The Fine Tuning of the Universe is best explained by a Designer
1. There is evidence of fine-tuning in the universe
2. The fine-tuning data are the result of either (a) chance, (b) natural law, (c) the combination of chance and natural law, or (d) design
3. They are not the result of chance or natural law, or the combination of both, since the data are contingent, complex and specified.
4. Therefore, (a) the data are the result of design.
5. Therefore, (b) there is a Designer
I accept this debate. The burden of proof rests on Pro, as he is making a positive claim.
Natural law: an observable law relating to natural phenomena (New Oxford American Dictionary)
I will answer his arguments:
"1. There is evidence of fine-tuning in the universe"
I need Pro to specify said evidence and why it leads us to believe that the universe is fine-tuned as a result from design. I also need him to define what exactly he means by fine-tuning.
"2. The fine-tuning data are the result of either (a) chance, (b) natural law, (c) the combination of chance and natural law, or (d) design
3. They are not the result of chance or natural law, or the combination of both, since the data are contingent, complex and specified."
Complex and specified things are not necessarily made by design, as laws of nature and physics can create complex things from non-intelligent processes. Examples of this are evolution, the development of trees, the forming of snowflakes, the formation of planets, and atoms that bond to create molecules. Other examples of apparently complex processes that are entirely non-intelligent are the laws of motion and gravity, which create complicated systems without the need of an intelligence behind them.
"4. Therefore, (a) the data are the result of design.
5. Therefore, (b) there is a Designer"
We do not need a designer or intelligence to create complex structures, as I have demonstrated above. That means we don't need to rely on design to explain the universe. Also, Pro is inferring this being's existence from assumptions and with no direct evidence to prove his existence. He needs to provide more proof in order for us to believe that a designer exists.
Finally, I want to state that while Pro's definition of fine-tuning is ambiguous, I will say that the universe has no appearance of having been designed. Exploding galaxies and stars, colliding planets, death, droughts, floods, disease, space vacuum, and useless body parts are just some examples of why the universe doesn't seem to have been intelligently designed, with all of the useless and superfluous things in existence.
Physicist Steven Barr defines fine-tuning as a "neutral description that does not prejudice the issue toward a theistic or non theistic interpretation; it simply means that many aspects of the universe are closely calibrated and make human life possible." Very prominent physicists, including Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees and Steven Weinberg have all written in defense of fine tuning. While such authorship does not make fine-tuning/design, whether by a Designer, Natural Law or Chance, necessarily a reality, it does lend significant credence.
To state my opening argument another way, without a Designer, given the odds, a life-forbidding universe would be much more likely than a life-permitting universe. However, as we all know, we have a life-permitting universe.
The evidence for fine-tuning in the universe is quite staggering, and we can start with the Big Bang itself. Steven Hawking explains that the initial conditions of the universe were crucial for anything to exist at all, much less humans: "If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million, million, the universe would have re-collapsed before it ever reached its present size (Hawking, 2002)." Hawking also states that "if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded"most sets of values would give rise to universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty (Ibid.)"
These sorts of constants are called Anthropic Constants, meaning human life could not exist without them, and without going into detail about each one, they include but are not limited to: atomic nuclei bond strength, spatial dimensions of the universe itself, oxygen level on Earth, atmospheric transparency, force of gravity, moon-earth gravitational interaction, carbon dioxide level, centrifugal force of planetary movements, velocity of light, atmospheric water vapor levels, placement of Jupiter in our solar system, thickness of the Earth"s crust, Earth"s rotation rate, degree of axial tilt, atmospheric discharge rate, and amount of seismic activity. The chance that any of these exist is unlikely. The chance that they all exist simultaneously is mind-boggling.
CON will likely concede that these constants exist but could have been caused by natural forces, and that is true. But I submit that he is then eliminating the possibility of anything else besides natural forces a priori, and by doing so he is committing an error of philosophical science. In premise three of my initial argument, I submitted that these constants are not the result of natural law (I am assuming here that CON has eliminated random "chance" as a possibility since he didn"t mention it) because the data are contingent, complex, and specified.
By contingent I mean that it cannot be explained by automatic processes. While natural laws, such as gravity, act on contingent events, natural laws cannot exhaustively account for them (Demski 1998). This also brings up another question of the very existence of natural laws, but that is likely a topic for another discussion. Complexity is of course a form of probability, i.e. the greater the complexity, the less probability that the event came about by chance. By specification, and this is a rudimentary definition of a complex topic, I mean the pattern of improbable and contingent factors must be specified ahead of time, not fabricated after the fact.
