Sunday, January 27, 2013

The fine-tuning argument

This is presented here. Interesting quote:

Analogically, the fact of the fine-tuned universe means the universe is life-allowing rather than life-prohibiting. This is very imporbable on atheism. This is not improbable on theism.


The main atheist objection to this is: multiverse theory. “If there is only one universe,” British cosmologist Bernard Carr says, “you might have to have a fine-tuner. If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.” (Discover, December 2008)

46 comments:

Doug Benscoter said...

Craig's version of the fine-tuning argument goes like this:

1. The fine-tuning of the universe's initial conditions is either the result of chance, necessity or design. (Premise)

2. It is not the result of chance or necessity. (Premise)

3. Therefore, it is the result of design. (From 1 and 2)

I think atheists should be willing to accept this argument as rationally acceptable, even if they don't see it as rationally compelling. After all, premise (1) is obviously true, barring any additional (and currently unknown) alternative. Moreover, there's nothing demonstrably absurd about premise (2).

Given that (3) follows from (1) and (2), the fine-tuning argument should be viewed as at least rationally acceptable. Just my two cents.

Doug Benscoter said...

By the way, Robin Collins responds to the multiverse objection by pointing out that the mechanism that produces all of these universes would itself have to be finely-tuned in order to be intelligible (the mechanism itself is intelligible, and intelligibility presupposes order; and the mechanism wouldn't violate any laws of logic).

Ilíon said...

What?! The "multiverse" merely shifts-and-disguises the atheistic problem?

Wow! Whodda thunk?

Ilíon said...

... I mean, even aside from the quibble that, definitionally, there can never be any scientific evidence of any other universe, much less a multiverse, whodda thunk that some people are that desperate to evade God?

Leonhard said...

The fine-tuning argument requires that its possible to say that there is a small probabillity to find the values within the life permitting zone. The justification given is that all the logical possibillities are equally likely.

However the range of many of the parameters are infinite, and assigning equal probability leads to non-normalizable distributions, making the notion of a proballity of an outcome unintelligible. All sorts of nonsense results can be derived, plugging into the bayes formula you get that the posterior probabillity of God existing in light of the fine-tuning argument you can get 0! Clearly something is wrong, but all attempts at fixing this problem requires assigning subjective distributions, which lowers the finetuning argument from an objective case to a subjective appeal. The only other option is to weaken the argument to a 'rough tuning argument', namely that there are two possibilities with equsl likelihood, the universe is life permitting, or it isn't, but no strong argument can be based upon that.

cautiouslycurious said...

Doug,

The absurdity comes when someone tries to argue for the second premise. The jump from unlikely to happen by chance to didn't happen by chance is not "rationally acceptable".

B. Prokop said...

Please keep in mind, the same people who are jumping all over the multiverse concept as a way to save their atheism are the same folks who demand insane amounts of evidence for the historicity of the Gospels - of a type and level which they ask for no other event in history.

And this despite the fact that not only is there not the faintest shred of evidence for the multiverse, but that cosmologists are in agreement that such evidence is inherently unobtainable!!!

This is one time when the annoying internet phrase LOL is literally appropriate.

grodrigues said...

@Leonhard:

"However the range of many of the parameters are infinite, and assigning equal probability leads to non-normalizable distributions, making the notion of a proballity of an outcome unintelligible."

This needs qualifications. The unit interval is infinite in the standard set-theoretical sense and yet there is a perfectly acceptable probability measure on it, Lebesgue measure. It is true that there do exist non-measurable subsets buty mathematicians have learned to live with them (and everyone else, from physicists to engineers does not give a damn about it anyway) as they are "non-constructible" in a fairly strong sense. More precisely, only *if* you accept some strong form of the axiom of choice (*) can you prove their existence, but in Shelah's model of ZF + DC (which does not need inaccesible cardinal hypothesis) *all* subsets of real numbers are measurable.

(*) By results of Pawlikowski, the Hahn-Banach theorem, which is fairly weaker than full choice, is sufficient to derive the Banach-Tarski paradox.

Leonhard said...

