Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The creation argument

I think it is clear that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before developing supernatural powers; (2) any civilization with supernatural powers is extremely unlikely to create a significant number of "universes"; (3) we are almost certainly living in a universe designed and manufactured by a "Creator". It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day develop into a race with supernatural powers who create universes is false, unless we are currently living in a universe created by such a being.

I don’t pretend to know which of these hypotheses is more likely, but think that none of them can be ruled out. My gut feeling, and it’s nothing more than that, is that there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a created universe (maybe I really think it's much lower, but Pascal's wager and all that).

My argument is either (a) a quasi-religious triviality or (b) a major new scientific breakthrough, depending on your point of view. As for me, I'm staying out of it - I'm good enough at making enemies in my day job without going out and actively looking for new ones elsewhere :-)


Unknown said...

Ha! Takes me back to the good old days of first year philosophy (a much underrated subject, IMO). The simplest answer to the question is: What difference would it make? Our 'reality' is as real as it gets, so any suggestions that it is somehow 'unreal' can carry no meaning. WYSIWYG.

McTaggart had a good answer for this kind of solepsism, wherein he show that it lead to a vicious infinite regression, & is thus worthless. Strikes me that a certain journalist needs to get in touch with his existential being.

Thanks for providing a smile.

EliRabett said...

In the words of Arthur Clarke

"The technology of a sufficiently advanced civilization will be virutually indistinguishable from magic."

Hal Finney said...

I don't understand why you think it is clear that at least one of your three propositions is true. I hope you will explain!

Is it:

(A) each proposition individually is quite likely on its own, and they are relatively independent, so the chances that at least one of them is true is very high?


(B) for all three to be false would lead to a contradiction, or to an inconsistency with our observations? (And if so, could you explain the contradiction?)

James Annan said...

TBH I think it is rather pompous and badly written - it was a near word-for-word copy of the abstract of the paper linked. But I think the logic follows like this:

If the first two sentences are both false, then the human species will develop god-like powers at some point in its evolution, and also choose to use them to create universes. Therefore, there will in total be a lot of such created universes, and a strong probability that our universe is one of them rather than the original "seed".

Lincoln Cannon said...

Well, it appears several of us have recognized the generalization of the Simulation Argument.