Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Luke Barnes, Alex Malpass, and the Concept of God

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Luke Barnes, Alex Malpass, and the Concept of God

    Actually, the majority of this video has to do with the fine tuning argument itself (which I don't find particularly convincing, but interesting). At the end of this, however, Dr. Malpass questions the coherence of God (because, after all, if the explanation your invoking is incoherent, then your hypothesised explanation is useless) and I was wondering what you all had to say about it.

    link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXzM_tBPm-0

  • #2
    Sundry Luke B links.

    This isn't my favorite argument either.

    Related query off the top of my head: Does the Teleological argument collapse onto the Neo-Platonic one? Instead of awkward talk about "designs" necessitating a "Designer," it's simpler to argue that composites require an explanation. No watchmakes. No analogies. It's a purer argument.

    Comment


    • #3
      Bamidbar 22

      I haven't personally tried to articulate some version of the "composition requires a cause" argument. It seems appealing, but I haven't given it enough time to properly read and think about it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sorry, I won´t listen to a two-hour discussion. I like Luke Barnes and I file the "Fine Tuning" away as "interesting", but I also think that if you want to construe a rigorous argument in favour of it, you have to presuppose scientifically based premises which we can´t establish yet. Example from Barnes´ blog which can, if the science goes further in that direction, offer fuel for a successful version of the argument:

        https://letterstonature.wordpress.co...he-multiverse/

        If the science indeed shows that the multiverse would generally be life friendly, even if the laws of physics are different, or if the current laws are shown to be transcedent to other universes, I´d say the argument succeeds. Until then we´d have to wait. However the fine tuning is interesting even for many secular scientists.

        If you want to give us the arguments as to why Malpass thinks the concept "God" is incoherent, then we could tackle them here.

        In the mean time I found which I think is his blog "UseOfReason" and I read both of his posts concerning Aquinas´ third way:

        https://useofreason.wordpress.com/20...-way-argument/
        https://useofreason.wordpress.com/20...ounterexample/

        They were really...not that good. The argument is attacked with theories of time and he not only seems unaware that Aquinas worked with a past eternal universe, but he also seems to equalize "eternal" with "necessary". So he completely misses the mark. In short he treats it like a version of the Kalam argument. And I´m not persuaded that this works as a particularly good objection to the Kalam argument either.

        Comment


        • #5
          Why do you not find the fine-tuning argument particularly convincing? I want criticisms.

          @Bamidbar 22
          It does not. A neo-platonic argument can be interesting to show the existence of a non-composite being, while teleological arguments have the (very relevant) advantage of showing the existence of an intelligent mind behind the universe who created it with purpose. It comes far closer to theism as conceived in religious traditions, for example. (Of course you can argue that the First Cause or One must then have Intelligence, Love, etc, but these would require further arguments; the advantage of teleological arguments is establishing an intelligent creator in a simple way that others can understand).

          @Kwisk
          In more precise, rigorous forms, the argument is still progressing and they are still finding some very interesting data. Robin Collins's fine-tuning for discoverability is one of those discoveries that, if confirmed, might deal a heavy blow on multiverse explanations, because then even if they can get life-friendly universes this would still not entail the combination of life and discoverability. So it would be an additional issue for multiverses beyond the problems with Boltzann brains and entropy.

          That being said, on an intuitive level I find the argument to be very powerful in its current form already. And that goes for any probabilistic teleological argument, really; the kind of which has been used since antiquity to show the existence of God. It is by far the most popular theistic argument, and while it might not be as philosophically airtight as a Leibnizian contingency argument (for example), it is stil very strong, I find. Epistemically it appears overwhelmingly improbable chance could give us a universe that is both orderly and rightly arranged for embodied conscious agents. The fine-tuning data has strengthened this general intuition and given it precise parameters. The atheistic single universe hypothesis just can't compete with (say) a theistic universe one, when it comes to the epistemic probability in this case.

          But the same goes for the multiverse. Even without considering problems with typical observers (boltzmann brains, entropy and small patches of order, ft for discoverability, etc), if we somehow get a life-permitting universe then we would simply be pushing the aforementioned intuition one step further. Why a life-permitting multiverse, instead of one which never includes anything near to our universe? Considering the ways laws could have been different (diferent essences, powers, liabilities, etc) a life-permitting multiverse would still seem enormously improbable when compared to lifeless ones.

          Comment


          • #6
            Atno

            I dispute that it is the most popular theistic argument. From my own experience and from something William Lane Craig said, the most popular is the moral argument.

