidence concur in suggesting evolution with varying degrees of cogency, but most can be explained on other bases, albeit with some damage to the law of parsimony. The strongest evidence for evolution is the concurrence of so many independent probabilities. That such different disciplines as biochemistry and comparative anatomy, genetics and biogeography should all point toward the same conclusion is very difficult to attribute to coincidence.
Similar lines of reasoning are given for accepting continental drift theory. For example, the similarity between the animal and plant life on Africa and South America millions of years ago was considered to provide significant support for continental drift theory. Why? Because it was judged very unlikely that this similarity would exist if continental drift theory were false, but not if it were true.
Finally, consider the use of epistemic probability in the confirmation of atomic theory. According to Wesley Salmon, what finally convinced virtually all physical scientists by 1912 of the atomic hypothesis was the agreement of at least thirteen independent determinations of Avogadro’s number based on the assumption that atomic theory was correct. For example, one method of determining Avogadro’s number is through observations of Brownian motion, that is, the random motion of very small particles suspended in a liquid, a motion that was postulated to be caused by the unequal, random impact of the molecules in the liquid. From this motion and the kinetic theory of heat, one can calculate what the mass of each molecule must be in order to account for the observed motion, and then using that value one can obtain Avogadro’s number.
The scientists reasoned that if atomic theory were false, then such an agreement between thirteen different determinations of Avogadro’s number would be exceedingly epistemically improbable – in Salmon’s words, an “utterly astonishing coincidence” . Indeed, if scientists had not judged the agreement to be exceedingly improbable if atomic theory were false, it is difficult to see why they would take it to count as strong evidence in its favor. On the other hand, the scientists reasoned, if atomic theory were true, such an agreement would be expected. Thus, by implicitly using the likelihood principle, they reasoned that these independent determinations of Avogadro’s number strongly confirmed atomic theory.
It should be noted that one could not avoid this sort of reasoning simply by rejecting Scientific Realism, since even though anti-realists reject the truth or approximate truth of certain types of well-confirmed hypotheses, they still accept them as being reliable bases for future explanations and predictions – that is, in Bas van Fraassen’s terminology, they accept them as being “empirically adequate.” Consequently, instead of interpreting the confirming evidence as evidence for a hypothesis’ truth, they accept it as evidence for the hypothesis’ empirical adequacy. This means that insofar as realists need to appeal to epistemic probabilities to support the approximate truth of a theory, anti-realists will need to appeal to those same probabilities in support of a theory’s empirical adequacy – e.g., anti-realists would need to claim that it is highly improbable for the determinations of Avogadro’s number to agree if atomic theory were not empirically adequate.
Since some of the probabilities in the aforementioned examples involve singular, non-repeatable states of affairs, they are not based on statistical probabilities, nor arguably other non-epistemic probabilities. This is especially evident for the probabilities involved in the confirmation of atomic theory since some of them involve claims about probabilities conditioned on the underlying structure and laws of the universe being different – e.g. atoms not existing. Hence, they are not based on actual physical propensities, relative frequencies, or theoretical models of the universe’s operation. They therefore cannot be grounded in theoretical, statistical, or physical probabilities. Similar things can be said about many other related types of confirmation in science, such as the confirmation of quantum electrodynamics (QED) by its extraordinarily precise prediction of the gyromagnetic moment of the electron, which we shall discuss later in this chapter. Such cases, I contend, establish the widespread use of purely epistemic probabilities
in scientific confirmation that are neither grounded in other types of probability nor in experience – e.g., the probabilities invoked in the confirmation of atomic theory clearly are not grounded in experience, since nothing like such an agreement had ever occurred before.
