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1
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Israel Folau
« on: June 26, 2019, 08:29:23 am »
It is said:

    Don’t give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw
    your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample
    them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces


Indeed, the Christian freedom is Holy. It is that, which has driven the West to the heights it finds itself in. It is this freedom that forged communion between different peoples for a common good - Christ and His Goodness continued in the Church.


Now they want the freedom, without the common good. Now they want the freedom, but without diversity. Now they want the freedom, but without Christ Himself as its foundation. So, they turn and tear you. You, the one who has ensured their freedom.


Freedom is Holy, because freedom is Divine. For God Himself, in His freedom, Creates and Saves. It is evil, when said freedom is used to devour and destruct, as LGBTQ members use it for and turn to those, who ensure their freedom and grant it to them,  to devour them and tear them to pieces.

Wow that is very profound! Thanks

2
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: US navy releases UFO footage
« on: June 26, 2019, 08:23:44 am »
About the Kansas City sighting, see this https://www.darpa.mil/program/adaptable-lighter-than-air
and this https://futurism.com/ufos-kansas-city-strange

About the Navy footage, I don't know. The first thing looks like a fly that's on their camera or something. The second object flies in a straight line far below them. Could be anything. But since these are expert Navy pilots, presumably they can tell these things apart.

3
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: The violinist argument plus gambling
« on: June 04, 2019, 02:35:29 pm »
1.  As some sort of intrinsic property of a human being, no.  Moral worth does not exist in that sense. 
So you agree that in that case, infanticide and homicide are fine. At least you're honest.

No, I don't agree that I am subjectively fine with infanticide and homicide.  I just realize that my view is a subjective result of evolved instinctive biases and culture.  They are not fine with me, yet they are not objectively wrong.  Can you see the distinction?
 

No of course you are subjectively not fine with it, but you are fine with it in the sense that it is not wrong, right?

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Anyone who is able to believe that a hell of eternal conscious torment is morally acceptable surely agrees with me on some level.
Well no, because moral acceptability presupposes moral values which you just denied.

No, moral acceptability presupposes that people make moral judgements.  I don't deny that people make moral judgements, or that people mistake their subjective moral judgements for apprehension of an objective truth.  "Moral acceptability" is simply acceptability from the subjective perspective of an individual, or possibly the accepted consensus of a group of people, based on the subjective perspectives of the members of the group.
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What is a subjective moral judgement? What is a subjective perspective? Can you give some examples?

4
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: The violinist argument plus gambling
« on: June 04, 2019, 11:35:43 am »
Quote from: wonderer
If we don't let instinctive biasing emotions control us, how does it matter if after death, a human body is buried. or burned, or torn up, or (as I think the state of Washington just ok'd) turned into compost?

If we don't commit the fallacy of appeal to emotion, how is the crushing of a head that has no consciousness, of particular significance?  We do exactly that to conscious creatures all the time, and then sit down and eat them.

Why shouldn't we think that abortion opponents are typically acting out of instinctive emotional hypocritical self righteousness, to deny other people the right to go with their own conscience, and make such difficult decisions for themselves on the basis of the evidence and reasons that they have?

Thanks for the response. First, let me say that I was going for accuracy in the analogy. I mean, if we’re going to try to recreate a moral dilemma we want it to be (actually) representative of what is actually going on. Right?

The analogy is typical of the pro choice crowd. Clean it up so it doesn’t sound like what it really is. Why do you think they do that? Maybe it is to overcome that strong instinctual bias against creature ripping and crushing. But we should be able to rise above that right?

Why should we listen to that instinctive bias? I mean, those of us who are strong enough to overcome this one should start focusing on some of the other ones. Right? Maybe start exhibiting our dominance by (possibly) killing our rivals so that we can take their families and mates? Why not? Respect for others and the weak is archaic.

Maybe some of us who are against abortion aren’t as concerned about controlling others as you think. Maybe instead, we are concerned about maintaining some of that which makes us human.

Finally, your argument makes sense actually for an atheist. I’ve been suggesting for years that your thinking is the logical outcome of atheism.

