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Posts Tagged ‘fine-tuning

how to debate William Lane Craig, or not – part 5, the fine-tuning argument

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gee thanks, goddie - and can you help me win my soccer game on saturday?

gee thanks, goddie – and can you help me win my soccer game on saturday?

Dr Craig’s fifth argument is the well-known fine-tuning argument. Once again I should point out that when Dr Craig brings up these science-related topics it isn’t from a fascination with science itself – indeed Dr Craig likes to use the term ‘scientism’ when he refers to science other than when he’s using it to support his obsession. He uses science solely to mine and manipulate it to convince himself and others that there’s a warrant for a supernatural agent who has a personal love for him. So you should always consider his use of science with that in mind. And you should ask yourself, too, why is it that the physicists and cosmologists and mathematicians of the world, the people who work on a daily basis with the so-called laws of nature and the physical constraints of the universe, are by and large so completely lacking in belief in a personal deity? This is a sub-population that is more atheistic than any other sub-group on the planet. How does Dr Craig account for this? Madness, badness, indoctrination? How is it that the greatest physicist, by general acclaim, of the twentieth century, Einstein, regularly described belief in a personal god as a form of childishness? Why is it that Bertrand Russell, one of the greatest mathematicians and logicians of all time, wrote, ‘I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue’? What is it with the Richard Feynmans, the Stephen Weinbergs, the Stephen Hawkings of this world that they’ve been so indifferent or hostile to the claims of religion? Perhaps Dr Craig should consider launching a wholesale attack on these disciplines, since they seem such a breeding ground for views so completely out of synch with his obsessions. How can they not know that all their researches and discoveries converge on the screamingly obvious fact that a loving human-focused supernatural being designed everything. What a bunch of blind fools.

The fine-tuning argument has been around for a long time despite its seeming ultra-modernity, though of course it gets updated in terms of constants and constraints. It’s of course, a rubbish argument like all the others. This universe wasn’t fine-tuned for anything. There was no tuner, as far as we know, and it would be impossible to predict what possibilities could emerge from the hugely complex and almost entirely unknown preconditions of the universe’s existence. Our universe will provide us with many many surprises long into the future, and I would not be surprised if those surprises include forms of life hitherto thought impossible, due to the ‘laws of nature’. Dr Craig claims that the various constraints and quantities that he talks about are independent of the laws of nature, which is a nonsense, as it’s only through our application of physical laws that we’ve been able to determine these quantities. So I don’t know what to make of his claim that these constraints aren’t physically necessary. The constraints exist as an essential part of the physical nature of this universe. The question of necessity or chance just doesn’t arise. These are the constraints we have to work with, and we find that, within these constraints, intelligent life is clearly possible, though perhaps very rare, though perhaps not so very rare as we once thought. I think we must all agree that we live in exciting times in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and extra-terrestrial life more generally. We’re homing in on the zones elsewhere that meet all the conditions for the emergence of life, and I believe we will find that life in time. Intelligent life, by our standards, will no doubt take longer.

Dr Craig says the odds of this universe being life-permitting are astronomically small. Some cosmologists agree, but they don’t then make any leaps to a supernatural cosmic designer. And I mean none of them do. It’s interesting that the cosmologist Alan Guth, to whom Dr Craig has already referred, believes that humans will one day be able to design new universes, no doubt with the help of quantum computers, and there are others who suggest that this may be how our universe came into being. All highly speculative stuff, and not particularly mainstream, but good fun, and worthy of reflection. Others, such as Stephen Hawking, have proposed a superposition of possible initial conditions for the universe which provides for an ‘inevitability’ of us finding ourselves in just this kind of life-sustaining universe at a later stage. It’s all to do with the manipulation of time-perception apparently. This hypothesis eliminates the need to posit a multiverse. There are many other hypotheses too, of course, including the multiverse, the bubble universe and others. It’s an exciting time for cosmology. Tough, but exciting, and far more interesting and rewarding than theology, I can promise you that. As students, I hope you continue to follow this stuff, for its own sake, not to mine it as confirmation for preconceived ideas.

Written by stewart henderson

March 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm