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At Evolution News: Fine-Timing as Evidence of Intelligence Design


David Coppedge raises an important point about “timing,” in addition to “tuning”:

Often in movies a scene depicts some highly improbable event on which the plot pivots (see some example below). Viewers suspend disbelief for the sake of entertainment while knowing that the coincidences are matters of contrivance by screenwriters. In real life, though, how many coincidences would it take to convince a reasonable person that something non-random is going on? 

Image credit: vancarlosfr, via Pixabay.

I’ve witnessed two total solar eclipses so far, in 1991 and in 2017 (another is coming to America in 2024). I concur with Guillermo Gonzalez that a total eclipse “summons all the senses” and becomes one of the most emotional celestial events one can experience. Many have noted the remarkable coincidence between apparent sizes of the moon and sun from Earth that make perfect total eclipses possible. Moreover, the size of the sun and the moon are intimately tied to the habitability of the Earth. As a G2 main sequence star, our sun’s size and temperature determines the radius of the habitable zone where liquid water can exist. And the moon plays vital roles in governing the ocean tides and stabilizing Earth’s tilt. In The Privileged Planet, co-authored by Jay Richards, Gonzalez noted that “the requirements for complex life on a terrestrial planet strongly overlap the requirements for observing total solar eclipses” (p. 7). As they further argue, these requirements also overlap with the ability to do scientific discovery.

A Gondola on Saturn

Gonzalez calculated all possible instances of eclipses between bodies in the solar system, 64 in all. On page 11 of The Privileged Planet he included a graph of the results: the only other possible eclipsing body the right size to produce perfect eclipses is Saturn’s tiny moon Prometheus. If one were to be riding a gondola in Saturn’s cloud tops at the right position, one might get a half second total eclipse as Prometheus crossed the sun. On Earth, by contrast, the duration of totality can last up to 7.5 minutes. 

But don’t forget “the rest of the story” about Prometheus. Gonzalez notes that its “highly elongated shape compromises the view of the chromosphere” (p. 10). Sure enough, when the Cassini mission, on which I worked at JPL, took photos of Prometheus, its irregular potato-like shape was revealed in detail. Prometheus would never, therefore, be able to cover the sun exactly. That leaves Earth alone as the only place in the solar system where a perfect total eclipse can occur. In the Privileged Planet documentary, Gonzalez remarked, “the one place that has observers is the one place that has the best eclipses.”

Getting the Right Moon at the Right Time

But there’s another aspect of this “coincidence” not often discussed: the moon is slowly moving away from the Earth at 3.8 cm per year (The Conversation). Over time, the moon would be too far away to exactly cover the sun’s disk. After that, all eclipses would be annular. Simultaneously, Gonzalez points out, the sun’s diameter is increasing. “These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth” (p. 18). But consider too that eclipses will become progressively shorter long before that deadline, and therefore less useful for scientific discovery. On the other hand, if we can extrapolate the recession speed far into the past, the moon would have appeared too big to produce some of the special effects that eclipse watchers and scientists love, like Bailey’s beads, the flash spectrum, and the “diamond ring” effect. We can witness perfect solar eclipses, Gonzalez concludes, during a “fairly narrow window of Earth’s history, including the present” (p. 9).

The narrow window for perfect solar eclipses leads us to consider the matter of timing as evidence of design. Where else are coincidences of timing discernable?

