Arguments and evidence for deism, theism, and miracles

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Arguments and evidence for deism, theism, and miracles

Post #1

Post by otseng »

We have agreed to debate the following:

Is there sufficient evidence to conclude the existence of a deistic God?

And if so, is there sufficient evidence to conclude a theistic worldview whereby this God intervenes in human affairs? Specifically, is there evidentiary justification for concluding that some claims of intervention are authentic whereas others aren't.

---

A thread has been created for followers of this debate to post comments:
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... hp?t=24538
Last edited by otseng on Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post #171

Post by no evidence no belief »

Oliver, I know we've been on this topic for a while, and we're both anxious to move on, but if you indulge me for just a little while longer, and if you try to answer directly the specific questions I ask, I'm confident we can wrap this up quickly.

If that's ok with you, here are three simple questions:

1) The google definition of "summary" is "a brief statement or account of the main points of something".

Do you accept this definition? YES OR NO

2) Imagine you said the following:
- He was Mr. Universe
- He married Maria Shriver
- He starred in the movie "The Terminator"
- He was Governor of California

If I were to summarize the list you presented with the words "Things Arnold Schwarzenegger did", or "Attributes/accomplishments of Arnold Schwarzenegger", I wouldn't be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right? I'd just be phrasing the concept you presented in a more succinct way, right?

If you were to say "If he hadn't left Austria and moved to the US, Schwarzenegger wouldn't have become Mr. Universe, married Shriver, starred in Terminator and become Governor", and I summarized it by saying "If he hadn't left Austria and moved to the US, Schwarzenegger wouldn't have accomplished the things he accomplished", I would not be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right? I would not be twisting or altering the fundamentals of what you're saying, right? I'd just be SUMMARIZING what you're saying, putting it more succinctly, right? Id just be putting the list of his individual accomplishments/attributes under the umbrella of the generic label "things he accomplished", right?

Do you agree with this? YES OR NO

3) Statement 1: There is a direct causal link between the physical constants and the universe having the attributes that it has

Statement 2: There is NOT a direct causal link between the physical constants and the universe having the attributes that it has

Do you agree that statement 1 is true, and statement 2 is not true? YES OR NO?

In this post I asked you three simple questions. By all means expand on your answers if you see fit, but please, please, please, start by replying with a simple yes or no to my simple yes or no questions.

If you do anything other than answer yes or no to these question, I'll assume you implicitly answered yes to all three

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Post #172

Post by otseng »

no evidence no belief wrote: 1) The google definition of "summary" is "a brief statement or account of the main points of something".
Yes
2) Imagine you said the following:
- He was Mr. Universe
- He married Maria Shriver
- He starred in the movie "The Terminator"
- He was Governor of California

If I were to summarize the list you presented with the words "Things Arnold Schwarzenegger did", or "Attributes/accomplishments of Arnold Schwarzenegger", I wouldn't be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right? I'd just be phrasing the concept you presented in a more succinct way, right?
Yes
3) Statement 1: There is a direct causal link between the physical constants and the universe having the attributes that it has
Yes

I assume you have a point in asking these.

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Post #173

Post by no evidence no belief »

otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote: 1) The google definition of "summary" is "a brief statement or account of the main points of something".
Yes
Good.
2) Imagine you said the following:
- He was Mr. Universe
- He married Maria Shriver
- He starred in the movie "The Terminator"
- He was Governor of California

If I were to summarize the list you presented with the words "Things Arnold Schwarzenegger did", or "Attributes/accomplishments of Arnold Schwarzenegger", I wouldn't be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right? I'd just be phrasing the concept you presented in a more succinct way, right?

If you were to say "If he hadn't left Austria and moved to the US, Schwarzenegger wouldn't have become Mr. Universe, married Shriver, starred in Terminator and become Governor", and I summarized it by saying "If he hadn't left Austria and moved to the US, Schwarzenegger wouldn't have accomplished the things he accomplished", I would not be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right? I would not be twisting or altering the fundamentals of what you're saying, right? I'd just be SUMMARIZING what you're saying, putting it more succinctly, right? Id just be putting the list of his individual accomplishments/attributes under the umbrella of the generic label "things he accomplished", right?
Yes
Very good. I will now repeat the EXACT same paragraph above, which you agree makes sense, applying it to different subject matter, and hopefully you'll agree that, just like for Schwarzenegger, I'm merely summarizing the same basic concept.

Imagine you said the following:
- It has matter
- It has astronomical structures (like black holes, stars, galaxies, planets, etc)
- It has elemental diversity (ranging from hydrogen all the way up to elements with 118 protons)
- It has organic life on at least one of its planets

If I were to summarize the list you presented with the words "Things that the universe contains", or "Attributes/properties of the universe", I wouldn't be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right? I'd just be phrasing the concept you presented in a more succinct way, right?

If you were to say "If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood", and I summarized it by saying "If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the universe wouldn't have the attributes that it has", I would not be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right? I would not be twisting or altering the fundamentals of what you're saying, right? I'd just be SUMMARIZING what you're saying, putting it more succinctly, right? Id just be putting the list of the universe's individual attributes/properties under the umbrella of the generic label "attributes that the universe has", right?

