Monday, August 01, 2016

Craig on why the universe is so vast

Here. 

28 comments:

Satta M. said...

"In order for the universe to form elements, like carbon, of which our bodies are made, there need to be stars, because the heavy elements are forged in the stellar interiors, in the furnaces of the stars. and then these explode through supernovae, and are distributed throughout the universe and this is what we're made of are these heavy elements, and in order for stars to exist, the universe has to be a certain age. "

That sounds pretty limiting to God. He could have made the universe with heavy elements from the beginning, he could have made creatures that didn't require heavy elements (or material at all). He could have made a life sustaining universe of any size, of any age, with any configuration of matter and creatures.

Ilíon said...

"That sounds pretty limiting to God. He could have made the universe with heavy elements from the beginning, he could have made creatures that didn't require heavy elements (or material at all). He could have made a life sustaining universe of any size, of any age, with any configuration of matter and creatures."

You seem to be making the all-too-common error of thinking of God as just one more entity amongst a collection of entities, when, in fact, God is "the ground of all being" (*). You also seem to be imagining that God can make an irrational and/or self-contradictory world -- as though it "limits" God that he literally cannot contradict himself (**).

"He could have made the universe with heavy elements from the beginning ..."

Let us say that God did just that. OR, to put it another way, is there really any way that *we* can tell whether he did or did not? The answer is: No, we cannot tell.

And let us say that thousands of years later a creature asks/investigates, "Of what are the heavy elements made?" This question has an answer, whether or not any creature who ever asks it is ever able to discover it. The Creator -- "the ground of all being" -- knows the answer; and thus, precisely because the Creator *is* "the ground of all being", it is and always has been the case that the heavy elements are made of what they are made of and are made in the manner in which they are made.

What I an trying to help those who are willing to see see is that Satta M's whole objection is based on the false idea that God can be incoherent and that he can create an incoherent world.

"... he could have made creatures that didn't require heavy elements (or material at all)."

We call such creatures 'angels'.

"He could have made a life sustaining universe of any size, of any age, with any configuration of matter and creatures."

Can God make a "life sustaining universe" in which there occurs no physical/material change? Not if by "life" we mean biology.

Sure, God could have created a universe devoid of energy/matter and populated solely by immaterial souls (i.e. 'angels'). But, as God did, in fact, choose to create a universe to be the home for embodied souls, then 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' follow from God's saying of 'A', 'B', and 'C'.

That God is coherent and creates coherently does not limit God.

(*) Ayn Rand vainly imagined that she was disposing of God via her dictum that "Existence exists"; all she really said is "God is the ground of all being" in less precise language.

(**) If God *were* to contradict himself, then God would not exist, nor would anything at all exist. This truth is, in fact, one of the points being put to the test during the Incarnation.

Miguel said...

Not just that, but one could also argue that a universe that isn't completely miraculous and with everything in it having God as a direct cause (instead of secondary causation) is better for rational beings like us, because this way we can learn more about the universe by seeing how it actually operates, its final causes, etc etc, and then manipulate it ourselves (instead of depending on miracles for almost everything).

Besides, the point behind such fine tuning arguments is that, given atheism, a life-permitting universe would be extremely improbable and unlikely, but more likely given theism. You don't even necessarily have to think that theism makes a life-permitting universe like ours something unsurprising, only that it, given theism/intelligence, a life-permiting universe is not as surprising as it would be under atheism/bare chance.

Satta M. said...

" thinking of God as just one more entity amongst a collection of entities"

not at all, the video makes it sounds like god's hands are tied, I say they are not

"that God can be incoherent and that he can create an incoherent world."

I don't even think YEC is incoherent, so no.

"is there really any way that *we* can tell whether he did or did not? "

Absolutely, "apparent" age is not beyond god's capabilities.

"Not if by "life" we mean biology."

Again, limiting god. God could make any 'biology' work or even physical creatures without anything like our biology.

You don't have to defend every argument for god no matter how terrible it is.

Aron Zavaro said...

Let V=the vastness of the universe, T=theism, N=naturalism, L=the existence of life.

As Craig explains, the only way that life could form through natural means is if billions of years have passed, allowing for planets and heavy elements to form, which requires to universe to be old and vast. So P(V|N&L) is close to 1.

But P(V|T&L) is less than 1 because although God could have chose to create life by a long, natural process, he also could have created life ex nihilo via supernatural creation right away. Or he could have used a variety of other supernatural mechanisms that didn't require a vast universe.

So P(V|N&L)>P(V|T&L), and therefore the vastness of the universe favors naturalism over theism. Maybe not by a lot, but it seems undeniable that it favors naturalism at least a little. Even Craig acknowledges this.

B. Prokop said...

"therefore the vastness of the universe favors naturalism over theism"

I don't see how. There's no bridge to that conclusion from the facts. It's like saying that, since there have been approximately 100 billion human beings since the Dawn of Time, the Incarnation cannot possibly be true, on the grounds that the Second Person of the Trinity became only one man - Jesus.

The size of Creation seems to be a complete irrelevancy.

(Actually, although I would never use it as an argument, the vastness of the Cosmos is to me personally evidence in favor of an infinitely powerful Creator God. But, as I said, that's just me.)