@grodigues:

You're right, its possible to define a probability measure across any finite segment of the real number line. I didn't mean that you run into problems of assigning probabilities because there are infinitely fine-grained values. I mean if you have a variable that can take on all possible values from 0 to infinity, and lets say only the number x where a<x<a+b, where b is a lot smaller than 1, are life permitting, and you try to assign every one of those values an equal probability, then you get a non-normalizible distribution.

However this is exactly what you do in the fine-tuning argument. You take a dimensionless physical constant, such as the vacuum fine-structure constant, which in principle could have any value between 0 and infinity. Then you point out that if we had a value "slightly different" from its 1/137.0369995 value, then the universe would be life permitting. Then assuming that all possibilities are epistemically equally likely, what's the probability that we'd find a universe within the life permitting universe? Here you've willy nilly assigned an equal probability to all values from 0 to infinity. There's no way of doing that, short of adding a density function, which maintains normalizability.

But if you're going to add a density function which one should you chose? A delta function in the middle of the life permitting zone? A narrow function? A wide gaussian? You might then say "Ah, it doesn't matter as long as there are far more density functions that makes it unlikely for x to lie in the life permitting zone" Unfortunately this move won't work, as there's a density function making highly likely that you'd be in the life permitting universe, for every density function that makes it highly unlikely. And you therefore end up with the rough tuning argument (Either the universe is life-permitting, or it isn't), which isn't very strong. Or you'll pick an arbitrary, wide but normalizable distribution, and try to justify that its really not subjective at all.

And I don't see how you can avoid doing that, so I don't see why the Fine-Tuning argument has any strength. I think you'd have to make a move to abductive reasoning instead, but I haven't seen anyone do that.

grodrigues said...

@Leonhard:

I understood your point. There are two problems -- actually they are just one, but seen from different perspectives.

The first is that if you are going to take that stand, then to be consistent almost all problems making appeals to probability considerations are undermined. The sword cuts both ways, so for example, the evidential problem of evil is also undermined. The second, and the real nub of it, is that when talking of probability considerations in such settings one does not take the frequentist but the Bayesian approach.

Leonhard said...

@grodrigues

So much the worse for probability arguments! I'd be willing to swallow this bullet, though I think for ordinary objects we have a large and well working background knowledge to judge prior probabilities in. However the same background knowledge can't be properly applied to the question of the universe. All we see are these parameters in our models of physics, and while we can jiggle numbers around and get non-life permitting universes, there's nothing telling us which range is proper. Where as if I have to judge the question of how likely often a lightning bolt strikes the ground in my country, then even though this is also between zero and infinity (in principle), I know that it can't be above a certain limit other would I would be seeing near-continous strikes outside my window! We have no similar common sense to tell us "The fine structure constant can't be larger than 10000". It very much could! In fact we know that it can get this high during high energy densities.*

I do agree that that the probabilistic problem of evil has problems, though I don't see those problems as being similar. However any well constructed argument for the existence of God would pretty much be the answer to any such argument. For example the five ways of Thomas Aquinas would establish God's existence with logical certainty, thereby effectively answering the problem of evil. I don't put much stock in the logical problem of evil, and I accept that this problem has pretty much been answered now.

Go ahead and construct a Bayesian version that avoids the normalisability problem. I'd love to see that! However the argument as it was stated in website Victor Reppert linked to, is answered by this normalisation objection, and this is the typical version given.

Imagine a Christian apologists defending the problem of evil, by a long debunked argument, and when objections are given to that he goes "Yeah well that's no problem, I've got another one that beats those objections, now here's the debunked argument again" That would be an absurd posture! The fact of the matter is that the normalisability problem should be addressed seriously in any discussion of the fine-tuning argument, and most apologetic resources completely skip over it, and waste time accusing atheists of moral inadequacy and weak bellies.

*The number usually referred to is its 'vacuum' value where the energy density is fairly low.

Leonhard said...

Typos abound, mea culpa, I'm a rush. I meant to say that The Five Ways is an example of an argument that would answer the probabilistic argument from evil.

If any confusion apply interpretive grace, I hope there's nothing unintelligible. :S

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Victor and Doug Benscorter,

I very briefly commented about Craig's version of the fine-tuning argument here. Comments welcome.

