A Christian Biologist Debunks Intelligent Design

by Luke Muehlhauser on September 21, 2011 in Video

In case you haven’t seen Ken Miller’s classic talk on intelligent design, here it is:

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Garren September 21, 2011 at 6:16 am

It’s a very good talk overall. However, the section starting at 24:50 about Kansas “rewriting” the definition of science is not something I would want my creationist family to watch. Yes, the Kansas board rewrote their description of science from:

“Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Science does so through the use of [....]”

to

“Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses [...] to lead to a more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”

And this was done out of a bias toward Intelligent Design, so I get the impulse to be suspicious of the rewording. But it’s a better definition of science which the opponents of Intelligent Design should welcome.

* Taken out of the context of this particular controversy, few would have a problem with the new wording. It’s a pretty darn good summary.

* The old wording has the effect of making Intelligent Design uncriticizable based on scientific evidence. No one can claim ID is a failed hypothesis if it’s outside the domain of science.

* The old wording — and the doctrine of methodological naturalism as a presupposition of science in general — do little more than bolster creationist suspicions that mainstream science is ignoring lines of inquiry out of an anti-theistic bias.

I highly recommend Boudry et al.’s paper “How Not to Attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical Misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism” for a more polished version of the points I just sketched.

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drj September 21, 2011 at 6:49 am

An oldie but a goodie!

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Mike September 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Garren,
You miss the point. ID can not be a hypothesis because it is outside the scientific domain. It’s nothing more than a poorly thought out idea with no support.

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Rorschach September 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Parafrasing bill maher: ”You dont have to show both sides of the debate if one side is a bunch of crap”.

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Bill Maher September 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Parafrasing bill maher: ”You dont have to show both sides of the debate if one side is a bunch of crap”.

that was one of my better ones

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Reginald Selkirk September 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I read Miller’s book “Finding Darwin’s God.” The first half is quite good, as Miller takes on Intelligent Design Creationism. The section on isotope dating is one of the clearest accounts I have seen – and remember, he is a biologist, not a geologist or physical chemist.

Then, I turned the page and entered the second half of the book, which is not as good. Basically: It’s OK to accept science and still be religious because of fine tuning and Jesus hiding in quantum mechanics. I.e. all of the religious accommodation Miller can accept in science happens to fall in fields outside his own expertise. This is pretty much the case with Francis Collins as well.

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Tristan Vick September 23, 2011 at 5:15 am

Nice! I’m glad YouTube can act as a digital library for great videos like this and many more like it. (This is not an advertisement for YouTube… I’m just saying… it’s swell is all).

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Thin-ice September 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

“Let us open in prayer…”

Where was this lecture given??

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Bob Smith September 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Chance has certain characteristics, notably normal distribution. If the universe were truly the result of chance we should see all the objects of our universe distributed normally, that is to say, there should be a smooth gradation from very simple to very complex. Let me define complexity. Holism is a feature of our universe, several interworking parts work together to accomplish a new property and if some of the parts are not working properly then the new property does not exist. The more interworking parts there are, the more complex something is, so a mountain does not have any interworking parts, a living being does, the living being’s new property is it can reproduce. Let me define order: order is arranged in such a way, that these new properties appear, so life is ordered, a mountain is not.

We do not see normal distribution in our universe, what we see is a huge gap between life and nonlife. Life is ordered or complex, nonlife is not ordered. The multivese is often evoked to explain this order. There is a problem with this. Atheists use the multiverse to selectively explain away things they don’t like. Say we have two ordered objects, A and B. The atheists use the multiverse to explain one, but they do not use it to explain the other, more formally:

1. A and B are ordered
2. The multivese explains A
3. The multiverse does not explain B

This is inconsistent. A in this case is why the laws of the universe are arranged such that the huge discontinuous gap between life and nonlife exists. B in this case is me writing these thoughts. I could really be a Russian with no knowledge of English and I’m just luckily writing coherent English thoughts, after all there are 10^1000 universes and it just so happens that in one of them someone got lucky and someone managed to write English without knowing English. The same could be said for Barack Obama. Obama could really not even know English, he could just be a lucky poser, after all there are 10^1000 universe and it just so happens in one of them there existed a man who didn’t know the first thing about English but got lucky and managed to utter all the right noise such that he became president.

The atheists need to come claim about why order exists. The only possible solution that I know of is that there must be a mind-force that can move particles where it wants. Humans have the ability to move sodium ions into specific neurons thus causing a spike in neuronal frequency which sets off an action-potential. Ultimately this information causes certain muscles to move. If this were not true, it would be impossible for us humans to speak language, to move, etc. Once atheists admit that there is a mind-force that can move particles where it wants it becomes very difficult to deny God exists. God is simply that being which created the universe and thereafter moved the particles in such a way as to make life possible.

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PDH September 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Bob Smith wrote,

Chance has certain characteristics, notably normal distribution. If the universe were truly the result of chance we should see all the objects of our universe distributed normally, that is to say, there should be a smooth gradation from very simple to very complex. Let me define complexity. Holism is a feature of our universe, several interworking parts work together to accomplish a new property and if some of the parts are not working properly then the new property does not exist. The more interworking parts there are, the more complex something is, so a mountain does not have any interworking parts, a living being does, the living being’s new property is it can reproduce. Let me define order: order is arranged in such a way, that these new properties appear, so life is ordered, a mountain is not.

We do not see normal distribution in our universe, what we see is a huge gap between life and nonlife. Life is ordered or complex, nonlife is not ordered. The multivese is often evoked to explain this order. There is a problem with this. Atheists use the multiverse to selectively explain away things they don’t like. Say we have two ordered objects, A and B. The atheists use the multiverse to explain one, but they do not use it to explain the other, more formally:

1. A and B are ordered
2. The multivese explains A
3. The multiverse does not explain B

This is inconsistent. A in this case is why the laws of the universe are arranged such that the huge discontinuous gap between life and nonlife exists. B in this case is me writing these thoughts. I could really be a Russian with no knowledge of English and I’m just luckily writing coherent English thoughts, after all there are 10^1000 universes and it just so happens that in one of them someone got lucky and someone managed to write English without knowing English. The same could be said for Barack Obama. Obama could really not even know English, he could just be a lucky poser, after all there are 10^1000 universe and it just so happens in one of them there existed a man who didn’t know the first thing about English but got lucky and managed to utter all the right noise such that he became president.

The atheists need to come claim about why order exists. The only possible solution that I know of is that there must be a mind-force that can move particles where it wants. Humans have the ability to move sodium ions into specific neurons thus causing a spike in neuronal frequency which sets off an action-potential. Ultimately this information causes certain muscles to move. If this were not true, it would be impossible for us humans to speak language, to move, etc. Once atheists admit that there is a mind-force that can move particles where it wants it becomes very difficult to deny God exists. God is simply that being which created the universe and thereafter moved the particles in such a way as to make life possible.

The Multiverse is not usually offered as an explanation for the ‘gap between life and non-life.’ The Multiverse is offered as an explanation of the fine-tuning of the physical laws and constants.

Evolution is the explanation for the gap between life and non-life.

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Bob Smith September 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm

You’re not saying my thesis is wrong, you’re just saying that I have misunderstood the atheists’ position. So we don’t have much of a debate.

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Rorschach September 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm

You’re not saying my thesis is wrong, you’re just saying that I have misunderstood the atheists’ position. So we don’t have much of a debate.

Ok, your thesis is wrong. There you go, i said it. Have you ever heard of natural selection?

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Bob Smith September 25, 2011 at 7:01 pm

You have to prove my thesis is wrong, you can’t expect a rhetorical question to do the job.

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PDH September 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Bob Smith wrote,

You’re not saying my thesis is wrong, you’re just saying that I have misunderstood the atheists’ position.So we don’t have much of a debate.

I am saying that your thesis is wrong because evolution by natural selection, not the Multiverse, is the proffered explanation for the complexity of life.

So what you have to do is provide an objection to evolution, not an objection to the Multiverse hypothesis.

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Bob Smith September 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I’m more interested in defeating atheism at the moment. You can be a theist and be a darwinist at the same, ie, ken miller. i don’t believe that mutations are random, though i believe that all vertebrates are related, but i’m not interested in the darwinist debate at the moment.

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flavio September 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I’m more interested in defeating atheism at the moment.You can be a theist and be a darwinist at the same, ie, ken miller.i don’t believe that mutations are random, though i believe that all vertebrates are related, but i’m not interested in the darwinist debate at the moment.

Ok, if you accept darwinism, then you have an explanation for biological complexity, and your argument vanishes. Now, would you mind telling us why do you desagree with predominant mainstream science?

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Bob Smith September 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I don’t accept Darwinism. As far as disagreeing with main stream science, what, you think mainstream science is 100% correct? You disagree with mainstream science just as much as I do, we’re just arguing over which part is wrong.

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PDH September 26, 2011 at 7:14 am

Bob Smith wrote,

I don’t accept Darwinism.As far as disagreeing with main stream science, what, you think mainstream science is 100% correct?You disagree with mainstream science just as much as I do, we’re just arguing over which part is wrong.

Let’s just concede this statement for the sake of argument even though it’s inaccurate and misleading on various grounds.

Well, one part of mainstream science that I definitely do not think is wrong is evolution.

So, we’re right back to square one. Because evolution is being offered as the alternate explanation for your evidence you have to show why theism is a more plausible explanation for the complexity of life than evolution is.