Do you still agree? If you answer with anything other than a simple yes or no, I'll assume you answered yes. (of course feel free to expand upon your answer as you see fit).
3) Statement 1: There is a direct causal link between the physical constants and the universe having the attributes that it has
Yes
Ok, so there is a direct causal chain between the physical constant and the universe's attributes.

Another way of saying the exact same thing is this: "The physical constants cause the universe to have the attributes that it has". Of course, there could be additional factors that contribute to the causal chain, but if it's true that there is a causal link between constants and universe's properties, then it's correct to use the wording I just used.

Do you agree with this? If you answer anything other than yes or no, I'll assume your answer is yes.

If it's true that the physical constants cause the universe to have the attributes which it has, then it's accurate to use these words to describe the physical constants: "That which causes the universe to have the attributes that it has".

Do you agree with this? If you answer anything other than yes or no, I'll assume that your answer is yes.


Conclusion:

We conclude by in-depth analysis of the problem that "matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity and life" can be CORRECTLY summarized as "attributes that the universe has".

We further conclude that the "physical constants" can be CORRECTLY described as "that which causes the universe to have the attributes that it has".

Neither of these two modifications in wording alter the fundamental meaning of the original words.

So, since these words substitutions do not alter the meaning, we are allowed to use them anywhere the original words are found, such as in your wikipedia definition of fine-tuning:

"If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood

"if any of several things which cause the universe to have the attribute that it has were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of the attributes that the universe has".

If you remove the part I made orange above, which is just unnecessary convoluted wording that adds no content, then you're left with this: "if any of several things which cause the universe to have the attribute that it has were only slightly different, the Universe wouldn't have the attributes that the universe has" If that which causes X changes, then X will change. Hello!?!

We agreed that the statement directly above is true but is just a convoluted way of asserting the principle of causality. In the form of an argument, it is meaningless.

I just proved that the statement above which we agree is meaningless, is the same in essence as the wikipedia definition of fine tuning. Therefore the wikipedia definition of fine tuning is meaningless.

If A is the same as B and B is meaningless, then A is meaningless.

In my conclusion directly above I made 10 statements. If you do not write the words "I disagree" under any one of these 10 statements, I'll assume you agree with that specific statement.



Now: You asked me the question "How do you account for the fact that if that which causes the universe to have the properties it has, were different, the universe would have different properties than the ones it has?". My answer is self-evident: Because of the simple mechanics of cause and effect.

What you're truly asking is "what caused the physical constants to be the way they are?" I can think of two answers. 1) An intelligent entity or 2) A process which did not involve an intelligent entity.

You assert that it was an intelligent entity, I hereby assert that no intelligent entity was involved.

So, as per the general principle we agreed to at the beginning of the debate, please provide evidence and logic which supports your explanation more than alternatives.


While you think about that, I'd like to present an analogy that I think will be helpful.

Assume there are 5 playing cards on a table. Those cards have been on that table for 13 billion years, since waaaaaaaay before man invented the game of Poker. A man today looks at those cards and notices they are an Ace of Diamonds, three Jacks (spades diamonds and hearts), and a Two of Spades.

Assume the man knows that the cards come from a full deck which has been shuffled, but he does not know whether it was shuffled by a person with the capability of using his intelligence to dictate which cards will end on the table, or whether they were shuffled by a non-intelligent mechanistic process such as an automated card-shuffling machine.

That's the scenario. Now I have three simple questions. Again, I'll assume your answer is yes to all three, unless you specify otherwise.

Question 1: "If any one of the movements in the shuffling of the deck had been even slightly different, it could have well resulted in a completely different deck order, which would not have been conducive to those specific 5 cards ending on the table.

Do you agree with this statement above, yes or no?

Question 2: "There is no 5-card-hand for which the statement from question 1 is not true. No matter what cards are on the table (four 2s and a 4 of spades, for example), it remains true that if the deck had been shuffled differently, those cards might well NOT have appeared on the table".

Do you agree with this statement above, yes or no?

Question 3: "The simple causal mechanics of how differences in shuffling of deck results in different cards on the table, is equally true irrespective of whether a person is shuffling the cards or a non-intelligent process is causing the deck to get shuffled. Therefore in and of itself, the simple causal mechanics of deck shuffling are NOT an argument for an intelligent person being involved in the shuffling.

If A is true then X is true.
If B is true then X is true
Therefore, the fact that X is true is not an indication that A is true any more than it is an indication that B is true".

Do you agree with this statement, yes or no?

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Post #174

Post by otseng »

no evidence no belief wrote: If you were to say "If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood", and I summarized it by saying "If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the universe wouldn't have the attributes that it has", I would not be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right?
Your revised definition does not state what those attributes are. If they are "development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood," then it would be equivalent and would not be controversial. However, by not defining what those attributes are, it is just a tautological statement. It would be equivalent to "If the universe were different, then it would not have the attributes that it has."

Using your Schwarzenegger analogy, if one of his attributes was "He was NOT married to Maria Shriver," then it would not be Schwarzenegger. Similarly, if the universe does NOT have organic life on at least one of its planets, it would not be our universe. There is no requirement that a person be married to Maria Shriver. Similarly, there is no requirement that a universe have life in it.