B. Prokop said...

Ultimately, I think that the arguments from design and from fine tuning are both only "convincing" to the convinced. They both convince me, but I am a believer without either of them.

For me, my faith is that which makes everything else make sense. Without it, the universe is quite literally incomprehensible. There are just far too many issues, which while they might not individually constitute a "slam dunk", their cumulative effect is irresistible.

Among them could be listed the arguments from:

Design
Fine Tuning
Complexity
Morality
Beauty
Reason
The existence of evil
Historicity of the gospels
The fact that anything at all exists
The fact that time had a beginning
Persuasiveness of the Scriptures
Personal experience
Etc, etc.

The point is, while any one might only get you to the one yard line, put them together and you're in the end zone.

(Is it obvious that I live right outside Baltimore?)

grodrigues said...

@Leonhard:

First, in the interests of full disclosure, being of an Aristotelian-Thomist persuasion, I am not particularly interested in defending the fine-tuning argument, for even if successful it proves very little. This is not to say that it is completely worthless; just that from my POV, its interest lies not in what it purports to prove but in what it points to.

Having said this, my point was mainly a methodological one. First, my previous paragraph should tell you that I agree completely with you on the PoE. But as I said, the *evidential* problem is cast in terms of reasonable inferences which, if I take your objection at heart, are even more difficult to answer. For if the problem of knowing what probable universes could there be is intractable, tit for tat, it is even more intractable the problem of knowing what is the probable course of action of an omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent being would take. I do not think atheists would be very happy with this conclusion -- cry me a river I would say, but as I said, I am just trying to draw out what entails from your stance.

Second, I really do not swallow that "the same background knowledge can't be properly applied to the question of the universe". There is a fact: our universe is fine-tuned for life, meaning that the universal constants (e.g. the fine structure constant) appearing in the best physical theories can only be in a very narrow range for life anywhere in the universe to be possible. Unless one is willing to take the Ostrich move and declare it a brute fact, in which case one can hardly say that the explanatory game was won, such a fact calls out for an explanation. Under a general, broad theism, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Since the fine-tuning of the universe is not due to necessity (maybe the problem is on my end, but I cannot even imagine what type of argument would establish this that did not hide the essential difficulty somewhere else), the only possibility open seems to be to come up with some kind of universe-producing mechanism that makes it somehow probable the production of fine-tuned life-permitting universes and close with appealing to some version of the Anthropic principle. When W. L. Craig say, addresses the "chance" horn, he attacks the *specific* proposals on offer, he simply does not say "oh well, the parameter space is infinite, the range of life-permitting universes is very narrow, voila, case closed". So your objection cuts both ways; in fact I would say it is even worse for the atheist advancing the "chance" horn because as you point out, in order to cogently answer such probability questions one has to pick the probability distribution carefully and this smacks of hiding the fine-tuning somewhere else (which is in fact one of the stock responses of Craig).

Doug Benscoter said...

Thanks, Jeff. You're a class act, differences of opinion notwithstanding.

Doug Benscoter said...

Cautiouslycurious, if it's unlikely to happen by chance (and that's a vast understatement), then it's most likely the case that's it's either due to necessity or design. The argument's premises need only be more plausibly true than their negations in order for the conclusion to be justified.

Leonhard said...

@grodrigues

Before you and I have a large disagreement about the things we both agree on, let me come out and I agree with you on a couple of issues. The logical problem of evil has many strong refutations, and the probabilistic problem of evil is answered by several non-trivial objections. I don't know if you thought that I held to the soundness of either argument, and therefore you expected me to defend them, but I don't. I also don't have much of an axe to grind with the fine-tuning argument. I think its interesting though very problematic. If I were to point to any strong defence of God's existence it would be in the AT camp, though I'm not well versed in that sort of metaphysics yet to say much coherent about it. I also like arguments from morality. There is fine-tuning, we don't disagree on that, some parameters in physics are sensitive in that if they were changed by a small fraction of their size the universe wouldn't be life permitting.

