The fine-tuning argument for the existence of God is sound
"Over the last fifty years or so, scientists have been stunned by the discovery that the existence of intelligent, interactive life depends upon a complex and delicate balance of initial conditions given in the Big Bang itself. Scientists once believed that whatever the initial conditions of the universe, eventually intelligent life might evolve. But we now know that our existence is balanced on a knife's edge. The existence of intelligent life depends upon a conspiracy of initial conditions which must be fine-tuned to a degree that is literally incomprehensible and incalculable." (1)
"That the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life is a pretty solidly established fact and ought not to be a subject of controversy. By "fine-tuning" one does not mean "designed" but simply that the fundamental constants and quantities of nature fall into an exquisitely narrow range of values which render our universe life-permitting. Were these constants and quantities to be altered by even a hair"s breadth, the delicate balance would be upset and life could not exist." (2)
From these two sources I infer that, according to his arguments, life/intelligent life can not exist without a fine-tuned universe.
I am defining God as WLC defines God, that is an uncaused, changeless, timeless and immaterial being.
Pro must agree with this definition and also the inference.
I agree. Go ahead with your arguments.
In my rebuttal, I aim to show that the argument presented by William Lane Craig and defended by Pro is self-refuting.
To start with, the definition of God being used describes God as a "being". Using the OED, "being" is defined as follows:
1 [mass noun] existence:
the railway brought many towns into being the single market came into being in 1993
"being alive; living:holism promotes a unified way of being (1)
Following this definition, we can see that while existence doesn't necessarily mean being alive, I would suggest that God is being used as an entity that is alive and therefore is a life. I don"t expect this to be a point of contention, but if Pro is willing to argue that God isn't a life then I will counter that in the next round.
Next, the argument from fine-tuning is sometimes referred to as the argument from intelligent design (ID), the designer in this instance being God. I refer back to a source in my opening statement to show that Craig also refers to intelligent design:
"In order to recognize an explanation as the best, you don't need to have an explanation of the explanation. In fact, when you think about it, such a requirement would lead to an infinite regress of explanations, so that nothing could ever be explained and science would be destroyed. For before any explanation could be acceptable, you'd need an explanation of the explanation, and then an explanation of the explanation of the explanation, and then - well, nothing could ever be explained. So, in the case at hand, in order to recognize that intelligent design is the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe, one needn't be able to explain the Designer. Whether the Designer has an explanation can simply be left an open question for future inquiry." (2)
As with before, I would suggest that this is alluding to God as being intelligent, and again, I don"t expect this to be a point of contention.
Based on these suggestions it can be concluded that God is a life and is intelligent, so therefore God is an intelligent life.
It"s from this conclusion that I can show that the argument is self-refuting. If life/intelligent life can not exist without a fine-tuned universe, then either what I have concluded is wrong (and God isn't a life and isn't intelligent), or God also exists within a fine-tuned universe.
If God is an intelligent life and doesn't exist within the confines of a fine-tuned universe, then it follows that a fine-tuned universe is not needed for intelligent life to exist and therefore life/intelligent life can exist without a fine-tuned universe, ergo the argument refutes itself.
Thanks Con, for the debate. I am glad to accept this invitation and hope that it will be a short debate helping many to gather some good and interesting insight. The argument is very simple that he offered. I don’t remember ever seeing this objection so I am very surprised and amused by it.
If he insists to defend his main argument that the fine-tuning argument is self-refuting in form as he explained. “If God is an intelligent life and doesn't exist within the confines of a fine-tuned universe, then it follows that a fine-tuned universe is not needed for intelligent life to exist and therefore life/intelligent life can exist without a fine-tuned universe, ergo the argument refutes itself.”
And “If God is an intelligent life and doesn't exist within the confines of a fine-tuned universe, then it follows that a fine-tuned universe is not needed for intelligent life to exist and therefore life/intelligent life can exist without a fine-tuned universe, ergo the argument refutes itself.”