Aron Zavaro said...

B. Prokop,

Here is my argument:

1. P(vastness|theism&life)<1
2. P(vastness|naturalism&life)=1
3. Therefore, vastness increases the probability of naturalism relative to theism

(3) follows logically from (1) and (2) by the axioms of probability calculus, so the argument form is valid. So do you disagree with (1) or (2)?

B. Prokop said...

I disagree with the entire notion that philosophical discussions can be reduced (and I do mean "reduced") to mathematical constructs. Talk in plain English. All else is foolishness and science-envy. I'll have none of it.

Ilíon said...

^ I very strongly agree. Whenever I see an "argument" written in pseudo-math, my "Someone Is Trying To Pull A Fast-One" klaxon always goes off.

Aron Zavaro said...

Ok, here is it in English.

1. If the hypothesis of naturalism is true, the vastness of the universe is exactly what we'd expect to observe
2. The vastness of the universe is not as expected if theism is true than if naturalism is true
3. Therefore the observation that the universe is vast better confirms the hypothesis that naturalism is true than the hypothesis that theism is true

B. Prokop said...

Much better.

I disagree vehemently with premise number two. There is no "expected" size or age of a divinely created universe. The cosmos is as large and as old as the Creator wishes it to be.

If, as the Psalmist says, "The Heavens declare the Glory of God," then the vaster the cosmos, the greater the glory. If, as St. Paul writes, "Ever since the creation of the world God's ... eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made," then a vast and ancient cosmos is all the better a demonstration of such.

B. Prokop said...

Read what I wrote about the scale of the universe over on my own blog, here and here.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"I disagree vehemently with premise number two. There is no "expected" size or age of a divinely created universe. The cosmos is as large and as old as the Creator wishes it to be."

You have to admit though, it is positively hilarious *atheists* telling *believers* what the Creator is *expected* to do.

jdhuey said...

"I disagree vehemently with premise number two. There is no "expected" size or age of a divinely created universe. The cosmos is as large and as old as the Creator wishes it to be."

Or, stated differently, the concept of a divine creator has zero explanatory power wrt the nature of the Universe.

B. Prokop said...

"Or, stated differently, the concept of a divine creator has zero explanatory power wrt the nature of the Universe."

jdhuey, I'm afraid you allowed a typo to slip through on your latest posting. I believe you meant to write, "Or, stated differently, the concept of atheism has zero explanatory power wrt the nature of the Universe."

As Ilion would say, "Fixed it for you!"

jdhuey said...

I think that I'll stick with the way that I wrote the posting - it states a simple truth.

With respect to your "correction", I don't disagree. Atheism really only addresses the belief in the various gods, and in and off itself has nothing to say about the nature of the physical world (other than the lack of deities). Conflating atheism with naturalism or with science (or with Satan worship) is an error.

B. Prokop said...

I'm not sure that either statement matters much. I can't recall my ever using (terrible word choice here) God for His "explanatory power wrt the nature of the Universe", other than to answer the question "Why is there something rather than nothing?"

grodrigues said...

@jdhuey:

"I think that I'll stick with the way that I wrote the posting - it states a simple truth."

The only thing it states is that you have no understanding on what God is supposed to explain.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: "There is no "expected" size or age of a divinely created universe. The cosmos is as large and as old as the Creator wishes it to be."

jdhuey: "Or, stated differently, the concept of a divine creator has zero explanatory power wrt the nature of the Universe."

jdhuey: "I think that I'll stick with the way that I wrote the posting - it states a simple truth."

grodrigues: "The only thing it states is that you have no understanding on what God is supposed to explain."

Think about the meaning of jdhuey's "simple truth" -- An agent's ground-and-consequent freedom cannot be reduced to a mechanism's cause-and-effect deterministic outcome, *therefore* (there is a step missing here) the concept that an agent created the universe "has zero explanatory power wrt the nature of the Universe"

When, in fact, it atheism which "has zero explanatory power wrt the nature of the Universe"

Aron Zavaro said...

What's wrong with this argument

1. A hypothesis has strong explanatory power if it predicts the data that we observe.
2. If naturalism is true, then we must observe a vast universe, because the existence of observers is impossible without a vast universe
3. If theism is true, then we could observe a universe of any size, because God could make the universe however he likes
4. Therefore naturalism predicts a vast universe to a greater degree than theism predicts a vast universe
5. Therefore naturalism has more explanatory power with respect to the size of the universe.

Aron Zavaro said...

Here's another way of thinking about this. Imagine that the universe was nothing but the earth and it was only a few years old. This would clearly be evidence for theism. There is no way life could naturally arise in such a small period in such a small universe. Thus, if a small young universe would be evidence for theism, if follows from the rules of logic that an old big universe is evidence against God. Again, Craig himself acknowledges this. He just doesn't think that it is strong evidence against God

B. Prokop said...

"Imagine that the universe was nothing but the earth and it was only a few years old. This would clearly be evidence for theism."

