What Enigma?

I see Paul Davies has an article in today’s Guardian about his theories of the Universe. I’ve mentioned him before, in less than flattering terms, and I see little in this article that makes me want to revise that opinion.
He opens with a paragraph that states, in effect, the Anthropic Principle:
Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth – the universe looks suspiciously like a fix. The issue concerns the very laws of nature themselves. For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient "coincidences" and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary in order for life, and hence conscious beings, to exist. Change any one of them and the consequences would be lethal. 
Why is this an "inconvenient truth"? It simply is. So what? Davies seems to be wanting to have his cake and eat it in a number of ways in this article.
  1. He clearly doesn’t like the Multiverse theory (the idea that there exists possibly an infinite number of universes, each with the knobs twiddled differently to produce a different set of the laws of physics in each). And yet he comes up with the idea of a great "cosmic computer"(!) which is running the software programs that result in our physical laws. What seems to have totally escaped him, which leads me suspect that he knows little about computing theory, is that the whole point about computers is that they are, in effect, a universal Turing machine. In other words, the "great cosmic computer" can be running an infinite number of virtual operating systems, each of which is running its own programs that dictate their own laws. Hallo, we seem to be back with the idea of Multiverses again… 
  2. Davies states: "The root cause of all the difficulty can be traced to the fact that both religion and science appeal to some agency outside the universe to explain its lawlike order". Erm, while I accept that religion appeals to the supernatural by default, I beg to differ that science does. Davies seems to be rewriting the whole definition of the scientific method here in the cause of his pet theories. 
  3. And then there’s this odd coda at the end of his article: "If there is an ultimate meaning to existence, as I believe is the case, the answer is to be found within nature, not beyond it". Meaning? As I said the last time, I don’t need no steenking meaning, and I doubt whether the universe does either…
I honestly wonder what on earth he is playing at. Is it simply further fund-raising for Beyond?  

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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