What I disagree with is that this is easily put together into a probabilistic argument for the existence of God. As long as the 'chance' discussion, has to involve probability over infinite ranges it just doesn't work to say that there's 'small chance of the values coming out the right way'. Crying counterintuitive isn't much of an answer here. Going "Oh well, I know this distribution isn't normalizable, but if disregard this problem then you'll have to agree that there's a very low probability of the universe turning out life permitting". If you're allowed such a move in this argument, can I disregard metaphysical premises like "Anything that begins to exist has a cause" because if we disregard this premise the Kalam argument fails to work, or just dismiss Thomas Aquinas acts/potency distinction when it suits me?

As for picking the probability distribution 'hides the fine-tuning', please be more specific. Do you deny that for every probabillity distribution that's favorable to the fine-tuning argument, one can pick a probability distribution that's unfavorable? And yes we can get into a silly discussion about how many mappings from one subset of a real line to another there can be, introduce notions of uncountability, etc.. but would that change the problem?

How do you get around the normalizability objection? Do probability anyway? Alright, then what's the chance that an infinite sided fair die with one of each of the natural numbers, when thrown would come up somewhere between 15 and 25?

William Herrera said...

With regard to the problem of picking a single point on the real number line for fine tuning:

This problem was settled decades ago, to some extent, by the string theorists, who face the same problem with their potential infinity of solutions to their equations. I can give you references if you care.

There is a point to which the accuracy of the universal constants used in the fine tuning argument can no longer be measured.

At that number of decimal points, you set your probability range interval (size of your delta), and that gives you your density function.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

@Doug Aww, shucks, I'm going to start blushing! Seriously, thanks.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

B Prokop: "There are just far too many issues, which while they might not individually constitute a "slam dunk", their cumulative effect is irresistible."

The issues you listed understate the evidence and so the "cumulative effect" you describe requires that you commit the fallacy of understated evidence.

B. Prokop said...

Jeffery,

Nah. I just read the article you pointed to, and I don't think that way at all. Doesn't apply.

Someone else, maybe. But I don't recognize my own thought processes there.

cautiouslycurious said...

Doug,
“Cautiouslycurious, if it's unlikely to happen by chance (and that's a vast understatement), then it's most likely the case that's it's either due to necessity or design.”

When I deal out a hand of cards, is the sequence due to necessity or design? Or how about rolling a die 100 times? Not only is that conclusion not logically entailed, it is not even what the second premise states.

“The argument's premises need only be more plausibly true than their negations in order for the conclusion to be justified.”

Sorry, but this is not how deduction works. Just one example:

1. The 1rst roll of a fair six-sided die will not be a six.
2. The 2nd roll of a fair six-sided die will not be a six.

100. The 100th roll of a six-sided fair die will not be a six.

Conclusion: Therefore, the fair six-sided die will not roll a six on any of the rolls when I roll it 100 times. Since all of the premises are more plausibly true than their negations, the conclusion is justified by your standards even though the probability of it being true is close to one in a hundred thousand. It’s a deductively valid argument, but it’s useless because it’s unlikely that all of the premises will be true even though all of them individually are likely to be true; induction and deduction don’t mix like that. If you still think your criterion is reasonable, then I’d like to gamble with you.

Doug Benscoter said...

So call it an inductive argument. What non-trivial difference does it make?

cautiouslycurious said...

Doug,
“So call it an inductive argument. What non-trivial difference does it make?”

I’m not even sure your argument could even be considered an inductive argument considering the flaw that I’ve pointed out, but that’s beside the point. The criticism has nothing to do with whether Craig or you think you’re using deduction when you’re really using induction; the criticism is that you’re both using criterion that is logically flawed and even then, the support given for the second premise does not obviously support it. I am simply explaining to you why, as an atheist, I don’t find that argument “rationally acceptable.”

Doug Benscoter said...

Your criticism presupposes some kind of attempt after attempt at coming up with a finely-tuned universe. This isn't like rolling a die a billion times.

cautiouslycurious said...

Doug,
“Your criticism presupposes some kind of attempt after attempt at coming up with a finely-tuned universe. This isn't like rolling a die a billion times.”

