Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lubos Motl & GOD

This is why theoretical high-energy physicists - as well as some other highly theoretical fields - must clearly and honestly say that their results are not critical for our survival.

More generally, they are unlikely to have any practical applications in foreseeable future. We are only doing it because we want to find the truth - and this desire is what distinguishes us from the monkeys.

What does God think about the multiverse?

An important dividing question of the current theoretical physics is the anthropic principle. God has been used as a positive argument on both sides of the dispute, and He has also been used as an insult on both sides. Let me enumerate all four possibilities.

First: God is perfect and the world He created must be the most perfect conceivable world, as Leibniz has argued. The solution of the maximization problem must be unique and must be described by beautiful mathematics. Galileo argued that mathematics was the language in which God wrote the world. Einstein's viewpoint was similar when he was asking whether God had a choice how to create the Universe. Except for some technical issues associated with quantum mechanics and other tools, Einstein's viewpoint was always accepted by string theory understood as a theory to calculate the parameters in the effective field theories.

The people who think that the accuracy and mathematical rigidity and beauty of our previous theories has been just a consequence of good luck, and that the Universe actually follows very dirty, chaotic, and flexible laws at the fundamental level would surely say that the previous paragraph describes wishful thinking and religious preconceptions. If you repeat the previous paragraph and add a disclaimer to each sentence saying that the people mentioned in the previous paragraph are morons, you will obtain the second interpretation of the relation between God and the question of the vacuum selection.

The third interpretation is that the anthropic principle relies on the existence of the people - intelligent and conscious beings - which have also become the punch line of God's creation. The fact that the Universe has to contain humans is an important principle of the Universe. Why is it so? It is either because the key role of humans is described in Genesis, or because our existence is necessary for any physics or science to exist. Note that there exists no doable experiment that could tell you which of these explanations of the necessity of human beings is correct. What may be testable are the consequences of this assumption - but the consequences are nearly equivalent in both approaches, the religious approach and the materialistic anthropic approach.

The above are some of the arguments made by Lubos
on Money, Science & Religion, and funding by
The Templeton Foundation April 2006.

You can find the actual post here on the Reference Frame.