Friday, 22 January 2010

The design argument strikes back. The debate continues...


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17 comments:

Mazen Abdallah said...

The full response (which i took time to write and so you'll courteously read if you may) has been emailed to you. But to summarize

1) The idea of fine tuning begs the question of a fine tuner; you did not see evidence of a fine tuner, you set out to find him after claiming he exists based on some sort of faith-based induction and not a testable hypothesis

2) The large number of other possibilities is just an impressive fact, not an indication that our universe was impossible without a creator

3) Multiverse theory is a real scientific model that we can't test because we lack the technology. It's more plausible than the design argument because the design argument is supernaturally based, which we can all agree is only fun when you're five. My skepticism about supernatural thought is based on the complete lack of observable supernatural phenomena in our universe. The closest approximation is through ideas science is still developing an understanding of. If you have faith that telescopes will eventually focus on a giant man with a beard, you have more faith than me, sir.

4) The whole idea of design and creation is really just impatient taunting of science. And you are content to acknowledge some elements of science but then imply that science and natural law as a whole was created by a wizard. The answers to the universe are not as easy to come by as 'God Did It'. And if you figure that's how it works, don't attack the other theories and exalt your own. Present real facts that can be studied in labs, like the Hubble RedShift that reinforced the Big Bang theory and the genome theory that supported evolution. Until then, understand that your ideas are just wishful thinking based on a neurological desire to have a big imaginary friend.

Björn Göransson said...

"you did not see evidence of a fine tuner, you set out to find him after claiming he exists..."

Did you read the article? Read it again. See the names? Those are people who said said statements. See the references? Look them up.

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"My skepticism about supernatural thought is based on the complete lack of observable supernatural phenomena in our universe."

By stating this, you claim that a designer is implausible because of all the natural laws that have no exceptions (ie. no chaos). I hope that your readers realize how illogical that is.

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Mazen, I'll hit your response with itself:

"Present real facts that can be studied in labs..." and "Until then, understand that your ideas are just wishful thinking based on a neurological desire to have a big imaginary friend."

Vs.

"Multiverse theory is a real scientific model that we can't test because we lack the technology. "

^-- Note to Mazen: We "lack" the technology to test God, too. Is my theory scientific now?

Mazen Abdallah said...

Let me show you the precise statement that made me cringe because of their sheer bravado and lack of support. "scientists have discovered that the initial conditions of the Big Bang were delicately fine tuned or calibrated for the existence of intelligent life". That's not a discovery, nobody I know of has said with confidence that we had to be designed. That's an baseless theory people like Adam Deen treat as fact.

I don't think because Adam quoted P.C.W. Davies (who lacks credibility in the scientific community because of his obvious religious agenda) we should be sitting up attentively. Jerry Coyne, Nathan Myhrvold, Lawrence Krauss, Scott Atran, Sean Carroll, Jeremy Bernstein, PZ Myers, Lee Smolin, John Horgan and Alan Sokal (Wikipedia) have all criticized Davies for being a loud-mouthed jesus freak who just wants to be in the popular scientific crowd.
When you presume the fine tuner is true and just look for facts to support that idea, you're committing a philosophical fallacy, and of course you're ignoring the work of other scientists.

There are no ghosts, wizards, demons, imps and/or Gods anywhere in the universe, that's my claim. I hope you realize that when you say a natural law has an exception, it stops being a law. It's statements like that which yank you out of a physics class and into a job as a human dartboard at a carnival. Everytime we did think supernatural forces ruled the universe, the big shiny 'No, they don't' smacked us in the face later. Like how the weather isn't caused by Thor, disease isn't caused by jinn and of course moronic statements are purely based in human brain power (or lack thereof). And no, it's not illogical to say that since we can't see anything in our universe that shows evidence of the fine tuner, or as i call it, the thermostat argument.

Thank you Bjorn, for showing me how people argue when they just repeat whatever someone says to them in a sarcastic tone and accuse their opponent of his/her very accusation. Bravo. I don't have any real facts to support Big Bang theory or Evolution, you're right. But the scientists that have made both of those terms common knowledge among anyone who at the very least pretends to be educated - they do have facts. Your mitochondria evolved from single celled organisms into parts of your cell, and you have a bone which used to be a tail. These occurrences transpired over millions of years, with the end product being us. The designer fits nowhere in this model.

We don't just lack the technology to test God theoretically. We don't have a scientific model for God, so we don't know what kind of experiments we could perform. But as Michio Kaku points out, there is a real scientific force behind Multiverse.
And that's because God has to be a supernatural being to avoid a logical bullet in the foot. If you find me a real model for God, then i guess you have a scientific model.