CON gives a list of complex things that are not necessarily made by design and states that laws of nature and physics can create complex things from non-intelligent processes. I must interject though that "laws" don"t create anything. They may allow for certain things to be created, but they do not create. For example, the law of gravity didn"t create anything, but it did allow for the creation of things. The same can be said of physics. Physics itself doesn"t create anything; it is by definition a branch of science and cannot create anything. Its laws may allow for things to be created, but it doesn"t create in and of itself. Again we can ask the question of why does physics even work to begin with, but again that is a topic for another debate. CON"s example of evolution also does not hold, since evolution is a scientific theory, and natural laws do not create theories.
To conclude my argument for this round, I will summarize by stating that I have given a robust, although non-exhaustive, list of anthropic constants that allow life (or the universe itself) to exist. The elimination of any one of these constants would cause life or the universe itself to not exist. It is therefore much more likely for there to not be a universe than for there to be one. But alas, there is a universe. There is little evidence that these are the result of natural law, unless we rule out intelligent design a priori, which is thereby going against philosophical science, since science is a search for causes and effects. To CON"s point, it is possible that all of these resulted from either random chance or natural causes, but the evidence says otherwise. As Patrick Glynn stated, "the fine-tuning of seemingly heterogeneous values and ratios necessary to get from the big bang to life as we know it involves intricate coordination over vase differences in scale, across multi-billion year tracks of time (Glynn, 1997)."
Pro basically just mentions things in the universe that are complex and fragile, again jumping directly to a conclusion that hasn’t been proven (that it is all thanks to a designer). I explain:
“I am assuming here that CON has eliminated random "chance" as a possibility since he didn't mention it).”
I am not necessarily ruling out chance, because certain complexities can arise from chance. For example, if we throw letters at random, eventually a complex sentence may arise. However improbable it is, it could still happen, so I don’t completely rule out that certain things can happen by chance.
“But I submit that he is then eliminating the possibility of anything else besides natural forces a priori, and by doing so he is committing an error of philosophical science.”
Unfortunately you commit a straw man fallacy, because I do not rule out anything besides natural forces a priori, I simply say that it is more credible to believe that these complexities came out from natural processes rather than supernatural ones that haven’t been proven.
“To state my opening argument another way, without a Designer, given the odds, a life-forbidding universe would be much more likely than a life-permitting universe. However, as we all know, we have a life-permitting universe.”
Well, and? Without a hole-maker, it is less probable for a hole to be made, that doesn’t prove that a hole was made by a hole-maker. This is, of course, an example in the natural realm, what Pro is asserting is that a supernatural cause created something natural, which is less probable than something natural creating something natural. Even if the odds of life arising WITHIN the universe are low, it could still happen, and it is not impossible, so we don’t need a designer. This argument isn’t proof that the universe was designed, because you have several options, one (something supernatural) much less probable than the other (something natural). For example: a chair next to me breaks all of a sudden. What is more probable? That the laws of physics have been broken and another dimension was opened to allow for a spirit to break my chair, or that the chair had several physical problems in the first place?
How can the universe have been designed for life, when life only exists in an extremely minuscule part of the universe? If a universe had been designed for organisms to live in, we would have a universe with a whole lot more of them than it actually does. Again, we cannot survive in space, water, fire, high altitudes, extreme pressures, etc. We are constantly killed by tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanoes, diseases, etc. If this universe was specifically made for life, why is there so little? And why is it so fragile? It seems more plausible to think life is a side-effect, something that might arise besides all else.
We also know that life won’t exist soon. The Andromeda galaxy is on a direct course to hit our own, (1) and the Sun will eventually burn out. (2) Some design, huh? In a few years life won’t exist, exactly the universe Pro is imagining. The thermodynamic principle itself reveals that the universe’s energy will soon run out. It’s not that this universe will have life forever, nothingness is the next big thing. If the universe was created for life, then why do we have so little? And why will it go extinct in a few billion years, if not less?
