Fine tuning of the universe?

I am going to return to this subject again later as it has been discussed lately and does raise some interesting issues. But meanwhile here is something on the topic from last March.

More and more I hear the apparent “fine-tuning” of the universe being given as an argument to “prove” existence of a god. This goes along the lines that there are a number of critical physical constants underlying the nature of our universe. If either of these had even slightly different values our universe would be very different. Stars and galaxies would not form. Carbon would not be manufactured in the stars and hence life would not occur.

Proponents of this “proof” argue that the chance of our universe having physical constants with these values is impossibly small. Therefore there must have been a divine intelligence to ensure our universe has physical constants with the measured values.

A modern “proof”

This is a relatively recent argument (or “proof”) and has only arisen because modern science itself is asking this question: Why do the physical constants have the values they do? Is it by chance or does it arise out of the nature of matter itself?

These questions arise because of the progress humanity has made in understanding the fundamental nature of reality. This is an ongoing endeavour and the fact that these questions are being posed is an indication that humanity will set about trying to answer them. That is the nature of science. We are at the stage of saying “we don’t know the answers to these questions – but let’s find out!”

These answers will come out of work on unifying relativity and quantum theories, “string” theory and improving our understanding of the very early fractions of a second in the formation of the universe. Inflationary models of “big bang” theory, cycling universes, “big splat” theories, etc. come out of the speculation. We are at the stage of speculating what the answers might be but these are still speculations. We hope current and future scientific research will provide evidence supporting or disproving some of these speculations.

However, I think there are two aspects to the way the “fine-tuning” argument is being used.

Is this a “proof”

Aren’t those who resort to this argument just looking for support for a preconceived belief? A very human action, of course, but not a scientific proof for the belief. Would those people advancing this “proof” renounce their belief in a god if future science established that the “fine-tuned” physical constants was an inherent property of matter itself? That there was no way for the physical constant to be otherwise?

No, of course not!

Answers come from science, not religion

God is not a scientific explanation of phenomena like this. Humanity doesn’t stop and say “Yes, of course, the physical constants are the way they are because God ordained them to be so!”

No, we get to work. Come up with speculative ideas. Advance hypotheses. Test these through experiment and prediction. Advance explanatory theories and continue to refine them by mapping them against reality. Advancing a “god explanation” as an answer would be a science stopper – it would prevent us from ever understanding why things are the way they are.

Fine-tuned universe is still only a speculation

We don’t know if there was any “choice” in the way our universe has turned out. Maybe there was no “choice” – the specific fine-tuning arose inevitably as a result of the way matter is. Maybe conditions in the early formation of the universe did enable a “choice.” Maybe our universe is the only one that exists. Maybe there are multiple universes – each with different values of physical constants. Maybe new universes are being formed all the time.

At this stage these are all just speculations. Interesting speculations – but which ones are viable and which are to be discredited will be determined by future scientific investigation.

See also
The Multiverse – the universe is not enough

Related articles
Intelligent design and depression
Intelligent design and scientific method
Can religion answer the questions science can’t?
Bringing the supernatural into science
Does science involve faith?
Isaac Newton and intelligent design

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79 responses to “Fine tuning of the universe?

  1. God is not a scientific explanation of phenomena like this. Humanity doesn’t stop and say “Yes, of course, the physical constants are the way they are because God ordained them to be so!”

    That just shows your bias Ken. What if God actually did do it? What if your hypotheses never pan out? Are you going to keep saying that “nature did it” even though you have no proof?

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  2. Answers come from science, not religion
    I’m sure that this heading was not meant to imply that all truths can be found using the almighty scientific method… right?

    If the truth is that an extra-natural being created the universe; then science will never discover this particular truth. Science would continue to grope for answers for ever and a day.

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  3. The true answer to this question is actually very simple:

    The Universe is “Darwinian”.

    The observed anthropic cosmological constraint on the forces of the universe is a perpetually *inherent* energy conservation law that enables the universe to periodically “leap/bang” to higher orders of the same basic configuration, (just like we did, and for by the exact same mechanism), in order to preserve causality, the arrow of time, and the second law of thermodynamics… indefinitely… … …

    Then you have a perpetually evolving structure, where all of the so-called “anthropic problems” are resolved without need for apparent absurdities, like inflation or a singularity, when a causally connected universe with certain pre-existing volume has a big bang, which also resolves all of the “anthropic problems”, found here, as well as the rest of them:

    http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~imamura/209/mar31/anthropic.html

    This is how it works:

    http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASYMTRANS.html

    This is an illustration for how it is known to work in nature:

    http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASYMILL.html

    This…

    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2006-02/msg0073320.html

    … or this, describes the physics for it:

    http://dorigo.wordpress.com/2007/10/18/guest-post-rick-ryals-diracs-holes-and-einsteins-constant/

    So no, “god” did not have a choice, and there is no need for one anyway.

    Natural selection is an anti-chance process, which gradually builds up complexity, step by tiny step. The end product of this ratcheting process is an eye, or a heart, or a brain – a device whose improbable complexity is utterly baffling until you spot the gentle ramp that leads up to it.
    -Richard Dawkins

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  4. I don’t know that it’s accurate to characterise science as dealing with ‘truth’, in any case. Science deals with the best possible explanation based on all the evidence currently available. This is not the same as seeking – or declaring – absolute truth.

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  5. Ross:

    Let’s emphasise ‘answers': Answers come from science, not religion

    Let’s make myself clear what I mean by ‘answers': statements that are backed by evidence and can be substantiated, i.e. as in “the correct solution to a question”, not as in “a reply” or other meanings.

    For physical phenomena, science provides what answers it is able to, given the evidence available thus far. Religions do not provide answers to physical phenomena: they provide assertions based on the mythology of the particular religion.

    Your last sentence effectively says this too: that religions don’t have any answers because they invoke an “extra-natural being” as an explanation follows from what you write. As you say science cannot derive an answer if you invoke an “extra-natural being” as an explanation. But neither can anyone else! Invoking an “extra-natural being” as an explanation leaves you with an assertion that no-one can verify. Religions can’t demonstrate the truth of a statement evoking an “extra-natural being” as an explanation either.

    This has been covered before. I can’t remember my exact words, but they were along the lines that “super-natural” (or “extra-natural”) is a misnomer: ‘mythical’ would be more accurate, as by definition no-one can demonstrate the truth of any “super-natural” thing.

    (This is also explains why “G-d is not an explanation”.)

    I see that you are using James’ “not a quote, quotes”. It takes (literally) just as much typing to make a correct quote as to put text in bold, and given that, I’ve always assumed that this practice is just another feeble way of trolling ;-) In fact, a quote without using italics takes less typing.

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  6. 3 – Cood point, should add that to what I wrote: make ‘correct’, ‘best available’

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  7. Two points for James and Ross:

    1: “God did it” is never an explanation.

    At best it can be a “god of the gaps” place holder (as, for example, Newton’s explanation for the arrangement of planets in our solar system – see Isaac Newton and intelligent design). Often used in the past as an explanation for lightning, thunder and whatever (everything really). And, like all “god of the gaps” arguments, it is inevitably shown to be inadequate when the scientific explanation comes along. (This is also very demeaning for a person’s “faith.”)

    At worst it stops or prevents science. It’s more honest to say on a problem – “I don’t know – but let’s investigate and find out.” The dishonest answer is to say – “I do know – God did it! Now you have to accept that inadequate answer (because what use can we make of such “explanations”) and do not, under any circumstance, investigate further – that would be heretical.”

    2: Now scientific investigation is about honesty – dealing with the evidence instead of preconceived ideas. It should not allow bias.

    As such there is no problem considering a hypothesis for “fine tuning” which includes the creation, or bringing into existence, of our part of the universe (and the determination of specific values for physical constants) by the action of an advanced extra-terrestrial intelligent being. But that has to be presented as a specific hypothesis, with supporting evidence, and capable of being tested against reality. Just as any other hypothesis for the values of the constants will, in the end, have to be.

    “God did it” is no more a scientific hypothesis than “The flying spaghetti monster did it” or “Fairies did it.” A hypothesis will contain more structure than this.

    Now, we do have a number of scientific speculations for the formation of our part of the universe and for the specific values of physical constants. Some of them are pretty far fetched. Scientific speculation and established theories usually turn out to be much more amazing and exhilarating than the puerile “religious explanations” that seem to be promoted as a substitute for science.

