Archive for August 1st, 2011

August 1st, 2011

Anthropic Reasoning and the Illusion of Intelligent Design

by Max Andrews

I’m currently doing research for my graduate thesis on the fine-tuning of the multiverse and I was reading an essay by Alan Guth titled “Eternal Inflation and Its Implications.”  I’m not a physicist nor do I have much formal training in the sciences.  Most of what I know is self-learned (and that’s not saying too much).  I waded through Guth’s equations and arrived at what implications Guth found in inflationary cosmology.  This is more my field–applying theory and interpreting the data.  What I found interesting.

I admire Guth for his attempt to not invoke unnecessary explanatory entities or hypotheses; however, at what point and extent in theory does an explanation become unnecessary or even illusory?  He states, “Anthropic reasoning can give the illusion of intelligent design without the need for intelligent intervention.” This anthropic reasoning asks the question, “Why is it the case that we find the parameters for life so finely-tuned?”  Guth takes the physical sciences as far as they are able to go in an attempt to give an account for the fine-tuning of the universe, an attempt he believes the multiverse is able to sufficiently account for without intelligent design.  Sure, that’s fine with me, it’s still a question of theory.  At what point does the best explanation become the best explanation?  It appears that the best explanation is intelligent design but according to Guth (and Leonard Susskind, whom Guth cites) this is actually an illusion.  What is the criteria for labeling one explanation as illusory when the methodology (even methodological naturalism) is the same?  There is certainly more to be said but the philosophy behind this is eschew.