Alan Fox, While it seems you're deeply enmeshed in other threads, the answer to your assertions against Dr. Tour are addressed by the video link above. I think the presentation would disabuse you of your mistaken notions regarding OOL research. -Q Querius
52 Alan Fox @52,
James Tour is not doing any “Origin of Life” research, nor has he ever done. How is it he should be regarded as some guru on the subject?
Apparently you're not aware that Dr. Tour is a synthetic organic chemist of note, intimately understanding what's required to create complex organic molecules. As a result of wildly speculative ideas on OOL, he has issued challenges to OOL researchers. Why don't you watch this video to become familiar with the problems OOL researchers face: https://youtu.be/v36_v4hsB-Y?t=139 -Q Querius
AF, pretzel strawman games again. And even the introductory video would show that as an organic, synthesis chemist he is critiquing the syntheses used in ool research, for cause. KF kairosfocus
It does tickle me how KF implies ignorance on my part by asking questions he himself cannot answer. Alan Fox
...you evade that you cannot answer the substantial points on the merits.
Research on the origin of life requires a second data point. I'm resigned to waiting (if I'm spared) ten years for solid data from Mars. The Webb telescope may find something unexpected. Or we humans are unique; the only Intelligent life in the part of the universe we can know about. Currently, with humans as a single data point, we can only speculate. http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/abiogenesis-the-second-data-point/ Alan Fox
Anything else you post simply emphasizes your ignorance regarding OOL research.
James Tour is not doing any "Origin of Life" research, nor has he ever done. How is it he should be regarded as some guru on the subject? Alan Fox
AF, the evasion and trying to pull rank game again. You full well know you are NOT dealing with biology but with proposed darwin pond or the like scenarios for origin of life. You are dealing here with a leading organic chemist whose business is synthesis of sophisticated molecules and he is criticising the synthesis approach being used in OOL research and is pointing out how it is misdirected and misleading based on flawed methods. For cause. If you have a substantial objection, give it rather than pretending he does not have relevant knowledge and expertise. Meanwhile we yet again are led to conclude that you are implying by what you evade that you cannot answer the substantial points on the merits. KF PS, here is in effect a mini course https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71dqAFUb-v0&list=PLILWudw_84t2THBvJZFyuLA0qvxwrIBDr kairosfocus
Seversky @49, Or you could watch Dr. Tour's rebuttal that destroys "Professor" Dave's assertions. https://youtu.be/v36_v4hsB-Y?t=139 Dr. Tour is a real professor at a real university and has over 750 peer-reviewed research publications, over 130 granted patents, and is widely cited (h Index = 165). https://www.jmtour.com/about/ But that’s only if you are interested from a scientific perspective. -Q Querius
If you are interested in a critique of Tour's claims, you could watch one of Professor Dave's videos But that's only if you are interested from a scientific perspective. Seversky
Alan Fox @44
But James Tour is not a biologist, WRT biology, he has no professional expertise or experience.
Just click the link below and watch the video. https://youtu.be/v36_v4hsB-Y Anything else you post simply emphasizes your ignorance regarding OOL research. -Q Querius
We listed all the biologists who explain the ins and outs of biology and ID.
Back in the days when ID and anti-ID was more popular, one site I use to follow had Jerry down as a deep-cover ID skeptic. Who's "we", Jerry? And does the list still exist? Alan Fox
Besides, Tour is a chemist and wouldn’t chemists be the primary experts.
He's a synthetic chemist and specialises in nanotechnology. Seems to be the leading expert on graphenes. Not much to do with biochemistry or biology. Alan Fox
has no professional expertise or experience
Lawyers and judges do it all the time to 12 novices. We listed all the biologists who explain the ins and outs of biology and ID. Besides, Tour is a chemist and wouldn’t chemists be the primary experts. Biologists are only relevant for the after effects. Aside: have no idea what video says. But we must thank anti ID people for more GIGO. jerry
But James Tour is not a biologist, WRT biology, he has no professional expertise or experience. Alan Fox
Alan Fox @42,
James Tour?
Just click the link in 41 and watch the video. -Q Querius
James Tour? Alan Fox
CD, again trying to make clever dismissive quips without considering reasoning. There are substantial reasons starting with OOL, see Tour Here at UD, https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/at-rice-u-dr-tour-exposes-the-false-science-behind-origin-of-life-research/ I notice, you and other objectors have been notably absent in the face of his specific comments on the topic and fatal flaws in research on it. Here Dr Tour suggests 500 years for synthesis of life de novo. KF kairosfocus
Querius at 39, Well the only life Mars might see in the near future is astronauts. It may - may - happen that a landing party will deploy a covered greenhouse, drill for liquid water and start growing plants in this heated greenhouse. It is not clear if the liquid water will be suitable for drinking. Its mineral content will have to be analyzed along with screening for any viruses or microbes. Since there is little sun, an artificial light source will be needed to simulate 'normal' day and night conditions. The carbon dioxide atmosphere will be split in an atmosphere converter and then the oxygen will be liquefied and pumped back into the lander. How this will be accomplished in the lower gravity and Martian atmospheric pressure is unknown. They will have to simulate this on Earth at a smaller scale by using a pressure chamber that can also simulate lower gravity. Otherwise, there is the possibility of a leak. Not a good thing. relatd
Relatd @35, Apparently, certain terrestrial extremophiles can survive on Mars: https://bigthink.com/hard-science/mars-rock/ So, after 4.5 billion years of evolution, some scientists believe life on Mars must have been inevitable, but simply hasn't been absolutely confirmed yet. I guess we're now supposed to assume it happened. -Q Querius
SG - I think that some confusion arises over the term "inevitable". It is correct to say that if life exists then the conclusion is inevitable that the conditions for life exist. It does not mean that the process by which the conditions arose is inevitable. hnorman42
