The Coarsely-Tuned Universe

Eric Kemp (he of the rather poorly named ‘Intelligent Science’ blog) has posted a foundational description of the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God. If you don’t know what that is, read Eric’s explanation, because it covers all of the basic points nicely. 

Rather than reply directly to that, I’d like to point out what I believe is wrong with most atheistic replies to the fine-tuning argument before suggesting a slightly different way of looking at the supposedly ideal Universe that we live in. 

Perhaps the most compelling component of the fine-tuning argument are the cosmological constants, funamental forces of the Universe which are ‘set up’ just right for our kind of life to evolve. The most obvious rebuttal to this is that our kind of life might not be the only kind possible, but there are other replies that I don’t find quite so convincing.

1) The Anthropic Principle. People tend to phrase this as ‘we’re here, therefore it’s possible for us to exist, so we don’t need to explain anything’. (More or less.) Obviously that isn’t really what the Anthropic Principle states, but a lot of atheists don’t seem to get that. One less nonsensical version simply points out that, if there are a range of conditions over time in which life is possible, it follows that we must find ourselves within one of those windows of oppurtunity and so be witness to the illusion that this time and place was ‘designed’ for us. However, while some of the ‘constants’ or prerequisites for life (main sequence stars, for example) change over time and space, several of the fundamental forces do not. Unless I’ve got the wrong idea, this version of the anthropic principle would seem to require multiple universes. Which, of course, is the second unsatisfying reply.

2) Multiple Universes. It’s entirely possible that there are many (or infinite) universes, and this would pull the rug out from under the fine tuning argument in an instant, but some atheists seem to think that the existence of a multiverse has actually been proven. It hasn’t, making this reply interesting but invalid (for now). 

That’s all I’ll say on the fine tuning argument itself, because I’d rather move on to my own counter-argument. There are dozens of attempted refutations of the fine-tuning argument out there already, so if you’re interested, look them up.

 

The Coarsely-Tuned Universe

Did a god create the Universe just for us? Many religions certainly think so, from the Genesis account to tribal legends, and at first glance it might seem that way; after all, we live on a planet which, alone among all of its brethren in the solar system (and all of those we’ve detecteed in other solar systems), is capable of comfortably supporting us. Looking further afield, the Universe itself seems to have been designed with life in mind – an illusion that becomes all the more striking when you consider the stellar evolution required to make the basic components of life in the first place. It is not difficult to imagine a Universe in which nothing exists but elementary particles. 

But our fortiuitous placement within the Habitable Zone of our star actually is easily explainable by invoking the anthropic principle. Although a recent simulation has suggested that life-supporting planetary systems such as our own are probably very rare, the Universe is likely so full of them that this is no barrier to life developing somewhere, at some point. The fact that we’re here is proof that the odds can be beaten (barring the discovery in the future of some great impediment to abiogenesis and the like). The ‘Goldilocks Enigma’ isn’t much of an enigma at all, nor do we need to suppose a divine creator to explain Earth’s idyllic properties.

But could our planet be evidence against a fine-tuning deity? The ‘problem of evil’ has been endlessly discussed, but usually in relation to human evil; God’s own apparently sadistic nature is frequently left unconsidered. While there is no reason to suppose that a god would need to create a truly ideal world for us, there is also no reason to suppose that a god would intentionally make our world less hospitable than it needs to be. At this point some theists might point to ‘sin’, but how exactly does that explain the need for, say, volcanoes? A fairly significant portion of humanity lives in danger of being buried under a pyroclastic flow or smothered in a cloud of hot ash, while a truly cataclysmic eruption (of a ‘supervolcano’) could have disasterous consequences for our civilization and species. 

If we assume that a god made the Earth knowing that volcanic activity would pose a serious threat to its living creation(s), we must then ask ‘why?’. This is one of the major problems with arguing for an intelligent fine-tuner: you cannot ignore the question of its intent. Most theists sweep this under the rug and talk about some sort of nebulous ‘Plan’, but this is a pretty weak defence. What possible reason could a god have for creating death traps that it knew would kill hundreds of men, women and children? And when are we going to see an example of this plan actually paying off? 

Why earthquakes or hurricanes or floods? A purely naturalistic worldview simply recognizes all of these things as unfortunate consequences of uncaring natural phenomena, yet they make a creator god guilty of wanton death and destruction. If God made Earth for us, why can its weather systems kill us? 

The situation becomes worse if we turn our sights to the solar system at large, which is routinely visited by bodies travelling at speeds high enough to drive us extinct with a single impact. (The issue of the gas giants ‘shielding’ Earth is also explainable in anthropic terms; we never would have evolved on a planet that constantly suffered large impacts). There is no reason why meteors and comets need to exist – not if a god set things up originally, that is. 

But the most inexplicable feature of our solar system must be the sun. We rely on it utterly, yet it is destined to destroy us. One billion years from now, the sun will have grown so hot that terrestrial life on Earth will be impossible (we won’t even survive to see it become a red giant). If we last that long (and I seriously doubt that we will, in any form), our only hope would be to escape to another solar system. Unfotunately, this is currently impossible, and is likely to remain so for the forseeable future. Even with highly advanced interstellar technology, moving every human on the planet would be unthinkable. It a god did set things up and wanted us to escape our fate, it made it incredibly difficult. 

Again, we’re forced to consider what such a god was thinking. It could be planning some sort of ‘rapture’ like event, where the favoured will be saved and the rest will be left to burn (literally, for one unfortunate generation), but it seems rather unfair that everything else on Earth also has to die. 

Our continued existence is far from certain, and all of these factors together paint a bleak picture: our days are numbered. Most of the events that could wipe us out are very unlikely, but they only have to happen once, and over long enough spans of time the likelihood of any of them occuring grows close to 100%. The sun’s death is both certain and inescapable, but we at least have a good idea of when that will happen; a meteorite could take us by surprise tomorrow.

It’s clear that Earth and the solar system are not quite as ideal as some would have us believe, and I cannot imagine why a god would create an entire Universe for us only to grant our particular region the means to destroy us. And speaking of ‘an entire Universe’, it really is mind-bogglingly huge. It’s impossible to imagine the distances between stars or the even greater distances between galaxies; what’s the point of it all? Us? Then why will we never see 99.99% of it?

This is not just a problem of space, but also of time, and the following is perhaps the aspect of the Universe where its coarsely-tuned nature is most obvious. For a long after the Big Bang, life was impossible. For the vast, vast majority of its future, it could be that life will be equally impossible.

The Universe’s ultimate fate is still speculative, but the most likely scenario is ‘heat death’. This is a graphical timeline of the Universe up until today, along with a hypothetical timeline of its future. Note how little of the timeline life on Earth occupies. Move up along the graph, and it’s not long before the matter that life consists of can no longer exist. At this point we will almost certainly be long gone, yet here again we rech an absolute limit on how long we can survive for. Under this model, the Universe reaches heat death and maximum entropy; it is essentially ’empty’ by today’s standards. 

If the Universe is here for us, for life, what is the point of these billions upon billions of sterile years? Our existence, and even the possibility of our existence, could well a momentary anomaly, here and gone in the blink of an eye. This is not a problem for a naturalistic worldview – the Universe does not care about us, after all – but I find it hard to believe that a supposedly caring god would create a living space that seems designed to make sure that we don’t continue to live. 

In both space and time, our planet is an island of life in a sea of cold, near-eternal death. If a god went out of its way to make it and us, why does it show so many signs of being created by the unfeeling hand of nature? 