By having a specific list of attributes, we can then have a meaningful discussion of who is and who is not Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, if you simply say, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is a person with the attributes that Arnold Schwarzenegger has", then it's a meaningless statement. This is the problem with what you are presenting as your definition of fine-tuning. You are not explicitly stating what those attributes are.
We conclude by in-depth analysis of the problem that "matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity and life" can be CORRECTLY summarized as "attributes that the universe has".
It can be summarized that way if attributes is "matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity and life." Is this what you mean by attributes? If not, what do you mean by attributes?
What you're truly asking is "what caused the physical constants to be the way they are?" I can think of two answers. 1) An intelligent entity or 2) A process which did not involve an intelligent entity.
An intelligent entity would be a specific answer. Asserting it's not an intelligent entity is not a very specific answer, if it can be even be considered an answer at all. It's not much more than, "I don't know, but it isn't God." Providing an answer as NOT something is not providing a solution. It is simply asserting what it is not. But, if that's your answer, we can move on to the next argument for God.
So, as per the general principle we agreed to at the beginning of the debate, please provide evidence and logic which supports your explanation more than alternatives.
My case is a cumulative case. I first presented the evidence of the origin of the universe. This is the first argument for God. Next is fine-tuning. This is additional evidence that also supports God. A single solution can account for both the origin of the universe and fine-tuning. Additional evidence will be presented later to also affirm the existence of God.
Assume there are 5 playing cards on a table. Those cards have been on that table for 13 billion years, since waaaaaaaay before man invented the game of Poker. A man today looks at those cards and notices they are an Ace of Diamonds, three Jacks (spades diamonds and hearts), and a Two of Spades.
Simply having 5 playing cards is not analogous to the problem of fine-tuning. You'll have to have much more cards than that. To make it more analogous. Suppose you have a deck with a billion cards in it. It's numbered from 1 to a billion. The deck is randomly shuffled. You turn over the first card and it's a 1. You turn over the second card and it's a 2. The third card is a 3. And so on until the last card is 1 billion. That is more analogous to the problem of fine-tuning.

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Post #175

Post by no evidence no belief »

otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote: If you were to say "If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood", and I summarized it by saying "If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the universe wouldn't have the attributes that it has", I would not be saying anything outrageous or controversial, right?
Your revised definition does not state what those attributes are. If they are "development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood," then it would be equivalent and would not be controversial. However, by not defining what those attributes are, it is just a tautological statement. It would be equivalent to "If the universe were different, then it would not have the attributes that it has."

Using your Schwarzenegger analogy, if one of his attributes was "He was NOT married to Maria Shriver," then it would not be Schwarzenegger. Similarly, if the universe does NOT have organic life on at least one of its planets, it would not be our universe. There is no requirement that a person be married to Maria Shriver. Similarly, there is no requirement that a universe have life in it.

By having a specific list of attributes, we can then have a meaningful discussion of who is and who is not Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, if you simply say, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is a person with the attributes that Arnold Schwarzenegger has", then it's a meaningless statement. This is the problem with what you are presenting as your definition of fine-tuning. You are not explicitly stating what those attributes are.
We conclude by in-depth analysis of the problem that "matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity and life" can be CORRECTLY summarized as "attributes that the universe has".
It can be summarized that way if attributes is "matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity and life." Is this what you mean by attributes?
Of course it is. I don't know how I could possibly be clearer.
Having elemental variety, having galaxies, having life, are all attributes of the universe.

If the things which caused those attributes (the physical constants) were different, then the attributes wouldn't be the same.

Other than the fact that your definition lists the specific attributes, I don't understand how it's different from mine.
What you're truly asking is "what caused the physical constants to be the way they are?" I can think of two answers. 1) An intelligent entity or 2) A process which did not involve an intelligent entity.
An intelligent entity would be a specific answer. Asserting it's not an intelligent entity is not a very specific answer, if it can be even be considered an answer at all. It's not much more than, "I don't know, but it isn't God." Providing an answer as NOT something is not providing a solution. It is simply asserting what it is not.
Neither of us is very specific. Neither your IH (Intelligence hypothesis) nor my NIH (non-Intelligence hypothesis) offers much in the way of details.

Something caused the big bang, the physical constants and ultimately the universe as it is. We don't know what that something is.

You assert that this something was an unspecified event in a timeless setting involving an unspecified entity with intelligence.

I assert that this something was an unspecified event in a timeless setting NOT involving an unspecified entity with intelligence.

You offer no more detail than I do.
But, if that's your answer, we can move on to the next argument for God.
What are you talking about!? You have to present your argument from fine-tuning, don't you? So far we've just stated the problem: "The universe is at is it as a result of the physical constants being the way they are, and the physical constants exist as the result of something. What is that something?"

You have asserted that this something is an intelligent timeless entity. Now you have to back up your assertion. Now you have to demonstrate that this explanation has more logic and evidence in support of it than alternative explanations.

Please present your argument. It must look something like this:

1) If the things which cause the universe to have its attributes weren't the way they are, then the universe would have different attributes
2) other premise
3) other premise
4) other premise
5) Therefore the physical constants were caused by an intelligent timeless entity.