    One thing for sure is that whatever the reason for “fine tuning” – even if it is caused by the actions of a super-intelligent being – the only way we will ever understand it will be by the activity of science – not religion. Maybe the mystery will be beyond us, beyond our intellectual and/or technological abilities. Maybe science can’t, in the end, find the reason (but history shows that as a species we are too inquisitive to give up easily on such questions). But, if in the end science can’t deliver the answers – religion certainly can’t.

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  8. One thing for sure is that whatever the reason for “fine tuning” – even if it is caused by the actions of a super-intelligent being – the only way we will ever understand it will be by the activity of science – not religion. Maybe the mystery will be beyond us, beyond our intellectual and/or technological abilities. Maybe science can’t, in the end, find the reason (but history shows that as a species we are too inquisitive to give up easily on such questions). But, if in the end science can’t deliver the answers – religion certainly can’t.

    Well that doesn’t follow Ken. What if this super-intelligent being told you He did it? Then you would know. That seems quite rational and possible if such a being existed.

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  9. @ James – December 19, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    “What if this super-intelligent being told you He did it? Then you would know.”

    I suggest that the scientists investigating such claims will, quite properly, be psychiatrists.

    We didn’t get where we are today by using such claims to elucidate an understanding of reality.

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  10. Ross said”…an extra-natural being…”

    A what?
    Did you just make this up?
    Extra-natural being.
    As opposed to a “natural being” or something, yeah?
    Okayyyy.

    “If the truth is that an extra-natural being created the universe; then science will never discover this particular truth. Science would continue to grope for answers for ever and a day.”

    Keep going with this thought of yours.
    See where it can take you. :)

    If the truth is that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe; then science will never discover this particular truth. Science would continue to grope for answers for ever and a day.

    If the truth is that Boszorkány created the universe; then science will never discover this particular truth. Science would continue to grope for answers for ever and a day.

    Insert your own “extra-natural being”. Rinse and repeat.

    If you find this kind of thinking intellectually rewarding then…good luck with that.
    (shrug)

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  11. @ Ken: “I suggest that the scientists investigating such claims will, quite properly, be psychiatrists.”

    Mwahahahaha – only now I have to wipe green tea off the screen…

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  12. I suggest that the scientists investigating such claims will, quite properly, be psychiatrists.

    Again Ken, your bias is showing. If there was a super-intelligent being as you suggested then it would not be a irrational leap to think that He may tell us that He created said universe. And it’s funny, I think it is the atheist that needs a psychiatrist-go figure…

    We didn’t get where we are today by using such claims to elucidate an understanding of reality.

    What do you care more about – method or truth? It’s clearly irrational to believe that the only way to find truth is through the scientific method. That belief itself would not be scientific – therefore self-refuting…

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  13. Dark matter in our Universe is ‘just right’ for life

    http://in.news.yahoo.com/139/20081205/981/tsc-dark-matter-in-our-universe-is-just.html

    According to a report in New Scientist, the total amount of dark matter, the unseen substance thought to make up most of the mass of the universe, is five to six times that of normal matter.

    This difference sounds pretty significant, but it could have been much greater, because the two types of matter probably formed via radically different processes shortly after the big bang.

    The fact that the ratio is so conducive to a life-bearing universe “looks like a tremendous coincidence”, said Raphael Bousso at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB).

    Ben Freivogel, also at UCB, wondered if the ratio can be explained using the anthropic principle which, loosely stated, says that the properties of the universe must be suitable for the emergence of life.

    And the hits just keep coming…

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  14. http://in.news.yahoo.com/139/20081205/981/tsc-dark-matter-in-our-universe-is-just.html

    This is not an anthropic coincidence in the standard fashion, and Bousso’s paper is not published, it is a pre-print speculation.

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  15. http://in.news.yahoo.com/139/20081205/981/tsc-dark-matter-in-our-universe-is-just.html

    Freivogel combined the cosmological models of large-scale structure formation with the physics of axions to predict the most likely value for the ratio of dark matter to normal matter that would allow observers like us to emerge.

    He assumed that the number of observers in a universe is proportional to the number of galaxies within it.

    Whoops, that’s not right. The Goldilocks Enigma says that galaxies that are too old or too new, too big or too small, hot/cold… etc, etc, etc, do not meet the criterion for the “coincidentally balanced” nature of life-habitable systems as the average of extremes that defines the ecobalanced nature of the ones that do, and life will only arise on planets in galaxies, (and universes), where ALL of the anthropic coincidences are simultaneously in effect.

    String theorists who use anthropic *selection*, (which is not a cosmological principle), are motivated by theoretical speculations that have nothing to do with the observed universe.

    http://evolutionarydesign.blogspot.com/2007/02/goldilocks-enigma-again.html

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  16. This is not an anthropic coincidence in the standard fashion, and Bousso’s paper is not published, it is a pre-print speculation.

    So Bousso didn’t say – “looks like a tremendous coincidence?” My, my – how sin has effected the carnal mind – it can’t even see what’s front of it…

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  17. Dude, I am the strongest supporter of the anthropic principle that you will ever meet, but dishonesty isn’t in the best interest of science.

    On looking back at it though, I do see that he is making nearly the exact same distinction to dark matter that they make concerning the extreme small value of the cosmological constant, (the “flatness problem”, which, by naive projections of quantum field theory should be about 120 orders of magnitude greater than is observed.

    http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~imamura/209/mar31/anthropic.html

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  18. Island, I don’t know who is being dishonest. Bousso? Me? The article?

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  19. James has already made a mistake with the cosmological constant through relying on his Apologetics sources. They got it wrong – because of course they were not interested in truth but in using apparent “fine-tuning” of physical constants to “prove” the existence of their god. The problem is starting of with a preconceived belief and then desperately grabbing at “evidence” to support it.

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  20. @ James – December 20, 2008 at 12:05 am

    OK – maybe I am biased in considering people who make such claims to have psychological problems (In my defence let me say that we do keep seeing murderers in our courts who claim to have been following commands from their god).

    So – back up you claim: “What if this super-intelligent being told you He did it? Then you would know.”

    Have you been told by “this super-intelligent being” that she actually set the values of the physical constants? Or do you know someone who was told by her?

    Let us have the details so we can check out how reliable this data is.

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  21. OK – maybe I am biased in considering people who make such claims to have psychological problems (In my defence let me say that we do keep seeing murderers in our courts who claim to have been following commands from their god).

    Well sure Ken, and recently we had a kid go on a killing spree to help “natural selection.” That tells us nothing about the truth or falseness of natural selection.

    Have you been told by “this super-intelligent being” that she actually set the values of the physical constants? Or do you know someone who was told by her?

    Of course Ken, I’m a Christian so I believe that communication came through scripture. The Old Testament prophets and especially the person of Christ Jesus and the New Testament writers. I can’t prove they weren’t lying neither can you prove that they were. It’s not “scientific” evidence, it is “historical” evidence.

    James has already made a mistake with the cosmological constant through relying on his Apologetics sources. They got it wrong – because of course they were not interested in truth but in using apparent “fine-tuning” of physical constants to “prove” the existence of their god. The problem is starting of with a preconceived belief and then desperately grabbing at “evidence” to support it.

    Ken was the article I just linked from an apologetic source? Is Raphael Bousso a christian apologist? Did he not say that it was a “tremendous coincidence.” You know Ken one wonders how many universal and earthly “coincidences” it would take for a man like you to start to question his materialistic assumptions? I mean how can someone look at the complexity of a simple cell and say – accident!

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  22. “I believe that communication came through scripture.” - so what information have you derived about the physical constants from these sources? Is the information sufficient for you to tell scientists to give up their investigation of this issue?

    “I mean how can someone look at the complexity of a simple cell and say – accident!”
    – that would be a very unscientific thing to say – as bad as saying “god did it” or “the flying spaghetti monster did it”, or “fairies did it.” The scientific thing to do is to look at the evidence, develop ideas and hypothesis, map these against reality and produce a testable theory which provides an explanatory structure.

    Science is doing do the same thing with the physical constants – and we will discover amazing and useful information as a result. Standing back and saying “what an amazing coincidence – god must have done” or “it’s all just a coincidence – there must be an infinite number of universe” without any evidence is puerile, produces no amazing, exhilarating story and is of no practical use to humanity. In fact, it stops us making these investigations.

