Monday, May 16, 2016

Fine tuning The Fine Tuning Argument

Photobucket





This is the best argument I've seen against fine tuning argument (FTA) the idea that God fine tuned the universe for life as evidenced by the huge improbability of life making it. The argume nt was made by a feriend who comkents on this blog, Eric Sotnak , in the comment section On Secular Outpost.[1] This argument, together with the newly discovered probable life bearing planets means potential defeat for FTA.


Eric Sotnak :
(1) If God wanted a universe that was finely tuned for life, we would expect him to bring it about in a manner (a) that would be efficient with respect to the desired outcome, and (b) that was causally guaranteed to bring about the desired outcome.
(2) The physical and temporal scale of the universe and the long line of causal requisites that our best science shows to have preceded the arising of life in the universe are extremely inefficient with respect to the desired outcome. (not-a)
(3) The quantum physical nature of universe (especially in its early stages) does not causally guarantee the desired outcome. (not-b)
(4) Therefore, it is not the case that God wanted a universe that was finely tuned for life.

Metacrock:
Using the inefficiency argument to make a reverse design argument has a lot more problems than you realize. The argumemt turns upon second guessing God both in nature and motivations. That never works.”



Erick:
The problem is that it doesn't work for the FT argument, either. Copernicus was smitten by the idea that all the planets were arranged so that their orbits corresponded to nested Pythagorean polyhedra. Such an arrangement, surely, testified to the glory of God. This is the same idea we find in the FTA. When better science falsified the nested polyhedra hypothesis, it's fair to say that no one said, “rats – so much for God, then.” Instead, the elegance and economy of the Keplarian model became the wondrous proof of God's wisdom and the manner by which his hand could be seen at work in nature. If you're going to say, “this is evidence of God” no matter what you find, then it really isn't evidence of God anymore. If God's motives are so inscrutable that we cannot reasonably guess at them, then we can no longer take any observations as evidence that there must be a divine motive behind them.


Keith Parsons:

Suppose that some of the physical constants had been found to be apparently incompatible with the development of complex life. Theists would trumpet this as proof positive that God had miraculously brought about such life despite the hostile physical conditions. Instead, we find that we live in a "Goldilocks" universe where the constants are juuuuust right. Theists cite this as knock-down evidence for God. Heads, I win. Tails, you lose.



Essentially the argument is that design arguments try to have it both ways, either the universe appears specially set up for life or aspects that seem to be hostel to life are overcome and that also is proof, So it's proof either way which means there's no way to tell. If everything counts for your hypothesis nothing can prove it because nothing could count against it, it's not proof. It's true that the conventional design argument has this problem. In other words we don't have a designed universe universe to compare, so the kind of argument that says "the earth is just the right distance from the sun so that looks like design" is fallacious,. We don't know what undersigned looks like.

The FTA has it over that conventional design argument because it has something to compare. We can compare the target levels to all that is not the target level. The problem is apologists screw it up by going back to the conventional kind of design argument and trying to argue both at the same time. FTA works for one reason and in one way: the more improbable it is that life would have made it the more it like a fix it is. We can't marvel at earth being at just the right place but we can marvel that there so many odds against life and yet there is life. We should forget Paley and forget the conventional design argument. don't say it looks designed, Just say too many chances against it to assume no fix.

What about Erick's argument about the scale and time frame, big universe existing for a long time before little bitty life, equals no sign of God? First we do not know that there hasn't  been life for a long time, or that there is another earth-like planet with intelligent beings dealing with God in there own way. That doesn't have happen that much to make the point. The answer I tried to give above that he's taking on assumptions about the nature of God and God's motives. he says: "If God's motives are so inscrutable that we cannot reasonably guess at them, then we can no longer take any observations as evidence that there must be a divine motive behind them."
we don't have to know the motives we don't have to know the game plan to know the fix is in. Besides who says we don't know the motives I didn't s say God has not told us his motives. I said he doesn't know them.

Moreover, his argument is doing the same thing the conventional argument is doing.  That is to say his argument about scales of time and distance is making the same mistake Parson's talks about of asserting comparison between designed and undersigned when we have no basis for comparison.
One final problem. The argument that everything can't count for design combined with the number of  probable life bearing planets newly discovered really creates problems for the argument. [2]
As if there wasn't enough excitement swirling around the discovery of apotentially habitable planet circling the star Gliese 581 just 20 light years away, one of the scientists behind yesterday's announcement upped the ante during a press briefing yesterday afternoon, declaring "my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent." [3]
Does this mean the end of the FTA? First of all any potential for life bearing other than earth will be seen as a defeat by many atheist because they assume any potential is the seed of evolution that could produce s universe teaming with life. But the problem is you might as well say earth itself is that seed. It's not logical to assume that nay potential is automatically a universe taming with life. The odds are still vastly against it. Secondly even if we know for sure of life on  several other planets that would not  that would not change the odds enough. We have to know the hit rate, It may be a judgment call as to what moves the marker from rare to common place, But it has to be more a handful.
Observations:
 
