May 12, 2009

A Question of Order

This is part 2 of a 10 part series. The introduction can be found here, and the prior post can be found here. I will add two more blog responders at this point in the discussion. They are from:

The next question relates to the kind of universe that was produced by the creation event discussed in the first question.

2. Order

The past several decades have added profoundly to our knowledge of chemistry, physics, and cosmology. It has become increasingly clear that we live in a universe finely tuned for the support of complex life. This fact is so universally acknowledged that even secular scientists have coined the term "Anthropic Principle" to describe it.
How is it that we live in such an exquisitely fine-tuned universe? Even assuming that the universe could have popped out of nothingness, why should it have been such an orderly and hospitable one? Is there a scientific, testable answer for this question that does not simply appeal to imagination?

Faithlessgod offers this objection to the very idea of fine-tuning:

I disagree with Pruett's supposition here, it certainly does not look like an orderly and hospitable universe, since as far we can tell the range where the type of life we know could occur and survive is an incredibly minute portion of the universe.

Randall says it this way:

I don't think the universe is fine tuned for life at all. As far as we know there is only one planet in this one little solar system that can sustain complex life.... most of what's out there is space.

I wouldn't expect to have to go into great detail on this, since it has already been so heavily addressed by cosmologists. Those like Barrow & Tipler, Rees, Davies, Susskind, Bostrom, Smolin, and others have written volumes on this issue. The fine-tuning of the laws of physics (or Anthropic Coincidences) that permit the support of life in the universe is largely undisputed data. It is the conclusions drawn from that data where the true controversy lies.

Since there appears to be a misunderstanding of what I mean by finely tuned for the support of complex life I'll try to clarify the point. I do not simply mean that our own little planet happens to be hospitable to us, and I don't mean that the whole universe is a tropical paradise. I mean that the very laws of physics make things like galaxies, stars, and warm little planets possible at all.

Just two examples:

1) The electrostatic force repels protons (each being positively charged) while the strong nuclear force binds them together. The strong force is stronger than the electrostatic force, but only at short range, while the electrostatic force dominates at larger range. So, in order for nuclear fusion to occur, as it does in stars, there must be a certain amount of energy applied to propel one proton against another in order for it to overcome the electrostatic charge and stick via the strong force. I liken it to putting superglue on two plus-ended magnets and then forcing them together.

Since the universe originally consisted almost entirely of hydrogen, we would not have the abundance of heavier elements if it were not for the ability of stars to fuse atoms (and then spew them out in explosions). But if the strong force were too strong or the electrostatic force too weak, then fusion would be too efficient. Matter would more easily ignite and we would have fewer planets and more stars. Stars would burn out much faster and the lighter elements (being just as desirable as the heavier ones for molecule building) would be quickly depleted. Conversely, if the strong force were weaker or the electrostatic force stronger, then we would have fewer and larger stars, and less of the heavy elements. In fact, if fusion were too inefficient, then the large masses that might otherwise form stars could actually collapse into black holes before they would even have a chance to ignite.

2) The quantity, expansion rate, and distribution of the material of the primordial universe all have a part in determining the nature of its resulting cosmology. If there were not such a mysteriously large imbalance of matter over anti-matter, we would not have the material to form cosmological structures. Various factors seem to work together (e.g., inflation rate and dark energy) to determine the expansion of the universe. Minute differences in these factors would affect a number of things, including whether the universe recollapsed upon itself before anything interesting could be produced or whether it expanded too rapidly for the material to coalesce into structures like galaxies and stars.

It seems to me that a universe that survives its genesis, forms complex structures, and supports the generation and assembly of complex, diverse molecules is something we might even objectively value over a hiccup universe, or one that was filled with nothing but diffuse hydrogen gas. And even though there are more empty, hot, or cold places in the overall universe than there are just-right stars and just-right planets, it takes this kind of universe to be able to support such things.

