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Is God in the Details of the Universe?

by Carlos Hernandez
Tags: universe
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Carlos Hernandez
#1
Dec17-03, 03:43 PM
P: 175
Is God in the Details?
From cosmic coincidence to conservative cosmopolitics.

By Kenneth Silber

Victor J. Stenger has created new universes. Lots of them. In some, the stars shine for only a fraction of a second. In others, atoms are the size of tennis balls and a typical day lasts trillions of hours. Stenger achieves these wildly disparate results by altering a few of the underlying "constants" of nature--the mass of a proton, for example, or the strength of the electromagnetic force. He ends up with worlds that look radically different from our own.

Stenger is a theoretical physicist at the University of Hawaii and author of a book titled The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology. His "universes" are computer simulations, the output of a program that he wrote and has named--a bit provocatively--"Monkey God." Stenger does not plan out the universes that he creates; he has allowed particle masses and force strengths to vary randomly, many orders of magnitude different from the levels observed in nature. A lot of the resulting universes, says Stenger, "look pretty funny but still had long-lived stars."

Complete text at http://reason.com/9907/fe.ks.is.shtml
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Iacchus32
#2
Dec17-03, 07:39 PM
Iacchus32's Avatar
P: 2,216
If God does exist, then it's inescapable, the evidence is all around us. Indeed, it would seem the intelligence associated with "our design," is capable of recognizing the intelligence associated with the design of the Universe.
Mumeishi
#3
Dec18-03, 03:26 PM
Mumeishi's Avatar
P: 199
Maybe there is no God - only the all-powerful theoretical physicist in the sky.

Is God in the Details of the Universe?
Actually I think he's more of a medium-scale kinda guy - not too big, not too small, just right.

Eh
#4
Dec18-03, 06:26 PM
P: 683
Is God in the Details of the Universe?

How sad. Stenger is perhaps the worst philosopher physicist of all time, and now he's going to attempt metaphysics. Yikes.
BoulderHead
#5
Dec20-03, 04:08 PM
P: n/a
I had always been told that the devil is in the details.
Yahweh
#6
Dec21-03, 03:37 AM
P: 86
From TalkOrigins.org - Design is self-evident:
Claim CI100.1:
Design is self-evident. You just need to open your eyes and see it.


1. This claim lacks any substance. It is nothing more than a subjective assertion. That design is far from self-evident is demonstrated by the difficulty people have in trying to describe the objective evidence for it.

2. There are good reasons why people should see design that isn't there.
* Humans anthropomorphize. We tend to attribute our human-like qualities to all sorts of things. Since design is what humans do, we attribute it far and wide.
* Evolution and some human design both involve complex systems dealing with the same physical constraints [Csete and Doyle, 2002].
* Evolution has much in common with a design process. It generates trial-and-error modifications of existing forms and discards the inferior versions.
Yahweh
#7
Dec21-03, 05:25 AM
P: 86
Originally posted by Carlos Hernandez
Is God in the Details?

Stenger is a theoretical physicist at the University of Hawaii and author of a book titled The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology. His "universes" are computer simulations, the output of a program that he wrote and has named--a bit provocatively--"Monkey God." Stenger does not plan out the universes that he creates; he has allowed particle masses and force strengths to vary randomly, many orders of magnitude different from the levels observed in nature. A lot of the resulting universes, says Stenger, "look pretty funny but still had long-lived stars."

Complete text at http://reason.com/9907/fe.ks.is.shtml
No, God(s) is not in design.

Stenger's experimentation is only good for the hypothetical purposes, but does not reflect upon what the Physics is like in the real world.

Short answer: The four fundamental forces are not determined randomly, they are not "designed", they exist as properties of matter. Even given the possibility that many Big Bangs and Big Crunches have occurred or alternate dimensions can exist, the same fundamental forces would remain unchanged. It is essentially a scenario that roots itself a little like this: Why does 1 + 1 = 2, why doesnt it equal 3?

It has been speculated that in the very early universe, the temperature was so high that the 4 fundamental forces were unified, then as the temperature cooled, the forces gradually became seperate (there values determined at random). However, there is nothing to support that view, its just one of many possible scientific explanations.

Some people believe the universe is so finely tuned that God is the only explanation. From TalkOrigin.org:
Claim CI301:
The cosmos is fine-tuned to permit human life. If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, life would be impossible. (This claim is also known as the weak anthropic principle.)



Response:

1. The claim assumes life in its present form is a given; it applies not to life, but only to life as we know it. The same outcome results if life is fine-tuned to the cosmos.

We don't know what fundamental conditions would rule out any possibility of any life. For all we know, there might be intelligent beings in another universe arguing that if fundamental constants were only slightly different, then the absence of free quarks and the extreme weakness of gravity would make life impossible.

Indeed, many examples of fine-tuning are evidence that life is fine-tuned to the cosmos, not vice versa. This is exactly what evolution proposes.

2. If the universe is fine-tuned for life, why is life such an extremely rare part of it?

3. The fine-tuning claim is weakened by the fact that some physical constants are dependent on others, so the anthropic principle may rest on only a very few initial conditions that are really fundamental [Kane et al, 2000]. It is further weakened by the fact that different initial conditions sometimes lead to essentially the same outcomes, as with the initial mass of stars and their formation of heavy metals [Nakamura et al, 1997].

4. If part of the universe were not suitable for life, we wouldn't be here to think about it. There is nothing to rule out the possibility of multiple universes, most of which would be unsuitable for life. We happen to find ourselves in one where life is conveniently possible because we can't very well be anywhere else.

