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A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God

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Presentation on theme: "A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God
by Robin Collins

2 Collins’ Analogy If we discovered a functioning Biosphere on Mars, would we assume it was created by chance, or rather, by some intelligent designer(s)?

3 Evidence of Fine-Tuning of the Universe
Strength of Big Bang could not differ by even 1 part in 1060 without universe either collapsing back on itself, or expanding too rapidly for stars to form. If Strong Nuclear Force were stronger or weaker by 5%, life would be impossible. If gravity had been stronger or weaker by one part in 1040, life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist.

4 Fine-tuning Evidence (cont’d)
If the neutron were not ~1.001 times the mass of the proton, all protons would decay into neutrons or all neutrons would decay into protons, and life would not be possible. If the electromagnetic force were slightly stronger or weaker, life would be impossible.

5 Collins’ Dart Board Analogy
If the initial conditions and parameters of physics were a dart board as large as our galaxy, then the conditions necessary for life would be a small one-foot wide target that our universe had to hit. That the initial conditions + parameters of physics are set as they are seems extremely improbable on the basis of chance, thus an intelligent designer seems necessary.

6 Assume Fine-Tuning is True: is the need for an intelligent designer a consequence of that truth?
Atheist answer: no. Atheist Hypothesis: fine-tuning is a brute fact about the universe that needs no, and/or admits of no explanation. Two versions of the Atheist Hypothesis: Single-universe Hypothesis: ‘there is only one universe, and it is ultimately an explicable, ‘brute’ fact that the universe exists and is fine-tuned’. Many-universes Hypothesis: “there exists a ‘universe generator’ that produces a very large or infinite number of universes, with each universe having a randomly selected set of initial conditions and values for the parameters of physics. Because this generator produces so many universes, just by chance it will eventually produce one that is fine-tuned for intelligent life to occur.”

7 Theism is preferable to single-universe atheism
Two Arguments for Theism Based on Taking Fine-Tuning of the Universe as a Fact Theism is preferable to single-universe atheism Theism is preferable to many-universes atheism

8 The Core Argument Rigorously Formulated
The Core Argument presupposes the Prime Principle of Confirmation, which says: “whenever we are considering two competing hypotheses, H1 and H2, an observation O counts as evidence in favor of H1 over H2 if O is more probable under H1 than it is under H2.” The degree of confirmation is proportional to the degree to which O is more probable under one hypothesis than the other. The Core Argument Rigorously Formulated

9 Considering the Prime Principle of Confirmation
Illustrating the principle: Robin, his brother, and the Rock Greeting. Formal support for the principle: 1) lots of philosophers think this principle can be derived from the probability calculus, which is a highly-confirmed mathematical rule set that governs probability. 2) no recognizably good reasoning is known to violate this principle. 3) the principle has wide applicability and seems to be a fair description of a very general principle that underwrites all scientific reasoning.

10 One Problematic Way of Taking the Principle
If we think that applications of the principle reveals which hypothesis is more likely to be true, there is a problem: How do we know that there are only two possible hypotheses that are correct? If we don’t know that, then seeing that O is more probable on one than the other doesn’t tell us it is more likely to be true, since to judge it to mean that requires us to know how many possible hypotheses are in play. This seems to weaken the extent to which evidence O stands as confirmation (which, after all, concerns the wider question: is the hypothesis true?).

11 The Core Argument (i) The existence of the fine-tuning is not improbable under theism. (ii) The existence of the fine-tuning is very improbable under the atheistic single-universe hypothesis. (iii) Conclusion: From p remises (i) and (ii) and the prime principle of confirmation, it follows that the fine-tuning data provide strong evidence to favor the design hypothesis over the atheistic single-universe hypothesis.

12 Support for Premises Support for Premise (i) God is good, and it is good for intelligent, conscious beings to exist, so it is not improbable that God would create a world in which such intelligent life exists. Support for Premise (ii) Fine-tuning seems improbable under the single-universe hypothesis offered by the atheist, and is supported by analogies like the universe-as-dart board analogy.

13 Collins acknowledges that many question the legitimacy of the analogical support for Premise (ii) and says he offers a rigorous justification based on standard principles of probabilistic reasoning. Collins also acknowledges that many find the fine-tuning argument unsound because ‘the universe is a unique, unrepeatable event, [and so] we cannot meaningfully assign a probability to its being fine-tuned.’ He claims to effectively answer this in the same appendix, and by means of the same principles of probabilistic reasoning.

14 Some Objections to Core Version
Objection 1: More Fundamental Law Objection As far as we know, there could be a more fundamental law under which the parameters of physics must have the values they do. Given that possibility, it is not improbable that the known parameters of physics fall within the life-permitting range.

15 Collins’ Reply This is “entirely speculative” (Potter rejoinder: no it is not, since the discover of deeper laws explaining phenomena previously understood only incompletely is common in the history of science) Moves the improbability of the fine-tuning up one level, to that of the postulated physical law itself. (Potter rejoinder: this requires us to treat the laws of nature as needing explanation….is this plausible in the way that the diverse-yet-finely-tuned constants and specific parameters, across many different features of natural phenomena, seem to need explanation?)

16 Objection 2: Other Forms of Life Objection
As far as we know, other forms of life could exist even if the parameters of physics were different, yet the Core Argument assumes forms of intelligent life must be like us. Collins’ Reply: Most cases of fine-tuning used by purveyors of the Core Argument do not make this presupposition.

17 Objection 3: Anthropic Principle Objection
Weak Anthropic Principle: if the laws of nature were not fine-tuned, we could not be here to comment on the fact. Anthropic Principle Objection: the fine-tuning is not really improbable or surprising at all under atheism, but simply follows form the fact that we exist. Collins’ Reply: restate Core Argument in terms of our existence: our existence as embodied, intelligent beings is extremely unlikely u nder the atheistic single-universe hypothesis, but not under theism.

18 Objection 4: The “Who Designed God?” Objection
Postulating the existence of God does not solve the problem of design, but merely transfers it up one level without answering the question at that level, i.e., “Who Designed God?” Or, as George Smith puts it: “If the universe is wonderfully designe,d surely God is even more wonderfully designed. He must, therefore, have had a designer even more wonderful than He is. If God did not require a designer, then there is no reason why such a relatively less wonderful thing as the universe needed one.”

19 Collins’ Replies: First Reply: atheist claim presupposes something dubious: that the designer of an artifact must be a complex as the artifact. He concedes that, nonetheless, in our world, organized complexity is generally produced only by systems that have equal or greater organized complexity. Second Reply: At best, the atheist objection only works against a version of the design argument that claims that all organized complexity needs an explanation. Collins’ version of the Core Argument “only required that the fine-tuning be more probable under theism than under atheistic single-universe hypothesis.” This requirement is still met even if God exhibits tremendous internal complexity far in excess of the universe. (Potter: this amounts to taking advantage of the fact that the Core Argument does not establish reasons for thinking theism is true, only for preferring the theistic hypothesis over the atheistic single-universe hypothesis (where those are the only two hypotheses being considered). NOTE: we are skipping the many-universes hypothesis sections.

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