The Instigator
JamieM67
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Jake4d
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

The finely tuned universe leads to a deduction that higher consciousness exists

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/20/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,092 times Debate No: 7919
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (21)
Votes (3)

 

JamieM67

Pro

The expansion of the universe and compression of matter is so finely tuned that if the ratio were even slightly different, galaxies would not have formed. The ratio of the size of a proton compared to an electron is another such example of a constant of nature being precise for the universe to work in a sensible way. Scientists have a tendency to pass these precise ratios as chance happenings – or to ignore them completely.

The laws of physics are such that when matter compresses itself enough, fusion occurs, creating massive amounts of energy as well as new forms of matter. Some of the energy given off is used by life to create more life.

The fusion process within a star is so finely tuned that the creation of carbon is considered a fluke of nature. The energy level of carbon is so precise, that three high energy helium nucleus can fuse together to form the carbon nucleus. In a star, most of the carbon disintegrates again into smaller components, but just enough stays intact. Some of the remaining carbon will then go onto to create other heavier elements.

Several other flukes are described at the following link including a discussion on both sides of this debate.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

The laws of chemistry are structured such that atoms can form chains in different way with vastly different properties, providing a rich environment for life to exist. The argument is not just about constants or ratios but also structures that are convenient used by life as building blocks and places to live.

The universe is structured so that DNA can form which allows a progressive building system for living beings through the process of evolution. It is easy to see life evolving from simplicity, but it always occurs within the framework of a universe containing structures that allow it.

Modern science tells us that in some cases, energy has arranged it self into progressively more complex systems over time. As these new energies interact with their environment, the end result is new stories being created which also increase in complexity. We define the most complex known to us as human life. The universe provides a framework to carry out these stories with unknown mysteries and challenges always seemingly just ahead.

Science has provided mankind with a way to pierce the veil of mystery but even after hundreds of years, many fundamental questions remain unsolved. Because science cannot prove or disprove an intelligent creator, this also can be seen as another way the universe is fine tuned.

Attempts at explaining the fine tuning of nature have led to complicated systems such as string theory to replace the standard model. One of the best string theory models (M-theory) has 11 dimensions instead of our 3 + time. The theory is so complex that most humans cannot hope to grasp it. One interesting outcome of these mathematical adventures is scientists say there is potential for other life forms to exist in parallel with our own dimension. This is what religion has been saying for thousands of years!

An important tools when critically analysing a system is to consider the whole, not just the parts. Any of the parts (or flukes of nature) can be easily brushed aside but when considered in totality, a logical conclusion is there is some kind of consciousness behind the structures of nature.
Jake4d

Con

My opponent proposes that the existence of a higher consciousness can be deduced from the fine tuning of the physical constants of the universe. It is my goal to show that no such deduction is warranted.

In the first round my opponent does a good job of listing the various ways in which the universe appears to be finely tuned for human life. In fact, the link he provides states that there are 26 different constants that would make life as we know it impossible if any one of them were just slightly different. During this debate I will grant that these physical constants do indeed have the appearance of being fine tuned. I will even go so far as to suggest that for the remainder of the debate we will assume that fine tuning did occur (this may not be true(1) but for this debate I am willing to concede this much to Pro)

A higher consciousness is indeed one of several proposed ideas to explain the fine tuning of the universe. But it stands out as the only one that invokes the supernatural. All the other proposed explanations of the fine tuning are completely naturalistic, and are merely extensions of accepted theories of physics.

Pro writes that, "Modern science tells us that in some cases, energy has arranged it self into progressively more complex systems over time… the most complex known to us as human life."

I agree with this statement. All of the evidence shows a universe progressing through time from a state of utter chaos to ever increasing levels of complexity, until after 13 billion years something as smart as a human exists. But I don't understand how Pro can deduce from this a higher consciousness, appearing *before* even the simplest state of the universe, in order to fine tune the laws of the universe. This "deduction" seems to be diametrically opposed to the evidence of increasing complexity because any consciousness that is higher than the consciousness of a human must necessarily be more complex than a human. How is the existence of this complexity explained? By an even higher consciousness? How would we explain the great higher consciousness? By a great, great one? I am afraid we have an infinite regression on our hands.

Granted, the naturalistic alternatives also lead to infinities, but there are infinities and then there are infinities. The various multiverse proposals, suggest an infinite number of universes over an infinite amount of time, or even the evolution of universes to the state of one capable of supporting life, but they do not contradict the copious amount of evidence of complexity increasing over time . The idea of a "higher consciousness" on the other hand proposes greater complexity than any we know of, occurring even before the formation of the laws of the universe. If we take this to its logical conclusion, we are forced to not only accept infinite time scales, we are forced to accept infinite complexity over infinite time scales, progressing backwards in time as one higher consciousness is invoked to explain the next higher consciousness. Each one more complex than the next. We end up with infinity times infinity, which leaves us worse off than before we were ignorant of the apparent fine tuning of the physical constants.

