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Harvey

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2020, 02:08:26 pm »
Yeah agreed. Too many people weigh in on the fine tuning argument with minimal or zero understanding of any philosophy of probability.

Weinberg, Susskind, etc., etc. know how to consider probability in light of cosmology and still advocate the anthropic principle to explain these anthropic coincidences.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 02:13:13 pm by Harvey »

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Harvey

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2020, 02:11:17 pm »
From Weinberg 1987 to 1998. Focus Harvey and read the rest.

Weinberg et al. are using the anthropic principle and no one is saying that the multiverse couldn't produce a subuniverse where that subuniverse doesn't have galaxies.

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Iapetus

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #32 on: August 02, 2020, 05:01:42 pm »
Reply to Harvey:

Life is one type of many evolved responses to the physical conditions of the universe.  Nucleosynthesis is another.  Chemistry is another.

Evolution is a process whereby complexity can derive from relatively simple originating conditions.

There are certainly a large number of observed constants for which there is no clear explanation for their precise magnitude.  The probability of a random assemblage of such constants leading to complex life is impossible to calculate but is, without doubt, incredibly small.

But we don’t know that the assemblage is random.  We do know that the evolution of life is not a random process – though there are certainly some random parameters – and we have a reasonably sophisticated understanding of feedback systems which are conducive to sustaining of life and of factors which might stimulate further evolution.

We don’t have anything like such a sophisticated understanding of processes which derive  many of the parameters of the known universe.  But scientists are certainly not entirely in the dark; for example, inflation theory explains in great detail many aspects of the large-scale structure of the cosmos, though with many variations to account for different ‘fine-tuning’ issues.  We know enough to appreciate that many ‘fine-tuning’ parameters may be interdependent but we know far too little about the details of such relationships.

Such is the state of modern science.  A huge number of physical relationships have detailed and complex explanations.  A huge number have few or unsatisfactory explanations.  The ‘fine tuning’ issue has certainly not been resolved.

But we are here.

There are a number of major philosophical explanations of how this came to be and they are all susceptible to major criticisms:

1.    The conditions have, self-evidently, combined – we don’t know how – to produce a physical universe in which at least one species of life has evolved a consciousness to reflect upon it. This Anthropic Principle is an observation rather than an explanation but it does feed into explanations 2, 3 and 4.
2.   However unlikely, the constants have combined to produce this particular ‘universe’ and the odds are the same as for any other combination.  In a universal raffle, somebody has to win, no matter how unlikely that may appear to a particular individual.
3.   Such odds are not necessarily reduced in a ‘many worlds’ or ‘multiverses’ interpretation of the ‘universe’ or ‘universes’ but this does certainly allow for a massive degree of filtering.  Combinations where the values of constants produce unsustainable physics will die away, whereas those which are sustainable may grow or even thrive.  This is, of course, largely speculation, but there are mathematical theories which back up the ideas and there has been extensive discussion about how such claims might be tested.
4.   We can, by definition, only observe the observable universe and we know that it is really, really big.  We have no idea how much further it might extend, particularly in the light of reexaminations of the ‘Big Bang’.  There has been intensive examination over the past twenty years about how there might be local variations in the physical constants, particularly in relation to gravity and the cosmological constant.  The effect may be that our particular niche is a ‘local phenomenon’.  This, again, is speculation, but it is the logical result of scientists seeking explanations for observed phenomena.
5.   God created and fine-tuned the universe.  A subcategory of this explanation is that there was a predetermined purpose of producing conscious life.  The problem here is that this argument frequently – usually – dodges all the usual criticisms by appeal to ‘metaphysics’, whatever that is, and the ‘supernatural’, again undefined or weakly defined at best.  It begs the question of how a complex, presumably conscious ‘being’ with no physical description came into existence to produce the universe.  It simply pushes the problems about origins back a stage.  Yet when people such as William Lane Craig define such a God as an “uncaused, personal Creator of the universe … who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and infinitely powerful”, then we are entering into the realms of the very silly.  How can this be possibly demonstrated within the rules to which all other possibilities are subject?  How is this anything more than bald assertion?  The description seems, in fact, to be closer to a definition of non-existence (difficult though that is to envisage). 

Perhaps you would like to challenge, particularly, my criticism of the ‘God’ explanation.

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Harvey

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #33 on: August 02, 2020, 06:09:16 pm »
Lapetus, would you agree that all things being equal that a universe where there is no apparent fine-tuning is less of a problem for naturalism than a universe where there is apparent fine-tuning (that some version of a multiverse appears to be required to explain such fine-tuning)?