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  23. “I believe that communication came through scripture.” – so what information have you derived about the physical constants from these sources? Is the information sufficient for you to tell scientists to give up their investigation of this issue?

    Ken where did I ever suggest that you give up investigation. Listen, the Christian believes there are two books of God-scripture and nature. Many of the early, greatest scientists like Newton were Christian. They believed that because there was a rational God that ordered the universe that the universe was open to investigation, and at least partly understandable.

    “I mean how can someone look at the complexity of a simple cell and say – accident!” – that would be a very unscientific thing to say – as bad as saying “god did it” or “the flying spaghetti monster did it”, or “fairies did it.” The scientific thing to do is to look at the evidence, develop ideas and hypothesis, map these against reality and produce a testable theory which provides an explanatory structure.

    Sure, you can work off the assumption that the first self-replicating cell for instance came into being by natural means, but that does not mean it did. Recently I saw a program on one of the Science channels – they emptied the contents of a living cell – then replace them – no matter what they did they could no get the cell to live again. Even with all the parts we can’t create a living cell.

    Science is doing do the same thing with the physical constants – and we will discover amazing and useful information as a result. Standing back and saying “what an amazing coincidence – god must have done” or “it’s all just a coincidence – there must be an infinite number of universe” without any evidence is puerile, produces no amazing, exhilarating story and is of no practical use to humanity. In fact, it stops us making these investigations.

    The fact is there are amazing coincidences, one after another. The problem is, as you mentioned, we may never be able, through science, to figure out what caused the big bang, and why the big bang produced this Goldilocks universe – and then we will be left with two possible solutions – a non-rational physical cause (which would lead us to an infinite regress) or a non-physical mind – and given the clear evidence of fine tuning a mind is the more rational choice – I would say an inescapable choice.

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  24. “The problem is,…., we may never be able, through science, to figure out what caused the big bang” – well of course we won’t if we don’t bother investigating and prefer to stick with mythological explanations. The fact is, however, that humanity doesn’t give up that easily. It’s only scientists like Behe who will say – “isn’t this amazing. I can’t understand how it evolved. Therefore we can’t find an explanation by investigation,. Therefore we have to accept as “supernatural” explanation, God did it!!” The vast majority of scientists don’t give up like that. Where would we be today if all scientists were like Behe? (And it’s interesting that when Newton seriously proposed his god as an explanation for the order of the solar system it was because he had given up. And later scientists were able to solve that particular problem).

    The anthropic or “goldilocks” universe is basically a tautology. It’s self evident. “Isn’t it amazing – the distance between my thigh and the ground is exactly right. And that’s true for everyone!” In contrast – wouldn’t it really be amazing if we existed in a universe where the physical constants actually prevented nucleosynthesis of carbon in the stars?

    You might conclude that a god is “he more rational choice – I would say an inescapable choice” – but then again, you would, wouldn’t you, given your preconceived beliefs. The scientific approach doesn’t make presumptions, it follows the evidence (all the evidence) wherever it leads. It that leads to an extraterrestrial super-intelligence than so be it. But significantly no-one is seriously proposing such an hypothesis in the scientific sense. Such ideas have no structure and are being presented for social, ideological (not scientific) reasons.

    It’s significant that you could not give specific answers to my questions about what your god told you (or others) about the physical constants. Until you can I suggest you stop countering scientific investigation with statements like:
    “If there was a super-intelligent being as you suggested then it would not be a irrational leap to think that He may tell us that He created said universe.” Until you produce the evidence you should accept that the best approach to explaining the values of the physical constants is scientific investigation.

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  25. The scientific approach doesn’t make presumptions, it follows the evidence (all the evidence) wherever it leads. It that leads to an extraterrestrial super-intelligence than so be it.

    Of course you make assumptions, that the universe is “natural” and can be completely understood in a natural fashion.

    It’s significant that you could not give specific answers to my questions about what your god told you (or others) about the physical constants. Until you can I suggest you stop countering scientific investigation with statements like:
    “If there was a super-intelligent being as you suggested then it would not be a irrational leap to think that He may tell us that He created said universe.” Until you produce the evidence you should accept that the best approach to explaining the values of the physical constants is scientific investigation.

    Again Ken, scripture does not tell us many things – we should investigate these things. But in the end you will only have two choices for the creation of that goldilocks universe – mind or non-mind. And the “evidence” of God’s act would be His communication of this fact. Let me ask you Ken – what evidence would convince you that an intelligence created the universe?

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  26. The anthropic or “goldilocks” universe is basically a tautology. It’s self evident.

    What specifically is self evident?

    Do you seriously think that you lame, inapplicable example is a refutation of the fine tuning argument?

    LMFFAO!!!

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  27. “Of course you make assumptions, that the universe is “natural” and can be completely understood in a natural fashion. “
    Of course we make no such assumption. Scientists don’t start by asking “is this ‘natural’ – they just get on with the job.

    The key thing is evidence. Always evidence.

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  28. The “anthropic” concept is self-evident in that we must live in a part of a universe where life is possible. There could be no other interpretation.

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  29. The key thing is evidence. Always evidence.

    Ken try and follow this – where is the evidence that the above statement is valid? It’s not a trick – the thing is, you believe things (like the above statement) that you have no evidence for. So when a man demands “evidence” I just want to see if he is consistent.

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  30. James, you’ve run this particular bandwagon to death on several other threads here. You know our point of view, & we know yours. You’re not going to win any friends or influence people by endlessly parroting the same stuff, so why not give up & try to engage with the science for a change?

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  31. James, you’ve run this particular bandwagon to death on several other threads here. You know our point of view, & we know yours. You’re not going to win any friends or influence people by endlessly parroting the same stuff, so why not give up & try to engage with the science for a change?

    Alison, that would be irrational and impossible. When a person says that the “key thing is evidence” one must point out that this “belief” is not based on “evidence.” So the “key thing” can NOT be evidence, it can’t “always” be evidence. That statement is deeply irrational and self-refuting. These are not word games Alison this goes directly to human reason and logic.

    I have no problem talking about the other factors, but this should not be overlooked….

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  32. If you reallydo have no problem in talking about ‘the other factors’ then show us the money :-) The science that supports your standard of living, provides the basis of many of the technological innovations that you probably use on a daily basis, and underpins the medical advances that may well save – or have saved – your life at some point in time is evidence-based. Not faith-based, evidence-based.

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  33. Once you reject evidence as a basis then everything is surely permitted. One can justify the most horrible acts. And this is in fact what some people use a revelation-based world-view (in contrast to an evidence-based world-view) to actually do.

    As Alison points out – confirmation of the correctness of the evidence approach is given to us all the time by our experience. I certainly have no interest in debating this issue. It can only be a tactic for avoiding the real issues.

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  34. If you reallydo have no problem in talking about ‘the other factors’ then show us the money The science that supports your standard of living, provides the basis of many of the technological innovations that you probably use on a daily basis, and underpins the medical advances that may well save – or have saved – your life at some point in time is evidence-based. Not faith-based, evidence-based.

    Alison, never once on this board did I say that science is not useful – I use scientific principles every day to solve customer problems. My field is electronics. But science is not the only source of truth – Ken’s statement was not scientifc – it was a “belief.” Faith-based. And for you or him to suggest otherwise is not rational.

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  35. Once you reject evidence as a basis then everything is surely permitted. One can justify the most horrible acts. And this is in fact what some people use a revelation-based world-view (in contrast to an evidence-based world-view) to actually do.

    Ken, I know you are smarter than this! Your statement:The key thing is evidence. Always evidence. Is not evidence based – it is faith based. You can not even make a case for your position without a faith assumption. One that can not be proven by “evidence.”

    And Stalinists were evidence based – i.e. there was no God therefore no moral accountability – so killing millions was no big thing. After all there was not God to judge them.

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  36. Stalinism is a case in point – it was not evidence-based. That world-view argued for dictatorial, personal and political reasons against evidence. Even in science people were persecuted because they argued for the evidence – rather than for the time-serving political opportunism. Maoism and the red guards did exactly the same. In that respect it was similar to the way some people take religion today – using it against reason and evidence. Hence we get suicide bombing, hysterical approaches to others, persecution, killing and stoning of innocent people for subjective moral faiths, etc., etc.

    The so called “faith” of evidence is something which is checked and reaffirmed every second of the day. Quite separate from religious faith.