Meanwhile the pro-life crowd try to make it sound as gruesome as possible, regardless of how accurately it describes what actually happens. Basically they try to make every abortion sound like some extreme late-term abortion, when hardly any abortions actually take place that late. And you think that is a better way to probe intuitions? Usually the fetus is small enough to be killed with drugs and then just passed naturally as in most miscarriages, or via suction if needed.

And indeed the removal of the fetus in an abortion proceeds basically the same as in cases of natural miscarriage. Are you going to argue that tools should also not be used in the case of late-term natural miscarriages, because of the probability that the body of the fetus will be damaged?

Looking at some statistic of 2015 (see [url]https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm[url])
in total 638,169 abortions took place in the US and 7.6% had an abortion between 14 and 20 weeks. That is 48.5k dismemberances. 1.3% at 21 weeks which is still 7.6k! And abortions had actiually gone down that year.

5
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: The violinist argument plus gambling
« on: June 04, 2019, 11:21:06 am »
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1.  As some sort of intrinsic property of a human being, no.  Moral worth does not exist in that sense. 
So you agree that in that case, infanticide and homicide are fine. At least you're honest.

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Anyone who is able to believe that a hell of eternal conscious torment is morally acceptable surely agrees with me on some level.
Well no, because moral acceptability presupposes moral values which you just denied.

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Rights are something which we grant (or don't grant) to people on a social contract basis.
Is not signing that contract wrong? On what basis should someone sign it?

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What law of physics prevents me from drawing a rather arbitrary line (like a national border) and saying that rights differ on either side of the line?  What you are saying about what I "can't" do, doesn't make much sense to me.
Sure, no law of physics can stop you do this. Nor can it stop you holding beliefs without any rational foundations. No law of physics can stop someone boiling babies either.

So you have accepted total moral nihilism. OK, again thanks for the honesty.

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I don't believe there is any objective fact of the matter.  As a social species, we are (for the most part) naturally biased towards valuing the lives of other humans more highly than the lives of members of other species.  I'm no less biased than anyone else.  I ate a beef steak yesterday, yet the idea of eating part of a human seems extremely gross to me.

Sure, I find the idea of eating oysters gross as well, apparently eating them alive. Yuk!
But what is the relevance here? Plenty of people eating oysters and people who eat other people. So?


6
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: The violinist argument plus gambling
« on: June 04, 2019, 06:37:17 am »
It is kind of ironic that people on this forum don't seem to consider the fact that arguing from their personal philososphical convictions doesn't make for a remotely persuasive case in the minds of everyone else.

Well let's see if you agree.
1. Do human beings have moral worth?
2. Do human beings have rights?

I thought these were also secular philosophical convictions. That's what I keep hearing everywhere (outside the pro-choice movement of course).
Of course you can deny these, as for atheists, this is kind of inevitable anyway. But then you will have to agree that infanticide and homicide are perfectly fine too. You can't just stop with abortions.

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If we want to arrive at a 'scientific threshold for the acceptability of killing biological lifeforms', then we can use "a neuron count less than X".  Then we can argue over what X should be set at, and declare it to be murder to kill any biological organism with more than X neurons.  (With standard exceptions like self defense of course.)  We would need some table of neurons/gram of brain for all species which reach a neuron count greater than X, but that should be achievable.

And there you have it - a scientifically respectable criteria.  (Of course some may quibble, and say we should go with synapse count instead of neuron count, but we can just declare those guys evil and ignore them.)

Now this might turn out to be a really bad criteria when we meet ET's, but we don't need to worry about that for now.

So I you seem to be doing 2 things here. 1. human life is the same as any biological life form. 2. Intelligence is the measuring stick.
Then I have this question for you.
Is the killing of an adult cow for meat the moral equivalent of killing an adult with learning disabilities which have the equivalent intelligence?


7
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: The violinist argument plus gambling
« on: June 04, 2019, 06:09:13 am »
Well this is just bizarre essentialist logic, really. There is no hard line between "things that are human beings", and "things that are not human beings". There is no instrinsic category in external reality called "human beings" in which all objects must either be part of or not. This is a category invented by us, for no purpose other than our convenience. Rights and so forth are also invented by us.