            Regarding the fine tuning, I didn´t say thatthere is no worth to the argument and to be honest I´m currently not to deep in the issue. I concede that this is due to skepticism also from physicists I converse with, that Fine tuning is concerned primarily with the existence of heavy elements and not life per se. Now, of course I know that this is not a good point and nowadays, when it comes to crossovers with philosophy, I trust physicists as far as I can throw them, but from a perspective of someone not deeply knowledgable in the field of argument developing concerning fine tuning, here are the issues for me:

            We have to establish one of the following premises:

            0. Our universe is the only one.
            1. If multiverse, then Type-1-multiverse (More universes, but beyond our ability to detect them, because they are 40+ billion lightyears gone. The laws of physics would be the same. It also seems to be the more plausible concept of a multiverse)
            2. If multiverse Type-2, then (The link above to Barnes´s blog is important, please read, it only takes a few minutes)
            2.1 life is permitted on a wider range of varieties of the laws of physics than currently thought or there is only a limited range of varieties of universes permitted in order for them to exist
            2.2 a suggested further law of nature concerning life itself and its coming into existence is discovered.

            Of course, one thing to say is that proponents of Type-2 are often motivated to just file the fine tuning under accident, to get rid of theistic implications.


            Would you recommend Robin Collin´s work to get engaged in the conversation and do you have more recommendations?

            To be clear, I find the idea interesting and worth working at, but on the layman level (read: second-class backdoor apologetics; some talks from scientists at the Veritas Forum caused migrene) I haven´t come across rigorous argumentation superior to mere feeling. I´m open to me just being ignorant of the professional work currently done and will engage happily.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Kwlsk View Post
              Atno

              I dispute that it is the most popular theistic argument. From my own experience and from something William Lane Craig said, the most popular is the moral argument.

              Regarding the fine tuning, I didn´t say thatthere is no worth to the argument and to be honest I´m currently not to deep in the issue. I concede that this is due to skepticism also from physicists I converse with, that Fine tuning is concerned primarily with the existence of heavy elements and not life per se. Now, of course I know that this is not a good point and nowadays, when it comes to crossovers with philosophy, I trust physicists as far as I can throw them, but from a perspective of someone not deeply knowledgable in the field of argument developing concerning fine tuning, here are the issues for me:

              We have to establish one of the following premises:

              0. Our universe is the only one.
              1. If multiverse, then Type-1-multiverse (More universes, but beyond our ability to detect them, because they are 40+ billion lightyears gone. The laws of physics would be the same. It also seems to be the more plausible concept of a multiverse)
              2. If multiverse Type-2, then (The link above to Barnes´s blog is important, please read, it only takes a few minutes)
              2.1 life is permitted on a wider range of varieties of the laws of physics than currently thought or there is only a limited range of varieties of universes permitted in order for them to exist
              2.2 a suggested further law of nature concerning life itself and its coming into existence is discovered.

              Of course, one thing to say is that proponents of Type-2 are often motivated to just file the fine tuning under accident, to get rid of theistic implications.


              Would you recommend Robin Collin´s work to get engaged in the conversation and do you have more recommendations?

              To be clear, I find the idea interesting and worth working at, but on the layman level (read: second-class backdoor apologetics; some talks from scientists at the Veritas Forum caused migrene) I haven´t come across rigorous argumentation superior to mere feeling. I´m open to me just being ignorant of the professional work currently done and will engage happily.
              Well, design arguments have been defended explicitly in philosophy since at least Plato, and they actually precede him by a long time; some Old Testament passages even seem indicative of design arguments, etc.

              Again, I prefer a more intuitive and abstract (not to be confused with feelings) approach to the argument instead of a scientific one. In my view the fine tuning, although a powerful argument by itself, can be seen as a confirmation of the more general intuition that life - and especially conscious, bodily life as complex as ours and inserted in a context that allows for moral action, the study of nature, the building of civilizations, and so on - requires some very precise kinds of laws and ordering. This intuition can be seen even in typical explanations of entropy, or when we think about how many absolutely chaotic, bizarre arrangements of entities and laws we could have had in place right now. For every world that has laws relevantly similar to ours, there seems to be an infinity of ad hoc, crazy scenarios with multiple different entities and laws which would never allow the kind of smooth, harmonious regularities that are required for life, intellectual activities, and moral growth.

