Fine-Tuning

There was a time when I found the fine-tuning argument alone to be sufficient for belief in god. I still think it’s a pretty good one, though it doesn’t get you anywhere close to the personal god that most religious people believe in. That said, I’ve reached a point where I no longer find it persuasive, not even for a deistic god.

There’s a whole laundry list of details we could rattle off about our universe, any of which, if it had been the slightest bit different, would have prevented life as we know it from existing. That’s staggering to think about, and it’s no wonder that many people find this reason enough to believe in God. But I think the biggest problem with it is that it looks at our situation backwards. It takes the current state of things and projects backwards through time, pointing out all the details that were necessary to get us to this point. But that’s a game we can play with any scenario.

People do it all the time with their personal lives, for instance. They think about their spouse, their children, their job, and they think “how would things have turned out if I had never done X?” Or even consider your own existence. If your parents had married different people, or even if they had just conceived at a slightly different time, you wouldn’t be here. And not just your parents, but their parents, and their parents, and their parents, all the way back through history. If any of them had died young, or made different choices, you would not exist. The odds that you as an individual are here as opposed to all the other people that could have been here but aren’t are astounding. But few people would claim that it took divine intervention to get you here.

When we consider the universe as a whole, if things had been different, then we wouldn’t be here to think about it. Maybe some other species would be wondering at the incredible combination of factors that were needed to them to get here. Or maybe there would be nothing conscious at all.

Our universe was here for 14 billion years before we were able to stand in awe of our existence. Is it reasonable for us to assume that it was all done for us? Just a 14 billion year lead up to feature us as the climax?

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60 thoughts on “Fine-Tuning”

  1. @Nate, “The odds that you as an individual are here as opposed to all the other people that could have been here but aren’t are astounding. But few people would claim that it took divine intervention to get you here.”

    I think many christians would make the claim that god made us . I think there is scripture to say we were all predestined by god.

    Thank you for sharing this. I really haven’t looked at it from this point of view, at least not in quite awhile. Your argument makes a lot of sense.

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  2. That’s a good point, Ken. Hopefully none of them would think that such divine intervention is necessary since we now have a good understanding of how reproduction works. I probably should have phrased my point differently…

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  3. But I think the biggest problem with it is that it looks at our situation backwards. It takes the current state of things and projects backwards through time, pointing out all the details that were necessary to get us to this point. But that’s a game we can play with any scenario.

    Yes, that indeed is the problem.

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  4. Hi Nate, I’m not going to get involved in discussion, but if you are interested in reading more on this topic, may I recommend the writings of Aussie post doctoral researcher in cosmology, Luke Barnes, who has published in peer-reviewed literature on this topic, is an open-minded agnostic about God, and who would disagree with some of your statements.

    In case anyone is worried, he doesn’t support any conclusion of the argument for God, but simply tries to get the scientific facts straight. Enjoy!

    Luke’s blog, Letters to Nature.
    His peer-reviewed paper, The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life.
    A post on his blog useful for his summary (at the end) of the views of a whole bunch of eminent cosmologists.

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  5. Nate – I think it is reasonable to assume it was all done for us without any evidence to the contrary. All the cosmological fine tuning necessary to support the many life forms on planet earth remains solid evidence of a Creator. Given that human beings create in a process of continuing refinement, perhaps the revelation that the cosmos was created in a similar fashion points to human beings being created in the image and likeness of their Creator

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  6. No, it’s a 14 billion lead up to the dominance of dogs. Mark my words, they’ll be taking over soon…

    The one thing that gets me about this idea (the idea that the entire universe was made for humans) is why all the wasted time and space? And why make us ignorant (of things like advanced math, physics, biology, etc.)? To test us? But most die failing the test, no? So…what’s the point?

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  7. NEW – If dying is oblivion then your question remains, and it all seems pointless. If there is a spiritual dimension that we enter upon the death of our bodies, perhaps we are all illuminated and have our questions answered.

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  8. @Marc, ” If there is a spiritual dimension that we enter upon the death of our bodies, perhaps we are all illuminated and have our questions answered.”