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Bob Smith September 26, 2011 at 8:29 am

As you can see I’m trying really hard to debate a thesis that you’re not interested in. My thesis is that you can’t use the multiverse to explain why the roughly 40 laws of nature that we know of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_laws_in_science
though it can be debated which of those are necessary, are coordinated such that we see the discontinuous gap between life and nonlife. The atheists current explanation is an appeal to the multiverse.

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clamat September 26, 2011 at 10:21 am

@Bob Smith,

Accepting your definition of complexity, conclusions about the implications of chance, etc….

We do not see normal distribution in our universe, what we see is a huge gap between life and nonlife.

the living being’s new property is it can reproduce

What about viruses? Viruses reproduce. Yet most biologists agree that viruses “straddle the definition of life. They lie somewhere between supra molecular complexes and very simple biological entities. Viruses contain some of the structures and exhibit some of the activities that are common to organic life, but they are missing many of the others.” http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/yellowstone/viruslive.html, as occupying “a gray area between living and nonliving.” http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=are-viruses-alive-2004. Other “virus-like agents” include retrons, plasmids, viroids, and prions. http://www.mcb.uct.ac.za/tutorial/other_autonomous_or_semi.htm Prions reproduce, and without DNA, to boot.

Don’t viruses, prions, etc. fill the “huge gap” between life and nonlife?

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PDH September 26, 2011 at 10:58 am

Bob Smith wrote,

As you can see I’m trying really hard to debate a thesis that you’re not interested in.My thesis is that you can’t use the multiverse to explain why the roughly 40 laws of nature that we know of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_laws_in_science
though it can be debated which of those are necessary, are coordinated such that we see the discontinuous gap between life and nonlife.The atheists current explanation is an appeal to the multiverse.

No, now you are changing your thesis.

You were originally arguing that the Multiverse could not explain the complexity of life, which no-one disputes as it is not intended to explain that. Evolution is intended to explain the complexity of life.

Now you are arguing that the Multiverse cannot explain the fine-tuning of the natural laws. However, the Multiverse can potentially explain why the physical laws and constants are the way that they are and your objection fails to show otherwise. Your original post shows only that the Multiverse does not account for ‘the gap between life and non-life,’ and makes no mention of natural laws.

Additionally, your new argument is incompatible with your old one. Watch:

1) The FTA shows that God fine-tuned the natural laws so as to permit complex life.
2) The natural laws do not permit complex life.
3) Therefore, the FTA does not explain the complexity of life.

The first premise is the conclusion of the new argument that you are using. The second is the conclusion of your first argument. I, of course, disagree with both of them but you are already on record as arguing for both and so the conclusion follows.

In your above post you seem to concede that evolution does explain the complexity of life and then switch to arguing about natural laws instead. Well, if you do that everything that you said about the ‘gap between life and non-life’ becomes irrelevant. You then have to explain why the Multiverse does not account for the fine-tuning of the physical laws and constants, something your original post fails to do.

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PDH September 26, 2011 at 11:39 am

Atheist: The scale problem is evidence against the existence of a theist God. Theists usually appeal to Alvin Plantinga’s Free-Will Defence but that cannot explain why almost 100% of the universe is completely inhospitable to the species for whom it was supposedly designed.

Theist: The FWD is not intended as a solution to the scale problem, it’s a response to the Logical Argument From Evil. Instead, we might say, for example, that God, being infinite, doesn’t need to worry about waste so the size and inhospitality of the universe do not constitute evidence against theism.

Atheist: I am not here to debate that. You have to disprove my thesis.

Theist: Eh? I’ve just shown that you are attacking an argument that has not been made and then provided a rebuttal to your argument.

Atheist: Again, you have to disprove my thesis.

Theist: That’s what I did.

Atheist: Again, I’m more interested in discussing how the Free-Will Defence cannot explain the existence of Evil.

Theist: OK, well first of all that’s a completely different argument now. Second, that actually is the thing that the FWD is supposed to explain. It might not be a very good objection to the Evidential version of the Argument From Evil but the general consensus is that it actually does show that God’s existence is not logically incompatible with the existence of Evil.

Atheist: You don’t seem to be interested in my thesis for some reason. I’m trying to explain why the mysterious nature of qualia proves that JFK was assassinated by Osama Bin Laden.

Theist: Your constantly-changing thesis displays not only an ignorance of your opponent’s position but also an ignorance of your own position. It’s laughably easy to dismantle and I’ve just done so. Now, there may be some serious objections to my response – such as the fact that even if the scale problem doesn’t disprove theism it does seem more likely to be observed on atheism – but you haven’t mentioned anything like that.

***

^^^What this argument feels like to me.

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Reginald Selkirk September 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Bob Smith: The more interworking parts there are, the more complex something is, so a mountain does not have any interworking parts,…

WTF? Mountains certainly have plenty of parts. They have lots of atoms, lots of molecules, lots of mineral crystallites. Could you please be more specific? If atoms or molecules or mineral crystallites didn’t interact with others of the same in the way they do, mountains would not have properties like “altitude.” Do you mean moving parts, or what?

You’re just pushing your definitional problems back from “complexity” and “order” to different phrases like “interworking.”

Let me define order: order is arranged in such a way, that these new properties appear, so life is ordered, a mountain is not.

That looks like it came straight from the Department of Circularity Department.

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Rorschach September 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I don’t accept Darwinism.As far as disagreeing with main stream science, what, you think mainstream science is 100% correct?You disagree with mainstream science just as much as I do, we’re just arguing over which part is wrong.

IF darwinism is true, then your argument vanishes. Now, would you tell us WHY do you disagree with darwinism?

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Bob Smith September 26, 2011 at 9:19 pm

No, now you are changing your thesis.
You were originally arguing that the Multiverse could not explain the complexity of life, which no-one disputes as it is not intended to explain that. Evolution is intended to explain the complexity of life.

What I’m arguing is that you can’t use the multiverse to prove something that is highly improbable. Statistical destruction (aka Natural Selection) offers no explanation of the origins of life. The origins of life at their most conservative estimate are roughly 1 in 10^40,000 a figure proposed by Carl Sagan, Stephen Meyer comes to the same conclusion. There are only 10^80 particles in our universe and 10^70 Planck times since our universe’s inception, so there are not enough probabilistic resources to pull off such an event by chance. The multiverse is used to increase the lacking probabilistic resources. I have stated in my above post the problem with this.

Now you are arguing that the Multiverse cannot explain the fine-tuning of the natural laws. However, the Multiverse can potentially explain why the physical laws and constants are the way that they are and your objection fails to show otherwise.

Using the multiverse argument to explain why the laws coordinate to create a discontinuous gap between life and nonlife are the same arguments that can be used to prove that Obama doesn’t even speak English, he’s just lucky. After all, it’s possible that Obama doesn’t speak English. When you use the multiverse to explain the coordination of natural laws then you abandon your right to use analogous reasoning. You use analogous reasoning every day in your normal life. You drive to work in a car because the last experience that was LIKE that it worked, you eat food because the last experience that was LIKE that expelled your hunger. You cannot use analogous reasoning for conclusions that you like and not use it for conclusions that you do not like. If you get to do that, then I get to do that. If I wanted to use mere possibility as a scientific tool, then I get to believe that the virgin was sighted at Fatima.

Your original post shows only that the Multiverse does not account for ‘the gap between life and non-life,’ and makes no mention of natural laws.

Reread this sentence: This is inconsistent. A in this case is why the laws of the universe are arranged such that the huge discontinuous gap between life and nonlife exists.

Additionally, your new argument is incompatible with your old one. Watch:
1) The FTA shows that God fine-tuned the natural laws so as to permit complex life. 2) The natural laws do not permit complex life. 3) Therefore, the FTA does not explain the complexity of life.

What you say I’m saying is:
If FTA is true, then God exists
Natural laws do not permit complex life
therefore, FTA does not explain the complexity of life

What I’m really saying is that the following is a fallacy
1. A and B are ordered
2. The multivese explains A
3. The multiverse does not explain B

You have irresponsibly misrepresented my arguments, most likely because you do not understand them.

The first premise is the conclusion of the new argument that you are using. The second is the conclusion of your first argument. I, of course, disagree with both of them but you are already on record as arguing for both and so the conclusion follows.
In your above post you seem to concede that evolution does explain the complexity of life and then switch to arguing about natural laws instead.

I never conceded evolution accounts for anything. Evolution is four theses bundled up into one, one, change over time, true, two, common ancestry, members within a phylum are related but the phyla are not related, seeing as they appear in the fossil record simultaneously 520 mya, three, statistical destruction, true, because it’s tautologous, if it’s broke, it gets destroyed, four, all mutations are random, false, not all mutations are random.

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PDH September 27, 2011 at 8:00 am

Bob wrote,

The multiverse is used to increase the lacking probabilistic resources. I have stated in my above post the problem with this.

No. It isn’t. It’s used to explain the physical laws and constants.

What you say I’m saying is:
If FTA is true, then God exists
Natural laws do not permit complex life
therefore, FTA does not explain the complexity of life

That’s not at all what I think you’re arguing. That is a version (an inaccurate version) of an argument that I offered to show how your second argument contradicts your first.

If you want to say that God fine-tuned the physical laws and constants so as to permit life you can’t very well turn around and say that the physical laws and constants do not permit life as this would imply that God’s fine-tuning sucks. He failed to fine-tune his universe.

