Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sophomoric atheism in scientific drag



Columbia University theoretical physicist Brian Greene has a nice essay on the latest in cosmology and the multiverse.

As a proviso, I'm a big fan of Greene's . I am not acquainted with his metaphysics, but as a popular science writer he is first-rate. His book Fabric of the Cosmos is stunning. I couldn't put it down, and I read it again right after I finished. He has a gift for explaining very deep stuff. His discussion of Bell's theorem-- the verification of which has devastated deterministic models in quantum mechanics-- is uncommonly lucid. Highly recommended.

Greene pens an essay on the exciting cosmology of the multiverse, which is the hypothesized array of countless universes, each with different physics, of which ours is just one. I'm not a cosmologist, so I have no professional scientific opinion on the existence of the multiverse or of any alternative universes.

But, as you might imagine, I do have an opinion. I am skeptical of multiverse cosmology for two reasons:

1) How can the existence of other universes ever be empirically demonstrated, given that the definition of "universe" seems to entail the entirety of the natural world that we can observe? If we see "evidence" for the multiverse, isn't it necessarily just part of our universe?

2) Whatever the theoretical justification of multiverse theory, the ideological motive for pushing the multiverse concept is obvious. It provides atheists with a (flawed) scheme to evade the Anthropic Principle, which in its strong form suggests that the universe was designed for us-- for observers-- to exist. If there are countless universes, each with different physical laws, then just by chance one universe would have the properties that allow observers to exist. No need for God. Whew!

Of course, readers who are acquainted with classical demonstrations for God's existence understand that multiplication of universes has no bearing whatsoever on those proofs. The classical arguments (prime mover, first cause, necessary existence, etc.) presume eternity of the past and depend not at all on the number of universes that exist.

Just as Darwinism is an ideological project dressed up as biology, the obsession with multiverse theory is an ideological project dressed up as physics.

However the architects of the project are metaphysical illiterates. Neither project touches in any way on proofs for God's existence.

Darwinism and the obsession with the multiverse are just sophomoric metaphysics-- atheism-- in scientific drag. 

87 comments:

  1. And the big sky daddy who loves you no matter what, that’s not sophomoric at all.

    I’m not sure you understand the anthropic principle; it in no way demands design. As an atheist, I don’t try to avoid the anthropic principle, I embrace it. In a multitude of universes we should not be surprised to find ourselves in one compatible with our own existence.

    It’s far more difficult for cosmologists to come up with a scenario compatible with observation that doesn’t result in a multivese than a scenario that does. Observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation are exactly as inflation theory predicts, supporting the notion of an infinite universe in a sea of infinite universes. There may even be multiverses within multiverses.

    As Gell-Mann said “everything not forbidden is compulsory”

    Ironically I believe it is in multiverse theory that theists will find the best way to shoe-horn their gods into physics.

    -KW

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  2. Atheists like to invoke very large numbers to disprove the existence of God. The fine tuning of our universe is a fluke, they say, if there are many billions other universes because then our universe with its fine tuned parameters is bound to happen. They used to say something similar when the universe was thought to have always existed. They say that given an infinite numbers of tries and/or infinite time, anything can happen. Probabilities at work!

    But I wonder if given infinite time, constant temperature, Avogadro's gas laws and a jar full of air, it would be possible that oxygen and nitrogen would completely separate, oxygen at the top, nitrogen at the bottom and a vacuum in the middle, this state lasting for, say, one minute.

    I say no!

    Come to think of it, reading and understanding Aquinas five ways is a lot simpler and logical.

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    Replies
    1. I say no!

      Someone who claims that he believes in logic should know that an argument from personal incredulity is a logical fallacy.

      Delete
    2. There also exists the personal naivety logical fallacy, normally induced by a violent materialism outbreak.

      Delete
    3. There also exists the personal naivety logical fallacy

      So, when caught engaged in a logical fallacy, your answer is an attempt to commit another: the tu quoque fallacy. How very adolescent of you.

      Further compounding the silliness of your response is the fact that "personal naivety" is not a logical fallacy, making your attempt at a tu quoque a miserable failure.

      While I'm at it, I'll point out that your original argument, which boils down to "low probability events cannot happen" is both inherently self-contradictory, and an example of the prosecutor's fallacy.

      Delete
    4. Baloney Detector active!

      Delete
    5. Peepster: For someone who supposedly likes logic, you are pretty lousy at it.

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  3. Michael,

    Well, the simplest Multiverse is the one we already knows exists. You're confusing the universe we can see with the Universe as a whole. The visible universe just consists of what we can see going back in time 13.72 billion years, and including galaxies that were 13.2 billion light years away when the light we are now seeing was originally emitted, against a background of the cosmic microwave radiation, a remnant of the heat of the Big Bang.