    I was 99% convinced of this when I was a christian. Now I am 1 % . Having said this, I would think many non-believers would agree this would be a wonderful moment if it happened. I know I would be so stoked upon death to have all my questions answered.

    If you are right, I think everyone will have the same opportunity no matter their religion or lack thereof . If you’re wrong, we’ll just all be taking an eternal dirt nap.

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  9. I’ve always found the fine tuning argument incredibly juvenile. You identified some great points which all lead to the absolute conclusion that the chances of everything being as it is are precisely 1 in 1. We are that chance, and until we have another universe to compare ours to nothing, nothing at all, is going to alter this ratio.

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  10. @Marc

    And what about all the other planets, galaxies and suns/stars in this massive universe? What role do they play? And to NE White’s question — why all the “wasted space?”

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  11. Ken – I think that whatever the ultimate reality is, it will be experienced by all people. Religious doctrines that teach otherwise should all be rejected. The problem for human beings has always been and continues to be death. We can try to convince ourselves that we are no more than the highest order of mammalian life on the planet, but most folks hope for something more lasting than this initial experience of life. The eternal dirt nap strikes most folks as being very illogical.

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  12. Nan – It is not clear on how the size of cosmos contributed to the formation of elements necessary for life. It is also not clear as to how the cosmos might be used in the future by human beings in an advanced life form not limited in the ways our current life form is.

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  13. Marc-

    I think the eternal dirt nap makes perfect sense. I think our abilities to think ahead to our future state, is at odds withour innate desire to survive and live.

    But I do not think the fact that I will die and return to the earth is illogical. It is this fact of life that motivates me to enjoy all that life has to offer and to be good to those who are dear-for I will only have now to enjoy them and show care and love for them.

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  14. @Marc

    but most folks hope for something more lasting than this initial experience of life. The eternal dirt nap strikes most folks as being very illogical.

    Life after ‘dirt’ is one of the tried and tested stalwarts indoctrinated into unsuspecting kiddies, along with all sorts of other nasty things things guaranteed to happen for non-compliance.

    “Turn or burn , Ark”, as one loving Christian Believer told me. Right!

    If I am going to enter some sort of spiritual utopia after popping my clogs then I am going through the gate marked ‘Muslim’ . We all know what lies beyond, Old Mo’s front door, yes? Yummy Virgins!

    I shall leave you to hang put with Jesus and the eunuchs, Marc.

    An eternity with no sex ,drugs or rock n’ roll?

    Best of luck with that….

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  15. All done for us?
    How arrogant that some think so.

    And if this little hideaway was designed with us in mind, why wait 14 billion years to make a squishy life form, merely to mow the lawn and tend a grotty orchard?

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  16. Ark – You need to hang out more with your alter ego, the creative writer.

    It isn’t that hope in life after death is so much an indoctrination, as it is the specific details.

    “Turn and burn,” or “yummy virgins,” are some pretty warped details.

    Perhaps we all will have an opportunity to live up to our potential for love and creativity free from false indoctrination, exploitation, and suffering.

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  17. Nate, this post seems to assume that we humans are mere accidents. That we are not here for any particular reason. That we are really don’t matter and are not important, except the importance that we give to ourselves. Although thinking that God created the universe just for us does sound arrogant, thinking that we can create our own purpose and meaning also sounds grandiose to me. Just my opinion.

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  18. “Turn and burn,”

    The quote was turn or burn, Marc. and was written by a christian.

    Maybe before we discuss the why we should clear up the issue of how?

    Why don’t you tell us how your god, Jesus, is responsible for the Creation of the Universe, Marc?

    Once we have sorted out this detail then the table becomes clear for all of us to proffer suggestions as to the ‘Why?’

    You appear to be the most clued up commenter in this regard so far. Why not give it a shot?

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  19. Noel,

    Why does creating your own purpose seem grandiose? To me, it just seems responsible.

