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Teleological Argument

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redtilt1

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #15 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?

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Paul DeMott

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #16 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.

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redtilt1

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #17 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?

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Paul DeMott

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #18 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.


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Paul DeMott

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #19 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.



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redtilt1

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #20 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?

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Paul DeMott

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #21 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.



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redtilt1

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #22 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?”

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Paul DeMott

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #23 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."




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Unbeknownst Philosopher

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #24 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?

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Paul DeMott

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #25 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.

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redtilt1

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #26 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.

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Paul DeMott

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #27 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.

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redtilt1

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #28 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. 
« Last Edit: November 20, 2013, 06:06:32 am by redtilt1 »

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ontologicalme

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Re: Why is life special?
« Reply #29 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

(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.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2013, 08:58:01 am by ontologicalme »