If I were to accept the substance of Faithlessgod and Randall's complaint, I might just as well say that even our planet is not so great for humans because of all the hot, frigid, or wet places it contains. All these are either necessary for a life-sustaining climate/ecology (like an abundance of water) or they are simply byproducts of physics and geometry (like cold polar regions).

Tremblay takes issue with the idea that the Anthropic Principle has any relationship to the fine-tuning point that I raise:

LifeWay apparently does not know what the anthropic principle actually is. The anthropic principle does not support the fine-tuning argument at all. What the anthropic principle actually says is this: we live in a universe compatible with our own existence.

Yes, "LifeWay" understands the Anthropic Principle and its various permutations, such as the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP), which will be discussed later. The very fact that there are even flavors of it is witness to my point that there is something of interest being discussed in the scientific community.

Of course the materialist would think the fine-tuning question does not support the role of a designer (else he would not be a materialist), but the Anthropic Principle is certainly born of the observation that the Anthropic Coincidences are necessary to the existence of observers. If the Anthropic Principle were nothing more than a tautological statement, like saying that coldwater fish are found in cold water, then I would not expect to find so many physicists and cosmologists writing books for the purpose of wrestling with its implications. Why try to explain away or rationalize an entirely meaningless observation?

A common rejoinder I've heard is that we shouldn't be so presumptuous as to think the universe is designed for us; it might have been some different way that would result in another species asking the same question. Self offers a form of this argument as follows:

To say the universe was fine-tuned just to permit life is backwards; what is more nearly true is that life is fine tuned to exist in the universe as it is today.

Anath makes the point this way:

It's like claiming your life is somehow miraculous and special because YOU were the specific result of your parent's copulation. Had a different sperm reached the egg first, or had something interrupted your parents before transfer that particular time, a totally different person would be saying the EXACT same thing.

It should be understood that I am not simply arguing for an egocentric view that the universe is fine tuned for humans or even for "life as we know it." If some member of a nebular squid species were to ask the same question, then I would grant his right to do so, because the Anthropic Coincidences would apply equally to him. I am arguing that the laws of physics are fine tuned for the support of life of any kind, which depends upon things like a universe, diverse materials, and the ability to form complex chemical structures.

Since there are so many other ways that the universe might have been that would not support life, stars, or even a persistent universe, and if there is anything noteworthy about complex, sentient, biochemical systems, then it seems that the least we can say is that this kind of universe is remarkably improbable.

At this point I have often heard the comment made: "Well, you wouldn't be here to wonder about it if it hadn't happened!" This is a hackneyed paraphrase of the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP). To all my responders credit, I didn't see this voiced (in so many words). However, I think it is worth addressing, which I will do by simply paraphrasing the Swinburne/Leslie parable:

Suppose you are dragged before a firing squad. There are 100 trained marksmen all intent upon your demise. The command to fire is given. The guns blaze, but a moment later you discover that you are still alive, untouched by the bullets. You laugh out loud and marvel at your good fortune, but an annoyed captain of the guard simply growls at you, "There's nothing remarkable here, fool. You wouldn't be alive to remark about it if hadn't happened." And then he executes you himself with his own sword.

Even if the captain had killed you before you could ask the question, "How did I survive that?" it still would be legitimate for some observer to ask it. The WAP seeks to negate the observer's question by depending upon his existence. If he exists, he can't ask the question because he wouldn't be here to ask it otherwise. If he weren't here, then there's no one to ask questions so the problem is forfeit. It seems a hollow victory for the materialist to win on a technicality, but surely it is a more remarkable thing to have observers who ask questions than to have cold, dead space. I guess it is like a 3D stereogram. You either see it or you don't.

Faithlessgod goes on to raise a good point about other possible universes:

We have no idea what type of universes could occur with different constants, only that they would be radically different from ours, but this tells us nothing about whether the equivalent of life is more or less likely in those other universes.

