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On the Vastness of the Universe

Nevada is mostly empty; I mean really empty.  Ninety percent of the state’s residents live in the vicinity of Las Vegas or Reno, and the rest of the state is all but uninhabited.  I realized just how empty the state is when I was riding my motorcycle across the desert last month, and I passed a sign that said “Next Gas 167 Miles.”  They weren’t kidding.  My bike’s range is only a little over 200 miles, and if I hadn’t stopped to top off my tank, I would have run out of gas in the middle of the desert. 

This is the kind of riding I love the best.  Riding hour after hour through a vast emptiness, alone with my thoughts, the wind in my face, and the deep-throated throb of my engine in my ears, fills me with a peace and joy that is difficult to describe.  One day my two friends and I decided to just keep on riding after the sun went down, and at about 11:00 we stopped in the middle of the desert and turned off our motorcycles.  There was no moon that night and the wind had died down.  No other vehicles were on the highway, so we were alone in the quiet darkness, the only sound the pinging noises made by our engines as they cooled in the night air.

Hundreds of miles from the lights of the nearest city, the night sky was stunning.  The Milky Way was clearly visible from one horizon to the other.  Antares glowed like a tiny ruby in the heart of Scorpio.  My friends and I just stood there, gaping in awed silence at the numberless points of twinkling light in the celestial sphere.  Then John said, “I wonder why God made the universe so big.” 

John’s comment got me to thinking.  Why is the universe so big, with billons of galaxies and with each galaxy containing billions of stars, there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. 

The vast size of the universe along with the earth’s comparative insignificance have often been used as an argument against the Christian view of God.  The argument goes something like this:  When our poor benighted ancestors thought we lived in a cozy little universe that revolved around the earth at its center, the Christian view of God might have made sense.  But now we know better.  We have the Copernican Principle (or the “Principle of Mediocrity”), which tells us that the universe is not cozy, and the earth is not at its center.  The universe is larger than we can possibly understand, and, cosmically speaking, the earth is an insignificant speck of dust orbiting a slightly less insignificant speck of dust in one galaxy out of billons.  Surely God would not create such a vast universe to support only life on earth; now that would be a waste of a truly cosmic proportions.

As it turns out, there are good reasons to doubt every premise of this argument.

1.  The Ancients Were Not Stupid.

Let’s deal with the first assertion, that the ancients believed we live in a small universe.  Consider Psalm 8:  “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”  The psalmist looked at the multitude of stars in the night sky and realized that he was tiny and insignificant in a vast universe.  It is truly a conceit of the modern age that the ancients naively believed they lived in a small and cozy universe in which the earth and man figured significantly, and that only now with our telescopes and other instruments of science do we understand the vastness of the universe and our relative insignificance. 

Consider also Ptolemy’s Almagest, which was written in the early 100’s AD.  It was the standard text on astronomy for over a thousand years.  In chapter 5 of book I of the Almagest, Ptolemy writes:  “The earth, in relation to the distance of the fixed stars, has no appreciable size and must be treated as a mathematical point.”  So it turns out that the ancients were not as naive about the size of the universe as modern skeptics would have us believe. 

2.  The Earth is Almost Certainly a Very Special Place

No one supposes that the Earth is at the exact geometric center of the universe anymore.  Nevertheless, there are good reasons to believe that it is a very special place, perhaps even unique.  In recent years astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez has led the way in demonstrating that the existence of life is far from likely.  In fact, it is exceedingly improbable and the conditions of the Milky Way galaxy, the sun, the solar system, the moon and the earth itself are remarkably fine-tuned for the existence of life.

 According to Gonzalez, “The claims by many Copernican Principle advocates over the centuries, that life is commonplace on other celestial bodies, has been a spectacular failure. . . . Since it is Earth’s ability to support life that many take to be its most important quality, it is clear that this is a major failure of the metaphysical version of the Copernican Principle if the actual conditions which support life are so rare that they may only exist for Earth.”

 3.  The Universe is Exactly the Right Size

 Finally, it turns out that the universe is not “too big” after all.  In fact, it is exactly the size it must be in order to support life.  Rich Deem summarizes just a few of the “just right” parameters which make the universe ideal for the existence of life:

It turns out that the universe could not have been much smaller than it is in order for nuclear fusion to have occurred during the first 3 minutes after the Big Bang. Without this brief period of nucleosynthesis, the early universe would have consisted entirely of hydrogen. Likewise, the universe could not have been much larger than it is, or life would not have been possible. If the universe were just one part in 10^59 larger, the universe would have collapsed before life was possible. Since there are only 10^80 baryons in the universe, this means that an addition of just 10^21 baryons (about the mass of a grain of sand) would have made life impossible. The universe is exactly the size it must be for life to exist at all.

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101 Responses to On the Vastness of the Universe

  1. Those who insist the universe is mediocre due to its size are simply hung up on size issues. They are probably male too.

    But really, the argument goes something like this (at least from uneducated simpletons).

    “The universe is so big, and other stars and galaxies so numerous that it is inconceivable that earth is somehow special.”

    at leat that’s how I’ve heard it. I consider it to be an “earth of the gaps” kind of argument. It’s arguing from what is unknown, and from incredulity, not from any solid known parameters that can be observed to make earth or the universe mediocre.

    What is known, is that certain (over 100) just right parameters must be met with out-of-this-world mathematical precision for the universe to exist at all, much less exist the way that it is (scientifically observable and able to be rationally comprehended).

    The normally unthinking critic would do well to think of why the universe is the way it is, and not some other way.