If you don't present such an argument, I'll assume you concede you don't have one.
So, as per the general principle we agreed to at the beginning of the debate, please provide evidence and logic which supports your explanation more than alternatives.
My case is a cumulative case.
Just to be clear, every single argument for God you've presented, you've subsequently conceded is not valid, in that it is no more of an argument in favor of IH than it is in favor of its antithesis, NIH.

It can only be a cumulative case, if you're actually accumulating something. If every single argument you make you then subsequently have to recant, then you've got nothing. And the beauty of it is that there is a paper trail. Please point to a single argument you've made which didn't end up with either a concession on your part, or with us agreeing to disagree, or with us agreeing to postponing discussion of it till later, and then you can start talking about cumulative cases. Please point to ONE argument you've presented that hasn't ended in one of those three ways. If you do not provide such an example, I will assume that you cannot, and my point will have been made. You haven't provided any valid argument for God yet.

0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 0
I first presented the evidence of the origin of the universe. This is the first argument for God.
We both agree that the universe began to exist. This is no more of an argument for IH than it is for NIH. You've already conceded it. "The universe began to exist therefore Goddidit" is not an argument.
Next is fine-tuning.
Ok, so present your argument from fine tuning.
This is additional evidence that also supports God.
Well, present the argument, and lets see where it goes.
A single solution can account for both the origin of the universe and fine-tuning.
If by fine tuning you mean the problem spelled out on the wikipedia page you linked, and which I correctly summarized as "if that which caused the universe's attributes had been different, then the universe's attributes wouldn't be the same", then the solution already exists: The principle of causality. No additional solution is needed.

If you wish to extrapolate further backwards into the causal chain, and attempt to determine what it is that caused the physical constants to be the way they are, by all means go ahead. That's what the argument from fine-tuning would be.
Additional evidence will be presented later to also affirm the existence of God.
Ok, but present the argument from fine tuning first.

The starting point of your argument is the observation of the simple principle of cause and effect whereby life, galaxies, elements and other attributes of the universe are how they are as a direct result of the physical constants.

Then you will present additional concepts, data, evidence and arguments.

Then you will conclude by showing that the physical constants were caused to be the way they are by an intelligent timeless entity.

I look forward to the argument.
Assume there are 5 playing cards on a table. Those cards have been on that table for 13 billion years, since waaaaaaaay before man invented the game of Poker. A man today looks at those cards and notices they are an Ace of Diamonds, three Jacks (spades diamonds and hearts), and a Two of Spades.
Simply having 5 playing cards is not analogous to the problem of fine-tuning. You'll have to have much more cards than that. To make it more analogous. Suppose you have a deck with a billion cards in it. It's numbered from 1 to a billion. The deck is randomly shuffled. You turn over the first card and it's a 1. You turn over the second card and it's a 2. The third card is a 3. And so on until the last card is 1 billion. That is more analogous to the problem of fine-tuning.
Ok. Consider the analogy suitably amended. My questions still stand. I will assume your answer is "I agree" unless you specify otherwise.

Do you agree that if the shuffle had been different, the card order would be different?

Do you agree that there is NO card order for which that would NOT be true? No matter what card order you have, if you change the shuffle, the order will change. Right? Do you agree that whatever the probability of getting card order 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...... one billion, the probability of getting 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6.... one billion is IDENTICAL?

Do you agree that the simple principle of cause and effect fully accounts for the fact that if the shuffle were different the card order would be different, and that this simple fact would be equally true irrespective of whether a person or a non-intelligent mechanistic event caused the shuffle? Do you agree that, in and of itself, the simple principle of causality spelled out in red above is NOT an argument for a person shuffling the cards as opposed to a shuffling machine?

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Post #176

Post by otseng »

no evidence no belief wrote:
It can be summarized that way if attributes is "matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity and life." Is this what you mean by attributes?
Of course it is. I don't know how I could possibly be clearer.
Having elemental variety, having galaxies, having life, are all attributes of the universe.
If that is what you mean by attributes, then why do you need to redefine the Wikipedia definition? The debate should be on the Wikipedia definition, not on your definition.
Other than the fact that your definition lists the specific attributes, I don't understand how it's different from mine.
Yes, that's the difference between the definitions. You lack specifying that attributes that are under consideration. Do you not agree that the universe can have additional attributes besides "matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity and life"?
You assert that this something was an unspecified event in a timeless setting involving an unspecified entity with intelligence.

I assert that this something was an unspecified event in a timeless setting NOT involving an unspecified entity with intelligence.

You offer no more detail than I do.
Each successive argument that I give narrows down the scope and characteristics of God. So, it will get more detailed and specific on the description of God as we progress.
Please present your argument. It must look something like this:

1) If the things which cause the universe to have its attributes weren't the way they are, then the universe would have different attributes
2) other premise
3) other premise
4) other premise
5) Therefore the physical constants were caused by an intelligent timeless entity.