              If this universe is just one among many, or the result of a multiverse generator, that doesn't help much. The epistemic improbability of getting a life-permittng multiverse like ours would still be absurd when compared to any configurations which are compatible with all sorts of chaos. Scientific hypotheses of multiverse generators (inflationary ones, for example) seem to me even worse candidates than just a random sheer enormous number of universes, because they more obviously seem to require some sort of selection (why an inflationary multiverse generator that leads to life, as opposed to, say, reality consisting of a single object with very simple laws which never amount to anything? Etc). The "further law of nature" also seems to face he same problem, as well as necessitarianism, at least in the absence of something like theism or an axiarchic thesis.

              So to me the design argument is better understood in some more abstract and intuitive formulations. If you can share the intuitions, of course - which I think are fairly simple.

              I definitely recommend reading Robin Collins's work if you want a more precise and technical defense of the FTA. Read his article on the Blackwell Companion, as wel as his latest article on FT for discoverability.

              Comment


              • #8
                Atno
                One issue I have is that even though it may be extremely improbable that the universe which arrives is life permitting, I don't see why this matters so much. So what? I feel as if you could just pick anything, define the conditions necessary for this thing to exist, and if improbable, say God better explains that these things exist (or decreases the probability) than some other naturalistic explanation (or what have you). I would just say, assuming there is an equal probability of any possible universe existing, this one just exists.

                My other, probably bigger issue, is that I don't see any obvious way to bridge the gap between the fine-tuner and God. Couldn't it just very well be some very powerful being, or at least a being with the minimal necessary attributes to explain the "fine tuning"? I think in some sense, since I am a theist, you could say that God is the only being I am aware of capable of doing such a thing, but I would prefer something more "air tight".

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
                  Atno
                  One issue I have is that even though it may be extremely improbable that the universe which arrives is life permitting, I don't see why this matters so much. So what? I feel as if you could just pick anything, define the conditions necessary for this thing to exist, and if improbable, say God better explains that these things exist (or decreases the probability) than some other naturalistic explanation (or what have you). I would just say, assuming there is an equal probability of any possible universe existing, this one just exists.

                  My other, probably bigger issue, is that I don't see any obvious way to bridge the gap between the fine-tuner and God. Couldn't it just very well be some very powerful being, or at least a being with the minimal necessary attributes to explain the "fine tuning"? I think in some sense, since I am a theist, you could say that God is the only being I am aware of capable of doing such a thing, but I would prefer something more "air tight".
                  First point doesn't seem to make sense, unless I misunderstand it. We can't just pick anything and say it is improbable. We have to consider hypotheses, explanations, and how "surprising" or unlikely a certain event is. Black holes, for instance, can be improbable to a certain extent, but they don't even come close to life when it comes to being rare. Life (not to mention the other conditions I mentioned) is something far more subtle, complex, and *extremely* rare to get, and if our intuition wasn't enough here then we have the fine tuning data to confirm it. It is comparatively easy to get universes with black holes, lots of black holes in fact; but a life-permitting universe requires extreme fine tuning. We are not just talking about the improbability of "this" particular universe when compared to any other (every universe would have the same probability); we are talking about getting any life-permitting universe instead of a non-life-permitting one. So under naturalism we really shouldn't be observing this universe; if we were to get a universe under naturalism, in all probability it should be a "chaotic", lifeless universe.
                  So we have a phenomenon which is extremely epistemically improbable. And not only that, but it also happens to be a phenomenon which has a certain moral value or relevance - it is, in short, the kind of universe one could reasonably expect from an intelligent, good designer, like in theism. Prima facie, makes our FT universe far more likely under theism than under atheism or naturalism, and thus gives us strong evidence for theism.

                  And no offense but the second issue is one of the lamest "objections" I've ever seen in my life; I've seen it before and I never really understood why some people think like that. I recall even Feser saying something like that, to the effect that this kind of design argument at best could get us to a "deistic" god of some sort. First of all, even if that was the best we could get, it would still be an extremely important thesis: there exists a very powerful, immaterial, intelligent being who designed physical reality (either universe or multiverse). This is surely incompatible with atheism and a very important conclusion for theists; one important consequence is it could also raise the prior probability of some theistic religions. Secondly, theism is arguably a better explanation for design than a "limited god". So the argument does, in fact, get us to theism! People like Swinburne have put a lot of effort into arguing for the explanatory superiority and intrisic probability of theism over "limited god" or polytheism or what have you. Theism (an omnipotent, perfectly good, all-knowing God who isn't limited by any other entities, isn't dependent on anything for its existence, etc) is simpler and doesn't really have many free parameters or arbitrary limits. By contrast, a limited designer would have many free parameters, more complexity, less explanatory power, etc: just how much power does it have? Why does it only have X amount of power but not more? Why is it only intelligent or good to such and such degree? Why does it have this or that limitation? Why does it exist, or does it have a cause? Etc.

