In the face of a grab bag of ideas like creation by ETs or countless universes (some run by cats), why does the idea of a Creator seem far out?:
Robert J. Marks: So the creator of this is a creative mind. A lot of people would say, “Okay. You’re talking about God.”
It’s very interesting how the fine-tuning of the universe has brought people to a belief in God. One of them, kind of a poster boy, is Antony Flew, who wrote in 1976, The Presumption of Atheism.News, “If extraterrestrials didn’t fine tune Earth, maybe there is a God” at Mind Matters News
Note:Antony Flew (1923–2010) was a well-known and widely respected British philosopher. Through most of his career he was an atheist and his 1976 book, The Presumption of Atheism & Other Essays (1976) outlined his approach in a formal way. However, evidence of the fine tuning of the universe slowly changed his mind and in 2008, he published There Is a God, in which he identified himself as a deist. That is, he was not a theist — he made no claim to specific theological revelations. But the evidence convinced him that there was a mind behind nature.
Robert J. Marks: I want to get now to the last topic that I want to talk about. I think panspermia is silly. I think Sims theory is silly. But for every one that I think is silly, there are people out there that would argue and debate me and say that they’re not silly.
Many times this comes down to a personal belief. And so, we’re going to put aside the physics and talk about our personal beliefs. Let’s go ahead and start with Daniel. What do you think is the cause of all this fine-tuning that we see in the universe?
Daniel Díaz: Okay. Just let me make a differentiation between deist and theist.
It’s an important point to make, because the deist believes that there is a God, but that the world is created in such a way that God is not interacting with it in any way.
Robert J. Marks: Really? I always thought that the theist was a subset of deist, but I’m being corrected here. Is that right?
Daniel Díaz: The theist or theism is the position that there is a God and he interacts with the universe he created. So there is kind of a differentiation between the two. Deism was actually champion by Baruch de Spinoza and it influenced Einstein’s thinking a lot… The guy was a believer in God. That’s why he proposed that there was a God, but he did not interact.
But he created… Spinoza thought that God had created a world that was so perfect that it did not need any intervention. So it is a very, very mechanistic way of thinking of the world. And that was something that Einstein observed a lot. That is the reason for Einstein to reject quantum physics with its Copenhagen interpretation. That’s where the famous sentence of Einstein came about, “God does not play dice.”
Because he was thinking that if God were playing dice, then he would be interacting with nature, with the world that God created. For Einstein, that was unthinkable. Anyhow, that’s deist position. The theist position is to believe that there is a God, and that he interacts with the universe that he created…
Takehome: Traditional philosophers, not committed to a religion, have thought that deism (and theism) are rational, science-based conclusions, based on fine tuning.
Here are the previous instalments of the discussion between Robert J. Marks, Ola Hössjer, and Daniel Díaz on the fine tuning of the universe for life:
The first episode:
Ours is a finely tuned — and No Free Lunch — universe. Mathematician Ola Hössjer and biostatistician Daniel Díaz explain to Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks why nature works so seamlessly. A “life-permitting interval” makes it all possible — but is that really an accident?
Fine-tuning? How Bayesian statistics could help break a deadlock Bayesian statistics are used, for example, in spam filter technology, identifying probable spam by examining vast masses of previous messages. The frequentist approach assesses the probability of future events but the Bayesian approach assesses the probability of events that have already occurred.
The second episode:
Life is so wonderfully finely tuned that it’s frighteningA mathematician who uses statistical methods to model the fine tuning of molecular machines and systems in cells reflects…
Every single cell is like a city that cannot function without a complex network of services that must all work together to maintain life.
Can there be a general theory for fine-tuning? If you make a bowl of alphabet soup and the letters arrange themselves and say, good morning, that is specified. What are the probabilities? Ola Hössjer sees the beauty of mathematics in the fact that seemingly unrelated features in cosmology and biology can be modeled using similar concepts.
The third episode
Was the universe created for life forms to live in? How would we know? We can begin by looking at the fundamental constants that underlie the universe. The constants of the universe — gravitational constant, entropy, and cosmological constant — must be finely tuned for life to exist.
Why did Stephen Hawking give up on a Theory of Everything? Daniel Díaz and Ola Hössjer continue their discussion of the fine tuning of the universal constants of nature with Robert J. Marks. The probability, they calculate, that the fine tuning of our universe is simply random is down to 10 to the minus sixty — a very small number.
The fourth and final episode
Is life from outer space a viable science hypothesis? Currently, panspermia has been rated as “plausible but not convincing.” Marks, Hössjer, and Diaz discuss the issues. Famous atheist scientists have favored panspermia because there is no plausible purely natural explanation for life on Earth that would make it unnecessary.
Could advanced aliens have fine-tuned Earth for life? That’s a surprisingly popular thesis, considering how hard it is to account for life without assuming a creator. As Robert Marks, Ola Hössjer, and Daniel Díaz discuss, some prominent atheists/agnostics have chosen to substitute advanced extraterrestrials for God.
Our universe survived a firing squad and it’s just an accident? According to the Weak Anthropic Principle, if things weren’t the way they are, we wouldn’t be here and that’s all there is to it. Given the odds, a philosopher likens the Weak Anthropic Principle to surviving a firing squad and concluding, incuriously, well… that’s just the way things are.
In an infinity of universes, countless ones are run by cats… Daniel Díaz notes that most of the talk about the multiverse started to appear once it was realized that there was fine-tuning in nature.
Robert J. Marks points out that even 10 to the 1000th power of universes would only permit 3,322 different paths. Infinity is required but unprovable.
If extraterrestrials didn’t fine tune Earth, maybe there is a God In the face of a grab bag of ideas like creation by ETs or countless universes (some run by cats), why does the idea of a Creator seem far out? Traditional philosophers, not committed to a religion, have thought that deism (and theism) are rational, science-based conclusions, based on fine tuning.
You may also wish to read: No Free Lunches: Robert J. Marks: What the Big Bang teaches us about nothing. Bernoulli is right and Keynes is Wrong. Critics of Bernoulli don’t appreciate the definition of “knowing nothing.” The concept of “knowing nothing” can be tricky.