This mysterious god’s intentions are a massive question mark. Is it evil? That would certainly make sense, although I suspect that most theists reading this will reject that idea out of hand on emotional grounds. Does it not care? Same scenario: it makes sense, but isn’t appealing. Does it care for us, its special creation? Then why is our grip on life so tenuous, and why do we live in such an uncaring universe? Why does it not explain itself (or if it does, why does it do so through ‘holy’ books of dubious pedigree)? Why do the only signs of its existence apparently reside in the unknowable realms of death and the time before the Universe came to be?

This coarsely-tuned Universe does not bear witness to a god. Instead it tells us that it doesn’t care about us, and will continue to operate long after we’re no longer here to speculate about it. Gazing at the stars might inspire awe in us, but it provides us with no comfort or assurance – and yet, for all of that, I still say that we’re lucky to be here.

42 Responses to The Coarsely-Tuned Universe

  1. jeffsdeepthoughts says:

    A few replies… “The most obvious rebuttal to this is that our kind of life might not be the only kind possible”
    This rebuttal works for some of the fine-tunings of the universe. I’ll accept, maybe, that life might have evolved based on an element other than carbon, for example. But many of the cosmological constant are necessary for the very formation of matter itself. Outside of cheezy science fiction, it’s hard to imagine and not very convincing to posit life without matter.

    As for God’s apparent cruelty:
    I don’t think a theist owes any explanation for those possibilities mentioned which have not yet occured. In fact, the fact that they haven’t would seem to count in the favor of God protecting us. That scientists have explained that a super volcano or an exploding sun could wipe out all life on Earth doesn’t indicate a malicious creator.
    Further, scripture speaks of a radical change in the world. I don’t want to open a can of worms and argue about how literally we ought to take Revelations. But I do wish to say that eventualities millions of years in the future are quite a moot point. Everything will have changed by then, accoding to our beliefs.

    I realize this still leaves a wide category of natural disasters. And I don’t think any accounting with words is going to fully account for any kind of suffering. Some times we Christians seem quite clueless, coarse, or insensetive. The truth is that life is really hard and really painful and when you are in the middle of tragedy, abstract philosophical argumentation can seem quite absurd.
    That said, there are several things worth noticing here:
    The first is that many tragedies which appear natural have a highly man-made component to them. For example, Hurrican Katrina is on the surface a natural occurence. It seems like it’s good reason to think that there is an angry God.
    The massive devestation that resulted was highly human influenced, however.
    It was a result of the sin of poor planning and resource management; for example, in terms of the mantainence of the levies. It was the result of racism or classicism in terms of the correlation between the skin color and economic status of those affected and the slowness of the government response; it was the result of the sin of arrogance in the form of ignorant, untrained officials positioned in FEMA. There is also the potential that such events are made much worse through humanity’s poor stewardship of the Earth itself.
    I read a book recently by an agnostic journalistic who journeyed through evangelical Christianity. (Left behind was somewhere in the title, wish I could give you more details, sorry. Drawing a blank on title/author) He chronicles how churches stepped up and filled the vaccuum created by government incompetence. The church does not always respond well to these issues, but it’s worth noting that another partial explanation for these events is that they give us an opportunity to grow and demonstrate our love for each other as we step up and do our best to support others through disasters.

    Finally, one part of the fallenness of the world is it’s unpredictabality. I don’t like this. I wish it wasn’t the case. But it is. One of the things that is broken is the fact that lousy things happen to good people.
    It’s the very basis of the Christian faith, in fact. Jesus, perfect, suffered undeservedly and horribly. We should expect no less for the rest of us, Christians and non-Christians alike.

  2. forknowledge says:

    The church does not always respond well to these issues, but it’s worth noting that another partial explanation for these events is that they give us an opportunity to grow and demonstrate our love for each other as we step up and do our best to support others through disasters.

    If that’s really the ‘point’ of natural disasters, your God is still a malicious prick. “Hundreds are dead – now let’s get on with some spiritual growth!”

    When I looked ahead into the future I was also looking backwards to the past, and I have no reason to believe that any of this stuff about sin or Jesus is actually true. (And even if it was, the Christian God seems to have been acting very strangely for a long time.) I have never seen any evidence to suggest that the world is in some sort of ‘fallen state’ (or that it was ever not ‘fallen’); remember, I wasn’t only talking about the Christian God. I don’t believe that any religion meshes with reality enough to explain its coarsely-tuned properties, especially not if those religions claim that the Universe is here for us.

  3. jeffsdeepthoughts says:

    I don’t believe that there is a single point to a natural disaster, any more than there is a single point to a beautiful song. There isn’t any one single point. But there are a number of things worth noticing. The fact that hard events offer an opportunity for spiritual growth is only one of them.
    I do think that this is an underappreciated and underestimated issue though. God would be a malicious prick (to use your words) if he allowed us to be self-centered, spoiled, gutless and arrogant.
    The only way I know to develop self control, discipline, strength and humility is to work for it. I realize that we might argue about how much suffering is necessary to develop these traits. But if everything was perfectally ducky we would be like that one spoiled kid who everybody hated growing up, the one who got every toy he wanted and never had to struggle or work for anything.

    “When I look ahead to the future I was also looking backwards to the past.” Is this a reference to my claim that you can’t hold God morally responsible for events that are only possible but which haven’t happened yet?
    Whether or not you believe isn’t really the point. It seems like your whole point with a coarsely-tuned universe is to point out that Theists owe an explanation for God’s gratitious destruction. If they can’t provide such an explanation, this would count as evidence against thiesm.
    My point is that a theist doesn’t owe an account for possibilities that haven’t happened. I’d go further and say that theists don’t owe an explanation either for things that didn’t impact humanity. Some acts of “destruction” were very much necessary for humanity to develop at all. Prior super novae, for example, dispersed a variety of heavier elements through out the universe, such as carbon.

    Elsewhere, you asked for some specific examples of what items in Genesis correlate to current scientific understandings. This is relevant here, so I’ll make a very quick run through:
    Genesis begins by describing a Creation by God through a variety of eras. These eras don’t map exactly to the order understood by cosmology, geology, and biology. But there are some fascinating overlappings.
    Much more interesting to me is the fact that early man, in Genesis, has no language, clothing/nudity taboos, concept of monogomous love, understanding of death, or concept of good and evil.
    Adam “discovers” all these things in Genesis.
    I think you’d be hard-pressed to offer a better explanation of what made the first human a human at all. A creature lacking all these was a primate ancestor. A creature possessing them was a human proper.
    I read Genesis to explain that humans had a special place in God’s plan. That there is something we have in common with God that nothing else does. (Genesis’ language for this is that we are made in God’s image.) Early man had an oppurtunity to enjoy a special relationship with God as a result of this. Early man walked away from this opportunity and still suffers greatly for it. The name for this betrayal and the brokeness of this relationship is the “Fall”
    Before I was a Christian, I struggled with the issue of responsibility: why should I be held responsible for early man’s foolishness. Then I realized something: As a decendent of this early man, I replay this foolishness on a personal level. I, like every other person I know, sin and turn my back on God.

  4. Sirius says:

    I read Genesis and find that you have not taken into account the effects of the Fall and the Noachim Judgment. Both of these incidents [the cursed Earth and the geological upheavel of the Great Flood] have given us earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. It can be rightly said that these things are the results of human sin which a holy God MUST judge.

    It seems you never take into account the Biblical explanation for these things. You really should get to know your opponents arguments a little better if you hope to refute them! I’ve already discussed this issue of God’s allegedly cuplability for sin in an article entitled The Cost of Free Will.

    –Sirius Knott

  5. Sirius says:

    It seems the link to the article did not work.

    http://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2008/02/17/the-cost-of-free-will/

    -Sirius

  6. Eric Kemp says:

    forknowledge

    “The fact that we’re here is proof that the odds can be beaten (barring the discovery in the future of some great impediment to abiogenesis and the like).”