    As to Nate’s thoughts, I’ve always had a tough time with the concept of God knowing the end from the beginning. To me, that just lends credence to any accusations of cruelty that are made toward Him. The idea that He created the cosmos with such exacting detail makes me cringe because of the implications such a belief has on how God would involve Himself in the lives of people. Of course, the Hands-Off approach makes me cringe, too…

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  20. Thanks for the correction Ark. Created and uncreated energy. The Creator is uncreated energy that has the capacity to create energy that can be manifested as light, heat, or matter. That is as close as I can come to the question of “how?”

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  21. The Creator is uncreated energy that has the capacity to create energy that can be manifested as light, heat, or matter.

    Interesting. Now as I initially asked, try it again…with the god you worship, Jesus, and explain how, not merely offer a speculative answer that reads like something my altered ego may have conjured up.

    So, let me help you start…”Jesus was able to create the universe because….” you finish it off.

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  22. christianagnostic says, “It is this fact of life that motivates me to enjoy all that life has to offer and to be good to those who are dear-for I will only have now to enjoy them and show care and love for them.”

    Well said !

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  23. @Marc

    “It’s not clear …” Nice way of avoiding an answer. Seems to me if you believe God did all this for little ole us, you could come up with a more reasoned answer.

    But then again, there are no answers, are there? Even to Ark’s question.

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  24. Hello Nate,

    (I know that this is off topic.) I went to that “brain washing” mom’s blog and I was quite impressed with your last comment. You somehow managed to present your concern in a direct and empathetic manner. I wish a person or two like you had approached me while I was still a Christian. I know I would have at least considered your case.

    Sharing one’s agnostic/atheistic thoughts is quite a difficult task in the areas where you and I live. My husband and I had a long discussion about this last night. Mr. Amazing works for a network of religious hospitals in the Memphis area and is a heavily involved volunteer with our kids’ soccer league. Obviously, he is continually surrounded with Christians and religion. He told me that he has to tread carefully regarding our non belief, not so much because of the fear of losing his job, but because of the devastation it could bring to Christians surrounding him. He doesn’t want to bring them down. We were once like the locals, he understands the sensitivity of the issue at hand. Love is key and relationship takes time. My husband is honest when asked directly about belief, but he will not go out of his way to be an atheist evangelist for he doesn’t want to suddenly shock a Christian’s world.

    I’ve also noticed that many Christians express that they struggle with their faith. I know throughout at least half of my salvation I struggled too. However, in retrospect I see that “struggle” is not the right word for it, “question” is. I questioned my faith, more on than off, for almost 20 years. Christians will not say “question” because questioning leads to doubt and doubt leads to unbelief. To say “struggle” implies that it’s some sort of test or transition or that their brain is fighting for jurisdiction over their body. “Struggle” seems temporary, whereas, to “question” could possibly lead to leaving one’s faith. If I had been honest with myself and used the word “question” I would have left Christianity a long time ago. Once I began admitting that I questioned religion, Church and the Bible, I continued on a journey that led to my deconversion in two year’s time.

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  25. The fine-tuning argument is fairly persuasive…but only when one is uninformed. The more I learn about the world, the less persuasive the argument seems to me.

    How many fossil species are there? How many Mass Extinction events? How many humans die from Natural Disasters (flood, drought, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis) every year? Large parts of the earth are desert, other parts are too cold, and more than half of it is salt-water. That does not appear, to me, very fine tuned.

    People have begun to proliferate only in the last few hundred years, thanks to Technological advances–Medical advances like Germ Theory, Industrialization, Selective Breeding and Hybridization of plant and animal species…etc, etc. Before all that our numbers could never rise very high thanks to food shortages (due to weather, pests, and crop disease) and disease (and war, of course, but that’s a different topic). That doesn’t sound like a world fine tuned with us in mind.

    Richard Dawkins has a wonderful phrase, saying that the Fine Tuning argument is rather like a puddle of water waking up one day and saying “it is amazing how this hole I’m in fits me EXACTLY”. The fact that “if the numbers for this or that were were different” we wouldn’t be here doesn’t, necessarily, mean anything other than “lucky us”. The Anthropic Principle (another favorite of Dawkins, I believe) works in this case–this must be the kind of universe that can support life, for here We are…and that’s all it means.