I’ve presented two criticisms, one targeted at the original argument, and one targeted at the criteria you’re using to judge an argument. The criticism targeted at the original question does not presume multiple trials.

Doug Benscoter said...

Let me ask you this: is it rationally compelling that the universe's fine-tuning is the result of chance?

Ilíon said...

"Let me ask you this: is it rationally compelling that the universe's fine-tuning is the result of chance?"

NO! For, to say that something is the result of chance (or 'randomness') is exactly to say that it's the result of nothing at all.

To speak of chance (or 'randomness') is to speak of a lack of correlation between things. So, to speak of chance (or 'randomness') when speaking of the relationship between an effect and its cause is to say that there is no relationship between the effect and its cause -- that is, to speak in this manner is to state an absurdity.

Doug Benscoter said...

Ilion, I agree with you completely. I'm trying to figure out what cautiouslycurious's position on this is. If it's not rationally compelling that the universe's fine-tuning is the result of chance, then it must at the very least be rationally acceptable to conclude it's the result of either necessity or design.

By the way, cautiouslycurious, it's entirely possible that I just don't understand your objections. The fine-tuning argument has never been my strong suite. I'm much better versed in defending the Aristotelian-Thomistic arguments.

cautiouslycurious said...

Doug,
“Let me ask you this: is it rationally compelling that the universe's fine-tuning is the result of chance?”

If pressed, I would say that we don’t know with a strong degree of certainty for any option. None of the options would be rationally compelling (although I think it’s rationally compelling to say it’s not due to logical necessity). I don’t try to convince people based on things that are largely unknowns, and I don’t like it when people try to do that. I’m more of a militant agnostic in this area, saying I don’t know and neither do you. I’m not trying to defend my view here, I’m simply asking others to defend theirs (and I'm less than satisfied with their ability to do so). Personally, if I had to throw something out there, I would go with chance due to the Copernican Principle.

llion,
As I understand it, necessity can refer to logical necessity and chance can refer to either brute facts or physical necessity. It is no guarantee that life is a logical necessity so if the origins of the universe is a brute fact, then it boils down to chance that we’re speaking here.

Doug Benscoter said...

Cautiouslycurious, I appreciate your candor. How would you respond to the following argument?

1. Whatever exhibits regularity is not the result of chance alone. (Premise)

2. The laws of nature exhibit regularity. (Premise)

3. Therefore, the laws of nature are not the result of chance alone. (From 1 and 2)

Seems like a fairly benign argument to me. Yet, if true, it illustrates that the laws of nature are the result of someone's or something's providence.

William said...

Doug,

Let us distinguish "chance" from chaos, ok? Or else...

Aren't the probabilistic regularities of quantum mechanics are a chance based regularity? could one be led to say that in quantum mechanics, the laws of nature ARE those of chance alone?

cautiouslycurious said...

Doug,
“How would you respond to the following argument?”

I would reject the first premise. Processes with random variables do exhibit regularities due to the law of large numbers. If you look deep down, you will find a lot of variance, but at the macroscopic level, there will be little variation (i.e. regularity). A casino may lose any given bet, but they will regularly win in the long run. As we’ve learned, we can only see nature (with the unaided eye) at the macro level so it’s not odd to see regularities even if they are the result of stochastic processes. By the way, the second premise is true by definition. If a law didn’t exhibit regularity, then it wouldn’t be a law in the first place.

grodrigues said...

@Leonhard:

I actually think that we are in substantial agreement (in the issues under discussion), and the disagreement there is is largely because we are aiming at different things.

1. I was not expecting you to the defend the PoE; I did not have the faintest idea of where your sympathies lie in the theist question. As a Christian of a philosophical AT bent, my only point in bringing it up was to give an example of *if* we take your objection at heart then it undermines many arguments (which have reasonable, not-obviously fallacious formulations; at least some do), including ones from the atheist side.

