An Improbable Result……

25 Jul

iRodin_ThinkerIt is easy to comprehend the current viewpoint of the ‘Creationists’ who, under the weight of indisputable empirical evidence have had to admit defeat with regard to the biblical account(s) of creation given in Genesis and accept that all ‘life’ evolved slowly over an inconceivably large amount of time, but in order to ‘save’ God have staked their entire argument on the strong anthropic principle.  The weak anthropic principle essentially states that the conditions we observe in the universe are consistent with the conditions needed for us to exist.  This appears to be pretty obvious and self explanatory; in another universe or an unobservable, distant part of our own universe where the conditions are incompatible with supporting life, then clearly there would be no-one to observe it.  The weak anthropic principle holds some philosophical and, some would argue, scientific validity.  Although highly improbable, the evolution of an organism with the capability to consider its own existence, even if was unimaginably different from us, it would still hold that the conditions required to bring about that eventuality are consistent with the weak anthropic principle.  However, the Creationists rely on the strong anthropic principle which is an altogether different proposition, and one which is difficult to argue for even in the forgiving area of philosophy and has no place in the realms of science, even as a hypothesis.  The strong anthropic principle states that, not only is the universe in which live and observe compatible with life, but that the initial conditions were ‘set up’ to purposely evolve to that end.  This is quite obviously so highly improbable that it cannot possibly hold any validity as a scientific theory and immediately throws up the ‘Creator Paradox’.  If the initial conditions were ‘set up’ with purpose, they would require an entity to carry out that task, which begs the question “who created the creator”?  [Ad infinitum]……

There is, however, some common ground between Physicists and Creationist in that most reasoning is inherently and, to a degree, inescapably anthropocentric.  This is for the simple reason that ‘we’, by which I mean the Human race, exists within the universe we are observing, making measurements of, and developing theories about.  As we cannot step outside of our universe, almost all theories will, at some point, fall foul of the basic assumptions developed from our own experiences.  When given careful consideration, almost all of our scientific knowledge makes certain assumptions.  For an example of how we tend to apply what we think we know; take Einstein’s Theories of Special and General Relativity.  I recently re-read his einstein1revolutionary papers (for the 6th, 7th or possibly 8th time).  Many people have some understanding of the basic principles underlying them but when given some serious thought all notions of ‘place’ and ‘time’ are, in reality, meaningless, no matter how counter intuitive it seems.  Admittedly, at the velocities we move, and the restrictions of being glued to the surface of a planet, we can still agree the meaning of ‘the café on the high street at 11am’, so it doesn’t cause us too much inconvenience, but ‘time’ and ‘space’ are not only malleable but only measurable by an arbitrary system of co-ordinates that could not adequately convey information to an observer in another part of the galaxy.  Similarly, our perception of time is governed by our experience.  Try to explain to a friend what ‘time’ is?(but assume they are light years away with a good mobile signal!)  I guarantee you’ll come unstuck before the end of the first sentence, because we are only able to describe time by our anthropocentric experience.  According to the laws of physics time and space are symmetrical, reversible and favour no particular direction, which runs contrary to our everyday experience.  Have you ever seen a scrambled egg spontaneously un-scramble?  Probably not; but wait long enough and theoretically it will happen.  The idea that time is reversible is not disallowed, just incredible hard to achieve.  In principle all you need to know is the position and velocity of every particle in the universe and put them back where they were.  Clearly, this is astoundingly unlikely to be achieved but it is possible just improbable.  One of the fundamental obstacles to any kind of time reversal is the measurement problem.  Not unlike Einstein’s theories, the measurement problem throws an inescapable spanner in the works.  For it says that it is impossible to know both the velocity and position of a particle at the same time with enough accuracy to ‘reverse time’……

muonIt is when we get into the realm of Quantum Mechanics that our existence and consciousness really start to make things difficult.  This not just because the sums are complicated but because we simply do not have the language or cognitive ability to visualise what is happening at the atomic level and below.  It transpires that the fundamental particles that make up everything in the observable universe do not have a locality, not even if you attempt to assign an arbitrary co-ordinate system.  They are spread out in ‘space’, in more than one place at once and, to further complicate matters, the act of observation (making a measurement) affects their behaviour……

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To a scientist seeking concrete answers to questions about the universe in which we live, the nature of time and space and the ‘rules’ upon which it operates, these things can be profoundly unsettling which may well be one of the reasons that many of the worlds brightest, pioneering scientists have ended up in mental institutions or worse……

Even taking everything I have learned into consideration I remain convinced that we are simply the highly improbable statistical outcome of the second law of thermodynamics and the ever increasing entropy that eventually results in life given an infinite amount of ‘time’.  We serve no purpose and are most definitely not guided by the hand of ‘God’……

To even think about the universe from our point of view is to credit ourselves with a degree of importance that we simply don’t have.  The universe doesn’t consider us and it will go on increasing in entropy long after we are gone.  Maybe at some time in the very distant future another thinking organism will doubtless be asking the same question and they will know as much about us as we do about them……

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