This ends my argument for round one, but I would like to comment on some of my opponents statements in his opening round.

1."Attempts at explaining the fine tuning of nature have led to complicated systems"

Yes, physics is complicated. The deeper our understanding goes the more complicated it becomes. All of the hypothesis that are capable of explaining the fine tuning of the universe are one level more complicated than Einstein's theory of relativity, and how many people really understand that one? The alternative to complicated systems is called magic. "Let there be light, and there was light"

2."Because science cannot prove or disprove an intelligent creator, this also can be seen as another way the universe is fine tuned"

I do not see how this can be seen as a way the universe is "fine tuned", unless the intelligent creator intentionally created us to be unable to prove or disprove his/her/it's existence. This would suggest a malevolent creator that wants us to remain ignorant of our origins.

3. "One interesting outcome of these mathematical adventures is scientists say there is potential for other life forms to exist in parallel with our own dimension. This is what religion has been saying for thousands of years!"

This is not what religions have been saying for thousands of years. The "potential life forms" suggested by these scientific ideas have the commonality of being *biological* life forms that evolved from decidedly un-complex chemicals. Religions have been saying for thousands of years that "higher beings" have existed *eternally* with no evolutionary origin.

4. " consider the whole, not just the parts… Any of the parts... can be easily brushed aside… when considered in totality, a logical conclusion is there is some kind of consciousness behind the structures of nature.

If *any* of the parts can be brushed aside, what happens to the whole when *all* the parts are brushed aside?

Scientist have not been able to explain the fine tuning of the universe, but proposing a magic genie as an explanation is no explanation. If we ever discover why the universe is conducive to human life I am confident that the explanation will be a naturalistic one. Sometimes we just have to accept not knowing. That is part of the beauty of life.

(1)http://en.wikipedia.org... Disputes on the existence of fine tuning
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org... If you would like to learn more about the naturalistic possibilities
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
JamieM67

Pro

It is interesting when Con talks about a higher consciousness, it is assumed to be a form of supernatural magic. I propose that higher consciousness capable of design can be part of the natural order of things. The relationship of the higher consciousness to this universe could be similar to that of an animal to its body.

Consider the human being. As far as we are aware, the human is the highest level of consciousness on this planet, yet within each of us contains millions of individual organic living beings.

The lives of these organic beings are controlled, to a degree, by the host animal. There are many things that affect the lives of these organic beings including DNA, chance and conscious choice. We can choose to live a healthy life, exercise, take medicines and even shape our bodies to a degree. To the small lives within us, we are their god – so to speak.

Nature has provided countless examples of higher consciousness supporting lower consciousness and it is not considered magic. I chose the word higher consciousness instead of God in this debate because we cannot assume any creation has actually occurred, yet science shows fine tuning has. A body builder does a similar thing.

The other "naturalistic" possibilities all rely on the existence of multiple universes. Until these other verses are proven to exist, we can only speculate on what it means. There are many sacred texts say something like "In my lords house, there are many rooms".

Until more information is acquired, the logical conclusion is that a higher consciousness has shaped the universe to a degree. The infinities that pop up from this kind of thinking can be handled using a recycling approach. After greatness comes simplicity.

Con has quoted "This would suggest a malevolent creator that wants us to remain ignorant of our origins." Another view is that the higher consciousness has provided a path for mankind to increase his/her knowledge progressively over time. Can you imagine a world where everything is already known and there is nothing to discover?

I referred to the idea of considering the whole, not only the parts because this is the point where science and reason go different ways.

It has become a habit of scientists to brush these flukes aside. Once the habit is formed it is easy to repeat. Logic dictates that you can only do this for so long, and then you must think again. I will grant that the number of flukes easily ignored is different for each person. This number might be the difference between a spiritual person and an atheist.

Perhaps the flukes or coincidences are a way the higher consciousness communicates with us. It may only be through reason and not just science that we can progress in certain directions.
Jake4d

Con

Jake4d forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
JamieM67

Pro

A very good point Con raised was the lack of communication with the higher consciousness. Con Wrote "Can the supposed higher consciousness not figure out a way to communicate? Does it just not want to? Or does a higher consciousness simply not exist?"

The logic goes something like this – As there is no obvious communication, the higher consciousness therefore does not exist.

