Monday, December 08, 2008

Now Don’t You Dare Start Thinking “Intelligent Design!”

Discover magazine pretty much represents the scientific orthodoxy, as one can easily see if one searches its archives for the phrase “intelligent design.”

But a recent article makes some concessions to the concept by pointing out what you have to believe if you don’t believe in an Intelligence behind our universe.
Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory

Our universe is perfectly tailored for life. That may be the work of God or the result of our universe being one of many.

A sublime cosmic mystery unfolds on a mild summer afternoon in Palo Alto, California, where I’ve come to talk with the visionary physicist Andrei Linde. The day seems ordinary enough. Cyclists maneuver through traffic, and orange poppies bloom on dry brown hills near Linde’s office on the Stanford University campus. But everything here, right down to the photons lighting the scene after an eight-minute jaunt from the sun, bears witness to an extraordinary fact about the universe: Its basic properties are uncannily suited for life. Tweak the laws of physics in just about any way and—in this universe, anyway—life as we know it would not exist.

Consider just two possible changes. Atoms consist of protons, neutrons, and electrons. If those protons were just 0.2 percent more massive than they actually are, they would be unstable and would decay into simpler particles. Atoms wouldn’t exist; neither would we. If gravity were slightly more powerful, the consequences would be nearly as grave. A beefed-up gravitational force would compress stars more tightly, making them smaller, hotter, and denser. Rather than surviving for billions of years, stars would burn through their fuel in a few million years, sputtering out long before life had a chance to evolve. There are many such examples of the universe’s life-friendly properties—so many, in fact, that physicists can’t dismiss them all as mere accidents.

“We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible,” Linde says.

Physicists don’t like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea. Life, it seems, is not an incidental component of the universe, burped up out of a random chemical brew on a lonely planet to endure for a few fleeting ticks of the cosmic clock. In some strange sense, it appears that we are not adapted to the universe; the universe is adapted to us.

Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multi­verse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.

The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.
The article goes on to quote Linde.
“And if we double the mass of the electron, life as we know it will disappear. If we change the strength of the interaction between protons and electrons, life will disappear. Why are there three space dimensions and one time dimension? If we had four space dimensions and one time dimension, then planetary systems would be unstable and our version of life would be impossible. If we had two space dimensions and one time dimension, we would not exist,” he says.
The article goes on to talk about concepts such as “dark energy” and “string theory,” and then points out that the multiverse theory is really a sort of “Hail Mary” (the article doesn’t use that expression) attempt to get around the need for some Intelligent Designer.
For many physicists, the multiverse remains a desperate measure, ruled out by the impossibility of confirmation. Critics see the anthropic principle as a step backward, a return to a human-centered way of looking at the universe that Copernicus discredited five centuries ago. They complain that using the anthropic principle to explain the properties of the universe is like saying that ships were created so that barnacles could stick to them.
Of course, an Intelligent Designer might well create a universe knowing that eventually all kinds of species -- and ultimately homo sapiens -- would evolve (or be created) there.
“If you allow yourself to hypothesize an almost unlimited portfolio of different worlds, you can explain anything,” says John Polkinghorne, formerly a theoretical particle physicist at Cambridge University and, for the past 26 years, an ordained Anglican priest. If a theory allows anything to be possible, it explains nothing; a theory of anything is not the same as a theory of everything, he adds.
At the end of the article is a sidebar listing a number of “Cosmic Coincidences” that, in our universe, are both vastly improbable by chance and necessary for life to arise.
If these cosmic traits were just slightly altered, life as we know it would be impossible. A few examples:

• Stars like the sun produce energy by fusing two hydrogen atoms into a single helium atom. During that reaction, 0.007 percent of the mass of the hydrogen atoms is converted into energy, via Einstein’s famous e = mc2 equation. But if that percentage were, say, 0.006 or 0.008, the universe would be far more hostile to life. The lower number would result in a universe filled only with hydrogen; the higher number would leave a universe with no hydrogen (and therefore no water) and no stars like the sun.

• The early universe was delicately poised between runaway expansion and terminal collapse. Had the universe contained much more matter, additional gravity would have made it implode. If it contained less, the universe would have expanded too quickly for galaxies to form.

• Had matter in the universe been more evenly distributed, it would not have clumped together to form galaxies. Had matter been clumpier, it would have condensed into black holes.

• Atomic nuclei are bound together by the so-called strong force. If that force were slightly more powerful, all the protons in the early universe would have paired off and there would be no hydrogen, which fuels long-lived stars. Water would not exist, nor would any known form of life.
Physicists, or course, are going to continue to search for a purely naturalistic explanation for what is, on its face, inexplicable in naturalistic terms.

That’s what they do.

But a sensible lay person might note that the only current alternative to an intelligently designed universe is a wildly speculative, utterly unproven theory.

Labels:

43 Comments:

Blogger James Pawlak said...

Perhaps those multiverse physicists should go into theology. Perhaps they might be able to answer that key question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin. That question makes as much scientific sense as some put forth in the cited article.

9:12 AM  
OpenID Nick said...

Actually, I read a very good book almost two years ago on this very topic. It's called "The Trouble with Physics". It's by an expert in the field who writes to say that people have been consumed by "String Theory" and multiverse theory, and that the theory should be abandoned, partially for these reasons.

There are actually competing theories, and this last gasp of String Theory is the fact that they try to prove its correctness by saying, "It must be correct, because we're here". That means that it's not a dispovable theory, which is a cornerstone of good science.

One reason it's especially bad is because it loses all predictive ability. With an infinite number of multiverses, you never know WHICH one you are in from a mathematical perspective. It provides a convenient out. If you predict something in one multiverse, and then do an experiment that disagrees, you can simply say, "Well, we must be in a different multiverse then".

It's a very intersting book, and I wrote a review of it here.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous bobxxxx said...

"Intelligently designed universe" means "magically created universe". Only an idiot could believe in magic.

Calling magic "design" doesn't make it any less childish.

11:17 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

"Intelligently designed universe" means "magically created universe". Only an idiot could believe in magic.

Kindly explain how intelligent design equals "magic."

When an engineer designs a bridge, it's not "magic" at all.

I think your claim assumes that there could be no Intelligent Designer.

But that begs the question. It leaves you propounding a tautology.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Matt Wion said...

I have sympathy with the point of view you articulate here.

I believe in God and think that alternative theories, like those mentioned here, are a bit of a stretch.

Nevertheless I wonder, is intelligent design a scientific theory? This is not the same as asking if it is rational. It's certainly a solid piece of philosophical argument and analysis and takes center stage in philosophy of religion.

But I think science cannot comment either way on design. The Empirical sciences are, it seems to me, restricted to theorizing and examining the physical universe.

If there is a God over above that universe, as I think there is, then the existence of the God and the arguments for that God would seem to lay outside the scope of science.

It follows then that all a scientist can do qua scientist is to describe as best he or she can discover the physical laws and processes that govern and created the universe. The God question is outside their area of expertise.