    If there was lots of evidence for Creation, or plenty of evidence of some type for an Intelligent Designer, THEN the fine-tuning argument would carry weight. But without any corroborating evidence then it is just one of those things…you know?

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  26. EDIT: unkleE referenced Luke Barnes. He is clearly much more well-informed than I am, and so my statement “The fine-tuning argument is fairly persuasive…but only when one is uninformed” should not be there. It should be rephrased as “the more I have learned about the natural world the less persuasive the FT argument has become”.

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  27. eSell Great comments!

    Another reason could be some educated people just aren’t ready to concede the ancient stories they have been indoctrinated with no longer ring true.

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  28. Ark – Jesus was able to create the universe because before His Incarnation He was the only begotten Son of God the Father. Along with the Holy Spirit that proceeds from the Father, the Triune God, One in essence yet three in persons, created the universe by using their uncreated energy to create the energy necessary for the “Big Bang.” The Triune God fine tuned this energy to bring about the cosmos we experience today, and will continue to fine tune the Creation to a point that even skeptics like you will find quite satisfactory.

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  29. Yes, Marc. Thank you so very much for this wonderful Christian Sermon.
    Now, I shall write slowly as I know you struggle to read quickly,

    Ditch the damn polemic and give me the real scientific low-down.
    Let’s see you use that grey matter of yours, rather than regurgitating all the nonsense you were indoctrinated with by the local Vicar, shall we?

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  30. I know that many Christians don’t believe the universe is 14billion years old and only believe the earth is like 6000 to 8000 years old – believing that god created it all with apparent age, just as he created Adam to look like a full grown man.

    One problem with this is that if held doctrinally, it condemns people unfairly if they actually believe the apparent age; if they believe the signs of old age that god supposedly designed into his creation. It would be like a store clerk placing a big banner at the entrance to his store saying that every customer may have one item completely free, but then having the customer arrested for stealing when they tried. Would the store clerk be justified in sitting back, scornfully mocking the customers for being arrogant and foolish for thinking that they could have something without paying for it, when he left a sign that would lead them to that conclusion?

    Also, and I may be getting off point here, but what about time? Who made that? god seems to be bound by its laws just as much any human. Why did god send a flood if he regretted ever making mankind? If you’re all powerful and in completely control of time, why not simply make it to where you never made man?

    Once something has been done, it’s in the past. God could kill the people, but he couldn’t make it so that he never made them after he had already made them. Past, present and future are the most basic elements of time and god seems to be bound by them. Who or what made laws so strict that even god must abide by them?

    I agree, the more one thinks about all of this, the more a creator (at least one we have read about) makes less sense.

    And to marc, remember what things were like before you were born. I suspect the afterlife will be about the same.

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  31. Well Ark, I was simply completing the sentence that you began and requested me to complete.

    The real scientific low-down seems to be the theory of the Big Bang. I simply offered a somewhat dated possible explanation of what could have caused it. It is true that I share this view with the local rector and a fair number of other human beings.

    If we are agreed that the real scientific low-down is the theory of the Big Bang, and we are agreed that anything outside of time/space cannot be empirically measured, then perhaps you have a more plausible concept to explain the cause of the Big Bang. Please illuminate me.

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  32. Well said William ! god does seem to be bound by time. He is also bound by the printed word of the bible but I find it interesting many christians don’t want to admit this. They have so many reasons why this is not so when it goes against their belief system and yet they bind god to the word when it confirms their beliefs. IE , “We don’t stone people for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, but same sex marriage is wrong”

    The other day on this blogsite I quoted Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (KJV)

    I was told by a frequent christian blogger on this site that , “I think Isaiah is the high point of the OT, but I think we have to read him very carefully. In the OT, they tended to view God as responsible for everything (including sending evil spirits to King Saul), and in a sense that is true because he made it all. But I don’t believe he is directly responsible for evil.”