First of all this objection would be a straw-man attack on the original teleological argument. For he assumes that WLC or we argue that everything intelligent or every living being requires fine tuned universe. This is not the fine tuning argument that WLC makes rather it is that God is the best explanation of the fine-tuned, life-permitting universe. Con recognizes the classical Christian definition or nature of God- uncaused, changeless, timeless and immaterial being. Thus the objection is very deliberate in attacking straw-man. God by definition cannot begin to exist or caused to exist in a special material universe.
Note that the original argument is not what he assumes that: Every living being necessarily requires fine-tuned universe”
Secondly, he is equivocating between two different living beings. A) God the changeless, timeless, uncaused, immaterial being. B) Created, caused, material and contingent living beings: Organic life, the organisms.
An association fallacy is an inductive informal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association https://en.wikipedia.org...
Some syllogistic examples of guilt by association:
Teleological Argument. We may formulate a design argument as follows:
1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.
What is meant by "fine-tuning"? The physical laws of nature, when given mathematical expression, contain various constants, such as the gravitational constant, whose values are independent of the laws themselves; moreover, there are certain arbitrary quantities which are simply put in as boundary conditions on which the laws of nature operate, for example, the initial low entropy condition of the universe. By "fine-tuning" one means that the actual values assumed by the constants and quantities in question are such that small deviations from those values would render the universe life-prohibiting or, alternatively, that the range of life-permitting values is exquisitely narrow in comparison with the range of assumable values.
Laypeople might think that if the constants and quantities had assumed different values, then other forms of life might well have evolved. But this is not the case. By "life" scientists mean that property of organisms to take in food, extract energy from it, grow, adapt to their environment, and reproduce. The point is that in order for the universe to permit life so-defined, whatever form organisms might take, the constants and quantities have to be incomprehensibly fine-tuned. In the absence of fine-tuning, not even matter or chemistry would exist, not to speak of planets where life might evolve.
Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
We can clearly see that Con has made serious errors first a straw man and second it is a fundamental equivocation and association fallacy. And I hope he concedes with my explanation on those errors and agree with me so that we can easily conclude the debate.
Thank you for the response, Pro. I’m not surprised that this objection hasn’t been seen before, though I am surprised that it’s seen as amusing. I’d be wary of mentioning that an argument is amusing from the off, as it can be construed that someone needs to belittle an argument and make their viewpoint and response seem superior to the reader, before they have even offered their side of the bargain.
To start, as I expected, Pro has no contention with my suggestion that God is an intelligent life. The debate can carry on with this suggestion being a given.
Anyway, getting on to the meat of Pro’s response, my objection is not a straw man. First of all, I made it perfectly clear in my opening statement that Pro must agree to the definition of God supplied and the inference I had made. With relation to my inference that, “life/intelligent life cannot exist without a fine-tuned universe, Pro clearly agrees with this. Now Pro is saying that:
“For he assumes that WLC or we argue that everything intelligent or every living being requires fine tuned universe. This is not the fine tuning argument that WLC makes rather it is that God is the best explanation of the fine-tuned, life-permitting universe.”
“Secondly, he is equivocating between two different living beings”.
If Pro has an issue with what “life” meant in the inference in which he originally agreed to, then perhaps he shouldn’t have agreed to the debate, or at least made known specifically what “life” does mean to Craig and himself in his opening statement. Bringing this up now is just simply moving the goalposts after the game has started. I don’t see how the sloppiness and paucity of his and Craig’s statements is my fault.
However, I’ll be generous and allow this shifting of the goalposts, but only to show that not only is this now also a case of special pleading, but it’s also a narrowing of the goalposts to such an extent that it’s begging the question. So only specific living beings (physical ones) can only exist in a specific type (physical) of fine-tuned universe which allows physical living beings to exist? You could knock me down with a feather….
Continuing, Pro also refers to where Craig states that:
“By "life" scientists mean that property of organisms to take in food, extract energy from it, grow, adapt to their environment, and reproduce.”
It’s not relevant what scientists mean by life. What is relevant is what Pro and Craig believe life can be. Craig clearly believes life can be more than what scientists say life is, as 1) he believes in God, and 2) he believes that humans (at least) can have an eternal life with God external to the fine-tuned universe. Something needs clearing up by Pro here – is human intelligence dependent on a physical fine-tuned universe or not, not forgetting that Craig states that:
“The existence of intelligent life depends upon a conspiracy of initial conditions which must be fine-tuned to a degree that is literally incomprehensible and incalculable."?