Then why stop at abortion? Why not infanticide or homocide? Since there is no intrinsic difference between human and non human beings and is only an invented category.

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As for why a foetus shouldn't have rights, well I wouldn't say that it should have *no* rights, however I think it is clear that small bundles of fertilized sex cells with no brains should have no rights. They are just cells, of little more complexity than bacteria.

Apart from this claim being factually false (human fertilised cells contain the complete unique human genome and bacteria don't), in the end we are all just bags of cells. We just have more. How does this bear on value or human rights? The beginning of a human being has to start small, how can it not? How does the life of a human being not include its beginning? That to me is absurd.

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  And as long as you think it is *ever* non-criminal to disconnect yourself from the violinist, in the original scenario, then it is clear that the moral concerns go beyond whether or not a foetus is a human being. After all, the violinist is a human being, and we might need to kill him. Indeed, there are lots of circumstances in which it is morally permissible to kill other human beings (like if they try to kill you first, for example). So being a human being isn't enough to guarantee safety.

Well let's think about this. This is really the classic train car thought experiment. Do you actively switch the tracks to kill 2 lives or passively let the train kill 10? Do you actively kill the violinist (why a violinist anyway??) and save your life or die?

The underlying assumption is that killing people is wrong and human beings are worth saving. Otherwise there would not be a moral dilemma. So yes I agree that in certain circumstances killing a human life is inevitable. But how does that translate to abortion? The vast majority of abortions are done because the child is inconvenient, financially or otherwise. The only cases I can think of is where it threatens the life of the mother, e.g. ectopic pregnancies. This does not even qualify rape victims.

So if we were to agree that in these cases, an abortion is permissible to save the mother, would you agree that abortions should be limited to these?
Now I am thinking of it, this should have been the first question in this threat as this the proper equivalent of the thought experiment.

8
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: The violinist argument plus gambling
« on: May 31, 2019, 10:45:33 am »
Those concerned with abortion should surely be familiar with Thompson's "violinist" argument. The usual scenario is that you wake up after having been kidnapped and find yourself hooked up to an unconscious violinist, such that he is kept alive by sharing your bloodstream (or some such). The argument is that it is clearly morally permissible to disconnect yourself from the violinist, even though this will result in his death.

This much is usually agreed upon, however pro-life people usually say it can only justify abortion in cases of rape, not pregnancy from consensual sex.

So let us change the scenario slightly. Rather than being kidnapped, suppose you are voluntarily playing a dice game in a mafia den. Say in this game you have a 35/36 chance to win and get $1000 (or whatever), but if you roll snake eyes then you still get $1000, but the mafia will also kidnap you and hook you up to the violinist.

Is it still morally permissible to unhook yourself from the violinist, causing his death? Even though you voluntarily participated in this game, knowing the terms? I would argue that clearly yes, it is. Note that the mafia still forcibly hook you up to the violinist, you don't do this part voluntarily. You just played a game where this was a possible outcome.

We can do all the thought experiments we like, in the mean time obstetricians pull out babies of the womb by ripping them apart. In the first trimester, They use a suction tube usually in the first trimester, but when she becomes too large, usually in the second trimester, they use forceps with very sharp teeth to pull out the baby limb for limb. In fact they have to pull very hard! This whole thing is utterly disgusting and barbaric! This is worse then you worst Hannibal Lecture movie!

Anyway, sorry for the rant. It's not obvious in your modified example that it is morally justifiable. As someone else said, you know the rules of the game beforehand and should have chosen not to play.

The whole abortion debate should be on this:
1. Is an unborn foetus/baby a human being? Abortionists actually agree that from the moment of conception it is an independent human being with her own unique DNA.
2. Why should it not have human rights as any other human being?

