Sunday, 24 July 2016

God As Utility Monster

In Theological Zombies, I suggested that in order to maximise the number of people who freely choose to know and love it, a god needs only to create a world for each individual that is specially tailored such that the conditions necessary for that individual to freely choose to know and love god are satisfied.  Assuming anything other than an evil god, it is reasonable to conclude that the god would not create an individual that it knows would never choose to know and love it - because this is knowingly creating something that would suffer for eternity (the bunny problem).  So all individuals created, if the circumstances were right, could freely choose to know and love the creator god.  Being unlimited in power, time and materials, the god would therefore not put individuals into universes in which the conditions are not conducive to salvation.  This implies that anyone in our universe who is not going to be saved can't be real and must therefore be a theological zombie.  (I took a lot longer to get to the point in the linked article.)

At the end I listed some possible routes for a theist or apologist to take with respect to the argument, one of which was to reject the notion of maximal excellence (or maximal greatness, as it is sometimes termed).  Another option, that I didn't list was along the lines of Kevin Scharp's divine psychology objection.  The theist could state with some confidence that we have no idea as to what a god might want and what a god might choose to do when given the option to save one individual at the expense of another.

This is true enough.  However, once this floodgate is opened, the theist has lost the right to claim anything about what god thinks, or wants, or will do.  The power of many "logical" arguments for the existence of god are founded on assumptions regarding what god might do, might have done and how it might have preferred to do it.

Another problem is linked to the utility monster idea.  This is originally an objection to utilitarian ethics, the squishy idea of maximising happiness or well-being.  At an extreme, if Trevor got 100 units of pleasure from killing Maude, at the expense of 50 units of pleasure lost from Maude and her family, then Maude should let Trevor kill her and thus maximise happiness.  It doesn't have to be that extreme though.  If we both like chocolate, but I like chocolate twice as much as you, then I should get more of it than you, at least until your unhappiness outweighs my extra happiness (or I have eaten all the chocolate).

In a sense, the god of the bible could be thought of as the ultimate utility monster.  If that god wants anything, to even the slightest extent, then by its nature, that want becomes a command.  If something would be even in the slightest bit pleasing to that god, that something would be mandatory.

Consider, a being like this cannot forget and is eternal.  So anything that is even vaguely pleasurable will, in the mind of that being, exist positively, forever.  For us, however, anything that is even ecstatically pleasurable that we might experience will fade in our memories and eventually die with us.

In effect, that would make us ethical slaves to merest wishes of such a god.

At least it would if we were utilitarians.


And if the god in question existed.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Theological Zombies

The following sequence is from about minute 54 in the debate between Raymond Bradley and William Lane Craig, although the text is taken from the transcript at Reasonably Fallacious - so be aware that this is the version sanctioned by WLC:

Dr. Bradley:

I'll return to this microphone, if I may, okay? Now let me try to get my point across on this because this is crucial. And we both agree that Dr. Craig's strategy has been to try to prove that propositions (1) and (2) are compatible on the grounds that there is a third proposition which is consistent with (1) and with together with (1) implies (3). I've said that (3) . . .

Dr. Craig:

Entails (2).

Dr. Bradley:

Entails (2). Sorry! I've said that his (3) is all by itself inconsistent with (1).

Let's look at it like this [draws circle on the overhead]. Let that circle represent the set of all possible persons that God could have created with free will and of whom He knows in advance from the very beginning, in the words of the Bible, what the outcome of their choices would be. Okay? Now that set of possible persons, possibilia as you call them in one of your works, can be subdivided more or less arbitrarily, we'll say, into those who would be saved if He were to create them and those who would be damned as a consequence of their free choices [divides the circle into two halves labeled "sacred" and "damned" respectively]. All right?

Dr. Craig:

I don't want to be difficult, but I think that's too simplistic because some people might be damned if created in some circumstances but saved if they were created in other circumstances. So you can't just divide the line down the middle and put people on either half. It depends on what world these possible persons are put into.

Dr. Bradley:

So we can shift the line wherever you wish according to which actual world God chooses to create. All right?

Dr. Craig:

All right.

Dr. Bradley:

Now He creates an actual world [designates a segment of the circle overlapping both halves]. These are just possible individuals up here, the whole domain of possible individuals with free will [designates individuals outside the segment]. Here we've got the actual ones [designates individuals in the segment]. And, as you can see, some of them on this have been assigned to heaven because God knew in advance that if He were to create them in these circumstances, they would be saved. And, here we have those He's consigned to hell. In fact, I've been generous to God and you here because I've created equal parts. And, of course, Jesus says it's going to be pretty rough on most of them.



Now the point is this. Why did God have to create just this subset of possible individuals with free will? [designates segment of actual individuals] He could have sliced the pie a very different way. He could have sliced the pie so that there weren't any in this segment at all, the segment of hell [shades sub-segment of actual, damned individuals]. He could have chosen to create a world in which no actual individuals like you or me were existent [draws another segment outside the segment of actual individuals].

Dr. Craig:

Right.

Dr. Bradley:

After all, there's nothing all that great about us, is there?

Dr. Craig:

Right.

Dr. Bradley:

So He could have created all these possible individuals . . . [ticks new segment]



Dr. Craig:

And my point is He wouldn't be able to guarantee--so long as those people have free will--that they would FREELY RESPOND TO HIS OFFER OF SALVATION AND BE SAVED.

Dr. Bradley:

But if He knows in advance that these will in those circumstances be saved by virtue of freely accepting God's offer of salvation through the blood of Jesus, then why not?

Dr. Craig:

Because there may not be a compossible set of individuals such that if you put all of them together in a world, all of them freely receive God's salvation and are saved. It may be that individual "S" would only be saved in a world if in that world individual "S-prime" were lost …

So that it's impossible for God to … or infeasible for God to create a world in which all are saved …

Dr. Bradley:

I understand quite well about them having to be compossible. And, let's just say that out of the set of all possible inhabitants of this world that God is going to choose to create, only some are compossible. So let's make it a subset. We now have a subset of compossible individuals all of whom would be saved.

Dr. Craig:

But, see, my point is that you don't know that such a set is not the empty set. It could be the empty set.

Dr. Bradley:

Well, look, you play with possibilities. You talk about it's possible that this, it's possible that that. . . I'm asking you to confront some actual examples of possibilities. Heaven is allegedly a state of affairs in which God exists and the only other persons to exist are people who either have been saved because they believed in Jesus' name or would have believed in Jesus' name and have been saved or you could throw in a few of those who get there by general revelation.

Dr. Craig:

But that in itself presupposes there was an antecedent pre-mortem world …

Dr. Bradley:

It doesn't logically presuppose it. Causally perhaps. But you understand the distinction between causal ties and logical ones as well as I do. [long pause]

Dr. Craig:

You've still got three minutes.

---

There's a lot of evasion from Craig in this sequence, and many appeals to ignorance.  The debate has been discussed previously by others such as Jonathan Pearce (who argues that WLC's argument violates the ontological argument, because we can conceive of a better god than WLC's god, one that is not obliged to create a world in which a significant proportion of the inhabitants would be consigned to hell) and Luke Muehlhauser (who applauds Bradley for being prepared for the debate, unlike many other atheists who meet WLC on the debating podium), but I want to take a slightly different tack.

My ears pricked up when WLC said this:

I don't want to be difficult, but I think that's too simplistic because some people might be damned if created in some circumstances but saved if they were created in other circumstances. So you can't just divide the line down the middle and put people on either half. It depends on what world these possible persons are put into.

Now, note that WLC is not arguing for divine ignorance, by which I mean the idea that free will might preclude a god from knowing whether a given person will be saved or not.  Bradley gave him the opportunity (a few times) to make such an argument and instead of doing so, WLC gave a "compossibility" argument.

Dr. Bradley:

But if He knows in advance that these will in those circumstances be saved by virtue of freely accepting God's offer of salvation through the blood of Jesus, then why not?

