A REASONABLE CASE

A discussion about religion, reality and reason
EXPLANATION SIX: THINKING CREATIVELY OR REWINDING THE WATCHMAKER
Archive Random
EXPLANATION SIX: THINKING CREATIVELY OR REWINDING THE WATCHMAKER
31st Aug 2014, 12:42 PM
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)
Author Notes:
alschroeder
Continuing down the list of six possible explanations for the "anthropic" coincidences in nature which allow intelligent life to evolve...largely inspired and derived from George F.R. Ellis' brilliant brief book, BEFORE THE BEGINNING. He is NOT responsible, though, for the liberties I've taken with his logic or how I've chosen to illustrate it.


The Watchmaker illustration would be brought up when I look at this anyway, so I might as well get it out of the way. Actually, Paley STILL had cogent points--he was one of the ones (Kant was another) to point out that life if only possible in three dimensions, that circular orbits would decay in anything else--which ranges from planets in solar systems to electrons around the nuclei of atoms.


Of course, some will say that the idea of a Designer is a priori absurd, and refuse to consider it. But it's certainly a logical possibility.


The kinship that Dawkins felt for Paley's wonderment at nature, and the statement quoted, is in the first chapter of THE BLIND WATCHMAKER. When Dawkins talks about biology and evolution, few can touch him, and I always listen to him with respect.


We'll address the pros and cons of the idea of an Originating Intelligence (how I wish the term "Intelligent Design" hadn't been co-opted by those who disagree with evolution) in the coming weeks.


We'll address Dawkins' opinion on the anthropic coincidences--as well as other criticisms, such as David Hume's, on the whole Designer idea...a little later.


Next time: THINKING CREATIVELY: APPROACHES AND LIMITS

edit delete
User comments:
man in black
man in black
Great page
edit delete reply
jamoecw
you ever wonder what the big bang theory sounded like without the science speak behind it?
"so imagine that there is this thing that created the universe."
"right, god of course."
"no not god, but a thing."
"god's a thing."
"but this is a different thing.'
"like allah?'
"no, not like allah. it isn't sentient."
"god's not sentient exactly, he's beyond that."
"but this is below that, it is this thing that just is."
"like one of those eastern religions?"
"no this is new."
"well, why should i worship this thing?"
"because it can tell us where things came from without having to explain where some guy came from."
"like god."
"sigh"

the big bang theory is essentially when you come down to it, a religion. a very scientific religion, but still just a religion.
edit delete reply
tom (Guest)
jamoecw,

Only if you believe the question can never be answered.

What do I believe? I believe I can wait to see if there is an answer.
edit delete reply
jamoecw
so if you believe god will reveal himself at some point then it isn't faith? or were we talking about the big bang being revealed?
edit delete reply
tom (Guest)
jamoecw,

Not at all. I'm suggesting that there are plausible avenues of further inquiry to be pursued.

Not sure what you're expecting?

I think you may be using the word "reveal" two different ways at the same time. Sometimes language can be a little fuzzy that way.

A god would make a conscious decision to reveal itself. The big bang is not a conscious entity, so the only way its origin might ever be revealed is through continued research.

My expectation of a god revealing itself at some point in the future is weighted by all the times gods have credibly revealed themselves up to now.

My expectation of science is that it continues to pursue facts, just as it has always done, and the facts will exist regardless of my belief in them.

So, I suppose you could say I claim to believe in science. But I believe I would rather say I believe in the ability of science to uncover previously unknown facts. (I also believe I used the word believe with two different meanings in this paragraph).
edit delete reply
jamoecw
my point is that something that we believe to exist without cold hard facts to back it up (just things that point to) have tended to be wrong throughout history. pinning your hopes on the big bang theory to pan out while throwing out other ideas that fit the bill because a previous iteration was proven false is hypocritical. the theory prior to the big bang fundamentally had nothing to do with the creation of the universe (steady state theory), yet was discarded for a theory that had to be fixed repeatedly to work (steady state would also have to fixed). in fact it brought nothing to the table that wasn't already at the table. as time goes on and it needs to keep getting fixed, the probability continues to diminish, yet the academic community fails to look at other ideas and to fix them up with current observations in order to come up with a more probable theory. if you take the premise of god, then build it up you would get that something sentient made the universe for some reason. if you go for steady state, then the universe exists how it is due to the law of really large numbers (it keeps getting made over and over, sometimes it has to be right no matter how improbable). in fact the only real difference between some sort of 'god' creating the universe and the big bang happening to just be right that one time is simply a matter of sentience (after all if 'god' was a sentient particle that exploded...).