    So, basically, your argument is that since we are here, therefore it happened? Really, that’s what you’re going with?

    “What possible reason could a god have for creating death traps that it knew would kill hundreds of men, women and children? And when are we going to see an example of this plan actually paying off?”

    This is honestly one of the most ignorant things I’ve EVER heard. Death traps? You can’t be serious. You basically are arguing here that God forces people to live in the shadow of mountains. You are also arguing a massive strawman of my post, talking about processes that affect humans without responding to how fine-tuned the universe is allow humans to exist in order to be affected by ANYTHING in the first place!

    “If God made Earth for us, why can its weather systems kill us?”

    Really? You mean the world isn’t completely safe for us therefore God doesn’t exist? C’mon man, that can’t really be your argument. Also, you completely ignore the fact that the Earth’s weather patterns are just so to allow us to exist.

    “The situation becomes worse if we turn our sights to the solar system at large, which is routinely visited by bodies travelling at speeds high enough to drive us extinct with a single impact.”

    You have actually just argued my case for me. There is a branch of cosmology dedicated to studying why we HAVEN’T been whiped out by one of those objects. And you know what they’ve found? That the planets, including our moon, and their gravitational fields, are aligned just so that it forms a barrier against objects for a single planet in our solar system, and guess what, that planet is EARTH!

    “But the most inexplicable feature of our solar system must be the sun. We rely on it utterly, yet it is destined to destroy us.”

    I’m absolutely incredulous that you find these arguments to be valid. You admit that we need the sun absolutely, yet because it will kill us in a BILLION years therefore God doesn’t exist? Really? But the situation is actually worse for you. Not only do we need the sun, but we need the sun EXACTLY WHERE IT IS. If it was any closer or farther we would not exist.

    “Our continued existence is far from certain, and all of these factors together paint a bleak picture: our days are numbered.”

    Our species won’t last for eternity therefore God doesn’t exist. Another good one.

    “It’s impossible to imagine the distances between stars or the even greater distances between galaxies; what’s the point of it all? Us? Then why will we never see 99.99% of it?”

    I don’t understand the mind of God, therefore He doesn’t exist. Keep it up forknowledge!

    “. . . but I find it hard to believe that a supposedly caring god would create a living space that seems designed to make sure that we don’t continue to live.”

    Again, we won’t live for eternity therefore God doesn’t exist. But you are again ignoring every single peice of evidence I gave about the impossibility of our existence in the first place without the precision we see in the universe. You’re ignoring this point because you have no refutation. But this is the main point:

    You are RESTING your argument on the precision of the universe that allows humanity to exist in the first place. Attempting to show all the bad things that do and will happen to humanity, forcing this to disprove precision. It’s amazing that you think this holds water.

    “Then why is our grip on life so tenuous, and why do we live in such an uncaring universe?”

    You have just argued my point for me. Our grip on life IS teneous in a seemingly uncaring universe. Amazing that we do exist huh?

    “Why does it not explain itself (or if it does, why does it do so through ‘holy’ books of dubious pedigree)?”

    Since when did I use holy books in my post? Oh that’s right, you haven’t begun to argue a single point in my post, you prefer to create strawman after strawman and pretend this applies to me. The ironic part is that I gave empirical evidence for the fine-tuned precision of the universe, and my post is a very small piece of the puzzle, while you have given none.

    In fact, you’re entire argument can be boiled down to this: We don’t live in an absolute utopia therefore God doesn’t exist.

    In short, you have not responded to a single point that I made in my post. You’ve also been unable to show any “coarse-tuning” because you are resting your “coarse-tuning” argument UPON the incredibly precise fine-tuning of the universe and have basically only shown that our world isn’t perfect.

  7. Penguin_Factory says:

    “It seems you never take into account the Biblical explanation for these things.”

    Have you ever taken the Koranic, Vedic or Buddhist explanation into account? If not, ask yourself why not and you’ll probably get the answer to why atheists don’t take the Bible very seriously.

  8. Eric Kemp says:

    Penguin_Factory

    That actually doesn’t fly (no pun intended . . .you know. . . penguins can’t fly) because forknowledge is arguing against the Christian worldview. In the Christian worldview, the Bible is the Word of God. So it’s perfectly acceptable to quote Biblical phenomena and explanations in our arguments. Since the fine-tuning of the universe is explained, expected and accounted for in the Christian worldview, and not in the atheistic worldview, using the Bible to expound on WHY that it is explained, expected and accounted for is perfectly fine and logically consistent. That doesn’t mean YOU have to accept it, that just means that it’s logical within our own framework and that your framework has no explanation.

  9. forknowledge says:

    I am not arguing against the Christian worldview, I’m arguing against any worldview which posits a ‘fine-tuning’ God. (Or gods.) As I’ve said previously, and as this is another attempt at demonstrating, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and people of every other religion on Earth pay lip service to rationality (the fine-tuning argument) even while they reject it by ascribing far more attributes to a god or gods than is necessary, even assuming the conceptual necessity of a god in the first place. In the worst cases (yourself and, in particular, Sirius Knott) they assume the validity of an entire mythology wihout any good reason to do so.

    I’m exhausted right now, but I’ll get around to replying to your other comment sometime tomorrow.

    ADDITION: I’m also not arguing that anything above is ‘proof’ that God doesn’t exist; everything I’ve pointed out is also entirely consistent with the existence of a god that is simply different to the one you believe in. Not everybody is as obsessed with Christianity as you are.

  10. Eric Kemp says:

    forknowledge

    I am defending and arguing in support of the Christian worldview, therefore you are arguing against the Christian worldview. If you would rather think of it as the Judeo/Christian God then be my guest. Hindus do not believe reality is real so they aren’t included, and any Muslim or Mormon will tell you that their God IS the Judeo/Christian God. So you ARE arguing against the Christian worldview.

    If you want to argue against an entire mythology then go ahead, but the fine tuning argument is in defense of a benevolent, all-powerful, all-knowing God which only the Christian worldview postulates exists. Why I subscribe to the Christian worldview only and particularly the Bible only, is a conversation for another time. One that would be quite useless to us at this point.

    Take your time brother.

    Eric

  11. Viggy says:

    “I’m also not arguing that anything above is ‘proof’ that God doesn’t exist; everything I’ve pointed out is also entirely consistent with the existence of a god that is simply different to the one you believe in. Not everybody is as obsessed with Christianity as you are.”

    Through most of your post you seem to have a “God doesn’t exist” attitude in you questions similar to: If there are bad things happening, then why did God do that? I don’t like that answer, so there is no God.
    Secondly, please explain what other god you are talking about in your post, because it would seem that you are only talking about the Christian God and Christian view points.
    Lastly, you say that “not everyone is obsessed with Christianity as you are” but in most of your articles that ever mention a creator or creation, you tend to bring up the Christian God and the Bible…….so maybe you are right about not “everyone” being obsessed with Christianity, but YOU are.

  12. Lottie says:

    I am defending and arguing in support of the Christian worldview, therefore you are arguing against the Christian worldview.

    Wow! Just when I thought I’d seem every logical acrobatic stunt…

    If you want to argue against an entire mythology then go ahead, but the fine tuning argument is in defense of a benevolent, all-powerful, all-knowing God which only the Christian worldview postulates exists.

    Wrong again.

    Forknowledge: Sorry to be so short. I’m about to run out the door and just couldn’t pass that by. I’ll check back in later.

    Good post!

  13. forknowledge says:

    Lottie: No problem, I haven’t had time to reply properly here either (or write anything new; hopefully tomorrow).