Still, there does seem to be a bias against religious explanations such that some folks look for ANY explanation however far-fetched, rather than take the God hypothesis seriously

1:47 PM  
Blogger Olorin said...

Discover magazine represents scientific orthodoxy??? Bwahahahahahaaa! "Discover" is to "Science" or "Nature" as "The National Enquirer" is to "The New York Times."

1:49 PM  
Blogger Olorin said...

James Pawlak said: "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin. That question makes as much scientific sense as some put forth in the cited article."

Physicists will tell you that the two possible answers to this question is the same as in theology, but for different reasons. To a physicist, the answer depends upon whether angels are fermions or bosons. Research will get underway as soon as the LHC is repaired and running properly.

1:54 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

But I think science cannot comment either way on design. The Empirical sciences are, it seems to me, restricted to theorizing and examining the physical universe.

But "intelligent design" is something one has to deal with all the time.

Suppose an anthropologist finds a sharp shard of flint in a dig. He will have to ask the question: "is this just a random piece of rock, or did some intelligent being (homo sapiens, perhaps) intentionally chip it to have a sharp edge so it could be used as a tool?

But suppose the anthropologist finds a power hand saw with the inscription "Black and Decker?" It's pretty clearly the product of intelligent design!

This is not to deny that some people who are proponents of intelligent design can be found pushing nonsense.

2:18 PM  
Blogger island said...

Bob (the anitfanatic from Hell) is talking about the ID movement that the Discovery Institute is trying to push into the school system, which was exposed in court as being religiously motivated.

Bob doesn't know the difference between the testimony of people with a specific religious agenda, and people who do not have this agenda, that are simply making an honest observation from the available facts... like yourself.

Bob is not unlike the majority of his kind who do not recognize scientific evidence because they have their own political agenda that is much more important to them than science ever will be.

This biologist, for example.

It is very difficult to find anybody on either side of the debate that is truly honest when it comes to this subject, so science continually suffers from their respective fanatical tendencies.

http://valleyvanguard.blogspot.com/2008/12/letter-intelligent-design-not-science.html

2:23 PM  
OpenID Nick said...

Ultimately, "intelligent design" vs. "random chance" means absolutely nothing with regards to physics, despite your anthropology analogy.

Intelligent Design is really just an extension of faith based belief. But believing in Intelligent Design won't tell you the weight of an electron, or whether a Higgs particle actually exists, or allow you to predict its charge... unless of course that was revealed in Revelation, and I missed it.

Arguing Intelligent Design when talking about physics in this way really serves no purpose, except to insert religion into yet one more place so you can have something to argue about.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Matt Wion said...

good points. I think that indeed evidence of design must be taken seriously, if science can find it. But I'm skeptical that science can find it.

Let me clarify. I think Science can show, as your post pointed out, that conditions in the universe have to be pretty precise to support order, development and life. And a good explanation for this is Intelligent design.

But on the other hand, there are imperfections in so many natural processes that design can be called into question.

personally I still think God is a better explanation than any alternatives. However, how could science resolve the question: Are these rare conditions planned? Or are they just a happy accident?

What scientific data could they use to answer such a question?
I think it more properly is a philosophical question.

I grant however that I may have too restrictive a view of what science can and cannot do.

And in any case, I agree that there is a bias against design explanations that is simply unfair.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

But "intelligent design" is something one has to deal with all the time.

Suppose an anthropologist finds a sharp shard of flint in a dig. He will have to ask the question: "is this just a random piece of rock, or did some intelligent being (homo sapiens, perhaps) intentionally chip it to have a sharp edge so it could be used as a tool?


Comparing ID (pseudoscience) to anthropology (science) is a false analogy, John:

http://northstatescience.blogspot.com/2007/10/bad-analogies-at-evolution-news-and.html

But suppose the anthropologist finds a power hand saw with the inscription "Black and Decker?" It's pretty clearly the product of intelligent design!

Someone who recognizes a power hand saw as being "intelligently designed" is drawing on past experience with power hand saws (or a similar tool). He might have had a toy power hand saw as a child, watched his Dad or others use real power hand saws. When he got older he might have completed tasks that required a power hand saw. Black and Decker might be his favorite brand. Of course, in both cases (ancient or modern tool) we're talking about *human* design, not invoking the supernatural which explains nothing and is beyond the bounds of science.

This is not to deny that some people who are proponents of intelligent design can be found pushing nonsense.

There is definitely a lot of nonsense being pushed.

5:46 PM  
Blogger island said...

John McAdams said...
But on the other hand, there are imperfections in so many natural processes that design can be called into question.

personally I still think God is a better explanation than any alternatives. However, how could science resolve the question: Are these rare conditions planned? Or are they just a happy accident?


There is a natural expectation for a dynamical cosmological structure principle that explains why the universe is configured in the otherwise highly unexpected manner that is observed.

http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0512148

This has plagued science for years, and it is the reason that John Wheeler asked Brandon Carter to to formalize the "Anthropic Principle", which was an ideological statement about scientists.

http://knol.google.com/k/richard-ryals/the-anthropic-principle/1cb34nnchgkl5/2#

Wheeler's "variant interpretation" of the physics is a valid interpretation of observer-dependent quantum mechanics, but it is still far-fetched and disliked for the obvious reasons.

But Wheeler's attempt is the closest thing that we have to a true cosmological principle that explains the observation from first physics principles.

Your mistake is to presume that it is either, "a happy accident" or it had to be planned, because it is quite plausible that there is some good physical reason why we are here that brings us into existence for a ***higher purpose*** that has nothing to do with god or an ID.

For example:
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2004/09/30/2003204990

And in any case, I agree that there is a bias against design explanations that is simply unfair.

It's worse than that. If you read the above linked page, then you should know that unfounded and unobserved ideologically righteousness was this whole point of Brandon Carter's anthropic principle.

That scientists harbor an unscientific bias against any and all evidence that idicates anthropic preference.

Unfortunately, there has been a strong and not always subconscious tendency to extend this to a most questionable dogma to the effect that our situation cannot be privileged in any sense. This dogma (which in its most extreme form led to the "perfect cosmological principle" on which the steady state theory was based) is clearly untenable, as was pointed out by Dicke (Nature 192, 440, 1961).
-Brandon Carter

5:12 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Intelligent Design is really just an extension of faith based belief.

That's just an assertion on your part. You need to explain it.

Remember, it is standard, orthodox secular scientists who are pointing out that the universe we live in is absurdly unlikely, and seems to have been contrived to support life.

You haven't disputed that.

8:53 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Chris,

Someone who recognizes a power hand saw as being "intelligently designed" is drawing on past experience with power hand saws

That's simply untrue.

Imagine yourself in a factory, amid a lot of unfamiliar machinery. Could you figure out that these things were the result of "intelligent design?"

Yes you could, because you could infer that they were capable of certain things (putting a cork in a wine bottle, shrink wrapping a pallet of merchandise). If you also concluded that it was absurdly unlikely that the pieces could have fallen into place by accident, you have evidence they machines were intelligently designed.

