Saturday, April 5, 2014

Are Any of These More or Less Rational Than the Others?


Is any member of this set of cosmological positions any more or less rational/hard to believe than any other? How would you go about ranking them as to plausibility?

[Where: A = Matter/energy (and unguided physical processes) are all there is (biological life being the one exception to the ‘unguided’ bit); B = Fine tuning leading to; C = origin of the aforementioned Life and (some of ) its; D = subjectivity, consciousness, cognition and rationality; E = Aesthetic, moral and other Values; F = Freedom; T= teleology.]

Group I. Stand-alone universes (monistic/material universes)

Position 1:  One contingently existing universe (something) comes into being from nothing + A, B, C, D, E, F,T.

P2: Contingent multi-universe comes into being from nothing + A,B,C,D,E,F,T in some number of universes.

P3:  Eternally and necessarily existing single universe + ABCDEFT.

P4: Eternally and necessarily existing multi-universe + ABCDEFT in some number of universes.

P5: Eternally and contingently existing single universe + ABCDEFT

P6: Eternally and contingently existing multi-verse + ABCDEFT

Group II. Not quite so stand-alone universes- (depart from (A) to various degrees):

Group IIA. Non-Stand Alone, monist/material models (Created universes, creator ‘outside’), Monism still holds.

       i. WUWU (wind it up and watch it work) Universes:

      P7-8: Same as P1-2 except: an external cause(s) of the ‘big –whole-lot-o-something’ coming into being. This/these external cause(s) only operate(s) as to generate the universe(s) and does/do not dabble, once the universe is created.

       ii. (Outside Creator Violatin’ the Prime Directive) Universes

      P9-10 Same as P7-8, but the being(s) does/ do dabble. (‘can’t leave well enough alone’ universes.)

Group IIB, IIC. SDU (substance dualist versions of the above 2 universes)

iii. (SD internal universes)

P11-12: Same as P1-2, except: substance dualism is true inside universe(s).

P13-14: same as P3-4 with substance dualism & etc.

P15-16: same as P5-6 with substance dualism etc.

iv. (SD internal/external universes)

P17-18: Same as P7-10, combine with substance dualism inside and outside the universe.

I don’t know if this is an exhaustive list of the possibilities, but I think so. Some quick hitter thoughts, not necessarily in any particular order, and not necessarily fully formulated:

1 and 2 violate the principle of sufficient reason. Any positions that rely on them do as well.

3 and 4 posit the universe as being something that cannot fail to exist; in other words; it is impossible for there not to be a universe. Speaking in terms of conception, the lack of a universe seems easy enough to comprehend as a possibility. So, insofar as 3 and 4 posit this, we have to say, at least from our present epistemological standpoint, the notion needs further backing. We do not yet understand that ‘necessity.’ That does not necessarily mean we never will. But, how exactly would we go about understanding it? How would we go about determining whether or not the universe is a necessarily existing thing? How would we know when we stumbled upon proof of this? There are old arguments concerning a necessary being (see below). They are contested.

5 and 6 posit that the universe is something that can fail to exist, could have failed to exist. Yet these positions do not stop there. They say this: Not only is it the case that the universe does exist, it is also a thing that exists eternally. It has always existed, exists right now, and will continue to exist forever. Yet, because, on these views, it is contingent, the universe has a nature that renders it possible that it stop existing at any time. One is led to the obvious question: Why is it that it never stops existing?

Regarding the alleged contingency of the universe: These two positions have the virtue of fitting the ‘present epistemological standpoint’ referenced just above re; 3 and 4, but do not have the virtue of plausibility with regard to the eternal abeyance of the contingent nature of that eternally existing thing (if ya know what I mean). We are just supposed to accept that the universe was and always will be, that it will never wink out of existence, even though it is was and always will be in its nature that it could freakin’ wink out. We are to swallow that whole. But, come on: We’re pretty damn lucky the whole blame thing don’t just wink out of existence ain’t we?

1-6 must account for ABCDEFT via statistically very unlikely means.

7-10 posit being(s) external to the universe(s) that cause them to be. This leads to questions regarding the creator(s): Are they contingent or necessary beings? These alternatives bring with them questions similar to those just above with regard to the universes’ possible contingency/necessity.

The history of philosophy has certainly shown that we can explore the notion of necessary being, expanding and examining the concept, but have we actually done anything like detecting such a thing when we do that? Another question arises between the contrasts in the members of this subset: Are the creators material or not? Denizens of other universes or not?  The possible answers to these questions are reflected in P17-18.

7-8 do not have to account for the origins of life (ABCDEFT) exclusively via internal operations of A because they posit intelligent beings that created the universes, beings who could have set initial conditions, then wound the clock. They could have judiciously set those initial conditions with ends in mind.

9-10 can account for the origins of life via a combination of internal operations of A and creators tinkering as the clock unwinds.

Proposals that posit the necessary existence of universes may have the ability to explain the origins of life, etc., as being inevitable in some way, a subtle necessary consequence of the nature of the universe.

They also have the virtue of not having to make recourse to extra entities in order to explain the existence of the universe(s).  The creators would be superfluous.

Proposals that posit creators may also have this ‘inevitability of life’ feature, but only if the creators have necessary existence which in some way entails that eventuality. If the creators are contingent, a regress of explanation begins. If the life is not some subtle inevitability, then its origins must be accounted for in the choices of the creators.

Proposals that posit a single universe have less basic entities to explain that any others.

Proposals that posit a multiverse have to explain the existence of the multiverse, as opposed to a single universe. They have to explain how these come to be, and the behavior of each.

Proposals that posit creators have two basic sorts of entities to explain.

In any case , prima facie, there are big holes or gaps in the positions. All have similar rational challenges.