(1) FTA is still better argument than conventional design, don't argue conventional design!
(2) We don't have to know everything to know the fix is in
(3) have to know the hit rate per planet for life to survival before we assume there's no fix.
(4) argue abductively: best explanation
 
Sources
[1] Eric Sotnak, comment to post by Bradly Bowen, "Adamson’s Cru[de] Arguments for God – Part 4," Secular OutpostMay 4, 2016, blog URL
 
[2] Dennis Overbye, "Far Off Planets Like Earth Dot the Galaxy," space and Cosmos, NY Times. Nov 4, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/cosmic-census-finds-billions-of-planets-that-could-be-like-earth.html?_r=0 
 
[3] Clay Dilloow, "Odds of Alien Life on Newly Discovered Exoplanet 100%" Popular Science, September 30, 2010, onlime resource URL
 addendum


Recent discoveries have indicated that there are thousands of earth-like planets out there. The Keck observatory observe (Nov. 3, 2013) What this means is, when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing," said UC Berkeley graduate student Erik Petigura, who led the analysis of the Kepler and Keck Observatory data.i

That sounds like a real disproof of the fine tuning argument. Life bearing planets are so plentiful they orbit every fifth star. That’s not exactly true. The study says Earth “size” planet. That doesn’t necessarily translate into life-bearing: The team, which also included planet hunter Geoffrey Marcy, UC Berkeley professor of astronomy, cautioned that Earth-size planets in Earth-size orbits are not necessarily hospitable to life, even if they orbit in the habitable zone of a star where the temperature is not too hot and not too cold.

"Some may have thick atmospheres, making it so hot at the surface that DNA-like molecules would not survive. Others may have rocky surfaces that could harbor liquid water suitable for living organisms," Marcy said. "We don't know what range of planet types and their environments are suitable for life."ii

i Keck Observatory representative, “odds are on oodles of Earths,” published by Jet Propulsion Libratory, California Insitute of Technology for NASA on “Earth Quest.” Wesbite. Nov 4, 2013.

ii Ibid.





 
 
 

15 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

Hey, thanks for the “star billing” in this post! :)

You are right, I think, to distinguish classical design arguments and the FTA (or some versions of it)

I love Rube Goldberg machines. What makes RGMs fun and interesting is that they are massively unnecessarily complicated, but they still work (at least in theory). You look at them and think, “all that rigamarole just to do x?” It seems to me RGMs are an interesting metaphor here.

The classic design argument is often criticized by pointing out instances of “bad design” in nature. A lot of the functional complexity we find in the world is very RGM-ish, so if we aren't led to Hume's “infant deity”, we are at least led to a God with a twisted sense of humor (platypus, anyone?).

Now it seems to me your reply is very much like saying that RGMs are still evidence of design. If, instead of Paley's watch, you found a RGM clock, wouldn't you still have to infer design? In fact, since a RGM is intentionally excessively complicated, wouldn't a RGM be even stronger evidence of design than a more boring system that accomplished the same end?

Why would you think a RGM was designed? How do you know you're dealing with a Rube Goldberg machine and not just a haphazard convoluted mess? Part of the answer is that we recognize the end state of a RGM as a conventionally desired outcome. If we watch a trickle of water following a convoluted path only to end up in a drinking glass, we have a RGM. But if it just ends up going on the ground, we don't.

Another part of the concept of a RGM is that each component adds to its complexity. But also, RGMs don't have irrelevant parts. They are functionally non-branching. This is where scale comes into play. The history of the universe has “umptillion” causal branches. Right this minute all over the universe there are umptillions of causal processes going on that have nothing at all to do with life on Earth. Volcanoes are erupting, chemical reactions are occurring – the universe is a massively happening place. This is very unlike the threaded singularity of the causal processes in a RGM. So I actually don't think the second premise of my argument is threatened.

But nor, I think, is the first, since it is the very soul of a FTA that it is a teleological argument, and therefore by definition assumes that we can second-guess God. Otherwise the argument goes something like this:

(1) If God exists, he would want something or other for some reason or other, but then again, maybe not? Who knows with God?
(2) The universe is fine-tuned for life.
(3) Therefore, God probably exists.

(Please tell me you don't find that argument compelling, or I'll spread rumors that you are secretly a Scientologist.)

Joe Hinman said...

my argument is much more simple than all that. It works by just pure numbers not the appearance of design. It doesn't mess with efficiency. that's pretty direct, nothing RGM like about it.

there are so many chances to screw up but life makes it. The fix is in. nothing Rub Godbergish about it.

Joe Hinman said...

I like RGMs too

Eric Sotnak said...

So, using just pure numbers, ... which premise(s) of my argument do you reject?

Joe Hinman said...

(1) If God exists, he would want something or other for some reason or other, but then again, maybe not? Who knows with God?
(2) The universe is fine-tuned for life.
(3) Therefore, God probably exists


you mean that? that's not my argument. to be a comedian I should just agree with it.

Eric Sotnak said...

