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Archived => Teleological Argument => Topic started by: Paaatrick on September 28, 2013, 06:24:30 pm

Title: Why is life special?
Post by: Paaatrick on September 28, 2013, 06:24:30 pm
Hey all.

I want to pose another question I got from a friend of mine some days ago.
He thinks that the teleological argument fails in presupposing that life is more special than say a stone. The existence of life is (roughly) the same as that of a stone, a planet or any other phenomenon in the universe. Why on this view think that design is necessary for life, if life is no more probable than the existence of anything else?

- Paaatrick
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on October 09, 2013, 07:35:02 am
Thats a point ive always thought. The universe is no more fine tuned for life than  it is for cup cakes.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: philtime on October 10, 2013, 08:50:30 am
The universe seems much more fine-tuned for the existence of rocks than for life.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: joppe on October 24, 2013, 10:33:39 am
If the laws of physics were altered, there wouldn't be any rocks, let alone life.
Your objection fails there.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Jubilee on October 24, 2013, 12:37:48 pm
Hey all.

I want to pose another question I got from a friend of mine some days ago.
He thinks that the teleological argument fails in presupposing that life is more special than say a stone. The existence of life is (roughly) the same as that of a stone, a planet or any other phenomenon in the universe. Why on this view think that design is necessary for life, if life is no more probable than the existence of anything else?

- Paaatrick

You don't need to assume that life is intrinsically worthwhile. All you need to confirm a teleological hypothesis in any domain is to have a hypothesis advocated independently of the confirmatory observation, and then to make that observation.

For example, say I get dealt two random cards in black jack, a 4 of hearts and a 10 of spades. Now, say after the dealing, a friend of mine tells me that he thinks someone intentionally stacked the deck so I would get the 4 and the 10--no reason, just his claim. In bayesian terms, yes, his hypothesis is confirmed by the evidence because the existence of a deck stacker makes my cards more likely than the chance hypothesis. The problem with the deck stacker hypothesis, however, is that the prior probability is low because it is ad hoc and unmotivated.

Let's change the scenario a little. Say that a friend of mine has all day been saying that the dealer loves it when people get 4's and 10's in any card games. This fact motivates the deck stacker hypothesis when I find that I do in fact have the 4's and 10's, and thus the deck stacker hypothesis becomes pretty probable.

Same with theism and the fine-tuning. Theists have been saying for ages that the universe exhibits signs of design for life. Now that scientists have discovered that life is extremely improbable, the "cosmic stack" hypothesis is not ad hoc and is strongly confirmed by the observation.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 01, 2013, 01:14:10 pm
"I want to pose another question I got from a friend of mine some days ago.
He thinks that the teleological argument fails in presupposing that life is more special than say a stone. The existence of life is (roughly) the same as that of a stone, a planet or any other phenomenon in the universe. Why on this view think that design is necessary for life, if life is no more probable than the existence of anything else?"

Your friend's question strikes me as  bizarre.  On what basis does he conclude that the existence of life is roughly the same as that of a stone?  Certainly, any life form is far more complex than a stone.  The complexity of life makes it far less probable that a living organism would exist without design then a stone.  One can see that even within our own solar system where the earth is the only planet with life.  Perhaps I am missing his point?

When he says " teleological argument fails in presupposing that life is more special than say a stone" what exactly does he mean?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 04, 2013, 09:46:02 am
I cant speak for the friend, but what I would say is there is more reason to think the universe is desgined for life than it is for cup cakes.
If someone said the unvierse was fine tuned for cup cakes Ithink we would laugh at them. So why take the claim that its fine tuned for life any mroe seriously?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 04, 2013, 12:25:44 pm
I cant speak for the friend, but what I would say is there is more reason to think the universe is desgined for life than it is for cup cakes.
If someone said the unvierse was fine tuned for cup cakes Ithink we would laugh at them. So why take the claim that its fine tuned for life any mroe seriously?

Maybe I am a little dense, but I don't follow your point.  Was this an argument?  Perhaps you could elaborate.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 05, 2013, 02:30:40 am
The argument made by the thiest is that universe is fine tuned for life, the response by the sceptic is that the universe is no more fine tuned forlife than it is fine tuned for cup cakes. Both rely on the same values for the physical constants of nature.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 05, 2013, 10:51:19 am
The argument made by the thiest is that universe is fine tuned for life, the response by the sceptic is that the universe is no more fine tuned forlife than it is fine tuned for cup cakes. Both rely on the same values for the physical constants of nature.

I still don't get your point.  Consider this:

1) If I were to find a cupcake on the ground, I would reasonable assume that it was designed by an intelligent being and that it did not come into existence through the random interaction of matter. To state the matter differently, if I found a cupcake on another unexplored planet, I would count that as very strong evidence that intelligent life exists on that planet.

2) Accordingly for there to be a reasonable chance for cupcakes to exist in this universe, the universe must be finely tuned for the existence of intelligent life. 

3)  Finally,  to say that the universe is finely tuned for the existence of intelligent life or for the existence of cupcakes is to say pretty much the same thing.

What is your point?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 07, 2013, 03:17:43 am
i think you are missing the point. Let me give you another example that wil drive it home better. If you find a snow flake in the ground, do you assume its intelligently desgined?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 07, 2013, 04:13:24 am
i think you are missing the point. Let me give you another example that wil drive it home better. If you find a snow flake in the ground, do you assume its intelligently desgined?

No, I would not think a snow flake was intelligently designed nor would advocates of the ID movement.  I do think a cupcake is something that would have to have been  intelligently designed. I am surprised you cannot see the obvious distinction between the two that leads in one case to a design inference and in the other case not.

Let me propose a thought  experiment.  Imagine you visited an unexplored planet and found snow. Would you count this evidence of intelligent life on the planet?
Next,  imagine you visited an unexplored planet and found  a dozen  cupcakes.  Would you consider that to be evidence of intelligent life?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 07, 2013, 05:27:51 am
I think you are mssing the context of the argument, when the original poster talks about life being no idfferent to a stone , what they are clearly tlakign abotu is the fine tuning argument. Its nothing to do with the ID argument obviosuly , that would nto make sense at all.
The problem with the fine tuning argument is that , as you agreed there is no design inference froma  snow flake. yet the fine tuning argument works equally for a snow flake than for life. There is no reason to repfer one over theother. If the values for constants were different snow flakes couldnt exist, nor could cup cakes. So there is more reason to say the universe is fine tuned for life than to say its fine tuned for cup cakes or snow flakes.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: ontologicalme on November 07, 2013, 07:15:29 am
Conscious agents bring into the world features that are not found in the physical world, as morally and aestheticly significant capacities,and the capacity to abstract from the world features that are there, but could not be exploited (but through intentionality) as  knowledge and experiencing the world, these are exclusively intrinsic features brought by conscious agents, that are added to for the first time to a world with out conscious beings, and which enrich the quality of this world. 

Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 07, 2013, 08:19:42 am
"The problem with the fine tuning argument is that , as you agreed there is no design inference froma  snow flake. yet the fine tuning argument works equally for a snow flake than for life. There is no reason to repfer one over the other. If the values for constants were different snow flakes couldnt exist, nor could cup cakes. So there is more reason to say the universe is fine tuned for life than to say its fine tuned for cup cakes or snow flakes"

I am not getting your point.  Sure, for rocks and snowflakes to exist, the universe has to be fine tuned.  For example, the forces of contraction and expansion of the universe would have to be properly balanced.  Neither rocks nor snow flakes could exist if the universe quickly collapsed after it came into existence nor if the universe expanded so rapidly that matter was too dispersed for stars and planets to form.  If you want to say that the universe is fine tuned for the existence of snowflakes and rocks that is fine by me.  It is not clear to me why this would be a criticism of the fine tuning argument.

