Cosmic Natural Selection

On the analogy of biological natural selection, cosmic natural selection is some process whereby a universe with the properties of our universe arises out of a vast number of other possibilities. In order to provide those possibilities, cosmologists propose the so-called “multiverse.” And in order to choose among them, cosmologists may propose some selection mechanism. An example is Lee Smolin’s black hole selection theory, which proposes small random changes in basic parameters between “bangs” (such as the Big Bang at the origin of our universe). While designed to avoid the inadequacies of anthropic reasoning, such a theory is still metaphysically extravagant in requiring either a spatial or a temporal context of many other universes. The concept is modeled on biological natural selection over many generations, which operates through the mechanism of genetic mutation, to account for the evolution of life. But just as biological natural selection may not be the sole factor involved in the evolution of life, so cosmological natural selection may not be the sole factor in the evolution of our universe. Smolin’s theory requires an absolute time as the context for a suite of universes arising from black holes. It provides no rationale for “small” random fluctuations in parameters required on the analogy of genetic mutations. Present physics theory posits quantum fluctuations as a possible mechanism, but what reason is there to assume it applies in what are by definition potentially arbitrarily different worlds? Moreover, genetic mutations can be large, producing nonviable offspring. If there can be large as well as small changes in parameters between “bangs,” the number of nonviable universes multiplies accordingly. Natural selection is an essentially passive process. It is part of the mechanist vision that dominated the thinking of Darwin’s time. The whole question could be approached in terms of a more active concept of self-organization.