If you don't present such an argument, I'll assume you concede you don't have one.
I presented my argument at the very beginning.
Please point to a single argument you've made which didn't end up with either a concession on your part, or with us agreeing to disagree, or with us agreeing to postponing discussion of it till later, and then you can start talking about cumulative cases.
Yes, we have a paper trail of our discussion. I summarized the origin of the universe here.
then the solution already exists: The principle of causality. No additional solution is needed.
What do you mean the principle of causality explains fine-tuning? How does your answer explain what caused fine-tuning?
The starting point of your argument is the observation of the simple principle of cause and effect whereby life, galaxies, elements and other attributes of the universe are how they are as a direct result of the physical constants.
Right, so what caused the physical constants to be the way that they are?
Do you agree that there is NO card order for which that would NOT be true? No matter what card order you have, if you change the shuffle, the order will change. Right? Do you agree that whatever the probability of getting card order 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...... one billion, the probability of getting 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6.... one billion is IDENTICAL?
Yes, you are correct. But, it is the sequential pattern that makes it special. There are two explanations for such a sequential pattern - sheer luck or the deck was tampered with by an intelligent entity.

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Post #177

Post by no evidence no belief »

otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote:
It can be summarized that way if attributes is "matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity and life." Is this what you mean by attributes?
Of course it is. I don't know how I could possibly be clearer.
Having elemental variety, having galaxies, having life, are all attributes of the universe.
If that is what you mean by attributes, then why do you need to redefine the Wikipedia definition? The debate should be on the Wikipedia definition, not on your definition.
My definition is a summary of the wiki definition. All I do is summarize under the umbrella of the term "attributes of the universe", the individual attributes that wiki lists.

Anyway this is all moot. I think that we agree on the simple fact that the universe has the attributes that it has as a result of the physical constants being the way they are, and that this is just a manifestation of simple cause and effect.
Other than the fact that your definition lists the specific attributes, I don't understand how it's different from mine.
Yes, that's the difference between the definitions. You lack specifying that attributes that are under consideration.
Ok. Mine is less specific. It's a summary. You have agreed on the definition of a summary, and that it's not controversial to summarize stuff.

Fine-tuning, as defined in wikipedia, and as correctly summarized by me, simply is a convoluted way of spelling out the principle of cause and effect. This universe is no more "fine-tuned" than a universe that had completely different physical constants would be fine-tuned. As wikipedia defines it, it's impossible for any universe to be anything other than fine tuned. No matter what the attributes of any given universe, if that which caused those attributes were different, the attributes would be different. Therefore every possible universe is fine tuned.
You assert that this something was an unspecified event in a timeless setting involving an unspecified entity with intelligence.

I assert that this something was an unspecified event in a timeless setting NOT involving an unspecified entity with intelligence.

You offer no more detail than I do.
Each successive argument that I give narrows down the scope and characteristics of God. So, it will get more detailed and specific on the description of God as we progress.
Ok. But so far you have provided ZERO successful arguments, and your definition of God remains a vague notion of a timeless intelligent entity with the power to create being involved in an unspecified manner in the big bang.
Please present your argument. It must look something like this:

1) If the things which cause the universe to have its attributes weren't the way they are, then the universe would have different attributes
2) other premise
3) other premise
4) other premise
5) Therefore the physical constants were caused by an intelligent timeless entity.

If you don't present such an argument, I'll assume you concede you don't have one.
I presented my argument at the very beginning.
That is not an argument. You present no premises, no logic, no evidence. You just assert, you just, quote, "propose" that God created the universe.

Proposing a conclusion is not the same as providing logic and evidence in support of it.

Since you didn't provide an argument related to fine-tuning/causality for God having caused the big bang, it is now official that you don't have an argument. If you think of one, please present it.
Please point to a single argument you've made which didn't end up with either a concession on your part, or with us agreeing to disagree, or with us agreeing to postponing discussion of it till later, and then you can start talking about cumulative cases.
Yes, we have a paper trail of our discussion. I summarized the origin of the universe here.
Yes. That's just a list of things you ASSERTED. Several of them you later recanted (such as the use of the word miracle to describe the big bang), others we agreed to disagree on (such as the notion that extra-universal data cannot be measured empirically), and none of the assertions you made constitute evidence or logic in support of IH.
then the solution already exists: The principle of causality. No additional solution is needed.
What do you mean the principle of causality explains fine-tuning? How does your answer explain what caused fine-tuning?
The starting point of your argument is the observation of the simple principle of cause and effect whereby life, galaxies, elements and other attributes of the universe are how they are as a direct result of the physical constants.
Right, so what caused the physical constants to be the way that they are?
Well, you assert it was an event involving intelligence, I assert it was an event NOT involving intelligence. Please present logic and evidence in support of your position.

As per your general principle, if evidence and logic for your explanation is greater than for alternatives, then belief in your explanation is reasonable.
Do you agree that there is NO card order for which that would NOT be true? No matter what card order you have, if you change the shuffle, the order will change. Right? Do you agree that whatever the probability of getting card order 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...... one billion, the probability of getting 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6.... one billion is IDENTICAL?
Yes, you are correct. But, it is the sequential pattern that makes it special. There are two explanations for such a sequential pattern - sheer luck or the deck was tampered with by an intelligent entity.
Ah! This is the key, isn't it?

Why is a sequential pattern more special than ANY other pattern? Who is it special to?

Are you STARTING your argument for God by ASSERTING that at the time of the big bang something was preferable to something else? I thought we'd already gone through this.