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  37. Stalinism is a case in point – it was not evidence-based. That world-view argued for dictatorial, personal and political reasons against evidence. Even in science people were persecuted because they argued for the evidence – rather than for the time-serving political opportunism. Maoism and the red guards did exactly the same. In that respect it was similar to the way some people take religion today – using it against reason and evidence. Hence we get suicide bombing, hysterical approaches to others, persecution, killing and stoning of innocent people for subjective moral faiths, etc., etc.

    Ken, you have to be more specific here. How is killing millions for your own personal power against evidence? What evidence?

    The so called “faith” of evidence is something which is checked and reaffirmed every second of the day. Quite separate from religious faith.

    No Ken, you failed to get the point. Your statement: The key thing is evidence. Always evidence. remains a faith based assumption. It can not be proven by evidence. The point being – you operate on an assumption that can not be proven by evidence. So the “key” can not be evidence, it can’t “always” be evidence since you violtate this assertion yourself. No one, not even you Ken, can escape faith based assumptions.

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  38. Isn’t it a bit disingenuous to talk about fine-tuning – as evidence for your specific religious beliefs – and similar evidence and then the minute someone seriously points out the need to really follow evidence (the way science does) ti then try and deny the importance of evidence.

    One can’t take these sort of comments seriously.

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  39. Ken, I never said that evidence wasn’t important or that we should not give it a lot of weight. We should. I’m just pointing out that we all have unscientific assumptions that we work from. Therefore not all truths are discovered or known by the scientific method. And these other truths or assumptions may be just as valid as anything discovered by science.

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  40. “And these other truths or assumptions may be just as valid as anything discovered by science.” – you may wish to believe this – but without evidence how can you justify or show it? Especially as it is often the case that such ideas are found to be wrong when they are tested.

    You seem to be suggesting that “unscientific assumptions” are OK. Few people would trust their lives on this.

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  41. You seem to be suggesting that “unscientific assumptions” are OK. Few people would trust their lives on this.

    Ken, you too believe that unscientific assumptions are OK: again you said: The key thing is evidence. Always evidence That is an assumption that can not be proven scientifically.

    Also I may trust my life to a good friend, or a loved one – but I can not prove scientifically that they will actually be trustworthy. So yes, we employ unscientific assumptions all the time, and even for life and death situations.

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  42. you may wish to believe this – but without evidence how can you justify or show it? Especially as it is often the case that such ideas are found to be wrong when they are tested.

    Ok Ken, back to a previous claim of yours about Stalinists – how is killing millions for your own personal power or wealth against the “evidence.” What evidence does that act violtate?

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  43. The reliability of evidence is surely indicated by the evidence. It’s not an assumption because it is demonstrated again and again whenever we consider reality.

    All other things being equal, would you trust you life to a situation where the evidence shows that you would surely die?

    Re Stalin – are you claiming that he was justified in all his acts of terror by evidence? Then have a read of The Murder of Ivan Vavilov – this will indicate that prime factors were paranoia and ideological beliefs – not evidence. “Facts” of course were manufactured to justify this terror. Same for Mao, Same for the Christian terror of the Crusades and inquisition. Same for Muslim terrorists. None of these were evidence based.

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  44. The reliability of evidence is surely indicated by the evidence. It’s not an assumption because it is demonstrated again and again whenever we consider reality.

    Ken, you are just not getting the point. First the above point is circular. You are begging the question. Second, is this:The key thing is evidence. Always evidence. That statement can not be proven scientifically. You could say that in your limited experience, evidence, or certain kinds of evidence, seems useful in solving certain problems. But you can’t know it is “always” evidence, you would have to be all-knowing (i.e.God) to makes such a universal claim.

    Re Stalin – are you claiming that he was justified in all his acts of terror by evidence? Then have a read of The Murder of Ivan Vavilov – this will indicate that prime factors were paranoia and ideological beliefs – not evidence. “Facts” of course were manufactured to justify this terror. Same for Mao, Same for the Christian terror of the Crusades and inquisition. Same for Muslim terrorists. None of these were evidence based.

    Of course facts were manufactured – people lie for personal gain, duh. And they murder. Yeah Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Pol Pot had an ideology – personal power and the enslavement of others.

    So again Ken, when men murder for wealth and power (this is the history of mankind) what evidence have they violated? What does “science” have to say about such an important moral issue?

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  45. Yes, it is circular isn’t it. But then again it was you who used the evidence of “fine-tuning” to support your ideological position – and then rejected the evidence when I exposed it to a scientific assessment. Clearly you use this as an argument tactic to manipulate discussions. I suggest a bit more honesty and actually dealing with evidence, rather than avoiding it. Personally, I will in future consider such arguments to be avoidance and will ignore them.

    You just don’t get the point (or wish to avoid it) that Stalin, etc., belong to the same classification as religious leaders who committed atrocities – and justified then on ideological grounds and false “evidence.” Their behaviour came across as religious hysteria – just remember the Maoist Red Guards.

    Science certainly can say a lot about evidence (after all that’s what forensic science does. It can therefore expose Stalin’s crimes – and the crimes of other religious terrorists and leaders.

    But if you want science to make a moral judgement for you – why. Certainly I can do so without resorting to science – why can’t you?

    I guess the real question is can you make that judgement without resorting to authority – to your god, scripture or interpretation of your religious leaders. Are you able to make that judgement without their help? – the Thinking Matters article claimed you couldn’t.

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  46. Yes, it is circular isn’t it. But then again it was you who used the evidence of “fine-tuning” to support your ideological position – and then rejected the evidence when I exposed it to a scientific assessment. Clearly you use this as an argument tactic to manipulate discussions. I suggest a bit more honesty and actually dealing with evidence, rather than avoiding it. Personally, I will in future consider such arguments to be avoidance and will ignore them.

    Ken, I don’t know why you keep doing this. I never said that evidence was not important (of course there are different kinds of evidence). I’m just pointing out that your statement was one that can not be supported by evidence. It is an assertion. This is not hard to understand Ken…

    But if you want science to make a moral judgement for you – why. Certainly I can do so without resorting to science – why can’t you?

    That’s the point Ken, science has nothing to say on moral issues; how should we treat our fellow man, should we leave our wives for younger women, should we defraud our neighbor, etc, etc, etc… So how do you follow the “evidence” here? What evidence? These are some of the most important issues that face mankind and science is silent. So much for evidence,”always evidence.” And so what if Mao or Stalin used false ideals to gain power – is it wrong to use false ideals to gain power and murder? Why? Where is the “evidence” that it is wrong to do so?

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  47. Well, you have certainly been avoiding the fine-tuning argument. Leaping from scientific consideration of evidence to charges of naturalism – then avoiding the response to charge that evidence is not reliable – then avoiding offering an alternative to Stalin – then avoiding the religious nature of Stalin and Mao to “science has nothing to say on moral issues” strawmannery.

    Why don’t you stick with the issues?

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  48. Well, you have certainly been avoiding the fine-tuning argument. Leaping from scientific consideration of evidence to charges of naturalism – then avoiding the response to charge that evidence is not Well, you have certainly been avoiding the fine-tuning argument. Leaping from scientific consideration of evidence to charges of naturalism – then avoiding the response to charge that evidence is not reliable – then avoiding offering an alternative to Stalin – then avoiding the religious nature of Stalin and Mao to “science has nothing to say on moral issues” strawmannery.

    Well Ken, at this point we both know what the evidence is. We live in a finely tuned universe. I think the only real question is – did it come about by accident or by purpose. And I never said that evidence was not reliable. But I did question your universal assumption about “evidence” and used more considerations to do so.

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  49. P.S. That should have been “moral considerations.”

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  50. Thanks for getting back on subject.

    I think your choices are wrong. You should not restrict possibilities to accident or purpose. (It’s a bit like saying that things fall either by accident or purpose – ignoring the possibility gravitational force and therefore refusing to investigate this.) Things could be the way they are because their is no other way. In other words – one should not assume that a physical constant could take any value. (Einstein posed this question in his typical metaphorical way by asking “did god have a choice in the way he created the universe”). Terms like “fine tuning” and the silly discussions about changing the values of the physical constants become superfluous if there was no choice.

    Personally (and metaphorically) I feel philosophically that there was no “choice” – but I am quite prepared to be shown wrong about that. Evidence for different values for the constants in other parts of the wider universe would do this. So you can see it is annoying to me when people limit there vision to “accident or purpose.”