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hatsoff

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #34 on: August 02, 2020, 06:20:03 pm »
Your argument seems to hinge crucially on this move right here.  But I would suggest the move is illicit.  Let me explain why.

We need to know before we can proceed, what sense of 'likelihood' do you have in mind here?  But this is not clear from your comment.  Indeed, this is a notorious problem with fine-tuning arguments, and one which is underappreciated in the literature (in my experience).  Collins, for instance, handwaves the issue, calling it 'epistological' probability, without ever clearly explaining what that means.  Craig is even worse, never acknowledging the issue at all.  And Barnes, while he claims he addresses the problem, never actually does that I have seen, which leads me to think he doesn't really understand it in the first place.

It's generally recognized by many of the most esteemed cosmologists that without the anthropic principle the fine-tuning of the cosmological constant along with other fine-tuned constants have a very poor chance being accounted for. Here is Martel, Shapiro, and Weinberg:

Quote
As far as we know, the only way to understand a value of Pv comparable to Po is based on a weak form of the anthropic principle.

The anthropic principle using a multiverse is an attempt to preserve naturalism. But, why not increase one's doubts of naturalism at this point?

That quote doesn't address the problem, though.   If they really have explained in their paper what kind of probability or likelihood is being invoked, then why not quote that part?  Or just put it into your own words for that matter?  Until the apologist can provide such an explanation, I don't see how the fine-tuning argument can possibly be successful.

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Harvey

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2020, 06:39:47 pm »
That quote doesn't address the problem, though.   If they really have explained in their paper what kind of probability or likelihood is being invoked, then why not quote that part?  Or just put it into your own words for that matter?  Until the apologist can provide such an explanation, I don't see how the fine-tuning argument can possibly be successful.

There's no explanation needed because the whole point of invoking the anthropic principle is to explain how it is that we are observing living in a universe with galaxies if that couldn't possibly occur if a small change to the constant value would make galaxies impossible.

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kurros

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2020, 07:10:00 pm »
Yeah agreed. Too many people weigh in on the fine tuning argument with minimal or zero understanding of any philosophy of probability.

Weinberg, Susskind, etc., etc. know how to consider probability in light of cosmology and still advocate the anthropic principle to explain these anthropic coincidences.

I'm not really convinced that any of them have read much philosophy of probability. It certainly isn't evident in the way any of them write about it. They tend to be mainly fixated on propensity-type interpretations that seem to make sense in quantum mechanics. There are a few physicists who know some things about epistemic probability, but they are a minority, and I haven't noticed many of them writing about fine-tuning. More people are using Bayesian probability for statistical analysis nowadays, but most of them don't really understand the various competing philosophies behind it very much, they just use it for pragmatic reasons.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 07:14:37 pm by kurros »

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hatsoff

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #37 on: August 02, 2020, 08:25:26 pm »
There's no explanation needed because the whole point of invoking the anthropic principle is to explain how it is that we are observing living in a universe with galaxies if that couldn't possibly occur if a small change to the constant value would make galaxies impossible.

This isn't about the anthropic principle.  Remember, you made this claim:

Yes, there could be some ultimate naturalistic reason it is exactly such a small value and couldn't have been a few orders higher, but that seems very unlikely.

And I see similar claims made by other fine-tuning apologists, but the problem is, as I have explained in a previous post, it's not clear to me what sort of likelihood is being invoked.  If you don't know either, it means there's a serious flaw in your argument.  And if you do know, then you should tell us what it is.

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Harvey

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #38 on: August 02, 2020, 08:27:02 pm »
I'm not really convinced that any of them have read much philosophy of probability. It certainly isn't evident in the way any of them write about it. They tend to be mainly fixated on propensity-type interpretations that seem to make sense in quantum mechanics. There are a few physicists who know some things about epistemic probability, but they are a minority, and I haven't noticed many of them writing about fine-tuning. More people are using Bayesian probability for statistical analysis nowadays, but most of them don't really understand the various competing philosophies behind it very much, they just use it for pragmatic reasons.

I haven't seen a huge push back by philosophers who specialize in probability theory against fine-tuning requiring a multiverse. Brian Greene for example doesn't even appear to allow room for a non-multiverse view of the universe. See his Ted talk here for example. I'm not saying there is no multiverse even if we assume God, but I think it ought to lower one's confidence in naturalism, at least to some degree.

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Harvey

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2020, 11:04:13 pm »
This isn't about the anthropic principle.  Remember, you made this claim: . . And I see similar claims made by other fine-tuning apologists, but the problem is, as I have explained in a previous post, it's not clear to me what sort of likelihood is being invoked.  If you don't know either, it means there's a serious flaw in your argument.  And if you do know, then you should tell us what it is.