    The visible universe is now currently 90 billion light years in diameter. Owing to initial inflation, the Universe may be 10^23 times larger. In that enormous volume, there's plenty of room for numerous visible universes of similar size to the one we're in, and not necessarily with the same physical laws.

    We just happen to dwell in a visible universe, with a 100 billion galaxies each containing at least a 100 billion stars, that happens to have conditions for life to have occurred at least once. It might be that our visible universe is teeming with life, or it may be that there's just one planet with life, the Earth.

    We can't tell what the conditions are in the considerably larger Universe beyond the horizon. We never will.

    Skepticism is no way of rejecting an idea you dislike, just because you either dislike it, or think that it justifies atheism. Particularly when you don't apply the same skepticism to ideas you do like, such as Aristotle's causes, for which there isn't the slightest evidence.

    We live in a real universe. Scientists are always seeking natural causes for phenomena. Even if you're right and your god did create the Universe, presumably just for us, then he had to have some mechanism for accomplishing it - so why wouldn't it have been something similar to the way scientists believe the Universe actually came into existence?

    Although, your insistence that your god maintains the persistence of every particle in the Universe is becoming increasingly incoherent.

    And your claim that evolutionary biology is not science is just bunkum. It's a robust theory with plenty of independent evidence coming from different fields of scientific study.

    Your preferred model of Thomistic dualism and teleology is just unsupported evidence free hand waving.

    How about giving some evidence for a change instead of your wishful thinking?

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    Replies
    1. @bachfiend,
      Evolutionary biology is science, it's just the Darwinian explanation of it that is crap, or bunkum as you say.

      Since you consistently fail to understand that Aquinas proofs are metaphysical with logical, not physical, evidence, your punishment will be to write Graham's number in full 100 times.

      That should keep you busy and prevent you from polluting this blog for a while!

      :P

      Delete
    2. Since you consistently fail to understand that Aquinas proofs are metaphysical with logical, not physical, evidence

      And as such, they are meaningless when applied to the universe.

      Delete
    3. Pepe, You now say “evolutionary biology is science”; that’s real progress, you’re coming around whether you realize it or not. Of course you’re just repeating what Mike has said recently, but hey, it’s still progress.

      -KW

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    4. @KW,

      It is obvious from your comment that you and I have a very different definition of evolution. But that's ok, you're allowed to be wrong.

      Delete
    5. If you have a different definition of evolution than the people doing evolutionary biology, then your statement that “evolutionary biology is a real science” is obviously just simple-minded repetition of something Egnor has recently wrote, with no real conviction or understanding.

      -KW

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    6. @KW,

      You should know that people doing evolutionary biology don't all agree on what the mechanism driving evolution is. Case in point are Jerry Coyne and James A. Shapiro, both from the University of Chicago.

      It is also funny and very revealing that you should talk about real conviction about a theory, as if it was a religion (which it is as far as Darwinism goes!)

      Delete
    7. So you’ve gone from “definition of evolution” too “agreeing on the mechanisms of evolution”. Keep moving them goalposts Pepe, it’s the only chance you’ve got.

      -KW

      Delete
    8. @KW,

      Why don't you give me what's your definition of evolution and your "conviction", sorry, your understanding of the mechanism for it, so we can see if we are on the same playing field.

      I would give you mine but I don't want to unduly influence you.

      Delete
    9. Why don't you give me what's your definition of evolution and your "conviction", sorry, your understanding of the mechanism for it, so we can see if we are on the same playing field.

      Peepster, what is your understanding of the "mechanism" of glacier formation?

      Delete
  4. "1) How can the existence of other universes ever be empirically demonstrated, given that the definition of "universe" seems to entail the entirety of the natural world that we can observe? If we see "evidence" for the multiverse, isn't it necessarily just part of our universe?"

    In that case, the multiverse has already been proven as the galaxy was once thought to be eqivalent to the universe. Hence the term 'island universe' for galaxies. The empirical demonstration of other universes has nothing to do with how universe is currently defined. I can't believe that this is a serious objection.

    "2) Whatever the theoretical justification of multiverse theory, the ideological motive for pushing the multiverse concept is obvious. It provides atheists with a (flawed) scheme to evade the Anthropic Principle, which in its strong form suggests that the universe was designed for us--for observers--to exist."

    There you go, again. The theory of the multiverse stands on the evidence, empirical or mathematical, that supports it. The motivation of individuals who support or reject the theory don't enter into it.

