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Saturday, 05 January 2008

I'm now about half-way through Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. As expected, it's a rant, but a persuasive and powerful rant; convincingly arguing why religion shouldn't just be tolerated, but actively fought. "ID" vs. Darwinian evolution is just one facet of a larger war. However, I wonder whether Dawkins should be choosing his battles more carefully, rather than attacking on all fronts; I'll need to think about this further.

My own agnostic deism is simple: I see no need for a divine being anywhere in creation, except - perhaps - at the very start. Not the origin of life, the origin of everything. Dawkins accepts that the hypotheses here aren't as convincing cosmologically as they are biologically, but then jumps into the same logical traps which he so eloquently dismantles when proposed by theologians. For example, he posits (amongst a few possibilities) that the Big Bang will be eventually followed by a Big Crunch; and that this succession of expansion and collapse could be just one in a series of universes. This'd allow the anthropic principle to say that however unlikely it is for a universe to be in the Goldilocks Zone and so support life, the sheer number of times which this die is rolled - and the fact we're here now - suggests that the bet has been one at least once.

This raises the problem of infinite regress though: where did this series of universes come from? How were they created? Personally, I find the alternative of a bubbling multiversal foam in which universes are constantly being created more appealing. Some will last longer than others. The process by which the universes themselves are created could be similar to that which produces Hawking radiation; but, again, there's the outstanding issue of infinite regress. The creation of an individual universe, and the small number which last long enough to - and have laws of physics suitable for - creating life, are adequately explained by this hypothesis. And it pushes our suppositions back in time further, to before the Big Bang. But it's unsuitable as an answer to everything: there's still the question of how the metaverse was formed, is a divine creator involved here?

I suspect not: given we can repeatedly push further and further back, without requiring the involvement of an intelligent superbeing, there's likely to be a theory which clearly (and relatively simply) explains everything. We just have to keep looking.

Tuesday, 01 January 2008

New Year! New update to stop the diary breaking.

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