The Anthropic Coincidences applicable to this universe suggest that of the kind of laws and materials that we are dealt, this particular arrangement adds up to something special. Perhaps some other dramatically different mix could add up to a recipe for success, but that would be another island in a vast sea of improbability as well.

To use a card analogy, which one of my responders employed, our universe's order may be compared to throwing a deck of cards up in the air and having them all come down in neat, numerically sequenced stacks by suit. There are certainly a large number of other ordered ways that the cards may come down, like numerically sequenced stacks of four-of-a-kinds, but they would be no less probable than the nearly infinite number of other chaotic arrangements that might result.

And to suggest that other radically different universes might help us here is to suggest that there might be a way that any old arrangement of its materials would yield order. This is like saying that in another universe made of dice instead of cards, that most rolls of the dice will come up all sixes, or in stacks. Perhaps there could be some universe where the laws are so rudimentary that there's no possible "variation," or any variation would yield the same assembly capability, but even that kind of universe surely would be less probable than all the other more dependent kinds, like the one we happen to occupy.

Interestingly, Tremblay makes an objection that would call this into question:

Implicit in this argument is the belief that the parameters of the universe could take any quantity. . . .

Just because we can imagine the gravitational constant being, not 6.674×10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2, but rather 6.252×10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2, does not mean that it can actually be 6.252×10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2. Just because we can write it down and make calculations based on it doesn’t mean it’s actually possible.

This is certainly a valid argument, but why think that the values could not be different? What meta-laws exist to constrain the amount of matter over anti-matter or the expansion dynamics entailed in the Big Bang? Even if the laws and events inherent in this universe where somehow necessary or predetermined, then this only pushes the question back a level. Why should the "necessary" laws be so remarkably configured? Why would the brute laws of physics have to favor order? How very fortuitous!

A popular theory among cosmologists involves the idea that we exist in just one of a number of bubble universes. While I will not attempt to psychoanalyze the motivation for such a theory, I will note that I have usually seen the theory employed as a response to the Anthropic Coincidences. As the argument goes, we just happen to live in a jackpot universe that is just right for life. Unlike Tremblay, these cosmologists don't seem to have a problem with the idea that the universe-barfing device may have different settings. Nor do they seem to agree with those who argue that there just isn't anything special to be explained or they would not make appeal to infinite universes for that explanation.

Tremblay closes with this conversation stopper:

As for the question "why should [the universe] have been such an orderly and hospitable one?", it should be obvious that the use of "why" presupposes teleology, and therefore a Creator. So this question is entirely circular. There is no purpose for the universe to be the way it is, any more than there is a purpose for the sky to be blue instead of green. We can explain how it came to be hospitable, or how the sky gets to be blue, but there is no "why."

Perhaps we should break the news to those like cosmologists Bernard Carr and Martin Rees, who once stated in the journal Nature, "Nature does exhibit remarkable coincidences and these do warrant some explanation." Perhaps we should simply think of them as philosophically naïve to require explanations, but it seems to me that science is all about the "whys."

Tremblay suggests that explanations should extend only to the reason for the physical condition (like, the sky is blue because of short wavelength light diffusion), but not to any deeper meanings (like, why should physics have to work in such a way that it yields lovely blue skies?). Perhaps this is a good rule of thumb for science proper, but it is a castration of the human spirit, which, for some strange reason always wants to go the extra mile in its understanding.

Materialists would apparently say to us, "Just get over it! There's no meaning to this or any other aspect of existence. Everything just is what it is." For my point in question, this means that even if it actually is the case that the universe is fine tuned for complex life (of any kind), and it is a genuine statistical improbability, then we are disqualified from having stray thoughts of wonder because they presume something to wonder about that does not exist: teleology (purpose/design/meaning).