9
Hi all,
I am preparing for the first time to give a short talk/presentation to some Christian  brothers and sisters, answering objections to the Christian faith.
For context, I am a 22 year old ministry trainee, with no qualifications in either apologetics or philosophy,etc.
All I have is a real interest in apologetics, which I think matches what I'm good at.
I would like to know any practical, structural tips that anyone might be able to give me in preparation for this short talk/presentation that I'm going to be giving to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
The main aim is that they feel equipped to answer and deal with the said objections raised against the Christian faith, and leave feeling like apologetics is possible to do!

Thanks, all help is appreciated! K

Hi Kieran, I would recommend David Wood from Acts7Apologetics on Youtube. There is tons of good material.

Anyway, one of my favourite is called "The Quran, The Bible and the Islamic Dilemma" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNAS0aaViM4

10
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: How to define "Islamophobia"?
« on: May 16, 2019, 10:44:30 am »
Why is there such a term as Islamophobia in the first place? There is no term like Christianophobia, yet people discriminate against Christians too.

The article claims it is not an anti blasphemy law through the back door as Islamic theology can be criticised, but what does "Muslimness" mean? Doesn't it mean everything to do with being a Muslim? How does this not include theology? Isn't it part of Islamic theology that it cannot be criticised?

To me this is exactly an anti blasphemy law through the back door. Welcome to Sharia UK!

11
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: An objection to Molinism?
« on: May 16, 2019, 10:36:30 am »
I will admit, I'm not too familiar with Molinism.
But I would just like to begin by raising a question based upon your point 1.) a.):
Why do you think man's actions varying in the same situation would deem the will of said being "free"?

Because I feel if that were what man's "freedom" were based upon, then "free" would mean the same as "completely random" and "unpredictable by God." As you noted in 2.) This would seem to contradict God's "omniscience."

Meanwhile, I'll read up on Molinism.

Thanks.

If the situation was one where you could reasonably, and easily, pick either choice, I think we would expect free creatures to actualize those different choices.

Now that may have a kind of "randomness" to it; but I don't see that it follows that it's "completely random" as if the agent has no control over their actions. e.g. it may be random in the sense of an outside observer not being able to predict the result. But does that mean the agent didn't have control? Or it may be random in the sense that the agent "just picked one option" in a random sort of way. But does that mean that the agent didn't have control?

Point being, we know that some types of randomness intuitively destroy human free will. But it's not clear that all examples of "randomness" undermine human free will.

I think that's a fair point actually. I forgot about the choices being equally reasonable. Perhaps in that case we choose based upon how we feel suggesting a choice based on biological impulses. So what? That doesn't mean all our choices are determined. Equally, perhaps we choose like tossing a coin, does that mean all our choices are always random?

12
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: An objection to Molinism?
« on: May 16, 2019, 10:17:45 am »
Hi
I have been enjoying learning about Molinism. I have an objection that I have not yet seen addressed, Can anyone help?

Imagine that a free agent S was put in a fully specified set of circumstances C and was able to make a small and trivial decision between two alternatives A and ~A with roughly equal reasons to carry out either alternative. Lets imagine that God, in his middle knowledge, knows the agent would choose action A were he to actualise the circumstances C. Now imagine that God did actualise C and the free agent carried out action A as expected. What would happen if God decided to re-actualise circumstances C again and again to keep testing what the free agent does each time. Would the agent continue to make the same decision on to infinity? In this thought experiment, each time God actualised the set of circumstances C everything was exactly the same down to the quantum physical level. Furthermore all the knowledge, beliefs and memories of the free agent S were exactly the same each time God "rebooted" the scenario (so the free agent was not aware of being placed in C in the past). 

Someone may argue that this is a pointless thought experiment because God wouldn't do something like this (i.e. it is not consistent with his character or will) so there is no possible world in which this state of affairs obtains. But I don't think this removes the force of the objection. And even if it isn't possible, I still think it raises problems as a purely theoretical thought experiment - and either answer seems problematic:
 
1. If we answer that the free agent would always do the same thing again and again and again with no exceptions, then a few problems seem to present themselves:

(a) Why would the agent just "freely" keep making the same decision when it is completely in their power to do the alternative? If they are not causally determined to carry out action A and if action A and ~A have a similar appeal to the agent what constrains the agent to always choose A? We can't say that it is the circumstances being identical because a free decision cannot be causally determined by the circumstances. The decision originates in the volition of the agent who is completely free to carry out either action.