Clearly, the answer has to be “no,” unless Pro believes that we won’t be intelligent in our eternal existence with God sans the physical fine-tuned universe. Not that that matters much anyway, as it’s already been agreed that God is intelligent and exists without a physical fine-tuned universe.
What can also be shown here is Craig’s compartmentalising. Here is a man who believes life is more than just materialistic, a man who is trying to persuade others that there is life out there that isn’t based on the material (even with this very argument!), a man who believes that humans are more than just materialistic, yet here he is pandering to materialism with his limiting use of what constitutes life. This is clear special pleading in using a specific, fine-tuned definition of life to fit his fine-tuned argument, when he simultaneously believes life can be more than just this specific, fine-tuned definition. Pro makes this clear by stating there are “two different living beings”.
Now I’ll move onto Pro’s false accusation of my use of an association fallacy. Pro said this about my argument:
“Con's argument goes same way:
This is not my argument. This is merely one conclusion that can be reached if all life forms required a fine-tuned universe to exist, but I am fully aware that it isn’t possible for God to exist in a fine-tuned universe based on how God was defined in my opening statement.
My actual argument is that “the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life argument is flawed when a creator/God is concluded as the most plausible explanation” and to show it is flawed by being self-refuting. It goes like this:
In summary, the existence of Y depends on the existence of X, yet Y designed and caused X to exist, therefore Y isn’t dependent on X, but X on Y.
Like above, if Craig and Pro are to shift the goalposts to mean just physical/organic life, then Pro needs to ask himself whether human intelligence is based on the material or not. If it is, then how can we exist with God in an afterlife, and if it isn’t, then our intelligent life isn’t dependent on the fine-tuned universe.
To conclude my entry to this round, Pro will see that there isn’t anything for me to concede to and that it is he who needs to ask himself some fundamental questions in order to not appear contradictory in his argument and beliefs.
Despite my thorough refutation of Con’s arguments and his misunderstanding of the original Craig’s argument, instead of conceding, has now alleged me of misconduct by saying:
“I made it perfectly clear in my opening statement that Pro must agree to the definition of God supplied and the inference I had made. With relation to my inference that, “life/intelligent life cannot exist without a fine-tuned universe, Pro clearly agrees with this. …If Pro has an issue with what “life” meant in the inference in which he originally agreed to, then perhaps he shouldn’t have agreed to the debate, or at least made known specifically what “life” does mean to Craig and himself in his opening statement.”
This is appalling. Firstly, he didn’t give any hint of his fallacious conception of his argument, but merely defined some terms to which I agreed. Now he accuses me that I didn’t clarify what exactly we mean by “life” in the teleological argument! You’ve got to be kidding.
I suppose we are all mature people here; and I already feel so redundant when most of them tend to define “God” in their opening statement when you can presume it since mainly all are debating Christians in these debates. If that’s the standard culture that people feel a great need to predefine every key word of the topic splitting hairs then I shouldn’t be surprised why Con expected me to define every single term in splitting hair details.
Fortunately, I cannot permit this splitting hair teenage tactics for I am sure that my opponent is also a mature person, as opposed to the teenage blind new-atheists. It is so obvious and expected each other that we understand basics terminologies and arguments that we are debating. So if a debater tries to attack semantics and strawman, it is not my fault. Please tell me, if a debater tries to play semantics and use equivocation fallacy and I refute him, is it my fault?!!
Let me continue the. Instead of humbly conceding with me, Con is trying to defend his straw-man argument. He alleges that it is irrelevant what scientists mean by “life”, but what I and Craig mean by life. This is really not a rational and sincere accusation in defense of his equivocation fallacy. He then stresses on another term “intelligent life” of believers in heaven, objecting as to how can believers be intelligent unless they live in the fine-tuned universe for life? Again this is another classic example of association fallacy conflating the organic life with the spiritual eternal life of Christians. Let me ignore these desperate attempts and carry on further elaborating how fallacious are his arguments.