CD at 36, I wonder if the evolution promoters here "... ever get sick of jawing at each other about the same things over and over and over and over and over ………." relatd
BA77/21 So, I watched the (thankfully short) video you posted with Tour and Lennox. John "The Leprechaun" Lenox is staggered by this and staggard by that and just generally staggered all over the place. I wonder if these Discovery Insitute mavens ever get sick of jawing at each other about the same things over and over and over and over and over .......... chuckdarwin
Querius at 33, Yes, well, the problem is trust. If experts say that this or that is likely to happen on other planets then some people give it no further thought. At least one Mars probe was able to scoop up a small amount of Martian soil into a special chamber for analysis. As I recall, the results were inconclusive. But Mars is very cold, its gravity is less than Earth's and its atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide. Hardly a place suitable for life. But water ice is available just below the surface in some areas, and one report states that liquid water is available about a mile underground. Until another probe detects microbes, for example, there is no evidence for life. relatd
SG, life on earth is a going concern, and as a going concern, supportive required conditions for life were met at cosmic, galactic, solar system and planetary levels. A huge array, actually, which can be shown to be at a very narrow operating point in a very large configuration space as say Barnes has aptly plotted. What is happening is you have conflated after the fact highly contingent outcomes - - * e.g. earth needs not have existed (and needs not have been habitable, contrast Mercury, Venus, the Moon, even granting for argument Mars and gas giant moons may have been habitable), * our sol system and galaxy need not have existed (most galaxies are not spirals or barred spirals with galactic habitable zones), * the laws and parameters of the cosmos as Leslie highlighted, come from a very narrow, multiply convergent zone from the abstract space of possibilities -- with a priori necessity. This is a confusion of order of being between contingent and necessary being. In fact it is the puddle blunder writ large: the water fits the hole by mechanical necessity; stretching to give some traction, a super law forcing such parameters as listed to go to supportive points, would be itself supremely fine tuned. And yes, as predicted, you have no cogent response to what is on the table from Hoyle et al forward. KF kairosfocus
Relatd @31, One would think that spontaneous generation was finally put to rest by Louis Pasteur's experiments. But no. Von Helmont's recipe for mice and the popular belief of maggots spontaneously evolving from rotting meat are still supported--only the recipe has changed. What's now thought to be needed is a "dirty" earth, lightning, a can of Campbell's primordial soup, and millions of years (according to some researchers, as few as 130 million years). -Q Querius
It's amazing at all the uninformed blah blah we get from people unfamiliar with astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez's evidence for the earth being in a "Goldilocks" zone. For example, this evidence includes a limited range of orbital distances from the sun and the distance of the sun away from the galactic core. There are enough of these parameters to fill a book. But apparently opinions and noise, no matter how vacuous, are far more important to air than any discussion based on observed facts. Humans have more than enough intelligence to make their own tools such as "telescopes," going far beyond what's needed simply to survive. -Q Querius
Ba77, We have actually looked at few other planets. It may be that Mars or the moon, Europa may have some type of primitive life, but that is unknown. However, I was watching a TV program where some scientists confidently claimed that if a planet, outside of our solar system, was the right distance from its sun and had water and the "building blocks of life," - amino acids - that life would appear there. At first, I accepted this idea. Later, after further thought, I realized that no scientists had any proof for this AND they were describing a magic trick, not science. But, NASA and other groups are spending money on this unproven fiction and expect to "find" life which, apparently, "appears" like living flies in dirty clothing. relatd
SG: "if life exists, the conditions necessary for life are unavoidable, necessary, compulsory, required, obligatory, mandatory, a situation that is unavoidable." But alas, as billions upon billions of lifeless planets testify, the conditions that allow life to exist on any given planet are not "unavoidable, necessary, compulsory, required, obligatory, mandatory," The preconditions that allow for life on earth may very well have been otherwise. The preconditions for life on earth are definitely not 'unavoidable'. The question is "why are the preconditions that are favorable for life unique to earth alone and to none of the other billions upon billions of other lifeless planets?". Falsely claiming that the preconditions for life on earth are 'unavoidable' does nothing to answer that burning question and reveals that you have not really understood the question.
Rare Solar System Gets Rarer | Hugh Ross - 2018 https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/rare-solar-system-gets-rarer Life Requires Galactic and Supergalactic Habitable Zones - 2019 https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/life-requires-galactic-and-supergalactic-habitable-zones
Andrew at 28, Like a magician, the goal is misdirection. Distracting the average reader from the actual science to get them to focus on nonsense instead - like puddles. Because, apparently, that's their job. Take Seversky. His "act," for lack of a better term, is to rant against God, or, if the subject is the fine-tuning of the universe, to find some fault, like, 'because XYZ is not to my liking - I would have done things differently - then there is no such thing as "fine tuning" or good/beneficial fine tuning.' See, see, he says, I - yes, I - just toppled your fine tuning argument. With gibberish... relatd
The sad part is that SG's (and Sev's) entire worldview prolly rests on a pseudo-clever turn of phrase about puddles that has nothing to do with examining any scientific information. Andrew asauber

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