I would note that the degree of fine tuning necessary for life to exist is likely greater than for a snowflake, but perhaps not

By the way, most people would agree that a snowflake is not designed because while it can be described as complex, it does not have specified complexity.  On the other hand, a book could not come into existence except by the work of an intelligent agent because a book does have specified complexity.  If you don't understand the term, "specified complexity" perhaps you should visit an Intelligent Design website.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 15, 2013, 05:35:40 am
Paul, sorry for long delay in replying, I have been very busy and hot had time. But I thought Id try and write something in the brief moment I have.
The criticism of the fine tuning argument implied here is that life is being put on a pedestal for essentially chauvinistic reasons. If I said the entire universe was created so that cup cakes or snowflakes or table tennis or Hitler could exist people would not take the argument seriously. They would rightly say these things are just an accident of history. It’s not a fundamental feature of the universe that it happens to allow table tennis to exist. Table tennis is just a lucky (for those that like table tennis) by product of the universe we live in. There’s no reason to think the universe was designed with table tennis in mind. The same is true of life.

Onto, the fact the conscious beings have some unique properties is of no consequence. There are many other things that have unique properties; black holes have other unique properties. Would we assume a universe with nothing but black holes was fine tuned?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 15, 2013, 09:11:14 am
"Table tennis is just a lucky (for those that like table tennis) by product of the universe we live in. There’s no reason to think the universe was designed with table tennis in mind. The same is true of life. "

 When you say that table tennis is just a lucky by product of the universe we live in . . . and the same is true of life" you are disputing one of the premises of the fine tuning argument. Your statement is not an argument, but simply a statement of your conclusion. 

Have you actually listened to or read an explanation of the fine tuning argument? The two versions of the argument that I have read are by William Craig and Robbin Collins.  Both argue at length against the conclusion you state.  To engage their arguments, you we need to read their arguments and offer counter arguments.  Nothing that has been stated in this thread in any way undermines the fine tuning argument as it is actually defended.

A universe that comprised of nothing but black holes would not likely exhibit the characteristics of a fine-tuned universe.  These characteristics are actually defined, if you read Craig's or Collins' explanations of the fine tuning argument.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 18, 2013, 02:43:31 am
Either you argree with the statement "the universe is fine tuned for tabble tennis" or you dont. Which is it?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 18, 2013, 03:35:36 am
The universe would require fine tuning for a table tennis table to exist.  For example,  such a table could not exist without stars  and planets and without  the more complex elements. So it would be fair to say that the universe is fine tuned for the existence of objects such as table tennis tables in the same way as it is fine tuned for life.

Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 18, 2013, 08:05:35 am
I think you have fundamentally mistaken idea of what is meant by fine tuning.

When Dr. Craig or Dr. Robin Collins state that the universe is fine-tuned they are making a neutral, objective, scientifically verifiable statement about the nature of our universe.  As just one example, they are observing that if the forces of expansion and forces on contraction that we observe in our universe were slightly different, then the universe would have either collapsed shortly after it came into existence or expanded so rapidly that matter would be too dispersed for stars and planets to form.  Under either scenario, intelligent life could not exist, nor could snowflakes, ice cream cones or even table tennis tables.  Under this definition of fine tuning, it would be equally true to say that the universe is fine tuned for the existence of life, or any of the above material objects.

When I say that fine tuning is a neutral, and objective fact about our Universe, I am saying that one can recognize that the universe is fine turned without making any assumptions about the existence of God or the value of life.  This is why the following people can all recognize the objective fact that the Universe is fine-tuned: Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist; Freeman Dyson, a theoretical physicist and agnostic; William Craig and Robbin Collins, two proponent theistic philosophers.  It is also why it doesn't matter whether one says that the Universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life or for the existence of snow flakes.  Both require fine-tuning as the term is used in the teleological argument.


Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 18, 2013, 08:54:15 am
So you think the whole universe was set up so that the game of table tennis could exist, and you don’t find that absurd?

There are certainly people that accept fine tuning on both sides of the argument. There are also people that don’t, Alan Guth, Carol Rovelli, Tim Maudlin, Roger Penrose, Don Page etc.
You are using an argument from authority.
You say it’s scientifically verifiable that the universe is fine tuned but I think this is more problematic than you think.
The argument relies on the assumption that physicists can correctly predict whether or not the universe has life in it given a model of the universe plus the values of the constants. But to me the evidence is very clear that this assumption is wrong. For example if I gave you the standard model and the values for constants what would you predict was the matter content of the universe?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 18, 2013, 09:56:06 am
"So you think the whole universe was set up so that the game of table tennis could exist, and you don’t find that absurd?"

The observation that the universe is fine-tuned when properly understood is a value neutral and theologically neutral observation.  That is why many prominent atheists can and do observe that the universe is fine tuned without making any concessions regarding the existence of God or the special value of intelligent life.  I cited Richard Dawkins and Freeman Dyson for the sole purpose of demonstrating this point.

The question as to why the Universe was created and for what purpose is not an issue that the fine-tuning argument purports to address.  That is why it is equally true to say that fine tuning is necessary for life to exist or for a table to exist.

Obviously, people can dispute whether the universe is, in fact, fine tuned.  That would be the subject of a different thread.


Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 18, 2013, 10:31:43 am

First off Paul, I appreciate your honesty that the universe is no more fines tuned for the existence of life as it fine tuned for the existence of tables. Unfortunately that is not how the argument is generally sold. It’s sold as “the fine tuning of the universe for life”. Therefore there is an implicit assumption that life is somehow special as one of the many features of the universe. In reality there is no reason to think life is special.

 More importantly you alleged that fine tuning is scientifically verifiable statement. As I said that depends upon an assumption, an assumption that is easy to demonstrate is false. So Ill ask you again “if I gave you the standard model and the values for constants what would you predict was the matter content of the universe?”
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 18, 2013, 12:23:21 pm
"First off Paul, I appreciate your honesty that the universe is no more fines tuned for the existence of life as it fine tuned for the existence of tables."

You seem to be missing a very basic point.  Under the fine-tuning argument, the improbable conditions that must exist involve the laws of nature, their various constants,  and initial conditions of the universe. For the universe to be fine-tuned it  is not necessary to believe that these factors would inevitably lead to some particular end product.

Lets start with William Craig's obsevation:

""What is meant by "fine-tuning"? The physical laws of nature, when given mathematical expression, contain various constants, such as the gravitational constant, whose values are independent of the laws themselves; moreover, there are certain arbitrary quantities which are simply put in as boundary conditions on which the laws of nature operate, for example, the initial low entropy condition of the universe. By "fine-tuning" one means that the actual values assumed by the constants and quantities in question are such that small deviations from those values would render the universe life-prohibiting or, alternatively, that the range of life-permitting values is exquisitely narrow in comparison with the range of assumable values."

One could make an equally valid statement by replacing  in this definition of  fine tuning the word "life" with the word "table" and it would be equally true statement.  Thus one could say: "By "fine-tuning" one means that the actual values assumed by the constants and quantities in question are such that small deviations from those values would render the universe table-prohibiting or, alternatively, that the range of table-permitting values is exquisitely narrow in comparison with the range of assumable values."

Why is this second statement also true?  Because for a universe to be "table-permitting", the forces of contraction and the forces of expansion in the universe would still have to be exquisitely balanced so that the universe did not quickly collapse soon after it came into existence or expand so rapidly that matter was too dispersed for stars and planets to form.  Similarly, for heavier elements to exist that are necessary to form a table, the strong and weak nuclear forces have to be exquisitely balanced.  This fine-tuned balance is equally required for life to exist or for tables to exist.

One could easily restate the initial premise of the fine-tuning argument to state that "the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life or for that matter,  the existence of any ordinary, physical object such as a table."  Generally, the argument is not stated that way because it is obvious that if the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life, that fact necessarily encompasses the fact that it is also fine-tuned for the existence of tables.   I think that Dr. Craig or Dr. Collins would be willing to reformulate their argument, just for you, if that helps.  Most others would say "duh",  if they included my proposed addition to the their first premise.  There is no need to state the obvious.

"More importantly you alleged that fine tuning is scientifically verifiable statement. As I said that depends upon an assumption, an assumption that is easy to demonstrate is false."

Since I am not a theoretical physicist who is familiar with all of the mathematics that leads theoretical physicists to conclude that the Universe is fine-tuned, I must appeal to authority.  I think my authorities are quite strong when Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist, as well as Steven Hawkings and Freemon Dyson, probably the two most eminent living physicists, acknowledge the existence of fine-tuning.   

