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Re: [atheists-27] Two empirical arguments for theism countered

From: Mathew G.
Sent on: Sunday, September 8, 2013 10:48 AM

Please note that he definitely does think that many other configurations of the physical constants are real since he, like many other physicists, thinks there are constants in our universe that are variable in the multiverse context.  Here he identifies the critical issue for the emergence of life as the life span of stars, he identifies four constants as the ones that are primarily responsible for star lifetimes and varies them five orders of magnitude up and down, he creates 100 universes, and concludes that half of them have stars with lifetimes of at least 1 billion years.

Fred Adams has done a similar study to Stenger, investigating the structure of stars in universes with different values of the gravitational constant G, the fine-structure constant α, and a nuclear reaction rate parameter C. His study suggests that roughly 25% of this parameter space allows stars to exist.

Additionally, Stenger argues: "We have no reason to believe that our kind of carbon-based life is all that is possible. Furthermore, modern cosmology theorises that multiple universes may exist with different constants and laws of physics. So, it is not surprising that we live in the one suited for us. The Universe is not fine-tuned to life; life is fine-tuned to the Universe."  I know that Carroll tends to emphasize that life may be possible with different physics/chemistry/biology so therefore the fine tuning argument fails because it doesn't take this into account.

On Sep 8, 2013, at 1:42 AM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

Yes there are a lot of debates that attempt to focus on these two arguments.  There a large number of possible views of cosmology that blow away the first cause argument.  There are also a number of possibly wonderful strategies to make use of this argument.  We can paint a picture of the incredibly disappearing God that at one time interviened in life in a great many ways.  As science explained and conquered more and more areas of our life and environment God retreated to the point that the only place left for the this shrinking deity is the first tiniest fraction of a second in our universe.  I like the idea of painting this picture before we destroy the tiny fig leaf of the hypothetical first cause that "God" is attempting to hide behind.
I find the the "fine tuning" argument a bit frustrating.  No one has the slightest proof that any other physical constants are possible.  It is just a figment of our imaginations that any even imagines that other costants are possible.  Theist then attempt to use these figments to derive another figment of their imaginations.  Obviously, the multiverse construct with an infinite number of universes would fully satisfy this argument.  I have Senger's books, God the Failed Hypothesis and the Comprehensible Cosmos.  The first of these does a good job on the fine tuning argument.  Not only is it possible for carbon based life forms to exist with much variation in some of the constants, we cannot preclude life evolving with much different chemistries that might exist in a vastly different universe.
A third argument by theists that Mathew did not mention is that God is reponsible for the laws of physics themselves.  The Comprehensible Cosmos basically makes the claim that all of the major laws of physics can be derived from from an assumption of viewpont invariance.  It is a quite astonishing claim.  Obviously it destroys any reason for anyone to say "God did it."

From: Mathew Goldstein <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Saturday, September 7,[masked]:14 PM
Subject: [atheists-27] Two empirical arguments for theism countered
1) We experience everything has having a cause.  The first cause argument asserts that a god is needed to provide the first cause.  This relies on the premise that only god needs no cause but this premise is not properly justified, contrary to the insistence by some theists otherwise.  On the contrary, according to a number of cosmologists who have spoken or written on this topic, the available empirical evidences favors the conclusions that "absolute and complete nothingness" is an inherently unstable condition and as such is likely a fictional concept, and that all events do not have an identifiable cause.

2) Fine tuning argument.  The physical constants must have precisely the values that they have for life to exist therefore they were intentionally set at these values by god.  Victor Stenger, a retired physicist who made multiple substantial contributions to physics during his career, has written a book arguing that the fine tuning argument is incorrect.  If he is correct then the physical constants are not fine tuned for life.  My understanding is that his argument relies mostly on mainstream physics, is not publicly disputed by most other physicists, but that some of his argument may rely on more speculative physics.  A second counter-argument is that the standard model of physics predicts a multiverse.  Given a naturalistic multiverse we would expect our universe's physical constants to have values needed for life to exist.

I do not think theists have anything better than these two arguments.  It's not that they do not have lots of arguments, but the other arguments mostly are not empirical, evidence first, grounded arguments so they are not good.  Pascals Wager, for example, is not an empirical, evidence first argument.

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