Summary of Our Improbable Universe
Chapter 14: Value Added
The extreme improbability of this fertile and intelligent universe confronts the intelligence that it has evolved. Any inquisitive mind cannot ignore the miniscule probability that fourteen or more stepping stones would line up just right to make this Goldilocks Universe. We explored some of the implications that it was deliberately created in the previous chapter. Now the hypothesis that it was a random happening needs to be considered more deeply on a scientific and philosophic level.
If the physical structure of this particular universe resulted from a mindless and random process then infertile universes must exist or have existed in great abundance. The odds of getting an intelligence begetting universe from a single throw of the dice is just too small (e.g. parts per trillion trillions). In this approach, belief in a creator is replaced by belief in a process for generating a huge number of randomly structured universes. In each of these universes the relative strengths of the different forces and the masses of the elementary particles would be different. The vast majority of these universes would be sterile.
If there was no deliberate creation, or if the creator was so distant as to be effectively absent, then it is up to us to figure out whether or not life has value, what it is, and how to create it. The need to find value and meaning in life is more than an academic curiosity. The perception of value to existence is needed to create value and not to mindlessly destroy it. Seeing the value in life gives us respect for the lives of ourselves and other. It is necessary to get through life's difficult and painful times. In some sense, its pursuit has been the central task of humanity and our ancestors going back to the primitive microbes from which we evolved. It is in fact the pursuit of the entire collection of universes in which ours is in the tiny minority that can produce life.
In that huge collection of universes there would be an incredible predominance of universes that never made it all the way through the inflationary era. They would oscillate on the brink of being and then recollapse back into nothingness. These universes that quickly recollapse, are more than nothing but not by much. Other universes would emerge from inflation with no CP Symmetry Violation. After a few seconds, all of the matter and antimatter would mutually annihilate and they would become a lifeless ball of photons (light) and neutrinos expanding forever. These sub-universes are more interesting than the ones that last less than a microsecond. They have everything that the still born ones do and more. They are more valuable in that they add a new flourish to the total collection of universes. They add structure and dynamics to a place that might otherwise be uniform and static. If there is anyone watching the fire works display, they add a burst of light in the darkness.
Among the group of sub-universes that actually exist for a finite length of time there are those that have six quarks and a CP violation. These universes can produce long lived matter. They have light, and neutrinos. But in addition they have long lived protons and electrons. They have everything that the ball of light universes do and more. They are therefore more varied and of greater value. Among the universes with long lived matter there are many that have too much or too little matter for life to evolve. The one that have just the right amount of matter to produce life have everything that the others do and more. In addition to long lived matter they have life. They add value above and beyond what these other universes have.
Everyone of the fourteen stepping stones, that were discussed earlier, can be examined in this way. The sub-universes that don't have them positioned in just the right place for intelligence to evolve are lesser places than our universe. Our universe has everything that these places do but in addition it has us and our fellow travelers (e.g. bacteria, plants, animals, ET's etc.). It adds value that the others don't.
The microcosm of planet earth also has had its stepping stones as well. The sun is just right. The Earth's orbit is just right. The amount of instability has been just right to force the evolution of more advanced creatures from simple microbes. These microbes developed all of the incredible machinery of the cell long before they evolved into multi-celled organisms. They had great complexity and value added at their own level. But if they had not made this step toward even greater complexity, then they would face certain extinction in a billion years when the oceans will boil.
By degrees, life with ever greater complexity evolved on top of the foundations provided by the previous changes. The amount of stability has been just right to let the fragile multi-celled organisms refine their life styles and genes before the next great crisis hit. Each time a biological stepping stone, that was specific to our microcosm, had to be in place. Each new change preserved some of the creatures and value of the previous era while generating new realms of diversity, complexity and vulnerability. In turn the vulnerabilities motivated further evolutionary change. Each new level grew out of the value of the previous level and added new value to it.
But along with this exponential growth in the number of humans and the complex entities of our collective mental being , a serious imbalance has developed. We are crowding out all of the other biological creatures of this rare and beautiful planet. We are subtracting the value that they could add. We and all the creatures of this planet are added value. It could have been a lifeless rock. If we aren't careful we will make it into a lifeless rock and subtract it all!