Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Weak Argument

Perhaps, like me, you have become tired of me attacking Max Andrews' thesis.  If so, good news!  Now I want to attack something Max Andrews wrote in a blogpost.  It's quite a minor element of the post, but it blossoms out quite rapidly:

Let’s look at the weak force coupling constant, gw = 1.43 x 10-62.

He hasn't even got into the argument with this statement and it's taken out of context (the specific context isn't actually important) but even so there is so much to talk about.

If you take the time to look up the value of the "weak force coupling constant" you may find that αw ≈ 10-7.  The sharp eyed among you might see that we are talking about what appears to be apples and oranges, or gw and αw.  Admittedly, at first I thought that Andrews couldn't work out how to display an α and was using g instead (which would be strange).  However, if you dig deeply enough around the net you will find that

αw = gw2 / 4π

which means that gw ≈ 1.1 x 10-3.  That's a big error margin when one is talking about how weak the weak force coupling constant is (1059 times bigger than claimed).

(There is a real difference between αw and gw.  The former, αw, is the "weak interaction coupling constant" or " weak nuclear force coupling constant" or "weak force coupling constant" or even "weak fine structure constant" and it represents the strength of the weak force in an interaction.  The latter, gw, is a less frequently mentioned value.  It is known as the "effective charge of weak interaction" or "weak gauge coupling constant" and is a measure of the strength of the interaction with the weak gauge field (in gauge field theories).

But wait … there's more.  Andrews might not be entirely wrong about this value (he is though, as we shall discover below).

Like quite a few other constants, the weak force coupling constant is not actually a constant.  It varies with distance, so it can (and should) be expressed as a function of range.  There is undoubtedly a specific range at which gw = 1.43 x 10-62 (one not terribly far off the radius of a proton at about 10-15m).  The question, however, is whether Andrews - who talks about a number of constants in the article - uses the same point of reference.  Note that he refers to the strong coupling constant this way:

gs = 15

This shares the same relationship with αs as above, so this corresponds with αs ≈ 13.7.  Note however, that an actual theoretical physicist, Matt Strassler, has this to say:

But at longer distances, the strong nuclear force gradually becomes (relatively!) stronger. [Again, remember what we mean by “weak” and “strong” here; the force is actually becoming weaker in absolute terms as r increases, but relative to, say, electromagnetic forces at the same distance r, it’s becoming stronger.]

§  αstrong = 0.3 (at r ~ 10-16 meters)

That’s quite strong indeed! And by the time r reaches 10-15 meters, the radius of a proton, αstrong is bigger than 1, and becomes impossible to define uniquely.

It's still going to fall with distance, but distance isn't the only measure against which to measure the value of the strong coupling constant.  You also need to consider the energy range, for example on the chart in this article, it can be seen that αstrong peaks at about 0.7 GeV (billions of electron volts) with a value of about 1.2 which equates to a gs ≈ 3.9.

Andrews' suggested gs of 15 seems quite unreasonable.  But at least this time he is only out by a factor of about four, rather than a factor of 1059.

Which brings us back to Andrews' claim for the value of the weak force coupling constant at 1.43x10-62.  This is, fortunately enough, a rather specific number so that when I stumbled across it again, at WikiUniversity, it leapt out at me.  But note that this value, while associated with the weak force coupling constant isn't the weak force coupling constant.  It's the Fermi coupling constant, GF, as expressed in J.m3.  To get the weak force coupling constant, you need to go a step further ("at sufficiently small distances"):

αw = GF.Mp2.c / ħ3 = 10-5

This corresponds with a gw of about 8x10-12.

Admittedly, the value of αw is directly proportional to the value of GF, so Andrews could structure his argument in terms of how the extremely low value of GF appears to be fine-tuned.  But this isn't the problem usually talked about in physics circles.  They talk about how the measured (effective or renormalised) value of GF is so much larger than might otherwise be expected (the hierarchy problem).

Interestingly, they suggest that, once normalised, GF lies very close to G (the gravitational constant).  Personally, this is what I'd expect at least in terms of natural units - furthermore, I'd expect both of them to have a value of precisely 1 (like the gravitational constant, the speed of light, the reduced Planck constant, all the Planck units - mass, length, time, charge, temperature - the Boltzmann constant and the Coulomb constant (which is related to the permittivity constant)).  If this is the case, then their values are not an instance of fine tuning at all, they would be just yet another expected reflection of the nature of the universe.