    I am glad you accept the reliability of evidence. That must be used in evaluating any model – chance, inherent, purpose or any other. Now, I am aware of scientific models and speculations (more than just guesses or wishes as they have a lot of mathematical structure) for inherent and non-inherent causes. These will be decided by the evidence (and even for the “multiverse” model such evidence is not necessarily impossible to get).

    While I am aware that some people (including a few scientists) like to connect an anthropic interpretation to purpose I am not aware of any respectable (in the sense of structure) model for this. Only wishes, hopes – mainly culturally motivated. Unfortunately when people try to impose their cultural, religious prejudices on reality we never discover truth.

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  51. Ken, I don’t think we can escape these terms. In the end, this universe is either here by purpose or by accident. I see no reason to believe that we “had” to have this kind of universe with these specific properties. Was it in the end just dumb luck? I think one of the main reasons why some are suggesting a multiverse is to attempt to undermine the clear anthropic nature of this universe. If we had millions of previous universes it would be more likely to just happen on a goldilocks cosmos. I think this is driven by ideology more than science – they need to dismiss the idea of purpose – because the idea of purpose is evident.

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  52. “I don’t think we can escape these terms. ” – then why avoid the idea that the universe had to be the way it is? That is hardly open-minded and of course that attitude doesn’t allow the development of a realistic interpretation of what happened. The scientific approach is to follow the evidence, all the evidence, without any exclusions.

    The claim of an ideological motivation for multiple parts of the universe with different constants is common for apologists. But it ignores the fact that this really comes out of the speculations and equations developed in string theory. It’s still only speculation and is probably accepted by only a minority of theoretical physicists or cosmologists. Interestingly it seems an inevitable result of those who argue for strong anthropic universe – as do Christian apologists. As Krauss says – it is a lazy way out, avoiding the work need to show the reasons for the values of the constants. But that is exactly the approach apologists take – you do yourself by presenting accident as the only alternative to a god). They just go one step further and deny other possibilities which logically follow.

    Purpose is evident to you – you want it to be that way because you are ideologically driven. (And that is why you want to present accident as the only other option). But apart from some wild speculation (cultural motivated of the sort voiced by Davies) no-one is advancing that as a component of a scientific theory.

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  53. then why avoid the idea that the universe had to be the way it is? That is hardly open-minded and of course that attitude doesn’t allow the development of a realistic interpretation of what happened. The scientific approach is to follow the evidence, all the evidence, without any exclusions.

    Ken where is the evidence that the universe had to be this way? I was reading Hawkins a while back and he said that at the point of the hot big bang all known laws of physics breakdown. In other words we have not idea why the universe was created – and we never may. So we many never have the evidence – then what? At that point wouldn’t your belief of no purpose be just ideological as my belief of purpose?

    Purpose is evident to you – you want it to be that way because you are ideologically driven. (And that is why you want to present accident as the only other option). But apart from some wild speculation (cultural motivated of the sort voiced by Davies) no-one is advancing that as a component of a scientific theory.

    Well of course purpose is evident to me. Why isn’t it evident to you? In other words Ken, what kind of evidence would you need to come to the conclusion of purpose? As opposed to chance? This is why I say that evidence is often person dependent.

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  54. “where is the evidence that the universe had to be this way?” – you misinterpret me. We don’t have conclusive evidence for any model – we are researching this area. While we may have philosophical preferences it would be bigoted to exclude any specific model. That is what you are doing when you refuse to consider anything but purpose (you don’t really consider chance do you?).

    “Well of course purpose is evident to me. Why isn’t it evident to you? “ – Because I am driven by evidence – not ideological preference or prejudice. Philosophical preference does not make anything evident.

    “evidence is often person dependent.” - Crap. Evidence is objective – it’s your interpretation which is subjective. Unfortunately ideological and religious prejudice often prevents people from admitting that objective evidence. Ever heard of the claim that there are no intermediate fossils! Also utter crap.

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  55. you misinterpret me. We don’t have conclusive evidence for any model – we are researching this area. While we may have philosophical preferences it would be bigoted to exclude any specific model. That is what you are doing when you refuse to consider anything but purpose (you don’t really consider chance do you?).

    Ken, you brought up the idea that the universe may haved had to be this way. That is a philosophical assumption – apart from evidence. And I don’t exclude anything, but purpose just seems evident to me. Much more likely than chance. Personally I don’t see how “chance” creates anything.

    [quote]Because I am driven by evidence – not ideological preference or prejudice. Philosophical preference does not make anything evident.[/quote]

    I did ask you a question – what evidence would you need to see to conclude purpose? BTW Ken, I don’t believe for a moment that you are not ideological – and that ideology is materialism. I know you don’t like the label but that fact has been more than evident through our many discussions.

    Crap. Evidence is objective – it’s your interpretation which is subjective. Unfortunately ideological and religious prejudice often prevents people from admitting that objective evidence. Ever heard of the claim that there are no intermediate fossils! Also utter crap.

    Ok fine, our interpretations are subjective. And bias – this includes you and most scientists who are committed materialists. And perhaps your ideology prevents you from admitting a purposeful universe?

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  56. You are being silly and pedantic now. An inherently logical universe is an obvious model – you are the one that excluded it. That’s why I had to bring it up – and to point out your bias.

    “Purpose is evident to you” – but you can’t provide evidence. The fine tuning argument applies just as much to the other 2 models.

    “what evidence would you need to see to conclude purpose?” – obviously I would need data first which enabled me to develop a proper, structured, scientific, testable “purpose model.” I am not being restrictive there (it’s easy to say I would like to see “I am here” spelled out by rearranged stars). So, any evidence sufficient to build a model on. As I said – “fine tuning” is not such evidence (what possible “purpose” [or any other model] structure can I build on that?).

    You, not me, are the one actively proposing a “purpose model” – you provide me with the evidence and some details of a structured hypothesis. Until then (or until my own reading suggests such a model) I am not obviously going to waste my time thinking about it.

    Incidentally, that also goes for the chance and inherent models (although I sometimes think there is evidence building for an inherent model which is worth pursuing – still that’s not my job).

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  57. “evidence is often person dependent.” – Crap.

    (applause)

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  58. You are being silly and pedantic now. An inherently logical universe is an obvious model – you are the one that excluded it. That’s why I had to bring it up – and to point out your bias.

    No, the question is – why is the universe inherently logical? In other words what created this logical universe – a logical mind, or non-rational chance. Unless you think the universe popped out of nothing, it had a prior source. The question is then, what is that source.

    obviously I would need data first which enabled me to develop a proper, structured, scientific, testable “purpose model.” I am not being restrictive there (it’s easy to say I would like to see “I am here” spelled out by rearranged stars). So, any evidence sufficient to build a model on. As I said – “fine tuning” is not such evidence (what possible “purpose” [or any other model] structure can I build on that?).

    Besides seeing the stars spell out something, what exactly would it take? And why wouldn’t fine tuning be evidence of a mind rather than blind chance, as the prior cause of a logical universe? What makes blind chance more plausible to you?

    You, not me, are the one actively proposing a “purpose model” – you provide me with the evidence and some details of a structured hypothesis. Until then (or until my own reading suggests such a model) I am not obviously going to waste my time thinking about it.

    The hypothesis is inherent in the question Ken, either a fine tuned universe can about by blind chance or by intellgence. Is there any evidence that blind chance can create such a fine tuned universe? Is it you ideology that prevents you from considering a mind?

    Cedric “evidence is often person dependent.” – Crap.

    (applause)

    Cedric, yet this is exactly what Iapetus said in post #79 in “Let’s count teeth.” You seemed to hang on his every word in that discussion. Are you disagreeing with him now? And I quote:

    Yes James, what one considers evidence is a decision problem. We have to use our fallible reason to evaluate what is presented as evidence for a given proposition and decide whether we accept it or not. This decision is influenced by a multitude of factors, both conscious and sub-conscious.

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  59. “either a fine tuned universe can about by blind chance or by intelligence.” This is where you started and you seem not to have understood my points. I don’t know how to spell this out simply but even your mate Dembski includes an inherent model. In other words there are at least 3 models to choose from – or more correctly we should also include models which include multiples of those 3. For example Barrow also considers that many of the physical constants are predetermined (they could have no other values) whereas some others could take up any of a range of values).

