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Cosmologists Take up New Techniques from Evolutionary Biology

John Lowell 4 September 2005

A partipotent designer with adjustable competence parameters is a much more powerful explanatory model…

Biologists dissatisfied with standard evolutionary theory have recently achieved a conceptual breakthrough, invoking the concept of intelligent design. Similar ideas have been around from some time but have fallen foul of traditional concepts of a designer, normally identified with the Deity. Thomas Aquinas and others have long argued that a Deity, by Its very nature, must posses attributes such as omniscience and omnipotence; such attributes are serious obstacles to scientific theories subject to human understanding. The bones of the inner ear, for example, appear to have been cobbled together out of old jawbones in a manner more reminiscent of Homer Simpson than an omnipotent Being. Advocates of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement have circumvented these problems by not explicitly identifying their ‘Designer’, thereby avoiding the problems implicit in the Aquinas model. The new theories have the advantage of far greater flexibility: a partipotent designer with adjustable competence parameters is a much more powerful explanatory model.

The idea has now been taken up by renegade cosmologists rebelling against the standard ‘big bang’ model of the origin of the universe. These rebels prefer the old ‘continuous creation (steady state)’ theory, both for its mathematical elegance and because it describes a universe which is homogenous not also with respect to space, but also with respect to time (the big bang model must invoke a special ‘moment’ of creation). However, it has generally been accepted that the discovery of the 4 degrees K cosmic microwave background rules out the steady state theory (which provides no plausible explanation of the microwave background) in favour of the big bang (which provides an exact detailed account of it).

Scientists at the Eternal Universe Institute (Cheltenham, UK) have now circumvented the problem by borrowing the ID-advocate’s ‘Designer’ and assigning suitable astrophysical properties to him. They postulate that the Designer, though powerful, is not actually omnipotent. Incapable of designing an actual universe, he came up with a scheme for making us think he did exactly that: he designed the microwave background in such a way as to be compatible with a big-bang model of a created universe, and simply added the microwaves to the pre-existing eternal universe.

Ms. Betty Arkwright of Eternal Universe, speaking at a press conference today, is unapologetic about the choice of personal pronouns. ‘A woman would never be so devious,’ she explained.

Traditional cosmologists are hoping to find some inconsistency in the new theories, but steady state advocates are confident that their model is here to stay. ‘We were first to fix the parameters,’ said Ms Arkwright. ‘Any attempt on their part to alter them is just going to look like fudging’.