No, just about all of the cosmologists that accept a multiverse as a good explanation for fine-tuning accept that without such an explanation there is no good naturalistic account for fine-tuning, which is why the anthropic principle is strongly advocated by so many cosmologists. Most people don't try to justify a need for an explanation since it's just assumed that a certain percentage is highly atheistic and not wanting to admit what is very obvious to most cosmologists that you need an explanation for fine-tuning and the anthropic principle provides a naturalistic account. Most people in science don't spend a lot of effort trying to convince those hard-nosed skeptics because they have better use if their time. I can understand if there were a larger percentage of people needing to overcome this kind of high level skepticism, but the evidence for fine-tuning is so powerful that it's just not necessary. A similar situation is related to Jesus mythicism. Bart Ehrman replied to mythicists such as Richard Carrier and he replied back. When asked why Ehrman didn't reply to that reply he just said that the replies would just continue ad infinitum and Jesus' existence is not actually a matter of debate among scholars. Similarly, the need for an explanation for fine-tuning doesn't appear to be a matter for debate. What is a matter of debate is whether a multiverse/anthropic principle can account for the fine-tuning. Right now the general opinion seems to be that most cosmologists believe it is an effective explanation but that's where the debate stands. Most cosmologists aren't denying that fine-tuning needs an explanation. And, they seem to be ignoring those avid atheistic who reject a need to explain fine-tuning. People just aren't accepting that view for obvious reasons.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 11:05:59 pm by Harvey »

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Mammal

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #40 on: August 03, 2020, 01:15:52 am »
Weinberg et al. are using the anthropic principle and no one is saying that the multiverse couldn't produce a subuniverse where that subuniverse doesn't have galaxies.
If you go back to my post here, you will notice that Weinberg et al and using the anthropic principle account for one of various possible explanations for the cosmological constant "problem". As such I still regard your appeal to a theistic explanation as a god of the gaps patch.

I agree wholeheartedly with lapetus and how he has presented the issue above. I would also like to remind you that we actually seem to agree that the universe and everything that goes with it - as set out in the OP - was most likely inevitable to occur at some stage, so any appearance of fine-tuning could thus be part and parcel of such inevitable occurrence of a combination of possible (and potentially optimum) paths.
Fact, Fiction or Superstition?
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The Evolution Of God

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Iapetus

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #41 on: August 03, 2020, 04:54:16 am »
Reply to Harvey :

"Lapetus, would you agree that all things being equal that a universe where there is no apparent fine-tuning is less of a problem for naturalism than a universe where there is apparent fine-tuning (that some version of a multiverse appears to be required to explain such fine-tuning)?

My name is Iapetus, not Lapetus.

I refered to ‘fine tuning’ because you chose to use the term.  As I have explained to you before, the term is frequently used as a manipulation because ‘fine tuning’ prompts appeal to a ‘fine tuner’, in the same way that ‘creation’ posits a creator.  I have gone to some lengths to accept that the particular combination of physical constants is, as yet, largely unexplained but I have also indicated ways in which scientific investigation can begin to address this.  Multiverses and similar ideas are certainly speculation but many are developments of mathematical models and, as I stated, many aspects may be subject to testing.  I don’t have the answer or even an answer and neither does anybody else.

There; I have responded directly to your question.  But you have, once more, declined to respond directly to anything which I have written.  So will you please do so, in particular in relation to my criticism of the ‘God’ explanation.

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hatsoff

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #42 on: August 03, 2020, 05:16:57 am »
No, just about all of the cosmologists that accept a multiverse as a good explanation for fine-tuning accept that without such an explanation there is no good naturalistic account for fine-tuning, which is why the anthropic principle is strongly advocated by so many cosmologists.

I have no idea if that's true, but it's not relevant to the question I was asking.  Remember, you made this claim:

A constant value that is not zero has no reason being that value (that we know of) compared to millions of other apparently possible values. Yes, there could be some ultimate naturalistic reason it is exactly such a small value and couldn't have been a few orders higher, but that seems very unlikely.

(emphasis mine)

This seems to be a key claim---your argument seems to hinge on it in a crucial way.  And yet when I go to consider whether it's true, I find myself puzzled as to what your claim even means.  That's what I've been asking you to explain to me, and what I wish you would address.

Robin Collins is the only apologist I know to tackle this issue head on.  None of the others---including Craig and Barnes---ever even talk about it.  Here's what he has to say about it:

"...it will often be useful to use the following conceptual device to intuitively grasp the relations of conditional epistemic probability for LPU conditioned on NSU & k′ and conditioned on T & k′. The device is to imagine an unembodied alien observer with cognitive faculties structurally similar to our own in the relevant ways, and then ask the degrees of credence that such a being would have in LPU given that he or she believes in NSU & k′ or in T & k′."