2. If all you are saying is that if the fine-tuning argument is construed as "the space of free parameters is infinite (in more than one sense), the region of free parameters allowing for life anywhere in the universe is a tiny, narrow one, ergo the probability of arising a life-permitting universe is vanishingly small" and that this argument is wrong for, among others, the reasons you state, then I do not disagree with you. But *serious* defenders of the fine-tuning argument, which is an inference to the best explanation argument, do *not* argue in this way. Rather, the atheist responding to it, must come up with some version of this (e.g. a life-permitting universe-producing mechanism), and the defender's job is to shoot it down which is precisely what serious defenders do.

And I do repeat that my interest in the argument is not in the argument itself, but in what it points to; in particular, the rather entertaining spectacle of watching people advance wild speculative theories without a single iota of experimental evidence, theories that in most cases, cannot even have experimental evidence for them, not even in principle (actually in all cases that I know of -- but here I confess my ignorance).

3. As for my comment on the shell game being played with fine-tuning, it is simply the observation that typical responses to fine-tuning come in the form of theories. Every theory depends on free parameters, coupling constants, boundary conditions, etc. So the fine-tuning has simply been kicked to another level, because know we can ask why does the fine-tuning mechanism has just such free parameters, coupling constants, boundary conditions, etc. and not any others.

Let me put this in another way. Suppose that we did come up with a theory with *no* free parameters, coupling constants, boundary conditions, etc. Suppose also that this is the True Theory about the (multi)universe. Then we would have found a modest, but nevertheless quite spectacular and stunningly impressive, proof of the necessity status of physical laws (*), for only its *general form* would be a contingent fact (say, a nonlinear PDE in as in GR) and no other empirical input would be needed to pin them down. There is no single example of such a beast and I cannot even imagine what it would be like. But this may well be my limitation so you know what you have to do to prove me wrong.

(*) I do not think any coherent sense can be made of the term "physical laws". But for the sake of simplification I am using it in its naive sense.

grodrigues said...

@Leonhard:

A correction: in the endnote, replace "physical laws" by "laws of nature".

grodrigues said...

@William:

"Let us distinguish "chance" from chaos, ok? Or else..."

I do not think Doug is making that mistake.

"Aren't the probabilistic regularities of quantum mechanics are a chance based regularity?"

My first answer would be no, but I probably should ask for a clarification of what you mean "chance based regularity".

"could one be led to say that in quantum mechanics, the laws of nature ARE those of chance alone?"

No.

There seems to be a mistaken assumption going on. Whether the "laws of nature" are deterministic or probabilistic in character is largely irrelevant to the thrust of what Doug is saying.

Ilíon said...

cautiouslycurious: "... the criticism is that you’re both using criterion that is logically flawed and even then, the support given for the second premise does not obviously support it. I am simply explaining to you why, as an atheist, I don’t find that argument “rationally acceptable.”"

CC, do you understand that you have accused yourself of being intellectually dishonest?
IF your assertion about the flaws of the argument are correct (I don't have the time right now to backtrack and figure out what your claim is and whether it is correct), than that flaw is sufficient -- it is utterly irrelevant whether you are or are not an 'atheist'.

But, in fact, what you have just said is that your being an 'atheist' is relevant to whether or not you consider the argument to be "rationally acceptable"

===========
bloody-minded apologist for leftism: "Ultimately, I think that the arguments from design and from fine tuning are both only "convincing" to the convinced. "

Are the rest of you people even capable of comprehending that Prokop, that vile leftist, has accused *all* of you, whether "theist" or not, of being intellectually dishonest?

You people shriek like a bunch of girls when I point to (and condemn) actual instances of intellectual dishonesty, but you're OK with such blanket assertions that all or you are intellectually dishonest.

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

Thought I'd throw some red meat in your direction. Just so you know, I do have a bust of Lenin on my mantle.

Doug Benscoter said...

William and cautiouslycurious, thank you for your answers.

I'm not conflating chance with chaos. The argument from order that I offered is distinct from the fine-tuning argument, as I'm sure you recognize.

Now, even on the quantum level there's a great deal of order. There are various laws governing quantum mechanics, such as path integral formulation. In any case, even allegedly chaotic events are intelligible, and intelligibility presupposes order. It's not as if "chaos" violates the laws of logic.