Currently the model Adam Deen is advocating is that there had to be a designer, so that means his God is in fact a very real one. You know, the homophobic woman-hater God. I enjoyed reading that Anthony Flew supported the design argument. Particularly because Anthony Flew called Islam the force behind Arab Imperialism and described Muslim God as a 'cosmic Saddam Hussein' (Yes, after he discovered one morning that he was in actuality a deist). Oh, and I live in the Arab world, you and Deen live in Europe, so don't lecture me on the religion.

Thus the idea of a designer is foolish and hasty, not to mention restrictive. There are obviously forces behind the universe, but they are not in the form of a magical bearded man. As superstar cosmologist Carl Sagan puts it" if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying...it does not make much sense to pray to the laws of gravity.

Björn Göransson said...

"I don't have any real facts to support Big Bang theory or Evolution, you're right."

...NO COMMENT...

"There are obviously forces behind the universe, but they are not in the form of a magical bearded man."

...NO COMMENT...

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As for your criticism of a certain Davies, he wasn't quoted out of thin air, rather he was quoted as a physist making a calculation (open for criticism), and someone presenting a logical argument (open for criticism).

And as such, it isn't fallacious to quote him, even if people you mentioned have mentioned him as "loud-mouthed" (you mean like dawkins?) or even a "jesus-freak".

Also, please note that you failed to comment on the other sources that were quoted.

...Other than the scientist you mentioned that supported the design theory, which you sweeped away by calling the islamic god a "homophobic woman-hater" (how is that relevant?)

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"There are no ... Gods anywhere in the universe"

^-- I actually agree with that statement, or the part which I quoted of it;

sence "the universe" equals to "all that exists", and "God" includes the definition of "the maker/giver of cause to everything" (مسبب الأسباب), and as such, a thing and it's cause need to be distinguished from eachother.

Also, this is why you'll find no greater evidence of God than matter itself.

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Also, thanks for your valuable feedback on my argumentation - it will help me in explaining the truth to my european non-muslim friends, many of whom already have become muslim.

I'm impatiently awaiting your next response.

Mazen Abdallah said...

Quote me properly or not at all, Bjorn. "the scientists that have made both of those terms common knowledge among anyone who at the very least pretends to be educated - they do have facts." I don't have facts because i'm not a scientist. That's just modesty. Actual scientists, however, are quite skilled at explaining evolution and the big bang.
There are forces behind the universe. Like gravity. Not magic.Davies was making an empty criticism, of course. The idea he puts forward is that there has to have been something that made the world suitable for us. However, Davies has clearly never tried living on the moon, mercury, venus or Jupiter. That would in fact be completely impossible. Meaning that there is nothing making the universe ours, just this planet. And scientists have already determined that the difference is Oxygen, favorable gravity and of course water. And even then we evolved into organisms that could live optimally on this planet and really no other.
You're more than welcome to call Dawkins names ( I won't riot if you do) and of course dislike Dawkins. I dislike Davies because he follows an archaic idea. He's a scientist who tries his best to support ideas that were first generated by people in the dark ages. Does that strike you as scientific progress or an attempt to justify faith through science? Science is here to take humans forward. Have you ever heard a doctor argue the benefits of using leeches to draw blood? So yes, it is fallacious to quote him, because he is still not a good example of a scientist. This has been agreed upon my the majority of his peers, who I listed.
I did mention a man Deen falsely dubs 'the world's biggest atheist turned theist'. Anthony Flew is not a theist, he's a deist. Now while Adam thinks this distinction is a small one, it's not. Adam himself is really just an odd mix of agnosticism and Islam. If Adam was a true Muslim, he would show me Qur'anic verse and/or hadith dealing with creation. He has instead related the tales of Christians and deists, all of whom consider his Muslim faith wrong.
As for falsely calling Anthony Flew a theist, that's a big mistake. Theists believe in an active God that is still in fact giving the world some guidance (asking people to hate women and homosexuals, kill non-believers, etc). Deists believe that this God left after the universe was made, and that people who follow God are absurd because this God is long gone. The only crime deists commit is advocate the limitation of astronomical understanding. As for my negative comments against Islam, that’s because I consider it insulting to steal ideas from a deist, someone who is far more progressive than a Muslim. Adam wants to pick and choose ideas that suit his Islamic views, and then stop listening to a scholar the moment he holds a mirror up to the destructive ways of Islam.

Mazen Abdallah said...

