Cosmology Fine tuning ID Foundations Intelligent Design

ID Foundations, 6: Introducing* the cosmological design inference

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The Big Bang timeline










(Series to date: 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5)

UD’s Gil Dodgen has recently observed:

In the case of cosmic ID the situation is even worse. The evidence for design of the laws of physics with the ultimate goal of producing a life-permitting universe is so obvious that detractors have been reduced to proposing an infinitude of in-principle undetectable alternate universes. If this is the case, nothing is impossible and everything is inevitable.

It is plainly time for us to take back up the ID Foundations series (series to date: 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5), and to now focus on cosmological signs of design (at an introductory* level).

[U/D Jan 11, ’15:] As a preview,  let us view a rather simplified summary view of that argument to get a feel for the issue:

[youtube UpIiIaC4kRA]

While the rhetorical fireworks and worldview agendas-tinged culture clashes that so often crop up at UD and elsewhere have clustered on design inferences regarding the origin of life and the origin of body plans, modern design theory actually began with cosmological inferences to design on signs of highly specific, functionally complex organisation of the laws and circumstances of our observed cosmos that set it up at an operating point conducive to C-chemistry, cell based life.

Then agnostic British astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle (holder of a Nobel-equivalent prize) has pride of place:

From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.[F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.  Emphasis added.]

Hoyle added:

I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. [[“The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]

Canadian astrophysicist (and Old Earth Creationist) Hugh Ross aptly explains:

 As you tune your radio, there are certain frequencies where the circuit has just the right resonance and you lock onto a station. The internal structure of an atomic nucleus is something like that, with specific energy or resonance levels. If two nuclear fragments collide with a resulting energy that just matches a resonance level, they will tend to stick and form a stable nucleus. Behold! Cosmic alchemy will occur! In the carbon atom, the resonance just happens to match the combined energy of the beryllium atom and a colliding helium nucleus. Without it, there would be relatively few carbon atoms. Similarly, the internal details of the oxygen nucleus play a critical role. Oxygen can be formed by combining helium and carbon nuclei, but the corresponding resonance level in the oxygen nucleus is half a percent too low for the combination to stay together easily. Had the resonance level in the carbon been 4 percent lower, there would be essentially no carbon. Had that level in the oxygen been only half a percent higher, virtually all the carbon would have been converted to oxygen. Without that carbon abundance, neither you nor I would be here. [[Beyond the Cosmos (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress Publishing Group, 1996), pg. 32. HT: IDEA.]

{ADDED, 13:02:24: Dr Guillermo Gonzalez surveys several fine tuning cases here, in a videotaped lecture. Let us add it . . . }

[youtube M39BKwtUAyA#!]

Why all the fuss about this?

It can be boiled down to one pivotal word that gives a slice of the cake with all the ingredients in it: water . . .

The water cycle: key to a viable life-bearing terrestrial planet











Water molecules

First, let us note that the three most common atoms in life are Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. For instance, H and O make water, the three-atom universal solvent that is so adaptable to the needs of the living cell, and to making a terrestrial planet a good home for life.

As D. Halsmer, J. Asper, N. Roman, T. Todd observe of this wonder molecule:

 The remarkable properties of water are numerous. Its very high specific heat maintains relatively stable temperatures both in oceans and organisms. As a liquid, its thermal conductivity is four times any other common liquid, which makes it possible for cells to efficiently distribute heat. On the other hand, ice has a low thermal conductivity, making it a good thermal shield in high latitudes. A latent heat of fusion only surpassed by that of ammonia tends to keep water in liquid form and creates a natural thermostat at 0°C. Likewise, the highest latent heat of vaporization of any substance – more than five times the energy required to heat the same amount of water from 0°C-100°C – allows water vapor to store large amounts of heat in the atmosphere. This very high latent heat of vaporization is also vital biologically because at body temperature or above, the only way for a person to dissipate heat is to sweat it off.

Water’s remarkable capabilities are definitely not only thermal. A high vapor tension allows air to hold more moisture, which enables precipitation. Water’s great surface tension is necessary for good capillary effect for tall plants, and it allows soil to hold more water. Water’s low viscosity makes it possible for blood to flow through small capillaries. A very well documented anomaly is that water expands into the solid state, which keeps ice on the surface of the oceans instead of accumulating on the ocean floor. Possibly the most important trait of water is its unrivaled solvency abilities, which allow it to transport great amounts of minerals to immobile organisms and also hold all of the contents of blood. It is also only mildly reactive, which keeps it from harmfully reacting as it dissolves substances. Recent research has revealed how water acts as an efficient lubricator in many biological systems from snails to human digestion. By itself, water is not very effective in this role, but it works well with certain additives, such as some glycoproteins. The sum of these traits makes water an ideal medium for life. Literally, every property of water is suited for supporting life. It is no wonder why liquid water is the first requirement in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

All these traits are contained in a simple molecule of only three atoms. One of the most difficult tasks for an engineer is to design for multiple criteria at once. … Satisfying all these criteria in one simple design is an engineering marvel. Also, the design process goes very deep since many characteristics would necessarily be changed if one were to alter fundamental physical properties such as the strong nuclear force or the size of the electron. [[“The Coherence of an Engineered World,” International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(1):47-65 (2009). HT: ENV.]

In short, the elegantly simple water molecule is set to a finely balanced, life-facilitating operating point, based on fundamental forces and parameters of the cosmos. Forces that had to be built in from the formation of the cosmos itself. Which fine-tuning from the outset, therefore strongly suggests a purpose to create life in the cosmos from its beginning.

Moreover, the authors also note how C, H and O just happen to be the fourth, first and third most abundant  atoms in the cosmos, helium –the first noble gas — being number two. This — again on fundamental parameters and laws of our cosmos — does not suggest a mere accident of happy coincidence:

The explanation has to do with fusion within stars. Early [[stellar, nuclear fusion] reactions start with hydrogen atoms and then produce deuterium (mass 2), tritium (mass 3), and alpha particles (mass 4), but no stable mass 5 exists. This limits the creation of heavy elements and was considered one of “God’s mistakes” until further investigation. In actuality, the lack of a stable mass 5 necessitates bigger jumps of four which lead to carbon (mass 12) and oxygen (mass 16). Otherwise, the reactions would have climbed right up the periodic table in mass steps of one (until iron, which is the cutoff above which fusion requires energy rather than creating it). The process would have left oxygen and carbon no more abundant than any other element.