“To conclude my argument for this round, I will summarize by stating that I have given a robust, although non-exhaustive, list of anthropic constants that allow life (or the universe itself) to exist. The elimination of any one of these constants would cause life or the universe itself to not exist”
We have adapted to the conditions on Earth, they weren’t created FOR us (evolution). Of course we will die if the conditions change, just the same as if you keep an animal at extremely high temperatures (which it is adapted to) and the switch him over to Antarctica. Yet evolution isn't intelligently designed. As for the universe not existing without it’s current physical laws, I’m not entirely sure of that, but the fact that something is fragile again doesn’t prove a designer. It means that the laws of physics are important. If the trunk of a tree were to stop existing, the tree would no longer be a tree, yet that doesn’t prove the tree was designed.
“For example, the law of gravity didn’t create anything, but it did allow for the creation of things. The same can be said of physics. Physics itself doesn’t create anything; it is by definition a branch of science and cannot create anything.” “CON"s example of evolution also does not hold, since evolution is a scientific theory, and natural laws do not create theories.” “I must interject though that "laws" don’t create anything”
I think Pro is getting mixed up a little here. Laws are an observation, a tool we use for describing occurring phenomena. Laws are used to say what is happening, theories explain why(3). When I say evolution gives place to complexity, I mean that the process that occurs which we name evolution gives place to complex life forms. When I say that the law of gravity creates systems, I mean that the observable phenomena we call gravity gave place to a mathematical system that makes two stars revolve one another. “Laws” aren’t physical things, obviously, they are descriptions of what we see. These arguments (Pro’s) have no relevance.
Finally, talking about all processes and phenomena that occur in the universe, Pro says: "The chance that any of these exist is unlikely." I want to ask: how do we know that it is unlikely? Let's say that I create a world with life inside a glass sphere. Let's say gravity in this sphere makes objects go up. How could a man inside prove that it is more probable that he have another kind of gravity? What is the probability that he have a gravity that goes down instead? (Note that I talk about the ubiquitous laws of physics, not life) He can make a calculation by saying it's easier to have nothing instead of that, but, when have we even observed complete "nothing"? We never have, so far as we know it's a created concept. He cannot say that it is more or less likely that it exist or not, and if he did, I would like to ask what that probability is? What is the probability that gravity will or will not exist? Without a point of comparison, we cannot know, and we don't have other universes for comparison. We have never observed nothing, and we don't have other universes to compare this one with, so I cannot see how Pro can know the probabilities he claims to know.
Pro has given clear examples of the universe being fragile and complex. He is still, however, in the same position in which he started at: we have a fragile, complex universe, that appears to me as designed, therefore a designer. He still hasn’t proved that such a supernatural designer exists, so I negate the resolution. He himself says: “CON will likely concede that these constants exist but could have been caused by natural forces, and that is true.” (And I repeat, I am not automatically ruling out a designer, but considering what is more likely) Until he proves the existence of a supernatural designer, one cannot accept that it is the best explanation for the universe.
Since there was confusion on that point, perhaps I should elaborate on it a bit more. To claim that anything " whether it is a telephone, a human cell, or the universe " is designed means that it cannot explain itself. Its features indicate an intelligent agent outside itself who is responsible for those features (Groothius, 2011). Science empirically uses design inference to detect intelligence in archeology, astronomy, cosmology, forensics, and the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. Design is detected by filtering out chance and necessity and looking for evidence of contingency, complexity, and specificity. An event or object is then said to have an intelligent cause if it exhibits all of those factors. Again, each factor by itself is not sufficient to infer design, but if all three exist, which Hawking and others claim they do, then it is indicative of design. To take an example given by CON, the snowflake " it is complex and arguably specific but not contingent, and so I would agree with CON that snowflakes are therefore not necessarily designed.
I accept that CON has not ruled out random chance (or even design apparently). I made that assumption based on the fact that it was left out of his round 1 response, and since the only other options were nature or design that he was electing only natural causes. Therefore, I do not consider this to be a straw man fallacy. I will address the probability and chance topic in the order that CON brought them up in his round 2 response.
CON states that it is less likely that something supernatural created something natural than it is that something natural created something natural. First, I think we are confusing creation with design, and although there is overlap, they are not necessarily the same. Since he made that statement though, I would like further explanation as to how he came to this conclusion. How does he know this? What does he mean by something natural creating something natural? I understand reproduction, but how would this work in terms of the universe? After all, this is what we are debating. Again, we are overlapping creation with design, but I think CON will agree that there is some overlap in the two topics. I also point out that I am not trying to shift the burden of proof here, as CON made a claim of which I would like further explanation.