I don't need to attack the people Adam Deen quotes to show the silliness of the design argument. I could take a moment to show that Adam Deen, Hamza Tzortis and other Muslim apologists seem to be devoted to embellishing their lectures and online posts (really waiting for one of them to take a serious approach to publishing) with quotes. Doesn't help. These are mostly just philosophers (not one of which is a Muslim) who advocate the design argument, which is meaningless. It's based in archaic thought, it should stay there.
"A thing and it's cause need to be distinguished from each other." That doesn't answer the question of where God is. We've never found evidence to support a God, only people who believe that God is the only reasonable explanation for naturalistic phenomena.
Any friend of yours who converts to Islam is making a terrible mistake. That person is rejecting the freedom that Muslim people ache for in their own societies but have been denied. I hope you realize that it's only because of the liberty that exists in your society that people can choose to follow Islam. And of course, by European laws they can never be real Muslims. That is because European laws recognize civil rights.Sweden currently recognizes homosexuals' rights to exist and even marry. They do not consider adultery a sin punishable in any way shape or form. They treat women equally.I don't want to disgust you with stories of what has happened to homosexuals, women, and nonbelievers in the Islamic world my friend. Kneel down on the ground and praise Allah, if you will, for letting you live in a country free from his tyranny.

Aq said...

Mazan- you are wrongfully attributing acts committed by people to 'God'. No where in the Quran does it command killing of non muslims (you are reading or have read verses out of context) and it also does not command killing homosexuals or treat women like crap!

I honestly don't believe you have read the Quran but picked up the verses that are misrepresented, misquoated and misunderstood- mostly conveyed by those who wish to tarnish Islam and its system- a system that gave and does give justice to all- men, women and children and makes no distinction as to what colour they may be.

Mazen Abdallah said...

Hey Aq

People commit these attacks in the name of God. It's that simple. If you keep talking about how God is great, God is wonderful, and God can commit no sin - but people are evil, then you can justify murder and hate as unfortunate by-products of human nature in the course of following God's perfect example. And in fact, all God does is ask you to believe in him. Kind of insecure if you ask me.
I'm an Arab. Don't lecture me on the Quran or what Muslims believe in. I'm not Anglo-Saxon or Christian, I was born to a Muslim family and I live in a country that's predominantly Muslim. I refused a decent job offer in Saudi Arabia because of what I know about Muslims. My name should be indication enough of my background. I have not misquoted the Quran, the context argument is in fact a defense of outdated verses. Women have reduced rights, homosexuality is forbidden. All Islamic countries throughout history and up until today maintain this hate and aggression. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are all despicable places because of the faith. As for European Muslims, American Muslims and people living in less extremist Muslim countries, they got to learn a watered-down, philosophical and cosmopolitan view of Islam. One defended by Western freedom of religion and Western philosophy. And just as the West took several inventions from Muslim civilizations, now we must turn to their example and compare our lives to theirs. They live freely and happily. We deserve the same and better. Of course, Adam likes to tell spook stories of how they are depressed and unmotivated, but that's because he wants people to believe Islam is the solution to these problems. It is not. Muslims reduce women's rights and oppress basic civil rights such as sexual freedom and religious choice. In a secular society, Muslims are more than welcome to exist. But if Islamic faith is applied to a legal system, oppression will be the only result. No examples of a successful Islamic state exist.

Aq said...

@ Mazan

Oh, so you're an apostate. Ok, that explains your stance and views on Islam.

Funny how some people 'have a bad experience' or 'meet some bad muslims' and all of a sudden, the whole religion is BAD.

Aq said...

@ mazan - quote: "No examples of a successful Islamic state exist".

No not today- all lead by dictators and those who do not fully impose true shariah- to find the last successful Islamic state you only need to look at Islamic Spain (Moors).

History will tell you that was indeed a successfully run Islamic state where jew and christians lived peacefully and where even the non muslims went to theQadi for justice.

Mazen Abdallah said...

"Oh, so you're an apostate."

That's a filthy, offensive and derogatory term to call me. You should be ashamed of yourself. So pompous to me. Your people don't rule the planet (there's something to thank God for), so I'm only an apostate according to you. I'm shocked, because I've tried to avoid making personal attacks against you.

And it's not just a 'bad experience' or a 'bad Muslim', it's a saturation of news reports from all over the world about how horrible Islam is. Not to mention the words of countless Islamic clerics that defend horrendous attacks. By majority rule, the guiding forces of Islam are dangerous. I'm extremely thankful that people are intelligent enough to avoid following Shari'ah law. Wake up. This is not 7th century Saudi Arabia.

As for Spain, i consider Spain much more modern now. It's actually one of the most progressive countries in Europe. No one cares that the Muslims went to Spain. I could of course point out that they left to Spain to escape the massacres by the Abbasids. And they were in constant war with the Christians to the North.