Dr. Craig:

Because there may not be a compossible set of individuals such that if you put all of them together in a world, all of them freely receive God's salvation and are saved. It may be that individual "S" would only be saved in a world if in that world individual "S-prime" were lost …

So that it's impossible for God to … or infeasible for God to create a world in which all are saved …

I'm willing to accept that WLC misspoke and that he was not suggesting that his god could find certain acts impossible (as opposed to infeasible) and instead I'll focus on what he is saying about the possible lack of compossible sets.

What is being suggested here, by WLC himself, is that there is a possible world in which S-prime is freely saved although in that world, S would be lost, as well as a possible world in which S is freely saved while S-prime is lost.  Conceivably there would be another world in which both would be lost.  Think about that for a moment.

No matter how you want to paint it or buff it, this is predestination.  The claim entails a situation in which a god chooses which world to implement, notionally allowing either S or S-prime to freely choose to satisfy the requirements for salvation (although another optimum solution could have both S and S-prime being lost so that T, U and V together with their primes might be saved).  And this is despite there being possible worlds in which one or another of S and S-prime might be saved.  Therefore, the salvation of S and damnation of S-prime is purely the result of god's decision.  From the very moment of creation, S-prime is excluded, despite being able to act freely.  And therefore, god consciously places S-prime into the (future) eternal flames of hell.

Bradley's argument, which I agree with completely, is that an omnibeneficient god would not and could not consciously choose to create an intelligent being knowing (via omniscience) that that being would be tormented forever.  WLC also agrees (at least where bunnies are concerned).

Remember that we are talking about a maximally excellent being (MEB) here, which incorporates omnipotence - unlimited in power, unlimited by time, unlimited by space, although apparently limited by logic (the logically impossible is not required of an omnipotent god, according to WLC and his ilk, which is strange, since they could bypass such objections as the problem of evil in one fell swoop if they only allowed their god to be immune to logic).  An omnipotent MEB is not restricted to creating a single world in which all its playthings interact in such a way as to enable the salvation of one at the expense of another.

Remember that this MEB knows the outcome of all your freely made decisions, and knew it before you were created.  It already knew all your choices, all your interactions, all your innermost thoughts and the same applies to every being around you.  So, as far as you are concerned, from the perspective of the MEB, it doesn’t matter whether you interact with actual free acting lesser beings or theological zombies (soulless automatons which merely act out the behaviour of those who would otherwise be damned).  The priority of this MEB (according to WLC) is to ensure that the maximum number of humans comes to freely choose to know and love it.  It's not to minimise the number of worlds created, or to maximise the actual interaction between lesser beings, or to not create theological zombies.

Therefore, an MEB of the sort that WLC believes in would choose to create a possible world in which S would be saved (largely inhabited by theological zombies, including a theological zombie playing the role of S-prime), a possible world in which S-prime would be saved (in which the damned S would be portrayed by a theological zombie) and so on such that each and every created soul would be saved.

That's a rather terrifying idea.  For each and every believer, there is a possibility that this universe is created just for them and people like them, because in other configurations they would be damned.  While it might be comforting to imagine that there might be a number of actual, predestined-to-be-saved people in amongst all the theological zombies - you could never know which is which.  Your mother, zombie or real person?  Your child, zombie or real person?  Your partner, zombie or real person?

But it gets worse.  This world would be the one, presumably the best one in which these people would be saved.  Everything that goes on around them would be contributing to that salvation and every bad thing that happens would (due to the thorough goodness of the MEB) be necessary.  Therefore, for these people to be saved, it is necessary that three quarter million people die each year from dysentery.  It was necessary for journalists to be beheaded in Syria.  The tsunamis in Japan and Indonesia were necessary.  Droughts and floods and fires and earthquakes and mudslides and mental illness and drug addiction and all sorts of social chaos - all are necessary to save these people.

