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Ethan Siegel tackles fine-tuning at Forbes

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Having rehearsed it all, he asks:

3.) If we don’t find life in the places and under the conditions where we expect it, can that prove the existence of God? Certainly, there are people that will argue that it does. But to me, that’s a terrible way to place your faith. Consider this:

Do you want or need your belief in a divine or supernatural origin to the Universe to be based in something that could be scientifically disproven?

I am very open about not being a man of faith myself, but of having tremendous respect for those who are believers. The wonderful thing about science is that it is for everybody who’s willing to look to the Universe itself to find out more information about it. Why would your belief in God require that science give a specific answer to this question that we don’t yet know the answer to? Will your faith be shaken if we find that, hey, guess what, chemistry works to form life on other worlds the same way it worked in the past on this one? Will you feel like you’ve achieved some sort of spiritual victory if we scour the galaxy and find that human beings are the most intelligent species on all the worlds of the Milky Way? More.

Of course, the obvious fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life is not affected by any of these speculative casuistries. It is interesting that someone who is “very open about not being a man of faith” sounds so much like a theistic evolutionist in the sense of always looking for something to pick at that ignores the general pattern.

See also: Wayne Rossiter on the theistic evolution shell game

and

Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.

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6 Replies to “Ethan Siegel tackles fine-tuning at Forbes

  1. 1
    Origenes says:

    If we don’t find life in the places and under the conditions where we expect it, can that prove the existence of God?

    To be honest, the question never occurred to me. Given that life under naturalism is unlikely beyond the extreme, I would have to say ‘no’.

    Certainly, there are people that will argue that it does. But to me, that’s a terrible way to place your faith. Consider this:

    Do you want or need your belief in a divine or supernatural origin to the Universe to be based in something that could be scientifically disproven?

    Strange question. Does Siegel think that people base their belief on one single isolated scientific finding?

    I am very open about not being a man of faith myself, …
    Why would your belief in God require that science give a specific answer to this question that we don’t yet know the answer to?

    What question is that?

    Will your faith be shaken if we find that, hey, guess what, chemistry works to form life on other worlds the same way it worked in the past on this one?

    Oh that question. Not at all, life on other worlds would also be best explained by intelligent design.

    Will you feel like you’ve achieved some sort of spiritual victory if we scour the galaxy and find that human beings are the most intelligent species on all the worlds of the Milky Way?

    Nope. BTW do I sense the assumption that there is alien life?

    Or, can your beliefs — whatever they are — stand up to whatever scientific truths the Universe reveals about itself, regardless of what they are?

    Of course not. The day that science shows that horses and universes pop into existence without a cause I have to do some rethinking.

  2. 2
    bFast says:

    “Do you want or need your belief in a divine or supernatural origin to the Universe to be based in something that could be scientifically disproven?”
    Actually, I think I do. I do find it comforting at least, to know that the scientific position currently is very supernatural origin comfortable. In truth, in light of the fine-tuned universe, in light of first life, in light of life’s intricate complexity, it takes a heck of a lot more faith to be an atheist than to be a theist.

    This Tetris seems to assert that somehow discovering the existence or non-existence of life elsewhere will somehow prove something. I don’t get that. Certainly finding life elsewhere will do nothing to prove that the life elsewhere came from natural causes. It could well be that the agent that caused life here did so elsewhere as well.

    I do think that failure to find life elsewhere supports the theistic position. However, it never ever proves it. You can’t prove a negative. There will always be hope that in the next galaxy over there is life somewhere.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this quote:

    “I am very open about not being a man of faith myself,”

    But alas, despite his denial, he has an unbridled faith in atheistic materialism that is so extreme that it would make a suicide bomber blush in embarrassment.

    If anyone should ever question his faith because of advances in science, it should be Siegel himself. But alas he ignores those advances and puts irrational hope in some unforeseen discovery that will, he imagines, back him up. i.e. “Materialism of the gaps!”

    Does the Probability for ETI = 1?
    Excerpt: In another book I wrote with Fuz, Who Was Adam?, we describe calculations done by evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala and by astrophysicists John Barrow, Brandon Carter, and Frank Tipler for the probability that a bacterium would evolve under ideal natural conditions—given the presumption that the mechanisms for natural biological evolution are both effective and rapid. They determine that probability to be no more than 10-24,000,000.
    The bottom line is that rather than the probability for extraterrestrial intelligent life being 1 as Aczel claims, very conservatively from a naturalistic perspective it is much less than 10^500 + 22 -1054 -100,000,000,000 -24,000,000. That is, it is less than 10-100,024,000,532. In longhand notation it would be 0.00 … 001 with 100,024,000,531 zeros (100 billion, 24 million, 5 hundred and thirty-one zeros) between the decimal point and the 1. That longhand notation of the probability would fill over 20,000 complete Bibles. (As far as scientific calculations are concerned, determining how close a probability is to zero, only Penrose’s 1 in 10^10^123 calculation, for the initial entropy of the universe, is, as far as I know, closer to zero)
    http://www.reasons.org/does-probability-eti-1