So, we can see why Sir Fred so pithily summed up a talk he gave at CalTech in 1981 as follows:

From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.[F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.Cited, Bradley, in “Is There Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God? How the Recent Discoveries Support a Designed Universe”. Emphasis added.]

{Added, 13:02:05: Earlier in the talk given at Caltech in 1981 or thereabouts, he elaborated on Carbon and the chemistry of life, especially enzymes:

The big problem in biology, as I see it, is  to understand the origin of the information carried by the explicit structures of biomolecules.  The issue isn’t so much the rather crude fact that a protein consists of a chain of amino acids linked together in a certain way, but that the explicit ordering of the amino acids endows the chain with remarkable properties, which other orderings wouldn’t give.  The case of the enzymes is  well known . . . If amino acids were linked at random, there would be a vast number of arrange-ments that would be useless in serving the pur-poses of a living cell.  When you consider that a typical enzyme has a chain of perhaps 200 links and that there are 20 possibilities for each link,it’s easy to see that the number of useless arrangements is enormous, more than the number of atoms in all  the galaxies visible in the largest telescopes. This is for one enzyme, and there are upwards of 2000 of them, mainly serving very different purposes.  So how did the situation get to where we find it to be? This is,  as I see it,  the biological problem – the information problem . . . .

I was constantly plagued by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the universe.  So try  as I would, I couldn’t convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to find life by random processes – by what are called the blind forces of nature . . . .  By far the simplest way to arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes would be by thought, not by random processes . . . .

Now imagine yourself as a superintellect working through possibilities in polymer chemistry. Would you not be astonished that polymers based on the carbon atom turned out in your calculations to have the remarkable properties of the enzymes and other biomolecules? Would you not be bowled over in surprise to find that a living cell was a feasible construct? Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use: Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. Of course you would, and if you were a sensible superintellect you would conclude that the carbon atom is a fix.

No wonder, in that same talk, Hoyle — a lifelong agnostic — also added:

I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. [[“The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]}

The story does not end here.

As Robin Collins put the case in summary, in a classic essay on The Fine-tuning Design Argument(1998):

Suppose we went on a mission to Mars, and found a domed structure in which everything was set up just right for life to exist. The temperature, for example, was set around 70 °F and the humidity was at 50%; moreover, there was an oxygen recycling system, an energy gathering system, and a whole system for the production of food. Put simply, the domed structure appeared to be a fully functioning biosphere. What conclusion would we draw from finding this structure? Would we draw the conclusion that it just happened to form by chance? Certainly not. Instead, we would unanimously conclude that it was designed by some intelligent being. Why would we draw this conclusion? Because an intelligent designer appears to be the only plausible explanation for the existence of the structure. That is, the only alternative explanation we can think of–that the structure was formed by some natural process–seems extremely unlikely. Of course, it is possible that, for example, through some volcanic eruption various metals and other compounds could have formed, and then separated out in just the right way to produce the “biosphere,” but such a scenario strikes us as extraordinarily unlikely, thus making this alternative explanation unbelievable.

The universe is analogous to such a “biosphere,” according to recent findings in physics . . . .  Scientists call this extraordinary balancing of the parameters of physics and the initial conditions of the universe the “fine-tuning of the cosmos”  . . .  For example, theoretical physicist and popular science writer Paul Davies–whose early writings were not particularly sympathetic to theism–claims that with regard to basic structure of the universe, “the impression of design is overwhelming” (Davies, 1988, p. 203) . . .

[[Cf. also here and his video summary here. Short summary here. Elsewhere, Collins notes how noted cosmologist Roger Penrose has estimated that “[[i]in order to produce a universe resembling the one in which we live, the Creator would have to aim for an absurdly tiny volume of the phase space of possible universes — about 1/(10^(10^123)) of the entire volume . . .” That is, 1 divided by 10 followed by one less than 10^123 zeros. By a long shot, there are not enough atoms in the observed universe [~10^80] to fully write out the fraction.]

Collins continues:

A few examples of this fine-tuning are listed below:

1. If the initial explosion of the big bang had differed in strength by as little as 1 part in 1060, the universe would have either quickly collapsed back on itself, or expanded too rapidly for stars to form. In either case, life would be impossible. [See Davies, 1982, pp. 90-91. (As John Jefferson Davis points out (p. 140), an accuracy of one part in 10^60 can be compared to firing a bullet at a one-inch target on the other side of the observable universe, twenty billion light years away, and hitting the target.)

2. Calculations indicate that if the strong nuclear force, the force that binds protons and neutrons together in an atom, had been stronger or weaker by as little as 5%, life would be impossible. (Leslie, 1989, pp. 4, 35; Barrow and Tipler, p. 322.)

3. Calculations by Brandon Carter show that if gravity had been stronger or weaker by 1 part in 10 to the 40th power, then life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist. This would most likely make life impossible. (Davies, 1984, p. 242.)

4. If the neutron were not about 1.001 times the mass of the proton, all protons would have decayed into neutrons or all neutrons would have decayed into protons, and thus life would not be possible. (Leslie, 1989, pp. 39-40 )

5. If the electromagnetic force were slightly stronger or weaker, life would be impossible, for a variety of different reasons. (Leslie, 1988, p. 299.)

But, what if we just happen to be here to see it because we are the lucky ones in some tiny corner of the multiverse?



*F/N, Jul 19: This post is meant to be an introduction to the cosmological fine tuning argument. Accordingly, I must now direct those needing background information, and those needing more specific responses to push-back attempts, as follows:

1] Background: Please read the IOSE draft course unit on cosmology, here. For a 101 on the Anthropic Principle(s) NWE’s article here is a good start. Privileged Planet is here. Sheldon’s discussion of issues here gives some context for appreciating the worldview level significance of a big bang, and of its fine tuned organisation that set the stage for Carbon-chemistry, cell based intelligent life, with sidelights on the question, where did/does complex, specific functional information come from.

2] General level response to Stenger’s “Fine tuning fallacy” thesis: 1, 2, 3 (HT: Mung.)

3] More technical level response to Stenger,  that also brings out some of the subtleties of the cosmological fine tuning design case: 1, 2. (HT: Mung. Also cf Luke Barnes’ links to his series on fine tuning critiques on both sides, here.)