Ultimately, no one cares. Before the 20th century, pretty much all civilizations were backwards and stupid. We regard them as modern in the sense that 'Oh my, they did that back then, how impressive' Which is why I don't walk around with a toga on. Spare me the propaganda and live in this century. Tell all the people Islam has scarred that because you need an intellectual crutch, they need to suffer.

Mark said...

Care to show where your probability distribution on the space of possible values of physical constants comes from? Like most popularizers of FTA, you're inferring from the "smallness" of a subset X of the sample space that X is improbable. But this is clearly fallacious to anyone familiar with basic probability theory. (For instance, flip a fair coin a million times and let p be the total number of heads flipped. Then p could take on 1,000,001 possible values, yet there's a ~66% chance that p lies between 499,500 and 500,500, a tiny range consisting of only 1,000 possible values.) Are you going to appeal to some Robin Collins-style version of the Principle of Indifference? Considering the notorious inconsistencies that the Principle of Indifference suffers from when applied to continuous random variables, I don't think this line is very promising.

Regarding the firing squad analogy. As the philosopher Elliot Sober points out, there are important disanalogies between that case and fine-tuning. In particular, if the firing squad shoots at me at time t1, this does not entail I observe my survival at the later time t2. Therefore, the probability that I observe my survival at t2 is higher if the squad fires at t1 and the squad is trying to miss than if the squad fires at t1 and the squad intends to hit: confirmation of the purposeful miss hypothesis. On the other hand, suppose I perform an experiment at t1 to determine the value of physical parameter C and subsequently observe at t2 that C is in the life-permitting range. Then the very fact that I'm alive at all to perform an experiment at t1, together with the fact that the value of C presumably remains constant over time, logically entails that I will observe C's value lies in the life-permitting range at t2 no matter what. So there's at least a prima facie reason to believe that, unlike the firing squad missing, the fact that we observe the universe is fine-tuned for life is unsurprising.

Regarding the multiverse theory. If I understand your point correctly, you're saying that even if there is a multiverse (one universe, say, for every possible choice of physical parameter), we still have to explain why these universes' physical laws are such that they are capable of permitting life. However, this objection is deeply confused. First, there's no reason whatsoever to expect the universe to have operated under non-life-permitting physical laws. Certainly you're not going to be able to plausibly argue that such counterfactual laws are objectively probable on naturalism. Second, a proponent of the multiverse hypothesis could just as easily suggest that there's a separate universe instantiating every possible physical law as easily as he could suggest there's a separate universe for every configuration of physical parameters. Third, even ignoring these points, theism is explanatorily useless here. Even if we have life-friendly physics because God is life-friendly and God designed our physics, we now have to explain why God is life-friendly! If you suggest that God is necessarily life-friendly to explain this fact, naturalists could just as easily posit that the universe's physical laws are necessarily life-friendly.

I think analytic philosophy in the last couple decades has uncovered some serious, perhaps fatal problems for the fine-tuning argument. As you're a Muslim apologist, I wonder if you're genuinely up to the task of facing down these problems with the level of rigor and erudition they deserve. I also wonder if instead you're just interested in impressing untrained laymen with meretricious arguments regardless of how good or bad they really are.

Adam Deen said...

Firstly, In order to calculate the probability of a constant’s value to support intelligent life, we need to calculate the ratio between the range of life-permitting values and the possible range of values defined as life-permitting and non life-permitting.

Secondly, I don’t think your analogy of the coin tossing represents the design argument that I’m defending. The argument of design does not just appeal to the simple high improbability of an event as a basis for a design inference. If you read the works of contemporary Intelligent Design theorists, like William Dembski, you will come to know that the design argument is based upon high improbability and conformity to an independently given pattern. To detect design we look for high improbability conjoined with an independently given pattern, what Dembski calls “specified complexity”. Suppose we had a billion, billion, billion black balls and we mixed in 5 white balls in a rather large bucket. Now, the odds of choosing any ball are equal. However, what if I said we had a man at gun point and that he could only be set free if he could pull out 5 white balls with only five chances and to our astonishment, he succeeded. Now, because of the high probability (number of balls) and the specified pattern (5 white balls equals life) one would be warranted to think that a conspiracy was involved. In the same way, given the fine tuning of the initial conditions of the universe, it is vastly more probable for a life prohibiting universe to exist and the very existence of a life friendly universe indicates intelligent design.