    -L

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  5. Mike,
    I agree whole heartedly. The MV theory is interesting conjecture, but that is all it can ever be. At best it will give us some good ideas for scifi books and films.
    It is a philosophical model to argue against finite space and time. The people out there who attempt to use the MV theory as a means to disprove or prove God's existence are forwarding a pretentious mythology as 'science'.

    Bach,

    "Skepticism is no way of rejecting an idea you dislike, just because you either dislike it, or think that it justifies atheism."
    Good advice. Now replace 'atheism' with 'theism' and take some of it yourself. A little metaphysical mirror gazing may be in order, eh?


    Anon,
    "And as such, they are meaningless when applied to the universe."
    Perhaps in an illogical unordered universe dreamt up by you, Anon. But here in reality logic plays a big role. It leads to things like reason and science, for example. It is foundational for us corporeal beings.

    KW,
    "Of course you’re just repeating what Mike has said recently, but hey, it’s still progress."
    Pépé objects to the philosophical pretensions of the Darwinian models. He has made that quite clear more than once. His opinions are his own. If you spent half the energy you do on coming up with invective and insulting remarks on actually READING his comments you would know that.

    "If you have a different definition of evolution than the people doing evolutionary biology, then your statement that “evolutionary biology is a real science” "
    Are you an evolutionary biologist, KW? Is your definition backed by personal expertise in the subject? Or perhaps yours is a layman's opinion also.....
    Also I have to note: A reductionist calling someone 'simple minded' is a bit rich, don't you think?

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    1. Perhaps in an illogical unordered universe dreamt up by you, Anon. But here in reality logic plays a big role. It leads to things like reason and science, for example.

      And logic absent physical evidence is a meaningless exercise. I refer you to Kettering's Law.

      Delete
    2. Kettering's Law? I had always heard it referred to as an observation. An engineers observation.
      I see no relevance to cosmology or metaphysics in his material observation. Only more pretensions.

      Delete
    3. Logic is a good way to go wrong with confidence. You, Egnor, and Pepe seem to think that "logic" by itself provides evidence for anything. Logic is what you use in conjunction with evidence, not instead of it.

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    4. No Crusader, I’m not an evolutionary biologist. I did just enjoy spending the better part of last weekend with an evolutionary biologist. She’s currently part of a team using genetically modified yeast in a quest to cure cancer, and she’s as cute as a button. I don’t have to be a biologist to accept the definitions they use. Use your head man; you’re starting to sound like Pepe.

      -KW

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    5. KW,
      Glad you have an 'interest' in the field :P
      As for sounding like Pépé, I'll take that as a compliment. Although I must admit, I don't really know what Pépé sounds like.
      I have never spoken to him. I have read his comments, but never heard him.
      Maybe we do sound similar? Like a cross between James Earl Jones and Frank Sinatra?

      Anon,
      Logic is a means. Evidence is interpreted VIA logic and reason. One is foundational to the other. Evidence is useless without logic.
      Logic, on the other hand, is the MEANS by which aspects of inquiry (such as material evidence) are explored. Logic does not rely on evidence, interpretation of evidence DOES rely on logic.
      I am afraid your position is back asswards, Anon. ;)
      Logic provides you with the ability to quantify, for example. I do not need 3 apples for the logic of the number 3 to work, do I? But without 3 and all the other numbers -which we cannot sample in themselves, only represent - science would be impossible.
      Again, evidence relies on logic.
      Logic does not rely on evidence.
      Obviously it makes things nice and simple when we have both, but the universe is far from simple or simply material.
      Evidence only goes so far.

      Delete
    6. L,
      "The theory of the multiverse stands on the evidence, empirical or mathematical, that supports it. The motivation of individuals who support or reject the theory don't enter into it."
      While I agree and concede that there is mathematical (ie logical) models and arguments that are intriguing that concern the MV theory, how do you propose to back your assertion of empirical evidence that supports it? Or are you asserting that it is mere conjecture and always will be due to the inability of science to provide such evidence?
      Not quite sure I follow you here. Could you explain?
      Cheers.

      Delete
    7. Logic is a means. Evidence is interpreted VIA logic and reason. One is foundational to the other.

      Then when Pepe says silly things like this:

      "Aquinas proofs are metaphysical with logical, not physical, evidence"

      You should understand why people point out that Aquinas' proofs are useless when applied to the universe. "Logical" evidence is useless. Logic is a means by which evidence is evaluated, but cannot supply the evidence itself. Any system that claims "logic" as its evidentiary support is defective.