4] More technical response to Ikeda and Jeffreys’ Bayesian probability critique: 1, 2. (DM, kindly take notice. This critique, by reasonable extension,  also applies to Sobers’ arguments that were endorsed by I & J. Part 2 has an interesting variant on the firing squad parable, showing how subtly  imposed naturalistic assumptions can lead to patent absurdities that are not obvious from the mathematical models used to support them. Palonen’s THIS universe argument is also worth a look, here. )

5] Robin Collins: General intro on fine tuning here. 20 pp. summary argument here, 80 pp current version  here, (early, doc format version here), collection of supportive evidence on the existence of fine tuning here. Discussion of definition of fine tuning here. Discussion of multiverse hyp here.

6] A good, monograph length technical survey by Luke Barnes: here. (Excellent for going on to the next level. Added, Jan 6, 2012, HT VJT.)


32 Replies to “ID Foundations, 6: Introducing* the cosmological design inference

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    But all of this can be explained on simple chance + necessity. In fact, we can predict a nested hierarchy of universes and transitional universes and if we toss in a little emergence and the fact that we would not otherwise be here to observe and it’s all very simple. No God required. See?

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:


    Doubtless, said tongue firmly in cheek.

    Such a multiverse speculation, as noted, is rank metaphysics, even when said by a man wearing a lab coat.

    All it succeeds in doing is substituting an empirically groundless speculation that is patently ad hoc, to try to save the phenomena for a preferred worldview.

    And only to run into the problem posed by Leslie: we are not so much at a GLOBAL optimum, as at a very delicate and complex finely balanced operating point. A little push here or there and the cosmos we observe would not work; actually, we would not be here to observe, for we could not be here.

    Even something so apparently simple and familiar as water turns out to be wonderfully finely balanced, and in a way that traces back to the foundations of the physics of our cosmos.

    And to get the key building brick elements, Hoyle is telling us the best bet is somebody monkeyed with physics to set it up, e.g. look at how we just so happen not to have a nice stable mass five nucleus, and that turns out to be a crucial engineering constraint!

    Anyway, let’s hear Leslie from above:

    . . . the need for such explanations [[for fine-tuning] does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes. Claiming that our universe is ‘fine tuned for observers’, we base our claim on how life’s evolution would apparently have been rendered utterly impossible by comparatively minor [[emphasis original] alterations in physical force strengths, elementary particle masses and so forth. There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned. Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.

    [[Our Place in the Cosmos, 1998. The force of this point is deepened once we think about what has to be done to get a rifle into “tack-driving” condition. That is, a “tack-driving” rifle is a classic example of a finely tuned, complex system, i.e. we are back at the force of Collins’ point on a multiverse model needing a well adjusted Cosmos bakery. (Slide show, ppt. “Simple” summary, doc.)]

    Buzz, buzz, splat!

    GEM of TKI

    PS: On checking, this post is a bit longer than I realised. Should I split into two pages right away? [I think I will want to do so later in any case. But I am concerned that people may not like to follow jump lines.]

  3. 3
    GilDodgen says:


    This essay is a masterpiece that encapsulates all the essentials of cosmological ID in a readily accessible and easily understandable way. The amount of work and dedication you put into this and your other essays is obvious and admirable.

    Those of us in the ID community do not want to just preach to the choir. We want to reach out to those who have doubts about the rationality of a thoroughly materialistic worldview.

    These people are numerous.

    UD is an island of rationality in sea of obfuscation, storytelling, and worst and most despicable of all, coercion, promoted with all the power of popular media and a dogma advanced in academia, where no dissent is permitted, under penalty of excommunication from the state-sponsored church of Darwinian multiverse madness.

    This is the exact opposite of what science should be.

  4. 4
    Bantay says:


    You said “state-sponsored church of Darwinian multiverse madness.”

    I would agree that Darwinism is madness, and the multiverse is a hopeful speculation that requires more faith than Christianity, if only due to a corresponding lack of evdience. But how is Darwinism necessarily shackled to multiverse speculations?

  5. 5
    Ilion says:

    It’s not just that there is no empirical evidence of a “multiverse”; it’s that, in principle, there can never be any empirical evidence of a “multiverse”. Any purported empirical evidence of a purported “other universe” would be, by definition, merely something from this universe.

    GilDodgen didn’t say “Darwinism [is] necessarily shackled to multiverse speculations”; he made reference to the fact that, currently, the Darwinists have latched onto that particular concept-and-assertion as being an easy way to side-step the issue of the logical holes in Darwinism.

    All Darwinism is necessarily shackled to is denying that God (intentionally) caused us to be.

  6. 6
    GilDodgen says:

    But how is Darwinism necessarily shackled to multiverse speculations?

    The multiverse is proposed as a solution to the origin of life, since no one with any respectability now argues that chance in our universe can explain it.

    But it doesn’t stop there. It is assumed that once a self-replicating molecule came about, by whatever mechanism (e.g., an infinitude of random universes), that the Darwinian mechanism of random errors filtered by natural selection can explain all the rest.

    But this does not solve the problem. Natural selection has no creative powers. It’s a garbage disposal system. So we are once again forced to accept chance as the driving mechanism behind bio-creativity, which is just as absurd and logically unsupportable as the origin of life by chance.

    As a consequence, we are back to the infinite multiverse hypothesis, which must necessarily be at work at every stage of the evolution of bio-complexity and information generation.

    Which makes no sense.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    All Darwinism is necessarily shackled to is denying that God (intentionally) caused us to be.

    But wouldn’t that entail that Darwinism is necessarily a metaphysical argument?

  8. 8
    junkdnaforlife says:

    Great post Kairosfocus. Davies also mentions in some of his early writing [and speaking candidly about] the confounding [singularity] event as existed at the boundary of space-time, where general relativity breaks down
    and the point goes to infinity. Infinity not being considered a
    property/ies of nature, the singularity event is by definition
    representing the interface between the natural and the supernatural. Supernatural not being the strawman Zeus etc, but rather simply:
    outside the boundaries and laws of nature. This evidenced through
    the cosmic microwave background radiation as predicted by the equations of Einstein, both indicating a singular point at which the laws of physics are obliterated . Thus implying the uni-verse began to exist at a singular, infinite, and by definition, supernatural point.
    The mathematics, in incorporating infinite values at the origin of space/time negates the premise of a natural origin to the universe.
    The laws of physics
    cannot themselves explain the existence of the laws of physics.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:


    Great comments.