Even if this isn't the case, Andrews should be a lot more mindful when making bold claims about the values of fundamental constants and try to avoid being out by such huge factors.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Talk to Me about Life

Let's imagine that there is a god.  Let's imagine it’s a specific sort of god -  a male god who has western values and a number of superpowers.  And let's imagine that this god wanted to make intelligent life.  We're not alone in this, by the way, plenty of people imagine this on a pretty much continuous basis.

Now, when these people do all this imagining, they tend to not focus on this particular aspect - the claim that god wanted to create intelligent life.  I am of course talking about the fine-tuning argument in which it is suggested that the universe is fine-tuned for intelligent life.  (Apologists go on and on about this argument, but the rank and file … not so much.)

So, what exactly is going on here?  The implication is that this god didn't have in mind the idea of making a universe so much as it had a specific goal of generating intelligent life and the method chosen just happens to have involved the creation and fine-tuning of a universe to host this intelligent life.

This leads me to ask: did this god need to create and fine-tune a universe to host intelligent life?

The short answer appears to be no.  Firstly, let's look at angels.  Angels are a bit confusing, especially to an outsider who hasn't been told what to think on a weekly basis.  There are indications in Genesis that, before the flood, angels and humans not only interacted, but they interbred … these were, however, fallen (or at least very naughty) angels.  There are mentions of the court of heaven which has a host of angels.  And there are Gabriel and Michael, who appear a few times.

Are angels the natural consequence of a universe which was sparked by god 13.7 billion years ago and left to slowly incubate the human species?  It would appear not, since the "proper abode" for angels is supposed to be heaven, which is where god apparently abides and is therefore another realm (thus being a time-LESS, space-LESS abode).

Given the very early and apparently knowledgeable appearance of Satan (or his representative) in the bible's creation story, a pivotal story that sets the scene for the key act of christianity, one could say the crux, we would have to presume that angels existed prior to or at least separately to humans.  (I'm aware that this doesn't gel with the fine-tuning argument which relies on things being "just right" at the big bang and everything evolving naturally from there with humans as the ultimate product - just overlook that for the moment and stick with me.  I'm also aware that there's some uncertainty as to what the serpent actually was.  The story specifically has a crafty serpent doing the dirty work, but there is an on-going theme of Satan being a snake and/or dragon.  But perhaps it's like the apple - people think that Eve ate an apple, but there's no mention of apples, it's a "fruit of the Tree of Knowledge".  Maybe it was an actual talking snake and it's merely a common misconception that the talking snake was Satan in another guise.  If so, it's unclear why we are being made to suffer because god messed up when creating talking snakes.)

If Satan was the being that tempted Eve, then it would appear that god does have a method for creating intelligence without the need to host that intelligence in a universe … unless god didn't create the angels and the angels appeared from nowhere along with god (or are co-eternal).  I don't think that this works since it seriously detracts from the specialness of god.  It would make all the angels "mini-gods", if not actual gods.  (If the serpent in the creation story was just another animal, then we've got the problem of hosting intelligence [more intelligence than Eve had, it would seem] in the skull of a snake.  It implies that intelligence can be hosted on a much less sophisticated substrate than the human brain, which raises the question … why go to the bother of creating the human when you can host intelligence on a reptile brain?)

Perhaps we can get around this mini-god issue by denying that angels exist.  Well, of course I have no issue with that, but I think it causes some issues for at least the christian theist.  Without the Fall, there is no origin of sin (unless it originates directly in god) and there is no need for the redemption that was provided by the crucifixion of the christ.  And without the serpent form of Satan and its corruption of Eve, there would have been no Fall.  (This is a problem with the fine-tuning argument as it pertains to christianity, because the Genesis story becomes entirely allegorical, there is no Adam and Eve, there is no talking snake and there is no Fall.  Therefore, there is no need for Jesus on a Stick.  And that is why people like William Lane Craig like to compartmentalise their arguments.  You basically have to forget the fine-tuning argument while you are contemplating the resurrection argument.)

And then, let's consider our post-death reward.  Well, I've already pointed out the issue really.  It's post-death.  The natural consequences of being in a universe which is fine-tuned for intelligent life, which includes the eventual deterioration and death of each living thing, will inevitably result in the death of each of us - and by that I mean you.  Yes, you!  You will die.  (I will die too, so please don't misconstrue this as a threat.)