And your argument is particularly strange since scientists know what kind of universe is conducive to life. That's what the original article was about.

You don't need some Grant
Cosmic Tour Guide outside the universe to show the universe to you and say "this is what a universe conducive to life looks like."

Since our universe is conducive to life, and we are here, we can infer that.

9:01 AM  
Blogger island said...

Whoops!... I meant to reply to Matt Wion.

sorry

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

John,

Imagine yourself in a factory, amid a lot of unfamiliar machinery. Could you figure out that these things were the result of "intelligent design?"

Yes you could, because you could infer that they were capable of certain things (putting a cork in a wine bottle, shrink wrapping a pallet of merchandise). If you also concluded that it was absurdly unlikely that the pieces could have fallen into place by accident, you have evidence they machines were intelligently designed.


One of the reasons I would be able to conclude that they were "intelligently designed" would be because I could recognize certain characteristics (if not the machines themselves) that were familiar to me from past experience with machines. Of course, an expert (similar to the anthropologist in your example) who had dedicated his or her life to studying machines, from ancient to ultra-modern, including futuristic prototypes, would be in an even better position to discern such characteristics.

As you rightly mention above it would also occur to me that such machines could not have come about via natural processes, but were instead the result of *human* intelligence (the only variety of intelligence known to exist). Crystals are among the most ordered objects in the universe, but I seriously doubt you would use them as an example of design. Why? Because we have a plausible naturalistic explanation for their existence. ID is merely an argument from ignorance, an intellectual cul-de-sac that exploits gaps in our knowledge in an embarrassingly transparent attempt to inject religion into science.

And your argument is particularly strange since scientists know what kind of universe is conducive to life. That's what the original article was about.

You don't need some Grant Cosmic Tour Guide outside the universe to show the universe to you and say "this is what a universe conducive to life looks like."

Since our universe is conducive to life, and we are here, we can infer that.


And if the universe weren't conducive to life (at least not our form of life) we simply wouldn't exist. Another form of life (perhaps one that isn't carbon-based) would be occupying our current niche. Humans are terribly arrogant. We have trouble imagining the universe existing without our being here to witness it. The fact that religions tell their followers that "the universe was made with us in mind" certainly doesn't help matters in this respect.

Interesting article on whether our universe is fine-tuned for life:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926673.900

3:27 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

One of the reasons I would be able to conclude that they were "intelligently designed" would be because I could recognize certain characteristics (if not the machines themselves) that were familiar to me from past experience with machines.

But we have enough experience with life to know what conditions are conducive to life. The conditions on our own planet in our own universe are.

ID is merely an argument from ignorance, an intellectual cul-de-sac that exploits gaps in our knowledge in an embarrassingly transparent attempt to inject religion into science.

Chris, that is just blather that begs the question.

And if the universe weren't conducive to life (at least not our form of life) we simply wouldn't exist.

That's right, and that's why our existence has to be seen as pretty much a miracle.

And if the universe weren't conducive to life (at least not our form of life) we simply wouldn't exist. Another form of life (perhaps one that isn't carbon-based) would be occupying our current niche.

You don't know that. If you read the original article, you would note that if certainly physical constants were slightly different, no life of any kind could exist.

For example, if complex life-forms require millions of years to evolve, any universe that does not allow for planets that are stable for at least several million years does not allow complex life-forms (carbon-based or otherwise) to exist.

Indeed, slightly change some physical constants, and you don't get planets at all, but everything collapsing into a series of black holes.

We have trouble imagining the universe existing without our being here to witness it. The fact that religions tell their followers that "the universe was made with us in mind" certainly doesn't help matters in this respect.

You are begging the question, Chris. You are simply propounding a particular kind of dogma.

4:06 PM  
Blogger island said...

And if the universe weren't conducive to life (at least not our form of life) we simply wouldn't exist. Another form of life (perhaps one that isn't carbon-based) would be occupying our current niche.

Nope, that's false, but you conveniently don't even know why in a conversation where ignorance is no excuse, and the rest of your bogus hype falls purely from your ignorance of the facts as well:

Humans are terribly arrogant.

This is true, but it falls equally on both sides of the debate, since both sides wrongly automatically assume that the universe that is "fine-tuned" for life is this way solely for the benefit of life, rather than the other way round. In which case we are slaves to the physics, even though we are not here by accident, as I already gave example for, above:

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2004/09/30/2003204990

We have trouble imagining the universe existing without our being here to witness it.

No, the evidenced implication that we are "specially relevant" to the structure mechanism of the universe comes from the highly pointed nature of the physics that define the vast array of coincidentally balanced, "just-right" conditions that make up the Goldilocks Enigma, which ranges dramatically in magnitude and time, from the near-"flat", balanced structuring of the universe, itself, all the way down to our own local self-regulating ecobalance, whose chaotic cycles we directly contribute to enhance over time. These "ecospheres" began unfolding at the moment of the big bang, but it took most of 14 billion years to bring them all to "fruition", so claims that this structure defining physics isn't **necessarily** pointed directly at carbon based life, are, at least *apparently* absurd, and must be justified with something more than "somewhat" established cutting-edge physics speculations.

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

http://knol.google.com/k/richard-ryals/the-anthropic-principle/1cb34nnchgkl5/2#

http://dorigo.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/guest-post-rick-ryals-the-anthropic-principle/

Now, the lame assertion that another form of life (perhaps one that isn't carbon-based) would be occupying our current niche is strictly contradicted by the evidence.

For example:
Silicon based life is the next most plausible form of life that we have ever been able to imagine, and yet, carbon molecules and chains form more readily "in our current niche" which is more conducive to the formation of silicon based life by a ratio of 10:1 in favor of silicon based life.

Ignorance of the relevant facts is a highly common tactic of anti-centrists, which is typical of what happens when science becomes politics when people assume sides. Unfortunately, it isn't limited to the culture war.

4:25 PM  
Blogger island said...

Chris said:
"And if the universe weren't conducive to life (at least not our form of life) we simply wouldn't exist."

John replied:
That's right, and that's why our existence has to be seen as pretty much a miracle.

Chris:
"And if the universe weren't conducive to life (at least not our form of life) we simply wouldn't exist. Another form of life (perhaps one that isn't carbon-based) would be occupying our current niche."

John:
You don't know that. If you read the original article, you would note that if certainly physical constants were slightly different, no life of any kind could exist.

Yes, and both of our points are valid since Chris indicated that our "current niche" would still be here, even though he also stated that conditions wouldn't be conducive to life as we know it.

How you get both, I'll never know, but we both answered him correctly depending on which case take him to be making.

There have been other attempts by physicists to falsify the anthropic principle by saying that you remove the weak interaction and still get a universe that is conducive to life:

A Universe Without Weak Interactions
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0604027

But this **desired outcome** was immediately shot down by the facts:

Problems in a weakless universe
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0609050

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

John,

Did you even read the NewScientist article?