For example, Stephen Hawkings observes:

"*“It is not only the peculiar characteristics of our solar system that seems oddly conducive to the development of human life, but also the characteristics of our entire universe-and its laws. They appear to have a design that is both tailor made to support us and if we are to exist, leaves little room for alteration…The forces of nature had to be such that heavier elements- especially carbon could be produced and remain stable…Even that is not enough: The dynamics of the stars had to be such that some would eventually explode, precisely in a way that could disperse the heavier elements through space.”

*“(At the atomic level) if protons were just 0.2% heavier, they would decay into neutrons, destabilizing atoms, again of course making all life impossible…(So) most of the…laws of nature appear fine tuned in the sense that if they were altered by only modest amount, the universe would be…unsuitable for the development of life…The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine tuned.”

Or as Stephen Hawkins observes elsewhere:

"Why did the universe start out with so nearly critical rate of expansion that separates that models that recollapse from those that go on expanding forever, that even now, 10 thousand million years later, it is still expanding at nearly the critical rate?  If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in 100 thousand million million, the universe would have recollapsed before it ever reached its present size.  On the other hand, if the rate of expansion had been greater by even one part in a million, stars and planets could not have been able to form."

Stephen Hawkins statement only would lead me to doubt that your statement that the assumptions that lead Hawkins to believe the universe is finely tuned involve assumptions "that is easy to demonstrate is false."



Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Unbeknownst Philosopher on November 18, 2013, 01:04:17 pm
Hey all.

I want to pose another question I got from a friend of mine some days ago.
He thinks that the teleological argument fails in presupposing that life is more special than say a stone. The existence of life is (roughly) the same as that of a stone, a planet or any other phenomenon in the universe. Why on this view think that design is necessary for life, if life is no more probable than the existence of anything else?

- Paaatrick

You don't need to assume that life is intrinsically worthwhile. All you need to confirm a teleological hypothesis in any domain is to have a hypothesis advocated independently of the confirmatory observation, and then to make that observation.

For example, say I get dealt two random cards in black jack, a 4 of hearts and a 10 of spades. Now, say after the dealing, a friend of mine tells me that he thinks someone intentionally stacked the deck so I would get the 4 and the 10--no reason, just his claim. In bayesian terms, yes, his hypothesis is confirmed by the evidence because the existence of a deck stacker makes my cards more likely than the chance hypothesis. The problem with the deck stacker hypothesis, however, is that the prior probability is low because it is ad hoc and unmotivated.

Let's change the scenario a little. Say that a friend of mine has all day been saying that the dealer loves it when people get 4's and 10's in any card games. This fact motivates the deck stacker hypothesis when I find that I do in fact have the 4's and 10's, and thus the deck stacker hypothesis becomes pretty probable.

Same with theism and the fine-tuning. Theists have been saying for ages that the universe exhibits signs of design for life. Now that scientists have discovered that life is extremely improbable, the "cosmic stack" hypothesis is not ad hoc and is strongly confirmed by the observation.

Why is this being ignored?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 18, 2013, 02:18:36 pm
"You don't need to assume that life is intrinsically worthwhile. All you need to confirm a teleological hypothesis in any domain is to have a hypothesis advocated independently of the confirmatory observation, and then to make that observation."

I think that this is a true statement, but its significance is lost on Redtilt1.  I have have attempting to explain why the first premise of the fine tuning argument is theologically neutral and value neutral, i.e.  the fine tuning argument does not require the assumption that "life is intrinsically worthwhile. "

Redtilt1 appears to believe that the first premise of the argument is that "the universe is fine tuned for the purpose of allowing  intelligence life".  A staunch atheist such as Richard Dawkins, of course,  would never agree that the Universe is fine-tuned, if that requires him  to assent to such a purpose.  A definition of fine tuning that requires one to assent to the particular purpose of allowing intelligence life would logically  require a creator who had a purpose in mind. It would exclude philosophical materialism, which requires that the universie has no purpose in mind.  It would be question begging premise

The definition of fine tuning was crafted specifically excludes that the fine tuning had a particular end in mind or purpose.  One can only reach the conclusion of design only after arguing that the other two possibilities-- that its fine tuning can be explained by necessity or chance-- can be excluded. 

Perhaps attempting to address redtilts concerns, one writer one writer has observed:

"It's easy for those who haven't grappled with the issues to think that the phrase “fine-tuning” automatically assumes a certain level of design, when it actually doesn't. When scientists refer to our universe being “fine-tuned” for life, they are referring to its very structure and ability to allow something to take in energy, grow and reproduce (the requirements for life). Additionally, fine-tuning can refer to a number of either cosmic or physical constants that must assume certain values in order for anything at all to exist (such as matter)1. Ultimately, this fine tuning can either be explained by design, chance or necessity."  http://www.therationalchoice.net/arguments/teleological.php

This all seems obvious to me, which is why I think Redtitlt1 simply does not understand the fine tuning argument.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 19, 2013, 05:31:46 am

Paul, you seem to be living in some sort of vacuum. Watch some debates, the fine tuning argument is marketed by all the theists I have ever seen as the fine tuning for life. It is never sold as the fine tuning for Hitler or cyanide or tables tennis. So it is an appeal to human specialness which you have given no justification for. Instead we just get a denial of how the argument is presented.

Your appeal to authority is really really poor I’m afraid. First I presume you don’t appeal to the same authority (Hawking) when he tells you there’s a multiverse or that god is not needed to start the universe.
Secondly given there are equally respected physicists that don’t accept fine tuning your appeal to authority means nothing.

Alan Guth said he did not believe in fine tuning here:
http://www.counterbalance.org/cqinterv/cq2-4-body.html?b=transcript/ag-body.html


Here is Roger Penrose:
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-01-15/interviews/28368470_1_roger-penrose-einstein-quantum/5
“The main thing that I am not happy about is that I don't see how we have the remotest idea what would happen in a world where the constants of nature were different because we know the life we know. And there could be life of a completely utterly different kind that we have no conception of.”
 
Don Page said the universe in not fine tuned for life, you can see one of the world top physics bloggers agreeing with him and discussing his paper here:
http://backreaction.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/is-universe-fine-tuned-for-life.html
Note Don Page is a Christian so you ant accuse him of bias.

Here is Steven Weinberg (often described as the world greatest living physicists):
“I am not terribly impressed by the examples of fine-tuning of constants of nature that have been presented. To be a little bit more precise about the case of carbon, the energy levels of carbon, which is the most notorious example that’s always cited, there is an energy level that is 7.65 MeV above the ground state of carbon. If it was .06 of an MeV higher, then carbon production would be greatly diminished and there would be much less chance of life forming. That looks like a 1% fine-tuning of the constants of nature ... However, as has been realized subsequently after this ‘fine-tuning’ was pointed out, you should really measure the energy level not above the ground state of carbon but above the state of the nucleus Beryllium 8 (8Be) plus a helium nucleus ... In other words, the fine-tuning is not 1% but it’s something like 25%. So, it’s not very impressive fine-tuning at all.”
http://skepticwiki.org/Triple_Alpha_Process

That there are many physicists disputing fine tuning is not something hidden away. It made the front cover of Scientific American:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=looking-for-life-in-the-multiverse
Their words” These findings suggest that our universe may not be as finely tuned” for the mergence of life as previously thought”

Lastly Dawkins is not a physicst so he can’t be used as an argument from authority . He seems to get his physics form his friend Lawrence Krauss and Krauss claims the unviers isn’t fine tuned.