These are not good people if they could not possibly have been saved in a better world.  Apparently WLC is one of these people (although I freely admit that, within this premise, it's much more likely that he is a theological zombie).

What does the theist have to do to escape this conclusion?  I see a few options:

Reject the doctrine of maximal excellence (although WLC argues that a less than maximally excellent being is not god)

Reject the arguments of WLC and people like him (a very good start on the road to reason and intellectual freedom)

Appeal to ignorance (the standard fall-back option)

Argue that the theological zombie is logically impossible (this would have to be a valid argument, of course, otherwise it's just another appeal to ignorance hidden behind a veil of rhetoric and hand-waving - of the very sort that I'd expect WLC to embark upon)


Finally, I would like to make an appeal to any theist who is accidentally persuaded, by my argument, that they are one of a few real beings on this zombie infested planet.  Please treat any and all theological zombies that you interact with on a daily basis with the utmost of care and respect.  After all, we are here - dying and suffering, putting up with you, or at least simulating it - just to help you get into heaven because you failed to manage it in a better, more pleasant world.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Multiholes in WLC's Physics Arguments

At the end of The Eternally Inflated (Multiverse and WLC), I mentioned reliance "on argumentation from (false) ignorance".  It's a fair question if you were to ask: what the hell is false ignorance.  Let me to clarify.

An appeal to ignorance is a fallacy in which, for example, an apologist might say something like "There is no other know reason why X would happen, therefore god did it" or "You can't prove that god doesn't exist, therefore it does".

What I mean by false ignorance is the sort of move performed by an apologist, where he or she claims ignorance regarding evidence against his or her case, despite that evidence being readily available.  In some cases, the feigned ignorance is all the more egregious because not only is the evidence readily available, but it is a matter of public record (in video and transcript) that the evidence has been presented.

Here are some pertinent examples - all centred on arguments raised by WLC - that are raised by people interviewed by Skydive Phil and co in recent films (look for the tag "Before the Big Bang"):

Misrepresenting The BGV theorem

WLC constantly informs us that the BGV theorem means that the universe had a beginning: (debate with Sean Carroll, March 2014) "In 2003 Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to show that any universe which is, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a beginning."

One of the authors, Alan Guth says that's not correct, the theorem only implies that inflation had a beginning.  While, it is true that Vilenkin has subsequently written an article which concludes that the universe "probably" did have a "beginning", he caveats the term "beginning" so as to be "synonymous to past incompleteness" - so this does not necessarily mean an ex nihilo creation event.

The conclusion to the actual BGV paper is revealing: "Our argument shows that null and time-like geodesics are, in general, past-incomplete in inflationary models, whether or not energy conditions hold, provided only that the averaged expansion condition Hav > 0 holds along these past-directed geodesics. This is a stronger conclusion than the one arrived at in previous work in that we have shown under reasonable assumptions that almost all causal geodesics, when extended to the past of an arbitrary point, reach the boundary of the inflating region of space-time in a finite proper time (finite affine length, in the null case)."

Note the caveats: "in general", "provided that", "under reasonable assumptions", "almost all", "in the null case".  Even if we look past those caveats, we see that the authors are making a claim about a "boundary of the inflating region of space-time".  This says nothing about what did or did not exist prior to that inflation.

Finally, Sean Carroll told WLC this in his rebuttal speech during their debate: "Now there’s a theorem by Alan Guth, Arvind Borde, and Alex Vilenkin that says the universe had a beginning. I’ve explained to you why that’s not true but in case you do not trust me I happen to have Alan Guth right here. One of the authors of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem, Alan what do you say? He says, “I don’t know whether the universe had a beginning. I suspect the universe didn’t have a beginning. It’s very likely eternal but nobody knows.” Now how in the world can the author of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem say the universe is probably eternal? For the reasons I’ve already told you. The theorem is only about classical descriptions of the universe not about the universe itself."

In his February 2016 debate with Kevin Scharp, WLC trotted out his version of the BGV again, claiming it as evidence that universe (or multiverse has an absolute beginning).