what should be done is no theory should take precedent over any other, no matter how ridiculous. then you can discard theories based on observation and have those that believe in those theories rework them to incorporate the observed phenomena. while this is what is often taken as iterative scientific progress you will find that there is a definite favoritism of theories in the academic community, which also spills over into the non-academic community. you did it yourself by saying "My expectation of a god revealing itself at some point in the future is weighted by all the times gods have credibly revealed themselves up to now." which implies that because a god hasn't revealed itself, that there must not be gods. when in fact at no point has god (or allah, or any monotheistic god by any other name) been said that he would reveal himself except under X conditions, which have not been met. there have been theories before about the creation of the universe which involved non sentient objects, and they have always been shown to be false. by equal merit then the big bang (being a non sentient thing) would in fact be just as unlikely as anything else which has resemblance to the big bang theory.

"My expectation of science is that it continues to pursue facts, just as it has always done, and the facts will exist regardless of my belief in them." which is false, science does not pursue facts, but is simply the observable phenomena of facts (noun-the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.). thus once you remove observation from the equation you remove the science. given that there is no current theory (that i know of) that will allow one to see the big bang itself, there will always be room for doubt. with doubt comes the room for alternate theories. picking one theory over all others is no different than religious faith.
edit delete reply
tom (Guest)
jamoecw,

Interesting. So no god has ever said it would reveal itself, except under conditions which have not so far been met.

Yet, wouldn't it have had to credibly reveal itself to inform us what conditions it would reveal itself?

Seems kind of circular.
edit delete reply
tom (Guest)
jamoecw,

Interesting. So no god has ever said it would reveal itself, except under conditions which have not so far been met.

Yet, wouldn't it have had to credibly reveal itself to inform us what conditions it would reveal itself?

Seems kind of circular.
edit delete reply
tom (Guest)
Oops, double posted. Sorry.
edit delete reply
jamoecw
yes it is quite circular. though by reveal himself i meant to everyone, instead of just one guy making claims on his behalf (how do you tell which one is genuine, if any?).

hence the problem with the god did it theory, as it fits the bill and is more probable than mere chance. the general concept is quite sound, however finding out which sentient being (assuming it is even among those thus presented) it is. it gets even more confusing when the historical accounts are considered to be parables and not factual accounts.

many people claim to have spoken to God, or to 'have the answers.' thus he may have revealed himself to that person, or not. we have no way of knowing for sure (maybe god lied to him if his claims are proven false), thus a god revealed to give criteria in which he will reveal himself to everyone may have been presented, or maybe not. the real question is the difference of probability of the universe being created spontaneously due to dumb luck somehow, or that it was planned somehow.
edit delete reply
tom (Guest)
jamoecw,

I'm reading a book you might find interesting.

I'm about a third of the way through, and I came across this just this morning:

"...I have emphasized that the best we can do in science is build models that describe previous observations. These models are composed of quantities that we measure according to well-prescribed procedures..."

Clearly, the author is getting to the heart fo your earlier point on the limits of what can be known.

The very next paragraph is:

"While our observations are imperfect shadows of whatever is the true reality, they do give us useful information with which to compose our models and describe reality."

And this is my point about "pursuing facts". I wasn't saying we get facts. It's that we strive to approach the best understanding of what reality is, (the facts), that our senses and instrumentation and the laws of physics allow. It's a pursuit, not an attainment.

We're looking at the same process from different angles.

Anyway, the book is "The Fallacy Of Fine Tuning: Why The Universe Is Not Designed For Us" by Vctor J. Stenger.
I like his approach. He walks through the math, but it's ok to skim past the equations because the text makes really clear what he's describing.

Al,

Have you run across this book? I like the way he addresses the thirty-some constants. No speculation, just math.

I just found out he has a new book coming out this week, "God And The Multiverse". How timely is that? I've already ordered it based on the quality of this one. (By the way, I understand the author just passed away).
edit delete reply
jamoecw
sounds interesting, i'll look it up. of course i'd probably be less critical of the big bang theory if the academic community were less hypocritical of theories that don't fit their ideas. newton almost didn't publish his laws of physics due to such ridicule, not to mention what happened to tesla.
edit delete reply
Al Schroeder (Guest)
Oh, yeah,I've read Stenger. In all honesty, he's sort of the anti-Hugh Ross. He's so anxious to disprove a possible God that he overstates the case. (Ross,on the other hand, fudges in the OTHER direction.) Another well-known physicist (who I can't find a reference for offhand, but I'll keep looking) said that almost NO serious cosmologist has been convinced by Stenger's "points". That doesn't mean they're all theists,it just means he's---well---not dishonest,just somewhat overstating his case. Most cosmologists feel he has NOT given a satisfactory explanation for the many anthropic coincidences.
edit delete reply