      Delete
    8. CrusadeRex: "... how do you propose to back your assertion of empirical evidence that supports it [the multiverse]? Or are you asserting that it is mere conjecture and always will be due to the inability of science to provide such evidence? Not quite sure I follow you here. Could you explain? Cheers."

      I don't assert that there is empirical evidence to support multiverse theory, other than some intriguing data from the WMAP. Mathematically there is evidence in that it better explains the physical parameters of our universe. Because of this I don't think it is mere conjecture, though it may be immune to rigourous empirical testing with our current technology and understanding.

      My assertion was that Egnor has some pretty poor reasons to be skeptical of multiverse theories. He has claimed that the motivation behind multiverse theory is justification for atheisim, therefore he is skeptical. Either the math of multiverse theories is superior or it isn't. Either the WMAP data is consistent with and predicted by multiverse theory or it isn't. The motivations of it's supporters don't enter into it.

      Lovely bird the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plummage ...

      -L

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    9. Anon,

      LOL
      Trying to sell me a pet slug?
      Does it TALK?

      "I don't assert that there is empirical evidence to support multiverse theory, other than some intriguing data from the WMAP."
      Good that clears that up. This is why I posed the question.

      "Mathematically there is evidence in that it better explains the physical parameters of our universe."
      Mathematics? Pure logic and totally immaterial.
      Love it!

      "Because of this I don't think it is mere conjecture, though it may be immune to rigourous empirical testing with our current technology and understanding."
      Ah! Good old promissory materialism. Future tech will provide hard evidence? Perhaps. Perhaps NOT.

      "The motivations of it's supporters don't enter into it."
      Well surely you cannot be serious about that? Motivation is everything in logical thinking. It is the driving force. The data may be immune to ideology, but the INTERPRETATION by the regent priests of mathematics is what actually matters in the proximate sense.
      I will say this though, I tend to agree it neither proves nor disproves anything about God or the genesis of all things.
      It may regress the point, but it does not answer it.

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    10. CrusadeRex:
      "Mathematics? Pure logic and totally immaterial."

      Immaterial as in not physical? Then I agree. Immaterial as in unimportant? No way.

      I colloborate with a researcher who creates computational models of neuronal activity. They are purely mathmatical but they do make predictions. We test those predictions in actual neurons. Without the model, we would have no reason to do the experiments.

      "Ah! Good old promissory materialism. Future tech will provide hard evidence? Perhaps. Perhaps NOT."

      Yes, you understand. I made no promise about future technology, only a comment on present technology. We may never be able to empirically test multiverse theory. That does not mean that as a mathmatical model that it has no utility.

      For example, using a geocentric model to predict the effects of gravity on Earth orbiting objects is not as accurate as a heliocentric model. Despite this the Apollo launches used a geocentric model because accounting for the suns gravity was more cumbersome than course correcting for it's negligable effect.

      Multiverse theory could be true or not. If it is useful then there are reasons to keep it around. Until or unless something better comes along.

      -L

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  6. I know this may be a bit (or a lot) off topic, but I would like to change my moniker on this blog from Pépé to M-Theorist. You know, string theory, 11 dimensions, Calabi-Yau manifolds, gazillion colliding branes that create universes that last a trillion years and all these grown-up fairy tales that are so much fun to read before going to bed.

    What do your think? And, please, don't all talk at the same time and be polite!

    :P

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  7. CrusadeRex and Pepe,

    All this talk of M-theory, branes, ...

    Neither of you has addressed the Multiverse we know exists. The one that is at least 10^23 times larger than the visible universe, enormous though that is. It's a natural consequence of inflation, causing expansion of space at a mind boggling rate, causing the universe to be the same temperature 2.74 Kelvin in all directions.

    What do you think is on the other side of the horizon - empty space? It's not known whether the physical constants and laws will be the same throughout the entire Universe.

    Theism is compatible with whatever physical reality we have, because, according to you, God can do anything he wants, he's outside all physical rules. I choose not to believe because I find all religions just basically incoherent and inconsistent, giving all the signs of being created by humans.

    The fact that we live in the only universe that's not obviously created for us and that evolution explains how we came to be here are extra reasons for my disbelief. If the universe had just consisted of the solar system and the few thousand stars we can see with the naked eye or just the Milky Way Galaxy (as many astronomers in the early 20th century had thought) then I suppose I might be a theist, but it doesn't and I'm not.

    It's the less common and rare that needs to be explained not the common. Humans aren't unique. There have been plenty of hominid species in the last 7 million years, including ones that have existed at the same time as modern Homo sapiens (Homo neanderthalis, Home erectus and Homo floresiensis for example).