    Gil and JDNA, thanks for the kind words. Appreciated, in the midst of having to deal with Internet thuggery.

    The resort to actual (and probably undetectable) infinities as a solution to the dilemmas of evolutionary materialism — from hydrogen to humans via invisible [you can’t make this up!] multiverses, clay banks and/or volcano vents and/or comets and/or moons of gas giants and/or XXXX, thence pond slime, thence the zoo thence humans — is IMHO, a reductio ad absurdum.

    Bad philosophy is bad philosophy, whether or not the proponent is dressed in the holy lab coat and is duly paid by the tithes [oops: “taxes”] extracted by the secularist state and used to subsidise its churches [oops: research institutes, schools, colleges, “public” media houses and unis] and friendly local magicians [that printer’s devil: technicians] and weapons-smiths [this is getting real bad: defense industries].

    (Funny, I thought we had left the Medieval era — those notoriously “dark” ages –in the dust? “De more tings change de more dey is de same: six a one, half dozen a de odda . . .” )

    GEM of TKI

  10. 10
    Bantay says:


    You said here “The multiverse is proposed as a solution to the origin of life, since no one with any respectability now argues that chance in our universe can explain it.”

    Yes, I can see how some faithful may believe that a multiverse (if it exists) would provide an infinite number of chances for Darwinism to work, but that simply requires too much a priori assumptions that are outside of what science has been defined to define. They’ve kinda shot themselves in their own foot by limiting the definition of science to natural causes in this case. It won’t be long before multiverse adherents begin to claim an exception to the rules of science they hold so dear…empiricism, observability, testability.

    Pertaining to Darwinism and the origin of life issue, the multiverse sounds more like a “Nature of the gaps” argument to me. When the origin of life cannot be explained by natural causes, just invoke something unobserved and untestable….Then expect someone to believe it is science.

    Nope. I’ll stick with what good science and mathematics continue to show increasing support for: An absolute, singular beginning of the universe from no pre-existing matter and the actual beginning of all energy and 3 dimensional space-time, a universe where its physical laws are both fixed and contained.

    This happens to be what the Bible also described, for in Gen 1:1 the word for “created” is from the Hebrew word “Bara” which in context suggests a novel, completely new creation from nothing, not a re-organization of existing matter.

    Additionally, it was the Bible that first described an expanding universe, something modern astronomy has only caught on to in the last 70 years.

    We should be cautious though. Those who have been so vociferous against evidences for global ID (as well as trying to define science as only having natural causes), will be the same ones trying to spread the multiverse as a gospel, a non-scientific, science-substitute. They will not try to win their world view by science, but by popularization of urban myth.

    The multiverse will continue to stimulate the imaginations of young and old through glossy magazine covers and secular science videos on public and cable television stations et etc. Over time, noted scientists will become more bold in proclaiming the multiverse with as much confidence as they would gravity. It won’t be much longer after that that the multiverse is taught in public schools with as much disregard for the facts and good science as Darwinism is now.

    As in the short-lived Darwinist debacle, multiverse adherents will keep the faith until something else takes its place. The work of ID research needs to continue, if only to save the naive masses from the religion of non-science called multiverse.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:


    It is interesting when the debate over the issues in one thread is in significant part happening elsewhere in another thread. (That backs up the ratio between looks and comments in this thread.)

    Let me clip from the No good theology thread:


    DM, 11: >> We can account for the existence of this universe by noting that it contained only a very small amount of CSI at the beginning – just some energy confined in a very small space and a few laws – maybe just one law that split into all the other laws randomly as this universe expanded and cooled.

    That would mean that the metaverse that spawned this universe could also be very simple – just something chaotic with very little CSI in it – something that could “just exist” without straining probability with questions like, “Where did all that highly structured information come from?” since no highly structured information would be needed . . . >>

    VJT, 21: >> A universe with a single law and very low CSI would still be contingent, so it would be reasonable to ask where it came from. There’s nothing obviously wrong with that question . . . .

    You suggest that the universe’s CSI can spontaneously increase. I take it then that you would disagree with claims that the total CSI of the universe is conserved. Even if you are right, it is still a contingent fact about the universe that its CSI is able to grow. That also needs explaining.>>

    Mung, 23: >> Things which contain only a small amount of CSI can poof into existence magically, while things which contain a large amount of CSI can poof into existence only if they do so Magically. >>

    VJT, 25: >> Great comment from junkdnaforlife over at kairosfocus’ latest post:

    “The laws of physics cannot explain the laws of physics.”

    Precisely. >>

    DM, 26: >> Ipadron at 12 The small amount of information that this universe contained at the Big Bang probably came from noise in the multiverse that produced this universe . . . .

    vjt at 21 One of the reasons theology and much of philosophy is thought of as an intellectual backwater is because it really thinks questions about contingency vs. necessity are important. This is all part of trying to prove/disprove the existence of God through pure logic and that has never worked. Hasn’t theology thought of anything new in the last two thousand years?

    The best guess/theory for the existence of the universe says it was produced from a pre-existing multiverse and the multiverse may be eternal. The multiverse is thought to exist because it literally keeps falling out of every cosmological theory anybody has thought up in the last 75 years. You just can’t get rid of it!

    For anybody objecting to the multiverse eternally existing, I can only point out that God is also supposed to be eternal, but He’s infinitely more complicated and hence less likely than any proposed multiverse.

    Darwinian evolution is a factory for generating CSI. The initial information is generated by randomly mutating DNA. This new DNA pattern is new information, but odds are that it’s useless information. Natural selection weeds the crap information out by the simple expedient of trying to manage an organism with it. If it works, that new information goes on to reproduce itself and it’s added to the store of CSI. (The specification is “Capable of running an organism”.) If it doesn’t work, it’s automatically discarded with the failed organism. The result: a slow but steady accumulation of new CSI . . . .

    Mung at 23 Small amounts of information (I really shouldn’t have said CSI here) can be accounted for through random noise. Large amounts of CSI can’t be accounted for at all, theologically, except by positing a pre-existing Being with even more CSI which they cannot account for. Theologians have to find ways to bury this embarassing reality under important sounding phrases like, “eternally existing”. See Professor Herrick above for his comments on this.