It's undeniable that life is preferable to non-life to US, 13 billion years after the fact. But please present evidence that life was preferable to non-life 13 billion years ago when the big bang happened.

You can't just ASSERT that something was preferable to something else 13 billion years ago. That's an extraordinary claim which requires very strong evidence.

If I said "1 billion years ago, in the Andromeda galaxy, pancakes were preferable to waffles", would you just take such an outlandish statement at face value?

If I said "3 billion years ago, in an unspecified location in the universe, chicken was preferable to turkey", would you just take such an outlandish statement at face value?

If I said to you "13 billion years ago, during the explosion of a singularity, a Royal Flush was preferable to Two Of A Kind, and sequential numbers were preferable to non-sequential numbers" would you just take such an outlandish statement at face value?

And yet you claim "13.798 billion years ago in an unspecified location, life was preferable to non-life", and you expect me to just accept that at face value?

Let's get real, man! Please provide EVIDENCE that life was preferable to non-life at the moment of the big bang.

Please do so WITHOUT presupposing the existence of an entity capable of having a preference at the time of the big bang. You cannot presuppose an intelligent entity if what you're trying to demonstrate is an intelligent entity, because otherwise your argument is circular.

I have made this argument at least a dozen times and, without exception, you have refused to address it in detail.

It's reasonable for me to operate under the assumption that you do NOT have a valid response until such a time as you present one.

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Post #178

Post by otseng »

no evidence no belief wrote: This universe is no more "fine-tuned" than a universe that had completely different physical constants would be fine-tuned.
If the universe had no matter, no stars, no planets, and no life, would it be equally fine-tuned as a universe with matter, stars, planets, and life?
Each successive argument that I give narrows down the scope and characteristics of God. So, it will get more detailed and specific on the description of God as we progress.
Ok. But so far you have provided ZERO successful arguments, and your definition of God remains a vague notion of a timeless intelligent entity with the power to create being involved in an unspecified manner in the big bang.
I already stated at the very beginning the approach that I would use - to compare all the possible explanations and see which one is the most viable. I will let readers decide for themselves if IH or NIH is more tenable.
Several of them you later recanted (such as the use of the word miracle to describe the big bang), others we agreed to disagree on (such as the notion that extra-universal data cannot be measured empirically), and none of the assertions you made constitute evidence or logic in support of IH.
I'm not going to drag this discussion out by rehashing past arguments. I would ask you to do the same.
Well, you assert it was an event involving intelligence, I assert it was an event NOT involving intelligence. Please present logic and evidence in support of your position.
Again, the principle is comparing explanations. I've presented an intelligent God. Whereas by saying it is NOT an intelligent God, it is not providing an explanation. It is simply saying what an explanation is not.

For example, let's try to determine who wrote the song "She's Always a Woman". I say that Frank Sinatra wrote it. If you say, Frank Sinatra did not write it, it is not providing an answer of who wrote that song. Suppose you say, BB King wrote that song. That would be providing an answer. We can be both wrong, but at least we're providing possible answers to the problem.
Do you agree that there is NO card order for which that would NOT be true? No matter what card order you have, if you change the shuffle, the order will change. Right? Do you agree that whatever the probability of getting card order 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...... one billion, the probability of getting 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6.... one billion is IDENTICAL?
Yes, you are correct. But, it is the sequential pattern that makes it special. There are two explanations for such a sequential pattern - sheer luck or the deck was tampered with by an intelligent entity.
Ah! This is the key, isn't it?

Why is a sequential pattern more special than ANY other pattern? Who is it special to?
Yes, it does require that saying life in particular is special. But, we already discussed this.
It's undeniable that life is preferable to non-life to US, 13 billion years after the fact. But please present evidence that life was preferable to non-life 13 billion years ago when the big bang happened.
Life is not the only thing in question regarding fine-tuning, it also involves matter, stars, and planets. Without fine-tuning, matter wouldn't even exist 13 billion years ago.
Please do so WITHOUT presupposing the existence of an entity capable of having a preference at the time of the big bang. You cannot presuppose an intelligent entity if what you're trying to demonstrate is an intelligent entity, because otherwise your argument is circular.
I've already covered this many times. I'm not going to rehash this either.

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Post #179

Post by no evidence no belief »

otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote: This universe is no more "fine-tuned" than a universe that had completely different physical constants would be fine-tuned.
If the universe had no matter, no stars, no planets, and no life, would it be equally fine-tuned as a universe with matter, stars, planets, and life?
Well, there is no doubt of that.

If the universe didn't have the attributes it has (matter exactly as it is, stars exactly as they are, planets exactly as they are, life exactly as it is), it would have other attributes. Those attributes could range from the single attribute of being an unexploded timeless singularity, all the way to having complex attributes that could result in life on 50% of the universe's volume, as opposed to 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the universe's volume.

Fine tuning, as defined on wikipedia, is simply the non-controversial observation that if the physical constants which cause the attributes were different, the attributes would be different. This is undeniably true irrespective of what the specific constants and specific resulting attributes are.