What I actually think is that you have argued two distinct things:

1) That the Multiverse cannot explain the gap between life and non-life. Which is irrelevant because it’s not supposed to, except in a trivial sense. (A complete world description involving a Multiverse (for example, M-Theory) ‘explains’ evolution in the way that the standard model of particles explains the politics of Northern Ireland. Technically, Northern Ireland can be described in terms of particle physics, but it would be a bit insane to do that.

2) That the Multiverse cannot explain the physical laws and constants. Which is false. It does explain that.

You are constantly equivocating between these two things.

If you want to argue about the complexity of life you have to refute evolution, not the Multiverse. Providing arguments against Multiverse theories will not help you there.

If you want to argue about fine-tuning, then you have to provide arguments against the Multiverse. But pointing out that it doesn’t explain something it wasn’t intended to explain doesn’t achieve this. You’ve given us no reason at all to suppose that there can’t be a multitude of different universes, each with their own physical laws and constants.

You then try to say that if we use the Multiverse to explain one thing we have to use it to explain everything, which is absurd. If it doesn’t work as an explanation for the complexity of life, it hardly follows that it doesn’t work for the fine-tuning of the physical laws and constants.

And finally, I’ve provided good reasons to think that these two arguments of yours are incompatible with each other. If God fine-tuned the universe to make it conducive to human life then according to you it didn’t work. So you have to pick one of these arguments.

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Rorschach September 27, 2011 at 11:42 am

The origins of life at their most conservative estimate are roughly 1 in 10^40,000 a figure proposed by Carl Sagan, Stephen Meyer comes to the same conclusion.

Thats fred hoyle calculus. This incredible stupid calculation is based solely on the probability of arbitrarily random movements of atoms creating an organical molecule. Its irrelevant. You have to account for the biochemical context of early atmosphere, something we dont have much knowledge of. So an probabilistic argument agaisnt abiogenesis is at very least, naive.

On top of all, you have given no arguments whatsoever. Firstly,you procced to give a argument based on the gap of complexity between life and non life and then, when we questioned you on darwinism, you procced to an arbitrary attack on the multiverse. For the sake of clarification, WHAT, precisely is your argument?

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clamat September 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Using the multiverse argument to explain why the laws coordinate to create a disconinuous gap between life and nonlife[...]

Again, don’t viruses, prions, etc. demonstrate there is no such “discontinuous gap”?

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Bob Smith September 27, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Bob wrote,

The multiverse is used to increase the lacking probabilistic resources. I have stated in my above post the problem with this.

No. It isn’t. It’s used to explain the physical laws and constants.

Look, it is. You can’t just expect a large number of laws to work in a coordinated fashion to produce a result that chance cannot produce. The solution the atheists offer is to posit that we’re just lucky, after all even a blind monkey can hit the bull’s eye every once in a while. How do you explain why the laws are fine-tuned with knowledge of where the others would land on the dial?

What you say I’m saying is: If FTA is true, then God exists Natural laws do not permit complex life therefore, FTA does not explain the complexity of life

That’s not at all what I think you’re arguing. That is a version (an inaccurate version) of an argument that I offered to show how your second argument contradicts your first. If you want to say that God fine-tuned the physical laws and constants so as to permit life you can’t very well turn around and say that the physical laws and constants do not permit life as this would imply that God’s fine-tuning sucks. He failed to fine-tune his universe. What I actually think is that you have argued two distinct things:
1) That the Multiverse cannot explain the gap between life and non-life. Which is irrelevant because it’s not supposed to, except in a trivial sense. (A complete world description involving a Multiverse (for example, M-Theory) ‘explains’ evolution in the way that the standard model of particles explains the politics of Northern Ireland.

You’re just making that up. M-theory in principle can’t explain why the laws of physics are the way they are. Any scientific theory can only point out laws, it can’t point how or why matter is moved in an intended fashion, because intentional movement is not lawlike. There are three things that cause movement, chance, law and design, science only explains one of them.

Technically, Northern Ireland can be described in terms of particle physics, but it would be a bit insane to do that.

You’re right, it is insane, because politics involves minds and minds are not lawlike and thus are not subject to science. Minds do what they want, within limits, consequently psychology will never approach the rigor of physics.

2) That the Multiverse cannot explain the physical laws and constants. Which is false. It does explain that.

That’s just an assertion, you’ve got to prove it.

You are constantly equivocating between these two things.
If you want to argue about the complexity of life you have to refute evolution, not the Multiverse.

Evolution is completely silent regarding the origins of life.

Providing arguments against Multiverse theories will not help you there. If you want to argue about fine-tuning, then you have to provide arguments against the Multiverse.

Here’s a great argument, one, there’s no evidence for it, two, even if there was, then you would be attributing chance to explain planning. If you attribute chance to explain planning, then you cancel you’re right to explain planning in general. It is a fallacy to say
A and B are planned
The Multiverse explains A
It does not explain B
Once you use chance to explain planning, then you can use to explain all planning, even the hypothesis that Obama does not even know English.

But pointing out that it doesn’t explain something it wasn’t intended to explain doesn’t achieve this. You’ve given us no reason at all to suppose that there can’t be a multitude of different universes, each with their own physical laws and constants.

There’s no evidence for them. Once you allow things with no evidence into your ontology then you have no principle with which to forbid imaginary things. It is a fallacy to say:
1. there is no evidence for the multiverse
2. there is no evidence for Anubis
3. therefore the multiverse exists and Anubis does not

You then try to say that if we use the Multiverse to explain one thing we have to use it to explain everything, which is absurd. If it doesn’t work as an explanation for the complexity of life, it hardly follows that it doesn’t work for the fine-tuning of the physical laws and constants. And finally, I’ve provided good reasons to think that these two arguments of yours are incompatible with each other. If God fine-tuned the universe to make it conducive to human life then according to you it didn’t work.

Human life does work, I don’t understand what you mean.

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Bob Smith September 27, 2011 at 10:46 pm

regarding viruses, they require a host to live. they’re not independent entities.

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Bob Smith September 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Same post, but this one is easier to read, because I got the blockquotes wrong above

Bob wrote,
The multiverse is used to increase the lacking probabilistic resources. I have stated in my above post the problem with this.

No. It isn’t. It’s used to explain the physical laws and constants.

Look, it is. You can’t just expect a large number of laws to work in a coordinated fashion to produce a result that chance cannot produce. The solution the atheists offer is to posit that we’re just lucky, after all even a blind monkey can hit the bull’s eye every once in a while. How do you explain why the laws are fine-tuned with knowledge of where the others would land on the dial?

What you say I’m saying is: If FTA is true, then God exists Natural laws do not permit complex life therefore, FTA does not explain the complexity of life

That’s not at all what I think you’re arguing. That is a version (an inaccurate version) of an argument that I offered to show how your second argument contradicts your first. If you want to say that God fine-tuned the physical laws and constants so as to permit life you can’t very well turn around and say that the physical laws and constants do not permit life as this would imply that God’s fine-tuning sucks. He failed to fine-tune his universe. What I actually think is that you have argued two distinct things:
1) That the Multiverse cannot explain the gap between life and non-life. Which is irrelevant because it’s not supposed to, except in a trivial sense. (A complete world description involving a Multiverse (for example, M-Theory) ‘explains’ evolution in the way that the standard model of particles explains the politics of Northern Ireland.

You’re just making that up. M-theory in principle can’t explain why the laws of physics are the way they are. Any scientific theory can only point out laws, it can’t point how or why matter is moved in an intended fashion, because intentional movement is not lawlike. There are three things that cause movement, chance, law and design, science only explains one of them.

Technically, Northern Ireland can be described in terms of particle physics, but it would be a bit insane to do that.

You’re right, it is insane, because politics involves minds and minds are not lawlike and thus are not subject to science. Minds do what they want, within limits, consequently psychology will never approach the rigor of physics.

2) That the Multiverse cannot explain the physical laws and constants. Which is false. It does explain that.

That’s just an assertion, you’ve got to prove it.

You are constantly equivocating between these two things.
If you want to argue about the complexity of life you have to refute evolution, not the Multiverse.

Evolution is completely silent regarding the origins of life.

Providing arguments against Multiverse theories will not help you there. If you want to argue about fine-tuning, then you have to provide arguments against the Multiverse.

Here’s a great argument, one, there’s no evidence for it, two, even if there was, then you would be attributing chance to explain planning. If you attribute chance to explain planning, then you cancel you’re right to explain planning in general. It is a fallacy to say
A and B are planned
The Multiverse explains A
It does not explain B
Once you use chance to explain planning, then you can use to explain all planning, even the hypothesis that Obama does not even know English.

But pointing out that it doesn’t explain something it wasn’t intended to explain doesn’t achieve this. You’ve given us no reason at all to suppose that there can’t be a multitude of different universes, each with their own physical laws and constants.

There’s no evidence for them. Once you allow things with no evidence into your ontology then you have no principle with which to forbid imaginary things. It is a fallacy to say:
1. there is no evidence for the multiverse
2. there is no evidence for Anubis
3. therefore the multiverse exists and Anubis does not

You then try to say that if we use the Multiverse to explain one thing we have to use it to explain everything, which is absurd. If it doesn’t work as an explanation for the complexity of life, it hardly follows that it doesn’t work for the fine-tuning of the physical laws and constants. And finally, I’ve provided good reasons to think that these two arguments of yours are incompatible with each other. If God fine-tuned the universe to make it conducive to human life then according to you it didn’t work.