It is true that this, and many of my questions, depend upon teleology. In fact, teleology is part-and-parcel to the worldview I am advocating. But surely teleology cannot be ruled out a priori any more than we could meaninglessness. I might just as well claim, "the atheist can't say the universe just is what it is, because that's a circular argument: it presupposes that there actually is no meaning to the universe." How, then, is one to demonstrate the need of a designer if one cannot point to anything as evidence merely and precisely because it supports his thesis!

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At 5/12/2009 6:17 PM, Blogger Sam Harper said...

This is very interesting, Scott. I'm just going to share some random thoughts I had while reading this.

I sometimes marvel over the fact that the universe is expanding at all. If the universe came from a singularity, or even a very small volume, it’s hard for me to see how it’s possible for it to expand at all. If the universe were ever contained in a small volume, it would have to have constituted the most massive black hole there ever was. Black holes are black precisely because their gravitational field is so strong that its escape velocity is higher than the speed of light, which prevents even light from escaping. And the gravitational field at some distance from a black hole is strong enough to bend light in proportion to its distance from the black hole. Well, if the universe was once a massive black hole, as it must’ve been, and if not even light could escape it, then how could anything at all escape it? How could it have ever expanded? Imagine what its escape velocity must've been!

There must be some force that is stronger than gravity that got the universe expanding. The only other option is that it is expanding because if it’s momentum. That might make sense in an oscillating universe, but not a universe that began with a singularity. If there is such a force that is stronger than gravity, you’d expect the universe to not only be expanding, but for its expansion to be accelerating. And it was just recently discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The force that is causing the universe to accelerate is too weak to detect, though.

That’s another interesting thing to me. Weak as the gravitational force is, we can still detect its force in relatively small objects. But we can’t detect this other force. Yet this other force must be strong enough to overcome the force of gravity on a large scale. *scratching my head* I think this other force must be something like the nuclear force. The nuclear force is stronger than the electrostatic force at short distances, but much weaker (perhaps non-existent) at longer distances. Maybe the same thing is true of the force that is causing the universe to expand.

I think Tremblay may be right about the anthropic principle. There seems to be some confusion on exactly what it is out there. Christian apologists seem to think the anthropic principle is the principle that the universe is finely tuned for life. But everybody else seems to think the anthropic principle is just the fact that if the universe were NOT suitable for life, we wouldn’t be here to puzzle over it. In their case the anthropic principle is an argument AGAINST design. The argument is that since we are here to observe it, it shouldn’t surprise us that we find the universe to be suited for life. Maybe instead of focusing on who has the correct definition of “anthropic principle,” we should just focus on whose argument is sound.

But it shouldn’t be hard to figure out who has the correct definition. We’d just need to figure out who coined the term, and look at what they wrote to determine how they used it. Then we could look at how other cosmologists have used it.

What I described above is what Paul calls the “weak anthropic principle.” Paul, what is the STRONG anthropic principle?

Like Paul, I don’t see why we should think the particular laws that apply to our universe are necessary or that the various forces and constants could not have been different. It seems to me that if there were ever a state in which no universe existed at all, and if it were possible for something physical to come into existence, then anything would be possible since there would be no initial conditions to determine the result. If the whole universe is contingent, then it’s properties are contingent as well. Physical laws and constants aren't like the laws of logic, which are metaphysically necessary truths. Physical laws merely describe the physical universe. I see no reason to think the universe couldn't have been different.

It seems to me that objections to teleological arguments basically just amount to the mere possibility that the universe could’ve come about in such a way that it could support life. And I think they are right. Maybe it is just a big coincidence that all the cosmological constants conspired in such a way to bring about a life-permitting universe. But that is why teleological arguments are inductive arguments, not deductive arguments. It is unlikely that the universe would naturally produce life, but it is not impossible. And the more unlikely it is that natural processes could’ve produced life, the more likely it is that things were designed to support life.

At 5/12/2009 9:00 PM, Blogger Paul said...