So I think clear what’s really going on here, you are appealing to authority when it suits you. Many of the people that claim there is a severe fine tuning problem also claim they have an answer: the multiverse. But yet I don’t see theists using the argument from authority there. They usually say the multiverse is unobservable in principle (which isn’t true but that doesn’t affect this argument); the problem is that neither are the different universes with different constants.
How do we know such a universe (with different constants) can’t support life? This is where my question to you, the question you couldn’t answer,  becomes so important.
The reason you come to the conclusion that such a universe (with different constants) cant support life is that SOME physicists tell you that it can’t. So what assumption does the argument make?
It makes there assumption that physicists can accurately calculate whether or not a universe can support life. So let’s test that with the one universe we can observe. If I gave you the standard model plus the values of all the constants, what would you tell me the matter content of the universe was?
Now I know you don’t the answer because I suspect you get your physics from unreliable theologians like WLC. So I’m going to give you the answer and it’s very obvious once you think about it.
The answer is you won’t get any matter. Why? Because in the standard model there is not enough matter anti matter asymmetry. Not only that, but there is no dark matter either. So there is basically a de sitter universe (or very close approximation), certainly no life. This is what an honest calculation would look like. But of course we know there is life in the universe, there is dark matter and there is matter/anti matter asymmetry. So we can easily say that the central assumption of the fine tuning argument is false. Just look at our own universe.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 19, 2013, 10:59:50 am
I can assure you that you do not understand what fine-tuning is.

The first premise of the argument is that the universe is fine-tuned to permit the existence of life.  As I have previously pointed out the same type of fine-tuning would be required to permit the existence of any objects that depend on the existence of heavy elements, stars and planets.

No one argues that the universe is fine-tuned for the purpose of creating life or for the purpose creating a particular person such as Hitler.  An assertion that that the fine-tuning is for a particular purpose would contain the implicit assumption that it was designed and therefore would be begging the question.  As William Craig points out:

So when scientists say that the universe is fine-tuned for life, they don’t mean “designed”; rather they mean that small deviations from the actual values of the fundamental constants and quantities of nature would render the universe life-prohibiting or, alternatively, that the range of life-permitting values is incomprehensibly narrow in comparison with the range of assumable values.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-new-atheism-and-five-arguments-for-god#ixzz2l6wrS3CR

I took a look at the post you linked to by Pemrose and it doesn't even purport to address the issue of fine tuning. 

At some point I would be happy to examine the arguments that support the various premises of the fine tuning argument.  Before doing that, however, it is necessary for you to understand what fine-tuning means.  We haven't gotten that far yet.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 20, 2013, 06:01:34 am
I understand the fine tuning argument perfectly well; thank you. What you don’t understand is the bait and switch that theists use in its context.
When scientists speak of fine tuning they have a different meaning than theists use it. In scientific terms fine tuning just means a model is very sensitive to the value of an unexplained parameter in order to agree with observations. That does not and cannot get you god. Nor does it have anything special to say about life. The bait and switch comes when the claim is made the universe is fine tuned for life. A claim WLC and many others make.
These are his exact words in his first debate with Lawrence Krauss:


“In recent decades scientists have been stunned by the discovery that the initial conditions of our universe were fine-tuned FOR the existence of intelligent agents with a precision and delicacy that literally defy human comprehension.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-craig-krauss-debate-at-north-carolina-state-university#ixzz2lAsQs0wZ

Note the fine tuning is for intelligent agents (my caps); he does not say the universe is fine tuned for table tennis, why not? It’s all part of the bait and switch marketing campaign of the theists. I suspect theists don’t believe god has  special place for table tennis so they see that as an lucky accident , why not treat life the same way?
They are taking a genuine physical mystery (why are the constants of nature what they are?) and recast it as an appeal to human ego. This is the trick that you are missing. The fine tuning argument is cast as an argument that there’s something special about life in the universe and not other things in the universe. I have no doubt if someone said the universe was fine tuned for table tennis they would be laughed at. But the truth is there is no difference between the two for the purposes of the fine tuning as you yourself admit.
So it seems we both agree that the answer to why is life special is: it isn’t.
The difference between us is that I recognize how the fine tuning in physics is recast as “the fine tuning argument for god/life”, the scientific approach  does not need to mention life and there’s no reason to pick that over anything else in the universe. . The fine tuning is about matching a model to observations. But when you say the fine tuning is FOR life then you introduce an unjustified assumption that appeals to human egos.

The interview with Penrose does discuss fine tuning; perhaps you didn’t read the whole thing. Why are you not happy to examine the facts I have presented to you now? Is it because you are living in a fantasy land built on the invention of theologians? Whether I have totally misunderstood everything every theologian has ever said or not should have no bearing on your desire to find out the real truth of the matter.  The fact that you don’t want to observe the real facts of the matter (that there is not the consensus that WLC paints) tells me your theology has got in the way of your learning and that is very sad.

We are here to debate to the issues; my personal understanding is not the issue up for debate. Ironically it’s you that doesn’t understand the underlying physics, you couldn’t answer the problem I gave you that is crucial to highlighting the false assumption that fine tuning argument is based upon. But your understanding is not my concern; the validity of the fine tuning argument is my concern. As Penrose said:
“The main thing that I am not happy about is that I don't see how we have the remotest idea what would happen in a world where the constants of nature were different”
And that is the point, the fine tuning argument assumes we do know, that we ca easily make some calculations and assess what the universe would look like with different constants. In fact this is demonstrably false.

The fact is, you brought up the validity of the fine tuning argument and now I have presented you with an argument that you can’t defeat, its seems like you want to pretend you never raised it in the first place. Understandable I guess but a shame. 
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: ontologicalme on November 20, 2013, 08:53:55 am
I really find strange your argument of the comparability of tenis balls, rocks and so on with corporeal conscious agents, it seems as if you have lost connection with the reality that these are very different entities, with different worth. If we did not exist, but a very different alien race, an specie of corporeal conscious agents, in some place very far from here, even disconnected causally from our region of space time, the fine tuning argument would still apply to them.

I did post before in this thread explaining why corporeal conscious agents are special and why they add value to the world, though I honestly think this should be obvious to anyone with 4 fingers on their forehead. I used to be a hardcore agnostic, but it seems that to be so one needs to abandone any reasonable stance for some kind of moving target world view, I am to dumb to make sense out of such a position.

Another thing I find kind of surprising is that when the standard model predicts with 10 -17  precision then science informs of reality, and we are all to bow before it, but when it misses by 10 to the 122 then it is just a model, that we can´t use.

It is understandable that scientific models are limited and can be bettered, but that is irrelevant when it comes to using them as the best scientific knowlege we have, and in the end, it can not be both that science is meaningful and meaningless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGdVMBk6Zo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGdVMBk6Zo)

(minute 3:00 if you want to save time)

Here is Penrose saying that the initial conditions of the entropy density of the primitive universe, with respect to gravity was fine tuned with such a precision that if you devided 1 by a  1 followed a putting a zero in every particle there is in the universe it would not be enough.

I honestly prefer your argument against establishing reliable probabilities, it makes much more sense, though I would argue that we can still recognize intelligence, it is not that obvious who is right.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 20, 2013, 11:09:12 am
Let's go back to the original question.  The question is why assume that intelligent life is more valuable than a rock?  The question is raised in the context of the fine tuning argument.  I will, therefore, assume that the person posing the question means to suggest that the fine tuning argument necessarily makes the assumption that life is more valuable than rocks.  This is false.

One proposed example of fine tuning is that the expansion rate of the universe must be exquisitely balanced to avoid either the quick collapse of the universe shortly after it comes into existence or to avoid matter being so widely dispersed that stars and planets cannot form.  If such a balance did not exist, life could not exist.  It would be equally true to say that not only could life not exist, but ordinary objects could not exist such as rocks or tables. 

Another proposed example of fine tuning involves the balance of the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force that is necessary for heavier elements to form.  Again this fine tuning is necessary for the universe to be "life-permitting" or "rock permitting".  Therefore, the observation that the universe is fine-tuned is value neutral as to whether life is more valuable than rocks.

It is true that the argument is usually framed in terms of life-permitting universes.  As Dr. Craig explains in the debate you cite: 

"Now all of these constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life-permitting values. Were these constants or quantities to be altered by even a hair’s breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist. We now know that life-prohibiting universes are incomprehensibly more probable than any life-permitting universe."

He could just as well as framed the argument as "the fine-tuning refers to narrow range of values that permits planets and heavy elements to exist that would be necessary for life or any ordinary physical object such as tables to exist".  It does not require any type of assumption that intelligent life has a special value. 

So why does Dr. Craig choose to frame the argument in terms of "life permitting" universes rather than as "object permitting" universes.  Nothing in his argument requires that he do so.  Does he have some deceptive reason?  I don't think so. As ontologicalme observes most people intuitively assume that life is more valuable than rocks so it is not unreasonable to frame the argument in such terms, although it is not necessary. 