CON also makes the claim that "even if the odds of life arising WITHIN the universe are low, it could still happen, and it is not impossible, so we don"t need a designer. This argument isn"t proof that the universe was designed, because you have several options, one (something supernatural) much less probable than the other (something natural)." Since he made that claim, I again would like to know what he means by it could still happen. How would it happen? By what process would it happen?
Just because it is possible that something could happen, does not mean it is the most plausible solution. Similar to his exploding chair example, I can also say that it is possible a rhinoceros is in my living room right now destroying my new furniture, but it isn"t very plausible for me to worry about it. CON also claims that the argument is not proof that the universe was designed. Of course it isn"t, but I don"t think that is a reasonable expectation, and it was not my initial claim that I could prove a designer " only that it is the most reasonable explanation. If I could prove there was a designer, or if CON could prove natural causes, we likely would not be debating on an internet forum. Instead we would be accepting our Nobel prizes because one of us was able to do something no one in history had been able to do.
It has been mentioned that design is unlikely because of the apparent inefficiency of design in the universe. CON mentions tornadoes, floods, etc. as evidence for non-design. However, these and other natural disasters, including earthquakes are necessary for Earth to continue to thrive. I don"t think we can blame the designer for people being killed by them any more than we can blame a car manufacturer for someone dying in a car wreck when they did not use the car as it was intended. It may sound insensitive, but if people do not wish to risk dying in earthquakes, then they should probably not live in an area prone to earthquakes. Because people are harmed by something does not necessarily mean there is a flaw in the design.
Furthermore, CON makes the observation that there is "bad" design in the universe. First, even if it were true, bad design does not rule out design. We see examples of poor designs all the time, but this doesn't mean they weren't designed in the first place. Bad design doesn't equal no design. Second, I never made a claim of good or efficient design, only that there was design. Finally, if there is a designer, who are we to claim what is bad or good design? As Demski (2001) said, "to find fault with biological design because it misses some idealized optimum is off the mark. Not knowing the objectives of the designer, we are in no position to say whether the designer has proposed a faulty compromise among those objectives."
CON makes the claim that humans have adapted for life on Earth. Since he made this claim, I would like further explanation. What does he mean by adapted? How does he know this? Why have humans not adapted for life on Mars or Venus but only specifically Earth (as far as we know)?
I agree with CON that the laws of physics are important. Since we have alluded to these laws before, where do they come from and why do they work? Perhaps this is beyond the scope of this debate, but if we are discussing design versus nature, how does nature itself create or design its own natural laws?
Finally, I will address CON"s question about odds and the unlikely existence of anthropic principles. These odds were obtained from sources such as Stephen Hawking"s Theory of Everything (2002), Physicist Stephen Weinberg"s (like Hawking also an atheist) A Designer Universe? (1999) and Astronomer Fred Hoyle"s "The Universe: Some Past and Present Reflections" article taken from Engineering and Science (1981). So when CON wants to know how I know the probabilities I claim to know, I got them from other sources. I make no claim that I am a mathematician, and so I borrowed them from what I think most will consider reliable and unbiased sources.
For my conclusion, I will start by restating my initial argument. There is evidence of fine-tuning in the universe (given by the anthropic constants, among many others that weren"t mentioned); this fine-tuning must either be by natural law, chance, a combination of both, or design; they are not because of natural law or chance because of the combination of contingency, complexity, and specificity (examples and explanations given); therefore they are the result of design (by elimination); therefore there is a designer. I do not claim to have proven design, because there other possibilities, depending on how the filters of contingency, complexity and specificity are taken, along with any a priori worldview bias. But based on my initial argument, evidence given, and explanations, I feel that the Fine-Tuning of the Universe is best explained by a Designer.
Firstly, I want to thank Pro for clearing up a little his definitions in the comments, which the reader may find anytime.
“Design is detected by filtering out chance and necessity and looking for evidence of contingency, complexity, and specificity. An event or object is then said to have an intelligent cause if it exhibits all of those factors.” Pro uses an analogy of silverware in the comments relating to this, which is vital, and I shall address it here. This is the watchmaker analogy, which is greatly flawed. David A. Schwartz explains it best:
“But let's think about this for a moment. If you look at a watch lying on the ground and think to yourself, "Oh, this must be designed," what are you comparing the watch to in order to make that judgment? Would you compare it to the ground, the trees, the grass, the animals, or the sky perhaps? If the watch looks designed compared to its surroundings, the only logical conclusion we could draw is that its surroundings are not designed. If we were unable to differentiate the watch from its natural surroundings, then we would deem it to be a natural object no different from a rock or a tree.