Premise (2) may be true by definition, but the skeptic could always deny that there are laws of nature, a la David Hume. Of course, most of us probably reject that level of skepticism.

Doug Benscoter said...

Finally, the appearance of chaos does not negate the reality of order. So, even granting that the universe is full of chaos, that doesn't at all undermine the argument.

Cognosium said...

The evidence for "fine tuning" is actually very strong. However, it in no way supports "Intelligent Design" or any other fictions arising from the superstitious myths of religions.

The physical parameters are but the tip of the iceberg. There is actually a much greater body of evidence to support fine tuning to be found in fields of science far better established than cosmology.

After all, perhaps the earliest proponent of fine-tuning was the biochemist Lawrence Henderson. In "The Fitness of the Environment", published in 1913, he observed that ""the whole evolutionary process, both cosmic and organic, is one, and the biologist may now rightly regard the universe in its very essence as biocentric"

Geology, biology and particularly chemistry provide many examples of "just right" prevailing conditions that enable and, indeed, make virtually inevitable, the strong directionality we observe in evolutionary processes.

The most recent part of this evolutionary continuum is that most familiar to us and of which we have the best knowledge: The autonomous evolution of technology within the medium of the collective imagination of our species.

But the commonly held assumption that IF fine tuning is a valid phenomenon THEN it favors theism is flawed.

Because it predicated by the very common and entirely intuitive belief that it suggests a "designer".

But it can be very plausibly argued that, except in a very trivial sense, the concept of a "designer" is but an anthropocentric conceit for which there is no empirical basis.

An objective examination of the history of science and technology bears this out.

To quickly put this counter-intuitive view into focus, would you not agree that the following statement has a sound basis?

We would have geometry without Euclid, calculus without Newton or Liebnitz, the camera without Johann Zahn, the cathode ray tube without JJ Thomson, relativity (and quantum mechanics) without Einstein, the digital computer without Turin, the Internet without Vinton Cerf.

The list can. of course be extended indefinitely.

This broad evolutionary model , extending well beyond the field of biology, is outlined, very informally, in "The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?" which is a free download in e-book formats from the "Unusual Perspectives" website.

B. Prokop said...

"or any other fictions arising from the superstitious myths of religions"

You do realize that that is no way to start a debate, right? That is, if you are entering it in the hopes of convincing anyone of your point of view. But if you're just posting as a feel-good exercise, then go right on ahead. Keep in mind though, you've written yourself off as anyone to be taken seriously from the get-go.

Just a friendly word of advice.

Cognosium said...

Thanks for your well-intended advice, B.

However, it seems not have occurred to you that there are many other readers of these comments who do not happen to embrace your superstitious beliefs.

Just a thought :>)

cautiouslycurious said...

Llion,
“But, in fact, what you have just said is that your being an 'atheist' is relevant to whether or not you consider the argument to be "rationally acceptable"”

That’s certainly not what I intended to mean by that, I was simply emphasizing that I’m giving the personal view of an atheist. His original comment was about what atheists should find rationally acceptable and I’m pointing myself out as a counterexample to that. I’m not saying that there might be some atheist out there who might not find the argument rationally acceptable for so and so reasons, I’m holding my hand high and saying I don’t accept the argument because of so and so. Perhaps a more apt phrasing would probably be “as a skeptically informed atheist,” (where my skepticism is both relevant to why I reject said argument and why I am an atheist) but that sounds a little pretentious. I think I’ll leave it as is under the understanding that the philosophy related to one’s atheism is relevant to their epistemology and their epistemology is relevant to whether they find certain arguments "rationally acceptable." So yes, it is loosely related, and no, there is no inconsistency.

Karl Grant said...

However, it seems not have occurred to you that there are many other readers of these comments who do not happen to embrace your superstitious beliefs.

Oh wow, there are people who don't share my beliefs, who don't share Bob's beliefs? People who view our beliefs as superstitious!?! What's next? Gambling in Rick's Casino? I never realized this is possible. Oh thank you wise and exulted one, I never would have realized that there are people in this world who disagree with me or make it a point of being rude to boost there own frail little egos without you stating the obvious. Thank you again, kind sir.