To paraphrase his axiomatic form of the argument, it goes like:
Let me again demonstrate for readers to learn how to refute such fallacies. An association fallacy is an inductive informal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association.
On the face value the arguments of Con are identical with the following illustrations:
Working through Pro's argument from the top, I have formulated the following:
Misrepresentation - I haven’t alleged Pro of misconduct, only suggested that it would have perhaps been better for him to be specific about what he means by life from the start.
Pro didn’t clarify what exactly he meant by life in his opening statement. This is an observation, not an accusation.
Misrepresentation - I haven’t expected Pro to define every single term. I merely made the suggestion that it may have been helpful to the debate for him to make known specifically what he meant by life from the start.
Projection – I am not the one splitting hairs over definitions. I am not the one using two definitions of intelligent life. If someone believes there are at least two specific definitions, then 1) they are obviously aware of these definitions, and 2) they should perhaps, for ease of discussion, elucidate from the start what these definitions are and which one they are using.
Ad-hominem – “teenage tactics”, questioning my maturity, asserting “blind new-atheists” aren’t mature. What has this to do with anything? This is all irrelevant.
Projection – I am not trying to play at semantics. Pro is the one with an issue over the definition of intelligent life. I merely suggested he made this known in his opening statement. Do we need to go over this again?
Superiority complex – Aggrandising his own argument by stating that I should “humbly concede”.
Slight misrepresentation – I said that what is relevant is what Pro and Craig believe life can be, and not what Pro and Craig mean by life. Granted it’s only a subtle difference, but it’s key. What they mean by life in this instance is what scientists mean by life, but they also simultaneously believe life can be more than just what scientists mean by life. It’s this belief that leads to a case of special pleading because they only use the definition of life that fits the fine-tuned argument.
Misrepresentation and evasion – I asked whether Pro thought human intelligence was dependent on a physical fine-tuned universe or not, in two different ways, and also followed up with the logical conclusions from either position. I was not conflating “organic life” with “spiritual life”. I was merely asking as to which of these two types of life he believes human intelligence falls under. However, Pro has ignored this, misrepresented me and then accused me of a “desperate attempt”. If Pro could stick to the argument I present and attempt to answer the questions I posed, instead of resorting to surreptitious ad-hominems, then perhaps we could have a more productive debate.
How can I be using an association fallacy if in my opening statement I predefined God as an uncaused, changeless, timeless and immaterial being? With the definition I supplied, it is clear that a “living God” falls in the category of a “living being”. However, this is now a moot point and any further reference to my use of an “association fallacy” and “straw-man” is redundant, as I have and already had in the last round, accepted the belief of two different types of life, and the use of only one of those for the fine-tuned argument.
So again, I am not conflating the “two categorically different kinds of life” that Pro believes exist. To reiterate, I have generously accepted that Pro is using physical/organic life as opposed to “spiritual” life in accordance with the fine-tuned argument, but only so I can show that this is now a case of special pleading and compartmentalisation, so that you can fit life to mean what you need it to mean for the fine-tuned argument, even though you simultaneously believe life isn’t just what it means for the fine-tuned argument.
Misrepresentation – I haven’t alleged that there is special pleading for God. What I’ve said is special pleading is using a specific definition of life that fits what the fine-tuned argument requires.
Pro seems to be stuck on the idea that I am conflating his two definitions of life/intelligent life. I think it’s clear that when I ask under what category of life does human intelligence fall under, then it shows that I’m aware of the distinction he is making, and wanting to know what he considers human intelligence to be. I’ll ask similar again – is human intelligence dependent on a physical fine-tuned universe or not, ie is it spiritually based? Also, if Pro believes there is a difference, what distinguishes physical/organic intelligence and spiritual intelligence? I feel the answers to these questions are pivotal to the rest of the debate.
The closing statement is irrelevant to the debate at hand. It appears Pro is trying to pander to my and the readers introspection and questions my integrity. This is another ad-hominem as it’s also insinuating that I am debating disingenuously. I find this patronising and condescending and I don’t see why Pro needs to stoop to getting personal.