    Viggy: Since my blog is primarily about Creationism in Europe and the US, it follows that it’s mostly going to focus on Christianity – which is why I made it clear in this post that I was talking about a generic idea of ‘God’, and not one belonging to any particular religion.

    Eric Kemp: As ever, you miss my main point. As before, though, I don’t have the time to do it justice here; hopefully tomorrow I will.

  14. Eric Kemp says:

    Lottie

    forknowledge was rebutting an article of mine. My article was written in defense of the Christian worldview. Therefore forknowledge is arguing against the Christian worldview. No acrobatics needed, just straightforward deductive reasoning.

    Also, lottie, next time please wait until you get back home to reply as it would allow you to defend your statements instead of just making them without any support as you have done here.

    Eric

  15. Viggy says:

    Since my blog is primarily about Creationism in Europe and the US, it follows that it’s mostly going to focus on Christianity – which is why I made it clear in this post that I was talking about a generic idea of ‘God’, and not one belonging to any particular religion.

    Your generic idea of God doesn’t seem generic at all. You mention sin, a rapture, only having one God, only the name of God without other names, and even Genesis to name a few. I don’t see where you are being generic, especially for someone that is obsessed with the Christian God.

  16. Lottie says:

    forknowledge was rebutting an article of mine. My article was written in defense of the Christian worldview. Therefore forknowledge is arguing against the Christian worldview. No acrobatics needed, just straightforward deductive reasoning.

    I’d explain it to you, but there’s no need to repeat what you’ve already been told. You’re no more likely to take it on board coming from me.

    Also, lottie, next time please wait until you get back home to reply as it would allow you to defend your statements instead of just making them without any support as you have done here.

    Don’t know why you would assume I wasn’t home. So much for your deductive reason skills…

    And I wasn’t aware that you had the authority to tell me when, where or how to comment on this blog.

  17. forknowledge says:

    Viggy: Those were anticipations of the responses I was most likely to get – my most frequent detractors are all Christians, so obviously I’m going to pre-empt some Christian responses. If this blog was more frequently read by Deists or Pagans or Muslims, I would have mentioned some of their responses instead.

    Eric:

    Phrases like ‘shrill’ or ‘stupid’ get thrown around a lot, but honestly, that’s what your main comment was. I was certainly not claiming that because I can’t understand the mind of a supposed God, it must not exist. Instead I was trying to get you (or people like you) to think about the fine-tuning argument in a different way, but I guess that hasn’t worked.

    The problem with the fine-tuning argument, along with most arguments of its kind, is that the most it can hope to reasonably convince someone of is deism (using that term in a rather basic way, but I’m sure you see what I mean). The argument goes that the Universe appears fine-tuned for the existence of life, or more specifically for human life. Assuming the argument is sound, what does it tell us? Well, that a god-like entity created the Universe. That’s it; there is no reason to attach any sort of mythology, personality, morality or any of the other trappings of organised religion to the god in question. Taken on its own, the fine-tuning argument can only act in favour of deism; taking anything more from it is unwarranted.

    Of course, that’s not how most theists treat it. They already have a detailed idea of what type of god exists, and so an argument for any god is immediately taken as an argument for their god. I know what your objection will be: that fine-tuning the Universe for life is a clear sign of that god’s morality or ‘goodness’, but I obviously disagree. Given everything I describe in the post, you could argue just as well that the apparent fine-tuning of the Universe is clear evidence of a sadistic god, one who created the Universe such that life would (or could) develop, only to torment it or watch it be tormented by, say, hurricanes. Or volcanic eruption. (And you do not need to be living ‘in the shadow of a mountain to be killed by a volcano.) Or the thought of its ultimate and inevitable extinction.

    I am not attempting to show that no gods exist; indeed, the coarsely-tuned argument more or less assumes that a god does exist, and then attempts to show why that God is probably not the omni-benevolent parental figure of most monotheisms (or any other kind of god envisioned in such a way).

    The second point I was trying to make, which you also completely missed, is that there is no reason to assume that a god (if one exists) must be described in a contemporary religion. The fine-tuning argument should be taken as an attempt at showing that some sort of god-like entity exists; a foundation, in other words, on which more can be built afterwards. Instead, you and most others who use it leap from ‘a god exists’ to ‘therefore it is my god’. It doesn’t have to be your god. It doesn’t have to be the god of any religion on Earth; it is entirely possible that a god exists, but remains completely unknown to and undescribed by humans.

    If you want to consider the question of god (or gods) in a way that isn’t very obviously pandering to your current religious beliefs, you need to stop making leaps like that, and you need to stop assigning a multitude of attributes to god that your own arguments don’t warrant. Start with the fine-tuning argument: a god exists and made the Universe so that life could exist. Move on to the coarsely-tuned argument: neither the Earth or the Universe are ideal for human life, or for life in general. Where do we go from here? How do you go from this point to the god you believe in without simply latching on to the Bible?

  18. Eric Kemp says:

    Lottie

    “I’d explain it to you, but there’s no need to repeat what you’ve already been told. You’re no more likely to take it on board coming from me.”

    What this really means is, “I have no idea how to explain it to you so I’ll just insult your intelligence and reason and call it a day.” Well done.

    “Don’t know why you would assume I wasn’t home. So much for your deductive reason skills…”

    I’ll quote you to explain myself, “Sorry to be so short. I’m running out the door . . . “. This implies that you didn’t take your time in writing your first reply.

    “And I wasn’t aware that you had the authority to tell me when, where or how to comment on this blog.”

    Oh, don’t get me wrong. You can comment however you like, it’s a free internet. I’m merely suggesting that you take your time in writing replies and give support and explanations for statements. If you don’t want to do this, that’s fine, but no rational discussion can take place with the sort of statements you’ve made twice now (no explanation and no support).

  19. forknowledge says:

    Eric:

    Although you’re free to write in whatever way you want when you comment here, I would advise against the ‘Sirius Knott-lite’ style. It’s a pale imitation at best and so has none of the (admittedly little) impact that the original does.

  20. Eric Kemp says:

    forknowledge

    “I was certainly not claiming that because I can’t understand the mind of a supposed God, it must not exist. Instead I was trying to get you (or people like you) to think about the fine-tuning argument in a different way, but I guess that hasn’t worked.”

    Actually, that’s exactly what you said. You said that since you couldn’t imagine why God would make so much space inbetween planets, therefore His existence is unlikely. That’s exactly what you said. I would quote you but I can’t copy and paste on your blog for some reason.

    “The problem with the fine-tuning argument, along with most arguments of its kind, is that the most it can hope to reasonably convince someone of is deism.”

    Good thing that’s what I’m using it for.

    ” Well, that a god-like entity created the Universe. That’s it; there is no reason to attach any sort of mythology, personality, morality or any of the other trappings of organised religion to the god in question. Taken on its own, the fine-tuning argument can only act in favour of deism; taking anything more from it is unwarranted.”

    Well, that’s not entirely true. Some benevolence must be attributed to this Being because He designed the universe specifically so that we could exist. He can’t be evil if this is the case. If He designed the universe for us, why wouldn’t He want to communicate with us? If He has the power to create the universe, and He has the power and desire to create us then He has the power and desire to communicate with us. Beyond this; I agree with you.

    The problem is this; that refutes you as an atheist and doesn’t hurt my argument at all.

    “Of course, that’s not how most theists treat it.”

    I’m confused about where you get the idea that I am taking the fine-tuning argument farther than this.

    “Given everything I describe in the post, you could argue just as well that the apparent fine-tuning of the Universe is clear evidence of a sadistic god, one who created the Universe such that life would (or could) develop, only to torment it or watch it be tormented by, say, hurricanes. Or volcanic eruption. (And you do not need to be living ‘in the shadow of a mountain to be killed by a volcano.) Or the thought of its ultimate and inevitable extinction.”