Thirdly, you said “If I understand your point correctly, you're saying that even if there is a multiverse (one universe, say, for every possible choice of physical parameter), we still have to explain why these universes' physical laws are such that they are capable of permitting life”.
You may have misunderstood my point here about the multi-verse argument. The problem is not explaining ‘why these universes' physical laws are such that they are capable of permitting life’ The point here is that the existence of a multi-verse that generates these infinite universes, just pushes the problem of design up one level. Ask yourself, how does the multi-verse, this radical hypothesis that has no independent evidence I might add, generate these infinite universes? Does it not also need to be designed?

You said, “there's no reason whatsoever to expect the universe to have operated under non-life-permitting physical laws”. Not sure if I understand your point here, but are you arguing that a life-prohibiting universe is physically impossible? I would then strongly disagree, given the fact the range in which a constant and arbitrary quantity has to fall within, it is vastly more probable that a life prohibiting universe would exist. For example, it is perfectly possible, physically, that the primordial matter and anti-matter could have been differently proportioned, that the universe could have expanded just a little more slowly, that the entropy of the universe was marginally greater, if any of these adjustments happened, then they would have prevented a life-permitting universe.

You also said ‘naturalists could just as easily posit that the universe's physical laws are necessarily life-friendly’. Well Mark, just because you claim something, doesn’t mean it’s true.

Mazen Abdallah said...

Constantly begging the fallacy. Once again, the only reason design arguers seem to always find signs of design is that they set out looking for them. Your language and argumentation suggests that you are not advocating design, but rather presupposing its existence and erroneously setting out to find signals of this idea. "independently given pattern" and "Specified complexity" all make us assume there was some point at which we agreed that the design argument was valid, but really that we just needed to support it

Which, of course, is beyond impossible. If you and I were sitting with God BEFORE the so-called creation, pointing out the need for conformity to a pattern would be effective. Unfortunately, the fact that you and I are speaking is ample proof of the fact that a life-permitting universe is not only probable, but has in fact occurred.

Need I remind you of other elementary problems with the 'life-permitting universe' theory. Well, first of all, you falsely assume that 'planet earth' and 'the universe' are one and the same. The universe is in no way, shape or form tolerant of life to the best of our current scientific understanding.Earth,an infinitesimal speck of the universe, permits life. And that of course is due to the fact that life forms evolved in accordance with this planet's chemistry. I remind you, of course, that along with us, viruses, bacterial infections, hurricanes, tornadoes and more relevantly earthquakes exist. Life-permitting is the best way to describe it, to an extent. It's not like the universe is meant for us, it is really that a tiny part of it is somewhat favorable to us. I ask you why you would worship such a sloppy creator who left out 99.9% of the universe he made for us.

Baz said...

Mazan said "I remind you, of course, that along with us, viruses, bacterial infections, hurricanes, tornadoes and more relevantly earthquakes exist. Life-permitting is the best way to describe it, to an extent. It's not like the universe is meant for us, it is really that a tiny part of it is somewhat favorable to us. I ask you why you would worship such a sloppy creator who left out 99.9% of the universe he made for us"

WHy is the universe not meant for us? If it was not habitable we would not be here- simple! There are calamities and disasters (natural) and this is part of the nature God intended- this is a finite world my fried- it is not lasting forever so it is not going to be pure bliss.

Also, I see the earth as being set just right for us to sustain here.
The Earth's size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth's surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter. Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth's position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day...

Could go on with more, but the message is clear- this did not happen by chance!

Mazen Abdallah said...

here are calamities and disasters (natural) and this is part of the nature God intended
You're just changing the explanation to fit new information. Back before we explored Space, the fine-tuning argument worked better. After discovering the lifeless void of the universe,we figured out that the fine-tuning argument would entail that God was,in fact, a sloppy creator. Not just the disasters. The sheer notion that most of the planet and most of the universe are uninhabitable. So now we're thanking him for a tiny shred of the universe?
These are all scientific claims you make. Gravity explains it, Chemical reactions explain it, Biological Evolution explains it. Your argument is "It could have been different,so there is no chance"
"Mine is,it already has been different, we have simple proof of that fact, so it is not design"
Ask yourself why God would give us so much space that was useless to us?
Scientifically, you embark on something of a wild journey when you use the constants of the universe (which are,in fact, a system that sustains the universe) to explain God. If you want to believe that behind gravity, there is God, go ahead.

Anonymous said...

"If you have faith that telescopes will eventually focus on a giant man with a beard, you have more faith than me, sir."

Quite a fatuous remark to make, begs the question if you've even read the Qur'an, or it's description of God.

The rest of your posts seemed rather comical ( seen it all before) after your "created by a wizard" comment.

Perhaps you should http://seemyparadigm.webs.com/

cio