    He might be right and I know we can’t take everything in the bible “literally”, therefore we can’t “bind god” to every word, but who decides the ones we can and the ones we can’t ?

    I used this lengthy illustration to accentuate your point, “I agree, the more one thinks about all of this, the more a creator (at least one we have read about) makes less sense.”

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  33. William – Most folks would like to believe that there is life after death, and that they will be reunited with their reposed loved ones. This hope for reunion is also attached to a desire to understand the cause and purpose of life more fully.

    I think that most religions start out as possible explanations to these questions. Once the initial concepts have been developed and become part of a culture, there is a tendency for the leaders of a society to use the prevailing religion to control and exploit others by corrupting the initial concepts. The problems stem more from the general human condition, than religion itself.

    Regarding the scientific discoveries of the macro and micro cosmos, many people see elements of design that point to intelligence. This same scientific understanding causes many truth seekers to reject concepts of origin, such as those held by young earth creationists. Those who hold to an inerrant view of any of the ancient religious writings, are removing themselves further from the truth.

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  34. Marc, I agree, religion is a byproduct of the human condition.

    But because people desire and hope for something, doesn’t equate it to reality – no matter how pleasant it may or may not be – Which I’m sure you know. I just wanted to leave the obvious point regarding what most people like to believe.

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  35. If we are agreed that the real scientific low-down is the theory of the Big Bang, and we are agreed that anything outside of time/space cannot be empirically measured, then perhaps you have a more plausible concept to explain the cause of the Big Bang. Please illuminate me.

    Of course, Marc.
    More than willing to oblige.

    The answer is….I Don’t Know.

    As you are a person who values truth and honesty and will no doubt eschew lies at every turn, this will be your answer too I am sure. Yes?

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  36. @CHope

    First of all, thanks for your kind compliment!

    Sharing one’s agnostic/atheistic thoughts is quite a difficult task in the areas where you and I live. My husband and I had a long discussion about this last night. Mr. Amazing works for a network of religious hospitals in the Memphis area and is a heavily involved volunteer with our kids’ soccer league. Obviously, he is continually surrounded with Christians and religion. He told me that he has to tread carefully regarding our non belief, not so much because of the fear of losing his job, but because of the devastation it could bring to Christians surrounding him. He doesn’t want to bring them down. We were once like the locals, he understands the sensitivity of the issue at hand. Love is key and relationship takes time. My husband is honest when asked directly about belief, but he will not go out of his way to be an atheist evangelist for he doesn’t want to suddenly shock a Christian’s world.

    I agree with your husband. Despite my outspokenness in the blog world (even having my real name attached to my comments, etc), I don’t go out of my way to broadcast my lack of belief here. I have talked to the administration at my children’s school, however, when religion has crept in there. But even then, I never spell out my exact beliefs.

    If someone asks me what I believe, I tell them. And I’m happy to go into as much detail as they’re interested in hearing. But I grew up feeling the need to help save the “lost.” It’s a tough burden to bear — I always had to be concerned with the beliefs of everyone I met, in case they needed to “hear the good news.” Now, I don’t have to worry about it. So rather than be an evangelist against religion, I can just be a regular guy who simply doesn’t care what other people believe, as long as it doesn’t infringe on me. It’s a nice feeling. 🙂

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  37. @eSell — thanks for the comment! I’ve always loved that quote from Dawkins. Julia Sweeney has said something similar. She compares it to us wondering at how amazing it is gloves fit our fingers. What are the odds?! 😉

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  38. “Julia Sweeney…compares it to us wondering at how amazing it is gloves fit our fingers. What are the odds?! ;)”

    I don’t think that supports your point. The glove was intelligently designed.

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  39. Yes, the glove was, but the fingers weren’t. If I remember correctly, she’s essentially telling it from the gloves’ perspective. Thanks for your comment, btw!

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  40. If live were created to live in this world, and the world were created for us to live in, then I suspect it would work out to where we are well suited for our world, and our world is well suited for us.

    If there were no creator life began essentially by chance and has evolved over time, then I suspect we’d see that life, that is surviving, to be reasonably suited to its world in which it lives.

    Both philosophies seem to have relative sense behind them. I guess we could argue as to how well the world is really suited to us all (death, poison, illness, etc), but this argument wouldn’t phase a fervent believer, so I won’t address it.

    One of the problems I see is that most religious people take position 1 and then make the gigantic leap that life was created by the creator in their book and then use that assumed premise as a justifiable launch pad for the rest of their dogma.

    The glove and hand analogy seems like it could as easily go either way too. The believer will say that both the hand and the glove were designed and created. The nonbeliever will say that the hand evolved (like our world) and the glove (life) was created (evolved) to match its world – like water takes the form of the vessel it’s in.

    I guess I don’t have the answer. I can see where KC is coming from and I have considered Deism myself. It is so far the only faith bases system that I haven’t quite ruled out. Deism is sort of like Mars Hill’s Unknown God. I am just not convinced of it. There have been too many things that were once thought to be unknowable and attributed to god, that are now knowable and explainable by science (tide, light, gravity, etc, etc.). All of those lead me to suspect that everything is the same – and besides, I just cant reconcile the ridiculous problems in the bible now that I’ve seen them. I really don’t mean to be condescending, but you all have got see what I mean by now.

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  41. @William, ” I can see where KC is coming from and I have considered Deism myself. ”

    I identify myself as a Deist in the loosest of terms because I am not ready to concede the Big Bang was a spontaneous event without a cause. I’m also not ready to concede the “cause” was a god either.

    The conundrum is we really don’t know how the big bang started. Science desperately wants to prove it couldn’t have happened with a “tribal creator god” and I can imagine some of the reasons for this and religion desperately wants to claim it did.

    If you read the notes from a Stephen Hawking Lecture , http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html , he does an excellent job explaining the history of the various scientific theories which have been put forth over the past 60 or so years. He also explains why some failed and others have been deemed “plausible”.

    Until we find out, I guess I will remain a Deist (in the loosest of terms) and stuck in the middle. 🙂

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  42. Agnostic, deist, either and both are fine to me. I can get them both – I think i am more of an agnostic who wishes there were a god, but thinks there probably isn’t.

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  43. William and Ken, I really appreciate your posts. I think you are both sincere and intelligent seekers of truth. As my journey has led me through periods of agnostic and deistic perspective, I really relate to what you both have to say.

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  44. Thanks Marc !

    I appreciate your comment . I don’t pretend to know the answers. This is why I continue to read lots of books and visit blogs like Nate’s .

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  45. Hey Nate!

    I know that you, and a lot of your visitors, have posed questions to me about my beliefs. I really DO want to answer all your questions, but I don’t want to give simplistic answers to complex questions. I’m hoping that my blog will give you some idea of my thinking.

    I’ve just posted something new: http://whatisthisthingcalledgod.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/dangerous-lies/#more-33.

    I’d love it if you (and all my other pals that frequent this board) would read it and give me a comment.

    Thanks!

    Paul

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  46. Hi humblesmith,

    I’m afraid I didn’t get much from that post. I do hate that she had a bad impression of Dan Barker. I agree that some atheists seem to spend more time trying to achieve shock value rather than remaining cordial, calm, and on-topic.

    But as to her two main points, one on prayer and the other on religious experience, I saw nothing persuasive. Was there something in particular that stood out to you?

    Thanks!

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  47. Ms Travis who wrote a review of the above mentioned debate goes on to say concerning prayer, “I would argue that what we observe is exactly what we should expect. We have severely limited knowledge of how the events of our lives are interwoven into the tapestry of human existence, and we aren’t aware of what the full future ramifications would be should we receive a certain thing we’ve been praying for. ”

    How then does Ms Travis reconcile her above comments with scripture ? John 14:13-14
    New International Version (NIV)
    13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

    I don’t see the caveat in this scripture to support her comments pertaining to prayer. I would call this another case of “unsubstantiated apologetics”.

