The Fine Tuning of the Universe – Video from Reasonable Faith

This is a decent summary of the fine tuning argument from RF.

To see more on this, see Michael Denton On the Fine-Tuning of the Biosphere

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17 thoughts on “The Fine Tuning of the Universe – Video from Reasonable Faith

  1. Jerome Danner September 24, 2014 / 2:30 am

    This is quite a video. I have more to learn about this topic, but a good video. I just wonder about the arguments against fine-tuning.

    • chab123 September 24, 2014 / 3:04 am

      Jerome basically, the arguments are mostly in the video. Once we agree the universe is fine tuned (as the video said from people like Hawking, etc), then we look for the explanation. Generally, the skeptic will punt to the multiverse, or say we got lucky, etc… or we are doing a God of the Gaps argument (God forbid that). See more here: http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/tag/multiverse/

  2. Jerome Danner September 24, 2014 / 10:04 am

    I will go back and check the other link too. Thank you for your response.

  3. Ed Atkinson September 24, 2014 / 3:28 pm

    The chance option was poorly presented. The multiverse posiibilities are not ad hoc and have real science behind them. However, I need to be fair it is an arresting mystery.

    If God is the designer, it is strange that the only evidence for design is in this strange area. Twiddling dials is barely design anyway. How is it that the even more arresting evidence for design – the living world on earth – turned out not to be directly designed after all. We’ve only known of this new ‘design’ mystery for a few decades, while it took centuries for science to explain the apparent design in the living world.

    • Ed Atkinson September 25, 2014 / 8:17 am

      Great Chab.

      The Chance link talks of dice. The best example in science would be quantum mechanics at the atomic scale. It is that process that prompts mutations, I think, and so would be the random element in evolution. Please explain how Chance is not a cause in quantum mechanics.

      Thanks for the Genetic Code link. Do you have a link to a debate or discussion on the issue? It’s a new one for me and I don’t have the qualifications to assess what they are claiming.

      Thanks, Ed

  4. Ed Atkinson September 28, 2014 / 9:29 am

    Hi Chab

    Thanks for the heads-up on S Meyer. I have tried one of his debates, but it was really on ID overall and didn’t get into the detail of this version of fine-tuning. From the debate summaries on the page you gave, it seems that I will find the same problem again and again. However, next I will try the Unbelievable show of 19 Nov 2011, which is said to be on Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell, I’m more hopeful on that. I hope to report back on this.

    Regarding Chance, quantum mechanics and causation, the link you gave is great and explains it perfectly. Eg it concludes “In any single collision it is impossible to predict which way the particle will go.” So what is the cause of a particle actually going left? We have to say ‘Chance’. Otherwise we’ll need to say that God is choosing but sticking to careful rules so it’s not really a free choice, or we’ll have to admit that things happen with no cause at all.

    Let me know your thoughts, and then we’ll see how it impacts on Chance as a possible component in the explanation of the apparent fine tuning of physical constants.

    Cheers, Ed

    • Ed Atkinson September 28, 2014 / 1:15 pm

      Hi

      I’ve now listened to the Unbelievable show I mentioned above. Sadly the content of Meyer’s argument seems to be God-of-the-gaps stuff on the origin of life. His work certainly shows that it is a large gap, but our problem is that if we do assume a naturalistic explanation, we should then expect that all the earlier forms of life prior to the modern working cell will be lost. They will be extinct and leave no trace in any possible fossil record. So both theism and naturalism explain a large part of the gap.

      There is still a gap on how the earliest most primitive self replicating amionio acid (or whatever) arose. But for Meyer’s argument to have weight he needs to show how it is impossible for that gap to be filled. He didn’t attempt that in the Show. His ‘opponent’ was also a Christian in this case. It was a civil discussion and so very helpful and informative. Recommended.

      Cheers

      Ed

    • chab123 September 28, 2014 / 2:16 pm

      Ed, chance predicts the mathematical probability of something happening. It is not a cause. So in the end, physicists can do the calculations and show us the chance probabilities involved with the fine tuning of the universe. Roger Penrose and others have done that.

      http://crossexamined.org/fine-tuning-initial-conditions-support-life/

  5. Ed Atkinson September 29, 2014 / 7:46 am

    Thanks for the links and they have confirmed my thinking.

    The Evolution News link fails to defend against the god of the gaps objection. However in saying this I need to clarify two points:

    1. Dismissing an argument as god of the gaps is not saying that the argument is worthless, rather it is saying the argument is weak. The argument is appealing to the best explanation, which is valid, especially when science does not have an adequate explanation of its own and the naturalist has to take it on trust that an explanation is coming. But the argument only becomes strong when there are good reasons to believe that any naturalist explanation is unlikely. As there is no argument put forward for that, the argument remains weak.