Human life does work, I don’t understand what you mean.

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Citizen Ghost September 28, 2011 at 3:27 am

Once atheists admit that there is a mind-force that can move particles where it wants it becomes very difficult to deny God exists

That’s great. But we still haven’t heard any good reason to conclude that a mind force exists or that such a mind force can or has moved particles where it wants. Ultimately, you’re appealing to ignorance – i.e, because we don’t fully understand Quantam Mechanics or particle theory, the origin (and/or movement) of things is likely due to a “mind force.”

That’s not an argument.

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PDH September 28, 2011 at 7:38 am

Let’s say a guy comes up to me and says, ‘one of these two lottery tickets I’ve just bought will be the winning ticket in tomorrow’s draw.’

I say, ‘that’s very unlikely.’

Then a different guy comes to me and says, ‘I’m a billionaire with more money than sense, and I have just bought a ticket for every possible combination of numbers. One of these millions of lottery tickets I’ve just bought will be the winning ticket in tomorrow’s draw.’

I say, ‘OK, that will probably work.’

According to Bob we are using double standards. If it’s reasonable to think that the billionaire has won the lottery it must also be reasonable to think that it’s sheer coincidence that Barack Obama has been using English successfully all this time.

We’re not allowed to say, ‘it’s reasonable to think that if there are a multitude of universes each with different laws and constants we would expect there to be some universes where it’s possible for us to exist but within one of those universes some events are likely to have different explanations. For instance, maybe the complexity of life is likely due to an optimisation process like evolution and perhaps some things are intelligently designed, like computers.’

If there is anything like a lottery in existence where the explanation for why someone wins it most weeks is clearly that there are millions of players, then this explanation must be used to explain every single instance of improbable events in the whole of reality.

You get one explanation per worldview and it has to cover everything. This is Bob’s position.

We can turn this around and say that if the billionaire wins the lottery then it must be due to an intelligent designer ‘moving the particles around’ because, according to Bob, you have to use the same explanation for every thing happens.

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PDH September 28, 2011 at 8:47 am

Bob Smith wrote,

Look, it is. You can’t just expect a large number of laws to work in a coordinated fashion to produce a result that chance cannot produce. The solution the atheists offer is to posit that we’re just lucky, after all even a blind monkey can hit the bull’s eye every once in a while. How do you explain why the laws are fine-tuned with knowledge of where the others would land on the dial?

1) The explanation for the natural laws is not the same one being used for the complexity of life. It really isn’t.

2) The explanation has nothing do with luck. It’s not luck if you roll a die six times and it lands on a six one time. It’s exactly what you would expect.

3) You are begging the question with your last sentence. In a multiverse scenario there is no reason to suppose that the laws were fine-tuned with ‘knowledge of where the others would land on the dial.’

You’re just making that up. M-theory in principle can’t explain why the laws of physics are the way they are. Any scientific theory can only point out laws, it can’t point how or why matter is moved in an intended fashion, because intentional movement is not lawlike. There are three things that cause movement, chance, law and design, science only explains one of them.

Making what up? M-Theory? I’m afraid that isn’t one of my ideas.

Perhaps you’re referring to the claim that evolution is emergent on M-Theory. I can’t take credit for that, either. Consider this discussion on theories of everything, which shows what I mean by a description:

…In order to apply Ockham’s razor in a non-heuristic way, we need to quantify simplicity or complexity. Roughly, the complexity of a theory can be defined as the number of symbols one needs to write the theory down. More precisely, write down a program for the state evolution together with the initial conditions, and define the complexity of the theory as the size in bits of the file that contains the program. This quantification is known as algorithmic information or Kolmogorov complexity [LV08] and is consistent with our intuition, since an elegant theory will have a shorter program than an inelegant one, and extra parameters need extra space to code, resulting in longer programs.

[...]

To keep the discussion simple, let us pretend that standard model (SM) + gravity (G) and string theory (S) both qualify as ToEs. SM+Gravity is a mixture of a few relatively elegant theories, but contains about 20 parameters that need to be specified. String theory is truly elegant, but ensuring that it reduces to the standard model needs sophisticated extra assumptions (e.g. the right compactification).

SM+G can be written down in one line, plus we have to give 20+ constants, so lets say one page. The meaning (the axioms) of all symbols and operators require another page. Then we need the basics, natural, real, complex numbers, sets (ZFC), etc., which is another page. That makes 3 pages for a complete description in first-order logic. There are a lot of subtleties though: (a) The axioms are likely mathematically inconsistent, (b) it’s not immediately clear how the axioms lead to a program simulating our universe, (c) the theory does not predict the outcome of random events, and (d) some other problems. So to transform the description into a C program simulating our universe, needs a couple of pages more, but I would estimate around 10 pages overall suffices, which is about 20’000 symbols=bytes. Of course this program will be (i) a very inefficient simulation and (ii) a very naive coding of SM+G. I conjecture that the shortest program for SM+G on a universal Turing machine is much shorter, maybe even only one tenth of this. The numbers are only a quick rule-of-thumb guess. If we start from string theory (S), we need about the same length. S is much more elegant, but we need to code the compactification to describe our universe, which effectively amounts to the same. Note that everything else in the world (all other physics, chemistry, etc,) is emergent.

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0912/0912.5434v2.pdf

IOW, in a trivial sense M-Theory ‘explains’ the complexity of life, in that evolution ultimately reduces to it but only in a trivial sense and that’s not what we’re talking about here.

You’re right, it is insane, because politics involves minds and minds are not lawlike and thus are not subject to science. Minds do what they want, within limits, consequently psychology will never approach the rigor of physics.

I agree that physics is likely to remain more rigorous than psychology but I disagree that this is due to minds being indeterministic, rather than law-like. Determinsts claim that all supposed instances of chance and design are actually law-like, thus a world description is a complete description. If you know the laws and you have enough information about the system you can, in principle, predict its behaviour.

If minds were not law-like then we would not expect to find such a high correlation between human behaviour and human brains. For example, it should not be possible for neurosurgeons to use scientific knowledge to predict exactly which parts of someone’s brain to cut out in order to perform important surgery without adverse effects.

Now, this is consistent with both of our hypotheses. However, we are more likely to observe it if my hypothesis is correct, thus it constitutes evidence that human brains are law-like, just as everything else we have ever come to understand has always turned out to be.

That’s just an assertion, you’ve got to prove it.

I’ve shown how it accounts for the physical laws and constants, if that’s what you mean. I don’t see why I have to show that it follows deductively from axioms and thereby constitutes a proof.

Evolution is completely silent regarding the origins of life.

So now you’re talking about the origins of life? Because before you were talking about the complexity of life and then you were talking about the fine-tuning of the natural laws. And my charge was equivocation, so it looks like you’ve just demonstrated my point.

Yes, evolution is not intended to explain the origins of life, and thus, just as the Multiverse is not intended to explain the complexity of life, you gain nothing by pointing this out.

Here’s a great argument, one, there’s no evidence for it, two, even if there was, then you would be attributing chance to explain planning. If you attribute chance to explain planning, then you cancel you’re right to explain planning in general. It is a fallacy to say
A and B are planned
The Multiverse explains A
It does not explain B
Once you use chance to explain planning, then you can use to explain all planning, even the hypothesis that Obama does not even know English.

There is evidence for the Multiverse. For example, we would not expect to have these particular laws and constants if there is only one universe thus observing them constitutes evidence for the Multiverse.

If this does not provide evidence for the Multiverse then it doesn’t provide evidence for God, either by the same reasoning.

And no, I don’t ‘cancel my right’ to explain all instances of alleged planning if I appeal to the Multiverse to explain one such instance of it. That’s an absurd thing to say. If I say, ‘the fair die landed on a six because of chance but the biased die landed on six twenty times in a row because it was designed that way,’ I have committed no fallacy.

There’s no evidence for them. Once you allow things with no evidence into your ontology then you have no principle with which to forbid imaginary things. It is a fallacy to say:
1. there is no evidence for the multiverse
2. there is no evidence for Anubis
3. therefore the multiverse exists and Anubis does not

There is evidence for the Multiverse, as explained above.

Human life does work, I don’t understand what you mean.

You say that the natural laws do not account for the complexity of life, right?

But then you changed your argument and said that the natural laws were fine-tuned by God.

So, if the natural laws don’t account for the complexity of life, the God’s fine-tuning didn’t work, did it? You see how important it is to distinguish between the complexity of life and the physical laws and constants? The Multiverse is used to explain the latter, not the former.

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Human Ape September 29, 2011 at 4:14 am

Your visitors may be interested in listening to Ken Miller’s Rhode Island radio speech about the fact that evolution deniers don’t know what they’re missing. It was the most eloquent speech I ever heard. I wrote the whole thing down so if anyone sees my post about it they can read the speech or listen to the speech or read the speech while listening to it.

If there’s anything that might make Christians understand why denying evolution is a waste of a life, it is this speech by Ken Miller.

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Bob Smith September 29, 2011 at 5:19 am

Once atheists admit that there is a mind-force that can move particles where it wants it becomes very difficult to deny God exists

That’s great. But we still haven’t heard any good reason to conclude that a mind force exists or that such a mind force can or has moved particles where it wants. Ultimately, you’re appealing to ignorance – i.e, because we don’t fully understand Quantam Mechanics or particle theory, the origin (and/or movement) of things is likely due to a “mind force.”
That’s not an argument.