    CrusadeRex, you've stated you're a creationist. I've asked you in the past as to which sort you are, but you haven't answered.

    Pepe, you mentioned James Shapiro favorably. He's also written a book 'Evolution. A View from the 21st Century'. Why don't you read it, and see if his view of evolution is the same as yours. When you obtain it, tell me, and I'll read my copy at the same time so that at the end we can discuss it. I bought the book last year, and I haven't had time to read it yet. Your reading it as a sort of mini book club might do the trick ...

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    1. @bach,

      The only inflation I see here is your ego!

      Delete
    2. Pepe,

      Your usual idiotic rejoinder. Are you going to get Professor Shapiro's book? I've looked at my Kindle copy, and it's actually quite short (147 pages) with an extensive glossary of terms (so you should be able to understand it) and references in addition. Half a day should just about be enough - so when you start, I'll start.

      Delete
    3. Bach,

      The topic was M-Theory, or MV Theory. The current models for universal temperatures and measurements are indeed fascinating. I often wonder at the sheer SIZE and vastness of it all, myself. The difference between your view and mine is in the reaction to that vastness. In reaction to man's incredibly small sphere of influence.
      But, I really don't see what you're getting at.
      You want ME to explain the universe to you? The hows AND the whys?
      Come on now, Bach. Even if I had all those answers it would take more time than we have on this earth to explain it all. As it is, I am content to know that meaning and purpose is a truth.
      I defend my faith, but I do not wish to push it on anyone. God's plan is infinitely complex, and I am sure there is a meaning to all the myriad systems of human thought - even the dead ends and cul de sacs of reductionism and materialism.

      You asked what type of creationist I am.
      I am a Theist. A Christian.
      I should have thought that pretty apparent by now.

      In summary: I believe that God is both the beginning and end of all things. The sustainer of all reality. The original thought and action that made and makes all things possible. The One who has understanding of the completion of this Universe and any other that may exist. He is the truly objective reality.
      He IS and from Him comes all things, all processes, and function.
      I believe Christ was a physical embodiment of that one God who walked among us who died and did rise again. I believe His life and death served a purpose we can only begin to comprehend while in this material state.
      As to WHY I believe that, I will refrain from sharing. It is far too experiential to relate in words properly, and far too personal to expose to the ridicule of strangers.
      Sufficed to say my beliefs are not based on blind faith.

      I hope that clears up my position for you.

      Delete
    4. Pépé
      "I know this may be a bit (or a lot) off topic, but I would like to change my moniker on this blog from Pépé to M-Theorist."

      LMAO!
      Engage warp engines Mr Pépé.

      Delete
    5. CrusadeRex,

      It certainly clears up in my mind what your position is. You don't have a clue.

      Michael's thread wasn't on string theory. Go back and reread it. Brian Greene's essay wasn't on string theory either. Read that too. He's a string theorist, so naturally he put a plea for his so far unsuccessful hypothesis (it doesn't even get anywhere close enough to get called a scientific theory). Most of his article is standard cosmology.

      String theory isn't necessary for the Multiverse. It's also probably not true - nonsense on stilts and also on steroids.

      The simplest Multiverse is the one we already knows exists: the Universe 10^23 times larger than the visible universe. It's a Multiverse because all of it, to the first approximation, is inaccessible to us.

      Would I be correct in assuming that you're a theistic evolutionist? Of the old universe/earth kind? Accepting that God chose to create humans over billions of years? Of the 'God did something, somewhere, somewhen, for unknown reasons and by unknown mechanisms' sort?

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    6. Bach,

      You state:
      "It certainly clears up in my mind what your position is. You don't have a clue."
      Nor do you.
      Why should I respond to any further questioning after such an insult.
      I have no need to make you understand my perspective. If this were a cordial or friendly exchange of ideas, may consider it. Your immediate and totally nasty response indicates it is not.
      So why bother?
      Go find a calm pool, Narcissus.

      Delete
    7. CrusadeRex,

      Well, you don't have a clue. The topic was the Multiverse. Not string theory, which isn't necessary for the existence of the Multiverse.

      Delete
    8. Bach,

      Pray tell, what is beyond that horizon. What is the specific nature of the void beyond the stars and galaxies and all nature as we know it? Is there an end to it? When did it begin? Does it also expand, or will it contract.
      What do the signs tell you about this wonderful abyss of yours?
      Give us a clue, oh Oracle of wonders!

      Delete
    9. CrusadeRex,

      Well, we don't know what's beyond the 'horizon' of the visible universe. We almost certainly never will, because space at that point is expanding faster than the speed of light, from our perspective (and we are receding from any observer beyond our horizon faster than the speed of light too).