I agree with your claim that the existence of fine tuning, by itself, does not lead to any conclusions about the existence of God.  The concept is value neutral and theologically neutral. That is why Craig does not end his argument with the mere assertion that the universe is fine tuned.  He goes onto to argue for several other premises, which are:

1)    This fine tuning can only be explained by chance, necessity or design;
2)   It cannot be explained by chance;
3)   It cannot be explained by design:

Therefore, it can only be explained by design.

Now you raise a number of arguments related to whether the universe is fine-tuned as described by Dr. Craig or whether the multiverse theory would allow a life-permitting universe to exist by chance.  You are free to raise such arguments, but they are red-herrings as to the issue being discussed in this thread.  If you want to discuss such issues, perhaps you should start a new thread on the topics, "The universe is not fine-tuned" or "The multiverse is an explanation how fine-tuning can be explained by chance."

The last point I would make is that if you want a full presentation of the fine tuning I would not rely on Dr. Craig's debate transcripts because they are necessarily time limited and focused on the arguments raised by his opponents. They are necessarily very incomplete defenses of the argument.  If you go to the transcripts of the defenders series or articles of Dr. Craig you will find much more complete presentations.   Better yet, I would suggest Dr. Robbin Collins book on the topic.





Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 20, 2013, 12:41:20 pm
To correct the above, the third premise of the fine tuning argument should be:

"It cannot be explained by necessity" rather than "it cannot be explained by design"
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 21, 2013, 03:08:14 am
I really find strange your argument of the comparability of tenis balls, rocks and so on with corporeal conscious agents, it seems as if you have lost connection with the reality that these are very different entities, with different worth. If we did not exist, but a very different alien race, an specie of corporeal conscious agents, in some place very far from here, even disconnected causally from our region of space time, the fine tuning argument would still apply to them.

I did post before in this thread explaining why corporeal conscious agents are special and why they add value to the world, though I honestly think this should be obvious to anyone with 4 fingers on their forehead. I used to be a hardcore agnostic, but it seems that to be so one needs to abandone any reasonable stance for some kind of moving target world view, I am to dumb to make sense out of such a position.

Another thing I find kind of surprising is that when the standard model predicts with 10 -17  precision then science informs of reality, and we are all to bow before it, but when it misses by 10 to the 122 then it is just a model, that we can´t use.

It is understandable that scientific models are limited and can be bettered, but that is irrelevant when it comes to using them as the best scientific knowlege we have, and in the end, it can not be both that science is meaningful and meaningless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGdVMBk6Zo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGdVMBk6Zo)

(minute 3:00 if you want to save time)

Here is Penrose saying that the initial conditions of the entropy density of the primitive universe, with respect to gravity was fine tuned with such a precision that if you devided 1 by a  1 followed a putting a zero in every particle there is in the universe it would not be enough.

I honestly prefer your argument against establishing reliable probabilities, it makes much more sense, though I would argue that we can still recognize intelligence, it is not that obvious who is right.

Onto , I am not saying that tennis ball and rock are the same as conscious beings, of course not. What I am saying is that the level of fine tuning needed for tennis and rocks is roughly the same as that for life. There is no reason to have a fine tuning argument for life and not for other things in the universe except to skew the argument in a way to appeal to human egos. Conscious being have properties unique to them. But so do other objects .  Black holes have their own unique properties, empty space has some unique properties. We can find lots of things that have unique properties, so what?

I’m not sure what you mean by misses by 10^122 are you talking about the claimed fine tuning of lambda?

Penrose does claim the entropy is fine tuned, but he never claims its fine tuned for life, in fact he says he is unimpressed by such claims. He is saying there is a mystery as to why the entropy of the universe was so low at the big bang. That’s not the same as saying it was fine tuned for life. Sean Carroll says the same thing, yet he also says that the entropy could have been a lot bigger and life would have been fine, so it is not fine tuned for life.  More importantly whilst both Penrose and Carroll agree there’s  a mystery (not the mystery Craig claims) they both  offer a solution for. In Penrose's CCC cosmology the phase space collapses inside black holes as they evaporate. As the universe is then rescaled the entropy goes to zero with no conflict with the second law.
Penrose is basically saying there’s a mystery as to why there’s a low entropy big bang and the way to solve that mystery is to envoke a pre big bang universe. That’s what Caroll says too (although Carroll’s model works differently). Now what theists do is to quote Penrose selectively. They quote him talking about entropy and how it needs fine tuning, they ignore the fact that its not a claim of fine tuning for life and then ignore the fact that he thinks this means a pre big bang universe. That’s very disingenuous in my opinion.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 21, 2013, 04:40:25 am
Let's go back to the original question.  The question is why assume that intelligent life is more valuable than a rock?  The question is raised in the context of the fine tuning argument.  I will, therefore, assume that the person posing the question means to suggest that the fine tuning argument necessarily makes the assumption that life is more valuable than rocks.  This is false.

One proposed example of fine tuning is that the expansion rate of the universe must be exquisitely balanced to avoid either the quick collapse of the universe shortly after it comes into existence or to avoid matter being so widely dispersed that stars and planets cannot form.  If such a balance did not exist, life could not exist.  It would be equally true to say that not only could life not exist, but ordinary objects could not exist such as rocks or tables. 

Another proposed example of fine tuning involves the balance of the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force that is necessary for heavier elements to form.  Again this fine tuning is necessary for the universe to be "life-permitting" or "rock permitting".  Therefore, the observation that the universe is fine-tuned is value neutral as to whether life is more valuable than rocks.

It is true that the argument is usually framed in terms of life-permitting universes.  As Dr. Craig explains in the debate you cite: 

"Now all of these constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life-permitting values. Were these constants or quantities to be altered by even a hair’s breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist. We now know that life-prohibiting universes are incomprehensibly more probable than any life-permitting universe."

He could just as well as framed the argument as "the fine-tuning refers to narrow range of values that permits planets and heavy elements to exist that would be necessary for life or any ordinary physical object such as tables to exist".  It does not require any type of assumption that intelligent life has a special value. 

So why does Dr. Craig choose to frame the argument in terms of "life permitting" universes rather than as "object permitting" universes.  Nothing in his argument requires that he do so.  Does he have some deceptive reason?  I don't think so. As ontologicalme observes most people intuitively assume that life is more valuable than rocks so it is not unreasonable to frame the argument in such terms, although it is not necessary. 

I agree with your claim that the existence of fine tuning, by itself, does not lead to any conclusions about the existence of God.  The concept is value neutral and theologically neutral. That is why Craig does not end his argument with the mere assertion that the universe is fine tuned.  He goes onto to argue for several other premises, which are:

1)    This fine tuning can only be explained by chance, necessity or design;
2)   It cannot be explained by chance;
3)   It cannot be explained by design:

Therefore, it can only be explained by design.

Now you raise a number of arguments related to whether the universe is fine-tuned as described by Dr. Craig or whether the multiverse theory would allow a life-permitting universe to exist by chance.  You are free to raise such arguments, but they are red-herrings as to the issue being discussed in this thread.  If you want to discuss such issues, perhaps you should start a new thread on the topics, "The universe is not fine-tuned" or "The multiverse is an explanation how fine-tuning can be explained by chance."

The last point I would make is that if you want a full presentation of the fine tuning I would not rely on Dr. Craig's debate transcripts because they are necessarily time limited and focused on the arguments raised by his opponents. They are necessarily very incomplete defenses of the argument.  If you go to the transcripts of the defenders series or articles of Dr. Craig you will find much more complete presentations.   Better yet, I would suggest Dr. Robbin Collins book on the topic.
Paul your whole argument relies on a mistaken made this sentence you made:
“I will, therefore, assume that the person posing the question means to suggest that the fine tuning argument necessarily makes the assumption that life is more valuable than rocks.  This is false.”