Pro is also asserting that Satan is somehow involved in this. Really, what has that got to do with anything in the debate?
To move this along and drive the point home again, while I don’t agree with splitting the definition of intelligent life into two categories, so that you can have one definition which conveniently fits the fine-tuned argument and one that is conveniently exempt of it, I had accepted that this distinction was being used and the only issue I had was with not making it known from the start. So from there, Pro can answer the questions I have stated are pivotal.
Since the debate has gone tiresome and repetitive, I will try to be as concise. By the way to clarify I didn't imply any ad hominem on Con, those words such as new-atheists and teenage are not meant to represent for him but as I mentioned I consider him to be mature and professional, unlike the usual fanatic new-atheists, so that's a compliment instead. I also didn't mean to express any superiority complex by respectfully asking him to concede with me. So let us avoid these misunderstandings & various allegations.
Con again reiterate his arguments unfortunately, so I assume it is a sincere mistake on his part that he hasn't been able to understand where the fallacies lie in those objections. Let me try again elucidating.
He asks me which of the two lives organic and spiritual, do I believe falls under intelligent life. I believe both are intelligent but the nature of soul is irrelevant to the fine tuning argument. Why it is irrelevant equivocation to ask about my beliefs about whether soul and minds are intelligent or not because we are dealing with the fine-tuning argument. That argument only concerns the organic material life.
He correctly defined the nature of God as a "being" however he has made fallacy of association when arguing that God and spiritual life would require fine-tuned universe as well. He again alleged that my answer is a special pleading for non-organic lives, but that I refuted that misconception already. It would've been only special pleading case if I was pleading for a being in the same organic segment. He formulated the his question in another way:
is human intelligence dependent on a physical fine-tuned universe or not, ie is it spiritually based? Also, if Pro believes there is a difference, what distinguishes physical/organic intelligence and spiritual intelligence? I feel the answers to these questions are pivotal to the rest of the debate.
Is human intelligence depended on fine-tuned universe? Yes. The universe hast to be fine tuned for any intelligent life to exist. Is mind or soul's characteristics or intelligence depended on fine-tuned universe? No, because soul is beyond the realm of space and matter. It is more of a mind-body duality question than anything to do with fine-tuning. I'd request my opponent to be clearer and focus on the original aspects and premises of the topic of the debate. Other objections will be considered as red herring.
Let me once again clarify what we mean by intelligent life. Note, the argument only deals with the organic physical special temporal kind of life.
To give another analogy: All types of fruits in Mangoes are sweet. This does not allow us to conclude and relate same attribute of sweetness to fruits other than Mangoes such as lemon, just because they are "fruits". It is not a special pleading for non-sweet fruits but it is a fact. The irrelevant association is fallacious.
I hope this time Con understands where the fallacy lie. I am very sure that the reasoning is clear and simple to grasp. Let us hope he concedes with me now. He should also focus on the debate topic that is The fine-tuning argument for the existence of God is sound
Pro and I can at least agree that this debate is tiresome and repetitive. If Pro wants to attempt a compliment, then in future perhaps it would be better if he presented it so it didn't appear to be a back handed one.
Anyway, my argument is not that all souls require a fine-tuned universe, as Pro implies in his association fallacy examples. My argument is the opposite, that not all intelligent life requires a fine-tuned universe.
I think the main issue in this debate hunkers down to what is meant by "all/any". When I say all/any, I mean everything that falls under a certain category. In this instance the category is intelligent life, so if someone says that all intelligent life depends on a fine-tuned universe, then to me that means everything that is an intelligent life requires a fine-tuned universe. However, that is not what is meant by Pro and Craig. They are using "all/any" under a subcategory of intelligent life, a subcategory that just so happens to be the only type of intelligent life that such a fine-tuned universe could produce. The argument is special pleading and begs the question, and I also think it is dishonest and underhand to use the term "all/any" when it doesn't cover all/any intelligent life.
