Reading Dennett has gotten me down a rabbit hole. I decided to take a break from book-reading and spend the day reading essays and blogs and watching YouTube vids such as this one. The question posed by the title is Which Laws of Nature are Fundamental? The topic I find curious is an established dichotomy where intelligent design or multiverses are the only possible reasons why we as humans are here to question our existence.
Full disclosure: I don’t pretend to be a physicist, so although I have tried to keep current on, let’s call it, lay physics, there is much I don’t know. But that doesn’t make me stop questioning propositions.
In the case of intelligent design versus multiverses, I feel that both go overboard. I don’t particularly cherish Occam’s Razor, but I do find it apt here. As David Deutsch states in this piece, intelligent design only manages to kick the can down the kerb.
In a nutshell, intelligent design arrives at a place with a claim that all of this can’t have been the result of chance and random events, so [insert the entity of your choosing] had to have designed and constructed it, leaving open the question of how that entity came to be. This is a spin on the age-old issue that many defenders of intelligent design-like theories seem to cling to: The universe cannot have spawned from nowhere, so its genesis must have been due to an intelligent (read: divine) entity without recognising or admitting the circular reasoning involved.
On the other hand, the multiverse solution—which I don’t entirely rule out—also seems unnecessary. In another nutshell—or perhaps repurposing the first—, the main idea is that there are many if not infinite parallel universes. Given the large number—in the manner of the infinite monkeys typing Shakespeare’s sonnets, at least one is bound to be configured just so to enable life and humans in particular.
I don’t subscribe to intelligent design in the least. I dismiss it as implausible. And whilst multiverses may exist, I fail to see why there can’t be a single universe—this one—that just so happens to be configured. If it had been configured any other way, there would have been no life as we know it—and certainly no human life and no life to question how it get there and why.
In my mind, just because we can ask why doesn’t mean there is an answer or that we can find it. More to the point, even in a world of cause and effect, the results can be emergent on one hand and multlivariant on the other. So whilst we want to discover a causal chain of A ⇒ B ⇒ C ⇒ n, it is not likely so linear. Humans do understand the notions of stochsticism and chaos, but we don’t necessarily know how to deal with them causally. Moreover—and Deutsch has specialised in the quantum space—, our understanding of quantum processes is extremely primative. We are probably operating more from conjecture than knowledge, but one needs to start someplace. The trick is not to believe you’ve reached India when you’ve only just departed Spain.