Tuesday, July 22, 2008

God Would Be Dead, if He Existed in the First Place (Part III)

William Lane Craig continues:
The teleological argument. The old design argument remains as robust today as ever...
Wait...you're serious? Let me laugh even harder. We have a theory--biological evolution by natural selection--that explains how complex features with a superficial appearance of "design" can and do develop naturally, without any Cosmic Architects with glowing golden drafting calipers in their hands. It explains why we share genes with puffer fish, but far more genes with chimpanzees, how eyes develop, and so on. It has an immense quantity of evidence in its favor, from a range of scientific fields like genetics, biology, paleontology, anatomy, and physics (radiometric dating). I'll leave it to the folks at TalkOrigins.org to eviscerate the "robust" design argument in greater detail. Craig doesn't try to wield debunked arguments about bacterial flagella "motors." Instead, he turns to the latest fashion in Goddidit invisible Imperial apparel:

But the cutting edge of the discussion focuses on the recently discovered, remarkable fine-tuning of the cosmos for life. This finetuning [sic] is of two sorts. First, when the laws of nature are expressed as mathematical equations, they contain certain constants, such as the gravitational constant. The mathematical values of these constants are not determined by the laws of nature. Second, there are certain arbitrary quantities that are just part of the initial conditions of the universe--for example, the amount of entropy.

These constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life-permitting values. Were these constants and qualities to be altered by less than a hair's breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed, and life would not exist. [emphasis in original]
A couple things to point out here. First of all, as an argument for any sort of anthropomorphic personal, supernatural deity, this approach is self-refuting.

1. A proposed Cosmological Fine-Tuner (CFT) is a product of a Universe like this one, or it is not.

2. If the CFT(s) are products of a Universe like this one, they are bound by the same physical principles we are, and are therefore not supernatural.

3. If the CFT(s) are native to some other sort of dimension or state that is significantly different from our Universe, then the conditions of our Universe are not necessary for the existence of intelligent life.

4. If there is more than one possible way for intelligent life to exist, then Cosmological Fine-Tuning is not necessary to explain the existence of intelligent life.


Second, even if our Universe were fine-tuned, how sure can we be that it is fine-tuned "for life"--by which Craig and the I.D. crowd mean: for us? Is it not possible that beings capable of designing and creating Universes to their desired specifications might have other goals in mind than the creation of human beings, and garnering human worship and obedience?

We could be like some little patch of mildew growing on the wall of one of the tunnels in the Large Hadron Collider saying, "See? This place is suitable for our type of life! If it was much hotter or colder, or lacked air, we could not live here. Therefore, this place was built as a home for us!

One way to avoid that sort of foolish hubris is to consider the Form Follows Function argument:

1. Beings capable of designing and creating a Universe to their desired specifications would be far more efficacious in the fields of design and construction than we are.

2. It is possible that such beings could create Universes for purposes we cannot imagine, as mildew cannot imagine the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider.

3. Given premise (1) we should expect that a designed Universe should efficiently fulfill its function.

4. Nearly all of this Universe would be instantly fatal to a human being without special protective gear (e.g. a spacesuit) and inhospitable to human settlement.

5. Nearly all of this Universe is physically inaccessible to human beings, and almost certain to remain so indefinitely.

6. Therefore, this Universe was not designed to be a residence for human beings.


Nutshell: Humans can exist in less than 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of Universe. A Cosmic Designer seeking to create a home for intelligent beings could have created a far more efficient Universe for this purpose than the Universe we see. For example, a gigantic computer with minds stored in it Matrix-style. Or, the Designers could have created sapient robot space probes, for whom a far greater portion of the Cosmos as we know it would be habitable, instead of humans like us.

Or, Universe could have been made, say, as a Ziplock bag to store dark energy for later use, and we're like barnacles convinced the ship exists for our sake. As to why our Universe is the way it is, I'm willing to hang a question mark on that and give people much smarter than I am in the field of cosmology, who also have the right equpment for the job (things like space telescopes and giant particle accelerators) a chance to figure it out. This isn't blind faith. People smarter than I am in other fields have answered all sorts of questions I could not have figured out on my own. Like, "How can we make a car that works?"

37 Comments:

Blogger Hambydammit said...

(By the way, thanks for taking an interest in my blog!)

Personally, I tend to stay away from arguments like, "If there was a creator, then he would do this or that or the other." It's not that they aren't true, it's that we simply don't have enough information to say one way or another.

Consider that if the universe was intelligently created, it does NOT stand to reason that it ought to be mostly compatible with human life. Suppose the Milky Way is home to "Carbon Based Life in Extreme Isolation" and that the purpose of this particular galaxy is to see what kind of myths carbon based, evolutionarily propelled life invents if and when it discovers just how improbable life appears in its little corner of the universe."

It's not that I think this is what's really happening, but there's no particular reason to assume that's NOT what's happening, and that's why I don't like this kind of argument. Once you've opened the box, you can start proposing that Nibblers and Giant Brains are fighting it out for control of the multiverse, and there's really no less or more epistemological foundation for that claim than any other.

I prefer to stick with what we know: Intelligence is, by definition, a property of biological organisms. It exists because brains exist, and brains exist because neurons exist, etc, etc, etc. When one speaks of Intelligent Designers, one is using the word intelligent without providing an ontology for it. It is devoid of meaning because it lacks a universe of discourse. What is intelligence that is not biological and carbon based?

If the interlocutor insists on describing properties of intelligence, like self-awareness, we need only point out that he is giving examples of characteristics, not providing ontological foundation for a definition.

In other words, this argument fails before it gets out of the gate because it must steal concepts from the material universe without justifying them outside of it.

http://allthingsstupidandreligious.blogspot.com/

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Anonymous D J Wray said...

Perhaps a creator created a separate universe that brought intelligence to the "known" universe.

This website explores the possibility that human consciousness and specifically language production follows a request/response pattern and the most logical explanation is that the "primitive" brain is invoking advanced functions from another universe to do the work.
http://www.atotalawareness.com

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