I have repeatedly described the way the higher consciousness communicates to humans through the use of coincidences. Almost the entire population ignores these communications not because they are stupid, but because they have not been taught how to interpret them. Coincidences are a language that must be broken down into abstract symbols first so it pays not to interpret them too literally. The higher consciousness uses coincidences to groom individuals and groups unconsciously which allows them to retain independence. Humans must have independence from the higher source to enable us to evolve. Religion is just one example of how humans will blindly follow a leader without the smallest shred of evidence to support their claims.

I know I go on about this stuff but I will repeat a coincidence Con is already aware of and chose to ignore.

The following coincidence is at the very heart of physics and involves the 4 known forces. The scientific world treats the universe as a dead object and therefore does not look at the information objectively.

A full description of the coincidence is at
http://www.globalcoincidence.com...

The forces manipulate objects in the following way: expansion and compression, attraction and repulsion, freedom and confinement, creation and destruction. There are plenty of other examples of dual nature within physics.

We can learn so many things from this simple coincidence especially about handling contradictions life throws up. The universe would not exist as it is today without the expansion in the early moment, followed by the compression of matter. Life as we know it only exists where there is not too much compression and not too much expansion. It is at the balance point where life really thrives. The same goes for electromagnetism – once humans really understood how to use the attraction and repulsion of electrons, photons, etc, civilisation took off. I bet our energy needs will be sorted out when humans understand the processes inside the nucleus better.

Arguments for and against intelligent design are a typical example of how to use this knowledge. By accepting both side of the discussion and looking for the balance point is where the magic really happens. (ps. There's that magic genie again)
It takes both expansion and compression to make the universe work perfectly, just as it takes design and randomness. This is incredible wisdom coming from a coincidence in nature! It that catch-22 situation again - it does require a belief change first before you see the information.

Con wrote "Many scientist have gone to great lengths to explain these "flukes" and have come up with several completely naturalistic solutions"

Yes but in each of these solutions, the beginnings of life and consciousness has not been explained. Physicists even come up with names like Grand unified theory (which does not even include gravity???)

Con wrote "All of our experience shows more complex or greater things arising from less complex or simpler things."

The most intelligent people look for simplicity in life from time to time. It is possible that when someone/something has achieved greatness and there is nothing else to be achieved, then the greatest wisdom could be to do it all again from scratch. Nature shows us cycles as well.

Con wrote "Until something is proven we can only speculate. But doesn't this equally apply to the idea of a higher consciousness that is capable of fine tuning?"

I think everyone that debates this kind of thing has an interest in looking for answers. It is up to the individual to leave it or search it out.

Con wrote "If this "fine tuner" is a *real* part of existence how was it's life supported before the fine tuning occurred?"

I don't have a good answer to this question. The only suggestion I can make here is that we are asking the wrong questions, or we have an incomplete view of the universe.

Cheers
Jake4d

Con

I am afraid almost all of the arguments used by Pro in round three are red herrings(1) and do not show how a higher consciousness can be deduced from the observed fine tuning of the physical constants. Statements like "... the higher consciousness communicates to humans through the use of coincidences.", are based on the assumption that a higher consciousness exists and do nothing to explain how it's existence can be deduced from the observed fine tuning.

In this third and final round of the debate I will restate my argument that a higher consciousness leads to an infinite regression. Then I will address some of Pro's red herrings.

A higher consciousness cannot be deduced from the fine tuning of the universe because such a deduction leads to an inescapable infinite regression. The argument for fine tuning goes something like this; For human consciousness to arise, the value of the physical constants must be what they are, or the universe would not support life. Therefore some fine tuning of the constants must have occurred. Proposing a higher consciousness to actively do the tuning begs the question; How were the constants of this higher consciousness' universe tuned? By a higher-higher consciousness? Each "answer" leads to the same question, into infinity. A real explanation of how the fine tuning of our universe occurred would lead to new and different questions.

Now to address some of the red herrings;

Pro: "...the higher consciousness communicates to humans through the use of coincidences. Almost the entire population ignores these communications not because they are stupid, but because they have not been taught how to interpret them."

Almost the entire population ignores communication by coincidence, because coincidences do not communicate any information. The earth quake example on the link you provided(2) is a good example of a coincidence, but what information is being communicated? That we should stay out of earthquake prone areas on that one day of the year?

Pro: "Arguments for and against intelligent design… By accepting both side of the discussion and looking for the balance point…"

This is on topic so it is not a red herring, but it is a "false middle" fallacy(3). Without some nonstandard defining of "intelligent" or "design" this is an either-or debate. Both cannot be correct, and to propose finding a "balance point" between the two would be like finding a balance point between someone who thinks arsenic is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet, and someone who does not.(3) Would using a small amount of arsenic be a good balance point?

