10.10.06

Undeniable Design

I heard an interesting article on Radio 4 the other day, and came across it again today on the BBC website, about how Scientists are at last trying to tackle the "problem" of the "apparent" design behind the Universe.

The "problem" has been coined the "Goldilocks Enigma" because there are so many factors in the laws of physics (the strength of forces, the charges and masses of fundamental particles etc) which if changed by even a minute amount would cause the Universe to be such that life would be impossible, and yet the Universe is "Just Right" for life. It is undeniable that the Universe has been "fine tuned" for life - the only problem (for the atheist scientist) is how.

Here are a couple of quotes from the book "The Goldilocks Enigma" by Paul Davies:


If almost any of the basic features of the universe, from the properties of atoms to the distribution of the galaxies, were different, life would very probably be impossible. Now, it happens that to meet these various requirements, certain stringent conditions must be satisfied in the underlying laws of physics that regulate the universe, so stringent in fact that a biofriendly universe looks like a fix - or 'a put-up job', to use the pithy description of the late British cosmologist Fred Hoyle. It appeared to Hoyle as if a super-intellect had been 'monkeying' with the laws of physics. He was right in his impression. On the face of it, the universe does look as if it has been designed by an intelligent creator expressly for the purpose of spawning sentient beings. Like the porridge in the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears, the universe seems to be 'just right' for life, in many intriguing ways. No scientific explanation for the universe can be deemed complete unless it accounts for this appearance of judicious design. Until recently, 'the Goldilocks factor' was almost completely ignored by scientists. Now, that is changing fast.



So, how come existence? At the end of the day, all the approaches I have discussed are likely to prove unsatisfactory. In fact, in reviewing them they all seem to me to be either ridiculous or hopelessly inadequate: a unique universe which just happens to permit life by a fluke; a stupendous number of alternative parallel universes which exist for no reason; a pre-existing God who is somehow self-explanatory; or a self-creating, self-explaining, self-understanding universe-with observers, entailing backward causation and teleology. Perhaps we have reached a fundamental impasse dictated by the limitations of the human intellect.



It is just a shame that when faced with this undeniable evidence that the Universe was designed and created for life, that Scientists feel the need to pull a rabbit out of a hat, in this case suggesting backwards causality, rather than accepting as he very nearly does, that he has reached the limits of human understanding and is now into the realm of the divine.

It is also a shame that this age-old evidence is only getting media attention now because authors like this one claim to have found a way around it!

"The universe does look as if it has been designed by an intelligent creator," says the author... well, there's a very simple explanation for that observation... it was!


For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Ro 1:20)

14 comments:

Ricky Carvel said...

Chris,

I'm afraid this argument doesn't wash with atheist scientists who have thought the issue through.

One line of scientific thinking is that the 'universe' has gone through many many cycles of big bang to big crunch. For each of those cycles, there are a set of 'universal constants' which govern the behaviour of their particular universe. In most of those cycles the constants are not arranged in such a way that the universe can give life the opportunity to evolve. But given an infinite amount of tries, it is certain that a set of constants which will lead to the evolution of life will eventually occur. And it is only on those rare occasions when the constants are 'set' just right, that the universe is observed and this question is ultimately asked...

Of course, given an infinite amount of bang-crunch cycles, it is certain that a universe will exist at some time where there is a God who will create a planet called earth and give life to little bipedal animals who will come to ask awkward questions like this...

;o)

Chris HH said...

Ricky, this argument came from an atheistic scientist who had thought the issues though. I merely added my own editorial.

It is the big-crunch to big-bang cycles that do not wash scientifically, because you are transitioning from a point of maximum entropy to one of minimum entropy; something that is entirely un-scientific.

Anonymous said...

It is just a shame that when faced with this undeniable evidence that the Universe was designed...

Nope, you make an unfounded leap of faith to assume that evidence that we're not here by accident is representative of something greater than a simple physical need for us to be here.

You have to provide direct proof that the "intent" that you perceive in the physics isn't the same thing as any other form of **natural bias**.

uh... Amen

Chris HH said...

Thanks for the comment, Island.

What simple physical need are you referring to? Or is this something you take on faith too?

Even if there were such an underlying "need" that gave rise to the conditions for life. This does not answer the question, it just shifts it somewhere else.

You can debate the proof, but the evidence remains.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

What simple physical need are you referring to? Or is this something you take on faith too?

Not that I don't have good reason for what I say, but regardless, it's the default scientific position if we're not here by accident, without direct proof that there is something more to it than that.