      It's a reasonable assumption that the physical laws, constants, particles, etc are the same throughout the Universe as they are in our little part, the visible universe, that we can see, but it's not a 'given'.

      And no, with the accelerating expansion of the universe, there won't be a 'crunch' since the universe won't contract.

      Delete
    10. Bach,
      Faster than LIGHT? Oh dear! Do you mean there is some sort of nothing that moves faster than everything, even thought it is nothing? But wait! If it is something, and inhabits our cosmos, then is it moving BACKWARDS in time? Is it the edge, end, and beginning?
      How can anything about assumptions made on this wild conjecture be considered 'reasonable'?
      Further how do you equate an 'end' to a 'crunch'? How do you know your faster than light nothing/something will not occlude the something universe, or that the something universe will not dissipate into the past/future something nothing exterior cosmos?
      You postulate and formulate based on fantastic assumptions, most counter to any form of foundational reason or logic, then pass it off as 'science'.
      More like modern astrology or new age 'faith' than reasonable inquiry.

      Delete
  8. Egnor,

    In the past you have mentioned the anthropic principle favourable, along with its close cousin the fine-tuning argument, as evidence of a designed universe. The anthropic principle in its original form can be pretty much reduced to the following:

    "Humans live where humans can live."

    I know how much you hate banal tautologies, so please explain to us why the anthropic principle is not one.

    Just a thought for a future post.

    -L

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    1. L,

      Because it allows Michael to do some hand waving and to claim therefore Jesus.

      Of course he's inconsistent and incoherent. He claims that God maintains the existence of all particles in the Universe. If God stopped existing, then so would mountains and everything else. Or so he claims.

      Fine tuning actually disproves the existence of God. If the Universe had been set up to be inimical to life developing at least once, somewhere, and yet it did, here obviously, then that would be proof of God's existence.

      The other point is that we don't if the Universe is fine tuned for life. It could be that it's just roughly tuned for life, just barely adequate. In the same way that evolution throws up species which are good enough to survive, but not perfect. Humans show all the drawbacks of their messy evolutionary history; sleep apnea, knees that are prone to damage, brains prone to delusions and illusions - and also falling back on cognitive dissonance, as Michael often does, to make contradictions 'go away' at least in his mind.

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    2. Hi bachfiend,

      If the Universe had been set up to be inimical to life developing at least once, somewhere, and yet it did, here obviously, then that would be proof of God's existence.

      Your assertion assumes that macroevolution in general, and abiogenesis in particular, are possible under materialistic assumptions. I.e., you seem to be implicitly claiming that the universe is at least minimally amenable to life, since life exists. But was the pre-biotic universe amenable to life? How do we know?

      As an aside, if Pépé doesn't take you up on reading and discussing the Shapiro book, I'll give it a go. (Hardcopy for me; I spend too much of my day in front of video screens already.)

      Delete
    3. Kent,

      When Pepe agrees to read Professor Shapiro's book, I'll start. I have a lot to do otherwise.

      Obviously, the Universe had to go through a lot of evolution before it was even tolerable for life anywhere. At least 2 generations of stars had to go supernova distributing heavy elements into their surroundings allowing the Sun with its rocky planets to form almost 10 billion years after the Big Bang.

      You're not going to get life in a universe with hydrogen, helium and a trace of lithium only.

      Life might be common in the universe or it might be very rare, confined to just us. We have no way currently of knowing.

      If you want to claim that God planned for humans by causing stars to go supernova, then that's your right. It's a philosophical not a scientific answer

      Delete
  9. Inflation theory has been embraced by cosmologists since the 80’s because it is a theory that explains many observations and makes predictions which can and have been verified. It predicts the geometry of space (flat) and the spectrum of density variations in the Cosmic Microwave Background. The WMAP satellite and other independent observations have confirmed the theory to a remarkable degree.

    The “problem” with inflation theory is that when the inflation field collapses and a bubble universe is created, that bubble can never merge with other bubbles because they are moving apart faster than the bubble is expanding. This naturally produces island universes that, according to other theories, most probably have different constants of nature.

    If inflation happened, then we almost certainly live in the kind of multiverse that inflation spawns, and all observations point to it having happened. Anthropic reasoning supports this notion because this sort of multiverse allows those very large numbers that make the improbable a certainty.

    When I first read about the multiverse, I said “of course, that‘s it”. It just makes sense. Because other universes, and regions of our universe beyond the horizon, will never be observed directly, Multiverse theory may never be proven. I imagine that multiverse theory, in one or all of its many forms, will be the last and only scientific hypothesis that can address the improbability of our world.