    2. The argument is used against both macro evolution and naturalistic explanations for the origin of life. Because I see overwhelming evidence for macro evolution, then I am confident that it is clearly possible that information in the genetic code can arise without design. Thus the mystery of the information in the minimum set of genetic code needed for the most rudimentary life is not one of information. It is one of the mechanism regarding on how the earliest most primitive self replicating amionio acid (or whatever) arose and developed into life.

    The GodEvidence.com link was a more general discussion, not related to the origin of life nor the supposed information issue. In fact it said “Scientific questions demand scientific answers, and ontological questions demand ontological answers.” As the origin of life is a gap within science, it is a scientific question, so again there is no reason given to dismiss a god of the gaps objection.

    Next the EvidenceUnseen was much the same, but it was not written by a scientist, which did not help.

    That’s it on the god of the gaps objection for information in DNA. I am left with a weak argument for theism, which is really the mystery over how life started.

    Turning to Fine Tuning of physical constants, please answer my questions from September 28, 2014 at 9:29 am and then we can discuss. You just claim ‘Chance is not a cause’ but give no reasons to support the view. The Penrose material is just saying how very low the entropy must have been in our early universe, the 10 to 123 tiny chance stuff is just a way of quantifying the low entropy. It’s like the molecules in a crystal being perfectly ordered and how low the chance would be for that to be the result of random chance.

  6. chab123 September 30, 2014 / 7:30 pm

    Ed,

    I don’t know how to explain it anymore in that chance is not a cause. If I throw the dice up in my hand and give you a mathematical prediction that I will z, y, or z, how did chance do anything? Chance didn’t do it. My hand was the cause that allowed the dice to get thrown in the air.

    As far as the information theory, you are still not understanding it. So that’s why I left the debates with Stephen Meyer -there were several links to watch. A lot of has to do with the definition of information.

    Information has four attributes-codes (syntax), meaning (semantics), action, and purpose. All living systems contain DNA and DNA information contains all four of these attributes. Information is a nonmaterial entity. Of course, this means materialism is false (given that materialism states that everything is just matter and energy).

    Also, for DNA to actually exist as information, there must be a cell in which it functions as information. However, the cell is not made up of DNA, it is made up of proteins and it is vast array of protein structures and protein based activities that allow the genetic code to come to life. So this would mean we would need the chance generation of a multitude of protein structures as well as DNA. Since proteins are made of amino acids, they must occur in very particular sequences. Choosing a very small protein with only a very small protein with 100 amino acids we find the odds are 20 to the 100th power to one against that happening. So if we make that a little clearer, if we calculate the odds of that happening with a very modest protein, we see it is about 12,000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 to one against getting the simplest protein structure by chance. To read more about this issue-click here: Signature In The Cell by Stephen C. Meyer. By the way, you may want to check out the new book called The Myth of Junk DNA by biologist Jonathan Wells.

    Let me also ask you this:

    If human DNA contains more organized information than the Encyclopedia Britannica and the the full text of the encyclopedia were to arrive in computer code from outer space, most people would regard this as proof of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. But when seen in nature, why do we explain as the workings of random forces?

    Ed, science by its stick definition today is the study of the natural world. It is a search for natural causes and physical causes. It used to be the search for causes outside nature and within nature but now it has changed. So when anyone that says they will keep looking for a natural cause is fine with me. Keep looking! But for me, as a theist, I am not restricted to natural causes alone. I can go where the evidence leads. God is outside the natural world and he is not physical. But I can look into the natural world (as the Brent Kunkle video explained) and see the effects of his handiwork. You are satisfied with nature and chance as doing everything. But that’s faith. You can keep looking and looking for nature of the gaps arguments.

    To start with naturalism and only look for naturalism is not science. It is metaphysics being used to determine the method.

    Also, in his book Who Made God: Searching For A Theory Of Everything? Edgar Andrews has given us some things to ponder here:

    1. It is important to understand that science can explain nothing except in terms of the laws of nature. Science works by first discovering (by observation) laws that describe the workings of nature and then using this knowledge to seek out further explanations — beginning with hypotheses and then confirming these hypotheses by various tests, the chief of which must always be repeatable experimental verification. To offer a scientific explanation of anything one must always appeal to existing laws (or at very least plausible hypotheses). No laws, no science; it’s as simple as that.

    2. To explain the origin of the universe scientifically, therefore, requires an appeal to laws of nature (established or hypothesized) that pre-existed the universe. But laws of nature are nothing more than descriptions of the way nature operates. No one has ever proposed a law of nature that does not involve existing natural entities, whether they be matter, energy, space-time or mathematical systems. (Note that mathematics are arguably philosophical rather than scientific in character and are only scientifically relevant when applied to natural realities — that is, the world as it exists).

    3. This creates a dilemma; the laws of nature cannot exist without nature itself existing but the origin of nature cannot be explained scientifically without pre-existing laws. The logical conclusion is that science cannot, by its very nature, explain the origin of the universe.