This is not an appeal to ignorance, this is appeal to knowledge. We know that waves crashing on the beach cannot build a sand castle. We know that ink spillt on paper cannot produce a paragraph. It’s the same with the human brain. You can’t expect 40 billion neurons to fire randomly and get coordinate muscle movement which speaks language.

Let’s say a guy comes up to me and says, ‘one of these two lottery tickets I’ve just bought will be the winning ticket in tomorrow’s draw.’ I say, ‘that’s very unlikely.’ Then a different guy comes to me and says, ‘I’m a billionaire with more money than sense, and I have just bought a ticket for every possible combination of numbers. One of these millions of lottery tickets I’ve just bought will be the winning ticket in tomorrow’s draw.’ I say, ‘OK, that will probably work.’ According to Bob we are using double standards. If it’s reasonable to think that the billionaire has won the lottery it must also be reasonable to think that it’s sheer coincidence that Barack Obama has been using English successfully all this time.

What you’re saying it’s reasonable to conclude
if intelligence can mimic chance, then chance can mimic intelligence.
It doesn’t work that way. Intelligence has powers that chance does not have. If a person picks the right number out of a trillion on one try, then it’s because he had some other information. That does not means that chance can do the same thing, because chance cannot interpret information and choose.

We’re not allowed to say, ‘it’s reasonable to think that if there are a multitude of universes each with different laws and constants we would expect there to be some universes where it’s possible for us to exist but within one of those universes some events are likely to have different explanations.

This is the fallacy from possibility, or inference to the most enjoyable explanation. You can’t believe in something just because it’s possible. You have to have evidence. This is the credo quia absurdum thinking that Christians use. The only reason why you believe in universe where other explanations exist is because you wish it to exist. You have no empirical evidence. What you’re saying is
1. it’s possible
2. therefore, it’s true

For instance, maybe the complexity of life is likely due to an optimisation process like evolution

it is more likely that design is due to intelligence than it is due to statistical destruction. Statistical destruction is just a tautology, if it’s destroyed, then it’s destroyed. You can’t build anything by removing genes that do not work. You need planning in order to build and statistical destruction cannot plan.

and perhaps some things are intelligently designed, like computers.’ If there is anything like a lottery in existence where the explanation for why someone wins it most weeks is clearly that there are millions of players, then this explanation must be used to explain every single instance of improbable events in the whole of reality. You get one explanation per worldview and it has to cover everything. This is Bob’s position. We can turn this around and say that if the billionaire wins the lottery then it must be due to an intelligent designer ‘moving the particles around’ because, according to Bob, you have to use the same explanation for every thing happens.

There are three explanations for movement, chance, law and design. You’re just assuming that there is only one explanation for movement in the universe. I’d like to see you prove it. Let me now prove that there are three explanations for movement. Laws clearly exist. Physics is based on the discovery of laws. Chance clearly exist, all atheists agree to that, seeing as they believe we’re here by chance. Design clearly exists. Design entails being able to choose states of affairs that are astronomically improbable, that is to say, it would require chance 10^200 events before the odds were one that chance could accomplish it. What we see in our universe is on demand design. At any moment a human can produce an astronomically improbable object specified to a preselected blueprint. That proves design exists. Now let’s see you prove that only one explanation exists.

You can’t just expect a large number of laws to work in a coordinated fashion to produce a result that chance cannot produce. The solution the atheists offer is to posit that we’re just lucky, after all even a blind monkey can hit the bull’s eye every once in a while. How do you explain why the laws are fine-tuned with knowledge of where the others would land on the dial?

1) The explanation for the natural laws is not the same one being used for the complexity of life. It really isn’t.

This is just an assertion. You’ve got no logical argument here. How do you explain the origins of life?

2) The explanation has nothing do with luck. It’s not luck if you roll a die six times and it lands on a six one time. It’s exactly what you would expect.

If you roll a die six times and it lands on six one time, that is what you would expect. But that is not analogous to what happens in our universe. What we have are two substances, one behaves according to chance and law, the other, life does not. Instead what we see in our universe, is a substance that can a hit a prespecified target again and again. Every time I speak language I am uttering the correct noises out of an infinite range of possible noises.

3) You are begging the question with your last sentence. In a multiverse scenario there is no reason to suppose that the laws were fine-tuned with ‘knowledge of where the others would land on the dial.’

I am using analogous reasoning, not begging the question. The universe achieves a result that chance cannot accomplish, namely produce nonnormal distribution. The substances are not normally distribute in our universe. A house achieves a result that chance can accomplish, it can harbor life. A house requires that several parts be selected with the foresight that they would eventually work together. It is the same with the laws of the universe. They were all chosen in advance to work together, such that life would be possible. They were chosen with the knowledge of how the others would interact.
1. the universe is like a house
2. all houses are designed
3. therefore, the universe is designed
If you want to dispense with analogous reasoning, then you can’t pick and choose when to use it and when not to use it since virtually all of your life decisions are based on analogous reasoning. You only dispense with analogous reasoning when you don’t like the conclusions. This is inference to the most enjoyable explanation, not following the evidence where it leads.

You’re just making that up. M-theory in principle can’t explain why the laws of physics are the way they are. Any scientific theory can only point out laws, it can’t point how or why matter is moved in an intended fashion, because intentional movement is not lawlike. There are three things that cause movement, chance, law and design, science only explains one of them.

Making what up? M-Theory? I’m afraid that isn’t one of my ideas.
Perhaps you’re referring to the claim that evolution is emergent on M-Theory. I can’t take credit for that, either. Consider this discussion on theories of everything, which shows what I mean by a description:
…In order to apply Ockham’s razor in a non-heuristic way, we need to quantify simplicity or complexity. Roughly, the complexity of a theory can be defined as the number of symbols one needs to write the theory down. More precisely, write down a program for the state evolution together with the initial conditions, and define the complexity of the theory as the size in bits of the file that contains the program. This quantification is known as algorithmic information or Kolmogorov complexity [LV08] and is consistent with our intuition, since an elegant theory will have a shorter program than an inelegant one, and extra parameters need extra space to code, resulting in longer programs.
[...]
To keep the discussion simple, let us pretend that standard model (SM) + gravity (G) and string theory (S) both qualify as ToEs. SM+Gravity is a mixture of a few relatively elegant theories, but contains about 20 parameters that need to be specified. String theory is truly elegant, but ensuring that it reduces to the standard model needs sophisticated extra assumptions (e.g. the right compactification).
SM+G can be written down in one line, plus we have to give 20+ constants, so lets say one page. The meaning (the axioms) of all symbols and operators require another page. Then we need the basics, natural, real, complex numbers, sets (ZFC), etc., which is another page. That makes 3 pages for a complete description in first-order logic. There are a lot of subtleties though: (a) The axioms are likely mathematically inconsistent, (b) it’s not immediately clear how the axioms lead to a program simulating our universe, (c) the theory does not predict the outcome of random events, and (d) some other problems. So to transform the description into a C program simulating our universe, needs a couple of pages more, but I would estimate around 10 pages overall suffices, which is about 20’000 symbols=bytes. Of course this program will be (i) a very inefficient simulation and (ii) a very naive coding of SM+G. I conjecture that the shortest program for SM+G on a universal Turing machine is much shorter, maybe even only one tenth of this. The numbers are only a quick rule-of-thumb guess. If we start from string theory (S), we need about the same length. S is much more elegant, but we need to code the compactification to describe our universe, which effectively amounts to the same. Note that everything else in the world (all other physics, chemistry, etc,) is emergent.
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0912/0912.5434v2.pdf
IOW, in a trivial sense M-Theory ‘explains’ the complexity of life, in that evolution ultimately reduces to it but only in a trivial sense and that’s not what we’re talking about here.

When you say that everything else is emergent, that is to say, order is emergent, you’re refusing to give a detailed casual chain of how order emerges. If I ask you how does order emerge, and you say it emerges, then you’ve explained nothing.

I agree that physics is likely to remain more rigorous than psychology but I disagree that this is due to minds being indeterministic, rather than law-like. Determinsts claim that all supposed instances of chance and design are actually law-like, thus a world description is a complete description. If you know the laws and you have enough information about the system you can, in principle, predict its behaviour.

It is generally agreed, even by materialist philosophers, thanks to Thomas Nagel, that if you knew the entire atom for atom composition for a bat, then you would not know what it’s like to be a bat. Similarly, if you knew all the atoms of Shakespeare you could never predict what play he would write next and what words he would use. Instances of design are not law like at all. Laws have the structure all A are B. If you build a staircase of identical units, then you are treating those units in an identical fashion. There is no law that will build a staircase, only a informational blueprint specifying how each individual unit is to be treated.

If minds were not law-like then we would not expect to find such a high correlation between human behaviour and human brains. For example, it should not be possible for neurosurgeons to use scientific knowledge to predict exactly which parts of someone’s brain to cut out in order to perform important surgery without adverse effects. Now, this is consistent with both of our hypotheses. However, we are more likely to observe it if my hypothesis is correct, thus it constitutes evidence that human brains are law-like, just as everything else we have ever come to understand has always turned out to be.