                  I think like probabilistic design arguments from natural laws and entities are much stronger than some people think, and are surprisingly some of the most misunderstood arguments around. I also feel like classical theists (and I certainly consider myself to be one) should pay more attention to people like Swinburne and inductive/abductive arguments.

                  The deductive approach to arguments is great, but it can sometimes lead one to wrongly ignore arguments that can be very powerful when defended in abductive or inductive forms. The more I studied the fine tuning argument, for example, the more convinced I became that it was a powerful argument that was being severely misunderstood by many. There are a lot of trash internet atheist objections to it (for example: puddle analogy, anthropic principle dissociated from any other hypothesis, "God wouldn't need to fine tune anything", "the universe isn't teeming with life" etc) which completely miss the mark. There are some objections that are actually decent (e.g. Some issues with probability and normalizability) but these are generally confined to academia (along with their answers).
                  Another example would be moral arguments. For the longest time I have ignored moral arguments for God simply because of my natural law tendencies, until I started thinking about moral arguments in abductive forms. It wasn't simply about naturalism not being able to house objective rights or wrongs now; rather it was about theism being a better explanation for the many differentaspects of morality,including obligations, rights and wrongs, dignity, moral transformation, etc.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Atno
                    I am not saying pick anything and say it is improbable, I am saying pick any other improbable thing about our universe and run the fine tuning argument. I also don't dispute any of the science used to back fine tuning. I wouldn't even attempt too.

                    I don't see any strong enough reasons one couldn't just "bite the bullet" and say, there is an X probability that anyone of the possible universes exists, and this is just the one that appeared.

                    I suppose you could say it has moral relevence, I guess I wouldn't try to dispute that, but then again, one could bite the bullet and say, by X probability, this universe appeared and along with it came moral relevence. I suppose I just don't see any necessary reasons one must commit themselves to theism because of improbabilities. Doesn't almost everything become more probable on theism?

                    This also isn't an objection, but how would one quantitate the probabilites of this universe existing on N and on T (and I don't mean bayes theorem itself, I mean the numbers to put into the theorem)? I would wager that getting anything close to accurate numbers may be near impossible; there doesn't seem to be any obvious way to get such numbers.

                    I would say that you're right that it is an important thesis, at least pertaining to the idea that it disproves atheism.

                    In what sense is God a better explanation than a limited being? Wouldn't it by simpler to only attribute to this being the necessary attributes to properly explain the existence of this universe? The questions you raised pertaining to this being I would say are good questions to ask, but I think they go outside the scope of the argument.

                    Non-deductive argumentation, I would agree, is neglected in my experience. I myself even neglect it. I think there is just something more appealing to the "mathematical" certainty of deductive argumentation, when compared to anything else; however, I am willing to give inductive and abductive arguments a better chance than my intuition has previously suggested they had.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't get what your objection is supposed to be. If an event E is reasonably probable under a hypothesis H but extremely improbable if said hypothesis were false, then E is very good evidence for H. We can't simply ignore it. How does one "bite the bullet here? By saying that even though a life-permitting universe would be extremely improbable under atheism but reasonably probable under theism, we can just ignore that? What kind of irrationality is this? If we have data that is extremely improbable under atheism but reasonably probable under theism, that significantly raises the probability of theism and we can't simply ignore that.

                      Some things don't become more probable under theism, at least not obviously. Atheists argue that the amount of evil we find is improbable under theism, so as to constitute evidence against it, for which theists offer theodicies as a response. A life-permitting universe, however, is a significant fact that we can quite confidently say is reasonably probable under theism but very improbable under atheism.

                      The technical issue with probabilities, by contrast, is a real objection. There have been some important objections with normalizability etc., and these are relevant, though I'm not convinced by them. We can use mathematics to calculate a range for the constants and quantities, and then appeal to Bayesian epistemic probabilities.
                      Besides, following a scenario described by John Leslie, if scientists found out the difference between some fundamental forces was 101010100110111110011 etc and, when translated into morse code, we get the message "MADE BY GOD" then we wouldn't ignore this even if we couldn't precisely calculate probabilities for universes and whatnot. We can come up with even more extreme scenarios, such as the fundamental values somehow translating into an entire rendition of the Old and New testaments along with prophecies which become true thhe next day, etc.

                      Try googling or reading up Swinburne's case about the simplicity of God. God wouldn't have free parameters, and it is simpler to not posit unexplained limitations, etc. Might write more about this later.

