Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Monton continued

On the right is a link to a post I wrote about Monton's paper: "The Infinite Universe and Dembski's Design Inference." The Maiden commented:
If I remember right, the critical density is something like one molecule of hydrogen per cubic meter. Now, imagine that universe-- one cubic meter with the equivalent of one hydrogen molecule of mass. That universe will never collapse. In fact, if the numbers are absolutely perfect that universe will be completely flat. If you double both the mass and the volume, the density stays the same. Double it. Triple it. The density won't change so long as each value goes up by the same figure, even if that figure is infinity. It should be easy to see then that it is possible to have an infinite universe with infinite mass but which never collapses.
I wanted further consideration of this comment by others more qualified. I think that what the maiden says is true as far as it goes, but the prevailing understanding of the origin of the universe is that it appeared in the Big Bang. At this point, the universe wasn't "infinitely large" - in fact, it began expanding from an infinitesimally small point. If the mass of the universe were infinite, then the expansion would not have continued. I think the maiden is correct in terms of physics, but not in terms of cosmology, but I'd like somebody who is more up to speed to comment further.

Someone like Dave Heddle, perhaps, who also stopped by to comment on the original post, and pointed out that the currently prevailing model was that the universe was flat and (presumably) finite in mass.

Although it wasn't relevant to the paper under discussion, Steve made the point that
Dembski's work, such as his paper on searching large spaces, completely ignores the impact of natural selection on the probabilities involved. Hence his probability calculations are suspect.
This isn't the case: Steve seems to have misunderstood what Dembski is talking about. Steve correctly observes that natural selection is not a chance process - which means that, since not designed, it is a "regularity". Dembski's thesis is that there is a limit to the amount of specified information that a regular process can generate. Steve's point seems to be simply that "natural selection does create specified information" - which simply contradicts Dembski with no supporting evidence.

The point of all this being that Monton's paper doesn't constitute a refutation of Dembski's work if his assumption that the universe could be infinite, or have infinite mass, is wrong. There may be other refutations, but this wouldn't be one.