Claims of fine-tuning have generally been based on what happens when you vary a single characteristic of the universe, say the strength of gravity, while holding all others constant. That, says Adams, is too artificial a scenario to tell you anything about whether there are other universes that can support life. "The right way to do the problem is to start from scratch," he says. "You have to turn all the knobs and find out what happens."

...

Adams selected a range of possible values for each of these constants, then put them into a computer model that created a multitude of universes, or a virtual "multiverse". Each universe within the multiverse used different values for the three constants and was subject to slightly different laws of physics.

About a quarter of the resulting universes turned out to be populated by energy-generating stars. "You can change alpha or the gravitational constant by a factor of 100 and stars still form," Adams says, suggesting that stars can exist in universes in which at least some fundamental constants are wildly different than in our universe.

And though some universes were filled with things we might not usually think of as stars - radiating black holes or bodies formed of dark matter - they all gave out enough energy to power some form of life, and lasted long enough for life to evolve.

5:11 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Chris,

Yes, I did read the article, and it assumes the "multiverse" theory -- which of course is unproven, which was the point of my initial post.

It's also the case that he assumes that all these different universes can have different physical constants. But that requires an extraordinarily complex theory.

The simplest theory (think "parsimony") is that the process that throws out universes throws out universes with identical constants, just as a cookie cutter stamps out identical cookies. If this is true, it's easy to believe there is life elsewhere, but still miraculous that the physical constants in the multiverse are conducive to life.

Add to that the fact that -- just reading the article -- he didn't begin to vary all the many constants that must all "line up" for life to exist.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous joe_stalin said...

So let me see if I understand.

God can't exist.
But, matter creating itself can??

8:56 PM  
Blogger Matt Wion said...

Responding to an earlier comment by Island. I've read a little about the Anthropic principle and John Wheeler.

I must say I've never been persuaded that it is cogent. I'm not sure what either the strong or the weak versions are suppose tom mean.

They seem to mean either (a) that we could only recognize a universe in which we exist. This is true, but not very interesting. That is, as I understand it the weak version. The strong version seems to suggest that the blueprint for the universe was somehow inherent from the very beginning.

Of course that is a loose and non-expert impression.

But in any case, I agree that there could - at least in principle - be a purely natural explanation that is neither an "happy accident" or planned by a God.

I still think, that regardless of what we believe about God and design, it's a philosophical and not an empirical scientific question.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

John,

The difference between "God did it" and the idea of the multiverse is, of course, that only the latter is a genuine explanation, as Steven Weinberg makes clear in an interview with Richard Dawkins that I watched a while back. Moreover, it's a false dichotomy to say that either a mutiverse exists or a supernatural designer is responsible. The multiverse theory could turn out to be wrong, and the correct explanation could be a third option. Or a fourth. Or a fifth, etc. To say otherwise is to abandon science itself.

The multiverse hasn't been proven, but we know that at least one universe exists because we live in it, so the idea that there are others isn't unreasonable. Quantum mechanics, cosmic inflation and string theory all point toward the idea of the multiverse which is a lot more than can be said for your purported God.

Certainly more research with respect to the universal constants and processes by Adams and other scientists is necessary -- once again our side is responsible for doing the original research while IDers keep busy conducting PR campaigns targeting the layperson and honing their Christian apologetics skills -- but thus far there is nothing in the results that requires our universe to be fine-tuned for life. In fact, the opposite is suggested.

Stay tuned for future developments.

5:29 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

The difference between "God did it" and the idea of the multiverse is, of course, that only the latter is a genuine explanation

I simply disagree with this, and think that whether some Intelligence designed or contrived something is a genuine explanation.

Your dogmatic secularists have simply ruled out, a priori explanations that run contrary to their cultural biases.

As for your "3rd or 4th or 5th" explanations, I can only note that your alternative to Intelligent Design (the "multiverse" theory) is entirely unproven.

Do you have faith that some alternative to Intelligent Design will be found? Yes, you do.

But why not admit that it's a matter of faith?

At the moment, we have one universe that is hospitable to life, to a degree that's vastly implausible by mere chance. All else is hope on the part of people who don't like the logical conclusion of that.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

John,

I simply disagree with this, and think that whether some Intelligence designed or contrived something is a genuine explanation.

Of course you disagree, you're a creationist who thinks that invoking the supernatural is a legitimate scientific explanation. You might as well have quoted a random passage from Genesis because it couldn't possibly be any more vacuous and useless than saying "God did it."

Your dogmatic secularists have simply ruled out, a priori explanations that run contrary to their cultural biases.

You're so predictable. You never fail to play the "cultural biases" card whenever anyone dares to object to your injecting religion into science.

As for your "3rd or 4th or 5th" explanations, I can only note that your alternative to Intelligent Design (the "multiverse" theory) is entirely unproven.

Do you have faith that some alternative to Intelligent Design will be found? Yes, you do.


Faith has nothing to do with it. When science doesn't know the answer to a question or has an incomplete explanation, the proper response is to continue to do research and gather data, not throw up one's hands and invoke the supernatural which leaves us just as much in the dark as we were before. I'm greatly relieved that the vast majority of scientists don't share your insatiable intellectual curiosity.

But why not admit that it's a matter of faith?

You're projecting, John. I'll leave faith to you and your fellow creationists. I'll stick with the scientific method.

At the moment, we have one universe that is hospitable to life, to a degree that's vastly implausible by mere chance. All else is hope on the part of people who don't like the logical conclusion of that.

There is nothing logical or scientific about your conclusion. Your comments in this thread are a perfect example of how ID acts as a "science stopper." Why bother seeking natural explanations when you've already found a supernatural one?

"Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." The Wedge Document, Discovery Institute

6:08 PM  
Blogger PaulNoonan said...

First of all, the common use of "intelligent design" refers to biology, and attempts to undercut evolution. We understand evolution far better than we do physics, and intelligent design in that context is silly (and disproven).

With regard to this use, it's only less silly because we do not understand the origins of the universe as well, and there is a bigger gap for God to hide in.

It is possible that the universe IS designed (there are, by the way, scientific hypotheses that make this argument; for instance, the Simulation Hypothesis), but simply assuming that design is the default is where those of the religious persuasion get into trouble. The difference between science and intelligent design is that science will not assume without facts.

Nick is correct that Lee Smolin's book Trouble With Physics is definitely worth reading. It's an excellent, accesible explanation of loop quantum gravity, and details the insularity of the physics profession, and the problems that this can create. However, I would also recommend Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos as a response (The Elegant Universe is also quite good).

I happen to think that the multiverse idea is probably true as it resolves many difficulties with quantum uncertainty, and just as our universe is unlikely, a singular universe is just as unlikey. I do not, however, hold this position with any degree of certainty.

Anyway, if there is a designer, science should get you there, not simply assuming it to be true.

Finally, the odds of this universe have prompted some to invoke the anthropic principle, which I find unsatisfying. Another theory holds that life-sustaining universe's evolve. This is at least possible because it appears that there is a positive correlation between the number of black holes in a universe, and it's ability to support life. It also appears that it is possible for black holes to transmit information about this universe "outside." Anyway, the constants of life may be spread in this way. Or that might be total BS, it's highly speculative.