In other words, Collins imagines a sort of primordial physics, with its laws more or less already known, except that the constant values have yet to be discovered.  He then invokes a notion of epistemic probability to ask whether a life-permitting universe would be likely or not given certain competing theories.  In his own words, he wants to appeal to "a common, nonstatistical kind of probability that some philosophers have called epistemic probability and others have called inductive probability".

But what, exactly, is this "epistemic probability" that he has in mind?  He claims it's common, and cites Swinburne for support, although I could find no explanation in Swinburne's book either.  The closest thing to an explanation that Collins ever offers is this very short quote by Ian Hacking (brackets his):

"On the one side it [the conception of probability] is statistical, concerning itself with stochastic laws or chance processes. On the other side it is epistemological, dedicated to assessing reasonable degrees of belief in propositions quite devoid of statistical background."

So, when Collins says that a life-permitting universe is unlikely on naturalism, he means, I guess, something along the lines of, that his hypothetical alien observer would be reasonable to expect the universe to be non-life-permitting.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, and we could discuss that, but I don't want to suggest you're committed to Collins' view of the matter.  If you want to have your own approach, that's fine.  But you will need to explain what that approach is, because it's not clear from your previous comments.

So, just to reiterate, I don't care what cosmologists think about the multiverse or anthropic principle, as interesting as that might be in another discussion on a different topic.  Rather, I want to know how to make sense of your claiming that it's 'very unlikely' that the constants are what they are, or that they are life-permitting, or whatever it is that you were trying to say.

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Harvey

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #43 on: August 03, 2020, 07:32:18 am »
My name is Iapetus, not Lapetus.

Sorry about that. I was just using proper name conventions to capitalize the proper name. It's no trouble to violate those rules if you feel it's needed.

Quote from: lapetus
I refered to ‘fine tuning’ because you chose to use the term.  As I have explained to you before, the term is frequently used as a manipulation because ‘fine tuning’ prompts appeal to a ‘fine tuner’, in the same way that ‘creation’ posits a creator.  I have gone to some lengths to accept that the particular combination of physical constants is, as yet, largely unexplained but I have also indicated ways in which scientific investigation can begin to address this.  Multiverses and similar ideas are certainly speculation but many are developments of mathematical models and, as I stated, many aspects may be subject to testing.  I don’t have the answer or even an answer and neither does anybody else. There; I have responded directly to your question.

Okay, but basically you are saying that, even in principle, a universe where there is no apparent fine-tuning is any better of a predicament for naturalism than one with fine-tuning. So, you deny the basis of the Teleological Argument for God's existence even if there were every conceivable sign for God, correct? If distant galaxies were arranged as pixels on a page that spelled out John 1:1-2 you would still hold to naturalism being the only metaphysically possible answer for the world, is that correct?

Quote from: lapetus
But you have, once more, declined to respond directly to anything which I have written.  So will you please do so, in particular in relation to my criticism of the ‘God’ explanation.

You said:

Quote
The problem here is that this argument frequently – usually – dodges all the usual criticisms by appeal to ‘metaphysics’, whatever that is, and the ‘supernatural’, again undefined or weakly defined at best.  It begs the question of how a complex, presumably conscious ‘being’ with no physical description came into existence to produce the universe.  It simply pushes the problems about origins back a stage.

This assumes that there is nothing like metaphysical necessity. However, there is certainly nothing  wrong with the view that something had to exist because non-existence is metaphysically impossible. We can extend that argument, which I think most philosophers would agree is,a reasonable stance, and argue that not only is non-existence impossible but this extends to a non-God beginning being metaphysically impossible.

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Harvey

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Re: Teleology in the World
« Reply #44 on: August 03, 2020, 07:32:30 am »
If you go back to my post here, you will notice that Weinberg et al and using the anthropic principle account for one of various possible explanations for the cosmological constant "problem". As such I still regard your appeal to a theistic explanation as a god of the gaps patch.

I don't accept a metaphysically possible argument as metaphysically impossible like you do. I believe a "god of the gaps" argument is only insufficient as an approach if it tries to replace a methodological naturalist explanation with a supernatural one. You use "god of the gaps" as de facto atheism which is absurd. However, no one is saying any details as to a methodological naturalist explanation even if we assume a multiverse since no one understands how the universe's laws came into being. Obviously we can't use the current laws for this purpose since that's what we're trying to explain.