Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

June 26, 2008

Secret of Universe, Explained: A New Way of Disputing the "Strong" Version of Intelligent Design

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:53 am

Okay, it’s been a while, but I made a vow never to post something just for the sake of posting, and isn’t one really important Big Idea worth several less consequential ones?

So I was at a “retreat”, up the Hudson at a strange Shining like resort called “Mohonk Mountain”. It’s the sort of place non-New York tourists don’t tend to go, but I’ve found it fascinating. spooky, increasingly intruiging the past couple of years. In the dim corridor outside my room this time were sepia toned pictures of dignataries from the past two centuries who had stayed in these rooms. Across the corridor from me was a photo of the son of the founder of the Baha’i faith (much persecuted for it tolerance) who attended a conference here in 1912 of the International Arbitrtration Association (not a good year for arbitrting as it turned out). The palque next to the photo said he’d delivered a talk on “The Oneness of Human Reality”. And then there were these two pale little twin girls I kept seeing in odd corners of the hotel (kidding!)

Get the picture, though: Washington Irving, Hawthorne,Stephen King, Edith Wharton. the Oneness of Human Reality. Which is why, I think, walking one of the endless mazy corridors I came up for some reason an idea about Many Worlds Cosmology theory and its relationship to the controversy over “Intelligent Design”.

If you’re familiar with the Many Worlds variation of the Coenhagen School of quantum reality (and if not, why not: it’s only the key debate about the nature of Being and “human reality”)–that there is no “causality” in the sense of “Hidden Variables” that explain subatomic events. We only know that statistically a certain number of alpha particles in somme unstable larger atoms will decay but which ones? Nobody know why one and not another. What makes this particle decay and the one next to it not.Einstein hated it, this causeless casuation; he wanted to find hidden variables. But most of the physics world now agrees with his Copenhagen opponent, Niels Bohr.

But in the Many Worlds school of thought, every time a particle decays it creates a separate universe in which it decays and the others don’t, but there are a virtual infinite number of other universes in which a virtual infinite number of differnt particles decay.We just happen to live in the one arranged like this, but there could be other arrangements or at least other subatomic outcomes.

In a sense, everything comes true in one of the Many Worlds or another. All kinds of universes are created every moment and some never last more than an instant.

Where does “Intelligent Design” come in. It grew out of a resistance to randomness, to causeless causation, to the idea that random particle collisions could cause life and random mutations could shape and fine tune evolution. There has to be designer or at least a Design if not a God.

But the “Many Worlds” theory provides an explantion for the problem of the apparent evidence of design in our universe, and the evolution of creatures to apprehend it: It just happens that we live in one of the many, many, many worlds in which there is apparent evidence of design. But there may be no design and no designer we just lucked out into living in one of the Many Worlds that created us by chance but surrounded us with apparent but not real evidence of design and designer. The chance of our world existing and looking so well (or stably) designed is infinitesimal but when you’re dealing with an infinite number of worlds, the chance is virtually certain.

So those who believe that we live in a world that sems to contain evidence of intelligent design are right intheir observations of the evidence, but wrong about the source of the evidence. it’s like the lineinthe Dylan song “The bricks lay on Grand Street…they all fell there so perfectly, it all seemed so well timed.”

We’re in the universe where the “bricks” just happened to falll into what look like well designed patterns. “It all seemed so well timed.” But it was just luck.

Anti evolutionists like to use the argument thta random mutatins are so unlikely to have created a feature as “irreducibly complex” as the eye. They compare it to a tornado going through a junkyard and leaving behind a perfectly micro engineered tv set. Unlikely. But in the Many Worlds theory, we just happen to live in a world where a (metaphorical) tornado did just that.

, But that doesn’t say anything one way or another as to whether there is or was an Intelligent Designer.

Just thought you’d want to know.


  1. The light spectrum itself is intelligent design. The Darwinists can still not explain how evolution works at the molecular level. Dizzy Gillespie was a member of the B’ahai faith. St. Paul put it best: “That sin might abound that grace might more abound”, to wit: out of discordance emerges design, kinda like bebop.

    Comment by charlie finch — June 26, 2008 @ 9:27 am | Reply

  2. “We’re in the universe where the “bricks” just happened to fall into what look like well designed patterns… But it was just luck.”