Are you saying that if the attributes were something other than matter, stars, planets and life, then it wouldn't be true that those attributes are caused by the physical constants? The causal link between constants and attributes are ALL that the wikipedia definition provides. That is indubitably applicable no matter what the constants and no matter what the resulting attributes.
Each successive argument that I give narrows down the scope and characteristics of God. So, it will get more detailed and specific on the description of God as we progress.
Ok. But so far you have provided ZERO successful arguments, and your definition of God remains a vague notion of a timeless intelligent entity with the power to create being involved in an unspecified manner in the big bang.
I already stated at the very beginning the approach that I would use - to compare all the possible explanations and see which one is the most viable. I will let readers decide for themselves if IH or NIH is more tenable.
Sure, but for the record, there isn't a single argument for God you've presented and which you could link, other than fine-tuning which is still ongoing - which didn't end with a concession from you that it's no more an argument in favor of IH than it is in favor of NIH, is there?

Link it and prove me wrong.
Several of them you later recanted (such as the use of the word miracle to describe the big bang), others we agreed to disagree on (such as the notion that extra-universal data cannot be measured empirically), and none of the assertions you made constitute evidence or logic in support of IH.
I'm not going to drag this discussion out by rehashing past arguments. I would ask you to do the same.
Sure, but for the record, there isn't a single argument for God you've presented and which you could link, other than fine-tuning which is still ongoing - which didn't end with a concession from you that it's no more an argument in favor of IH than it is in favor of NIH, is there?

Link it and prove me wrong.
Well, you assert it was an event involving intelligence, I assert it was an event NOT involving intelligence. Please present logic and evidence in support of your position.
Again, the principle is comparing explanations. I've presented an intelligent God. Whereas by saying it is NOT an intelligent God, it is not providing an explanation. It is simply saying what an explanation is not.

For example, let's try to determine who wrote the song "She's Always a Woman". I say that Frank Sinatra wrote it. If you say, Frank Sinatra did not write it, it is not providing an answer of who wrote that song. Suppose you say, BB King wrote that song. That would be providing an answer. We can be both wrong, but at least we're providing possible answers to the problem.
False analogy.

This is where your analogy fails: The evidence is OVERWHELMING that somebody wrote "she's always a woman". Therefore, proposing a name of a composer is an attempt at finding the truth which, though maybe right or maybe wrong, is at least an attempt, whereas simply saying "Sinatra didn't write it" is a true statement, and a successful effort at narrowing down to the correct answer, but is not an answer itself. But, again, this all pivots around the fact that it's IRREFUTABLE that a human being wrote the song. That intelligence was involved is a VALID presupposition in this case, and attempting to figure out who this intelligence was, is a somewhat valid endeavor.

Here is a more accurate analogy: We hear rocks rumbling and wood breaking. You allege that this is a recording being played over loudspeakers, which came to exist under the supervision of minimalistic postmodernist musical composer Phillip Glass, and I allege that no intelligent composer was involved in these sounds happening, that it's just the result of an avalanche of rocks breaking some trees - a purely naturalistic mechanistic event not involving intelligence.

We are BOTH offering an explanation.

In this case, it is FALSE that you are attempting an explanation for the big bang and I'm not. You are proposing that it was an event orchestrated by an intelligence, much like a minimalistic composition being orchestrated by Phillip Glass, and I am proposing that it was a mechanistic event with no intelligence involved, much like the sounds of an avalanche.

It is FALSE that my explanation amounts to refusal to offer an explanation. It is FALSE that you have provided more detail than I have. It is an irrefutable, fully documented, fact I have provided as much detail for my explanation as you have, and you have failed to meet the burden spelled out by your general principle, and have failed to demonstrate that your explanation has more evidentiary and logical support than alternative explanations, including it's direct diametrical antithesis.
Do you agree that there is NO card order for which that would NOT be true? No matter what card order you have, if you change the shuffle, the order will change. Right? Do you agree that whatever the probability of getting card order 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...... one billion, the probability of getting 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6.... one billion is IDENTICAL?
Yes, you are correct. But, it is the sequential pattern that makes it special. There are two explanations for such a sequential pattern - sheer luck or the deck was tampered with by an intelligent entity.
Ah! This is the key, isn't it?

Why is a sequential pattern more special than ANY other pattern? Who is it special to?
Yes, it does require that saying life in particular is special. But, we already discussed this.
It's undeniable that life is preferable to non-life to US, 13 billion years after the fact. But please present evidence that life was preferable to non-life 13 billion years ago when the big bang happened.
Life is not the only thing in question regarding fine-tuning, it also involves matter, stars, and planets. Without fine-tuning, matter wouldn't even exist 13 billion years ago.
Please do so WITHOUT presupposing the existence of an entity capable of having a preference at the time of the big bang. You cannot presuppose an intelligent entity if what you're trying to demonstrate is an intelligent entity, because otherwise your argument is circular.
I've already covered this many times. I'm not going to rehash this either.
Oliver, I just reread carefully our entire debate, and I simply cannot find any post where you provide an argument for life (and matter, stars, planets) being preferable to non-life.

Your argument must look like this:

1) premise
2) premise
3) premise
4) Therefore life was preferable to non-life at the moment of the big bang
5) Therefore an intelligent entity must have existed at that time, and we call that entity God.

note: the explicit or implicit premises to this argument CANNOT be that an entity capable of having a preference existed at the big bang, otherwise the argument is circular.