If I was to use the fine-tuned argument, I would not refer to all/any intelligent life being dependent on a fine-tuned universe. I would simply refer to the intelligent life that is dependent on a fine-tuned universe, and be clear from the start that there are other types of intelligent life that don't require a fine-tuned universe.
I am very confused by how Pro answered my question(s). He says that human intelligence is dependent on a fine-tuned universe, but a mind/soul intelligence isn't. I find this totally contradictory. Pro wants to have his cake and eat it here. I fail to see what the difference is between human intelligence and mind/soul intelligence, considering humans have minds (and apparently souls). If you believe that you can go on to live an eternal life external to the fine-tuned universe, then that part of you must manifest inside the fine-tuned universe, otherwise how can you label the external you you?
As far as I can deduce from what Pro believes, the mind/soul intelligence of a human does manifest within the fine-tuned universe, but doesn't depend on the fine-tuned universe to exist. So what is it exactly that constitutes human "life" here? Is it the physical body? Is a physical body really a life when it's without a mind, because as far as I'm concerned a physical body is just a corpse if there is no mind harboured inside it.
What I actually think the fine-tuned argument is arguing for is not the requirement of a fine-tuned universe for intelligent life, but the requirement of a fine-tuned universe for a physical vehicle to exist for an intelligent life to be housed in. If this is wrong, perhaps Pro would clarify what it is about a human life that is physically intelligent instead of mentally intelligent.
Anyway, to conclude, I don't think this debate has got where it needs to go yet. There are still uncovered avenues to be traversed, and with this being the last round, these can't be covered in this debate. I am disappointed with how this debate has gone, but I think that is mainly down to this refutation of the fine-tuned argument being a relatively rare one, and therefore a lot has had to have been clarified and understood on both sides. Due to this, I don't claim any victory with regards to the debate, but nor do I admit any defeat. This is simply a case that is still open.
I hope that Jacob has enjoyed this debate, even though it has been frustrating for both sides. It has been entertaining and insightful for me personally, and I thank Jacob for taking part in it. Hopefully we cross paths in the future, and perhaps come to a better understanding in future discussions.
Thanks to all for reading.
The debate hinges on Con’s misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the original argument of fine-tuning. And he seems to be unwilling to accept that blatant error. As he assumes:
When I say all/any, I mean everything that falls under a certain category. In this instance the category is intelligent life, so if someone says that all intelligent life depends on a fine-tuned universe, then to me that means everything that is an intelligent life requires a fine-tuned universe”
When we talk about the intelligent life in that argument, we are careful to define what we mean by intelligent life. Hence insofar the argument concerns we must maintain correct terminologies and meanings of those premises of the arguments such as “intelligent life”. Our beliefs in other forms of (intelligent) life are absolutely irrelevant with regard to the fine-tuning argument. For example: if David argues something about oranges; the truths concerning those argument is totally independent with David’s beliefs about aliens, mangoes, fairies etc. David can believe bizarre things like eternal-universe, tooth fairies; he can believe non-living beings like chairs, planets, rocks too have life in them, yet he can defend fine-tuning argument. And the reliability and truth about fine-tuning argument would be totally independent of his beliefs about those things.
A person can believe in whatever category of life besides the form of life considered in the fine-tuning argument and the fine-tuning argument would remain independent of the beliefs of that person.
I believe soul doesn’t depend on universe at all since it is immaterial. Mind body dualism is irrelevant to the fine-tuning argument. That is why his objections are completely red herring, missing the original argument altogether. The argument was not whether “intelligence” can exist without fine-tuned life permitting universe but whether a certain intelligent life (which is predefined and presumed clearly, to be organic life which can reproduce and adapt etc). That is why the error on his part on equivocation and association fallacy. He has either been either misinformed or misunderstood the argument.
We should be very clear, if we argue about apples then our beliefs (mangoes, fairies or even absurd and impossible beliefs like 2+2=5, or new-atheism) independent to that argument remains irrelevant to the truth of that apple argument.
I thank Con, and appreciate the debate, and I hope all enjoyed and learned some good basic concepts of these arguments and reasoning. Thanks for reading, and don't forget to vote for me for being more reasonable position.
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