                      Comment


                      • #12

                        Atno

                        My objection is this: I see no necessary reason to try to explain away the improbability that the existence of life carries with it. Lets say, that there are 100 possible universes (for sake of analogy). This means, assuming the each universe has an equal probability of existing, that each universe has a 1% chance of obtaining. Let us also say, that it is the case that a few of the universes which could obtain have life on them. If the 87th universe obtains, and happens to have life on it, we could just simply say each universe that could obtain has a 1/100 probability of existing and this is the one, by a roll of the dice, that happened to obtain.

                        I recognize that some things don't become more probable on theism, but I didn't claim that everything did.

                        I was listening to a lecture by Swinburne because he was one of the philosophers who presented for the Alvin Plantinga conference at Baylor. That has a peaked my interest in him; however, my focus is elsewhere at the moment. I am assuming I will order one of his books down the road.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
                          Atno

                          My objection is this: I see no necessary reason to try to explain away the improbability that the existence of life carries with it. Lets say, that there are 100 possible universes (for sake of analogy). This means, assuming the each universe has an equal probability of existing, that each universe has a 1% chance of obtaining. Let us also say, that it is the case that a few of the universes which could obtain have life on them. If the 87th universe obtains, and happens to have life on it, we could just simply say each universe that could obtain has a 1/100 probability of existing and this is the one, by a roll of the dice, that happened to obtain.

                          I recognize that some things don't become more probable on theism, but I didn't claim that everything did.

                          I was listening to a lecture by Swinburne because he was one of the philosophers who presented for the Alvin Plantinga conference at Baylor. That has a peaked my interest in him; however, my focus is elsewhere at the moment. I am assuming I will order one of his books down the road.
                          Every universe has the same probability, but it would be overwhelmingly more probable for a lifeless universe to obtain, because out of the set of 100 universes, only one of them was life-permitting. The other 99 universes are chaotic or at best have some black holes or whatever, but none of them allows for life to develop. So it would indeed e very improbable under naturalism that we would get a life-permitting universe; we should be observing a lifeless universe (or rather, we shouldn't be observing anything since we should not exist). So it is a significant improbability. What makes it even more pressing is thhe fact that life is valuable and morally relevant in a way lifeless universes aren't. So we have a putative explanation - theism - which would lead us to observe a life-permitting universe, while if atheism were true then we got absurdly lucky. This is bad for atheism, and provides pf evidence for theism.
                          But even the 100 universes case isn't a good enough analogy. The fine tuning involves multiple different constants and quantities all falling precisely into the specific narrow ranges required for life. It's like we got the right cosmological constant; the right strong and weak forces; the right amount of entropy; and so on. Of course this asks for an explanation.
                          It's like if you threw a die a 1000 times and it landed on 6 every single time. A 1000 6s. This sequence is just as probable as any other sequence, but you'd be crazy to discount that as needing no explanation. But it's the same for a lonely orderly and fine tuned universe allowing for life amidst an entire sea of lifeless or chaotic universes.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Atno
                            Would you mind referring me to some material that I could read? The only thing I've read was a short section form Craig's Reasonable Faith. I also have the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, which has a section from Robin Collins, but I haven't gotten around to reading it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
                              Atno
                              Would you mind referring me to some material that I could read? The only thing I've read was a short section form Craig's Reasonable Faith. I also have the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, which has a section from Robin Collins, but I haven't gotten around to reading it.
                              You shouod definitely read Collins's article. It's a very good one. Especially important in dealing with the probability issue w normalizability objections etc.

                              I think you should get Luke Barnes and Geraint F. Lewis's book "A fortunate universe". They aren't arguing for theism specifically there (though Barnes does discuss it in one part and it is valuable), but they deal with a lot of misunderstandings about the fine tuning. Including a basic defense of their use of bayesian epistemic probabilities, which clears up a lot of misunderstandings. It's a very important read. Try reading this one; it's popular level too.

                              "Universes" by John Leslie is a bit old but good too. He doesn't argue against the multiverse conclusion, he just wants to arue that the fine tuning requires either design or multiverses. (For arguments to the effect that design is a better explanation than multiverse here, whether or not multiverse is true, check out Robin Collins or Rodney Holder). Note that for Leslie design could be theistic, but could also be some form of axiarchism which he prefers (his bizarre platonesque view that ethical requirements are causally effective).

                              Rodney's "Big Bang Big God" is popular level and has a very good section on the fine tuning, including a summary of arguments for why theism > multiverse explanation.

                              This Collins article is very simple but still quite handy and a good summary: https://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vanc...01/Collins.pdf

                              Google "fine-tuning for discoverability" for Colins's cutting edge work on FT for discoverability.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X