Point is that unlikely things are not always quite so unlikely until we understand the mechanisms involved.

9:12 AM  
Blogger island said...

PaulNoonan said:
Finally, the odds of this universe have prompted some to invoke the anthropic principle, which I find unsatisfying. Another theory holds that life-sustaining universe's evolve.

No, it is the highly pointed nature of the physics that prompts physicists and even Richard Dawkins to use the phrase, "appearance of design".

The odds are taken in conjunction with this fact to indicate that there is more going on than simply, improbability.

It is the appearance of design that makes you guys appear dishonest when you claim that they are throwing their hands up to god simply because science doesn't have a mechanism.

It is the appearance of design that gives them the right to say that you are being strictly dogmatic if you don't at least give EQUAL time to FURTHER INVESTIGATION into the MOST APPARENT implications of the evidence. That's NOT throwing your hands up to god, and who knows?... you might even find a very old alien space-ship that crash on Venus with the blueprints for humans hanging from their drawing board, so their agenda is NOT a factor to science.

It is the appearance of design that gives them the right to claim that you are willfully ignoring the guy that's standing over the body hold the smoking gun, just because you don't have any way to explain "HIM" away.

Your "side" pretends like you ride the high-horse of pure science, but my examples prove that you're just as bad as they are.

And finally, it is the science's CONSTANT, LONG-TERM, (35 plus year), inability to produce a viable structure mechanism that explains-away the observed bio-centric orientation of the physics from first principles that forces physicists to "invoke the anthropic principle" in one variant form or another, NOT because the universe is improbable.

And Lee's theory is hard to swallow since he has no mechanism to make his endless process go.

But here's a huge clue:

What do black holes and humans have in common?.. ;)

"The only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way."
-Richard Dawkins

"Not just any universe would be one in which Darwinian evolution would work. For example, if a tiny reduction in the early cosmic expansion speed would have made everything recollapse within a fraction of a second while a tiny increase would quickly have yielded a universe far too dilute for stars to form, then such changes would have been disastrous to Evolution's prospects"
-John Leslie

"If, for some unforeseen reason, the landscape turns out to be inconsistent - maybe for mathematical reasons, or because it disagrees with observation - I am pretty sure that physicists will go on searching for natural explanations of the world. But I have to say that if that happens, as things stand now we will be in a very awkward position. Without any explanation of nature's fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics... The appearance of design is undeniable"
-Leonard Susskind

"It looks like a fix!"
-Paul Davies

12:04 PM  
Blogger PaulNoonan said...

It is the appearance of design that makes you guys appear dishonest when you claim that they are throwing their hands up to god simply because science doesn't have a mechanism.

Well, no. First of all, I don't have guys. Well, maybe Bayesians, but that's it. As I said in my comment, which you apparently did not read completely, there are theories that posit design as an option. Scientific theories. Not "we don't know so let's thank God" theories.

It's one thing to consider design as an option, but it's quite another to posit that a specific, mythical god is responsible. THat shows a bias towards your preconceived notions towards god. Design could take many forms. Your assumption, that a designer is the obvious implication of the "appearance of design" directly contradicts a known parrellel, that of biological evolution, a well-understood mechaism which also creates the appearance of design. Your explanation is unscientific for this reason.

It is the appearance of design that gives them the right to say that you are being strictly dogmatic if you don't at least give EQUAL time to FURTHER INVESTIGATION into the MOST APPARENT implications of the evidence. That's NOT throwing your hands up to god, and who knows?... you might even find a very old alien space-ship that crash on Venus with the blueprints for humans hanging from their drawing board, so their agenda is NOT a factor to science.

Again, did you actually read my post, in which I praised Smolin's work and mentioned that design is a viable option for investigation? Anyway, it should not receive EQUAl treatment and it is not MOST APPARENT implication (and no amount of capital letters will change that). Theories should be pursued based on their feasability and falsifiability. Scientists should work on theories because they are promising, and because if they are correct it will lead to fame and fortune. Sort of. We should not have affirmative action in science to accomodate those who approach problems with a bias, religious or otherwise.

You may think a designer is obvious because of the appearance of design, but we made that mistake once with creationsim, and we do not wish to make the same mistake for Physics. Once again, a lack of an explanation is not evidence for a designer, and certainly not evidence for a specific god. Physics deals with larger issues than does biology, and 35 years is not much time to have discovered some certain mechanism. Perhaps someone will do so some day, and perhaps it will lead to god, but ignoring the burden of proof is lazy.

I consider the Anthropic principle to be a lazy explanation. It's almost as lazy as the assumption of devine force. Not quite, but almost.

5:16 PM  
Blogger John Foust said...

Three cheers for Noonan!

12:37 PM  
Blogger island said...

Oh, yawn, now John has forced me to rebut the parts of Paul's diatribe that are wrong, so that John doesn't wrongly believe that Paul actually displaced my position.

Stay tuned...

4:15 PM  
Blogger island said...

As I said in my comment, which you apparently did not read completely, there are theories that posit design as an option. Scientific theories.

For example?

Not "we don't know so let's thank God" theories.

Who does that?... besides nobody that matters.

It's one thing to consider design as an option, but it's quite another to posit that a specific, mythical god is responsible.

IDists don't claim that the ID is necessarily a supernatural entity, regardless of what they may wrongly believe, so who are you talking about, yourself, or the rest of "you guys" who like to read-in whatever they themselves believe motivates IDists while ignoring the fact that their belief does not matter one iota to science as long as there is a possibility that the ID is natural.

You don't get that it doesn't matter that Georges Lemaître thought that evidence for the big bang was proof of the biblical account of Genesis. It is the evidence that NORMALLY causes us to look anyway.

For example we knew that the mermaid on Mars was probably just a face in the cloud, but did we still take a closer look on the off-chance that it was designed?

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Components/Photo_StoryLevel/080124/mermaid-red.jpg

Of course we did!... because it is only normal human nature to take a closer look:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2122/2213835599_27b0711fc7.jpg?v=0

But it is only abnormal dogma that drive one to willfully ignore the most apparent implication of the evidence.

Your assumption, that a designer is the obvious implication of the "appearance of design" directly contradicts a known parrellel, that of biological evolution, a well-understood mechaism which also creates the appearance of design. Your explanation is unscientific for this reason.

This assumes without proof that evolution is a totally unguided process, but that's not a proven fact, so it is just bogus neodarwinian crap to assume that it is an unguided process in the face of evidence that appears to indicate otherwise. Your explanation is bogus due to your false assumptions about what drives the evolutionary process, in the face of evidence that the [guiding agent] is the implied by the "appearance of design".

I consider the Anthropic principle to be a lazy explanation.

Which anthropic principle is that?... since there is no actual anthropic cosmoligical principle, which is mostly because scientists detest the observed reality so much that they won't even look?... hmmmmm???

