Necessary Being and Creation

This is a post from our own Dcleve who, like many others, deserves the ability to post his own OPs here.  That's something I'll take care of shortly, but for now I think his comment deserves its own conversation.  Sorry it took me so long to get to it, D.

I would like to discuss an analysis of a Necessary Being and Creation. I will be summarizing an argument from Paul Davies, a physicist, and Deist, and one of the early advocates of both Fine Tuning and Emergent Organized Complexity. Davis presented this argument in The Mind of God. I have a full review on Amazon: The book is from 92, but the argument is as current now as it was then.

The central question Davies addresses is whether the universe can create itself, or requires a creator. He notes that whether the universe had an origin in time or not, its EXISTENCE still needs an explanation -- WHY is it here at all instead of nothing, or something else. With this point, he effectively dismisses the attempts to evade acknowledging God by postulating an infinite universe, or a closed cycle (Eternal Inflation, and Hawking's closed shape in Space-Time, respectively). He also questions whether it is plausible to postulate an unending ever-more-fundamental set of laws of physics which could keep us busy investigating forever. With these points, he basically insists that any scientist who accepts the basic motivation of science (try to find out why things are) OUGHT to investigate these issues of metaphysics, and never be satisfied with "well the universe is just an unexplained fact."

Davies then deals with the concept of Necessity. There are some pretty significant constraints on any Necessary Being or Entity. For one thing, it could not POSSIBLY have been otherwise. Therefore, there can be nothing contingent about such a thing. If such a thing changes with time, then it clearly could have been otherwise, and is therefore not possibly Necessary. It is clear to him that the universe itself is not Necessary -- since it has many obviously contingent features to it (changing with time, there are exactly THREE symmetry sets of elementary particles (proton, electron, photon, neutrino -- and two sets of heavier unstable particles with the same properties) which seems a very arbitrary and non-intuitive number, and the universe has a very large and specific baryon number (protons and neutrons in the universe) which could clearly have been slightly different. There is a problem extracting any contingent item from anything necessary. To create something contingent, the Necessary thing could have possibly done otherwise, which would make the Necessary thing contingent too, leading to a self-contradiciton ...which makes both God and any natural Necessary event a contradictory concept as a source for the universe.

Davies then tries to find a way out of this "why" problem. He notes that it is feasible that a necessary entity COULD create a universe which contains probabilistic laws, and that therefore some fundamental aspects of the universe could be necessary, and all the contingency is created by these (necessary) laws of probability. Davies suggests that this sort of non-deterministic fundamental structure may be essential to allow organized complexity to emerge. This argument basically assumes that only a being (a God) could be complex enough to create this kind of universe.

There are several problems with this "way out" that Davies proposes, and Davies self-critique and exploration of alternatives basically fails at this point, so he does not even discuss any of these obvious problems. First, he needs to show that a probabilistic generation of specific features of the universe is the Best and Only possible kind of universe his Necessary God could create -- but Davies does not attempt to do this. Second, he never discusses the details of what is specified by these probabilistic laws -- he mostly seems to be thinking of the probability laws which we have discovered related to elementary particles. But his own examples of contingency in the universe (baryon number, number of particle symmetry sets, ability to change over time, etc) are MUCH more fundamental than just where a photon actually exists within its wave function -- so he has to assert that these fundamental things are probabilistic too. BUT, the tuning of these fundamental aspects of the universe are why he thinks that the universe is Fine Tuned, and this is why he needs a God to do the Tuning. But if they are Necessarily probabilistic, they cannot be Fine Tuned! Davies does not address this essential contradiction in his basic assumptions. I was disappointed that what to this point had been a well-reasoned argument basically fizzled.

1. Are our options for the universe just?:
a) eternal regress
b) self creation
c) brute fact

2. Davies assumes that brute fact is contrary to science and being intellectually responsible. And self creation without "necessity" is just another form of brute fact. this forces him to pick between regress and necessity. Do you agree?

3. Do you agree with his conditions for a necessary being?

4. Do you agree with my critique of how he attempted to derive a contingent universe from a necessary being?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Alex Marshall-Brown Is A Badass, North Hollywood's St. Paul's Lutheran Not So Much

Alex Marshall-Brown is an actress and stuntwoman who recently was working on her laptop at a shady spot of grass in front of St. Paul'...