So we die and, despite this - and because he, in the form of his own son, died in a moderately painful way in restitution for the failure of a mythical woman to avoid being corrupted by words of a mythical snake (which may or may not have been a mythical fallen angel) - god will apparently recreate us in some new or reconstituted form so that we can live forever.  Which means that he could have just made us in that form from the start without having to faff around with 13.7 billion years of universal evolution.  He chose not to, apparently, but he could have.

This seems to indicate that the universe itself is somehow important.  It's not just the necessary means to an end, since the end could be achieved by completely different means.

And this brings me to the germ from which this article sprang.  It's to be found in another couple of sentences from Max Andrews:

Without stars we don’t get the full range of heavy and light elements needed for complex molecular life. Without the complex molecular life formed by stars then there’s no life. That’s just a simple fact.

These statements are based on the argument that the weak force coupling constant must be just so or stars won't form and/or burn "properly".  So therefore, god set the weak force coupling constant just perfectly so that everything needed for (intelligent) life would eventually exist in this universe.

But this is pure bullshit.  The theist's argument doesn't stop there.  They go on to claim that this creator god is so fascinated with humans that there is this resurrection thing on offer and this claim works in direct opposition to the claim that the universe needs to be just so for life to exist.  No.  The universe needs to be just so for life (of the sort that we are aware) to exist, if and only if there is no god.

If a god exists, then it can magic up whatever it wants ex nihilo without the need to bugger around with the making of a vastly complicated, apparently totally natural universe like our own.

Just maybe, a creator god would make a vastly complicated, apparently totally natural universe in order to hide from us the fact that there is a creator god.  But if this were the case, then we should do our best to respect its wishes and pretend (or acknowledge) that it doesn't exist.

If there is some other reason for a god to be hiding behind this complexity (while also protesting it does actually exist via a deeply flawed book and a set of deeply flawed institutions devoted to celebrating that book), then I think it is the responsibility of the theist to explain what that reason might be.


Perhaps Max Andrews could devote some time to that rather than misrepresenting modern theoretical physics?

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

This is Brand New Information

Actually, it's not.

In his debate with Justin Schieber, (see also notes here), Max Andrews makes the claim that a mind is the best way to account for the origin of "brand new information".  In For Your Information, I discussed how for there to be information of the sort of that Andrews talks about in his thesis it is necessary to have someone who cares, for example by presupposing a god-like being external to the universe or multiverse.

Now I want to look at the "brand new information" claim, as separate from the need for a transmitter, channel medium and receiver of such information.

Remember that information in this context is an inverse measure of the probability of what is being considered, or its "surprisingness".  A linked concept is entropy, which is the lack of order and predictability.  Effectively, what creationists are arguing when they claim that the universe has information is that its current condition is surprising - in other words, this is just another way of framing the "fine-tuning" argument.  The notion that the universe has a surprising amount of information is, therefore, tautological.  (There's an endless loop in this: "The result here was more surprising than we had expected, which was a surprise in itself.  This added surprise to the result, making it even more surprising and the realisation that the result could be more surprising than we initially found it to be was another surprise.  Finding that there was one more layer of surprise was also, in itself, yet another surprise.  And this only added to the surprise.  By this point, our eyebrows had lifted so high that our heads were banging on the ceiling.  Which we hadn't expected at all.")

The other way of looking at information is to consider how many questions need to answered to fully specify what is under consideration.

These perspectives can easily lead to confusion, in much the same way as consideration of entropy can lead to confusion.  When we look at a white kitchen bench, from which all the various implements and so on have been removed, we could say that it is very ordered.  Then we put a neat pile of flour on it.  In a sense this too would be very ordered, because the flour is tightly located in its neat pile.  Say though that we compulsively spread the flour thinly over the benchtop so that it has an even covering of 1mm.  This too seems to be very ordered.

Entropy is a measure of disorder, but more strictly it’s a measure of how many states a system can be in.  And this always increases in a closed system (as expressed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics).  When we think about it this way, we can see that the pile is low entropy - because when we ask about where a particular bit of flour is, we can always be answered with "in the pile".  There are limited states in which the bit of flour can be found (it's not zero entropy, because there are different positions in the pile for the bit of flour to be found).

Compare this with the situation in which there is no flour on the bench and the bench is completely empty.  The answer to the question "where is this particular bit of flour?" is "what do you mean, what bit of flour? there is no flour!"   This might confuse things a little, but we can easily see that there are no locations in which flour might be, so entropy in this case is zero.