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  48. I sometimes wonder what the theist argument would be if in the decade or so, that we find microable life on Mars. the majority of them already believe life (microable vegetation) more than likely existed on Earth, due to the evidence of methane gas on the planet.

    but what then would happen to the fine tune argument. Would it be changed to Human Tuned argument? (Meaning god created other planets with life, but only earth has the ability to create humans). or would it be called the Intelligent Tuned Life (meaning God created all life, and life can exist all throughout the universe, but only earth has intelligent life.) What new argument will come from the theist then?

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  49. At the risk of spreading a bunch of superstitious nonsense, I have an answer, Rodriguez.

    The church I used to attend believed/taught that all the universe used to be nearly like Earth, until the rebellion of Lucifer/Satan. Why? “God hath not created it not in vain, but formed it to be inhabited” (Isa 45 or something), and other scriptures pointing to the Person of God–we thus know that God would not create a universe of decay and desolation like we now see it.

    Add to that the scriptures in Isa 14 (IIRC) about the Fall of Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels–Universal War.

    This all ties in nicely with Gap Theory Creationism, which says that Gen. 1:1 is talking about the original creation of the earth, but Gen. 1:2 is talking about the recreation. “The earth was without form and void” SHOULD be (under this doctrine) “the earth BECAME…”, b/c again, we know that God does not create things in a state of waste and desolation.

    SO, if microbial life is found on Mars, for example, it would only prove that not EVERYthing was killed in all the rest of the universe at the rebellion of Lucifer. But for YECers, I can’t imagine what answer they would come up with…

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  50. you know, if intelligent life were found on another planet, and they shared the same religion or notion of god and a savior, then i think that may help me return to religion – but i suspect that everyone would agree that would not happen if/when we encounter other life at some point.

    I think that if unintelligent life were found, I hope that it will be in our lifetimes, then maybe a few believers will fall away, but i think that the majority of zealots will still find a way to go on believing, inventing even more “possible” scenarios (everything is possible for god, even the absurd) to “explain” it.

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  51. I highly doubt that if life is found on another planet, would there be some great falling of the faith. More than likely people would just change their doctrine to a more liberal version of whatever God they are already believe in.

    History has shown, people just change their doctrine, not lose faith.
    Darwin, The Black Plague, The Galileo affair, enlightment period

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  52. The fine-tuning argument is the last refuge for theists that try to reconcile the way the world is with their beliefs. And they should be credited for their brave attempt, but only because this attempt implicitly shows that they value the power of science. They are already half way on the road to redemption.

    However they should not get too enthusiastic. The argument fails big time in its support for the almighty sort of god they are seeking to establish. For if god cannot circumvent the laws of nature, he is not almighty but bound by these laws. And if he is restricted by these laws, it is pretty hard to see how he can exist without them. And if he cannot exist without them, how could his existence go before the existence of these laws? This makes no sense at all.

    But there is even a more down to earth argument that obliterates the fine-tuning argument and that is a simple fact of medical science: the eradication of smallpox from the planet. This feat of scientific endeavor and human perseverence simply shows that some of the evils can be overcome without the sudden collapse of the universe as a whole. This destroys one of the premises of the fine-tuning hypothesis in favour of a god, the assumption that all evil neccessarily is part of the universe, that it couldn’t be any other way. Why should the proponent of the fine-tuning hypothesis try to find a cure for kid cancer at all? His sorry god can’t fix it.

    This also reveals the implicit deceit embedded in the fine-tuning hypothesis. It reveals that it is one thing to say that the laws of nature couldn’t be otherwise but that it is a completely other thing to say that all evil necessarily exists in the universe with these laws. Hell, even people can do better, when they just stop killing off each other for a while. So the hypothesis is like a trojan horse, it smuggless in the neccessity of evil under the skin of (supposed) neccessity of the laws of nature being what they are.

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  53. Excellent point, Fujaro! Thanks for your comment 🙂

    I’ve recently read someone argue that the argument from design fails even in its premise. If this universe were really designed for life, you’d think there would be many more places within it that we could survive.

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