My thoughts about your thoughts :)

The fate of that expansion has been a matter of much speculation for decades. I remember in my old astronomy classes in the early 80's how we speculated over whether it would expand on forever or if it would all slow down and come back together. The oscillating model was even quite popular, and this was the means employed to answer how we had come to exist: we were just in one of the lucky, infinite bounces. The main problem was that they couldn't find the missing mass to provide the necessary gravity for a big crunch. "Dark matter" came along and that seemed promising, but there didn't seem to be enough of it. The last hope I heard was that it appeared that neutrinos actually had mass, and since they are very abundant we might have a "closed" universe after all. Problem is that right about the same time they discovered something stunning: the universe was not only expanding, but it was accelerating too! That is to say, it is fleeing faster and faster apart. It's a one-shot explosion.

Another thing that should be noted is that the big bang did not "explode" out into existing space, like a black hole exploding within our universe (if that were possible). Space itself seems to have burst out in a bubble and dragged the universe along with it. Weird thing is that it seemed to happen at a rate greater than the speed of light. This is a problem solved by the inflation model, which says it's less about matter flying out than it is about the fabric of space stretching. Presumably this could happen faster than light, so no speed-of-light limitation is violated. Who knows the truth; some of the models seem like they are loaded with accretions of "epicycles" like the old Ptolemaic model. And that model worked pretty well mathematically, but it did not reflect reality. We should always remember that there is sometimes a difference between the two.

It appears that the "dark energy" or "cosmological constant" that affects the expansion dynamics was apparently always there, but it supposedly works better at distances (like the inverse of gravity), so the acceleration will get faster over time till all the galaxies flee away and there will be little to see through a telescope. I'm not sure that anyone saw that coming. Apparently, even the bell curve of the dark energy repulsion force is an important factor in shaping a habitable galaxy. I've heard Martin Rees and others claim that the precision must be as good as one part in 10 to the 120th power! What do you do with that figure, especially when it controls whether or not you even have a universe that could either exist one end, or assemble anything at all on the other end? I think Rees goes with the multiverse to get around the statistical problem. If you're the only one playing the lottery and you win, that's weird. But if you are just one of billions playing it and you win, then, well, somebody had to win, didn't they?

I'm not sure how an atheist would argue that the Anthropic Principle would argue against design. It seems to me that it could only be argued to be a tautology; that it is just neutral to the question.

As to the definition of the Strong Anthropic Principle, I have a hard time clarifying what the formal definition of this is. It seems to be taken differently by different people. Barrow and Tipler say it this way: "The Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history." You can see my confusion. One person expressed it this way, which seems to capture how many people apply it: "In other words, in this principle, it is no coincidence that we are here; the Universe is expressly configured so as to enable and encourage the prospects of our existence." Of course, "encourage" seems to imply intentionality. For this reason most atheists will either demure from this interpretation or favor the WAP.

I personally find the Teleological Argument to be one of the most interesting and difficult to wrestle with from a materialistic perspective. As someone with an interest in astronomy, it was the issue that first brought me into the world of Apologetics. There are really only two responses to it that give me any pause at all. One must remain theoretical; the other is merely philosophical and violates our deepest intuitions about order and mathematics. I had an interesting debate on the forum several years ago on the latter option.

At 5/13/2009 5:09 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay said...

To be honest with you, I am rather disappointed at the quality of this answer. You bungled your answers to my points by completely misapplying the burden of proof. Surely you must realize how weak your entry looks.

I have absolutely no intention, motivation or reason to prove that "the values could *not* be different" or that "there actually is no meaning to the universe." You are the one who has to prove that "the values could be different" and that "there is meaning to the universe." Based on the facts alone as they stand, you lose the argument.

At 5/13/2009 9:53 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The anthropic principle:

At 5/13/2009 11:39 AM, Blogger Paul said...


So, that is what you want to hang your argument on: the burden of proof?

You're right, I didn't address that. I've often found that route of argumentation tedious, subjective, and generally misses the heart of the question under consideration. It's like two jealous lovers distractedly arguing over who accidentally threw the punch that laid out the woman of their affection, and all the while she lies hemorrhaging to death on the floor.