The same applies to space and energy.  Empty space (truly empty space) has zero entropy, presumably nothing (no space) with nothing in it would also have zero entropy.  A system involving space in which energy is clumped very tightly has low, but non-zero entropy and a system involving space in which energy is spread evenly has high entropy - and the more space there is, the more entropy there can be in the system.  (It might be tempting to think of the universe as being driven by the second law of thermodynamics but this law is more descriptive than prescriptive.  It describes the nature of the universe, it doesn't necessarily determine it.)

Entropy and information are conceptually linked.  The more order there is in a system, the less "surprisingness" there is in it.  The more disorder there is, the more "surprisingness" there is and therefore the more entropy in a system, the more information there is associated with that system.

This means that, in its initial state, the universe contained very little information - because it was in a very low entropy state, or rather because it was in a very low entropy state compared to the current entropy state of the universe (there is no upper limit for the entropy of an open or an expanding system) which means there was a much less information in the early universe than there is today.

Now this is a point on which some apologetic fine-tuning enthusiasts appear to want to have their cake and eat it too - such as the people at BioLogos.  Admittedly, it's a subtle point when one argues about the information associated with the initial conditions of the universe, including the "degree of its entropy".  Effectively, they are arguing that there was a surprisingly large amount of information in the initial conditions including the fact that there was amazingly small amount of information (ie, low entropy).  Note that Guth's argument doesn't help them particularly because even though it explains away the low entropy, it does so at the expense of suggesting that the "initial conditions" may not have been initial conditions after all ("the universe need not have a beginning").

Let's get back to the "brand new information" claim.  Well, there's more information all the time, because entropy is (as a whole) increasing all the time, as per the second law of thermodynamics.  Plus the universe is expanding, so that the Berkinstein limit for the universe is increasing, and thus the potential for entropy is also increasing.  Perhaps it could be argued that there was a sudden jump in entropy from zero (when there was nothing, including no space and no time) to non-zero (when the universe was in a hot dense state, prior to the big bang), but this was to what is considered to be an extremely low state of entropy - so this is not particularly surprising given that we've noticed that the universe tends towards increased entropy and it would be natural, if there were to be an increase from nothing, that this increase would be to "very close to nothing".  The sudden appearance of large swathes of entropy would indeed be disturbing, but that's not what the data indicates.

But perhaps this isn't what Andrews and his fellow fine-tuners mean.  I don't think it is.

I think they are thinking of the pre-universe as being a sort of tabula rasa, a clean slate, a blank page, a clear bench and then - shazam - meaningful stuff appears.  Not just an extremely low entropy concentration of energy, but also some sort of predetermined, inbuilt rule book detailing how energy and space-time should interact in order that humans should emerge about thirteen and a half billion years later.  This is akin to not only putting a pile of flour on the bench, but also precoding it miraculously form a very specific form of bread.  Which works perfectly if we consider ourselves to be as important as bread in the analogy and not something more simple, like a meaningless spot of mould in an obscure crack on the bench that would be totally invisible to the non-existent owner of the kitchen.

Consider a different sort of tabula rasa.  A white expanse on which there is one fleck of black.  Say that this expanse could be broken up into a million billion data points and the fleck covers one and only one of these.  That single fleck represents a lot of information, because it's very surprising that only one point on the grid is black - it's one in a million billion.  But can we really say that this information could only originate in a mind?  No, I don't think so.  The wind could have dropped that fleck there.  It could be a tiny bit of ant poo.  While it might take some effort to uniquely identify which spot on the expanse contains that fleck, it's not necessarily of great import.

But again, I don't think that this is what these apologists really mean.

What I think they mean is that if you sat down and decided to not only design a universe, but to design this one, specifically this one, then you would need a lot of information.  Imagine the amount of data required to accurately model the universe in all its detail!  It would be staggeringly huge amounts of information.

But this is exactly the same (in principle, if not in scope) as trying to model the state of the Earth's weather systems.  The reason our weather models fall over after a few days is because inaccuracies creep in.  We don't have enough information to adequately model weather indefinitely (and we never will), the only accurate model of the Earth's weather system is wrapped around the Earth - being the weather.  But we only try to predict the weather into the future, we don't try to design a specific set of weather conditions from first principles.  The fact that there are huge amounts of information associated with the weather at any given moment does not confer importance to that state at that time.