    I think this actually, realistically, condenses down to 2 basic models (chance and inherent) or combinations of these (I don’t think we need to consider “purpose” as a special case). We can accommodate the “purpose” model as a special case of chance. That is, the physical constants are free to take a range of different values but an advanced intelligence creating the universe could “dial up” specific values. (If the values are inherent, could be no other way, it seems to me that a creator has no role here.

    You are advocating a specific case of the chance model (involving “a mind” or intelligent “creator” who intervenes to choose the specific values from among the available options). Now, I don’t limit my options to the chance model (as I said I have a philosophical preference for the inherent model but am open-minded) but if you want me to consider a chance model involving “a mind” or “creator” then you have to provide some evidence. Currently I see none.

    So please don’t come back to me with silly statements like “Is it you ideology that prevents you from considering a mind? “. If you really want me to consider the specific chance model you advocate – just give me some evidence!

    And please, please, don’t descend to provoking Cedric again. I value this discussion and don’t want to close it off because it descends into trolling and provocation.

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  60. In other words there are at least 3 models to choose from – or more correctly we should also include models which include multiples of those 3. For example Barrow also considers that many of the physical constants are predetermined (they could have no other values) whereas some others could take up any of a range of values).

    You just put the question back one step. Since there were once no physical constants we still have to ask – what created those constants? And we are back to a chance event or an intelligent event. We can escape this choice for the creation of the universe – a non-rational source or a rational source.

    I think this actually, realistically, condenses down to 2 basic models (chance and inherent) or combinations of these (I don’t think we need to consider “purpose” as a special case). We can accommodate the “purpose” model as a special case of chance. That is, the physical constants are free to take a range of different values but an advanced intelligence creating the universe could “dial up” specific values. (If the values are inherent, could be no other way, it seems to me that a creator has no role here.

    Even if the constants are inherent to the creation event, to the way it was created (which is not problem for the theist) you are still not telling me what created the universe in the first place (whether the constants are inherent to the process or not). So we are back to chance or intellgence creating a universe with inherent values. Besides, where is the evidence that the universe “had” to be this way?

    So please don’t come back to me with silly statements like “Is it you ideology that prevents you from considering a mind? “. If you really want me to consider the specific chance model you advocate – just give me some evidence!

    Fair is fair, where is your evidence that chance could create a universe with inherent values?

    You are advocating a specific case of the chance model (involving “a mind” or intelligent “creator” who intervenes to choose the specific values from among the available options). Now, I don’t limit my options to the chance model (as I said I have a philosophical preference for the inherent model but am open-minded) but if you want me to consider a chance model involving “a mind” or “creator” then you have to provide some evidence. Currently I see none.

    Well Ken, where is the “evidence” that chance could create this universe or did create this universe (with inherent values or not)? Like I said, at the point of the hot big bang all known laws of physics breakdown – we have no idea what happened. And since no known laws were operating, perhaps we never will. Perhaps we will be forever left with the question of chance or intellgence – I just want to know why you prefer chance – what makes you think chance can do all of this? Based on what evidence?

    And please, please, don’t descend to provoking Cedric again. I value this discussion and don’t want to close it off because it descends into trolling and provocation.

    Just making the point that Iapetus did (who is on your side) that evidence is person dependent – in other words, what a man decides is evidence or good evidence is often quite subjective.

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  61. James, you seem to be prepared to impose a model without evidence. You also want to impose an opinion on me that I don’t have with statements like “Well Ken, where is the “evidence” that chance could create this universe or did create this universe,” “I just want to know why you prefer chance”. Have you not heard of the honest answer “I don’t know” when it comes to questions so complex as this. And, this of course is followed by “Let’s find out” and I suggest this is what scientists (notice not theologians or philosophers) are now doing. I could give you a vague answer about how matter and radiation were created derived from my scientific reading. This explains a lot (not everything) and is testable in the sense that the Higgs and inflaton fields invoked are likely to be either shown to exist or not by the LHC.

    You do reveal some muddy thinking as well.

    “at the point of the hot big bang all known laws of physics breakdown” – laws are just humanity’s representation of the order they find in the universe. That order is there whether we can describe it or not. Sure, our current understanding of physics doesn’t go much beyond extremely small fractions of a second after time 0 – I am sure that is changing as we debate this. Unless you want to suggest (and where is the evidence) that the reality wasn’t rational before that time. By the way, there is scientific theory/speculation which goes back to before the big bang and asserts that we see evidence of the previous universe the the background microwave radiation of our current universe.

    “Since there were once no physical constants” – here you make an evidence-free (how could you have evidence for this) assertion. Preconceived ideas like this (as in assuming an intelligent creator, are going to prevent you really understand what we currently know – let alone what we will in the future.

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  62. Ken, the fact is that we don’t know. We have no idea why or how this universe was created. And we never may. You have no evidence that chance did or could create such a universe. Will science some day figure it out – perhaps, but there are also good reasons to assume that this knowledge may for ever be gone. You of course that faith that they will. But we both agree that we should not make up false theories with no basis in fact just because we don’t like the implication of a single fined tuned universe. So at this point both positions, chance or intellgence, are not provable – scientifically. And I will say it again, that fact that something rather than nothing exists, and the fact that this something is fined tuned, and fined tuned for biological life, and the fact that biological life suddenly showed up (there is no reason why it had to) all point to intellgence.

    And that is no more dogmatic than your belief that it all came by chance or your belief that we can one day figure it all out.

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  63. So you say we don’t know, we may never know (but perhaps we will), we should not make up false theories with no basis in fact – all good scientific approaches I concur with. Then you ruin it by defining only two positions (chance and intelligence)which ignore at least one of the ones I actively consider – and then claim the evidence “all point to intellgence.”

    Well, I say the evidence doesn’t show that by any means (although it may satisfyingly be interpreted that way by some with religious prejudices). For me – I am happy saying I don’t know, we don’t know. But I keenly read what I can of the current research and enjoy rational, structured speculation (understanding its limitations). And I am getting an understanding of a scientific explanation of how matter and radiation formed.

    The claim “fined tuned for biological life, and the fact that biological life suddenly showed up” is not evidence for or against intelligence (or any of the other models).

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  64. So you say we don’t know, we may never know (but perhaps we will), we should not make up false theories with no basis in fact – all good scientific approaches I concur with. Then you ruin it by defining only two positions (chance and intelligence)which ignore at least one of the ones I actively consider – and then claim the evidence “all point to intellgence.”

    Ken, what is the third option? That the universe “had” to be this way? But that would only be true if the initial conditions for the big bang were some how certain and immutable. So we only push the problem back one more step – what caused these initial conditions to be what they were. We are back to chance or intellgence.

    For me – I am happy saying I don’t know, we don’t know. But I keenly read what I can of the current research and enjoy rational, structured speculation (understanding its limitations). And I am getting an understanding of a scientific explanation of how matter and radiation formed.

    Ken, first we don’t even know some basic things about universe. How were stars originally formed, which came first stars or galaxies, and really, where did our moon come from, and what the heck is gravity – we have theories, but all these theories have serious problems. Never mind how features of quantum mechanics often defy scientific investigation – like entanglement.

    I’m glad you are agnostic on the matter – but if that is the case then why isn’t intellgence just as viable an option as chance? Why should anyone, at this point, see chance as the only viable candidate?

    The claim “fined tuned for biological life, and the fact that biological life suddenly showed up” is not evidence for or against intelligence (or any of the other models).

    Well actually this is why I said that evidence is person dependent. I do see these things as good evidence for intellgence. And I think you should to. Just like the quote from Raphael Bousso (in this thread), who is not a christian apologist. That dark matter may also have a “just right” parameter. How many “just right” coincidences will it take before one considers intellgence?

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  65. You want to deny one option and advocate another – while admitting we still don’t have the data!!! Of course one should not see “chance” as the only viable option. Nor should one see “intelligence” (actually “chance” with a “creator” to manipulate the knobs) as the only viable option. Nor should one exclude an inherent model (as you do).

    You appear to want to impose a solution. Fortunately scientists working in this area don’t. They get on, do the work and test their hypotheses. We are making progress. To put your god in this gap is just a science stopper. Humanity doesn’t want science to stop.

    So, without evidence your arguments have no influence with me. Too imbued with the scientific ethos I think.