(b) The second problem is that if the free agent always acts in the same way they seem more like a robot who just keep following the same "script" every time rather than a genuinely free agent. I think this is may be why Greg Boyd posits "might" counterfactual - he wants to keep open the possibility that in C agent S might do ~A. If the agent always makes the same decision A, there is a zero probability of them choosing ~A. But to say that there is a zero probability of them choosing ~A seems to be equivalent to saying they could not chose ~A is circumstances C (i.e there is no possible world in which S chooses ~A despite a potentially infinite number of opportunities). But the surely the Molinist wants to affirm that it is possible that the free agent can choose ~A but it just is not what they would do.

2. Alternatively, if in some of the infinite repeats the agent surprised us and chose ~A, then in what sense is it true that "God knew the agent would do action A in circumstances C"? What is to stop the agent choosing ~A on the "first run" of the experiment?

So either option seems problematic: The first scenario (the agent always repeating the same choice) seems inexplicable and appears to rob the agent of any significant freedom. The second scenario (the agent occasionally doing something different) seems inconsistent with the type of would counterfactual which are posited in the doctrine of middle knowledge.

Can anyone suggest a route through this problem? Thank you and God bless. Pete

Here are my thoughts.
If the person keeps repeating the same choice over again, is that because he is a robot or simply because the choice is a good one is his own judgement which is also the reason why he keeps making the same choice in the same circumstances. Acting according to a good reason is not determinism as reasons are abstract objects and don't cause anything.

Secondly, like someone else said, if he keeps changing his mind, then it seems his choices are random and this is just as blind as determinism.

The problem with determinism is that it is a blind process and not rational. To be able to make rational choices requires the possibility to grasp concepts and act accordingly. But if physical process are blind essentially, then acting rationally must involve an event that transcends physical processes.

So essentially, libertarian freewill enables us to act rationally, not randomly. You don't need LFW at all.

I hope this helps. My issue with Molinism is rather, how does God have middle knowledge. According to WLC He does not aquire this knowledge by observation or perception, but somehow logically. That puzzles me. Surely logic itself doesn't lead to knowing any specific events right? A different topic for another time perhaps :)

13
The question of how to interpret the Bible has divided Catholics, Protestants and Jews for centuries. The European Jewish Congress has produced a “catalogue of policies to combat anti-­Semitism”, requiring Christian literature to be censored. Here is a Catholic take on this:

The Bible doesn’t need ‘trigger warnings’, just sound analysis
https://catholicherald.co.uk/magazine/what-the-bible-really-triggers/

Here is a quote that can serve as food for thought:

''And that, I would suggest, is precisely why we often do need guidance and authoritative interpretation of Scripture.''

Is the European Jewish Congress right about the need for trigger warnings? Or are Catholics right that we need guidance and authoritative interpretation of Scripture instead? What do Protestants think on this issue?

I couldn't resist this one.

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The European Jewish Congress (EJC) has pointed out that certain passages in the New Testament (and the Koran) can be seen as anti-Semitic, and seem to blame Jews for the death of Jesus.

Actually, as scholars have pointed out, what these passages describe are tensions between different Jewish groups of the time rather than a blanket blaming of the Jewish people as a whole.

And that, I would suggest, is precisely why we often do need guidance and authoritative interpretation of Scripture.

No this simply shows that we need to read properly what the text says. What happened to authoritative interpretation in Medieval Catholicism? It gave us indulgences, purgatory, Mary veneration etc

We are each responsible how we treat the scriptures. Of course, there is nothing wrong with consulting experts who have studied Hebrew/Greek and know the historical background. But this is part of a horizontal sharing and learning together. Not some human authoritarian institution that decides. This goes wrong very often. The Watchtower is another prime example of that.

14
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Maybe we're not so fine-tuned after all
« on: March 07, 2019, 06:30:52 am »
A claim that a universe entirely without the weak force could sustain life.