Similarly, you'd have to do some very impressive work if you created a universe from scratch and wanted, as a result, to have some dishevelled, rather grumpy person writing about how you didn't exist some thirteen or so billion years later.  But again, that is presupposing a creator and an intent.  Without the creator and the intent, there is no special information and nothing to get so excited about.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

For Your Information

There are arguments for the existence of god that rely on the notion that the only source of ((brand) new) information is a mind.  There are, of course, problems with these arguments, foremost of which is equivocation.  Information means different things to different people and in different contexts.  Pretending that the term means one thing only and gliding from one meaning to another permits all sorts of self-deception on the part of the apologist.

I want to try to explain (and dismiss) one example of this apologetic trickery, but to do that I have to make it quite clear what information is and isn't.

When an apologist, like Max Andrews, provides this equation:

I(m)=-logx(P(m))

or one like it, it is clear that he is talking about a different sort of information than he is when using a variation of this equation:

P(A|B)=P(B|A).P(A)/P(B)

and he talks about the evidence B in terms of "background information".  (He actually splits the "evidence" into two parts, one that he calls "evidence" (call it E) and the other that he calls "background information" (call that B).  This is something we've come across before.  The effect is, as I have argued, to make P(A|(B&E)=P(A).  In other words, you get nothing from the faffing about with impressive-looking probability equations other than some mild confusion.)

The Shannon entropy equation refers to the information content of m, which could be a message, and is basically a measure of how unlikely m is - which means you need to know what values m may take.

I'll try to make this concept a little more concrete.

Say that a father is away on a business trip and sends a message back to his teenage son: "send socks".  Even before we try to quantify the amount of information in this message, we could be safe in saying that it isn't enough.  How to send them (post, express mail, courier pigeon?) isn't detailed.  When to send them isn't detailed.  Quantity is not detailed.  And the teenager might be quite justified in asking "Which socks?" - unless of course the father only owns one type and colour of sock, all of which are of equal quality (either all with holes in them or none with holes in them).

There's a subtle linkage between how much information is in the message and how much information is required.  For example, this message could contain one single bit of information for the son, a request to transition to the "send state" after having previously been in a "no-send state".  There could have been an existing agreement as to how, when and what to send based on the receipt or non-receipt of this short message.  So the knowledge state of the recipient has an impact on the amount of information being conveyed.

If the father had written "Send one new, unused pair of ankle-high blue socks with yellow stripes, located to the left in the top-drawer of dresser, via express post, immediately" and this course of action had already been agreed, then no more information would have been conveyed than in the message "send socks".

But imagine that everything had been agreed apart from precisely which socks had to be sent.  Imagine further that the father had two types of socks, black sock and brown socks.  Adding the word "brown" to the message adds one bit of information to the message because there is a range of two possible valid messages "send black socks" and "send brown socks".  The more possible valid messages that could be sent, the more information is contained in the message "send brown socks".  We can think of that in this way, the message "send brown socks" also contains the information "don't send black socks".  If the father has a wide range of socks, then the message "send brown socks" also contains the information "don't send black socks", "don't send pink socks", "don't send orange socks", etc, etc.

And it's here that information can be thought about outside the context of sending a message.  Say we were in the father's bedroom standing in front of his dresser with the top drawer open.  We reach in and take out a pair of socks, we identify them as black.  Given that we know that he has only black and brown socks (and that we have assumed, due to the principle of indifference, that he has equal numbers of black and brown socks), then we know that the probability of having selected a pair of black socks was P(Black)=0.5 and so the information associated with that selection was I(Black)=-log2(p(Black))=1bit.  If there were 20 different types of socks in the drawer, the probability of having selected a pair of black socks would have been P(Black)=0.05 and we'd have I(Black)=-log2(p(Black))=4.3bits of information.

A standard CD can hold 847MB of data, with 110MB of that being set aside for error correction.  This is close to about 6.8 billion bits which means that the information on a CD is equivalent to uniquely identifying one pair of socks out of 102000000000 pairs (847MB is equivalent to about 2GBan).  Or one star out of 102000000000 stars (although there are only about 1021 stars in the observable universe).  Or one grain of sand out of 102000000000 grains of sand (but there are only about 7.5x1018 grains of sand on Earth, meaning that if every star had two temperate rocky planets as sandy as the Earth (I'm saying that Mars is sandy and ignoring that it's smaller than the Earth, so probably has less sand), then there'd be about 1.5x1040 grains of sand in the universe).

(This is probably why Max Tegmark feels confident enough to suggest that the initial data in the universe could have been so simple as to be contained on a single CD-ROM.  Although he immediately suggests that even the CD-ROM might not be necessary - in accordance with his suggestion that the universe (or multiverse) overall may contain hardly any information at all.)