I don't see how you can say that. If the universe consisted solely of our solar system, that would then be the "natural world" and atheists would have no problem saying something like "If only the universe were much larger than it actually is, then maybe that would be evidence for your God. But as it is, this puny world is evidence that there is no such thing."

"There is no way life could naturally arise in such a small period in such a small universe."

Really? Once again, I have no problem imagining scientists in such a world being totally comfortable with life's existence. After all, can you (or anyone, for that matter) explain how life arose in this, our non-imaginary universe? ... Thought not.

"Thus, if a small young universe would be evidence for theism, if follows from the rules of logic that an old big universe is evidence against God."

And there's that big "if". As I have already stated, I utterly reject the idea that the size of the universe is in any way evidence either for or against the Creator God. So your "rules of logic" are, as far as this discussion is concerned, founded upon nothing.

If WLC "himself acknowledges" that "an old big universe is evidence against God", then he's wrong.

Aron Zavaro said...

The reason life couldn't naturally develop in a young, small universe are stated by Craig in the video Victor posted. Life depends on heavy elements being created in stars. This can only happen after a very long process. So life can only exist after a long time has passed, and after a long time has passed, the universe will have expanded to a big size. So on naturalism, life cant arise until the universe is old and big.

But if God exists he can bypass this natural process and create life with a miracle

B. Prokop said...

"Life depends on heavy elements being created in stars."

You forgot to include the last words to that sentence:

Life depends on heavy elements being created in stars in this universe. There would be different, entirely natural, constraints to life in a "small" universe (assuming that universe contained life).

Ilíon said...

Dude! "The reason life couldn't naturally develop in a young, small universe are stated by Craig in the video Victor posted. Life depends on heavy elements being created in stars. This can only happen after a very long process. So life can only exist after a long time has passed, and after a long time has passed, the universe will have expanded to a big size. So on naturalism, life cant arise until the universe is old and big."

Dude! Have you never heard of the differences between 'necessary' and 'sufficient' and 'necessary and sufficient'?

"The reason life couldn't naturally develop in a young, small universe" is exactly the same as "the reason life couldn't naturally develop in a old, vast universe" ... life doesn't/can't "develop", life doesn't/can't "arise". Life IS or IS NOT.

"But if God exists he can bypass this natural process and create life with a miracle."

If living entities exist, then God created them; there is no "natural process" for living entities to "arise" from mere dead matter.

grodrigues said...

@Aron Zavaro:

"2.If naturalism is true, then we must observe a vast universe, because the existence of observers is impossible without a vast universe"

You are smuggling (at least) an extra premise, that on naturalism there must be observers.

"But if God exists he can bypass this natural process and create life with a miracle"

If you can add extra premises so can I: if God wants a universe that unfolds without engineer-like tinkering then it must be vast. Which leads to:

"3. If theism is true, then we could observe a universe of any size, because God could make the universe however he likes"

He could make whatever universe he likes, but it does not follow that He could make *this* universe any way He wants. It does not follow because it is false. How much more His glory shines through when His creating power shines through *without* using such tricks. And quite obviously God wanted *this* universe, with you, me, etc. living in the here and now. Now I will grant you that nothing would be lost if you were not around, but me? I hardly think the universe could survive the loss.

note(s):
- I should probably add, that there is a sense in which a miracle was *needed* not only for life, but for distinctly human life. But I would have to qualify what I am getting at here.

I also do not know what sense of possible is being used here on the naturalism hypothesis. The Mighty Universe Random Generator might have spewed out a different universe?

Furthermore, if on naturalism we are "just" physical matter, then it is possible to simulate us, therefore possibly we are simulations. And if possibly we are simulations, it is possible on naturalism that we live in a simulation of a vast universe (maybe even in a simulation with a few gods thrown in as simulations as well), which of course is not *actually* vast because it is not even a universe. But if these are possibilities, then your "probability calculations" (a ridiculous exercise as Bob pointed out) are wrong.

Not that I would want to, because these arguments are, intellectually speaking, and as Bob already said, completely worthless (whether for or against God).

Ilíon said...

Dude! "Thus, if a small young universe would be evidence for theism, if follows from the rules of logic that an old big universe is evidence against God."

It's *always* "heads, I win; tails, you lose" with these people.

Example --

All mammalian species have exactly seven vertebrae in their necks ... "which is exactly what you'd expect to find under common descent" ERGO, Darwinism (*) (i.e. the creation myth of atheism), ERGO atheism.

On the other hand, different species of birds have wildly differing numbers of vertebrae in their necks ... "which is exactly what you'd expect to find under random mutation" ERGO, Darwinism (**) (i.e. the creation myth of atheism), ERGO atheism.

(*) As though Darwinism owns the Biblical concept the offspring resemble their parents

(**) As though God can't decide to create both similarly and differently as he freely decides.

Ilíon said...

Dude! "2.If naturalism is true, then we must observe a vast universe, because the existence of observers is impossible without a vast universe"

grodrigues: "You are smuggling (at least) an extra premise, that on naturalism there must be observers."

He's also suggling in the assumption that on naturalism there even can be observers. As has been demonstrated time and again (that being the main point of this blog), on naturalism there neither are nor can be observers.

As I keep pointing out -- You are the evidence that God is