    It’s also worth noting that a flat universe, as predicted by inflation and measured by WMAP, is also a zero energy universe that violates no conservation laws. Compelling isn’t it? And I haven’t even mentioned evolution.

    Of course the good theists here will deny, deny, deny, and then come at you with some Aquinas. I think they’re missing the wonder and splendor of things far beyond the puny imaginations of ignorant men who preach a Bronze Age cosmology.

    -KW

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    1. @KW:

      I think they’re missing the wonder and splendor of things far beyond the puny imaginations of ignorant men who preach a Bronze Age cosmology.

      Hmmmmm...

      The earth, in relation to the distance of the fixed stars, has no appreciable size and must be treated as a mathematical point.

      Claudius Ptolemy (ca. AD 90 – ca. AD 168), in Almagest

      Ptolemy knew just as well as Eddington that the earth was infinitesimal in comparison with the whole content of space. There is no question here of knowledge having grown until the frame of archaic thought is no longer able to contain it. The real question is why the spatial insignificance of the earth, after being known for centuries, should suddenly in the last century have become an argument against Christianity. I do not know why this has happened; but I am sure it does not mark an increased clarity of thought, for the argument from size is, in my opinion, very feeble.

      C.S. Lewis, writing ca. 1942, in his essay "Dogma and the Universe"

      Somebody is missing the wonder and splendor of something...and I don't think it's "ignorant men" with "puny imaginations" preaching "a Bronze Age cosmology". This new breed of (atheistic) evangelists seems to have a very truncated view of intellectual history.

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    2. Kent,

      I don't have time to look up your quote from Ptolemy. But he was iron age, not bronze age. You can't take a quote from a much later time to disprove KW's assertion.

      Delete
    3. So Ptolemy, Lewis, and I’m sure many others, pointed out the universe was big. That’s certainly progress compared to the Bible’s firmament with its windows to heaven, but doesn’t even come close to the culmination of the Copernican revolution that multiverse theory represents.

      -KW

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    4. Kent,
      ....but you can easily state that Aquinas was not a Bronze Age theologian or philosopher, and that does completely invalidate KW's comment. Oh wait, you DID do that. Maybe Bach could now provide us with the chemical names for some more elements and the current estimates for their universal distribution based on the observation of stars. Maybe on the meaning of life? Or is that done with dusty bones or cutting up animals? I am sure he will explain what the oracles mean.

      Delete
  10. @bachfiend,
    ...you mentioned James Shapiro favorably. He's also written a book 'Evolution. A View from the 21st Century'. Why don't you read it, and see if his view of evolution is the same as yours.

    It is certainly a step in the right direction! I am sure that many other geneticists will eventually follow that route because RM + NS do not cut it anymore (they never did BTW). As I said before, Darwinism will be dead by 2020 and Intelligent Design will then probably be called Genetic Engineering.

    That's fine with me!

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    1. I just wanted to add this Craig Venter quote from ENV:

      "All living cells that we know of on this planet are 'DNA software'-driven biological machines comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA, that carry out precise functions," said Venter. "We are now using computer software to design new DNA software."

      Now that's what I call ENGINEERING!

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    2. Dream on, Pépé! ID creationists can't even fill their own journal with publications. BIO-Complexity barely ekes out three papers a year, the majority of them coauthored by members of the editorial board!

      Delete
    3. Oleg,
      Didn't Galileo run into similar problems with the dogma of his day?

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    4. I don't think Bill Dembski measures up to Galileo. As Carl Sagan said,

      They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

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    5. I'll take that as a 'yes', Oleg.

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    6. Or, slightly more to the point, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

      Delete
    7. @oleg,

      What about Craig Venter? Do they laugh at him?

      Delete
    8. We have intelligent design and the intelligent designer in the person of Craig Venter (and his colleagues). Where is the Designer of life on Earth? If you have his number I'd like to call Customer Service to report some design flaws.

      Delete
    9. Design flaws? What you call design flaws now, after careful examination and better knowledge, become design successes. You materialists have the habit of wanting to be proved wrong, don't you?

      As for the Designer, please be patient oleg, you will meet Him eventually, but not to soon I hope!

      PS: by mistake I wrote this in the general comment section, ergo the deletion!

      Delete
    10. Really? So arthritis and presbyopia are successes? Tell me how.

      Delete
    11. It doesn't make sense to talk about design flaws unless you know what the designer's aims were. A cruel designer might very well consider arthritis not a bug but a feature. Perhaps the designer wanted Peepee to be dumb as a bag of rocks, just for a laugh.