What I did do was to point out that there are cosmologists that do presume in their models that the values can be different, like the multiverse theorists. That idea is already put on the table by non-theists. And it seems just as "possible" that the laws could be different as that they could not be. I granted that it was invalid to merely assume that they could be, but I don't know that we have a way to say which is the more likely assumption.

If your argument is that whatever just is must be presumed to be a necessary truth, then I think you will find some distasteful conclusions spawning from that. Perhaps I could then make a case like this: "It just is the case that the majority of the people across time and cultures have believed in deities and spiritual realities. The burden of proof is therefore on you to demonstrate that it is all just a delusion." I'm willing to concede it as a point worth factoring into my thinking, but that it does not logically, of necessity, make it true that god(s) exist. I can't say "I win the argument."

The most important thing (in my mind) that I did was to press the question beyond the point where something like burden of proof was applicable. I granted for a moment that the laws as they exist could be necessary, brute givens, and then pointed out how odd that necessary laws of physics are so constructed as to support complex life. Imagine you dropped a pile of Lincoln logs on the floor (which you could do only once) and they bounce and land as a fully assembled cabin. I marvel at the coincidence of it, but you simply assure me that it needn't be considered miraculous because the laws of Lincoln are probably such that they always will self-assemble. Could I not at least marvel that there should be such a necessarily remarkable can of logs? It all begins to smell like deity.

If this is the hill you want to die on, then let's get your argument straight. It seems to be, "Okay, I grant that the universe is amazing and fortuitous, but maybe that's just the way it's got to be." Perhaps you'll forgive me if I don't find that response to sate my curiosity and natural intuition that something weird is going on here.

At 5/13/2009 2:34 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Thanks, Island, for the link. There are some interesting thoughts and links in your article.

One thing I found particularly interesting was this reflection that physicist Lawrence Krauss had regarding a meeting of the minds that he hosted recently. Here are a few choice excerpts on the state of modern cosmology:

Good ideas are few and far between. And what we're really going to need is a good idea, and it may require an understanding of quantum gravity, or it may require that you throw up your hands, which is what we're learning that a lot of people are willing to do. In the Virgin Islands we had a session on the anthropic principle, and what is surprising is how many physicists have really said, you know, maybe the answer is an anthropic one.
. . .
Right now we're floundering. We're floundering, in a lot of different areas.
. . .
Many of the papers in particle physics over the last five to seven years have been involved with the idea of extra dimensions of one sort or another. And while it's a fascinating idea, but I have to say, it's looking to me like it's not yet leading anywhere. The experimental evidence against it is combining with what I see as a theoretical diffusion — a breaking off into lots of parts. That's happened with string theory. I can see it happening with extra-dimensional arguments. We're seeing that the developments from this idea which has captured the imaginations of many physicists, hasn't been compelling.
. . .
But when you look at [the cosmic microwave background] map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun. Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That's crazy. We're looking out at the whole universe. There's no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun — the plane of the earth around the sun — the ecliptic. That would say we are truly the center of the universe.

At 5/13/2009 3:01 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay said...

"So, that is what you want to hang your argument on: the burden of proof?"

Actually, YOU're the one who just hung your argument against me on the burden of proof. That's why I'm complaining that it's so weak.

"If your argument is that whatever just is must be presumed to be a necessary truth, then I think you will find some distasteful conclusions spawning from that. Perhaps I could then make a case like this: "It just is the case that the majority of the people across time and cultures have believed in deities and spiritual realities. The burden of proof is therefore on you to demonstrate that it is all just a delusion.""

Why? I don't believe it is a delusion. I really do believe that "the majority of the people across time and cultures have believed in deities and spiritual realities" and that this is a fact to be explained (in fact, I do analyze it later on in the question where you ask about it).

