Nature's Destiny - Michael Denton

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otseng
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Nature's Destiny - Michael Denton

Post #1

Post by otseng »

This thread is to debate the book Nature's Destiny by Michael Denton.

The following debaters are allowed to participate:
Cathar1950
McCulloch
Confused
Furrowed Brow
otseng

Here is the agenda:
- Start off with background info of the author and book.
- Clarify any terms used.
- Cover one chapter at a time and debate the points made in that chapter. We might skip some chapters if we agree to it.
- Give closing arguments and final thoughts on the book.
- Go out for a drink.

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QED
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Post #141

Post by QED »

otseng wrote:
QED wrote:
We have now a rise of empirical scientific evidence that resurrects the old religious notion of anthropocentrism.
Yet Mosquitos, Crocs, Sharks, Tigers etc. all feed on Humans so we could go on to argue that these animals are even closer to the "centre of the cosmos" (as pointed out in a famous Chinese proverb I believe). Scientific evidence requires interpretation and for interpretation to be convincing it needs to be unambiguous.
None of them are able to handle fire, so they can be ruled out. This leaves humans to be unambiguously the sole candidate.
Even if we concede this point about fire, why should we adopt "an ability to understand the universe" as some sort of criteria for what the universe is here for/revolves around etc.?

I think I'll just have to pass on this point as, no matter how hard I try, I can't get enthusiastic about such a seemingly arbitrary and provisional accolade for humanity.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote: Disqualifying one or more metaphysical explanations on the basis that we have no empirical data for them should not be allowed to let another metaphysical explanation in by default.
The difference is that Denton's data are all verifiable data. If we are to choose between a hypothesis backed with empirical data or a hypothesis with metaphysical possibilities, the former would make the stronger argument.
I don't see this difference at all. I see that we have exactly the same "empirical data" for two competing metaphysical hypotheses.

This is because a metaphysical "many worlds" scenario has exactly the same ability to supply an identical "empirical dataset" as a metaphysical "designer" could. The conclusion that fine-tuning demands a designer cannot be upheld when alternative explanations can be postulated. The rebuttal "but these explanations are hypotheticals unsupported by empirical data" is continually forthcoming in this debate, yet nonetheless, such causes are evidenced equally strongly by the data claimed as unambiguous evidence for a designer. This ambiguity between a many worlds versus a designer scenario has not been cracked by Denton.

To crack it we have to be shown how a many worlds hypothesis is impossible (not just say that it is unsupported by evidence) or to find some piece of evidence that could not be explained by the hypothesis but could only be explained by a designer.

I have started a new debate topic titled Our Universe: one of many or specially designed? to give this matter more of an airing
otseng wrote: He doesn't state that "no other metaphysical theory has as much explanatory power", but rather, "No other explanation makes as much sense of all the facts." This includes both natural and supernatural explanations.
I personally find that a "many worlds" or multiverse theory makes more sense of the facts on account that it removes a very peculiar notion, that of a sentient designer who has an existence not in some other world. Why should I be compelled towards this difficult concept?
otseng wrote: The fact that the conclusion arrives at the metaphysical in no way makes it meaningless.
Sorry, I think you may have misunderstood my point. I said that the trading of one metaphysical concept against another was meaningless. What may be a plausible metaphysical agency to one mind cannot be justified to another until it is brought into the realm of the physical.
otseng wrote:His argument is meaningful because he uses scientific facts, makes reasonable assumptions, provides logical arguments, and provides how to falsify it.
Yet it has nothing to distinguish it form the argument that I have put forward for an alternative explanation of the scientific facts.
otseng wrote: However, there is no evidence of other universes and no way to test it or to falsify it.
The evidence for an intelligent designer would look exactly the same as the evidence for a multiverse from within a particular universe so how can you say there is no evidence?
otseng wrote: Denton provides a compelling scientific hypothesis for the teleological nature of life. He also provides an interesting argument for anthropocentrism with man's sole ability to use fire, and thus be able to ultimately understand nature.

For those that reject his conclusion, I would submit it's not because his argument is lacking, but because one has a bias beforehand of rejecting the supernatural.

This is evident in that Denton did not set out to argue for design, but concluded it as he was writing the book.

"Although this is obviously a book with many theological implications, my initial intention was not specifically to develop an argument for design; however, as I research more deeply into the topic and as the manuscript went through successive drafts, it became increasingly clear that the laws of nature were fine-tuned for life on earth to a remarkable degree and that the emerging picture provided powerful and self-evident support for the traditional anthropocentric teleological view of the cosmos. Thus, by the time the final draft was finished, the book had become in effect an essay in natural theology" (page xi)

So, if one has an open mind and will logically go to where the data leads without having an prejudged bias, then Denton's arguments makes a very compelling case for intentional design.

Atheists charge theists to use scientific evidence to show that a deity exists. But, then makes the rules that anything that alludes to the supernatural is not science. However, one cannot have it both ways. So, I believe Denton's argument sufficiently answers the charge of providing scientific evidence for a god.
I don't think this is a matter of atheism. For all we know God created the multiverse. That is not the objective of arguing for a multiverse. The objective is to show that there is an alternative interpretation of the evidence that is equally metaphysical yet challenges the inference that there was an element of intent involved with the generation of our particular universe.

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Post #142

Post by otseng »

Well, I've given my final thoughts, and I think any more comments of mine will simply be reiterating what I've already said.

So, thanks everyone for participating in our first ever book debate and I look forward to our next book debate on The God Delusion.

Oh, one last thing, the drinks are on me. :drunk:

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