First, in this alternative scenario, if successful would only allow one alternative universe that could support life.

Secondly, THAT universe would have to be finely tuned as well to make it work and allow life.
WLC used a kind of visualization of these parameters of fine tuning, where a sheet of paper with coordinates of every blue dot representing a life permitting universe and red dots as life prohibiting universes. The result would be a sea of red and very sporadically a blue dot. All red dots on the vicinity represent slight variations to our universe, showing that it is fine tuned. This scenario would be a distant blue dot with lots of red around it as well. So this doesn't resolve the fine tuning problem at all.
This is one example, not necessarily the only alternative set of LPUs to ours. The point is that the confident citations to the Penrose number might be misleading -- there might well be many more blue dots than WLC suggests, and that's not even getting into the multiverse, Smolin evolution, as-yet undiscovered underlying law, Wheeler PAP, etc. In short, the FTA probably is not nearly as strong as its proponents like to imagine.

That’s a lot of mights and maybes. Still this does not overcome my second point that there are no blue dots in the vicinity of LPUs.
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Yes, this whole field is filled with mights and maybes -- that's precisely why the FTA is such a terrible argument.

The naturalist, scientific approach is, "We don't know the precise answer yet, let's keep working on it and find out as much as we can, an approach that has yielded immense amounts of understanding of the world, and we are likely to know a lot more tomorrow than we do today"

The WLC approach is, "Ah ha! You don't know everything -- it must have been God!" The problem with this is that, as Paley found out, it only works until science advances, which is why trying to use theism as a science textbook and resting your faith on a static approach to a dynamic scientific enterprise is such a bad idea.

And by the way, I'll look up WLC's visualization with the red and blue dots -- I vaguely remember hearing him try to justify it -- but I am not sure there is much of a scientific basis to it.
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This is a typical  deflection from the atheist and how they try to shift the burden of proof:

Atheist: There is no evidence for God because everything can be explained by science
Theist: No that's not true, the fine tuning isn't explained, so design is at least still on the table if not inevitable.
Atheist: But we don't know, us noble scientist don't claim to know, we will find out one day
Theist: Huh? but you claimed everything can be explained by science. How do you know that, if you don't know how?

The problem for the atheis is that because they claim that God is unnecessary BECAUSE science esplains everything, THEY have the burden of proof to show that this is indeed true. So it is the atheist that started on this track in the first place.

As for the visualisation, it is just explaining the real existing fine tuning. Fine tuning is not disputed (apart from this apparent theory with lots of maybes and mights). All that fine tuning means is that if you change one parameter, like the cosmological constant by 1:10-10-123 (if I remember correctly) you not only have no life, you have no chemistry. It doesn't matter if there are other possible configurations that are totally different as slight variations to these also result in a life prohibiting universe.
It's like saying that a fine tuned machine can come about by chance because there are other fine tuned machines. it just doesn't follow.

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Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Maybe we're not so fine-tuned after all
« on: March 06, 2019, 04:44:52 pm »
A claim that a universe entirely without the weak force could sustain life.

First, in this alternative scenario, if successful would only allow one alternative universe that could support life.

Secondly, THAT universe would have to be finely tuned as well to make it work and allow life.
WLC used a kind of visualization of these parameters of fine tuning, where a sheet of paper with coordinates of every blue dot representing a life permitting universe and red dots as life prohibiting universes. The result would be a sea of red and very sporadically a blue dot. All red dots on the vicinity represent slight variations to our universe, showing that it is fine tuned. This scenario would be a distant blue dot with lots of red around it as well. So this doesn't resolve the fine tuning problem at all.
This is one example, not necessarily the only alternative set of LPUs to ours. The point is that the confident citations to the Penrose number might be misleading -- there might well be many more blue dots than WLC suggests, and that's not even getting into the multiverse, Smolin evolution, as-yet undiscovered underlying law, Wheeler PAP, etc. In short, the FTA probably is not nearly as strong as its proponents like to imagine.

That’s a lot of mights and maybes. Still this does not overcome my second point that there are no blue dots in the vicinity of LPUs.
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