    And this is the argument that I find absolutely and honestly hilarious. This is where all of my snark came from. As I’ve already said, you are RESTING this argument upon mine, attempting to use it to refute mine. You are also looking at the world that we have existed on for thousands of years, (and in your worldview MILLIONS of years) and arguing that because it isn’t a perfect utopia where no one dies or suffers, therefore God is sadistic. The argument just isn’t reasonable, no matter how many times you repeat it.

    You also are ignoring two other explanations:
    1. This corruption of nature is accounted for in the Biblical model. Sin entered into the world through human beings and the Earth “groans” from the burden of sin, causing nature to behave less desireably than God had designed it. You may find this highly speculative but it is no less speculative or possible than your “Well God COULD BE evil”. Bottom line, the Biblical worldview has a clear, explicit explanation for the corruption in nature so that the “God is evil” conclusion is not needed.
    2. Let’s take Katrina for example. What were the two main factors in the deaths of people in New Orleans? The poorly designed and neglected levie broke and people refused to evacuate (or couldn’t because of poverty or traffic conditions). All of which are human in origin! Fires are actually a GOOD THING for nature (ask any biologist) and are only a bad thing for human property. What I’m trying to say is that you’re ignoring the human element of “natural” disasters.

    “The second point I was trying to make, which you also completely missed, is that there is no reason to assume that a god (if one exists) must be described in a contemporary religion.”

    Neither point argues against my article. You are arguing against what you THINK my eventual pro-Christian God argument will be, one I haven’t made yet. Neither point refutes why fine-tuning points to Intelligence. Are you saying that fine tuning evidence DOES point to Intelligence? Are you unable to argue against the fine-tuning of the universe and are now willing to rethink your atheistic position?

  21. Eric Kemp says:

    forknowledge

    Although I cannot muster the bite that Sirius has, and frankly I don’t like to use it very much, I will return snark for snark (up to a point) and will point out ridiculousness where I see it. Would you really expect any less?

    Eric

  22. Lottie says:

    “I’d explain it to you, but there’s no need to repeat what you’ve already been told. You’re no more likely to take it on board coming from me.”

    What this really means is, “I have no idea how to explain it to you so I’ll just insult your intelligence and reason and call it a day.” Well done.

    No, actually it means exactly what I said: that I didn’t see the point of repeating what had already been said.

    “Don’t know why you would assume I wasn’t home. So much for your deductive reason skills…”

    I’ll quote you to explain myself, “Sorry to be so short. I’m running out the door . . . “. This implies that you didn’t take your time in writing your first reply.

    Yes, it does. But it doesn’t imply that I wasn’t home which is what you had first deduced. That also gives me reason to question your deductive reasoning skills, which is what you claimed you were using to try and refute forknowledge’s argument.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong. You can comment however you like, it’s a free internet. I’m merely suggesting that you take your time in writing replies and give support and explanations for statements. If you don’t want to do this, that’s fine, but no rational discussion can take place with the sort of statements you’ve made twice now (no explanation and no support).

    Admittedly, my first comment was made in a rush. My second was made at around 4:30 a.m. my time after having been awakened by a barking dog. Nevertheless, I vowed, long ago, not to invest (waste) a lot of time trying to reason with people (specifically religionists) who already have their minds made up and reject all reason and logic, while clinging to anything that supports their preconceived ideas. From what I’ve seen so far, you fit squarely into that category. That does not mean, however, that will never have anything to say. It just means that I am no longer in the teaching business.

    I’m thankful for blogs like this one and admire people like forknowledge who still have what it takes to tackle these issues, and I will continue to drop a line or two when I feel like it

  23. Lottie says:

    Oops! I accidentally hit “submit” before I was done. That last bit should read:

    I’m thankful for blogs like this one and admire people like forknowledge who still have what it takes to tackle these issues, and I will continue to drop a line or two when I feel like it. When I do, it is for the purpose of showing my support to like-minded, rational people who already know where I’m coming from. No elaborate explanations required.

    So I trust that you now know where I stand, and that we will not need to revisit this issue.

    Thank you and have a nice day.

  24. Viggy says:

    Lottie- “When I do, it is for the purpose of showing my support to like-minded, rational people who already know where I’m coming from. No elaborate explanations required. ”

    So you are an atheistic cheerleader vowing to cheer for a fellow atheist and will take jabs at people without explaining why? That sounds rational and logical. I would say this then: please stick to your vow and stop coming back here to continue making comments to anyone else that is forknowledge. If you don’t like how rational people think with facts and evidence and you only want to chime in to say a little support chant for your friend, then do that and stop trying to refute others without any rational reasoning behind it.

    “That does not mean, however, that will never have anything to say. It just means that I am no longer in the teaching business. ”

    So when you are not in the teaching business, as you say, does that mean you can make statements without evidence?

    You also seem to “bash” Eric’s deductive reasoning skills on you being home or not (which has NOTHING to do with the topic) and extend it to all topics, including this one, and state that he has poor deductive reasoning skills. Well, here is a deductive reasoning skill that I used when I read your comments. You made a vow to yourself to not invest time into people like Eric. You broke that vow. You broke that vow to yourself and others that you vowed not to argue with. So, if we use the reasoning that you used on Eric, You are a liar to yourself and others. You break vows/promises which means your word. To further use your logic, because you broke your vows once then you must be horrible at it and must lie to yourself and others all the time.

    So using your logic still, I would not want your “teaching business” placed upon us in the logical community. Keep you lies for yourself and keep chiming in with your cheer leading skills.

  25. Lottie says:

    Veggie: Wow! You certainly have taken a few wild leaps. I believe the following are worth addressing:

    You also seem to “bash” Eric’s deductive reasoning skills on you being home or not (which has NOTHING to do with the topic) and extend it to all topics, including this one, and state that he has poor deductive reasoning skills.

    It has more to do with this topic than anything in your little rant here. Eric claimed that he was using straightforward deductive reasoning to try and refute an argument. He then demonstrated poor deductive reasoning skills by assuming I wasn’t home simply because I said I was rushing out the door. Whether or not you understand or accept it, this is absolutely relevant to other areas that require the use of deductive reasoning.

    Well, here is a deductive reasoning skill that I used when I read your comments. You made a vow to yourself to not invest time into people like Eric. You broke that vow. You broke that vow to yourself and others that you vowed not to argue with. So, if we use the reasoning that you used on Eric, You are a liar to yourself and others. You break vows/promises which means your word. To further use your logic, because you broke your vows once then you must be horrible at it and must lie to yourself and others all the time.

    You might actually have a point if I had said you what you claim I did. But I didn’t. I said that I do not invest a lot of time trying to reason with [people like Eric]. And I didn’t. And I still haven’t. I think clearly and type fast, and I haven’t even spent a total of twenty minutes responding to both of you combined. But you conveniently altered what I had said to try and build a case against me, which technically makes you the liar.

    So save your warped logic and deceitful debating tactics for Sunday School class, ’cause they ain’t gonna fly with me.

  26. Lottie says:

    By the way, it’s not about “cheerleading” for anyone. Forknowledge doesn’t need me or anyone else to shake pompoms for him. It’s about wanting to support and encourage others who are promoting things that I feel are important and worthwhile. If you want to trivialize it by calling it “cheerleading”, then I trust you’ll keep that in mind the next time you show support for someone who is promoting what you believe in. If you’re honest, you will.

  27. Lottie says:

    Oops again! I’m sorry for getting your name wrong, Viggy. I hate getting people’s names wrong.

    And sorry for the multiple comments, Forknowledge. I’m the queen of afterthoughts tonight.