You will either provide a link to a previous post, or provide a cogent and direct argument, or you will have automatically conceded that your argument from fine-tuning failed.


That's fair, isn't it? We agree that without the presupposition that life is preferable to non-life, then fine-tuning as wiki defines is just a convoluted but uncontroversial reiteration of the principle of causality, and not an argument for anything. We agree that we must demonstrate that life was preferable to non-life at the big bang.

Therefore it's perfectly reasonable for me to ask you to present an argument for life being preferable to non-life, and it's perfectly reasonable to ask that no conclusion be used as a premise because otherwise the argument is circular.

If you already provided this argument and I missed it, I humbly apologize, but it's not beyond the confines of polite debate that I request that you link the post in question. If you didn't provide this argument, and since it's irrefutably a necessary part of your broader argument for God, then it's MANDATORY that you present it, or automatically concede that you cannot.

So you only have three options:
1) Provide an argument for life being preferable to non-life at the big bang, without using a conclusion as a premise
2) Link a post where you already presented this argument
3) Do ANYTHING other than 1) or 2), and in so doing automatically concede that there is no merit to your argument from fine-tuning

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Post #180

Post by otseng »

no evidence no belief wrote:
otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote: This universe is no more "fine-tuned" than a universe that had completely different physical constants would be fine-tuned.
If the universe had no matter, no stars, no planets, and no life, would it be equally fine-tuned as a universe with matter, stars, planets, and life?
Well, there is no doubt of that.
That would be like saying it doesn't matter what the pitch of the E string of a guitar is. Or the A string, or D, G, B, high E. If the strings didn't have the pitch that it has, then it would have a different pitch. No matter what the pitch is of the strings, it is fine-tuned.
Are you saying that if the attributes were something other than matter, stars, planets and life, then it wouldn't be true that those attributes are caused by the physical constants? The causal link between constants and attributes are ALL that the wikipedia definition provides. That is indubitably applicable no matter what the constants and no matter what the resulting attributes.
The issue is why are the physical constants the way that they are, not why do the constants cause matter, stars, planets, and life.
Link it and prove me wrong.
If you agree that we don't need to rehash past arguments, there is no need to me to provide a link.
Therefore, proposing a name of a composer is an attempt at finding the truth which, though maybe right or maybe wrong, is at least an attempt, whereas simply saying "Sinatra didn't write it" is a true statement, and a successful effort at narrowing down to the correct answer, but is not an answer itself.
Right, it is not an answer in itself.
That intelligence was involved is a VALID presupposition in this case, and attempting to figure out who this intelligence was, is a somewhat valid endeavor.
Why is intelligence a valid presupposition?
Here is a more accurate analogy: We hear rocks rumbling and wood breaking. You allege that this is a recording being played over loudspeakers, which came to exist under the supervision of minimalistic postmodernist musical composer Phillip Glass, and I allege that no intelligent composer was involved in these sounds happening, that it's just the result of an avalanche of rocks breaking some trees - a purely naturalistic mechanistic event not involving intelligence.

We are BOTH offering an explanation.
Actually, I agree. But saying it is NOT Phillip Glass is different from saying it's an avalanche of rocks.
You are proposing that it was an event orchestrated by an intelligence, much like a minimalistic composition being orchestrated by Phillip Glass, and I am proposing that it was a mechanistic event with no intelligence involved, much like the sounds of an avalanche.
Again, saying it is an avalanche is different from saying no intelligence is involved. There are other mechanistic explanations other than an avalance. It could be a tornado, earthquake, mudslide, a bunch of monkeys pushing rocks, etc.
It is FALSE that my explanation amounts to refusal to offer an explanation. It is FALSE that you have provided more detail than I have.
Just by using uppercase letters doesn't make your statement true. I'm sure you've seen the fine-tuning thread already going on. There is a good example of a mechanistic explanation provided by McCulloch.
McCulloch wrote: Either it is fine tuned to the exact set of fundamental constants that we observe or it is one of many.
What McCulloch refers to is the multiverse theory. This is a specific mechanistic explanation for fine-tuning.
Oliver, I just reread carefully our entire debate, and I simply cannot find any post where you provide an argument for life (and matter, stars, planets) being preferable to non-life.
I don't need to. You already agreed to it. I don't need to argue for something you already agree to.

"It's undeniable that life is preferable to non-life to US"
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 221#650221
Your argument must look like this:

1) premise
2) premise
3) premise
4) Therefore life was preferable to non-life at the moment of the big bang
5) Therefore an intelligent entity must have existed at that time, and we call that entity God.
Why does it must look like this? At the beginning I said I'd be comparing explanations, which is abductive logic. Though deductive logic is certainly valid, I didn't say that was the approach I was going to use. You agreed at the beginning to abductive logic, not deductive logic. So, if anything, the argument must look like this:

P) Problem statement
E1) Explanation 1 for P
E2) Explanation 2 for P
A1) Arguments for E1
A2) Arguments for E2

E1 explains P better than E2, so E1 is to be preferred.
E2 explains P better than E1, so E2 is to be preferred.

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