Friday, August 22, 2008

Some problems with Intelligent Design

Is this the only way that life could have originated?

Intelligent design advocates make the case that the universe is finely tuned, so much so that if you changed some small feature, the gravitational constant, or the mass of the proton, then the universe would be different, and life could not have been formed. They conclude that the intelligent construction of the universe, so finely tuned, creates proof that the universe was created by an intelligent creator. In other words, the intelligent creation is the result of an intelligent creator. The universe is intelligently designed, so there must be an intelligent creator, or God.



Let's look at this arguement. The main thrust of the argument is that because the universe, with it's natural construction of atoms has resulted in an organized table of periodic elements, and one of them, carbon, is the foundation of life, this natural construction could not have occured if the resulting organization weren't put into place to begin with.


Let's see.


Let's talk about Baseball. In baseball, the home plate is 90 feet from first base. Batters have their entire careers built around getting to first base as soon as possible after they hit the ball.

Good batters will get there about 30% of the time. Bad batters will get there about 20% of the time. Most batters will fall in between those two percentages.


Now let's change the dimensions of the ball field. Now say that the distance is not 90 feet but 89 feet. That means that more players will get to first base. Averages my go up so the the best hitters are over 35% and the worst hitters are now batting over 25%. The statistics have changed and the players will have to adjust their game to the new dimensions.


Or suppose the length is not 90 feet but 91 feet. The opposite will occur. More players will be out. Batting averages will drop, so that the best hitters are now batting around 25%; the worst hitters are batting around 15%. Again the statistics change, and the players have to adjust to the new dimensions.


But in both cases the game of baseball is still recognized. The conditions change but the game is still there. So let's take this kind of argument and apply it to the universe.

Universe #1

About 13 to 15 billion years ago, the big bang occurred. And let's say that one of the results of the big bang was that certain rules, and physical laws and constants were created that made the universe the way that it is. Let's call the rules and conditions by a simple term: "C" which the constant for the speed of light.

One result of the rules is periodic table of elements. There are 92 naturally occuring, and about 26 man-made.

We also know that element # 6 is carbon. And carbon is the foundation of life.






Universe #2:
Now let's suppose that in Universe #2, there was a big bang as well. But this time the constant of the universe is 1.1C. It is just a little bit bigger than C is in our universe. One of the consequences is that there are 134 naturally occurring elements. Carbon is one of them, but in this universe, element #48, our "Cadmium" is responsible for life, not carbon. Again in this universe there was a naturally occuring structure built around how the atoms were arranged. Life was not pre-ordained to start with Carbon, but with a different element.



Universe #3.
Universe #3 is like universe #2 and Universe #1. But in universe #3, the constant is .98C, smaller than universe #1. As a result there are only 58 naturally occuring elements, and element #18, "Argon" creates life. And again with this universe, the atoms arranged in such away that the properties of the periodic table result in a very different configuration for what constitutes matter.



In all three universes, we see that it is not necessary to invoke a special design, or even that the design in one is unique. This means that an intelligent design in which there is only one way to create life, doesn't have to be.

6 comments:

island said...

Intelligent design advocates make the case that the universe is finely tuned, so much so that if you changed some small feature, the gravitational constant, or the mass of the proton, then the universe would be different, and life could not have been formed.

No, it's physicists who make that "case"/OBSERVATION, so maybe you should learn why it is an OBSERVED fact before we entertain baseball and other extracurricular activities... lol

mutley457 said...

"Island": It is the Intelligent designers who make the claim that this finely tuned universe is the result of an intelligent designer. Physicists don't make the claim.

island said...

Wow, I've see some wild context manipulation in my day, but yours is pathetically blatant:

It is the Intelligent designers who make the claim that this finely tuned universe is the result of an intelligent designer.

So now you seem to recognize that it is commonly known among physicists that "this universe is finely tuned", whereas, you originally claimed:

Intelligent design advocates make the case that the universe is finely tuned

No, they get "the case" from physicists. It is their unfounded leap of faith as to what this means that is in question.

Strike two...

mutley457 said...

Yes, strike two. You don't get it.

"No, they get "the case" from physicists. It is their unfounded leap of faith as to what this means that is in question."

Who are the Intelligent designers? Not physicists. No the creationists/Intelligent designers want to believe that the origin of the universe couldn't have been an accident if they show that there is a finely tuned system; they believe that universe is a finely tuned system.

If you have ever bothered to read any thing about quantum mechanics, physicists admit that there are problems with the standard model. But they don't have "faith" that it will work out. Physicists don't make a claim about a finely tuned universe.

Yes strike two....

island said...

No, that was a foul ball, and I've known what you meant all along, but the point is that you are misleading the opponents of ID into thinking that it is ONLY IDists who "make the case that the universe is finely tuned", and so they *automatically* begin to deny that it is, as a result of your highly misleading statement.

Intelligent design advocates AND A NUMBER OF HIGHLY REPUTABLE SCIENTISTS make the case that the universe is finely tuned, so much so that if you changed some small feature, the gravitational constant, or the mass of the proton, then the universe would be different, and life could not have been formed.

Creationists conclude that this means that the intelligent construction of the universe, so finely tuned, creates proof that the universe was created by an intelligent creator.

I might be willing to critique the rest of your post if you are willing to admit that your statement was misleading and reads better now.

mutley457 said...

The premise of Intelligent Design and hence its advocates is that life couldn't have formed without the finely tuned condition of the universe. Matter has just the right amount of mass, the electro-magnetic force is just the right amount, gravity is structured in such a way that the universe doesn't implode on itself, and life is the product not of random occurrences: if one constant was so it would be a coincidence, but all of them? That can't be a coincidence...it must be by design.

That's an arguement that simply ignores the fact that randomness can create order.

Secondly, I don't know any "reputable scientist" that is claiming that the universe is "finely tuned." That was my point of the problems with the standard model of quantum mechanics. Where is it finely tuned?