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    12. @oleg,

      In French we say:

      Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse!

      That means everything passes, everything breaks, everything tires: no matter endures for ever, even protons decay. I could explain to you why this is so but you wont listen...

      Delete
    13. @troy,

      I am preventing from answering your m*****c comment by my baloney detector!

      Delete
    14. Um, Peepee, if your baloney detector prevents you from answering, then your answer must be baloney. Own goal!

      You are too stupid for the internet. Vade retro morona.

      Delete
    15. @troy,

      What do you do for a living, besides running in sewers looking for crap?

      Vade retro morona.

      I did not know you spoke Moronian!

      Delete
    16. @troy,

      You broke my baloney detector, you SOB!

      Delete
    17. Pepe,

      I take it you've decided not to take up my challenge of reading Professor Shapiro's book at the same time, and seeing whether his take on evolution is consistent with yours or mine?

      Delete
    18. @bachfiend,

      I have already answered your challenge, just backtrack a few comments.

      BTW, how are you doing with Graham's number?

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    19. Pepe,

      OK. You haven't said 'yes', so I assume it's a 'no'. And I don't accept your bullshit exercises.

      Delete
    20. Pépé: Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse!

      That means everything passes, everything breaks, everything tires: no matter endures for ever, even protons decay. I could explain to you why this is so but you wont listen...


      Wow, that's such a convincing argument! Especially concerning the protons (whose decay has never been observed, by the way).

      But let's make it quantitative, Pépé. Some things decay faster than others. Some trees last hundreds of years. Protons, even if do decay, would only do so on the time scale exceeding the age of the Universe. Our eyes, on the other hand, do not stay sharp beyond 40-50 years, so we have defective vision for almost half of our lives (and some of us their entire lives). There is no problem with making a vision system works fine 100 years (some people have that). Yet we don't. It's clearly a defective system.

      Same with arthritis. Some people don't ever have it, so it seems like a defect in those who do.

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    22. @oleg,

      Here is your reasoning:

      God should use good design.
      The world shows bad design.
      Therefore, God does not exists.


      or

      Mercedes-Benz should use god design (they cost mucho $$$).
      Mercedes cars show bad design (they don't last 100 years).
      Therefore Mercedes-Benz does not exists.


      Very astute reasoning!

      Explaining bad design

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    23. Pépé,

      Do you want to tell me that the designer of life is only as competent as the designers of a Mercedes? I thought he was all-powerful and all-knowing, unlike those German engineers.

      As to Dembski's book, it reads like bad science fiction. He posits that death and suffering in the millions of years before humans appeared was "caused" by a woman who ate a fruit. That's "causation" backward in time! It's so silly I can't believe Dembski wrote it.

      Delete
    24. oleg, I told you you wouldn't listen and I was right!

      Delete
    25. Pépé,

      You didn't say anything, farting noises notwithstanding.

      Delete
    26. @oleg,

      According to you, which is better design: the human body or a Mercedes-Benz?

      BTW, do you have a gas problem because you talk about the consequences a lot in your comment. Unless it is a kind of adolescentism!

      Delete
    27. @bachfiend,

      You remind me of Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory TV series.

      :P

      Delete
    28. Pépé,

      You still haven't explained anything and instead of answering my questions you pose yours. There is no point in having a conversation with you.

      Delete
    29. @oleg,

      There is no point in having a conversation with you.

      Guys have this reaction when I have them by the balls, intellectually speaking, that is!

      My question was: which is better design, the human body or a Mercedes-Benz?

      1) If you answer Mercedes, then the next question is who design the Mercedes' engineers and you will be toast eventually!

      2) If you answer the human body you are already toast!

      That's what's called being had by the balls i.e. being balls-less!

      :P

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    30. Intellectually speaking, Pépé, you think with the wrong organ.

      Delete
    31. @oleg,

      So, you're still conversing with me. Your balls are that precious, hey!

      :P

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    32. Oleg and Pépé,

      This is the grand reason science fails in matters of philosophy. It assumes only material ends.
      The 'failures' outlined above assume that physical perfection and physical immortality are the end goal of creation. That is a very flawed assumption. It is not God that fails in His creation, but rather our failure to comprehend beyond the material that makes us view disease and our mortality as some sort of complete limitation. The inability to comprehend/consider beyond the material prevents scientific (empirical inquiry) from reaching into the realm of the infinite and immortal - the truly objective reality of which the physical is a functional subset.
      This is why BOTH ID and Darwinism will ultimately fail in explanation, as they are merely interpretive DESCRIPTION.

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