    Did you see the science story the other day where a couple of physicists were making the case that matter in the universe is apparently distributed in a fractal pattern?

    I don’t know about you, but I think a fractal pattern goes way beyond commonplace brick-laying.

    Comment by slinkybender — June 26, 2008 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  3. This is an interesting argument, but I doubt it would be very effective against ID adherents. While it is true that if there are an infinitude of universes, the existence of one that is as orderly and causal as our own is a near certainty. But by expanding the picture of reality so far you make their follow-up question seem even stronger: how did we end up in this universe? Even more: if most of the possible universes aren’t suitable for us to live in, surely that means God put us here in the odd one that could support us?

    You turn the designer into a sort of real estate agent who made the perfect selection of the perfect universe for his children to occupy. Intelligent selection (of universes).

    So while I agree that you technically take away the need to explain the apparent design of the universe, I do not think that you’ve made any headway in defeating the ID argument.

    Comment by Dan Mack — June 26, 2008 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  4. Not it is a terrible argument! In fact it has no content at all.

    The ID people say something like “the probability that this thing evolved is 1 in a gazzillion” where 1/gazzillion is such a small number that it is for all practical purposes the same as impossble.

    “Ahhhh” Ron says. “But the many worlds theory says that everything that can happen does happen, even really unlikely things”.

    The ID guy then asks “What is the probability that we just happen to be in such a universe in which a 1/gazzillion event actually happens?”

    Ron replies “errrm 1/gazzillion”.

    “So the same probability as the thing itself happening in a single universe then?”

    “errrrrm, Yes!”

    And that is not even the worst problem with the argument. Just the quickest to decribe.

    Comment by Roy M — June 28, 2008 @ 10:51 am | Reply

  5. I was reading Richard Gott’s book on relativistic time travel, which among other things examines the possibility that the universe created itself — that is, has a world line that loops back on itself. This solves the problem of First Cause because then the universe becomes its own First Cause. In general, arguments against intelligent design center around creating self-explanatory theories, asserting that the Universe “just is”. Once you have this Theory of Everything then that’s it. The story starts there and no earlier. Of course some will object that there’s the prior “why are things just so?” In other words who set up the math that created the many worlds or looping timeline?

    But however that may be, the many worlds theory creates the intriguing possibility of quantum immortality which argues that in an infinitude of worlds there is one in which we never die because every possibility, however passingly small, will be represented in one of the worlds. When I came across this idea I realized that a Many Worlds situation would also undercut the Problem of Evil. After all, taken in totality, there is some instance in which tragedy never occurs.

    Ironically, a many worlds situation would also create the database for a Heaven or a Hell and everything in between. If there was a God — or if you prefer some mechanism in the universe capable of performing the following function — then Heaven or Hell is simply the result of a Where Clause in a query. Which worldline will we look up?

    As for myself, I don’t know. That’s why all belief and disbelief is based on faith. There is some unfinished part of the quest for knowledge that goes on after we have played our parts. Every person is left with unopened doors. Even, I think, should he be in Many Worlds.

    Comment by Richard Fernandez — June 28, 2008 @ 12:42 pm | Reply

  6. charlie finch:

    Not to rain on your parade, but there is a molecular explanation for evolution, once given the presence of atoms in a universe…

    It’s called molecular biology. And it’s had some spectacular successes in the recent past.

    Consider the following: 1) God is omnipotent; 2) God is independent of human will and desire; 3) if God so chooses, He can create a universe (or cosmos) in which Darwinian (or anyone’s) evolution can be operative; 4) If He cannot order such a universe, He is no longer omnipotent (by definition) and hence is no long a god.

    So now you are stuck with perfect knowledge of the mind and will of God. Which is impossible for humankind (again by definition).

    Your evidence and explanations, please?

    Comment by Good Ole Charlie — June 29, 2008 @ 2:27 pm | Reply

  7. I just stumbled upon an article that harnesses Nabakov to the Intelligent Design crusade. It’s written by David Klinghoffer, who I pay attention to since I’m writing a rejoinder to his book, How Would God Vote: Why The Bible Commands You To Be Conservative. I’d be interested in hearing your reaction to this piece, which is at

    Comment by Larry Yudelson — July 19, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

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