As many cosmologists have pointed out, the universe is extremely fine-tuned for life in so many respects, and life, especially intelligent life, is extremely unlikely to emerge. The strong anthropic principle tries to explain it statistically by an extremely huge multiverse ensemble. However, are there alternative explanations? One is an intelligent designer, but given how hard it is to create intelligent life, It would probably have to engage in significant trial-and-error by simulating many prototype universes before stumbling upon one that works. This is probably true no matter how intelligent It is. So, the multiverse reemerges through the back door. This still applies even if the Designer is a blind naturalistic algorithm. Can you think up of some mechanism for intelligent life to emerge which doesn't require a huge multiverse ensemble?
closed as not a real question by user68 Oct 8 '11 at 8:07
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There is no meaningful way to quantify how likely life is barring a good understanding of theoretical issues in biology. I don't think life is hard, and the idea of an intelligent design in the universe ( as opposed to in just in biology and other complex systems) is brain damaged.
This is not a physics question, however is not entirely philosophical because its about probabilities over vast hypothetical spaces of universe-like systems, which might be more of a mathematical question.
Despite the above observations, i think its legit question to ask in this site: if as physicists we are troubled by problems such as fine-tuning, Copernicanism or anthropic principles, we need to be able to reason through them.
We can think of universes as mathematical models, which determine one-to-one or one-to-many evolution maps from initial to final configurations. Since we are talking about living beings, is hard to think about them without thinking in evolution, which itself is hard to think about without a concept of one-dimensional time
Whatever mathematical model that allows intelligent beings to evolve will have multiverses proportional to the number of state configurations that produce life along evolution. Is not clear how to define that operatively though. As well, there might be many mathematical models that allow it too.
In no point we ever need to postulate that a mathematical model needs to be 'real' in any sense of the word. If a mathematical model allows life in some mathematical sense, examples of it will behave as living beings. In other words; even hypothetical beings can and do ask themselves about the true nature of the world. Once that is understood, we are again in a Copernican's dilemma: do we need to assume that our universe is special because it seems to exists to us? is it more real in some sense than, say, Conway's game of life? if it is so, in what way exactly?
Speculatively, maybe there is something more special about our universe ability to host life, at least as far as complexity of computations is concerned. As far as we know, our universe allows as much as QMA
The hypothesis currently invoked by some prominent theoretical physicist to avoid the specter of ID, an infinite number of universes having different properties, is almost as extravagant as the anthropocentric notion of a "designer" which, of course, leads to an infinite regression.
While "fine tuning", not just as represented by physical constants but also as observed in many other fields, particularly that of chemistry, is very strongly evidenced. As is the directionality of biology.
A much more economical interpretation is that provided in my recent book "The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?" (free download in e-book formats from the "Unusual Perspectives" website).
Within this evolutionary model, which is perhaps not too far removed from the concept of a "blind naturalistic algorithm" mentioned by Muddy Swine, we detect these directional and "just right" modalities from nucleosynthesis right through to the current phase, the evolution of technology. I prefer to regard this simply as a ongoing mechanistic process for which there is absolutely no valid reason to ascribe any kind of "designer". Rather, it just happens to be the way our (extended?) universe happens to work.