You’re confusing laws with tendencies. Laws state all A are B, tendencies state some A are B, or 90% of the time all A are B. Of course humans exhibit tendencies, but there are few laws that they obey 100% of the time.

That’s just an assertion, you’ve got to prove it.
I’ve shown how it accounts for the physical laws and constants, if that’s what you mean. I don’t see why I have to show that it follows deductively from axioms and thereby constitutes a proof.

Well, why don’t you spell it out for me again, because I don’t recall you ever proving that the multiverse can account for why the physical laws exhibit planning.

Evolution is completely silent regarding the origins of life.
So now you’re talking about the origins of life? Because before you were talking about the complexity of life and then you were talking about the fine-tuning of the natural laws. And my charge was equivocation, so it looks like you’ve just demonstrated my point.

I was talking about the complexity of life that the simplest single-celled life exhibited, but I understand why you were confused. I should have been more specific and I apologize. To give you an idea of the difference, and I’ve calculated this, the simplest single celled organism is equivalent to about a 100 foot rocket whereas you know how complex a 100 foot long slab of iron is. Statistical destruction can’t account for the complexity of multicellular life either. Statistical destruction can’t plan ahead. From the precambrian to the cambrian we went from sponges exhibiting about four cell types, to creatures with about 50 cell types in a period of about 5 million years, creatures that had about a 10 billion cells, 15 internal organs and 50 cell types. Just try some time to organize 10 billion cells into 50 cell types into 15 internal organs without planning and let me know if you succeed.

Yes, evolution is not intended to explain the origins of life, and thus, just as the Multiverse is not intended to explain the complexity of life, you gain nothing by pointing this out.

Yes, I have it points out the lack of explanatory power in the atheists, physicalist hypothesis.

There is evidence for the Multiverse. For example, we would not expect to have these particular laws and constants if there is only one universe thus observing them constitutes evidence for the Multiverse.

Here is you’re reasoning:
1. our universe is fine-tuned
2. this is the result of either chance or intelligence
3. intelligence does not exist
4. therefore it is due to chance
5. it is unreasonable to believe that chance can fine-tune on one try
6. therefore, numerous universes exist
As you can see, you’re just assuming premise three.
Here is my reasoning which is much more sound
1. our universe is fine-tuned
2. this is the result of either chance or intelligence
3. we have evidence that intelligence exists in our universe
4. fine-tuning is the result of chance, though there could be exceptions
5. therefore, it is more likely that fine-tuning is the result of intelligence than chance

If this does not provide evidence for the Multiverse then it doesn’t provide evidence for God, either by the same reasoning.

I don’t see how you arrive at that reasoning. Looks like the same, if intelligence can mimic chance, then chance can mimic intelligence fallacy.

And no, I don’t ‘cancel my right’ to explain all instances of alleged planning if I appeal to the Multiverse to explain one such instance of it. That’s an absurd thing to say. If I say, ‘the fair die landed on a six because of chance but the biased die landed on six twenty times in a row because it was designed that way,’ I have committed no fallacy.

You do cancel your right. You distinguish chance from intelligence, because intelligence can hit a prespecified target regularly. Once you admit chance can do that too then you have no way of distinguishing the two. You’re coin analogy is false. If a coin becomes extremely biased, say 99% favoring one side, then it will land on one side by law, not by design. If it is biased 75% in one direction then any prediction that is not near that 75% mark is flawed reasoning.

You say that the natural laws do not account for the complexity of life, right? But then you changed your argument and said that the natural laws were fine-tuned by God. So, if the natural laws don’t account for the complexity of life, the God’s fine-tuning didn’t work, did it? You see how important it is to distinguish between the complexity of life and the physical laws and constants? The Multiverse is used to explain the latter, not the former.

Now, I see what you mean. Natural laws make life possible, but they do not fine-tune life. For example, the Earth makes it possible for humans to exist, but they do not cause Shakespeare’s Hamlet. To account for Shakespeare’s Hamlet you also have to attribute it to S’s mind.

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Human Ape September 29, 2011 at 7:04 am

Bob Smith, when you use words like “design” and “intelligence” everyone knows what you really mean is “magic”. Calling magic another name doesn’t make it any less childish.

Bob Smith, your problem is you’re full of shit. Please consider the advantages of growing up.

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PDH September 29, 2011 at 9:08 am

What you’re saying it’s reasonable to conclude
if intelligence can mimic chance, then chance can mimic intelligence.
It doesn’t work that way. Intelligence has powers that chance does not have. If a person picks the right number out of a trillion on one try, then it’s because he had some other information. That does not means that chance can do the same thing, because chance cannot interpret information and choose.

But if the person picks the right number out of a trillion after a trillion tries then nothing strange has occurred and an unintelligent number generator could achieve the same results. That is the situation with the physical laws and constants on the Multiverse hypothesis. It’s not, however, the situation with the complexity of life, which is why a different explanation is offered for that.

You have consistently failed to address this point. If you do not provide an adequate response to it in your next post then I don’t see much point in continuing to discuss it with you.

This is the fallacy from possibility, or inference to the most enjoyable explanation. You can’t believe in something just because it’s possible. You have to have evidence. This is the credo quia absurdum thinking that Christians use. The only reason why you believe in universe where other explanations exist is because you wish it to exist. You have no empirical evidence. What you’re saying is
1. it’s possible
2. therefore, it’s true

This is a pretty clear instance of the pot making a racist remark about kettles.

That’s pretty much exactly what you are doing. We are using exactly the same evidence – the complexity of life and the physical laws and constants – and offering rival hypotheses for it. Evidence can nearly always support multiple possible explanations, so the question is which is the simplest and most plausible that fits the data.

Scientists take theories involving Multiverses very seriously; much more seriously than they take theism. They are some of the simplest, most plausible theories that fit the data. As for evolution, that is one of the most successful theories in the history of science. Theism doesn’t even come close.

As noted in the paper I quoted above, string theory is about as simple as the standard model + gravity. Meanwhile, intelligence is literally the most complex thing in the known universe and so your hypothesis is vastly more complex and thus implausible. Thus, just being consistent with the evidence is not enough and you are guilty of the fallacy of retreating to the possible.

There are three explanations for movement, chance, law and design. You’re just assuming that there is only one explanation for movement in the universe. I’d like to see you prove it.

What I was saying was almost the exact opposite of what you seem to think I’m saying.

I’ve specifically said that there are multiple explanations for the phenomena you have cited as instances of ‘order.’ My entire argument depends on this. YOU are the one saying that if I explain one supposed instance of order with ‘chance’ (a word that is fast becoming meaningless) then I have to explain everything with it.

There is no reason whatsoever to think that all supposed instances of order result from the same kind of processes.

This is just an assertion. You’ve got no logical argument here. How do you explain the origins of life?

Of course it’s an assertion! All I’m doing there is telling you what the atheist’s position is because you keep misrepresenting it.

If you roll a die six times and it lands on six one time, that is what you would expect. But that is not analogous to what happens in our universe. What we have are two substances, one behaves according to chance and law, the other, life does not. Instead what we see in our universe, is a substance that can a hit a prespecified target again and again. Every time I speak language I am uttering the correct noises out of an infinite range of possible noises.

It’s analogous to what happens with the laws and constants BUT IT’S NOT ANALOGOUS TO WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE COMPLEXITY OF LIFE.

So providing an example of of how the Multiverse fails to explain something that it’s not supposed to explain does not even begin to refute that hypothesis.

How many times do I have to say this?

I am using analogous reasoning, not begging the question. The universe achieves a result that chance cannot accomplish, namely produce nonnormal distribution. The substances are not normally distribute in our universe. A house achieves a result that chance can accomplish, it can harbor life. A house requires that several parts be selected with the foresight that they would eventually work together. It is the same with the laws of the universe. They were all chosen in advance to work together, such that life would be possible. They were chosen with the knowledge of how the others would interact.
1. the universe is like a house
2. all houses are designed
3. therefore, the universe is designed
If you want to dispense with analogous reasoning, then you can’t pick and choose when to use it and when not to use it since virtually all of your life decisions are based on analogous reasoning. You only dispense with analogous reasoning when you don’t like the conclusions. This is inference to the most enjoyable explanation, not following the evidence where it leads.

You were begging the question because you were using the conclusion of your argument as one of its premises. You said that the laws and constants were chosen with ‘knowledge’ of each other but if there is a multitude of universes each with their own laws and constants then they were not chosen with knowledge of each other.

If you don’t consider a die landing on six after six throws to be an instance of order, then neither is it an instance of order when one of a multitude of universes, each with different physical laws and constants, turns out to have a rare combination of said laws and constants. The die was rolled enough times. No knowledge of the other laws and constants was needed, so it is question-begging to assert that it was.

When you say that everything else is emergent, that is to say, order is emergent, you’re refusing to give a detailed casual chain of how order emerges. If I ask you how does order emerge, and you say it emerges, then you’ve explained nothing.

The explanation (for the complexity of life) is evolution. I’ve mentioned this several times.

It is generally agreed, even by materialist philosophers, thanks to Thomas Nagel, that if you knew the entire atom for atom composition for a bat, then you would not know what it’s like to be a bat. Similarly, if you knew all the atoms of Shakespeare you could never predict what play he would write next and what words he would use. Instances of design are not law like at all. Laws have the structure all A are B. If you build a staircase of identical units, then you are treating those units in an identical fashion. There is no law that will build a staircase, only a informational blueprint specifying how each individual unit is to be treated.