Surely it can't be the Anthropic Principle was originally formalized by Brandon Carter as an ideological statement against the dogmatic non-scientific prejudices that scientists commonly harbor that causes them to consciously deny anthropic relevance in the physics, so they instead tend to be willfully ignorant of just enough pertinent facts to maintain an irrational cosmological bias that leads to absurd, "Copernican-like" projections of mediocrity that contradict what is actually observed.

Maybe that's your problem, too? Are you conveniently ignorant Paul?

However unfortunate, Carter's point lends a certain amount of real scientific credence to the claims of IDists, that scientists willfully suppress credible evidence that they wrongly perceive to be in support of the creationist's position. It is just as unfortunate that this makes the lies and embellishments of the ID movement into a necessary evil, to counterbalance to the unscientific dogma that scientists commonly and still to this day project into science:

http://arxiv.org/abs/0705.2462

Carter was talking about an equally extreme form of counter-reaction-ism to old historical beliefs about creationism, and geocentricism that cause scientists to automatically dismiss evidence for anthropic "privilege" right out of the realm of the observed reality.

People go to unbelievable lengths to distort what Carter said on that fateful day in Poland, in order to willfully ignore this point as it applies to modern physics speculations and variant interpretations, which are neither, proven, nor definitively justified, theoretically.

Why do none of the popular definitions of the Anthropic Principle include what Carter actually said?

...a reaction against conscious and subconscious - anticentrist dogma

Because scientists are still in total denial to this very day, that's why.

This a the real problem across the board for science, and it doesn't just go away, especially when there is a constantly raging culture war going on in the background.

Carter's example was as follows:
Unfortunately, there has been a strong and not always subconscious tendency to extend this to a most questionable dogma to the effect that our situation cannot be privileged in any sense.
-Brandon Carter

Get off of your high-horse because there are no scientists up there being honest about it since John Wheeler died, except Paul Davies.

5:28 PM  
Blogger PaulNoonan said...

For example?

I gave you one. The simulation hypothesis.


Who does that?... besides nobody that matters.


IDists don't claim that the ID is necessarily a supernatural entity, regardless of what they may wrongly believe, so who are you talking about, yourself, or the rest of "you guys" who like to read-in whatever they themselves believe motivates IDists while ignoring the fact that their belief does not matter one iota to science as long as there is a possibility that the ID is natural.

In the context of biological evolution, ID is simply thinly veiled creationism. The hilarious Dover trial showed this to be true (though there are many more examples). As we all know, cdesign proponentsists are the true missing links.

(If you don’t get it, try googling.)


But it is only abnormal dogma that drive one to willfully ignore the most apparent implication of the evidence.

And here is the basic problem again, which you put forth in spades. The most apparent implication is entirely subjective, and generally, in matters of science, there IS no apparent implication in the objective sense. If you come at the problem from the position that “x” caused it, you will probably find that “x” caused it, but this is an indictment of your method, NOT support for the most apparent implication. And anyway, if all you have to suppot your proposition is that it IS the most apparent implication absent further evidence gained through actual analysis, then you do not have anything at all. Also, you’re labeling a lack of abnormal dogma as abnormal dogma, which is pretty stupid.

This next part is truly stupid, so let’s go sentence by sentence.


This assumes without proof that evolution is a totally unguided process, but that's not a proven fact, so it is just bogus neodarwinian crap to assume that it is an unguided process in the face of evidence that appears to indicate otherwise.

What kind of psuedoscientific garbage do we have here? Why, we’re being asked to prove a negative! This may be the most fun, and oldest game of the faithful. Can you say for sure that this part is unguided? What about this? And this? Can you prove that God doesn’t exist?

Honestly, why didn’t you just vomit on your computer screen instead of spewing this drivel.

The fact is that evolution needs no design to function, and that inserting design into evolution gains you nothing (and in fact, needlessly complicates things). Favored adaptations will survive over time and through thousands of iterations because they are favored. Evolution is the greatest accomplishment of the law of large numbers in action. Of repetiton and probability working in great concert. You may as well argue that god has a hand in the house’s advantage in a game of blackjack as it would make as much sense.

Your explanation is bogus due to your false assumptions about what drives the evolutionary process, in the face of evidence that the [guiding agent] is the implied by the "appearance of design".

What drives the evolutionary process is genetics, reproduction, death, and time.


Which anthropic principle is that…

That would be the idea that a universe containing beings capable of observing said universe must, necessarily, be able to create/support such beings.


Get off of your high-horse because there are no scientists up there being honest about it since John Wheeler died, except Paul Davies.

Not every aspect of physics need be concerned with the initial conditions of the universe. It is just like the creationsist who claims that evolution fails because it cannot explain the origins of life. That is not what the theory is about.

Do you have any arguments other than “we don’t know, so God did it?” Your basic premise seems to be that the universe is here, and apparently finely tuned for life, and therefore God did it? Am I missing something? Your syllogism would read:

1. Universe is finely tuned.
2. It sure LOOKS like god did it.
3. God did it.

Are you an underpants gnome?

Perhaps God did do it. Perhaps, as Davies claims, our faith in the basics of the universe requires and implies a creator. The fact is that merely asserting this fact IS NOT SCIENCE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cdesign_proponentsists#Pandas_and_.22cdesign_proponentsists.22

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underpants_Gnomes

2:47 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Not every aspect of physics need be concerned with the initial conditions of the universe. It is just like the creationsist who claims that evolution fails because it cannot explain the origins of life. That is not what the theory is about.

But if the theory can't explain the origins of life, some modesty on the part of scientists is in order, isn't it?

Do you have any arguments other than “we don’t know, so God did it?” Your basic premise seems to be that the universe is here, and apparently finely tuned for life, and therefore God did it? Am I missing something? Your syllogism would read:

1. Universe is finely tuned.
2. It sure LOOKS like god did it.
3. God did it.


The only reason for believing in evolution is that it looks like it happened.

I somehow think you are avoiding the question raised by my original post: the universe seems extremely well-tuned for life. Indeed, well-tuned in a way highly unlikely merely by chance.

If chance can't explain it, that implies a designer.

The only two logical possibilities are (1.) chance and (2.) design.

Of course, one can get around the problem by positing millions and millions of universes.

But there isn't any evidence for that. Which is why design is really the most plausible theory at the moment.

Of course, you can hope for the discovery of all those millions of universes. But you don't have them at the moment.

9:34 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Chris,

Of course you disagree, you're a creationist who thinks that invoking the supernatural is a legitimate scientific explanation. You might as well have quoted a random passage from Genesis because it couldn't possibly be any more vacuous and useless than saying "God did it."

Of course you disagree, since you are an atheist who demands that any notion of God has to be ruled out a priori.

You really shouldn't dismiss as "supernatural" anything that might imply design. If design is the only theory that explains empirical observation then it is the best scientific explanation.

Science is always concerned with "what might happen by chance."

Google up "hypothesis testing" and "statistical significance."