    Mung at 24 Sorry for the confusion. “A more or less chaotic low information metaverse that spits out low information universes like this one was at the beginning” is more likely than a “super complicated mind of an omniscient Being?” being produced through any non-Darwinian process. >>

    [ . . . ]

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    KF, 27 – 28: >> I guess I have to take the idea of a low amount of CSI at the origin of the cosmos to mean that the assertion is that the evident functionally specific, complex organisation to put our observed cosmos at a finely tuned operating point for C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life [each of these is loaded!], is that there is a programming superlaw that forces a cosmos like this to emerge, and/or that there is a quasi-infinite matrix of sub-cosmi with a wide enough and fine-grained enough distribution that it was moe or less inevitable to pick up our particular operating point by chance.

    The first of these boils down to kicking up the finetuning one level: where did such a programming law come from?

    The second runs into the cosmic bakery problem highlighted by Robin Collins: we happen to be at a highly precise knee or spike in the field of credibly possible cosmological contingencies. So, we are back at the problem of so fine grained a sampling that we are looking at a proposed quasi-infinite multiverse, which has to be just right so as to search the right zone finely enough to be likely to capture that knee, and not just put out the equivalent of baked hockey pucks or half baked doughy messes.

    On either fork, you are looking at fine tuning at a higher level, as Leslie’s lone fly on the stretch of wall example pointed out.

    Multiply that fine tuning by the credible fact of a definite beginning, and you are — even through a multiverse — looking at a root, necessary (thus non-contingent) being to explain the contingencies.

    So, either a fine-tuned multiverse that you refuse to push further on its evident contingency [by virtue of that fine-tuning], or else, directly to a necessary being with ability to set up a cosmos that is fine tuned. Those are your realistic options.

    Either prong of the fork goes back to the same handle.

    And, for those inclined to be materialists and/or “scientific” atheists, this is where science is pointing (we have moved beyond science here but are starting from the scientific findings that ground it) to an evident causal pattern that, even when one plugs in an evasive metaphysical speculation [the undetectable multiverse], keeps persistently pointing to a root cause in a necessary — no dependence on external causes so no beginning and no end –being with the power, knowledge, skill and purpose to create a cosmos like we inhabit . . . .

    The notion that complex enough islands of function to count (more than 500 – 1,00 bits worth of functionally specific and complex info) can be found by darwinian random walks rewarded by differential trial and error success can explain the information in life forms from the first cell [100+ k bits] to the dozens of body plans [10 – 100 mn+ bits] , simply fails to understand the magnitude of search challenge required to find events E in narrow and UN-representative specified zones, T of vast config spaces, W. At just 1,000 bits, W has in it 1.07*10^301 possibilities, where our observed cosmos has in it a capacity to scan through just 10^150 Planck time quantum states [PTQS’s], or less than 1 in 10^150 of the space. That is enough to sample the typical patterns, but that is the problem by another name. For, credibly, functionally specific and complex zones are exactly UN-representative and so present the needle in the haystack problem to a search, on steroids. A near zero relative fraction is utterly unlikely to find a needle in a haystack. Of course, to get around this, DM is now resorting to — SPECULATIVE METAPHYSICS. He posits that the relevant necessary being is in effect a quasi-infinite multiverse, as though that were a matter of indisputable fact. Begging the question on steroids. Once you are beyond the realm of empirically testable science, you are now at the table of comparative difficulties across worldviews, DM. Thus, the theology you so patently despise and wish to dismiss is at the table — and not by sufferance but of right, the issue of the IS-OUGHT gap of materialistic atheism is at the table, and the question of the history of a certain Jesus of Nazareth and the 500 eye witnesses to his resurrection (as well as millions who have met him in life transforming miracle working power across 2,000 years) is also at the table. Are you sure you want to enter into a wider exchange on those terms? >>

    In short, the evidence for fine tuning of our observed cosmos is plainly a game changer, forcing evolutionary materialism advocates to resort to metaphysical speculations about a multiverse. (And notice how such like to assert multiverse speculations as though they were matters of established, observed and undeniable fact!)

    Once they do so, the subject has changed from science to philosophical level worldviews analysis, and a much wider array of evidence is at the table of comparative difficulties.

    GEM of TKI

  13. 13
    Ilion says:

    Mung:But wouldn’t that entail that Darwinism is necessarily a metaphysical argument?

    Only for the past 150 or so years.

    “God wouldn’t have done it that way” and “A tidy-minded Designer wouldn’t have done it that way” are not scientific statements or arguments.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:


    Very good. So good, I clipped you and cited you over at the NGT thread, no 30.

    Once the evo mat advocates resorted to the unobserved multiverse, the game changed.

    To one they cannot win, save by playing the rhetorical card of hiding their metaphysical a priori question-begging, Lewontinian- Saganian commitments to materialism in the holy lab coat.

    This has to be burned into non-erasable ROM in the public’s understanding, so, let us clip it yet again [and let us keep on clipping it over and over again until it soaks home — this is where the cat was accidentally let out of the bag that should have held a piglet . . . ]:

    . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [And if you want to swallow the talking point that he next few words JUSTIFY the above actions and turn the clip into a misleading “quote mining” exercise, kindly read on from the just above linked, which is here again for convenience.]

    GEM of TKI

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:


    Spot on. SALVO, SALVO, SALVO!

    GEM of TKI

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N More objections from the other thread, by DM:


    DM, 34: >> KF: Have you read, “The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us” by Victor J. Stenger yet?

    He makes the point that the various constants can actually be adjusted over a wide range while still providing a universe that will support life – you just can’t adjust only one constant. Think of wheel bearings and axles. If you shrink the hole in the wheel bearing even one or two percent, the well won’t fit on the axle, but if you shrink the axle too everything works fine . . . >>

    KF, 36: >> Stenger is simply wrong. (He deliberately picked a simplistic model, and set up a co-tuning situation that allows the operating point to in effect wander around in a config space. Do you think that the shaft and the sleeve you cite just happen to preserve their matching by sheer accident, without foresight based planing? In short, the very fact that we are looking at a known engineered case is pointing to the real fallacy at work: substituting an example that actually shows how FSCI comes from intelligence and then brushing aside that inconvenient little fact on the pretence that nature can scan so many possibilities — oops, not enough nature observed so far — let’s speculate that nature is actually quasi-infinite, so we can then say that any and every thing can happen. But this is without a shred of observational support, it is an unannounced slipping over the border into a priori-riddled question-begging philosophical speculation. And such ill-advised philosophising remains philosophy even when done by one wearing the holy lab coat.)

