Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    26 Dec '14 14:03
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/eric-metaxas-science-increasingly-makes-the-case-for-god-1419544568

    The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.

    Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

    Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

    Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

    The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.


    Obviously science is not going to confirm any particular set of religious beliefs. However, regardless of the motives of the people pushing "intelligent design" (which are mostly religious in nature, of course), teaching that intelligent design is a possibility in the formation of the universe is not anti-science. It is a perfectly logical and reasonable conclusion to draw that events that required a coincidence on an unimaginable scale imply the probable existence of a supervisor of those events.
  2. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    26 Dec '14 14:15
    Originally posted by sh76
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/eric-metaxas-science-increasingly-makes-the-case-for-god-1419544568

    [quote]The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic for ...[text shortened]... incidence on an unimaginable scale imply the probable existence of a supervisor of those events.
    If the hypothesis of an intelligent designer is not testable, then it is not scientific. That doesn't mean it is not true, but that it does not fall within the realm of science.

    Personally, I think it is more honest to say that we do not yet know enough about the working of the big bang than to postulate some intelligent designer to explain away what seems to be a problem.
  3. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    26 Dec '14 14:39
    Originally posted by rwingett
    If the hypothesis of an intelligent designer is not testable, then it is not scientific. That doesn't mean it is not true, but that it does not fall within the realm of science.

    Personally, I think it is more honest to say that we do not yet know enough about the working of the big bang than to postulate some intelligent designer to explain away what seems to be a problem.
    Science deals in probabilities all the time. That's the difference between a theory and a law. A theory is very likely while a law is certain. The fact that something is not testable does not mean it's not probable.
  4. 26 Dec '14 14:40
    Originally posted by rwingett
    If the hypothesis of an intelligent designer is not testable, then it is not scientific. That doesn't mean it is not true, but that it does not fall within the realm of science.

    Personally, I think it is more honest to say that we do not yet know enough about the working of the big bang than to postulate some intelligent designer to explain away what seems to be a problem.
    I 100% agree with Rwingett (not sure that's ever happened before).
    Intelligent design appears to merely be a backdoor to adding religion into the curriculum. Once we start teaching nonscientific theories in school, its logical to then present religious explanations for the world's creation. Let's instead insist on science and not give scientific platforms for "fictional all powerful invisible men."
  5. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    26 Dec '14 14:43
    The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.
    If it is a miracle then which law of science is incompatible with its existence or what we know of it? As long as scientific explanation is possible there is no basis for the claim of a miracle.
  6. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    26 Dec '14 14:43
    Originally posted by quackquack
    I 100% agree with Rwingett (not sure that's ever happened before).
    Intelligent design appears to merely be a backdoor to adding religion into the curriculum. Once we start teaching nonscientific theories in school, its logical to then present religious explanations for the world's creation. Let's instead insist on science and not give scientific platforms for "fictional all powerful invisible men."
    I don't do slippery slope arguments.

    So, make sure to word the ID possibility in a manner to as to ensure that religion doesn't come into play.

    While I agree with you regarding the intent of most of the ID community, ill intent is not an inherent reason to dismiss the argument.
  7. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    26 Dec '14 14:46
    Originally posted by finnegan
    The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.
    If it is a miracle then which law of science is incompatible with its existence or what we know of it? As long as scientific explanation is possible there is no basis for the claim of a miracle.
    Yes, the word "miracle" was ill chosen by the author.

    My point is that guidance by a higher power is not incompatible with any law of science. In fact, it is arguably implied that there is a probability of guidance by a higher power.
  8. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    26 Dec '14 14:47
    Originally posted by sh76
    Science deals in probabilities all the time. That's the difference between a theory and a law. A theory is very likely while a law is certain. The fact that something is not testable does not mean it's not probable.
    I would say the fact that something is not testable doesn't mean it's not possible, not probable. I will freely agree that an intelligent designer is possible, but disagree strenuously that one is probable. You just need to ask yourself the following question. Which is more probable? That my understanding of the big bang is woefully incomplete, or that there is an intelligent designer that makes the big bang work the way I think it ought to?
  9. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    26 Dec '14 14:49
    Originally posted by quackquack
    I 100% agree with Rwingett (not sure that's ever happened before).
    Intelligent design appears to merely be a backdoor to adding religion into the curriculum. Once we start teaching nonscientific theories in school, its logical to then present religious explanations for the world's creation. Let's instead insist on science and not give scientific platforms for "fictional all powerful invisible men."
    Alternatively one could indeed teach Intelligent design, which at one time was widely considered a convincing and helpful explanation, and then describe how science found ID increasingly unsatisfactory. For example, Darwin favoured ID and has described very well how it became impossible for him to sustain that belief. He was not an atheist (in the sense of advocating that there is no God) and one reason he took so long to publish his theory that natural selection could account for the evolution of new species, was that he was terrified of undermining religious belief.

