I watched this bloggingheads.tv dialogue between Robert Wright, whose latest book (The Evolution of God) I reviewed in the prior post, and Tyler Cowen, economics professor and prolific blogger at Marginal Revolution. They discussed Wright’s book but also expanded somewhat on each of their own views. One thing both men have in common is that they are non-believers, but take the challenge of responding to religious impulses seriously. I wanted to highlight here a good point made by Cowen. (The relevant parts of the dialogue span a couple of minutes beginning at 38 minutes in, then a few more starting at the 47 minute mark.)
Paraphrasing, Cowen says most non-believers should think more about religion and should specifically take the design/fine-tuning argument seriously: contemplation of this often leads to the concept of a complicated multiverse. He says we need to consider that our common-sense view of the world is wrong, and that there is room for a “deep strangeness” in reality. He mentions quantum mechanics and says one has to come to terms with a reality that seems absurd. He says his alternative to believing in God turns out to be believing something strange as well.
I would add that the multiverse concept in particular, is not only strange, but, if embraced, commits one to acknowledge something transcendent (a reality far beyond our observable universe). Investigations of our world have led to several ways to motivate the multiverse: in addition to the fine-tuning argument and the interpretation of QM, there are extensions of specific cosmological theories (eternal inflation, the string theory “landscape”), and there is the modal realism of philosophers. If a non-believer is motivated to explore deeper explanations of reality, he or she will almost surely end up somewhere well beyond a common-sense starting point.
Once you rule out the supernatural entities and interventions of traditional theism, there’s still a lot of hard work to do to explain what’s given to us: and the journey may lead to places one didn’t intend to go.