    Did you take time to see that we are in aggregate dealing with dozens to hundreds of parameters that have to match to get a viable operating point? Do you not realise how hard it is to mutually adjust or specify dozens to diverse things to get to such an operating point? (Ever designed a complex electronic circuit or wrote a complex software program?)

    A good analogy to this “getting he wiring diagram to work” problem is the generic design of a car engine.

    The parts are fairly standard and it is easy to draw pretty illustrations in books, but to actually work on the ground, the parts must be specified and made to match in the particular case, across hundreds of parts, at any point in the config space.

    Does that ability to set up diverse car engines with similar but distinct parts mean that a car engine is not credibly designed on being set up to work at a specific operating point? . . . >>

    DM, 34: >> He also makes the point that carbon is what this universe uses for life, but another universe might have a completely different set of structures that do the same things that atoms do in ours – and they would have people marvelling at how their universe was “designed” so exquisitely that it produced exactly the set of structures that are necessary for life. >>

    KF, 36: >> Next, the oh most of the cosmos is not immediately habitable for life point fails, too, as the scale of the cosmos is itself part of what sets it up for life, have a look at the degree to which for instance cosmic inflation is fine tuned to facilitate what we see, and the cosmological constant — which governs the expansion — is similarly very tightly specified indeed. (Did you look at the table of five key parameters?) >>

    DM, 34: >> But there’s something even more important: this universe is NOT designed for life!

    99.9999999999999999999999999999999+ percent of this universe is utterly lethal for any kind of life. Most of it is a vacuum which will suffocate and freeze any life form in minutes. The rest is mostly incandescent balls of gas that will vaporize all forms of life instantly.

    The ONLY place where we have found life so far is on and in the crust of one planet, the earth. We MIGHT find primative organisms on the crust of a few other planets and moons . . . >>

    KF, 36: >> Next, the oh most of the cosmos is not immediately habitable for life point fails, too, as the scale of the cosmos is itself part of what sets it up for life, have a look at the degree to which for instance cosmic inflation is fine tuned to facilitate what we see, and the cosmological constant — which governs the expansion — is similarly very tightly specified indeed. (Did you look at the table of five key parameters?)

    The attempt to turn about the concept of a galactic or a circumstellar habitable zone into an argument against fine tuning, is a case of desperation.

    Some fairly serious parameters have to be set up to get to this, and lead to ours being a privileged planet. You must know that this points to something special going on here, and that points to a habitat depending on multiply co-tuned parameters being set up.

    That such a privileging of the local zone is needed does not undermine the point that the cosmos as a whole going back to its founding, required precise setting up as well. The attempt to cast the one against the other is a mark of making desperate talking points, not serious argument. >>

    DM, 34: >> He also makes the point that carbon is what this universe uses for life, but another universe might have a completely different set of structures that do the same things that atoms do in ours – and they would have people marvelling at how their universe was “designed” so exquisitely that it produced exactly the set of structures that are necessary for life. >>

    KF, 36: >> And, your example of a cosmos in which another element than carbon is the universal connector — per observations — is? And, the observational data point on nucleosynthesis in star cores that sets up the relevant cluster of life elements of that new cosmos is?

    Next, as Leslie’s fly on the wall swatted by a bullet point shows, it matters not that there were possibly swathes of the field of possible sub cosmi that would be habitable to some form of life. What matters, decisively, is that the one spot we see with life is at a plainly finely tuned local operating point.

    The rhetorical flourishes you add to this simply add to the distractions, so they do not need specific answers.

    What is material is that you are resorting to a multiverse speculation, for which you have not a shred of empirical data, in a question-begging attempt to impose evolutionary materialism as the “only” viable answer.

    In so doing, you have opened the door to the issues of comparative difficulties in philosophy. [more] >>

    In short, the talking points game continues, with always the implicit assumption that materialism is the default view so mere objections to other possibilities are enough to dismiss them.

    Once you cross the border into philosophy, you do not have that privilege, and so I have posed key difficulties for evo mat views, on origin of a credible mind, and on grounding morality, in the “more.” (Those better fit there, as that is a thread on phil related topics.)

    GEM of TKI

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: DM has appealed at 35 to some papers in which the weak anthropic principle is exploited to suggest that we should not be surprised to see that we are here in a cosmos that looks rather fine tuned for C chemistry cell based intelligent life. In effect, if someone didn’t win the lottery, you wouldn’t be here to wonder about it.

    I think this is rather flawed:


    KF, 41: >> the issue is not supernaturalism vs naturalism, but credible signs of design.

    The credible inference to beginning on cosmological expansion, reasonably requires a begin-ner.

    The many ways in which our cosmos is at a credibly finely tuned operating point that facilitates life (start with the issue of nuclear resonances and element abundances, as well as the properties of water then go on from there to the key cosmological laws and parameters that have to be just right to get that), points to design, as in purposeful arrangement of parts to achieve a goal.

    BTW, Sobers’ mathematicisation does not materially add to the issue we see on Peirce’s abductive inference to best explanation; where we are addressing such large fields of possibilities that the usual suggested alternative is a quasi-infinite multiverse. That is it is seen that on what we ACTUALLY see, there is something special, so the attempt made is to dismiss it by suggesting that if we posit an — UNOBSERVED — quasi-infinite sea of varied sub cosmi, then anything can happen and we should not be surprised.

    What is the observational evidence for this quasi infinite sea? NIL, maybe NECESSARILY nil, depending on the relevant model.

    In short, speculative metaphysics to prop up an a priori commitment to materialism, is being resorted to in an attempt to dismiss the serious question of what best explains what we DO see.

    And the “well we survived the firing squad needs no explanation” argument is utterly astonishing.

    Sorry, while I am thankful to be alive, when I see that the cosmos that enables this looks suspiciously set up, I want to know why, and why in a context of real evidence not conveniently unobserved or unobservable speculations and models. >>

    Earlier, I had given a form of the firing squad parable:

    KF, 39: >> You are led out, bound, and tied to a post in front of a wall, then offered the traditional blindfold.

    Before you have the bland fold put on your eyes, you observe that the squad is much larger than usual, fifty marksmen from your unit.