Pushing the Past Eternal

WLC claims, for a number of reasons, that the universe cannot be eternal in the past.  One of the authorities that he calls on in support of this claim is Alan Guth.  Guth explains in Before the Big Bang 4 : Eternal Inflation & The Multiverse why he favours models that are past eternal.

Despite WLC's protestations, there are a number of models which are consistent with past eternality: the cyclic model (possibly with one bounce only), conformal cyclic cosmology, loop quantum gravity and dual arrow of time models such as that being worked on by Alan Guth and Sean Carroll.

Therefore, WLC's claims are based on false ignorance.  He has no justification for believing that there are no workable cosmologies that are past eternal.

Boltzmann Brains

I'm not big into Boltzmann brains, for reasons that I plan to write about in the near future.  WLC loves them.  The reason why he loves them, as best as I can see, is that it makes physicists look silly when they take the idea seriously.

However, when WLC raises Boltzmann brains, he does so to discredit the idea of a multiverse (which he sometimes refers to as a "World Ensemble").  The problem that WLC has when does this, as Alan Guth points out, is that Boltzmann brains are a problem even for single universes and the multiverse (particularly the pocket universe solution that creates new pockets of low entropy space-time in which low entropy observers like ourselves could develop) is the solution to that problem.

But even if that weren't the case, the argument as presented by WLC himself is only that high entropy, short-lived Boltzmann brains are more likely than low entropy, slowly developed observers.  There is no claim that we are impossible under the assumptions being presented.  So with a "World Ensemble" theory, it is possible for intelligent life like ours to develop and, therefore, given enough "worlds" in that "ensemble" (as N approaches infinity), the existence of our type of intelligent life within the ensemble becomes a virtual certainty - no matter how unlikely it might be.

Going Low with Entropy

This is in a similar vein to the Boltzmann brain argument, although a whole lot less silly.  WLC claims that the second law of thermodynamics, that entropy tends to increase, implies the universe cannot be past eternal.  Again, this is put to bed by the multiverse, particularly of the sort suggested by Alan Guth and also the Conformal Cyclic Cosmology championed by Penrose, another physicist who has been widely misrepresented on this subject by apologists, including WLC.  Both Guth and Penrose suggest that the solution to the mystery of why the entropy state of the universe was so low prior to the big bang was that there was a "before" the big bang that put the entropy into a relatively low state.

Note that I use the term "relatively", by this I mean to highlight that there is no upper limit to entropy.

Misrepresenting Anthony Aguirre

In his debate with Sean Carroll, WLC selectively used words from Anthony Aguirre and John Kehayias to claim that the universe must have had a beginning:

It is very difficult to devise a system – especially a quantum one – that does nothing ‘forever,’ then evolves. A truly stationary or periodic quantum state, which would last forever, would never evolve, whereas one with any instability will not endure for an indefinite time.

These are taken from the paper "Quantum Instability of the Emergent Universe".  The footnote, provided to the transcript but not presented at the actually debate, clarifies that Aguirre's argument is specific to the Ellis-Maarten model but then claims that "their point is generalizable".

Aguirre himself (in the film) confirms he only claimed that a particular model (the "Emergent Universe” of the paper's title) doesn’t work in creating an eternal past, and he goes on to clarify that other models do work with an eternal past, thus putting a lie to WLC's claim that the point was "generalizable".

Conformal Cyclic Cosmology

In one of his podcasts and in a Q&A response, WLC claims that Penrose's conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) is not a cyclic model (noting that he shares credit for this argument with James Sinclair and makes a philosophical appeal to Yujin Nagasawa's authority).  The general thrust of the argument centres on the claim that Penrose's model does not describe consecutive cycles of the universe, but rather that the cycles are concurrent, sharing a common beginning.  In Skydive Phil's film of an interview with Roger Penrose, Penrose directly refutes this notion stressing that the conformal cycles of his cosmology do not originate in a common beginning and instead are sequential.