  28. Eric Kemp says:

    Lottie

    Viggy has a good point. If you weren’t willing to discuss with me then why did you address me in the first place? Oh, that’s right. You find yourself intellectually superior to me and just wanted me to know it as well.

    But to respond to a few things:

    “No, actually it means exactly what I said: that I didn’t see the point of repeating what had already been said.”

    The problem is that, in your original statement, it wasn’t clear to what you were referring and it wasn’t clear what your point was. Then when asked to elaborate you just say it was already elaborated upon. It’s actually quite irrational.

    “But it doesn’t imply that I wasn’t home which is what you had first deduced. That also gives me reason to question your deductive reasoning skills, which is what you claimed you were using to try and refute forknowledge’s argument.”

    *sigh* When I said, “Wait until you get home . . .” I should have said, “Wait until you get BACK home from where you are going . . .” Is that better? Either way, my point was that it was a rushed post with no support, something you’ve already admitted. But yet, you’ve also admitted that you don’t find me worthy of giving support for your statements because I’m a “religionist”. It’s getting more rational by the sentence.

    “Nevertheless, I vowed, long ago, not to invest (waste) a lot of time trying to reason with people (specifically religionists) who already have their minds made up and reject all reason and logic, while clinging to anything that supports their preconceived ideas.”

    The funny part is this Lottie, you’ve done zero reasoning. In fact, I’m the only one that desires to use reason in this conversation, you’ve admitted that you’re not even trying to do so. The person who find the Christian unreasonable before even speaking to him about anything is also the person who is refusing to reason, even after requests by the Christian to engage in a reasonable discussion. It’s all very ironic and hypocritical of you.

    Your preconcieved idea is that ALL religious people are incapable of reason. This is ignorant at best and belligerent at worst. In fact, it is the definition of unreasonable to label an entire group of people with unqualified “all” statements.

    You also ignore the massive amount of faith that you must have in order to believe that God does not exist.

    “I’m thankful for blogs like this one and admire people like forknowledge who still have what it takes to tackle these issues, and I will continue to drop a line or two when I feel like it.”

    That’s right Lottie, someone has to form arguments against theism because it certainly isn’t going to be you, right? You are content to believe what your scholars tell you and cheer from the sidelines at other atheistic blogs. Keep it up.

  29. Viggy says:

    “You might actually have a point if I had said you what you claim I did. But I didn’t. I said that I do not invest (a lot) of time trying to reason with [people like Eric]. And I didn’t. And I still haven’t. I think clearly and type fast, and I haven’t even spent a total of twenty minutes responding to both of you combined. But you conveniently altered what I had said to try and build a case against me, which technically makes you the liar.”

    *sigh. Well “a lot” of time is subjective, like much of what you write. You also came back here to write some more……so more time spent. For a person with vows, you just keep breaking them…..so how does that make me the liar? Also, if time spent on a “religious person” such as Eric and I is such a waste, then would not all time be a waste? The more minutes you use to talk to Eric and me shows how much you will keep breaking your vow. The funny thing is, you will most likely post again because of your pride….which many liars feed upon.

    “So save your warped logic and deceitful debating tactics for Sunday School class, ’cause they ain’t gonna fly with me.”

    If I wanted warped logic I would believe in theories that are not based on facts, evidence, or truths.

    “this is absolutely relevant to other areas that require the use of deductive reasoning.”

    So let me get this straight, lets say your a mother (I don’t know if you are but you are a woman and have/had/will have the capability of having children). You do one bad parenting act to your kids. From that one act I would say that you are a “bad mother” or “one who doesn’t know how to be a mother.” I haven’t seen any other mothering capabilities at any other time, but by your logic, I should be able to call you a bad mother. So it would stand, the more you come back here and “waste time” on anything that is not the topic the more you break your vow and lie. This makes you a liar, from YOUR logic.

  30. forknowledge says:

    Eric:

    1. This corruption of nature is accounted for in the Biblical model. Sin entered into the world through human beings and the Earth “groans” from the burden of sin, causing nature to behave less desireably than God had designed it. You may find this highly speculative but it is no less speculative or possible than your “Well God COULD BE evil”. Bottom line, the Biblical worldview has a clear, explicit explanation for the corruption in nature so that the “God is evil” conclusion is not needed.

    There is no any indication, anywhere, that nature has ever been different (in this regard) than how it is now. Even before humans existed, was the world ‘groaning under the burden of sin’? For billions of years, life on Earth struggled and died – it happened before we were here, and it will in all likelihood continue to happen long after we’re gone. Suggesting that an evil God exists does not require the kind of speculation needed to somehow fit the idea of a ‘fall’ to the evidence, which clearly does not bear it out (I guess this is one reason why Creationism is so popular).

    2. Let’s take Katrina for example. What were the two main factors in the deaths of people in New Orleans? The poorly designed and neglected levie broke and people refused to evacuate (or couldn’t because of poverty or traffic conditions). All of which are human in origin! Fires are actually a GOOD THING for nature (ask any biologist) and are only a bad thing for human property. What I’m trying to say is that you’re ignoring the human element of “natural” disasters.

    Regardless of what part humans may play in natural disaster, we did not create them (most of the time) and they would exist and kill without our intervention. As with ‘sin’, these kinds of things have been happening for billions of years – the fossil record bears evidence of several enormous extinction events in the Earth’s history. Are you saying that, because we’re here, that will never happen again?

    And this is the argument that I find absolutely and honestly hilarious. This is where all of my snark came from. As I’ve already said, you are RESTING this argument upon mine, attempting to use it to refute mine. You are also looking at the world that we have existed on for thousands of years, (and in your worldview MILLIONS of years) and arguing that because it isn’t a perfect utopia where no one dies or suffers, therefore God is sadistic. The argument just isn’t reasonable, no matter how many times you repeat it.

    But assuming a vast mythology…that is reasonable? Sadistic God, or speculative legends that contradict all available evidence – which one do you think is more likely?

    I am not suggesting that the world needs to be a utopia, but you have yet to account for the coarsely-tuned aspects of the Universe without resorting to frankly ridiculous stories. In paricular, you haven’t said much about the fact that this Universe (made for us) will be totally incapable of supporting us for the vast majority of its history and is currently incapable of supporting us across the vast majority of its space. One explanation for tht is that there is no god or gods. Another is, as I’ve pointed out, a sadistic God. But an all-loving God who cares deeply for us? I don’t see it.

    Neither point argues against my article. You are arguing against what you THINK my eventual pro-Christian God argument will be, one I haven’t made yet. Neither point refutes why fine-tuning points to Intelligence. Are you saying that fine tuning evidence DOES point to Intelligence? Are you unable to argue against the fine-tuning of the universe and are now willing to rethink your atheistic position?

    It would be useful if you could make your pro-Christian argument, since I have yet to see it (not counting that ridiculous list of reasons why Islam and the like are invalid). And no, I am not rethinking my atheistic position. I’m simply accepting your argument hypothetically and taking it one step further. Even if this version of the Teleological Argument is correct, it doesn’t necessarily point to the conclusion that you think it does.

  31. forknowledge says:

    By the way, it’s not about “cheerleading” for anyone. Forknowledge doesn’t need me or anyone else to shake pompoms for him. It’s about wanting to support and encourage others who are promoting things that I feel are important and worthwhile. If you want to trivialize it by calling it “cheerleading”, then I trust you’ll keep that in mind the next time you show support for someone who is promoting what you believe in. If you’re honest, you will.

    I’d like to point out here that I’m not a fan of ‘cheerleading’ – if someone like Lottie sees a problem with something I write, I’d absolutely expect them to call me out on it.

  32. Lottie says:

    A few things:

    Your preconcieved idea is that ALL religious people are incapable of reason. This is ignorant at best and belligerent at worst. In fact, it is the definition of unreasonable to label an entire group of people with unqualified “all” statements.

