the goldilocks universe

Davies’s big idea goes back to the Big Bang. According to the standard picture, the laws of physics were already in place at the explosive origin of the universe. But he contends that perhaps the universe and its laws emerged together in malleable form: “We would expect that these laws were not infinitely precise mathematical statements, but they would have a certain sloppiness or ambiguity that could lead to observable effects from the earliest universe, when these laws were still congealing.”

So how did compatible life and mind come into being? Davies’s explanation, involving quantum mechanics and something called backwards causation, is impossible to compress without sounding “ludicrous”, he confesses. He’s right: it’s impenetrable.

But this scenario requires an act of faith as great as that of any religious believer. So hasn’t he sidestepped the God question? Science can meet religion on middle ground, he says, but a superbeing who intervenes in events is anathema to most scientists. “You have to understand that science deals with hypotheses that can be tested, and religion proceeds from acts of faith that can’t be tested.”

more from The Sunday Times here.