This film was released after WLC made his comments about the CCC model, but it is interesting that Craig has made no effort to modify his position (and this is despite the fact that one of WLC's own domains, the Reasonable Faith Forums, contains links to the film).

Ignoring the Evidence (for Multiverses)

WLC has claimed that there is no evidence for a multiverse, although does temper this appeal to ignorance with claims that if we were living in a multiverse, then we should be swamped by Boltzmann brains (see above).  This approach really needs to be modified now, either by relying more strongly on the rather silly Boltzmann brain argument, or by moving to a position similar to Jeff Zweerink's (fundamentally, he claimed - at least in the linked clip - that no matter whether a multiverse exists or not, the case for christianity will be made stronger).  To be able to make this latter claim, however, will demand a new stratum of false ignorance as WLC and his fellow apologists wilfully ignore the consequences of multiversality.

If WLC were instead to continue to claim that there is no evidence for a multiverse, he would be wilfully ignoring the words of George Efstathiou, one of the world's top observational cosmologists, who gave a press conference for ESA's Planck satellite (and spoke during the film) saying that there is evidence for a multiverse.  Very specifically, there is evidence of inflation and inflation of the sort that very strongly favours a multiverse.

So, in conclusion, what I mean by an appeal to (false) ignorance is the sort of ploy in which an apologist either pretends to not know about inconvenient facts, or protects his argument against contamination by inconvenient facts, and effectively makes a doubly fallacious appeal to ignorance.  WLC seems to have been guilty of this in at least seven cases.

I say "seems" because it's possible that I have been overly harsh and WLC is in the process of fixing his errors.  We will know that to be the case if, in the future, his debates no longer make these appeals to false ignorance.


Either way, a couple of his key arguments are in tatters.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Eternally Inflated (Multiverse and WLC)

Skydive Phil has released a new video in his "Before the Big Bang" series, Eternal Inflation and the Multiverse.  In this video he interviews Alan Guth of BGV fame (there are also interviews with Anthony Aguirre, Yasunori Nomura and George Efstathiou).

The reason that Guth is of much interest to me is that he was one of the three who collaborated on the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem (BGV) which WLC invariably refers to in support of his Argument from First Cause.

In order to recap, I will quote Alexander Vilenkin (who is quoting WLC, before taking issue with WLC's first premise):

The cosmological argument for the existence of God consists of two parts. The first is straightforward:

·       everything that begins to exist has a cause;
·       the universe began to exist;
·       therefore, the universe has a cause.

The second part affirms that the cause must be God.

The BGV is used, by William Lane Craig, as evidence in support of the second premise - the idea that the universe began to exist.  The problem, however, is that WLC explicitly assumes that the universe (all that for which we have evidence of existence) was brought into being, from nothing, by a spaceless, timeless, immensely powerful mind which he identifies as his god.

However, the beginning of our universe does not preclude the existence of something else prior to our universe, something that is not a mind, but instead is a multiverse - an eternal inflation that spawns universes such as ours.  In doing so, Guth not only describes a mechanism by which our universe could begin without an intention directed cause, but also explains how our universe could be both contingent and as fine-tuned as it appears to be.  (It's complicated, so I suggest that you look at the video to get the gist of it.  I wrote a comment to the video that contains a link to Alan Guth's written explanation as to how inflation works which might be of assistance.)

Now, the power of WLC's argument, such as it is, is rooted in ignorance.  We can't think of any other mechanism by which the universe might have begun, therefore it must be caused (which Vilenkin disputes) and therefore it must have a causal mechanism and the only possible causal mechanism we can think of is a god.

What is on show in the video is that the ignorance on which the argument rests is illusory.  As a species at least, even if not as individuals, we can think of other mechanism by which our universe may have begun (Vilenkin's uncaused universe) and, in any case, we can think of other possible causal mechanisms (pocket universes from the decay of eternal scalar field inflation).

