Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"Hey Physics, Get Real"

In "Hey Physics, Get Real," published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, science writer, John Horgan, rightly complains that theories in physics are getting out of control by invoking multiple universes and the like. Yet he takes the mandatory pot-shot at Intelligent Design as pseudo-science. Thus, I wrote this letter to the publication:

Dear Editor:

In his otherwise astute article “Hey Physics, Get Real,” John Horgan dismisses Intelligent Design in one sentence as “pseudo-science,” but fails to realize that the bizarre and baroque theories in physics which he rightly criticizes—those appealing to multiple universes in various forms—are invoked precisely to avoid the conclusion that our universe, given its exquisite and multi-dimensional fine-tuning, is designed. For these materialist thinkers it is better to arbitrarily multiply unlimited and undetectable multiverses—all wrought by chance—than to acknowledge one universe designed by a trans-cosmic mind. Horgan to the contrary, the appeal to one designing mind to explain our one universe is a simple, elegant, and legitimate scientific theory, since it appeals to a mass of empirical facts from which design emerges as the best explanation. This kind of reasoning--design detection through inference to the best explanation—is fruitfully employed throughout science (SETI, archaeology, forensics, cryptography, etc.), but is arbitrarily barred from ultimate explanation in physics. The design inference need not conger up alien and unknown universes to rescue an ontology of comprehensive fortuity. As such, it deserves more respect that what Horgan accords it.


Douglas Groothuis

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