A complicating factor here is the one that probably trips up overly excited apologists such as Max Andrews.  Selecting one specific grain of sand from the universe, using the assumptions above, represents a rather unimpressive 16.558 bytes of data (and I'm overselling it slightly since 25616.558=7.509955x1039, meaning that I am being cavalier and suggesting that it doesn't matter if I add about 1037 additional grains of sand to universe … about half the number of grains of sand that would exist on as many Earths as there are grains of sand on Earth).  But if we didn't care about the specific grain of sand and just wanted a grain of sand, the information in that grain of sand would be much, much less.  The less specified the selection is, the less information there is in that selection.  There's still some information in the selection of "grain of sand" from the range of things that could be subject to this process, but the game "20 questions" demonstrates just how many different things can be uniquely identified with a sequence of 20 carefully framed "slice questions" - a little over a million.  Double the number of questions and you can uniquely identify 1012 different items … with precisely 5 bytes of information.

Going back to the sock drawer, if the father just wanted any old pair of socks, then the probability of drawing them from the sock drawer would be Pr(socks)=1.  (Note that I am assuming here that there are socks in the sock drawer, which may not always be the case, but the point at the moment is about the probability of selecting a pair of socks from a set of existent socks, not about the probability of the socks being existent.)  The information in this is precisely zero because logx(1)=0, irrespective of the value of x.

In other words, the more you don't care about the result, the less information there is in that result.  This, hopefully, makes intuitive sense - think about the difference between the news that Khloe Kardashian has been on a new diet and the news that Prince has died (Purpleness Be Upon Him), both reported in April 2016.  One event led to widespread dismay and spontaneous demonstrations of grief on the streets of Minneapolis and the other one I only noticed because I was momentarily delayed in a supermarket checkout aisle and it was easy 2 see (it) on the cover of a magazine.  Reports of Prince (PBUH) dying contained information.  Reports of Khloe getting marginally less fat is so lacking in information that I lack the care factor necessary to

And this is where the argument of people like Max Andrews becomes circular.

We, as part of the universe, do care about the fact that we exist.  Therefore, for us, this is interesting information.  We are also part of a selection event, in so much as the universe does appear to be fine-tuned, in that were certain constants and laws slightly different then life like ours would not be possible.  We can imagine situations, or alternate universes, in which we would not exist (counterfactuals), and from this glean "information".  For example, if the strong nuclear force were stronger by more than one part in 50 (and all other constants were held at existing values), then diprotons would be stable leading to the failure of stars to form (due to the rapid consumption of all hydrogen in the first minutes after the Big Bang).  So we can posit a universe in which the strong nuclear force was stronger by one part in 20, or twice as strong, of four times as strong, or seven times as strong.  And we could keep going, infinitely, providing different multiples and then claim that just this one single fact contains infinite information.

(A problem here, of course, is that we don't know that all of these values are valid, let alone equally valid.  And there was a caveat, "all other constants were held at existing values".  There are solutions in which the strong nuclear force may be higher and other constants being at different values still allows for unstable diprotons.  The bottom line is that we don't really know how unlikely it is that the strong nuclear force lies in the convenient range that it does, and "we don't know" is equivalent to "no information".)

But when it comes to the existence of the universe, it doesn't really matter how interested the constituent elements are in it.  It's a question of how interested the universe is and, unless that is a mind, it's not a huge leap to suggest that the universe isn't interested at all.  In which case, there is no information in the universe as a whole.

What appears to be a novel argument on the part of Max Andrews is that because there is so much information in the universe, and minds are the only originators of "brand new information" (this part is a standard creationist claim, usually centred on genetic speciation), then there must have been an antecedent mind to have initiated the universe (or multiverse).  But this is circular, the universe as a whole only has information if the universe itself is a mind or there is a mind external to the universe that cares about what is inside it.  (The universe (or multiverse) would also have to be contingent, meaning only the universe/multiverse could have been different.  There's no information in a necessary thing being as it necessarily must be.)

So, unless he is suggesting that the universe itself is a mind, Andrews is presupposing that there must be a god of some sort, that therefore the universe contains a huge amount of information (presumably due to extreme contingency of it) and therefore that there must be a god as the source of that huge amount of information.


This is completely circular and therefore totally useless as an argument for what he so desperately wants to argue.  It's amazing that this got accepted as a thesis, but I guess that when both of your supervisors are dedicated god-botherers then so long as your answer is "god did it", you can get away with any old nonsense.