"Imagine you dropped a pile of Lincoln logs on the floor (which you could do only once) and they bounce and land as a fully assembled cabin."

You apparently didn't learn anything from my rebuttal of the examples. There is absolutely no reason for us to believe that there is any other configuration they can take in the first place. There are funnels for the logs to go through and form walls, and then I remove the funnels and you're going "hey this must have been painstakingly designed!"

I'm just repeating what I said on my entry with your example here. The fact that you repeated the same argument implies that you didn't actually address anything I said at all. Like I said, very disappointing.

At 5/13/2009 3:11 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Paul, you might be interested in my longbet prediction:

But don't be fooled by Krauss, because he's talking about the same kind of anthropic selection effect that Tremblay keeps confusing with an anthropic principleNot the same thing.

At 5/14/2009 1:16 PM, Blogger Paul said...


Actually, YOU're the one who just hung your argument against me on the burden of proof. That's why I'm complaining that it's so weak.

Um... that's basically the only point you raised in your previous comment, so that's what I addressed.

Why? I don't believe it is a delusion. I really do believe that "the majority of the people across time and cultures have believed in deities and spiritual realities" and that this is a fact to be explained (in fact, I do analyze it later on in the question where you ask about it).

I think you've missed the point. First, I understand that you could believe that this is true about the majority of people/cultures, but you would think that they are deluded in thinking that their beliefs are actually true, i.e., they are wrong; there is no god(s). My point was to compare your assumption about burden of proof to this extant fact about people's beliefs. Perhaps I have chosen a poor example because of the ability to confuse the truth about what people believe with the truth value of that belief.

There is absolutely no reason for us to believe that there is any other configuration they can take in the first place. There are funnels for the logs to go through and form walls, and then I remove the funnels and you're going "hey this must have been painstakingly designed!"

Um, bad example for you because that would be a matter of design. To repeat a point I've made twice now, even if there were devices built into the can to insure automated, repeatable assembly, you still have a pretty amazing can of logs to explain.

Saying that it just couldn't be any other way does not remove the incredulous-factor. If I bought a can of Lincoln logs and dumped them out a million times and got the assembled cabin only on the first time, I'd be more stunned every time after the first that I just got junk. But if I bought a can and got a cabin every time I dumped it, then I wouldn't just think I was awfully lucky; I'd know I had a pretty special can to begin with!

Why assume that even if the laws were somehow necessary, that it is any less astounding that they should necessarily be fixed at values that we already deem to be astounding? I don't see the connection between fixed and no-big-deal. That seems to be your thesis, but it seems specious to me.

Additionally, there was the unaddressed point of where the meta-laws come from that are doing the fixing of the laws and constants. Do we say that these meta-laws are necessarily as they are to fix the laws? And why thus; are there laws above those, etc.?

I'm just repeating what I said on my entry with your example here. The fact that you repeated the same argument implies that you didn't actually address anything I said at all. Like I said, very disappointing.


At 5/14/2009 2:18 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay said...

You're still not addressing anything. Is that your initial intention? I hope you actually address our answers for the other questions instead of playing this semantics game.

At 5/14/2009 6:14 PM, Blogger Paul said...


I'm not trying to be evasive, and it seems to me that I'm speaking to points that you raise and also returning the serve. I'm afraid I'm missing something here, or perhaps you are. We may simply have to let the readers decide.

At 6/08/2009 9:31 AM, Blogger Martin Freedman said...

Hi I have replied to this most recent post in Scott Pruett answers atheists: A question of order

At 6/08/2009 8:49 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Sorry I've gone slack on this series. I've got some major good and bad family issues I'm dealing with, and I've also been spending my last free time on Sam's blog chatting with Mormons :)

At 5/12/2010 8:44 AM, Blogger DagoodS said...

Happy Anniversary of sorts

At 5/12/2010 7:43 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Thanks, Dag! In your honor I added quick anniversary post ;-)


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