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Friday, June 05, 2009

Multiverse as Religious Urge?

I'm just not sure what do with this article: What if there is only one Universe?

I mean, okay, I understand, to an extent, what this guy is saying. He's saying since we can't see or observe these other potential universes, we should be focusing on the one we can, and forget all this hypothetical guesswork about how things work outside of the physical world which we're operating under.

Or at least, I think that's what he's saying.

He also says, "This, I would claim, should be enough; anything beyond that is more a religious urge for transcendence than science."

And that's where I'm going to stop and just...
Whoa.

That seems almost... anti-science. Anti-human!
I mean, sure we can focus on the world we live in, and for that matter, with that same logic, maybe we should be focusing just on earth, and say the heck with space and the rest of the galaxy. Except that someone, somewhere, said hey-- see those points of light? What if I could see them better? But yeah, those points of light really don't have any affect on us. They really don't impinge on our "universe" so why should we bother looking more closely at them? Why did we send a couple of robots to Mars to see what's there? Who cares what's on another planet that we can't even see with our naked eyes outside of a shiny spot that's pretty much indistinguishable from a star?

But here's where I think he's got it wrong, continuing along with the same metaphor: We can choose not to look at the stars, but that doesn't mean the stars don't exist. And why is looking at the idea of other universes religious transcendence, but looking outside ourselves at the stars isn't?

Since when has science ever championed ignorance? And why does science have to choose as a whole to focus only on the one universe which we can see and feel and touch and comprehend? Why shouldn't people keep probing and looking and coming up with theories, and building bigger telescopes to see farther and better than we ever have before? What does it hurt, scientifically, to explore ALL these options? Because it means we have to relabel some laws? Categorize things as "True within our known universe" vs. "True for all possible universes"? Is that too much work? I mean, I'm totally baffled here. Why is this an issue?

So. What if there is only one universe? Then some people in science are going to look kind of silly. But, so did a lot of people who thought the world was flat. And the people who thought the Earth was the center of the galaxy. So what? How does it hurt us? What if there ISN'T only one Universe? What if Time IS variable? Should we ignore the possibility for convenience?

This guy's argument-- or at least that last line-- seems kind of specious at best. But I'm not a scientist, I guess. Certainly I'm no physicist. My realm is definitely the biological and behavioral, as opposed to the math based sciences. But it seems to me that the best decision science can make is to explore both options until one or the other is disproved. I kind of thought that's what the whole point of science was. Isn't that part of the scientific method? Create a null-hypothesis (the opposite of what you want to show is true) and prove it false?

In the interest of being overly dramatic:
I can't see Gravity.
Maybe I'll decide to ignore that next.

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