    Duly blindfolded, you hear the command, ready, and the slap as fifty rifles rise to shoulders.


    And only a rustle as the marksmen take aim at the target pinned over your heart.



    Wait, you HEARD the roar.

    Then, the steps of the officer can be heard, walking up and you hear the snick as a pistol is pulled from its holster.

    You feel the muzzle next to your temple.

    It is pulled back and you hear a deafeningly close roar, and the sting of powder particles hitting your skin.

    Then, the blindfold is removed, and you are led away, trembling.

    Next day, you are taken form your cell and set free.

    In the unit pub, you are expressing your amazement that you are alive.

    The bartender tells you: NONSENSE, it is only the fact that you are alive that means you are in a world that is compatible with being alive.

    The firing squad issue is nothing to be amazed over.

    Do you see the fatal flaw in the weak anthropic principle argument used as a dismissal of design on fine tuning of many circumstances that mutually support the outcome we observe?

    (DM, in short the arguments you linked share a fatal flaw.) >>

    The point is that we are looking at an inference to best explanation, and such an argument is an induction on experience and analysis thereof.

    A dismissive speculation is not good enough to brush aside an inquiry on such features as we have been looking at.

    GEM of TKI

  18. 18
    tgpeeler says:

    DM in other thread “For anybody objecting to the multiverse eternally existing, I can only point out that God is also supposed to be eternal, but He’s infinitely more complicated and hence less likely than any proposed multiverse.” (from KF post #11)

    Well, I object to an eternally existing multiverse for a very simple reason. The multiverses are physical, therefore they cannot be eternal. Why not? Because they are physical, they can be counted. If they can be counted they are not eternal (infinite). Law of identity. Things are what they are. Calling the multiverse eternal (or that there are an “infinite” number of them) is a rhetorical ploy born of desperation. It’s crappy science and worse philosophy.

    God is eternal and can be eternal because He is immaterial, a logical requirement for anything that is eternal. DM probably wouldn’t be interested in or appreciate what reason can tell us about the characteristics of the Creator, apart from revelation, but they are many…

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Please note how I have just added a footnote for further reading above as a note to p 1, giving links on background, and on general and technical level responses to Stenger. I & J get a link cluster on their Bayesian arguments.

  20. 20
    dmullenix says:

    kairosfocus in message 29 in the “No good theology” thread:

    F/N: I have clipped choice parts of the exchange here over at the cosmological ID thread, here.

    So, I guess I’d better post my response to his message here too:


    KF going back to 28: I missed something in #28 that really needs to be addressed:

    “The notion that complex enough islands of function to count (more than 500 – 1,00[0] bits worth of functionally specific and complex info) can be found by darwinian random walks rewarded by differential trial and error success can explain the information in life forms from the first cell [100+ k bits] to the dozens of body plans [10 – 100 mn+ bits] , simply fails to understand the magnitude of search challenge…”

    First, why do you ID people insist that the first living thing was complex? 500 to 1000 bits of information? Try 50 to 100. Think of a single polymer whose only capability is reproducing its self, and which is possibly imbedded in the kind of droplets that form naturally. Rabbi M.Averick has the same problem: He outright admits that bacteria to man is accounted for by evolution, then he damns science because he thinks we claim bacteria to be the first life and starts spewing statistics like yours above. I see this mistake all the time on UD and other anti-science sites.

    “At just 1,000 bits, W has in it 1.07*10^301 possibilities, where our observed cosmos has in it a capacity to scan through just 10^150 Planck time quantum states [PTQS’s], or less than 1 in 10^150 of the space.”

    You and Dembski and most of the rest of the ID/Creationist crowd don’t know how to do applied math.

    Living things don’t search through any “1.07*10^301 possibilities”. To do that, they’d have to construct the next generation’s DNA randomly, from scratch, every time they reproduced.

    READ THIS CAREFULLY BECAUSE THERE WILL BE A TEST: If a bacteria with a million base pairs in its genome has a single base pair mutate, it explores exactly FOUR possibilities. NOT 10^300, just 4. The original 999,999 base pairs plus one new basepair which may be C, A, T or G. (And one of them will be identical to the original.)

    DON’T use numbers like 10^300 when you’re talking about evolution, it just marks you as a chechako, a beginner, someone who has no clue to what he’s talking about, a Rabbi M.Averick.


    If a bacteria with 1 million base pairs in its genome gets TWO (2) basepairs mutated, what is the size of the “search space” that it will explore?

    Answer: SIXTEEN (16). NOT 10^300! 16! The original 999,998 basepairs plus the two mutated ones that can be CC, CA, CT, CG, AC, AA, AT, AG, TC, TA, TT, TG, GC, GA, GT or GG. Sixteen possibilities, NOT 10^300!

    Homework assignment: Explain why the above answer is correct. If you can’t explain it or your explanation comes to any answer but sixteen, then please don’t comment until you’ve found your error. You will only embarrass ID.

    Extra credit: Read the charges of “SPECULATIVE METAPHYSICS” in msg 28 and be embarrassed for ID.
    Rudely off-topic, answered at the proper thread, at no 68, KF.

  21. 21
    Ilion says:

    As this thread, and other recent threads, highlight, ‘atheists’ don’t object to metaphysics per se (*), and they don’t object to a first cause of “nature” existing and of subsequent natural events, and they don’t object to an outside-of-nature cause of “nature” existing at all, and they don’t object to “un-scientific” hypotheses; what they object to, groundlessly (**), is a first causer existing,

    (*) and, indeed, how could anyone claiming to be a rational man object to or discount metaphysics per se? To paraphrase a statement I once saw attributed to Aldous Huxley: “The question is not whether we shall do metaphysics; the question is whether we shall do metaphysics soundly.

    (**) and so, they will grasp at simply anything, no matter how speculative, no matter how in principle “un-scientific” it is, no matter how in principle lacking in evidence it ever cvan be, no matter how absurd (including that effects can and do happen without cause), by means of which to deny that there is a First Causer

  22. 22
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Not necessarily, Ilion.

    I’d be happy to posit a First Causer of some kind.

    It’s calling it God and worshipping it that I don’t get.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:


    I am in a brief break between tasks.

    Your comment is off topic for this thread, and is cross-threaded. It should have been there, where the discussion on that subject is, or even at the CSI thread that is again active.