    Life and Earth History Reveal God’s Miraculous Preparation for Humans – Hugh Ross, PhD – video (2014)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Y496NYnm8

    Eric Metaxas – Does Science Argue for or against God? – (2015) video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjGPHF5A6Po

    “Reason and science compels us to see what previous generations could not: that our existence is an outrageous and astonishing miracle, one so startlingly and perhaps so disturbingly miraculous that it makes any miracle like the parting of the Red Sea pale in such insignificance that it almost becomes unworthy of our consideration, as though it were something done easily by a child, half-asleep. It is something to which the most truly human response is some combination of terror and wonder, of ancient awe, and childhood joy.”
     Eric Metaxas – Miracles – pages 55-56

    Isaiah 40:28
    Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

    Supplemental notes:

    Theism compared to Materialism/Naturalism – a comparative overview of the major predictions of each philosophy – video
    https://youtu.be/QQ9iyCmPmz8

    1. Naturalism/Materialism predicted space-time energy-matter always existed. Theism predicted space-time energy-matter were created. Big Bang cosmology now strongly indicates that time-space energy-matter had a sudden creation event approximately 14 billion years ago.

    2. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the universe is a self sustaining system that is not dependent on anything else for its continued existence. Theism predicted that God upholds this universe in its continued existence. Breakthroughs in quantum mechanics reveal that this universe is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence.

    3. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that consciousness is an ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus should have no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicts consciousness precedes material reality and therefore, on that presupposition, consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. –

    4. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe. Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time. – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) –

    5. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and that life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind. Scientists find the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Moreover it is found, when scrutinizing the details of physics and chemistry, that not only is the universe fine-tuned for carbon based life, but is specifically fine-tuned for life like human life (R. Collins, M. Denton).-

    6. Naturalism/Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex organic life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe (G. Gonzalez; Hugh Ross). –

    7. Naturalism/Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11). Geochemical evidence from the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth indicates that complex photosynthetic life has existed on earth as long as water has been on the face of earth. –

    8. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the first life to be relatively simple. Theism predicted that God is the source for all life on earth. The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) –

    9. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse animal life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. –

    10. Naturalism/Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record. Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within that group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. –

    11. Naturalism/Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man (our genus ‘modern homo’ as distinct from the highly controversial ‘early homo’) is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. (Tattersall; Luskin)–

    12. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the separation of human intelligence from animal intelligence ‘is one of degree and not of kind’ (C. Darwin). Theism predicted that we are made in the ‘image of God’- Despite an ‘explosion of research’ in this area over the last four decades, human beings alone are found to ‘mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities.’ (Tattersall; Schwartz). Moreover, both biological life and the universe itself are found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.

    13. Naturalism/Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. –

    14. Naturalism/Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) –

    15. Naturalism/Materialism predicted morality is subjective and illusory. Theism predicted morality is objective and real. Morality is found to be deeply embedded in the genetic responses of humans. As well, morality is found to be deeply embedded in the structure of the universe. Embedded to the point of eliciting physiological responses in humans before humans become aware of the morally troubling situation and even prior to the event even happening.

    16. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that we are merely our material bodies with no transcendent component to our being, and that we die when our material bodies die. Theism predicted that we have minds/souls that are transcendent of our bodies that live past the death of our material bodies. Transcendent, and ‘conserved’, (cannot be created or destroyed), ‘non-local’, (beyond space-time matter-energy), quantum entanglement/information, which is not reducible to matter-energy space-time, is now found in our material bodies on a massive scale (in every DNA and protein molecule).

    As you can see when we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy (methodological naturalism), from the scientific method, and look carefully at the predictions of both the materialistic philosophy and the Theistic philosophy, side by side, we find the scientific method is very good at pointing us in the direction of Theism as the true explanation. – In fact modern science is even very good at pointing us to Christianity as the solution to the much sought after ‘theory of everything’

    The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uHST2uFPQY&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5&index=4

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    Question 1), ‘What are, scientifically, the conditions that we need for life to arise?’, indicates that, like consciousness, the whole issue is a scientific imponderable, since science does not have the first clue as the nature of ‘life’, either Animal or Vegetable; maybe the first clue concerning Mineral, but very little else, the Singularity at the Big Bang being so uncompromisingly, cognitively reclusive. Sorry about the polysyllabic exercise there at the end.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    semi-related:

    Gödel Proves God 2-4-2017 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86-HkpLPL8c
    Two German mathematicians created a program to test the mathematics of Gödel’s logical proof for the existence of God and found it to be logically valid. The soundness of the proof and its implications are discussed.

  6. 6
    chris haynes says:

    Dr. Siegel is discussing Science?
    Yeah, right.

    Take this one:
    “Will your faith be shaken if we find that, hey, guess what, chemistry works to form life on other worlds THE SAME WAY IT WORKED IN THE PAST ON THIS ONE?”

    Dr Siegel, hey, guess what.
    You have no evidence that chemistry worked in the past to form life anywhere.

    And given Dr Siegel’s unsupported claim,
    on what basis would Astrophysicists be believed, when one of their esteemed colleagues is not challenged when he feeds the public BS?

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