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  66. Of course things look ‘just right’ for us – after all, we’re seeing things from our own anthropocentric perspective. As I’ve said elsewhere, if mankind manages to wipe itself out & a surviving species (probably cockroaches!) gains sentience, no doubt they’ll marvel at how well the world is fitted to their needs…

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  67. You want to deny one option and advocate another – while admitting we still don’t have the data!!! Of course one should not see “chance” as the only viable option. Nor should one see “intelligence” (actually “chance” with a “creator” to manipulate the knobs) as the only viable option. Nor should one exclude an inherent model (as you do).

    Ken, again the “inherent” model just sets the problem back one step. Because we then have to ask what created the initial conditions – that caused the big bang. We always come back to chance (non-intentional forces) or intellgence. And all I said is that intellgence seems much more likely to me. Intellgent finger prints seem self-evident.

    You appear to want to impose a solution. Fortunately scientists working in this area don’t. They get on, do the work and test their hypotheses. We are making progress. To put your god in this gap is just a science stopper. Humanity doesn’t want science to stop.

    Yes God can be a science stopper, but so can nature, in so far as she may have secrets that she will never give up. But what are you most concerned about Ken – the scientific method or the truth? If there is a creator God you would want to accept that truth – correct?

    So, without evidence your arguments have no influence with me. Too imbued with the scientific ethos I think.

    The universe is the evidence Ken,a fine tuned universe, a rational universe, a universe that just happened to create rational biological life. And perhaps your scientific ethos is blinding you, perhaps that is your ideology? That if something can not be proven scientifically it can’t be true. But why should anyone accept that limitation?

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  68. Of course things look ‘just right’ for us – after all, we’re seeing things from our own anthropocentric perspective. As I’ve said elsewhere, if mankind manages to wipe itself out & a surviving species (probably cockroaches!) gains sentience, no doubt they’ll marvel at how well the world is fitted to their needs…

    The fact is Alison, things are “just right.” Look at my quote in this thread about dark matter. Every time we turn around we find another finely tuned feature of the universe. How many just right coincidences does it take for a man or women to suspect intellgence? Could it be that a prior commitment to naturalism, as an ideology, has blinded that person?

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  69. “Ken, again the “inherent” model just sets the problem back one step.” – most science does – provide more questions than answers. It helps keep us in a job – provided we are then prepared to investigate the new questions. Surely your “god did it” answer (providing you are prepared to investigate it in the absence of evidence) sets the problem back quite a few steps . Are you prepared to allow those new questions to be investigated??? As you say, god can be a science stopper – it certainly is in this case.

    I suggest it is your ideology, prior commitment to magic (“supernaturalism”), and wish to impose your deeply held beliefs on others that is blinded you. However, that is your business. You have not presented real evidence and I certainly don’t find your arguments convincing. I will continue to question and maintain an open mind on this whole issue – its the best scientific approach.

    As for your “proof” of the rational universe. We can easily understand that without resorting to a magic god. I am posting tomorrow a reply to local Christian apologists on that one.

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  70. most science does – provide more questions than answers. It helps keep us in a job – provided we are then prepared to investigate the new questions. Surely your “god did it” answer (providing you are prepared to investigate it in the absence of evidence) sets the problem back quite a few steps . Are you prepared to allow those new questions to be investigated??? As you say, god can be a science stopper – it certainly is in this case.

    If we are only setting the problem back one step then we are back to chance (i.e.a non-rational event or force) or intellgence. And of course, investigate to your heart’s content, no one needs my permission. I just hope men do not invent theories because of their prior commitment to naturalism. Again, we both want the truth – correct? Even if that truth is intellgence?

    I suggest it is your ideology, prior commitment to magic (”supernaturalism”), and wish to impose your deeply held beliefs on others that is blinded you. However, that is your business. You have not presented real evidence and I certainly don’t find your arguments convincing. I will continue to question and maintain an open mind on this whole issue – its the best scientific approach.

    At this point Ken, saying that “nature did it” is just as magical, or more so, than saying that intellgence did it. There is no good evidence that nature did, or could, create such a universe, or for instance that nature could, or did, create biological life on earth. Yet you still hold that nature could, or did, do these things. You believe (apart from any good evidence) that these things can be explained naturally. You ideology is materialism, or at least, naturalism Ken. You are not an objective observer – like ALL of us you have your bias and presuppositions.

    As for your “proof” of the rational universe. We can easily understand that without resorting to a magic god.

    Are you going to resort to a magical force of nature – that no one has ever seen? BTW – I have been following your discussion on Thinking Matters.

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  71. There is no scientific reason to adopt naturalism as the rule of thumb in science. How do we test naturalism? How can we know that all phenomema is explained by “naturall forces”?

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  72. James – it does no good attacking me for imagine(by you ideology). The fact is that humanity will investigate reasons for the values of the physical constants – relying on evidence (not any assumed “natural”, “material” or “supernatural” explanation). Scientists do not start by making those sort of assumptions – they get on and do the job.

    We are doing this and we are making progress. A simple “god did it” will not answer anything. BTW my article on a rational universe is probably posted on Wednesday.

    Mats – same response. We don’t make assumptions about “natural forces.” But we do have the requirement of evidence. All this talk about ‘natural’, ‘supernatural’, ‘materialism’ etc., is just aimed at sneaking in a religious explanation – without fulfilling the requirement of evidence.

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  73. James – it does no good attacking me for imagine(by you ideology). The fact is that humanity will investigate reasons for the values of the physical constants – relying on evidence (not any assumed “natural”, “material” or “supernatural” explanation). Scientists do not start by making those sort of assumptions – they get on and do the job.

    Ken, you are human, you are not Mr. Spock. You are just as bias, or not bias, as the next man. We all have our presuppositions. This is why some will revert to a completely irrational theory like infinite regress to avoid the idea of a single goldilocks universe. Are you posting on Thinking Matters? I’ll be watching for it…

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  74. We are doing this and we are making progress. A simple “god did it” will not answer anything.

    Again Ken, what if it the truth? Is not the truth more important than process?

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  75. Yes, I am human, James. And I understand about prejudice and how easy it is for someone to try to protect their most strongly held beliefs. That is why experiential validation and peer critique/review is so vital for science . That is why science is so successful at approaching the truth. If we didn’t have those processes science would become a dead dogma like the apologetics religious dogma.

    As for truth being more important than process. If you don”t use honest process like science you don’t get to the truth. Also, my impression is that for many religious people truth is not a high priority – dogma is. That is why they try to distort scientific findings – or even lie about their activities. The creationist Dover School board were a blatant example – leading to Judge Jones actually having to comment on their disregard for truth.

    And Expelled is another example of complete dishonesty.

    There just doesn’t seem to be an ethos for honesty and truth for those with a religionist approach.