    So to look at Edgar is saying here, you also need an explanation for nature/the natural laws that allow you to do science. So to summarize, one day you will realize you need a non natural explanation to ground your natural explanations.

    Btw, I did respond a way back to your vision hypothesis again under the resurrection link.

  7. Ed Atkinson September 30, 2014 / 8:48 pm

    Thanks Chab for the long and careful reply.

    On Chance we have got stuck. I dismissed the dice example and went for actual pure Chance as in quantum mechanics and asked you to explain how something happened at that scale if it was not chance. (my post of September 28, 2014 at 9:29 am ) . You can’t so I am OK to use Chance within my tentative explanation of the fine-tuning mystery.

    Regarding DNA, I am not arguing for materialism, merely that DNA is not a mystery in itself. I agree that it is a mystery, but only in that it sits on the edge of a gap in science…. The unknown origin of life. If / when we know how life arose, we’ll also know how DNA arose and the tiny odds will be irrelevant : that is the probability that life arose in one chance event up to the cell level, or something like that. It ignores the intermediate steps. It is like saying ‘what is the chance of a cow giving birth to a seal?’ It is possible but the mutations required would make the probability vanishingly small.

    Signature In The Cell by Stephen C. Meyer is exactly the topic of the Unbelievable episode that I mentioned. That show is where I’m getting some of my points here.

    Regarding the info in human DNA, you ask “why do we explain as the workings of random forces?” Because there is a clear mechanism to explain it which fits the observed evidence perfectly.

    I don’t think we are in any serious disagreement over the philosophy of science that you discuss, including from Edgar Andrews. I get it that science, as it is usually defined these days, has limits to its explanation and there is a place for philosophers to pitch in. I am happy to discuss with you here on the understanding that God is a possible hypothesis. I am happy for you to use the results of science in your arguments.

    However an explanation for why there are laws of nature is a vast new topic. We have wandered quite a way off fine-tuning already.

    I do want to pick you up on one small thing: you said “You are satisfied with nature and chance as doing everything. But that’s faith.” You are using the meaning of faith that you kept saying is not the case. I’ve pulled you up on this before. If apologists can make words mean what they want in any circumstance , then they can keep their arguments sounding plausible.

    Thanks for the heads up on the resurrection link. I must have omitted to click the box to be updated by email. I’ve looked and can’t find the thread and your most recent post. Can you give me the link, please?

    If you mean this one, for me there is a comment from me awaiting your reply on:
    https://chab123.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/what-did-the-disciples-see-a-closer-look-at-the-resurrection-appearances/
    If you could reply to that it would be great.

    • chab123 October 1, 2014 / 2:53 pm

      Ed,

      We are having a disconnect about the DNA/information issue. I hope this helps:

      http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/could-life-have-emerged-spontaneously-on-the-early-earth/

      And, you can keep looking for the origin of life possibilities. But in the end, chance and nature can just be seen as a mechanism used by an Agent. To think the mechanism means there is no agency or intelligence behind it is going to be problematic.
      I am sorry we can’t seem to connect on the chance issue.

      You can punt to quantum mechanics as a theory. But since I am not a physicist and I don’t know if you are, I can’t be an authority on it. So see James Sinclar’s piece here called The Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics

      http://www.reasons.org/articles/the-metaphysics-of-quantum-mechanics
      Yes, I think that is the resurrection link. I don’t wish to debate the visions hypothesis. I already answered it in the post and I have a background in this topic. So if you want to keep pointing to visions, I don’t wish to discuss it anymore.

      Don’t wish to bring the faith issue up anymore. So sorry if I mentioned it again. But we weren’t able to totally connect on that one as well. I am going to have to take a break for a while on making comments. Maybe I will catch back up in a couple of weeks.

      • Ed Atkinson October 2, 2014 / 8:44 am

        Hi Chab

        It’s been great discussing with you, thanks.

        If anyone does read all our comments here and the other pages, I’d be pleased for them to make up their own mind. My feeling now is that you are hiding behind claiming ‘disconnect’, giving links rather than answering questions, or just saying ‘I don’t want to discuss it anymore’. That’s fine. My agenda was to argue for my thoughts with a knowledgeable apologist (the author of an apologetics website) and see where my thoughts did not stack up. You have fulfilled that agenda for me and given me a pretty clear answer, especially so on resurrection visions as that is a specialist subject of yours.

        To tidy up – (a) the origin of life link was based on an article by the Signature In The Cell author Stephen Meyer. As I have said, we get better information on these disputed topics by listening to the author himself discussing with a fellow scientist.

        Then (b) the Quantum Mechanics article was written by a scientist and was informative. You’ll see that there are some interpretations which do have Chance as a cause and some deny that possibility. We don’t yet know which interpretation is correct.

        So, all the best

        Cheers, Ed

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