    I do not believe that all religious people are incapable of reason. It has been my experience that attempting to reason with them where their religious beliefs are concerned is an exercise in futility.

    That’s right Lottie, someone has to form arguments against theism because it certainly isn’t going to be you, right? You are content to believe what your scholars tell you and cheer from the sidelines at other atheistic blogs. Keep it up.

    You don’t appreciate having assumptions about you, so please do not make assumptions about me. I spent many years debating these issues and simply grew weary of the redundancy.

    Forknowledge: I sincerely apologize for the uproar my comment has caused. I respect what you are doing here and do not wish to undermine it and distract from it by engaging in any further bickering. My purpose in commenting was simply to let you know that I was still around and paying attention. I regret that it was rushed and caused the offense that it clearly has. I will definitely take greater care with my words in the future.

    Regarding ‘cheerleading’: I don’t like it either. I call it like I see it regardless of who is making the argument or what their religious or political beliefs may be. I expect to be called out by those on my “side” of the argument as well. I believe it’s how we learn. In fact, I am currently working on a post entitled Who Said That?, the main gist of which is point at that it doesn’t/shouldn’t matter. A sort of detailed look at the argument from authority.

    Anyway, I do apologize for this distraction. It was certainly not my intent. I will bow out now and let you get back to it.

    Sincerely,
    Lottie

  33. forknowledge says:

    Anyway, I do apologize for this distraction. It was certainly not my intent. I will bow out now and let you get back to it.

    Heh, don’t worry about it😉 The more debate the better, and it’s not as if any of the comments you’ve made (or that have been made in reply to you) detract from the blog in any way.

    I wasn’t actually accusing you of cheerleading, in case that came across wrong, just pointing out that if you were cheerleading, I wouldn’t be ‘basking’ in it or anything. In other words, my (and your) detractors should know that until I start getting annoyed at other atheists for doing it, they’re not cheerleading.

  34. Lottie says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Forknowledge. Since you don’t mind, there is one other thing I think is worth addressing:

    Viggy:

    Well “a lot” of time is subjective […]

    This is exactly my point. And it is precisely why you cannot claim “Lottie is a liar” as an objective viewpoint, based on the subjective amount of time I spend engaging with you or anyone else. Given that it’s my time we’re discussing, I think I’m the best judge of how much is “a lot”, in this context.

    That said, I would also like to point out that the loaded phrasing of your comment appears to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to create a no-win situation for me, in which I must either allow your highly fallacious argument and accusations to stand unchallenged, or challenge them, in which case, according to you, I prove myself to be a liar. Unfortunately for you, I’m not so weak-minded as to be manipulated or intimidated by such a blatantly dishonest tactic.

    You are out of gas with your “Lottie the Liar” argument and you’re left with nothing more than the desperate hope that if you say it enough times, and frame it just right, it will finally be allowed to stand. Incidentally, the fact that you are so doggedly attacking my character tells me that you really don’t have anything else. Nevertheless, no amount of manipulation or intimidation (bullying) on your part will magically create an objective definition for what constitutes “a lot” of my time.

    In short, no matter how you spin it, you can’t win it.😉

  35. Eric Kemp says:

    forknowledge

    I know that you are new to this, so everything I’m going to say here is in an attempt to help you become a better arguer, honestly.

    “There is no any indication, anywhere, that nature has ever been different (in this regard) than how it is now. Even before humans existed, was the world ‘groaning under the burden of sin’? For billions of years, life on Earth struggled and died – it happened before we were here, and it will in all likelihood continue to happen long after we’re gone.”

    There are two HUGE problems with this and I want to show them to you clearly.

    1. We’ve only been studying nature, even in a rudimentary form, for about 300 years. So we have absolutely no evidence about how nature acted before 300 years ago. In your worldview, where the Earth is 3.5 billion years old, this an unbelievably short amount of time. So you are unable to say either way how nature has acted before the Scientific Revolution about 300 years ago.

    2. You confuse my worldview with yours. You say, “So before humans existed was nature ‘groaning under the burden of sin’?” You forget that the Earth only existed for 5 days before humans were created. So that argument doesn’t apply to me.

    “Suggesting that an evil God exists does not require the kind of speculation needed to somehow fit the idea of a ‘fall’ to the evidence, which clearly does not bear it out.”

    Two more problems:
    1. The suggestion of an evil God IS pure speculation. You actually haven’t even given a good reason to believe in an evil God. You’ve been completely unable to provide evidence for this “evil” God reflected in nature. The best you have been able to do is to show that there are dangers in nature that occasionaly subject humans to death and suffering, that are compounded by human error and free will. These occasional natural disasters don’t point to an evil God no matter how many times you repeat yourself. It just doesn’t follow . . . sorry.

    2. Your entire argument presupposes the existence of God, let’s forget for a second that this refutes you as an atheist, I’ll get back to that later. If God exists, as you are assuming that He does, and He created the universe and everything in it, then He is the source of all morality. How can an evil God be the source of our morality? A morality in which we have very strong concepts of good. And a morality in which evil is BAD. Could an evil God created a morality in which His own evil acts are seen as bad? How is this even possible? You have not even begun to follow out your “God might be evil” position to it’s logical conclusion. If you took even two steps in that logical direction, you’d see it would be better to stick to your “God doesn’t exist” position.

    “As with ’sin’, these kinds of things have been happening for billions of years – the fossil record bears evidence of several enormous extinction events in the Earth’s history. Are you saying that, because we’re here, that will never happen again?”

    I’m confused what what you mean by this. The Flood accounts for these extinction events we see in the fossil record, provides a reason for why God allows/creates them, and shows God’s mercy towards humanity during these extinction periods. You seem to think that a benevolent God can’t do with His creation what He will.

    “But assuming a vast mythology…that is reasonable? Sadistic God, or speculative legends that contradict all available evidence – which one do you think is more likely?”

    The only one talking about a vast mythology is you. You have not been able to show that these “speculative legends” as you call them, contradict any evidence, frankly you haven’t even tried. But here, you are LITERALLY claiming that your speculations are valid because you have speculated them. You completely ignore the fact that you need evidence and explanations to make arguments valid.

    “I am not suggesting that the world needs to be a utopia, but you have yet to account for the coarsely-tuned aspects of the Universe without resorting to frankly ridiculous stories.”

    There is nothing that I need to or can account for. You have provided me with no evidence to believe that the Earth is coarsely-tuned (reasserting that natural disasters happen doesn’t make your argument more viable.) The entire Earth and universe is fine-tuned to such an amazing precision to allow us to exist in the first place that arguing that because a miniscule percentage of us die because of natural disasters therefore the Earth isn’t fine-tuned is bordering on ignorant. I have provided you with real science, real statistics by physicists and cosmologists in the field; you have provided me with nothing but speculation, expecting me to be forced to account for your speculations while you rest your entire argument upon the fine-tuning evidence you are trying to refute. It’s ridiculous.

    Honestly forknowledge, I’m trying to get you to see where your argument goes wrong so that you can be more rational in the future. Resting your argument upon the argument you are attempting to refute is an unreasonable position on the outset.

    “In paricular, you haven’t said much about the fact that this Universe (made for us) will be totally incapable of supporting us for the vast majority of its history and is currently incapable of supporting us across the vast majority of its space.”

    You forget that the Earth was created about 6k years ago and has been perfectly able to support us that entire time. And even a theistic evolutionist will tell you that the Earth was able to support humanity the whole time but humanity just hadn’t EVOLVED yet. Your second argument can be restated like this, “Because we can’t exist EVERYWHERE in the universe, therefore God didn’t fine-tune the universe for us.” Don’t you see how that just doesn’t follow, no matter how many times you repeat it? But again, you’ve just made my case for me. The entire universe is hostile to life accept this ONE place! Amazing isn’t it?!