The probabilities in the above examples do not seem to be statistical probabilities; nor can they in any obvious way be justified by appealing to statistical probabilities. This is especially evident in the case for the epistemic probability involved in the confirmation of atomic theory since it involves claims about likelihoods if the underlying structure and laws of the universe were different – e.g., if atoms did not exist. Hence, these claims cannot be grounded in theoretical, statistical, or physical probabilities. Similar things can be said about many other similar types of confirmation in science, such as the confirmation of quantum electrodynamics by its extraordinarily precise prediction of the gyromagnetic moment of the electron, which we shall discuss below. Such cases, I contend, establish the widespread use of purely epistemic probabilities in scientific confirmation that are neither grounded in statistical probabilities nor experience – e.g., the probabilities invoked in atomic theory clearly are not grounded in experience, since nothing like such an agreement had ever occurred before.
Some more selected verses from the Ramana Maharshi disciple, Master Nome disciple:
The view of the World is a mirror image of the view of oneself since the identity of oneself determines the definition of the World. The Seer himself appears as the Seen, the “I” as “this”. For the purpose of knowing Reality without veils, one should Inquire to know oneself, giving up the objective outlook, as well as the Ego to whom it belongs. Those who are detached from the World & the Senses, who are not identified with the Body, who also perceive the transient nature of all the World, & who yearn for the direct experience of Knowledge of Reality as it is, those should so Inquire. The Wise view the World as transitory, as inert, & as a passing Dream. Such a one never expects the World to provide him with what is his Happiness, Identity, & Reality. To transcend the World is to remain blissful, at Peace always, & free in the Knowledge of unreality of the World & in the Knowledge of the Self’s freedom from that Illusion. This is the perception of Reality, free from the forms of Illusion. This is Abidance in wordless Being, true perception, transcendence of the World, & limitless freedom unaffected by anything of the World. The direct experience of indivisible Existence, & true experience is beyond debate or doubt for those who Inquire to know the Self, which is the sole existent Reality.
By the term “World” is meant all that is perceived, all objects, all activities, all events, the forms of living beings, anything in Space & Time, & anything seen, heard, touched, or sensed in any manner. Transcendence of the World is Liberation from Bondage & Suffering in relation to all of that. Abandonment of the objective outlook constituting the World yields the perception of Reality as it is. Such cannot be anything of the World, but only by Knowledge of the Self, the Reality that is. Where could one go in the World that would be beyond the World ? Yet one’s real Being is ever beyond, & Knowledge reveals the nature of one’s real Being. The Self is changeless & permanent. The World is changeful & impermanent. Each object has a creation, a changeful duration & a destruction. This is true for all objects & for the World as a whole without exception. The Self is permanent with no creation or destruction. The perception of the World depends on the changeful Senses. A change in the Senses brings a change in the object & the World perceived. The Self does not change as the Senses do, for it is unchanging Being & the unchanging Witness of all the changing Senses. A change of mode, or state of Mind yields a corresponding change in the Senses & the perceived World. The Self is not changed, being unchanging Existence & Consciousness, & also the Witness of the Mind as well as the Senses. The Self is One, partless & indivisible. The World is composed of innumerable parts & divisions. The Self has no Form & is purely formless Being. The World is composed of Forms without which there is no World. There is no formless World.
To experience a World is to conceive that World. The World is not actually a Perception, but rather a Conception. To conceive or experience a World, one must first consider oneself as some kind of Body, or as in a Body, or consider the Body as existent & the Body as being somewhere. None of that is true, for such is only imagined in the Mind.
For such Illusions of the World, one must also regard the Sensations, not as Sensations or modes of the Mind, but as literally “physical”. Such Sensation is endowed with the Duality of inner & outer, with the apparent object portion of the Sensation considered as separate from knowing aspect. [So there is not only “hearing” but also real “sounds”, not only “seeing” but also real “light”, not only “touching” but also real “matter”].
Since the Body is not oneself, & the Self is not in a Body, the World is not arrayed “around” oneself. The “around” part is imagined in the Mind, & is not really all “around”.
The above themes & 1600 pages more are freely available as perused or downloaded PDF’s, the sole occupants of a Public Microsoft Skydrive “Public Folder” accessible through:
or with Caps-sensitive:
Duplicates (but with graphics) have been available on:
http://www.blogger.com as “Being-as-Consciousness, Non-Duality – new & final version” with link:
[But from now on, they will be different & still usually daily.]