---

There are, of course, potential objections with the eternal inflation multiverse.  Most obviously is the fact that it is, in a sense, not really a multiverse at all.  The process results in one vast but nevertheless connected region of space-time, with the overwhelming majority of it in a state of inflation.  This is not a major issue, however, since this would just mean that we are talking about a Tegmarkian Level II Multiverse in which there is an effectively infinite universe populated with an infinite array of pocket universes so the argument that it's "not really a multiverse" is merely betraying a misunderstanding about what constitutes a multiverse.

Another possible route that an apologist might take is to suggest that while the infinite array of pocket universes explains the apparent fine-tuning of our universe, some fine-tuning of the multiverse would still be required to permit our type of universe to fall within the range of possible universes.  This would be justified if the range of possible values for physical constants in a pocket universe are limited to small variations from the values of physical constants in the precursor universe (from which inflation commenced).

This however ignores a feature of quantum mechanics on which much of this rests.  If there is any set of values of physical constants that is possible then this corresponds to a non-zero probability of that set being instantiated, no matter what the original set of values of physical constants looked like in the precursor universe.  And with an infinite number of pocket universes being spawned by that precursor universe, the likelihood of a universe with a set of values of physical constants like ours is unity - meaning that it is a necessary consequence.  (Note that this strikes at the heart of WLC's trilemma: physical necessity, chance or design.)

And even if it were true that the set of values of physical constants that characterise our universe were not reachable from a possible set in a possible precursor universe, then all this means is that our universe did not derive from one of those types of precursor universe.  We need to step back and think about how the initial precursor universe would have arisen, which means that we turn to Vilenkin:

Quantum tunneling can create a universe 'from nothing' [because] in quantum mechanics things that are classically forbidden by energy barriers can happen by tunneling through energy barriers. So a universe of zero size — that is, no universe at all — can originate spontaneously by 'tunneling through' an energy barrier and then expanding by inflation.

If that can happen naturally once, in other words if it is at all possible, then we have no reason to think that such quantum tunnelling is limited to happening only once (as might be the case with a supernatural origin of the universe).  Therefore, quantum tunnelling like this could potentially happen an infinite number of times.  As a consequence, we could have not only an infinite number of pocket universes in our multiverse, being spawned by inflation that was initiated in the original precursor universe but also an infinite number of original precursor universes being created by quantum tunnelling processes.  Each of these precursor universes would assume a set of values of physical constants that falls within the possible range, including sets that allow the set in our universe to be instantiated.

If this is the case, then the apologist could still claim that her god is the author of quantum mechanics and this hugely wasteful process, generating an infinite number of precursor universes each of which generates an infinite number of pocket universes, is all part of the plan to create humanity.

She then runs, however, into the bunny problem.

WLC argues that if there is a possible world in which rabbits suffer unremittingly, then it follows that there is no maximally great being - that there is no god.  But if god is a quantum engineer and has created this infinity of infinities, then a world in which cute fluffy creatures suffer unremittingly is not only possible, it must actually exist.

We can easily imagine scenarios in which rabbit analogues suffer without end - even on this planet in the future: a plague wipes out all other creatures including pests as well as predators, a couple of small genetic changes lead to the immunity of rabbits to all fatal viruses and bacterial infections and another to prevent the deterioration of telomeres beyond a certain point so that death due to old age is prevented but the ageing and deterioration of bones, ligaments and so on still goes on.  Imagine the life of a rabbit (or any sufficiently cute animal) under these conditions, barring accident or starvation, it will live forever, crippled and in pain and constantly hungry because rabbit numbers will rise and fall with the availability of food - there will never be enough to support an increasing population of creatures that pretty much do not die unless they starve to death.

So, I accept that this might be unlikely.  But impossible?  No, I don't think so.  The question then is how many variations of this universe do we need for the likelihood of this scenario to be quite high?  The actual number doesn't really matter because, in a universe created by a god as quantum engineer, we would have an infinite number of them, making the likelihood is unity.  Following WLC's own argumentation, we find that a maximally great being does not and cannot exist.


The apologist must therefore back away from the multiverse, away from the evidence, and rely ever more heavily on argumentation from (false) ignorance.