    Perhaps you do not know what 500 bits is: 73 ASCII characters, or about 10 – 11 typical English words, more or less the same in any significant control programming language.

    50 bits is 7 ASCII LETTERS, or about 1 word or two words.

    Neither in 1 – 2 nor in 10 – 11 words will you be able to do any serious control function.

    The relevant first life form we are discussing is metabolising, and uses a von Neumann self replicator, kinematic form. That is what we have empirical data for, Dawkins’ replicating molecule is little more than a just so story convenient for his a priori materialism.

    I suggest further discussion be put where it belongs.

    I basically have to go now, a very brief pause to comment on Dr Liddle.

    GEM of TKI

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr Liddle:

    The cosmological design inference is about the relevant causal process that gives rise to a cosmos such as we observe, with a beginning at a finite distance in the past and with evident fine tuning fitting it for C chemistry cell based life, including intelligent life.

    The logic of a contingent cosmos leads to looking for an explanation external to it, which at root must per logic be a necessary being.

    The multiverse proposal is every inch a candidate necessary being, and being lacking in empirical data, it is every inch a metaphysical proposal.

    The fine tuning raises the issue of design intent.

    Other issues come up at worldviews level, which make theism a serious candidate. cf here for a discussion.

    Remember, once multiverses are on the table this is now a phil discussion on comparative difficulties. Every serious alternative has a seat at that table as of right, not sufferance.

    No time for more, gotta dash right now.

    GEM of TKI

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    READ THIS CAREFULLY BECAUSE THERE WILL BE A TEST: If a bacteria with a million base pairs in its genome has a single base pair mutate, it explores exactly FOUR possibilities. NOT 10^300, just 4.

    I can already see I’m probably going to fail this test.

    So if one base pair mutates, why doesn’t it “explore” not four, but one possibility?

    I must be dumb.

    Mung, a bacterium of 10^6 bases has a genome with 4^1,000,000 abstract possibilities, or 9.8*10^602,059 possibilities. Being within an island of function, it may vary incrementally and adaptively through hill climbing, e.g. in response to antibiotics. That has NOTHING to do with what would be required to convert our bacterium into say a worm or some sort of arthropod or the like, similar to many of the Cambrian animals. To get the jump to 10 – 100+ million bases, to do so, the bacterium would have to create at reasonable minimum, ten times its present genome worth of fresh genetic info, in steps that are adaptive all the way. The fact that we do not even see an empirically warranted explanation of how, step by step, such a bacterium can grow a flagellum, should tell us just how much we are being taken in by just so stories backed by a priori backdoor imposition of evolutionary materialism through the radical ideological redefinition of science. to see the challenge at a different level, have a look at Sternberg’s discussion of what it takes to make a whale’s body plan, here.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    There will be no “tests” on off topic matters here, as I have given clear warning.

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I have responded to DM’s intemperate remarks at 20 above, in the proper thread, here at no 68. DM is hereby notified of his status if he refuses to clean up his act: Strike Two. GEM of TKI

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: More on Stenger’s attempted rebuttal to cosmological fine tuning, courtesy Robin Collins.

    VJT summarises, at 63 in the good theology thread:


    >> I find it very strange that you [DM] cite Stenger, but show no sign of having read Robin Collins’ devastating refutation of Stenger (see the paper by Collins [link added, cf sec’n 2.5 p. 21 ff of 80; also cf. summary of evidence (cited as Collins 2003 in previous) here] that I cited in my opening post).

    You’ve stated that you don’t like hyperlinks. Very well, then: here’s my summary of Collins’ reply to Stenger, in plain, jargon-free English.

    1. Stenger can only eliminate the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmological constant by making three highly ad hoc assumptions, and even then, his elimination of fine-tuning only works if the universe has just the right set of laws – which begs the question again.

    2. Stenger argues that universes with long-lived stars aren’t all that rare, and he uses that as an argument against fine-tuning. But his argument is based on a very simple star model, which simply assumes that a star is made mostly of hydrogen (which wouldn’t be the case if the strong force were even slightly stronger). Stenger also fails to take quantum degeneracy into account. This significantly limits the degree to which the strength of gravity can be increased without affecting the lifetimes of stars.

    3. Stenger claims that one would be justi?ed in invoking God to explain a phenomenon only if “the phenomenon in question is not only currently scienti?cally inexplicable but can be shown to forever defy natural description” (2007, pp. 13-14). That’s raising the bar unreasonably high: how on earth would you prove that? Also, Stenger has failed to show that an appeal to a theistic explanation of cosmic fine-tuning is necessarily a question-begging one in science, or that such an appeal is anti-scientific. How do you define science anyway?

    4. The only really good response a skeptic could make to the many and various kinds of ?ne-tuning that have been found to occur in the universe is to ?nd an all-embracing explanation that would account for most or all of the different kinds of ?ne-tuning observed. Stenger hasn’t done this.

    5. Stenger complains that most studies of the anthropic coincidences involve varying only a single parameter while assuming all the others remain ?xed. He’s wrong here; there are cases where the life-permitting value of one constant is completely independent of the calue of another constant, and in these cases we can vary both constants at the same time. For instance, we can vary the strength of the cosmological constant at the same time as we vary the strength of gravity. The life-permitting range of the former does not depend on the strength of the latter.

    6. Finally, Stenger claims that the fine-tuning argument simply assumes that life has to be carbon-based. In the first place, it’s pretty hard to imagine a complex life-form that can metabolize and reproduce itself being based on anything else but carbon. Second, Stenger is simply wrong in his assumption; in fact, many cases of fine-tuning observed to date have nothing to do with life being carbon-based. The fine-tuning of the cosmological constant is a good case in point . . . >>


    So, in effect, Colins’ point is that to try to rebut the fine tuning evidence, Stenger is going in the circle of putting forth a similar case.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I have added to the Op f/n, several links to key works by Robin Collins relevant to cosmological fine tuning. This link is a good first look at “student level.”

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: This is a for reference post, and so I have added a new link to the footnote on p. 1, point 1, in addition to the links to Collins’ key papers in point 5 that were added yesterday. It goes to Dr Sheldon’s discussion on the significance of a big bang and of the information it seems to have contained, for our views on origins and sources of such complex functional information.

    –> Notice, the silence so far in reply to the materials correcting Stenger.

  31. 31
    Mung says:


  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:


    [BA you will love this one . . . ]

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