I don’t know about ‘generally agreed.’ It’s actually a fairly heated debate in philosophy and one can find notable philosophers on all sides. Nonetheless, the majority of philosophers are not dualists and most do not believe that philosophical zombies are metaphysically possible. See this survey: http://philpapers.org/surveys/results.pl

And this argument is free-wheeling enough to be getting on with without getting dragged into that whole thing.

You’re confusing laws with tendencies. Laws state all A are B, tendencies state some A are B, or 90% of the time all A are B. Of course humans exhibit tendencies, but there are few laws that they obey 100% of the time.

No, I’m citing evidence that supports one hypothesis over another, without proving it beyond all possibility of doubt. You cannot prove the reverse beyond all possibility of doubt, so the only interesting question is, which is the more plausible? I offered a reason to think that it is my hypothesis.

Well, why don’t you spell it out for me again, because I don’t recall you ever proving that the multiverse can account for why the physical laws exhibit planning.

I just said that I didn’t prove it in the sense that I demonstrated that my conclusion follows deductively from axioms. There is no reason for me to do that at all. Provide evidence? Sure. Prove it? No.

I have explained how the mechanism works, if that’s what you’re getting it. The illusion of planning (you are begging the question if you call it actual planning since I am arguing that that is not the case) arises because on the Multiverse hypothesis there are a multitude of universes each with their own laws and constants. If there is a 1 in a million chance of something happening and you do it a million times, you can still expect it to happen once. So the fact that we have these laws rather than some others is not surprising.

You, despite having been told multiple times by multiple people, still think that this is supposed to explain the complexity of life, which it isn’t. The explanation there is evolution. As for the origins of life, the relevant field (abiogenesis) is different again.

SO LET ME JUST BE ABSOLUTELY 100% CLEAR, HERE. I AM NOT USING THE MULTIVERSE TO ACCOUNT FOR THE COMPLEXITY OF LIFE.

I was talking about the complexity of life that the simplest single-celled life exhibited, but I understand why you were confused. I should have been more specific and I apologize. To give you an idea of the difference, and I’ve calculated this, the simplest single celled organism is equivalent to about a 100 foot rocket whereas you know how complex a 100 foot long slab of iron is. Statistical destruction can’t account for the complexity of multicellular life either. Statistical destruction can’t plan ahead. From the precambrian to the cambrian we went from sponges exhibiting about four cell types, to creatures with about 50 cell types in a period of about 5 million years, creatures that had about a 10 billion cells, 15 internal organs and 50 cell types. Just try some time to organize 10 billion cells into 50 cell types into 15 internal organs without planning and let me know if you succeed.

Rorshach has addressed this kind of reasoning in one of his posts above.

Yes, I have it points out the lack of explanatory power in the atheists, physicalist hypothesis.

No, it points out that something that wasn’t intended to explain something could not explain the thing that it wasn’t intended to explain. In other words, nothing.

Here is you’re reasoning:
1. our universe is fine-tuned
2. this is the result of either chance or intelligence
3. intelligence does not exist
4. therefore it is due to chance
5. it is unreasonable to believe that chance can fine-tune on one try
6. therefore, numerous universes exist
As you can see, you’re just assuming premise three.
Here is my reasoning which is much more sound
1. our universe is fine-tuned
2. this is the result of either chance or intelligence
3. we have evidence that intelligence exists in our universe
4. fine-tuning is the result of chance, though there could be exceptions
5. therefore, it is more likely that fine-tuning is the result of intelligence than chance

Intelligence doesn’t exist? You think I’m arguing that intelligence doesn’t exist?

I’m arguing that the Multiverse is a better explanation for the physical laws and constants than theism is and that evolution is a better explanation for the complexity of life than intelligent design. No part of that depends on there being no such thing as intelligence.

I don’t see how you arrive at that reasoning. Looks like the same, if intelligence can mimic chance, then chance can mimic intelligence fallacy.

We would expect to find fine-tuning on both the Multiverse hypothesis and on theism. It is evidence for both.

You do cancel your right. You distinguish chance from intelligence, because intelligence can hit a prespecified target regularly. Once you admit chance can do that too then you have no way of distinguishing the two. You’re coin analogy is false. If a coin becomes extremely biased, say 99% favoring one side, then it will land on one side by law, not by design. If it is biased 75% in one direction then any prediction that is not near that 75% mark is flawed reasoning.

No, I don’t cancel my right. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that I can’t believe that some of the things you are calling order are the result of intelligence and others of different processes. And there are lots of ways I might distinguish between the two.

Secondly, I didn’t make a coin analogy. I used a die in my analogy, mainly because it’s easier to see how a die can be biased, but whatever.

Suppose someone gets six sixes in a row. If they’ve rolled the die thousands and thousands of times and only got that combination around as often as you’d expect, whatever that is, then I would not appeal to design as an explanation. However, if someone gets six sixes on their first attempt, then I would be tempted to say that the die was designed to be biased.

So one can believe that order arises from both ‘chance’ and ‘design’ in different situations without committing any fallacy.

Therefore, if I believe that there is a multitude of universes, each with their own laws and constants then it’s not surprising at all that there would be one with these particular laws and constants.

The origins of life uses similar reasoning but only requires one, large enough universe. That is, the necessary initial conditions are likely to be rare but since the universe is so huge it’s not unreasonable to think that they would arise here and there. Our universe is considered to be more than large enough by the people most likely to know such things.

The complexity of life requires a different explanation. That’s evolution.

So the Multiverse is being used where appropriate and only there. Your argument fails.

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Bob Smith October 1, 2011 at 11:04 am

i can’t post any more, this is just a test post.

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Bob Smith October 1, 2011 at 11:07 am

The only thing you have in your response is an argument from authority. You’re not addressing the questions that Thomas Nagel raises. By the way, I had a philosophy professor yesterday tell me that Nagel has converted to theism. And thanks for the survey, but I basically have that survey memorized, since I refer to it about twice a week.

You’re confusing laws with tendencies. Laws state all A are B, tendencies state some A are B, or 90% of the time all A are B. Of course humans exhibit tendencies, but there are few laws that they obey 100% of the time.

No, I’m citing evidence that supports one hypothesis over another, without proving it beyond all possibility of doubt. You cannot prove the reverse beyond all possibility of doubt, so the only interesting question is, which is the more plausible? I offered a reason to think that it is my hypothesis.

You’re hyposthesis is not at all plausible because you’re attributing traits to law that violate the definition of law.

Well, why don’t you spell it out for me again, because I don’t recall you ever proving that the multiverse can account for why the physical laws exhibit planning.

I just said that I didn’t prove it in the sense that I demonstrated that my conclusion follows deductively from axioms. There is no reason for me to do that at all. Provide evidence? Sure. Prove it? No. I have explained how the mechanism works, if that’s what you’re getting it. The illusion of planning (you are begging the question if you call it actual planning since I am arguing that that is not the case) arises because on the Multiverse hypothesis there are a multitude of universes each with their own laws and constants. If there is a 1 in a million chance of something happening and you do it a million times, you can still expect it to happen once. So the fact that we have these laws rather than some others is not surprising.

Right, and based on that mechanism you can prove that Barack Obama doesn’t speak English, after all if you event enough probabilistic resources anything can happen. So let me ask you straight up: how do you know that Barack Obama does not really know English? Moreover, you’re mechanism would explain why one in 10^120 odds were hit once, it does not explain why there is order on demand, which is the ability for a human to hit odds greater than 1 in 10^50 basically when they want. Your mechanism also does not explain why the universe continue to function, it only explains why order would come together at one instant. If you’re trying to hit one in a trillion odds, you can do it once, but our universe has been overcoming astronomical odds for 13.72 billion years.

Yes, I have it points out the lack of explanatory power in the atheists, physicalist hypothesis.

No, it points out that something that wasn’t intended to explain something could not explain the thing that it wasn’t intended to explain. In other words, nothing.

Right, if you assert that the multiverse does not explain the origins of life, then you have not explained the origins of life, which demonstrates a flaw in the atheist hypothesis. When you say Rorschach says life can emerge from a combination of chance and law, then you’ve explained nothing.

Here is you’re reasoning: 1. our universe is fine-tuned 2. this is the result of either chance or intelligence 3. intelligence does not exist 4. therefore it is due to chance 5. it is unreasonable to believe that chance can fine-tune on one try 6. therefore, numerous universes exist As you can see, you’re just assuming premise three. Here is my reasoning which is much more sound 1. our universe is fine-tuned 2. this is the result of either chance or intelligence 3. we have evidence that intelligence exists in our universe 4. fine-tuning is the result of chance, though there could be exceptions 5. therefore, it is more likely that fine-tuning is the result of intelligence than chance

Intelligence doesn’t exist? You think I’m arguing that intelligence doesn’t exist? I’m arguing that the Multiverse is a better explanation for the physical laws and constants than theism is and that evolution is a better explanation for the complexity of life than intelligent design. No part of that depends on there being no such thing as intelligence.

Chance is not a better explanation for the immense planning that we see in the Big Bang. Chance, by definition, cannot plan. Chance is defined as one event has no bearing on the following event, all physicalists/atheists accept that definition. Therefore, chance is not a good explanation for the origin of the universe, nor is it a good explanation for ALL the complexity of life. Of the 689 human specific genes, biologists have not been able to prove how even one of them evolved due to stastical destruction.

