Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Fine tuning

In the sixteenth century, the biggest cosmic entity known about was the solar system. The astronomer, astrologer and mathematician Kepler was convinced that the orbits of the planets must be fine-tuned by God according to some harmonious law.
Now we know there is no such harmonious law and  the orbits of planets are the result of chaotic and unpredictable events, but we are searching for harmony at some deeper level.
The world we live in is perfectly fine-tuned for our existence in two ways:
  1. We live on a 'Goldilocks' planet, just the right size and distance from the sun to be favourable to life.
  2. We live in a universe with just the right physical constants (gravity, speed of light and so on) for the creation of stable atoms, molecules, stars and forces which conspire to allow us and everything else to exist.
  1. Obviously the Goldilocks question is easily answered: There are billions of possible life-supporting planets so even if life is a very unlikely event, the conditions for life must be right  on many of them.
  2. The answer to question 2 is a bit harder - here's 3 possibilities:
a) There is a fundamental reason for the physical constants to have the values they have, but we haven't found out what it is.
b) There is no fundamental reason, but there is a very big number of universes so the constants are just right in some of them. 
Or the incredible nature of our existence might suggest there is an INFINITE number of universes - so every kind of crazy world must exist! I have a gut-feeling that this is nonsense and for a real world to exist there cannot be an infinite number of anything - and for that matter there can't be zero (nothing) either.
c) WE ARE HERE so we must accept our existence prima-facie. All other other facts derive from this observation. This shifts the focus to us rather than the moment of creation. 
We create the universe in our minds. Reality just is because it is. 
There is no time, no space, no universe, no creation - these are all concepts of our collective minds.

Three Black Boxes

Suppose there are three sealed black boxes with locks which are impossible to open. We are not allowed to investigate them  (poke them, weigh them or interrogate them in any way).
We are told that no one can EVER open Box 1 now or at any time in the future. There is no history of it. No one knows or will ever know what it contains.
Someone has placed something in Box 2 and died, telling no one and leaving no record of its contents.
Box 3 has a time-lock mechanism so that at some time in the future it will spring open and reveal its contents.

So in Box 1 we cannot know its contents, nobody has ever known its contents and nobody will ever know its contents.
In Box 2 someone once knew its contents but we don't know its contents now and nobody in the future will ever know its contents.
In Box 3 someone once knew its contents, we don't know its contents now, but somebody in the future will know its contents.

Q. Is it reasonable to ask the question "What is in the box?"?
A. 1 No; 2 Maybe; 3 Yes.

Concepts, theories and stories

According to the scientific viewpoint: if there is no evidence for something (e.g. God) then is not reasonable to believe in it's existence.
But we believe in the 'existence' of concepts such as energy, mater, infinity, time, space, jealousy, love, empathy, and humanity because:

  1. they are useful to us and 
  2. we can make predictions using these concepts which can be verified in the real world out there. 

But these concepts don't 'exist' in the real world, they only exist in the world inside our heads. This theoretical world can accommodate many concepts and stories - some of them can make predictions which can be verified, and some cannot.
Even some recent theories about the universe may not be verifiable in the real world - String Theory and Parallel Worlds for example. If it can be shown that a 'theory' is not verifiable then does it count as a theory? Maybe it's more of a story.
The world is made of stories.