Pro, when criticizing scientist's possible explanations of fine tuning; "...in each of these solutions, the beginnings of life and consciousness has not been explained"

We are not debating how life or consciousness began. This debate is about what occurred billions of years before life began, so no explanation would include the origin of life. That question is one for biologists, not physicists to answer.

In his conclusion Pro wrote; "I don't have a good answer to this question. The only suggestion I can make here is that we are asking the wrong questions, or we have an incomplete view of the universe." I could not put it any better myself, and I agree wholeheartedly with this entire statement. Maybe we should reserve judgment on the question of how the universe was fine tuned until someone comes up with a testable hypothesis (so far no one has), or maybe no fine tuning has occurred at all, and the constants of our universe have the value they do because no other value is possible. We may be asking the wrong question.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...(logical_fallacy)#Red_herring Check out some of the "External Links" for better explanations and examples.
(2) http://www.globalcoincidence.com...
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 3
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
I was typing my last comment the same time you were typing yours.

I enjoyed the debate, even thought neither one of us will be able to convince the other to change sides, and I am glad you did as well.
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
Just an update on the current state of the art when it comes to the fine tuning of the universe;

When physicists initially discovered that altering the value of a physical constant led to an inhospitable universe it was thought that our universe with it's unique set of constants was the only possible universe that would be stable for life to start and evolve to the point of self awareness. Recently, several other combinations have been discovered that allow for several (possibly infinite) universes with different values for the constants. They did this by altering one constant, thereby "breaking" the universe, then altering one or several more to "fix" it.

This reduces the need of fine tuning to explain why the universe is just so.
Posted by JamieM67 8 years ago
JamieM67
Jake,

Thanks for the debate. You comments in round 3 were very incisive and a continuation of your previous thinking. It is always good to get another persons thoughts on these matters. I had hoped to convince you to open the door a little bit by using my logic in round 1. However, this is a debating site any both sides should do their best to argue the point.

It has been a pleasure.

Jamie
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
Thanks JamieM67,
I know it kinda screws up the debate for our readers (and for you) so I really appreciate your letting me post my round 2 here. Well, I just posted my final round, we will see what the voters think.
Posted by JamieM67 8 years ago
JamieM67
Hi Jake4d,

No worries about round 2. I will post a response to your comments on round 3 soon. We do seem to be going around in circles but i must say we are both using deductions and reasoning with our thoughts and coming up with different answers. I said earlier that for every argument there is a counter argument on this topic and this is just another way the universe has been fine tuned.

You can read anything into that you like or nothing. Can you imagine building a system that cannot be proven whether it was designed or not? What genius!! Sorry, had to put that in.

Jamie
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
I took the liberty of posting my argument for round two here in the comment section. I will completely understand if it is not admissible in the debate, but I worked on it for a while and did not want it to go to waste.

(I had to use multiple comments for my argument because of the 2,000 character limit in the comment section.)
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
We seem to be going back and fourth with different arguments without actually doing any deductive reasoning. The resolution for this debate (The finely tuned universe leads to a *deduction* that higher consciousness exists) does indicate that some deductive reasoning should be used by both Pro and Con. I would like to suggest this for the third round of the debate.
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
Now I would like to address a few of the points brought up by Pro in round 2;

Pro: "The other "naturalistic" possibilities all rely on the existence of multiple universes. *Until these other verses are proven to exist, we can only speculate on what it means*"

This is a good point. Until something is proven we can only speculate. But doesn't this equally apply to the idea of a higher consciousness that is capable of fine tuning?

Pro: "Until more information is acquired, the logical conclusion is that a higher consciousness has shaped the universe to a degree."

What? How is this logical? The very concept of a higher consciousness fine tuning the universe is illogical. The whole idea behind fine tuning is that if any of the physical constants varied only slightly our universe would be incapable of supporting conscious life. If this "fine tuner" is a *real* part of existence how was it's life supported before the fine tuning occurred?
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
Pro: "The infinities that pop up from this kind of thinking can be handled using a recycling approach. After greatness comes simplicity."

The story of the universe is the exact opposite. The oldest stars have only the simplest elements. The oldest fossils are of the simplest life forms. After man invented the wheel he invented a complex rocket ship capable of taking him to the moon. All of our experience shows more complex or greater things arising from less complex or simpler things.
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
Pro: "It has become a habit of scientists to brush these flukes aside"

Scientists have not brushed these "flukes" aside. Many scientist have gone to great lengths to explain these "flukes" and have come up with several completely naturalistic solutions that do not require the "sky hook" of a higher consciousness.
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Vote Placed by dandv 8 years ago
dandv
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Jake4d
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