You do cancel your right. You distinguish chance from intelligence, because intelligence can hit a prespecified target regularly. Once you admit chance can do that too then you have no way of distinguishing the two. You’re coin analogy is false. If a coin becomes extremely biased, say 99% favoring one side, then it will land on one side by law, not by design. If it is biased 75% in one direction then any prediction that is not near that 75% mark is flawed reasoning.

No, I don’t cancel my right. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that I can’t believe that some of the things you are calling order are the result of intelligence and others of different processes. And there are lots of ways I might distinguish between the two.
Secondly, I didn’t make a coin analogy. I used a die in my analogy, mainly because it’s easier to see how a die can be biased, but whatever. Suppose someone gets six sixes in a row. If they’ve rolled the die thousands and thousands of times and only got that combination around as often as you’d expect, whatever that is, then I would not appeal to design as an explanation. However, if someone gets six sixes on their first attempt, then I would be tempted to say that the die was designed to be biased. So one can believe that order arises from both ‘chance’ and ‘design’ in different situations without committing any fallacy. Therefore, if I believe that there is a multitude of universes, each with their own laws and constants then it’s not surprising at all that there would be one with these particular laws and constants. The origins of life uses similar reasoning but only requires one, large enough universe. That is, the necessary initial conditions are likely to be rare but since the universe is so huge it’s not unreasonable to think that they would arise here and there. Our universe is considered to be more than large enough by the people most likely to know such things.
The complexity of life requires a different explanation. That’s evolution. So the Multiverse is being used where appropriate and only there. Your argument fails.

When you say lots of ways of distinguishing between intelligence and chance, I would like to hear them. How do you know that a sand castle is not built by waves? Second, with your dice that gets six sixes on the first six tries, yea, chance can do that, but that does not mean that you can spill ink on a piece of paper and expect to get a coherent paragraph out of it. You’re assuming that since chance can do things that are somewhat rare, say, one in 10,000, that it can therefore do things that are much rarer, say in 1 in 10^40,000. As for the origins of life, there have only been 10^150 events in our universe from the beginning. Anything with odds above that it is unreasonable to expect it to happen in our universe. The odds of life arising spontaneously, according to Stephen Meyer, are about 1 in 10^41,000 and that is just a bare minimum, the real odds are way higher, maybe even infinite.

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Bob Smith October 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

I can’t post the rest of my reply. I think the computer thinks I’ve already posted and it won’t let me post it twice. I don’t understand why it wouldn’t post the first time. You can read my reply here

https://docs.google.com/document/d/18n-poRijHeYQZP6y1jWMOo9U-JAzKDEjqaSsd-XmwS4/edit?hl=en_US

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PDH October 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

The only thing you have in your response is an argument from authority. You’re not addressing the questions that Thomas Nagel raises. By the way, I had a philosophy professor yesterday tell me that Nagel has converted to theism. And thanks for the survey, but I basically have that survey memorized, since I refer to it about twice a week.

Bob, you said it was ‘generally agreed.’ So to refute that I have to find evidence that it is not generally agreed, which I did. I linked to a survey of philosophers showing that huge disagreement exists on this subject and that the majority support my position rather than yours. That’s a perfectly legitimate response.

Nagel’s opinions on theism are irrelevant.

You’re hyposthesis is not at all plausible because you’re attributing traits to law that violate the definition of law.

Oh no, the definition of a word has been violated! I forgot that the correct definitions of every word are written in a platonic dictionary bequeathed to us by God atop Mount Sinai.

If your definition is inadequate, so much the worse for your definition. I don’t care what you call it, only whether it is true.

Right, and based on that mechanism you can prove that Barack Obama doesn’t speak English, after all if you event enough probabilistic resources anything can happen. So let me ask you straight up: how do you know that Barack Obama does not really know English? Moreover, you’re mechanism would explain why one in 10^120 odds were hit once, it does not explain why there is order on demand, which is the ability for a human to hit odds greater than 1 in 10^50 basically when they want. Your mechanism also does not explain why the universe continue to function, it only explains why order would come together at one instant. If you’re trying to hit one in a trillion odds, you can do it once, but our universe has been overcoming astronomical odds for 13.72 billion years.

Yes, I have it points out the lack of explanatory power in the atheists, physicalist hypothesis.

It only needs to explain how ‘order came together at one instant’ BECAUSE THAT’S THE ONLY THING IT IS BEING USED TO EXPLAIN.

How many times, Bob?

The fine-tuning of the laws is being explained by the Multiverse.

The complexity of life is being explained by evolution.

For the love of all that isn’t holy why can you not understand this simple point?

Right, if you assert that the multiverse does not explain the origins of life, then you have not explained the origins of life, which demonstrates a flaw in the atheist hypothesis. When you say Rorschach says life can emerge from a combination of chance and law, then you’ve explained nothing.

There are lots of interesting theories in abiogenesis. It falls to you to explain why none of them can possibly work, something you haven’t done.

Here is you’re reasoning: 1. our universe is fine-tuned 2. this is the result of either chance or intelligence 3. intelligence does not exist 4. therefore it is due to chance 5. it is unreasonable to believe that chance can fine-tune on one try 6. therefore, numerous universes exist As you can see, you’re just assuming premise three.

That is not my reasoning. At all. I specifically said that it wasn’t in my last post.

Not only do I not ‘just assume premise three’ I flat out deny it. Never once have I said any such thing, I resolutely believe that it is false and my argument in no way depends on it.

I can’t fathom how you or anyone could ever believe that I was saying anything remotely like that in the first place but the fact that you still believe it even after you were explicitly told that this wasn’t what was being said by the person who supposedly said it is simply astonishing.

When you say lots of ways of distinguishing between intelligence and chance, I would like to hear them. How do you know that a sand castle is not built by waves?

Are you for real? Is this Poe’s Law?

OK, here is one way that we might come to believe that a sandcastle was built by something other than waves: we might see a human building one.

Second, with your dice that gets six sixes on the first six tries, yea, chance can do that, but that does not mean that you can spill ink on a piece of paper and expect to get a coherent paragraph out of it.

WHAT?

The first die didn’t get six sixes on its first try. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.

The first die got six sixes because it was thrown the requisite number of times. So, no other explanation is required.

The second die got six sixes the first time, so then we do assume that something funny is going on. In this case, ‘design’ (a biased die) IS a better explanation.

The fine-tuning of the laws resembles the first situation. We have an unlikely thing – the physical laws and constants of the universe – but we have so many universes, each with different laws and constants, that it isn’t surprising and hence no explanation is required.

The complexity of life is more like the second situation, so we look for a better explanation, in this case evolution.

You’re assuming that since chance can do things that are somewhat rare, say, one in 10,000, that it can therefore do things that are much rarer, say in 1 in 10^40,000.

No, I’m assuming that if I have a bag with 10,000 stones, all of which stones save one are black, then I can expect to see a non-black stone if I draw a stone 10,000 times. Meanwhile, if I have a bag with 10^40,000 stones, all of which save one are black, I can expect to see a non-black stone if I draw 10^40,000 stones from the bag.

As for the origins of life, there have only been 10^150 events in our universe from the beginning. Anything with odds above that it is unreasonable to expect it to happen in our universe. The odds of life arising spontaneously, according to Stephen Meyer, are about 1 in 10^41,000 and that is just a bare minimum, the real odds are way higher, maybe even infinite.

I disagree. How do you respond to Rorshach’s criticisms?

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Bob Smith October 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I’d like to see your reply to the remarks I made here.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/18n-poRijHeYQZP6y1jWMOo9U-JAzKDEjqaSsd-XmwS4/edit?hl=en_US

please verify that you have read them.

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john (bob smith) October 1, 2011 at 10:34 pm

testing. i can’t post

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Bob Smith October 1, 2011 at 10:36 pm

i don’t know what’s wrong. i can’t post that material that is on the google docs document. try to respond to it, using the google docs

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PDH October 2, 2011 at 7:26 am
Craig October 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Ken Miller’s speech has certainly made the rounds.

Yes, he is an eloquent spokesman for evolution.

However, as far as his “Christian” credentials are concerned — there is an ocean sized credibility gap. I suppose anyone can define themselves however they like. Miller may see an opportunity to exploit the territory of “Christian biologist convinced of naturalism”.

However, it takes about 30 seconds thought after hearing Ken Miller speak to recognize 2 things:
1. He is completely committed to naturalistic anti-supernaturalism, which by definition has no practical use for a Supernatural “God” who interacts with His creation.
and 2. There is no historic definition of “Christian” that did not have as its foundation a belief in the Supernatural interventions of God as Creator and Sustainer of all life.

Miller can call himself whatever he wants. But, there seems to be no true connection to genuine Christianity. So, in essence, he disqualifies himself and cannot make the point he wishes to establish.

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Larkus October 6, 2011 at 4:18 am

“Miller can call himself whatever he wants. But, there seems to be no true connection to genuine Christianity. So, in essence, he disqualifies himself and cannot make the point he wishes to establish.”

Great. The No-True-Scotsman maneuvre combined with a misrepresentation about Ken Miller’s position. You might be confusing his commitment to methodological naturalism with a commitment to ontological naturalism. Contrary to your claims, Ken Miller makes the point he wishes to make quite well. Have you any actual counterarguments to Ken Miller’s points regarding Intelligent Design?

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