The multiverse theory could turn out to be wrong, and the correct explanation could be a third option. Or a fourth. Or a fifth, etc. To say otherwise is to abandon science itself.

I think your First Principle is that a Designer just can't possibly exist, and to even posit a designer is "unscientific."

How about specifying the "third option" or the "fourth" and so on?

I don't object to your coming up with them, but I do object to you want to rule out a priori the idea of a Designer.

You're so predictable. You never fail to play the "cultural biases" card whenever anyone dares to object to your injecting religion into science.

You are the one who wants to rule out, a priori, the notion of a Designer.

You either have a Designer, or a "multiverse" theory, or some utterly unspecified "third" or "fourth" alternative.

Why rule out "designer?"

I can't see anything in the logic of science that demands that. Thus, the reason must be cultural: it's an explanation that somebody who is a theist might want to believe.

When science doesn't know the answer to a question or has an incomplete explanation, the proper response is to continue to do research and gather data, not throw up one's hands and invoke the supernatural which leaves us just as much in the dark as we were before.

Again, anybody is welcome to gather more data.

But you are going to reject any data that might imply a Designer, aren't you?

The current state of the data strongly suggests a Designer. The notion that some intelligence is behind the universe is as much a scientific hypothesis as the "strong force" or the existence of neutrinos. It could be falsified -- or at least rendered unnecessary -- by showing that completely random processes can adequately explain the universe.

Indeed, the multiverse theory is exactly an attempt to do this -- although there is no evidence for it.

There is nothing logical or scientific about your conclusion. Your comments in this thread are a perfect example of how ID acts as a "science stopper." Why bother seeking natural explanations when you've already found a supernatural one?

"Design" is not a supernatural concept, Chris.

At least not when it best explains the empirical data.

Ruling it out is a "thought stopper."

10:04 PM  
Blogger island said...

I gave you one. The simulation hypothesis.

You think that the simulation *hypothesis* is a valid scientific theory?... which is what you originally claimed. You think that a hypothesis is a theory?

I see what the problem is now. You quite clearly demonstrate that don't have a clue what science is, and you think that it is a matter of "subjective" opinion.

In the context of biological evolution, ID is simply thinly veiled creationism.

Which completely ignores everything that I said, since their motivations do not matter one stinking little wank to science, but you do not ever get it.

(If you don’t get it, try googling.)

Once again, it isn't I who isn't getting it...

And here is the basic problem again, which you put forth in spades. The most apparent implication is entirely subjective...

I KNOW, MAN... that's EXACTLY what the guy who was standing over the dead body holding the smoking gun said to the cop that busted him for murder!!!... lol@you.

Appearances can be deceiving, but the cop isn't going to just let the guy go because there's always a possibility that he didn't do it in some universe, because appearances aren't ***entirely*** deceiving, and you very obviously can't know how pathetic your arguments look up to this point... oye!

We never rule-out other possibilities IN SCIENCE, but we damned sure don't move the most apparent solution to the problem to the back of the list just because of other possibilities.

Your "defense" of this *tactic* is so sad that it isn't even funny.

and generally, in matters of science, there IS no apparent implication in the objective sense.

Once again, you are wrong. There is no general disagreement among scientists, even Richard Dawkins, that the appearance exists, but opportunistic Nihilists like yourself go instantly ignorant of all of these facts when they start playing the game of denial.

The really sad part to all of this willful ignorance and denial is that specified, or inherent-complexity, and purpose in nature, don't necessitate a supernatural entity nor an ID.

You clowns commonly toss plausible science right out the window because you "see god" in any and all evidence that looks too much like god, even though it can mean something entirely different albeit non-accidental in nature.

Your "side" of the the debate has done ten times more damage to science than anything that IDists have ever done, because you *automatically* take the denialist approach to any and all evidence that can mean that we are not here by accident, just because you *know* that they will interpret it as proof of god.

Have a nice fantasy...

Bye.

4:55 AM  
Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Probability + time is far more likely than a designer.

11:03 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Probability + time is far more likely than a designer.

I don't think you got the point of my original post, and are now arguing in defense of evolution.

But nothing in my original post challenged evolution.

The issue is "how do we get time?

Let me repeat a key paragraph from my post:

Consider just two possible changes. Atoms consist of protons, neutrons, and electrons. If those protons were just 0.2 percent more massive than they actually are, they would be unstable and would decay into simpler particles. Atoms wouldn’t exist; neither would we. If gravity were slightly more powerful, the consequences would be nearly as grave. A beefed-up gravitational force would compress stars more tightly, making them smaller, hotter, and denser. Rather than surviving for billions of years, stars would burn through their fuel in a few million years, sputtering out long before life had a chance to evolve. There are many such examples of the universe’s life-friendly properties—so many, in fact, that physicists can’t dismiss them all as mere accidents.

In other words, having a universe in which there are stars and planets that are stable for the hundreds of millions of years necessary for evolution to happen is what is remarkable.

I’d call it a miracle.

You want probability? You should know that the many millions of variations necessary to get from one-celled organisms (that you can’t explain how they happened should give you pause) to homo sapiens is really remarkable.

12:59 PM  
Blogger PaulNoonan said...

You think that the simulation *hypothesis* is a valid scientific theory?... which is what you originally claimed. You think that a hypothesis is a theory?

Sigh…If you're going to resort to the sorry tactic of parsing language, at least do a decent job of it. No, the simulation hypothesis is not a scientific theory. It's a nifty little logical hypothesis, but that's it. What you’re looking for, a theory that God did it, doesn’t exist. I was merely trying to suggest something half-way plausible.

I see what the problem is now. You quite clearly demonstrate that don't have a clue what science is, and you think that it is a matter of "subjective" opinion.

And I see that you still can’t read. Or address any of my points.


Which completely ignores everything that I said, since their motivations do not matter one stinking little wank to science, but you do not ever get it.

Perhaps you should revisit the topic of the post again. It is about motivations.

Once again, it isn't I who isn't getting it...

Yes it is. You’re trapped in your biases, whereas I consider all possibilities, and identify those areas where I am likely to become trapped in mine. I have stated repeatedly that a creator is a possibility. You have stated that this position should be the default. You are clearly not getting it. I clearly am.


I KNOW, MAN... that's EXACTLY what the guy who was standing over the dead body holding the smoking gun said to the cop that busted him for murder!!!... lol@you.

Appearances can be deceiving, but the cop isn't going to just let the guy go because there's always a possibility that he didn't do it in some universe, because appearances aren't ***entirely*** deceiving, and you very obviously can't know how pathetic your arguments look up to this point... oye!


Analogies can be dangerous. Let’s assume that for most of human history the explanation for life, the universe, and everything is that god did it. Then Darwin came along and all of a sudden it appeared that while our belief that god did it may have been justified while we were still primitives walking around, it starts to look a bit silly in the advent of science and technology, and that maybe moving away from this default belief is a good idea. Your problem is that you’re still locked up in the medieval. If god did do it, we will find out, but we will not find out by assuming. Your argument, (and Davies to a large extent) is still a “god of the gaps” argument. It still boils down to plugging in design where understanding is lacking. That’s not just biased, it’s also stupid. Do you have anything other than “it sure looks like it?” Any evidence at all?