If we say that life is designed, again, with what are we making the comparison? All that is non-life? OK, but then we would still have to say that all non-life is not designed. But suppose we say that the entire universe is designed. Well, we don't have another universe to compare ours to, and as Hume points out, that's exactly the problem. We only have experience with one universe, and unless we have the opportunity to examine other universes (if they exist, of course), we cannot say with any degree of certainty that our universe is designed, nor do we have any reason to believe it is in the first place.” (2) This is like Pro’s analogy with silverware and a designed universe. Also, we have dozens of examples of silverware being created, and we know that they don’t appear naturally. This makes us decide that silverware is designed. We have but one universe to use and no points of comparison, thus the analogy is useless. It’s like having a spoon and nothing else and then saying it is designed.
“Bad design does not rule out design.” That’s very true, I just wished to know whether your thoughts were that the design was perfect or not. Of course, I could look at a bunch of plates that fell on the ground because of some accident and say “it is design”. If someone asked me why someone would be so stupid as to do that horrible of a design, I could still say “it’s a design made to look bad”. Of course, this adds no credibility.
“CON makes the claim that humans have adapted for life on Earth. Since he made this claim, I would like further explanation. What does he mean by adapted? How does he know this? Why have humans not adapted for life on Mars or Venus but only specifically Earth (as far as we know)?” Evolution is the theory that explains this process. I thought Pro would know this theory, as he did not question the example I gave previously, but I explain it briefly. Evolution is the process that allows organisms to evolve over time with the help of mutations and natural selection. Natural selection is the way in which the fittest animals survive the fight of life. (1) We adapted to life on Earth because we’ve never been to Venus or Mars for as long as organic history goes. This is axiomatic; conditions on Mars and Venus are extremely different, and if no animal from Earth has set foot on Mars, we cannot possibly have adapted to the conditions there.
“How does he know this? What does he mean by something natural creating something natural?”
I mean that the idea of an intelligence that lives outside of the physical realm (since the intelligence that created the physical realm must have existed outside of it in the first place) is absolutely something supernatural. A supernatural intelligence (an intelligence that exists outside the physical realm) is not really considered something “natural” just the same as a ghost haunting a house is not exactly something “natural”. My point is that as long as there is even the smallest probability that something natural created the universe, it will always be more plausible than thinking a supernatural designer did it.
“how does nature itself create or design its own natural laws?” I don’t know that this is what happened. That doesn’t mean a designer exists, because that option is still to be proven true. Of course, how did the designer create itself and his powers? And if the claim is that he always existed (which is mostly the argument), then why couldn’t some type of natural quantum principle have done the same too?
“I make no claim that I am a mathematician, and so I borrowed them from what I think most will consider reliable and unbiased source” I think Pro refers to Hawking’s calculations on the universe re collapsing, which talks about the universe existing, not the laws existing. We don't know that not having a universe necessarily means not having laws. However, I’ll add that even if the probabilities he uses are to be used, those sensible probabilities don’t prove that the universe is designed. (Hole-maker example) He also talks about how the universe could be different than it is now (because of electrons), which I talked about already (them being fragile doesn’t mean they are designed).
“and it was not my initial claim that I could prove a designer " only that it is the most reasonable explanation.” Well, if you say that a designer is the most reasonable explanation, of course you have to prove the designer exists. You also said “I accept that I bear the burden of proof since I made the first positive claim”, so, you should prove that this designer exists in the first place. It is ridiculous to say the fine tuning of the universe is best explained by a Designer and then not prove that the designer exists, especially when there are more plausible explanations (natural and/or chance).
“If I could prove there was a designer, or if CON could prove natural causes, we likely would not be debating on an Internet forum. Instead we would be accepting our Nobel prizes because one of us was able to do something no one in history had been able to do.”
Well, I guess that sums it up pretty well. We have a lot of I don’t knows, and natural explanations will always be more probable than supernatural ones. Since he can’t prove that a Designer even exists, I negate the resolution that it is the best explanation. Vote Con.