    So go ahead and teach not only ID but its history, the scientific grounds for its demise and the bizarre, irrational Creationist movement that emerged to preserve a failed hypothesis in the cause of an anti scientific, anti rational, fundamentalist ideology.
  10. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    26 Dec '14 14:50 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by rwingett
    I would say the fact that something is not testable doesn't mean it's not possible, not probable. I will freely agree that an intelligent designer is possible, but disagree strenuously that one is probable. You just need to ask yourself the following question. Which is more probable? That my understanding of the big bang is woefully incomplete ...[text shortened]... that there is an intelligent designer that makes the big bang work the way I think it ought to?
    You're essentially making the "God of the gaps" argument.

    The problem is that the gaps are so damn big and just getting bigger the more we learn.

    That our understanding of the big bang is woefully incomplete can hardly be gainsaid, but if the more we learn about it, the less the coincidence possibility makes sense, then at some point, it seems reasonable to infer the probability of a higher power.
  11. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    26 Dec '14 14:53
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Alternatively one could indeed teach Intelligent design, which at one time was widely considered a convincing and helpful explanation, and then describe how science found ID increasingly unsatisfactory. For example, Darwin favoured ID and has described very well how it became impossible for him to sustain that belief. He was not an atheist (in the sense of ...[text shortened]... a failed hypothesis in the cause of an anti scientific, anti rational, fundamentalist ideology.
    Darwin was a great Biologist and he certainly made great advancements for his time, but he didn't know as much about physics compared to what we know today. I don't think the opinions of anyone from that era on the Big Bang or ID can be taken into account at all.
  12. Subscriber Proper Knob
    Cornovii
    26 Dec '14 14:59
    Originally posted by sh76
    You're essentially making the "God of the gaps" argument.

    The problem is that the gaps are so damn big and just getting bigger the more we learn.

    That our understanding of the big bang is woefully incomplete can hardly be gainsaid, but if the more we learn about it, the less the coincidence possibility makes sense, then at some point, it seems reasonable to infer the probability of a higher power.
    I think it's you who is making the 'God of the Gaps' argument.
  13. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    26 Dec '14 15:05
    Originally posted by sh76
    You're essentially making the "God of the gaps" argument.

    The problem is that the gaps are so damn big and just getting bigger the more we learn.

    That our understanding of the big bang is woefully incomplete can hardly be gainsaid, but if the more we learn about it, the less it the coincidence possibility makes sense, then at some point, it seems reasonable to infer the probability of a higher power.
    The more we know, the more we realize how much there is that we don't know. Another way of looking at it is that the smarter we become, the more ignorant we realize we are. If you want to argue that science is inadequate to answer the "big questions" in life, then I would agree with you completely. But I don't think that warrants inventing a god of the gaps to explain certain questions away. In the final analysis, it may simply be that they are unanswerable.
  14. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    26 Dec '14 15:18 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    Darwin was a great Biologist and he certainly made great advancements for his time, but he didn't know as much about physics compared to what we know today. I don't think the opinions of anyone from that era on the Big Bang or ID can be taken into account at all.
    Darwin was a biologist and he searched for an explanation of the evidence that species evolved over time. So he is not a source if you wish to find an ID argument for the fine tuning in the laws of physics required to permit life. However, this was not what ID was about until recently so it is the advocates of ID who are shifting their argument in search of new ground because it has already been destroyed. I don't think the ideas of anyone from that era in advocating ID can be taken into account at all.

    Unfortunately, that fine tuning is only known through physics and was certainly not identified in the rather weird Book of Genesis for example. Indeed, almost all the arguments of Creationists are based on a misuse and misrepresentation of science. Without science there could be no Creationism as we know it today. There is nothing of interest at all that can be arrived at through Creationist science - it is infertile and barren.

    The universe is what it is. Science describes the universe as we find it. Clearly it could be different - for example, many of the constants in physics could be different - and in that case life would not have arisen. Indeed, the universe as we know it would not have arisen. But when there are infinitely many possible universes, then every universe is equally improbable and that is only interesting if you wish to enter the many worlds hypothesis, in all its variants. In the many worlds hypothesis, however, nothing is improbable any more since everything that might happen does happen.

    This miracle of miracles turns out to be a banal statement of the bleeding obvious.

    In the scheme of things as we know it, intelligent human life occupies an infinitesimally tiny segment of its history and with current American policies, it has not much time left. Quite honestly, anyone wishing to take a cosmic perspective and discuss the probability or otherwise of life would find our brief existence trivial.
  15. 26 Dec '14 15:20
    How would we find the empirical evidence for design? The features associated with design and which could not be found in a non-designed environment are not well-defined, because the designer itself is a vague and metaphysical concept with undefined attributes. That's why it is not part of current active scientific research and it does not belong to any part of a curriculum on teaching science, although intelligent design can of course be mentioned as part of teaching about various religions. It is certainly not "science" in the sense that it merits an approach based on the currently used scientific method.