Firstly it isn’t about what the argument necessarily implies, it’s about how the argument is used to convince people of god. If someone said the universe was fine tuned to allow for table tennis therefore god exists people wouldn’t take that seriously. One could create a theology whereby god’s main purpose in creating the universe is to watch people play table tennis. So he fine tunes all the constants, steers the evolution of life and the evolution of sport all to the grand objective of watching table tennis matches from heaven. Since as far as I know no one believes such a theology such an argument would not be convincing. Just as it would not be convincing for rock or cup cakes..  But people do believe that god created the universe for human being to exist and it’s crucial that this is how the argument is framed as the fine tuning argument for life otherwise the argument will fall flat. I think you are living in denial if you think otherwise. 

if you study  the universe and appreciate its grand scale, you may realise the life is a tiny blip in a see of vacuum, there’s no reason though think its special as a phenomenon in the universe. Moreover if the constants of nature were different maybe other phenomenon would arise, phenomenon we’ve never even dreamed of. This is why Roger Penrose said :
“The main thing that I am not happy about is that I don't see how we have the remotest idea what would happen in a world where the constants of nature were different “
Alan Guth says something very similar in the video link I posted above. Did you watch it?

When we look at the universe today we see it’s dominated by phenomenon that isn’t even described by the standard model. Only 4-5% of the universe is accounted for by baryonic matter that is described by the standard model. Dark matter isn’t in the standard model, neither is dark energy. No one knows what these things are. Is the universe fine tuned for the existence of dark matter?  No dark matter and life wouldn’t form. We need dark matter for galaxies to form. So given what we know there is crucial phenomenon in our universe that we couldn’t have ever predicted from the standard model , its ridiculous in the extreme to suppose we know what other phenemonon would arise in a universe with different constants, we cant even predict what arises in this universe.

Another difficulty you face if you are a Christian theist, is that Christian theists believe that god created life via a miracle, now if that’s true then its false that the values of constants need to be fine tuned , if the values of the constants were different would god have been unable to create life? If yes then god is not omnipotent, if no then they don't need to be fine tuned. You can’t have it both ways.
Paul when you say the expansion rate of the universe needs to be specially balanced are you referring to the Hubble parameter or omega sub zero? When I was at college there was a huge debate about whether the Hubble parameter was 50 or 100, Planck gave us a value of 67.3 so it hardly seems fine tuned. So I presume you mean omega sub zero, is that right?

With regards to my arguments being red herring, they would have been if you hadn’t raised the issue of the validity of the fine tuning argument. But since you did, they are not. So perhaps you could address them.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 21, 2013, 05:21:09 am
You say:
"Paul your whole argument relies on a mistaken made this sentence you made:
“I will, therefore, assume that the person posing the question means to suggest that the fine tuning argument necessarily makes the assumption that life is more valuable than rocks.  This is false.”

Lets quote the original post:
"I want to pose another question I got from a friend of mine some days ago.
He thinks that the teleological argument fails in presupposing that life is more special than say a stone. The existence of life is (roughly) the same as that of a stone, a planet or any other phenomenon in the universe. Why on this view think that design is necessary for life, if life is no more probable than the existence of anything else?

It is not exactly clear to me why you think I am mistaken as to the question posed in the original post.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 21, 2013, 06:02:30 am
Because you ignore the context of the fine tuning argument and what appeals to human ego are being made.
You have also ingored my points and my questions. Perhaps you could asnwer the points made in the previous posts rather than continually dodging them?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 21, 2013, 06:17:49 am
we do seem to be talkingpast each other.

On your first point, you seen to be suggesting that the fine tuning argument reaches some conclusion that the universe was created with a particular purpose or end in mind such the creation of human beings or perhaps table tennis.

It seems to me that this is an inaccurate.  If WilliamCraig proves every point of his argument, one could reach the far more modest conclusion that "the universe is designed in such a way that it permits the existence of life."

That is why I am puzzled when you talk about fine tuning for Hitler. The fine tuning argument desn't say anything about a specific end or purpose.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 21, 2013, 07:55:17 am
Too say that the univers permits life is juts a tatutology, what could we possibly learn from that?
A univer with different constants might permit other things like an abundance of magentic monopoles, You still need to assuem theres somehting special about life.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Unbeknownst Philosopher on November 21, 2013, 08:13:00 am
Too say that the univers permits life is juts a tatutology, what could we possibly learn from that?
A univer with different constants might permit other things like an abundance of magentic monopoles, You still need to assuem theres somehting special about life.

What do you make of the following then? I'm curious because it has been ignored thus far.

You don't need to assume that life is intrinsically worthwhile. All you need to confirm a teleological hypothesis in any domain is to have a hypothesis advocated independently of the confirmatory observation, and then to make that observation.

For example, say I get dealt two random cards in black jack, a 4 of hearts and a 10 of spades. Now, say after the dealing, a friend of mine tells me that he thinks someone intentionally stacked the deck so I would get the 4 and the 10--no reason, just his claim. In bayesian terms, yes, his hypothesis is confirmed by the evidence because the existence of a deck stacker makes my cards more likely than the chance hypothesis. The problem with the deck stacker hypothesis, however, is that the prior probability is low because it is ad hoc and unmotivated.

Let's change the scenario a little. Say that a friend of mine has all day been saying that the dealer loves it when people get 4's and 10's in any card games. This fact motivates the deck stacker hypothesis when I find that I do in fact have the 4's and 10's, and thus the deck stacker hypothesis becomes pretty probable.

Same with theism and the fine-tuning. Theists have been saying for ages that the universe exhibits signs of design for life. Now that scientists have discovered that life is extremely improbable, the "cosmic stack" hypothesis is not ad hoc and is strongly confirmed by the observation.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 21, 2013, 08:15:45 am
"Too say that the univers permits life is juts a tatutology, what could we possibly learn from that? "

It is not clear to me why you think this is a tautology (i.e. something that is true by definition) .  The argument that Craig makes is that the ""Now all of these constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life-permitting values. Were these constants or quantities to be altered by even a hair’s breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist. We now know that life-prohibiting universes are incomprehensibly more probable than any life-permitting universe."

If one agrees with his point, the likelihood of a life-permitting universe is extraordinarily improbable and requires some explanation, which he argues are limited to chance, necessity or design.

Perhaps your point is that if the Universe was not life-permitting, we would not be present to observe it.  If that is your point, Craig addresses this point at length in his defender's series.  I don't want to get into those arguments, unless this is indeed the point that you are trying to make.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 21, 2013, 08:48:55 am
Ive answered Craigs points, maaybe you could read through my previous posts and address them.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 21, 2013, 09:08:37 am
"A universe with different constants might permit other things like an abundance of magentic monopoles, You still need to assume there's something special about life. "

Let's imagine that we could observe another universe that produced an abundance of magnetic monopoles.  If it just so happened that if that the laws of such a universe, the constants and the initial conditions, had to be fine-tuned to an extraordinary degree for such a universe to permit the abundance of magnetic monopoles, then I think it would be reasonable to ask:  Did this highly improbable universe come about by chance, necessity or design.  One might reasonably reach the conclusion depending upon the particular characteristics of such a universe that it was indeed designed to permit an abundance of magnetic monopoles. 

The design inference in such a universe would be weakened, however, because one could reasonably question, "why would a designer choose to design such a universe?"  This would be a legitimate question that would make the design inference much less compelling.

We are not presented with this question in our universe, because there is a readily apparent reason why a designer might choose to design a Universe which permits the intelligent life to exist.  Theists believe God designed a universe that would permit the existence of intelligent life created in his image who could have fellowship with him.  In other words since God is an all good being, and it is good for intelligent, conscious beings to exist, it not surprising or improbable that God would design a universe that could support intelligent life.  This plausible explanation for a particular design is not necessarily required to make an inference of design, but it certainly strengthens the case. 
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 21, 2013, 10:59:11 am
So what you mean is that fine tuning makes sense if you already believe in a god of the type theists believe in; if you already believe that life has some special significance in the universe. Now you perhaps you see why non believers are unimpressed by this argument and believers are. 

 You are asking how can one universe have monopoles , another runiverse have life and one could go on. A universe has to have some features, why treat life as the one that needs some special explanation?