5. The anthropic principle is an argument against an omnipotent creator. If God can do anything, He could create life in a universe whose conditions do not allow for it.
Long answer: http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0207047
Iacchus32
#8
Dec23-03, 12:13 AM
Iacchus32's Avatar
P: 2,216
Originally posted by Yahweh
From TalkOrigins.org - Design is self-evident:
Claim CI301:
The cosmos is fine-tuned to permit human life. If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, life would be impossible. (This claim is also known as the weak anthropic principle.)


1. This claim lacks any substance. It is nothing more than a subjective assertion. That design is far from self-evident is demonstrated by the difficulty people have in trying to describe the objective evidence for it.

2. There are good reasons why people should see design that isn't there.
* Humans anthropomorphize. We tend to attribute our human-like qualities to all sorts of things. Since design is what humans do, we attribute it far and wide.
* Evolution and some human design both involve complex systems dealing with the same physical constraints [Csete and Doyle, 2002].
* Evolution has much in common with a design process. It generates trial-and-error modifications of existing forms and discards the inferior versions.
The fact that we can take things and quantify them (i.e., the laws of physics), suggests that yes, there is a design element involved. For then we'll take these same quantifications and go off and "design" our own realities.
Yahweh
#9
Dec23-03, 04:41 AM
P: 86
Originally posted by Iacchus32
The fact that we can take things and quantify them (i.e., the laws of physics), suggests that yes, there is a design element involved. For then we'll take these same quantifications and go off and "design" our own realities. [/QUOTE]
From TalkOrigins.org - Design Is Detectable:
Claim CI100:
Life looks intelligently designed because of its complexity and arrangement. As a watch implies a watchmaker, so life requires a designer.


Source:
Paley, William, Natural Theology, 1802.
Kenyon, Dean H. and P. William Davis, 1990, Of Pandas and People. Haughton Pub. Co.

Response:
  1. According to the definition of design, we must determine something about the design process in order to infer design. We do this by observing the design in process or by comparing with the results of known designs. The only example of known intelligent design we have is human design. Life does not look man-made.
  2. Nobody argues that life is complicated. However, complexity is not the same as design. There are simple things which are designed and complex things which originate naturally. Complexity does not imply design; in fact, simplicity is a design goal in most designs.
  3. In most cases, the inference of design is made because people can't envision an alternative. This is simply the argument from incredulity. Historically, supernatural design has been attributed to lots of things which we now know form naturally, such as lightning, rainbows, and seasons.
  4. Life as a whole looks very undesigned by human standards, for several reasons.
    • In known design, innovations which occur in one product quickly get incorporated into other, often very different, products. In eukaryotic life, innovations generally stay confined in one lineage. When the same sort of innovation occurs in different lineages (such as webs of spiders, caterpillars, and webspinners), the details of their implementation differ in the different lineages. When one traces lineages, one sees a great difference between life and design. (Eldredge has done this, comparing trilobites and cornets [Walker, 2003].)
    • In design, form typically follows function. Some creationists expect this [Morris, 1974]. Yet life shows many examples of different forms with the same function (for example, different structures making up the wings of birds, bats, insects, and pterodactyls; different organs for making webs in spiders, caterpillars, and webspinners, at least eleven different types of insect ears), the same basic form with different functions (the same pattern of bones in a human hand, whale flipper, dog paw, and bat wing) and some structures and even entire organisms without apparent function (some vestigial organs, creatures living isolated in inaccessible caves and deep underground).
    • As noted above, life is complex. Design aims for simplicity.
    • For almost all designed objects, the manufacture of the object is separate from any function of the object itself. All living objects reproduce themselves.
    • Life lacks plan. There are no specifications of living structures and processes. Genes do not fully describe the phenotype of an organism. Sometimes, in the absence of genes, structure results anyway. Organisms, unlike designed systems, are self-constructing in an evironmental context.
    • Life is wasteful. Most organisms do not reproduce, and most fertilized zygotes die before growing much. A designed process would be expected to minimize this waste.
    • Life includes many examples of systems that are jury-rigged out of parts that were used for another purpose. These are what we would expect from evolution, not from an intelligent designer. A few examples:

      * Vertebrate eyes have a blind spot because the retinal nerves are in front of the photoreceptors.

      * On orchids which provide a platform for pollinating insects to land on, the stem of the flower has a half twist to move the platform to the lower side of the flower.
    • Life is highly variable. In almost every species, there is a spread of values for anything you care to measure. The "information" that specifies life is of very low tolerance in engineering terms. There are few standards.
  1. Life is nasty. If life is designed, then death, disease, and decay also must be designed, since they are integral parts of life. This is a standard problem of apologetics. Of course, many designed things are also nasty (think of certain weapons), but if the designer is supposed to have moral standards, then it's added support against the design hypothesis.
  2. The process of evolution can be considered a design process, and the complexity and arrangement we see in life are much closer to what we would expect from evolution than from known examples of intelligent design. Indeed, engineers now use essentially the same processes as evolution to find solutions to problems that would be intractably complex otherwise.
  3. Does evolution itself look designed? When you consider that some sort of adaptive mechanism would be necessary on the changing earth if life were to survive, then if life were designed, evolution or something like it would have to be designed into it.
  4. Claiming to be able to recognize design in life implies that non-life is different, that is, not designed. To claim that life is recognizably designed is to claim that an intelligent designer did not create the rest of the universe.
  5. As it stands, the design claim makes no predictions, so it is unscientific and useless. It has generated no research at all.
(The number is a little off... oh well...)


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