    “And no, I am not rethinking my atheistic position. I’m simply accepting your argument hypothetically and taking it one step further. Even if this version of the Teleological Argument is correct, it doesn’t necessarily point to the conclusion that you think it does.”

    Nope, I’m not going to bite. As you’ve said, the fine-tuning argument only points to Intelligence, not the Christian Intelligence, and we’re talking about fine-tuning right now. You aren’t taking my argument hypothetically, you are flat-out running away from attempting to rebut it straight-forward like because, apparently, you have no rebuttal. All you’ve been able to do is take a massive misrepresentation of my argument and argue against it, and against a conclusion that I wasn’t coming to. All the while admitting that fine-tuning DOES point to a God and ignoring the impact of this fact upon your own atheism.

  36. Eric Kemp says:

    Lottie

    “I do not believe that all religious people are incapable of reason. It has been my experience that attempting to reason with them where their religious beliefs are concerned is an exercise in futility.”

    You are assuming that religious people don’t apply their reason to their religion. You do so in the face of a Christian who has been the only one doing any reasoning in this conversation.

  37. Lottie says:

    You are assuming that religious people don’t apply their reason to their religion.

    That has been my experience. And it still is.

  38. Eric Kemp says:

    Lottie

    I’m curious to what you say to someone like me. Who obviously is willing, able and IS applying his reason to his religion.

  39. forknowledge says:

    Eric:

    I’m ignoring all portions of your post that assume Creationism is correct. It is not; all of the available physical evidence points towards an old Earth and evolved humans (and every other species). Creationism, taken as a long-running and many-branched argument, has been a failure. Which makes

    2. You confuse my worldview with yours. You say, “So before humans existed was nature ‘groaning under the burden of sin’?” You forget that the Earth only existed for 5 days before humans were created. So that argument doesn’t apply to me.

    and

    I’m confused what what you mean by this. The Flood accounts for these extinction events we see in the fossil record, provides a reason for why God allows/creates them, and shows God’s mercy towards humanity during these extinction periods. You seem to think that a benevolent God can’t do with His creation what He will.

    invalid. As I already said, I do not accept a refutation that relies on ignoring the physical evidence of scientific disciplines. You’re peddling fantasies, nothing more. You have also yet to mention the curious properties of our Universe which have made it uninhabitable for millions of years and will continue to make it uninhabitable (in all likelihood) for billions of years – possibly even orders of time greater than that. As I’ve pointed out, this is the reason why Creationism is so popular; it lets people like you ignore inconvenient facts like that. You’re also ignoring the extremely inconvenient fact that Creationism is an utter failure.

    1. We’ve only been studying nature, even in a rudimentary form, for about 300 years. So we have absolutely no evidence about how nature acted before 300 years ago. In your worldview, where the Earth is 3.5 billion years old, this an unbelievably short amount of time. So you are unable to say either way how nature has acted before the Scientific Revolution about 300 years ago.

    If we’re incapable of saying anything about how nature has acted before 300 years ago, what of the supposed scientific evidence to support Creationism? The fossils, the rock strata, the (inferred) tectonic activity – if none of this is valid (and that’s what you’re claiming here), what does your earlier argument that the Flood actually hapened rest upon?

    This is nonsense, of course. We can tell plenty about how nature acted millions or billions of years ago. We know that animals and plants died, we can tell that they probably ate each other to survive, and we know of several massive extinction events and can guess what probably caused them. If you’re going to argue over the scientific evidence, you may want to do more than throw your lot in with crackpot psuedoscientists.

    You forget that the Earth was created about 6k years ago and has been perfectly able to support us that entire time. And even a theistic evolutionist will tell you that the Earth was able to support humanity the whole time but humanity just hadn’t EVOLVED yet.

    The Earth was created 6k years ago? The evidence says otherwise!

    A theistic ‘evolutionist’ who told me that would be wrong; the pre-biotic Earth would have been completely incapable of supporting human life (obviously). I’m not sure what you mean by ‘the whole time’, but there was certainly a long period of the Earth’s history when it could only have supported single-celled life (for one thing, there were no plants and no other animals to eat). The advent of conditions capable of supporting animals like us are relatively recent – a substantial amount of time by our standards, but not too much when compared to the Earth’s entire history. If you want to suggest that God’s favoured organism is the one that the Earth has been capable of supporting for the most amount of time, that would be some sort of bacteria.

    Your second argument can be restated like this, “Because we can’t exist EVERYWHERE in the universe, therefore God didn’t fine-tune the universe for us.” Don’t you see how that just doesn’t follow, no matter how many times you repeat it? But again, you’ve just made my case for me. The entire universe is hostile to life accept this ONE place! Amazing isn’t it?!

    Not really. I’ve already pointed out that, with the amount of planets that likely exist, some sort of Anthropic Principle could quite easily explain our apparent good fortune to have ended up on a planet like Earth, which stays nicely within the Habitable Zone of its sun. Even if our solar system is quite unusual (which it appears to be; again, I’ve written about this before), there are so many potential planetary systems out there that an argument restong on probability fails. You might get somewhere if you argued that the development of life was extremely unlikely or requires absolutely extraordinary circumstances, but nobody knows whether or not this is the case.

    As for the evil God idea…well, what have you actually said to refute it? “No, the Universe is fine-tuned!” Thank you, that’s what I’m assuming for now to be correct (I’m not sure why you have so much trouble grasping the concept of me provisionally accepting a fine-tuning argument in order to further debate; if you really want me to attempt to refute it I will, but that’s not what I’m interested in doing here).

    Perhaps it would be better to talk of an indifferent God, as opposed to an evil one; a God (or Gods) that created the Universe to support life but doesn’t particularly care whether that life exists forever, or whether it lives or dies. For all we know, this gods true ‘favourite’ creation could be stars or galaxies, not life (keep in mind that many of the cosmological constants required for the development of life are also required for stellar evolution or the formation of planets). Of course we just assume that, if a god exists and intended the Universe to be the home of something, it must have been us. Do you think human pride might play just a small role in that?

    I’m not really sure what to make of your ‘I’m trying to make you a better debater’ stuff, given that you’re resting a fairly sizeable chunk of your refutation on clearly unsupported scientific conclusions (Creationism) and are insisting that I shouldn’t be arguing from a hypothetical acceptance of the fine-tuning argument. I can only assume that you’re projecting, and are so unwilling to accept (even for the sake of argument) one of your opponent’s propositions that you can’t work out why somebody else might enjoy doing it.

    ADDITION: I’m also not sure why you keep writing like this:

    And even a theistic evolutionist will tell you that the Earth was able to support humanity the whole time but humanity just hadn’t EVOLVED yet. Your second argument can be restated like this, “Because we can’t exist EVERYWHERE in the universe, therefore God didn’t fine-tune the universe for us.” Don’t you see how that just doesn’t follow, no matter how many times you repeat it? But again, you’ve just made my case for me. The entire universe is hostile to life accept this ONE place! Amazing isn’t it?!

    Why the capitalisation and excessive punctuation? Are you trying to get across that you’re hammering at the keyboard really hard or something?

  40. Lottie says:

    I’m curious to what you say to someone like me. Who obviously is willing, able and IS applying his reason to his religion.

    I’d say, “Really?”😉

  41. Eric Kemp says:

    Lottie

    What “Really?” actually means is, “I would have no answer for such a scenario so I will pretend it doesn’t exist.”

    Eric

  42. Lottie says:

    Oh please! Take off the mind reading hat and lighten up.

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