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  76. More recent fine tuning evidences that you may want to investigate:Fine Tuning Parameters for the Universe
    1.strong nuclear force constant
    if larger: no hydrogen would form; atomic nuclei for most life-essential elements would be unstable; thus, no life chemistry
    if smaller: no elements heavier than hydrogen would form: again, no life chemistry
    2.weak nuclear force constant
    if larger: too much hydrogen would convert to helium in big bang; hence, stars would convert too much matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
    if smaller: too little helium would be produced from big bang; hence, stars would convert too little matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
    3.gravitational force constant
    if larger: stars would be too hot and would burn too rapidly and too unevenly for life chemistry
    if smaller: stars would be too cool to ignite nuclear fusion; thus, many of the elements needed for life chemistry would never form
    4.electromagnetic force constant
    if greater: chemical bonding would be disrupted; elements more massive than boron would be unstable to fission
    if lesser: chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry
    5.ratio of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant
    if larger: all stars would be at least 40% more massive than the sun; hence, stellar burning would be too brief and too uneven for life support
    if smaller: all stars would be at least 20% less massive than the sun, thus incapable of producing heavy elements
    6.ratio of electron to proton mass
    if larger: chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry
    if smaller: same as above
    7.ratio of number of protons to number of electrons
    if larger: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
    if smaller: same as above
    8.expansion rate of the universe
    if larger: no galaxies would form
    if smaller: universe would collapse, even before stars formed
    9.entropy level of the universe
    if larger: stars would not form within proto-galaxies
    if smaller: no proto-galaxies would form
    10.mass density of the universe
    if larger: overabundance of deuterium from big bang would cause stars to burn rapidly, too rapidly for life to form
    if smaller: insufficient helium from big bang would result in a shortage of heavy elements
    11.velocity of light
    if faster: stars would be too luminous for life support if slower: stars would be insufficiently luminous for life support
    12.age of the universe
    if older: no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would exist in the right (for life) part of the galaxy
    if younger: solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed
    13.initial uniformity of radiation
    if more uniform: stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed
    if less uniform: universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space
    14.average distance between galaxies
    if larger: star formation late enough in the history of the universe would be hampered by lack of material
    if smaller: gravitational tug-of-wars would destabilize the sun’s orbit
    15.density of galaxy cluster
    if denser: galaxy collisions and mergers would disrupt the sun’s orbit
    if less dense: star formation late enough in the history of the universe would be hampered by lack of material
    16.average distance between stars
    if larger: heavy element density would be too sparse for rocky planets to form
    if smaller: planetary orbits would be too unstable for life
    17.fine structure constant (describing the fine-structure splitting of spectral lines) if larger: all stars would be at least 30% less massive than the sun
    if larger than 0.06: matter would be unstable in large magnetic fields
    if smaller: all stars would be at least 80% more massive than the sun
    18.decay rate of protons
    if greater: life would be exterminated by the release of radiation
    if smaller: universe would contain insufficient matter for life
    19.12C to 16O nuclear energy level ratio
    if larger: universe would contain insufficient oxygen for life
    if smaller: universe would contain insufficient carbon for life
    20.ground state energy level for 4He
    if larger: universe would contain insufficient carbon and oxygen for life
    if smaller: same as above
    21.decay rate of 8Be
    if slower: heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in all the stars
    if faster: no element heavier than beryllium would form; thus, no life chemistry
    22.ratio of neutron mass to proton mass
    if higher: neutron decay would yield too few neutrons for the formation of many life-essential elements
    if lower: neutron decay would produce so many neutrons as to collapse all stars into neutron stars or black holes
    23.initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons if greater: radiation would prohibit planet formation
    if lesser: matter would be insufficient for galaxy or star formation
    24.polarity of the water molecule
    if greater: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too high for life
    if smaller: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too low for life; liquid water would not work as a solvent for life chemistry; ice would not float, and a runaway freeze-up would result
    25.supernovae eruptions
    if too close, too frequent, or too late: radiation would exterminate life on the planet
    if too distant, too infrequent, or too soon: heavy elements would be too sparse for rocky planets to form
    26.white dwarf binaries if too few: insufficient fluorine would exist for life chemistry if too many: planetary orbits would be too unstable for life
    if formed too soon: insufficient fluorine production
    if formed too late: fluorine would arrive too late for life chemistry
    27.ratio of exotic matter mass to ordinary matter mass
    if larger: universe would collapse before solar-type stars could form
    if smaller: no galaxies would form
    28.number of effective dimensions in the early universe
    if larger: quantum mechanics, gravity, and relativity could not coexist; thus, life would be impossible
    if smaller: same result
    29.number of effective dimensions in the present universe
    if smaller: electron, planet, and star orbits would become unstable
    if larger: same result
    30.mass of the neutrino
    if smaller: galaxy clusters, galaxies, and stars would not form
    if larger: galaxy clusters and galaxies would be too dense
    31.big bang ripples
    if smaller: galaxies would not form; universe would expand too rapidly
    if larger: galaxies/galaxy clusters would be too dense for life; black holes would dominate; universe would collapse before life-site could form
    32.size of the relativistic dilation factor
    if smaller: certain life-essential chemical reactions will not function properly
    if larger: same result
    33.uncertainty magnitude in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
    if smaller: oxygen transport to body cells would be too small and certain life-essential elements would be unstable
    if larger: oxygen transport to body cells would be too great and certain life-essential elements would be unstable
    34.cosmological constant
    if larger: universe would expand too quickly to form solar-type stars

    Here are also some quote from scientists re:fintuning related evidences: Fred Hoyle (British astrophysicist): “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” (2)
    George Ellis (British astrophysicist): “Amazing fine tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word ‘miraculous’ without taking a stand as to the ontological status of the word.” (3)
    Paul Davies (British astrophysicist): “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming”. (4)
    Paul Davies: “The laws [of physics] … seem to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design… The universe must have a purpose”. (5)
    Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy): “I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.” (6)
    John O’Keefe (astronomer at NASA): “We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.” (7)
    George Greenstein (astronomer): “As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency – or, rather, Agency – must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?” (8)
    Arthur Eddington (astrophysicist): “The idea of a universal mind or Logos would be, I think, a fairly plausible inference from the present state of scientific theory.” (9)
    Arno Penzias (Nobel prize in physics): “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan.” (10)
    Roger Penrose (mathematician and author): “I would say the universe has a purpose. It’s not there just somehow by chance.” (11)
    Tony Rothman (physicist): “When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it’s very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it.” (12)
    Vera Kistiakowsky (MIT physicist): “The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine.” (13)
    Robert Jastrow (self-proclaimed agnostic): “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” (14)
    Stephen Hawking (British astrophysicist): “Then we shall… be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.” (15)
    Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics): “When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.” (16) Note: Tipler since has actually converted to Christianity, hence his latest book, The Physics Of Christianity.
    Alexander Polyakov (Soviet mathematician): “We know that nature is described by the best of all possible mathematics because God created it.”(17)
    Ed Harrison (cosmologist): “Here is the cosmological proof of the existence of God – the design argument of Paley – updated and refurbished. The fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design. Take your choice: blind chance that requires multitudes of universes or design that requires only one…. Many scientists, when they admit their views, incline toward the teleological or design argument.” (18)
    Edward Milne (British cosmologist): “As to the cause of the Universe, in context of expansion, that is left for the reader to insert, but our picture is incomplete without Him [God].” (19)
    Barry Parker (cosmologist): “Who created these laws? There is no question but that a God will always be needed.” (20)
    Drs. Zehavi, and Dekel (cosmologists): “This type of universe, however, seems to require a degree of fine tuning of the initial conditions that is in apparent conflict with ‘common wisdom’.” (21)
    Arthur L. Schawlow (Professor of Physics at Stanford University, 1981 Nobel Prize in physics): “It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious. . . . I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.” (22)
    Henry “Fritz” Schaefer (Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia): “The significance and joy in my science comes in those occasional moments of discovering something new and saying to myself, ‘So that’s how God did it.’ My goal is to understand a little corner of God’s plan.” (23)
    Wernher von Braun (Pioneer rocket engineer) “I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.” (24)
    Carl Woese (microbiologist from the University of Illinois) “Life in Universe – rare or unique? I walk both sides of that street. One day I can say that given the 100 billion stars in our galaxy and the 100 billion or more galaxies, there have to be some planets that formed and evolved in ways very, very like the Earth has, and so would contain microbial life at least. There are other days when I say that the anthropic principal, which makes this universe a special one out of an uncountably large number of universes, may not apply only to that aspect of nature we define in the realm of physics, but may extend to chemistry and biology. In that case life on Earth could be entirely unique.” (25)
    Antony Flew (Professor of Philosophy, former atheist, author, and debater) “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.” (26)
    Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics): “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.” (27)
    These quotes are from Hugh Ross and Anthony Flew’s biik.

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  77. 76:

    Cut’n’paste doesn’t mean much. (And either does quote mining.) Besides you might just as well have posted to links, rather cutting and pasting all that junk!, e.g.

    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/designun.html

    http://www.y-origins.com/index.php?p=quotes

    Let’s see. We have an apologetics website (“Evidence for G-d from Science” – yeah, right) and a creationist magazine website. No surprises, in other words.

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  78. Heraclides said…”Besides you might just as well have posted to links, rather cutting and pasting all that junk!”

    The modestly named “Skyking” doesn’t understand that.
    Cutting and pasting is gud.
    Cutting and pasting make skyking clevar.
    Right, “Skyking”?
    Ugg?

    Argument No 203: ARGUMENT FROM APOLOGETICS WEBPAGES
    (1) I was surfing the Net and came across this really cool webpage of apologetics.
    (2) Their arguments were stunning. I couldn’t refute them.
    (3) Therefore, God exists.

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm

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  79. TheSkyKing – have a look at my article The ghetto of apologetics “science”.

    I think it is relevant to the way you are putting your trust in “reinterpreted” science as presented by apologetics websites.

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