You still haven’t answered my previous questions.
Let me recap a just few
1 if god is omnipotent and created life via miracle then why does he need to fine tune the constants?
2 how can one say that other universes with different constants wont have life when we can’t even get the answer right for the one universe we can observe?
3 how can you say the expansion rate needs to be finely tuned when astronomers couldn’t agree if the Hubble parameter was 50 or 100? Or are you talking about omega sub zero?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Unbeknownst Philosopher on November 21, 2013, 11:28:53 am
redtilt,

Why are you ignoring Jubilee's point that life doesn't have to be deemed special?
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Paul DeMott on November 21, 2013, 11:38:06 am
"So what you mean is that fine tuning makes sense if you already believe in a god of the type theists believe in; if you already believe that life has some special significance in the universe. Now you perhaps you see why non believers are unimpressed by this argument and believers are. "

First, I think that inferences of design can be made without presupposing that life has some special significance as would be the case in an alternative universe that appeared to fine-tuned to permit, say, an abundance of cupcakes.  The evidence of fine-tuning would need to be greater in such a case, because it would not be obvious why a designer would choose to design such a universe.

Second, I am suggesting that the possibility of design in our universe is one hypothesis that should be considered unless it can be ruled out for other reasons.  This is why Craig proposes three possible explanations for fine tuning that includes two possibilities that do not involve a design.  The argument does not presuppose that one already believes in a God.

"1 if god is omnipotent and created life via miracle then why does he need to fine tune the constants?"

First, God can choose to create a universe that is governed by uniform natural laws that do not require his supernatural intervention after its creation. Given the laws, etc. that exist in our universe, Craig argues that this requires fine tuning. 

Second, whether he could have created other universes subject to other uniform laws that would not require fine tuning is irrelevant.

"It has been objected that in universes governed by different laws of nature, such deleterious consequences might not result from varying the values of the constants and quantities. The teleologist need not deny the possibility, for such universes are irrelevant to his argument. All he needs to show is that among possible universes governed by the same laws (but having different values of the constants and quantities) as the actual universe, life-permitting universes are extraordinarily improbable."
Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/theistic-critiques-of-atheism#ixzz2kjYxEA7c

(2) and (3) are not within my expertise, although I believe that other credible experts have agreed that the universe is fine-tuned in the manner described by Craig.  I am open to consider evidence that they are wrong.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: redtilt1 on November 22, 2013, 05:04:37 am
I think you have fundamentally mistaken idea of what is meant by fine tuning.

When Dr. Craig or Dr. Robin Collins state that the universe is fine-tuned they are making a neutral, objective, scientifically verifiable statement about the nature of our universe.  As just one example, they are observing that if the forces of expansion and forces on contraction that we observe in our universe were slightly different, then the universe would have either collapsed shortly after it came into existence or expanded so rapidly that matter would be too dispersed for stars and planets to form.  Under either scenario, intelligent life could not exist, nor could snowflakes, ice cream cones or even table tennis tables.  Under this definition of fine tuning, it would be equally true to say that the universe is fine tuned for the existence of life, or any of the above material objects.

When I say that fine tuning is a neutral, and objective fact about our Universe, I am saying that one can recognize that the universe is fine turned without making any assumptions about the existence of God or the value of life.  This is why the following people can all recognize the objective fact that the Universe is fine-tuned: Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist; Freeman Dyson, a theoretical physicist and agnostic; William Craig and Robbin Collins, two proponent theistic philosophers.  It is also why it doesn't matter whether one says that the Universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life or for the existence of snow flakes.  Both require fine-tuning as the term is used in the teleological argument.

Paul your argument is contradictory, you say the inference of design can be made with presupposing that life has some special significance but then you state the evidence would need to be greater with a universe with an abundance of cup cakes as it would not be obvious that designer would chose to design a universe full of cup cakes. But this presumes life has some special place in the designers eyes and hence life is special. So you need an underlying theology for the argument to work. That is, I suspect, why believers are very impressed with this argument and non believers are not.

 I’m happy to consider design as a possibility, just as I am happy to consider chance. Neither has been show to be true. The multiverse can give us a chance explanation, but I do not think people should believe in a multiverse as it not an established fact. Not so with theists, who ask to believe in god even though it is not on any firmer footing for the multiverse
Unlike god there are sound reasons for believing that the multiverse is a direct result of standard cosmology. If you want to see why, read Alan Guth’s paper here:
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0702178
Or watch a short interview with him here for a layman’s explanation.
http://www.counterbalance.org/cqinterv/cq1-26-body.html?b=cqinterv/ag-body.html


“First, God can choose to create a universe that is governed by uniform natural laws that do not require his supernatural intervention after its creation. Given the laws, etc. that exists in our universe”

Your problem as a Christian theist is that you believe that life got started through miracle of divine intervention. So it makes no sense to set up a universe governed by natural laws that lead to life, when they don’t actually lead to life in your theology. What’s was the point of all that fine tuning for life, when it’s created by a miracle? I can see a deist make a fine tuning argument that makes sense, but not A Christian theist. You can’t have it both ways.


When you say my points 2 and 3, that you are open to consider evidence that you are wrong. It really doesn’t appear that way because you haven’t engaged the argument at all.

Let me explain to you again in very plain English what these points are, no equations!
 Point 2 : the fine tuning argument assumes that physicists can tell given the standard model and the values for constants whether or not a universe will have life in it. But if you do that with our universe you will conclude that our universe has no life.
I will give you three reasons for this:
1 the standard model does not include inflation. Without inflation the big bang model will give you nothing but a uniform soup of radiation
2 the standard model does not have sufficient matter anti matter asymmetry. So if you calculated whether there was life in our universe you would again find nothing but a soup of radiation as all the matter would have been annihilated by the anti matter.
3 In order to get the raw materials for life, a planet has to be in associations of many stars i.e. a galaxy, the star it orbits won’t give it the raw materials it needs. But without dark matter ,galaxies won’t form, the standard model has no dark matter in it. So yet again, our theoretical physicists will incorrectly assume that our universe has no life in it.
In other words from our observations of the world we can confidently conclude that the answer to the question: can physicists determine if a hypothetical universe has life in it or not form first principles?  Is no.
That is a plain English explanation; you don’t need an advanced degree to understand that, you can look up cosmic inflation, dark matter and baryon asymmetry on Wikipedia quite easily and confirm I’m right.
To say, as you do,
“that if the forces of expansion and forces on contraction that we observe in our universe were slightly different, then the universe would have either collapsed shortly after it came into existence or expanded so rapidly that matter would be too dispersed for stars and planets to form”

This cannot be the case. Think about it, the rate of expansion is currently accelerating, agreed? That means that these two opposing forces are changing in their strength. But yet we are still here, if they had to be fine tuned then that number couldn’t change, but it has changed.
Moreover here is a link to a paper published in 1996
http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/HubbleConstant.html
You don’t need to read the whole paper, although feel free to if you want. I will give you the summary though:

The current value of the Hubble constant, denoted  , is hotly debated, with two opposing camps generally getting values near the high and low ends of 50 and 100 km s-1/Mpc (where Mpc is a megaparsec, equal to 106 parsecs  )”

Nopw think about that for a moment people didn’t know in 1996 whether the expansion rate was given by a Hubble parameter of 50 or double that! That’s hardly fine tuning.

What I think you are really referring to is a number called omega sub zero (the ratio of two densities) I won’t go into the technical issues regarding this number because I want to keep things simple. It’s true that this number does need fine tuning to agree with observations, depending on when you start the calculation. If you start it all the way back in the Planck era it needs to be fine tuned to more than 50 decimal places to agree with current observations. If its not specified to this precision the deviation grows and the universe is driven away from a flat shape  which we call omega =1. This will make it expand too fast or contract too fast. But this calculation assumes some energy conditions. What was found is that in inflation the energy condition is revered so rather than being driven away from 1 if it starts off away from it; Omega during inflation is driven rapidly towards one no matter where it starts , the equation is turned upside down by inflation. So what seemed like fine tuning, turns out not to be. You can find this explained in Guth paper (page 4 where it talks about the flatness problem).

Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: jludwig25 on February 01, 2014, 07:25:37 pm
First we have "life" in a general sense, referring to all organic and animal life on Earth, including human life. "Life" encompasses biological reality and occupying a place in the ecosphere and biosphere.  Life includes all attributes of the human personality. It includes the motivating or vital principles that inhere and adhere to the will, emotions, thoughts, desires, intentions, motives, and hidden aspects of our beings that all these non-corporeal processes to operate, although there is a corporeal aspect to their operation. There is, so to speak, a unity of form and content in all these intangible, non-sensory aspects of personality and consciousness. However, can life be understood apart from telos?  Our telos is to glorify God, Creator of the Universe (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Ans. to Question #1).  But why is that our telos?  The answer is that we are created in the image of God. This can be understood as a kind of spiritual DNA or spiritual marker. Every aspect of our being is turned towards Him once our relationship with Him is established by grace through faith. If that relationship with Him is not established by being "born again," then it becomes merely artificial to even talk about telos, because any telos we arrive at is inauthentic insofar as our true natures (created in the image of God) do not participate in said "telos."  We have actually "false purposes," or  telos that is not telos.  Our consciousness of being, grounded in ontic awareness by the I (the "I" becomes conscious of its metaphysical reality as being) is fractured insofar as being-without-grounding-in-consciousness-of-the-image-of-God cannot mobilize itself for the true telos.  Through redemptive grace, however, we grasp true being (denoted to consciousness as the image of God), and automatically or reflexively we make a conscious, daily, eternal extension of our consciousness towards the glorification of the Almighty.  It's quite a hopeful and uncompromising movement upward and outward (with great momentum of consciousness) towards the glory of God. It's unending and becomes glorified finally in eternity after death.

The reader is directed to my latest book Memoir of a Jewish American Christian, Vol. 1 by Jeffrey Ludwig
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: jludwig25 on February 01, 2014, 07:27:22 pm
 First we have "life" in a general sense, referring to all organic and animal life on Earth, including human life. "Life" encompasses biological reality and occupying a place in the ecosphere and biosphere.  Life includes all attributes of the human personality. It includes the motivating or vital principles that inhere and adhere to the will, emotions, thoughts, desires, intentions, motives, and hidden aspects of our beings that all these non-corporeal processes  operate, although there is a corporeal aspect to their operation. There is, so to speak, a unity of form and content in all these intangible, non-sensory aspects of personality and consciousness. However, can life be understood apart from telos? 
Our telos is to glorify God, Creator of the Universe (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Ans. to Question #1).  But why is that our telos?  The answer is that we are created in the image of God. This can be understood as a kind of spiritual DNA or spiritual marker. Every aspect of our being is turned towards Him once our relationship with Him is established by grace through faith. If that relationship with Him is not established by being "born again," then it becomes merely artificial to even talk about telos, because any telos we arrive outside of grace (i.e., by cognitive, non-spiritual experience, ie. Without reasonable faith) is inauthentic insofar as our true natures (created in the image of God) do not participate in said "telos."  At that non-salvific point of establishing a goal or telos, we actually have "false purposes," or  telos that is not telos.  Our consciousness of being, grounded in ontic awareness by the I (the "I" becomes conscious of its metaphysical reality as being) is fractured insofar as being-without-grounding-in-consciousness-of-the-image-of-God cannot mobilize itself for the true telos.  Through redemptive grace, however, we grasp true being (denoted to consciousness as the image of God), and automatically or reflexively we make a conscious, daily, eternal extension of our consciousness towards the glorification of the Almighty.  It's quite a hopeful and uncompromising movement upward and outward (with great momentum of consciousness) towards the glory of God. It's unending and becomes glorified finally in eternity after death.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: FNB - Former non-believer on February 10, 2014, 08:48:01 am
I don't know if anyone mentioned this yet, but it seems it me that it is significant that if there is life, we can ask the question, "why does did life occur." And if there is no life, there is no one there to even ask the question
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Vimbiso on February 13, 2014, 06:48:58 am
@Paaatrick, I am new to this forum and I got attracted to your question. I haven’t really read the responses you have received so far therefore I may be repeating what has already been said. To answer your question, the teleological argument does not presuppose that life is special. The argument is comparing and contrasting possible candidates to explain the observed fine tuning of the universe for intelligent life. Life is not the subject of the argument; rather it is the fine tuning of the universe for intelligent life that is the matter to be explained. Whether life is special or not is left open to further inquiry which falls outside the scope of this argument.

As I mentioned before, the teleological argument does not answer the question about the specialness of life. That question is more fundamentally addressed by the axiological argument which seeks to determine the ontological basis for moral values and duties. To think that life is special, and I am assuming by special you mean life is objectively endowed with more moral significance than non-life, one would have to offer a sound argument for thinking so. On atheism I do not see how one can affirm that life is objectively special though one can, as a matter of preference, choose to hold the view that life is special which would be relativistic in the absence of a valid objective basis. However, as a theist I can affirm the objectivity of the moral significance of life by grounding that objective value in God. This is the argument from the absurdity of life without God. While you do not need to be a theist to find meaning in life, you do need God to ground the objective meaningfulness of life. If however you presuppose atheism then it becomes difficult to find a valid basis for affirming the objective meaning to life.

Your friend also asks, “Why on this view think that design is necessary for life, if life is no more probable than the existence of anything else?” The teleological argument is not postulating that design is necessary for life; it is positing that design is the best explanation for the fine tuning of the universe for intelligent life. The question regarding the whether or not life is designed is not addressed by the argument since this is the realm of biology. The second part of his question asserts that life has the same chance of existing as non-life. Again the argument is not attempting to explain what makes life more probable than not because it is the fine tuning of the universe that is the subject of the matter. The background to the argument is that fine tuning is necessary for the possibility of life to exist. The universe being fine tuned does not mean that life must exist but it simply makes it possible for life to exist.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: Arch on December 30, 2015, 04:24:46 pm
I’m looking for a forum thread that relates to this idea, so I apologize in advance if it seems out of place. I’d like to consider a specific instance of biological life and consider the possible explanation of these observations. I know that some will allow even macro-evolution as part of God’s design which I don’t have a problem with in principle, although in practice it has some holes and makes some leaps. Of course, I can’t help but frequently use an automobile analogy (not as an argument but a way of understanding what I am saying).

I’ve been watching a video on the ocean life (Netflix: Moving Art: Underwater). I love the beauty of God’s creation. BBC has a nice series on the biomes around our Planet Earth. I realized something that has been in the back of my mind for a long time: the similarity of sharks and dolphins has always intrigued me.
Why are dolphins and sharks similarly shaped? I realize that there are some differences, in features and types, but they are minor compared to their similarities. It’s like the difference between two model-years of the same car. I yet they are not from the same genus, one is a fish and the other a mammal.

On the eye-test alone – the design of the great white shark and dolphin are strikingly similar. The dorsal fin, caudal (tail) fin and pectoral fins serve similar functions (while the movement of each is different they both navigate the waters using powerful strokes on similar timing). The shark has an additional dorsal fin, pelvic and anal fins. But these are like embellishments on a vehicle that is made by the same manufacturer.

As I consider this question, I am quickly struck by how an evolutionary biologist would reply. First they would magnify the differences. To point out all the intricate differences – as a car salesman pointing out upgrades – they intend to show progress. But this doesn’t hold for two species out of separate trees. Where the branch divides consistency ends. Why would a mammal retain some primary features of a fish? Second, they would lessen the similarities. These animal are only superficially similar, but they are really very different – breathing, swimming speed, sociability, eating, living areas etc. And all of these may be true. But that doesn’t undermine (it may only exacerbate) the stunning reflection of one animal in the other when they are so different.

It would seem to me that these animals are both optimally designed for similar functions – swimming, eating and living in deep waters. And the fact that they come from fundamentally different lines is really just a testament to the designer. If a good design works, why mess with it. There are reasons or purposes to have mammals that swim, but you don’t need to effectively neutralize their ability to compete in the water by limiting them too much. So God would build them on the same chassis.
Title: Re: Why is life special?
Post by: crimsondynasty323 on April 25, 2016, 09:08:06 pm
I always thought that the fine-tuning argument talked about "intelligent" life, not just life. Because intelligent life has many seemingly unique properties that things like rocks don't. And intelligent life seems to require a very special set of circumstances to exist, while rocks don't?