No, this one:

(1) If God wanted a universe that was finely tuned for life, we would expect him to bring it about in a manner (a) that would be efficient with respect to the desired outcome, and (b) that was causally guaranteed to bring about the desired outcome.
(2) The physical and temporal scale of the universe and the long line of causal requisites that our best science shows to have preceded the arising of life in the universe are extremely inefficient with respect to the desired outcome. (not-a)
(3) The quantum physical nature of universe (especially in its early stages) does not causally guarantee the desired outcome. (not-b)
(4) Therefore, it is not the case that God wanted a universe that was finely tuned for life.

Joe Hinman said...

(1) If God wanted a universe that was finely tuned for life, we would expect him to bring it about in a manner (a) that would be efficient with respect to the desired outcome, and (b) that was causally guaranteed to bring about the desired outcome.

Only if we assume God think we do. But he may have because we don't know that we are the only intelligent life. more life needs bigger universe


(2) The physical and temporal scale of the universe and the long line of causal requisites that our best science shows to have preceded the arising of life in the universe are extremely inefficient with respect to the desired outcome. (not-a)


depends upon how you define efficiency and assumes a God who thinks like we do. For example what if God is some kind of evolutionary principle?

(3) The quantum physical nature of universe (especially in its early stages) does not causally guarantee the desired outcome. (not-b)

you are going to have to prove to me we really know that The fact that we are here ,kinmd of refutes it.

(4) Therefore, it is not the case that God wanted a universe that was finely tuned for life.

it might be

Eric Sotnak said...

Joe's comment #1: "Only if we assume God think we do. But he may have because we don't know that we are the only intelligent life. more life needs bigger universe"

This doesn't actually challenge the premise; it is actually directed against premise 2.

Joe's comment #2: "depends upon how you define efficiency and assumes a God who thinks like we do. For example what if God is some kind of evolutionary principle?"

What do you mean in suggesting that God IS some kind of evolutionary principle? What kind? What evidence is there that the way evolution works is actually a manifestation of God? What would be the difference between that and naturalistic evolution? In other words, what, exactly is the epistemic value of this suggestion?

Joe's comment #3: "you are going to have to prove to me we really know that The fact that we are here ,kinmd of refutes it."

Sub-argument:

3.1. According to the best models we have of Quantum Mechanics, events in the very early universe were truly random.
3.2. If a state is the result of truly random processes, then that state was not causally guaranteed.
3.3. The current state of the universe is the result of events in the very early universe.
3.4. Therefore, the current state of the universe was not causally guaranteed.

Joe Hinman said...

Original "1) If God wanted a universe that was finely tuned for life, we would expect him to bring it about in a manner (a) that would be efficient with respect to the desired outcome, and ..."

I did respond I said we can only question the effeminacy if we assume God defines efficiency as we do.

"This doesn't actually challenge the premise; it is actually directed against premise 2"

no what I just quoted is p1 and that does challenge it.


What do you mean in suggesting that God IS some kind of evolutionary principle?

Just that. The creator may be a unified field or some sort of principle that guides and directs the formation of life, an anthropic principle.

What kind?

the anthropic kind


What evidence is there that the way evolution works is actually a manifestation of God?

The FTA contains such evidence the stuff that led Bowerer and Tippler to posit the anthropic principle.

What would be the difference between that and naturalistic evolution?

naturalistic evolution is merely random chance, The stages of evolutionary development are unguided, non teleological built blind and random purely the result of accident Yet somehow it manages to follow a pattern from simple to increasing complexity which is opposed to physical law and works to produce life against overwhelming odds.



In other words, what, exactly is the epistemic value of this suggestion?



it provides with an understanding of why we are here

JBsptfn said...

Quote"3.1. According to the best models we have of Quantum Mechanics, events in the very early universe were truly random."Quote

Say what?

Joe Hinman said...

all that means is the universe is not deterministic God played dice with the universe

Eric Sotnak said...

JH: "The creator may be a unified field or some sort of principle that guides and directs the formation of life"

Guides how? In order for life to survive after its formation, the conditions for its doing so must remain in place. So if those conditions could obtain without divine intervention, then what prevents life from originating naturalistically within those conditions? Are you suggesting that Within that original set of conditions, God pushed molecules together, physically assembling the first living organism? Or did he just poof it into existing in that environment out of nothing? Was it molecular creationism or molecular interventionism?

Joe Hinman said...


do I have to get a degree in physics to repeat an argument physicists make? the premise of FT is that there are lots of other ways things could have been, It's just a crap shoot that they turned out in such a way that life could develop. The idea is God loads the dice, I don't know how., I don't that's part of the argument, we can just assume he could.

Stephen Brown said...

I have yet to an exploration anywhere of the notion that a thing could have mulitple teleologies enfolded or telescoped into it. I am intrigued by comparing simplicity with this multiple teleos. Isn't that the beauty of a tool that can be used many ways?
This, coupled with the pricinple of intentionality seems to be the essence of Aquias' 5th proof.

Joe Hinman said...

Interesting way to look at it.