Even if there were such an underlying "need" that gave rise to the conditions for life. This does not answer the question, it just shifts it somewhere else.

Which question is that?

Chris HH said...

Island, I am a BSc., having received first class honours in physics, so I do know a little about science myself.

What you refer to as "the scientific default position" is an unprovable axiom that is not held by all in the scientific community. It was not held by the great scientific minds of the past either: Newton, Maxwell, Einstein.

Since you cannot prove that there is such a "need" you must accept it by faith. So why should you look down on me because I choose to have faith in something that is entirely more logical - that there is a God - a faith that was shared by the greatest scientific minds of all time?

The question remains, because answering the question "Why are the physical laws of nature just right for life?" with "because there is an underlying physical need" just raises the question "Why is there this underlying need?"

Anonymous said...

Island, I am a BSc., having received first class honours in physics, so I do know a little about science myself.

And yet, you attempt to prove the existence of a supernatural entity with science.

What you refer to as "the scientific default position" is an unprovable axiom that is not held by all in the scientific community.

Huh? The scientific method necessarily prefers the most accurate answer that doesn't add unproven extra entities.

It was not held by the great scientific minds of the past either: Newton, Maxwell, Einstein.

I beg your pardon. Einstein recognized evidence for method to nature's non-deistic madness, and like I said, extra entities beyond this are not justified without direct proof, so Newton can believe whatever he wants to, as long as he doesn't call it science without direct proof.

"Why is there this underlying need?"

Because there is an **observed** imbalance in the energy that prevented the big bang from producing a perfectly symmetrical object, so mechanisms arise to satisfy this most apparent need for absolute thermal equilibrium.

This article is only a part of the whole story, but it does give you an idea of the kinds of evidence that scientists recognize to support my assertion:

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/edit/archives/2004/09/30/2003204990

Chris HH said...

You are no doubt aware that there is a difference between evidence and proof. You cannot dismiss the former because it is not the latter. Any scientific theory is only as good as its ability to fit with the gathered evidence. Your own view has "unproven extras" too.

Also, it is only natural and logical that a study of creation should lead on to think about the Creator.

So, like Newton, you also are free to believe what you like, but your view that to be "scientific" is to be atheistic is not shared by all!

I do not think that it is necessarily the case that science and religion are natural opposites. In fact, I think that there is a very close connection between the two. Further, I think that science without religion is lame and, conversely, that religion without science is blind. Both are important and should work hand-in-hand. ~ Albert Einstein

Anonymous said...

No, that's not correct, because we have presidence which tells us that every know cause of effect is natural, so there is no reason to leap beyond this continuity to presume otherwise without direct proof.

And yet you try to "infer" supernatural cause.

Sorry, that ain't the way that it works, and I agree with Einstein since creationists are the only ones to recognize purpose in nature, so both clueless sides are equally necessary to the anthropic balance.

Chris HH said...

Yet we also have presidence that every natural cause of effect, is itself an effect of a prior cause.

There are only two logical conclusions: either their is an infinite chain of causality stretching back to infinity past, or there was a primal cause that is unlike anything we have president for, in that it was not dependant on anything prior for its existence.

Unless you believe, contrary to the rest of the scientific community, that the Universe had no beginning, then the very president that you use to axiomatically exclude the supernatural, is one of the most compelling 'evidences' that there is a God.

Anonymous said...

Say what?... I don't think so, or I would probably be a believer, since I haven't been prejudiced against supernatural entities by anything other than the fact that I find no reason to buy the invention. I could point out that any number of natural explanations will be preferred, like "cyclic models", evolutionary models, quantum fluctuations... whatever plausible natural explanation is going to be preferred over superstition. Cause and effect are strictly relational terms, since every cause is also an effect, but regardless...

So.What?

You think that the fact that a big bang started time in this universe is reason to leap to a supernatural entity?!?

What's wrong with you?... ;)

Chris HH said...

I think on sober reflection you will agree that your own lack of faith cannot be submitted as either proof or evidence against the existence of God.

You don't believe in a god who is a creation of man. Good. Neither do I. It's entirely the other way round.

I'm going to draw this to a close now, but it has been good to have this exchange with you.

> What's wrong with you?

The answer is in Romans, chapter 3. When you know the answer maybe we can talk again.

Every blessing
Chris

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris HH said...

Island, I did appreciate the sentiments, but not the parting shot. Since it's my blog, I reserve the right to have the last word, and as I already said, I'm ending this discussion.

If you want to post one last thing, without allegations of misrepresentation, then I'll allow it.