We never rule-out other possibilities IN SCIENCE, but we damned sure don't move the most apparent solution to the problem to the back of the list just because of other possibilities.

What “back of the list?” The reason that we have moved away from design is not some conspiracy in the scientific community. This is where the evidence has taken us. Anyway, if you find this list can you post it online? I’d like to read it.

Your "defense" of this *tactic* is so sad that it isn't even funny.

My defense of the scientific method? That it works? But hey, if you want to go with the crazy affirmative action method of science, go nuts. It won’t get you anything, other than a good chuckle, an increase in the level of ignorance in the universe, and maybe a Templeton grant.


Once again, you are wrong. There is no general disagreement among scientists, even Richard Dawkins, that the appearance exists, but opportunistic Nihilists like yourself go instantly ignorant of all of these facts when they start playing the game of denial.

Do you know what “objective” means? First let’s explain subjective. “Subjective” is what people think. Scientists, for instance. And when people like Dawkins (I’m not a fan, by the way, and don’t appreciate being associated with his views) make this statement, what they assert is that subjectively, to most people, it appears designed. But Dawkins would say the same of the evolution of species, and then tell you why, objectively, it is incorrect. Ergo, speciation also “appears” not to be designed and instead appears to be the result of natural selection IF YOU KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR. That is why the “most apparent” theory is ridiculous. There’s the most apparent theory to rubes, and then there is the most apparent theory to those who actually know what they are talking about. And a thousand more. Relying on this as “science” is ridiculous.

The really sad part to all of this willful ignorance and denial is that specified, or inherent-complexity, and purpose in nature, don't necessitate a supernatural entity nor an ID.

Cool. I win. Though I don’t know what “purpose in nature” means. Thanks for admitting that your are wrong.

You clowns commonly toss plausible science right out the window because you "see god" in any and all evidence that looks too much like god, even though it can mean something entirely different albeit non-accidental in nature.

Oh. Never mind. How about some examples? Any evidence? Anything at all?

Your "side" of the the debate has done ten times more damage to science than anything that IDists have ever done, because you *automatically* take the denialist approach to any and all evidence that can mean that we are not here by accident, just because you *know* that they will interpret it as proof of god.

Show me evidence of god, and I will believe in god. Your side kept humans ignorant for thousands of years. It was excusable, for most of that time, however when alternate (and correct) theories were discovered, it became inexcusable.

Have a nice fantasy...

That is rich, coming from a mystic. Enjoy the illusions you project onto the real world.

Bye.

Ta. Try the truth sometime. I hear it will set you free.

1:27 PM  
Blogger PaulNoonan said...

In other words, having a universe in which there are stars and planets that are stable for the hundreds of millions of years necessary for evolution to happen is what is remarkable.

I’d call it a miracle.


It depends on how many chances, and how much time.


You want probability? You should know that the many millions of variations necessary to get from one-celled organisms (that you can’t explain how they happened should give you pause) to homo sapiens is really remarkable.

I'd call it inevitable. At least, getting to something like homo sapiens.

1:32 PM  
Blogger island said...

In other words, having a universe in which there are stars and planets that are stable for the hundreds of millions of years necessary for evolution to happen is what is remarkable.

Or it is completely expected when given the missing dynamical structure principle that explains the otherwise unexpected configuration from first principles, like an energy conservation law.

This is what scientists believe *should* be the solution to the problem.

Multiverses and the ensuing probabilities for a universe like ours are the copout on first principles that neodarwinians and string theorists use to rationalize the fact that they can't even come close to defining the mechanism without attaching anthropic significance directly to it, so it is no coincidence that a mechanism that includes said "anthropic significance" was the exact result of Amanda Gefter's reaction and "third option" to the original article that this blog post was about:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026852.500-why-its-not-as-simple-as-god-vs-the-multiverse.html

On a side note:

The issue is "how do we get time?

Now THAT is a science question:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2008/12/29/richard-feynman-on-boltzmann-brains/

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

John,

Of course you disagree, since you are an atheist who demands that any notion of God has to be ruled out a priori.

Thanks for conceding that you're simply invoking your favorite deity and not doing science.

You really shouldn't dismiss as "supernatural" anything that might imply design. If design is the only theory that explains empirical observation then it is the best scientific explanation.

The scientific method is rooted in methodological naturalism. Scientists search for *natural* explanations for phenomena. If you'd like to put forth a hypothesis/theory involving a natural cosmological mechanism (similar to the one that explains biological "design," natural selection) I would welcome your contribution. As it stands, you aren't interested in actually explaining anything or producing anything scientifically useful. Instead, you'd rather use science class as a pulpit to evangelize for Christianity.

I think your First Principle is that a Designer just can't possibly exist, and to even posit a designer is "unscientific."

Invoking the supernatural *is* unscientific. If you want to play theology be my guest, just don't try to pass it off as science.

How about specifying the "third option" or the "fourth" and so on?

Whether science currently has other options or not is irrelevant. If the idea of a multiverse were ruled out tomorrow, it wouldn't make invoking the supernatural any more scientific. Like all creationists, your argument boils down to a logical fallacy, to wit, an argument from ignorance, not to mention a false dichotomy: "If evolution isn't true then Goddidit" or "if we don't reside in a multiverse then Goddidit." What a farce.

You either have a Designer, or a "multiverse" theory, or some utterly unspecified "third" or "fourth" alternative.

Why rule out "designer?"

I can't see anything in the logic of science that demands that. Thus, the reason must be cultural: it's an explanation that somebody who is a theist might want to believe.


Again, invoking the supernatural isn't science. Even your buddies at the Discovery Institute concede that under the current definition of science, ID doesn't qualify which is why they want to see the definition *expanded* to include supernatural "explanations." At least they are willing to admit that ID doesn't adhere to the current definition of science. You won't even concede that, instead you just keep repeating that ID is scientific, as if that is going to somehow change the facts.

"Design" is not a supernatural concept, Chris.

Again, if what you're talking about is a natural mechanism (like natural selection) that explains cosmological "design" I would agree. But when you refer to "design" or a "Designer," it's merely a euphemism for "the God of the Bible poofed things into existence," which is theological not scientific.

At least not when it best explains the empirical data.

It doesn't explain *anything* and is scientifically worthless.

Ruling it out is a "thought stopper."

The fact that IDers don't do any original research is proof positive that ID is a "science stopper." I'd say "thought stopper" too, but I see no evidence that IDers engage in any scientific thought. No doubt they put a lot of thought into their PR campaigns, though.

"Christ is indispensable to any scientific theory, even if its practitioners do not have a clue about him."

"Thus, in its relation to Christianity, intelligent design should be viewed as a ground-clearing operation that gets rid of the intellectual rubbish that for generations has kept Christianity from receiving serious consideration."

William Dembski, Discovery Institute

11:20 PM  

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