A gentleman by the name of Clay Farris Naff wrote up an anti-Gnu piece providing apologetics for creation myths by inventing one of his own. I use the term gentleman rather loosely, given his “with me or against me” stances in comments defending this piece. His stated purpose?
The claim I aim to rebut is that science forces us to conclude that life is accidental, purposeless, and doomed. It’s a stance with quite a claque.
As this was a post in Scientific American, and Bora Zivkovic (the blogosphere’s Clock King, editor of Scientific American, and all-around stand-up guy) likes to get both sides of hot debates like that New Atheists vs Accommodationists rift, he asked Stephanie Zvan to provide the counterpoint. And provide she did.
Naff built a case for the potential of an intentional creation event, wherein this universe was built as an attempt to preserve life — by the Darwinian “imperative” built into all life, no less — via denizens of a universe “one level up” from us. This is one of those wholly unfalsifiable hypotheses predicated solely on the person proffering the hypothesis’ own psychological need to slice out a wedge of this universe to accommodate the potential for a “purpose to it all”. He apparently thinks he’s done all us atheists a solid by doing so without also conferring on that creature that performed the creation the requisite deity-like powers. And yet he’s offended when people point out that the only reason to wedge that particular possibility open without any supporting evidence, is out of a personal need for a purpose to this universe beyond what purpose you make. And the side-effect of that personal need to wedge that door open, is that people then have an ability to unnecessarily jam a person’s creator deity into that role of “intentional creator”.
Naff believes this hypothesis to be falsifiable in one of two ways: a) that we as a species get swamped out by the human dross when the scientifically-minded among us use contraception to limit our reproduction, while the fundies spawn like bunnies (meaning, I guess, that because WE didn’t do it, we’ve somehow falsified the idea); or b) that science somehow proves a negative — which is impossible — by disproving that a baby universe could be created. The part of the hypothesis that needs falsification is the intentionality in the creation event. Which is, in itself, wholly unfalsifiable. He’s offered two ways he thinks his own hypothesis could be falsified, but they’re both wrong because they target the wrong thing, and fail to falsify that wrong thing regardless.
What’s fun about Stephanie’s rebuttal is that Naff failed to adequately respond to Stephanie’s (or Torbjörn Larsson OM, or peterrrr’s) charges, mostly by handwaving them away as ideological, or as accusing him of being a Sekrit Theist ZOMG, or as simply far too rude to merit a real response. And yet, in Stephanie’s rebuttal, she explicitly out-science-fictioned him:
I could write you a story about accidental creation of the universe, rather than intentional. I could posit a grand orgy of energy beings creating so much tension that its release cannot be contained in a single universe and creates a new one. I could also write you a story about a universe that is collapsing, with a single strain of life that tragically views events backward and doesn’t understand that it’s actually in decline. I could write about a petulant child who creates a universe because no one else wants to spend time with it.
I can write all the stories I want (though they’re not likely to get published, as creation is a hoary old science fiction trope). That doesn’t make any of them true. It doesn’t make any of them worth paying particular attention to, except as artistic endeavours that tell us more about us than about the nature of the world. It doesn’t give us any means to choose between them. The only thing that can do that is our observations of the real world, which is where we come back to Naff’s irritation with us New Atheists.
There’s absolutely no reason to postulate universes spawning as child processes of universes in this case except your own personal distaste for the possibility that this universe was not intentionally created. No matter how you dress up your creation myth with the fact that “it’s evolutionarily sound” as long as you beg the question of whether the “Darwinian imperative” is an actual drive, or a simple side-effect of the fact that some creatures die, simply being “evolutionarily sound” for a creature to create a universe in order to propagate life past the heat death of their own universe does not elevate that act to plausibility. First, before considering the empty postulate, one has to have a reason to believe that this universe was not a mere accident — it is the null hypothesis, after all, no matter how bleak some people might think that fact to be.
The only reason I can see Naff has in jamming his pseudoscientific creation story down New Atheists’ throats is because he doesn’t like their preference for demonstrable reality, and doesn’t like that the null hypothesis happens to sound bleak and damning to his accomodationist ears.