  2. This video is fitting:

    The Known Universe by AMNH
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

    If you notice in the video, counter intuitive to Copernican thought, the earth does seem to be at the geometric center of the universe:

    Earth As The Center Of The Universe – illustrated image
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....QydzV2OGhz

    Of course, everyone is quick to point out that 4D space-time says that every place is ‘central’ in the universe:

    Where is the centre of the universe?:
    Excerpt: There is no centre of the universe! According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a “Big Bang” about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since. Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere. The Big Bang should not be visualized as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.
    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/.....entre.html

    Yet there are unresolved problems for 4D space-time in ‘geometrically” maintaining centrality for every 3 dimensional place in the universe:

    The Cauchy Problem In General Relativity – Igor Rodnianski
    Excerpt: 2.2 Large Data Problem In General Relativity – While the result of Choquet-Bruhat and its subsequent refinements guarantee the existence and uniqueness of a (maximal) Cauchy development, they provide no information about its geodesic completeness and thus, in the language of partial differential equations, constitutes a local existence. ,,, More generally, there are a number of conditions that will guarantee the space-time will be geodesically incomplete.,,, In the language of partial differential equations this means an impossibility of a large data global existence result for all initial data in General Relativity.
    http://www.icm2006.org/proceed.....l_3_22.pdf

    The following article speaks of a proof developed by legendary mathematician Kurt Gödel, from a thought experiment, in which Gödel showed General Relativity could not be a complete description of the universe:

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: Gödel’s personal God is under no obligation to behave in a predictable orderly fashion, and Gödel produced what may be the most damaging critique of general relativity. In a Festschrift, (a book honoring Einstein), for Einstein’s seventieth birthday in 1949, Gödel demonstrated the possibility of a special case in which, as Palle Yourgrau described the result, “the large-scale geometry of the world is so warped that there exist space-time curves that bend back on themselves so far that they close; that is, they return to their starting point.” This means that “a highly accelerated spaceship journey along such a closed path, or world line, could only be described as time travel.” In fact, “Gödel worked out the length and time for the journey, as well as the exact speed and fuel requirements.” Gödel, of course, did not actually believe in time travel, but he understood his paper to undermine the Einsteinian worldview from within.
    http://www.faqs.org/periodical.....27241.html

    Yet The ‘geometric’ problem finds resolution in quantum mechanics:

    Quantum Enigma:Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    And of course having a universe in which every point may be considered central to its expansion, and every ‘observer’ is central to the quantum wave collapse of the universe’s photons, is pretty much exactly what we would expect if this universe were indeed created from a higher dimension by a omniscient Being who knew everything that was happening everywhere at the same time. i.e. The old “How can God hear everybody’s prayers?” dilemma,,,

    Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    And of course the unification of general relativity (4D space-time and gravity) with quantum mechanics is the number one problem that has stumped physicists and mathematicians for years,,, yet the ‘problem’ seems to find a successful resolution in the resurrection of Christ:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31
    William Dembski PhD. Mathematics
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.” http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Philippians 2: 5-11
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    “Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature.”
    St. Augustine

    I like Frank Turek’s take on how awesome our God is is this following video:

    Journey Through the Universe – George Smoot- Frank Turek – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3993965/

  3. Interesting stuff, Barry.

  4. So the creator had to make the universe that large to support life on this one planet. It also set the laws of physics so they were just right for that same end. You would think it might have been possible to used a different set of laws of physics and save on having such a vast infrastructure to support one planet.

  5. Markf,

    You might think that. Maybe it is. If so, that might be a good thing to work on and show how else it could have been.

    For us Bible guys…it says the heavens show the glory of God. He’s really big!

  6. You know markf, the ‘I could design a universe better than God’ position has much going against it besides the sheer arrogance of the assertion. Number one is that you can’t even cause the creation of a single photon, much less the synchronized creation of all the photons in the universe to the accuracy of 1 in 10^10^123 for the initial phase-space of the universe! Methinks that perhaps you should think a little less of your abilities in such matters, which are non-existent, and a little more of God’s ability for which there is abundant evidence!

  7. #4 and #5. I wasn’t claiming that I could design the universe better -only conjecturing that God might be able to do it more efficiently. But maybe God isn’t capable of doing any better?

  8. markf:

    But maybe God isn’t capable of doing any better?

    So, you think it would have been “better” and “more efficient” if the universe had been smaller? How much “better” and “smaller” would it have taken until it was “satisfactory”. Would God be up to your obviously higher standards in such a case? If the universe was a lot smaller and more efficient, would you be singing God’s praises, because, hey, he’s so much more efficient? I somehow doubt it.

  9. markf, for me the incredible size of the universe is very fitting for making to point extremely clear of the awesomeness of our God. Indeed as vast as the heavens are the heavens still fall hopelessly short of the infinite ‘size’ that it would take to ‘house’ God. But look at it conversely markf, if God would have limited the size of the universe, say maybe adjusted the ‘historic’ space-time so that we would not be privy to all the past time/history of the universe revealing all the information for all the work that He performed in preparation for creating this planet, would you not just ask of this hypothetical small, ‘no history’, universe, ‘Well could not God have created a bigger universe?’

    Your argument is in the same vein as is the evolutionary argument for a poorly designed eye. ,,, I debated an evolutionist on this point, and when it turned out that the inverted retina actually is optimal,,

    Retinal Glial Cells Enhance Human Vision Acuity A. M. Labin and E. N. Ribak
    Physical Review Letters, 104, 158102 (April 2010)
    Excerpt: The retina is revealed as an optimal structure designed for improving the sharpness of images.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-354274

    ,,, the evolutionist, trying to defend his now indefensible position for a poorly designed eye, then focused his argumentation on pretty much the same line of reasoning that you are currently using right now. He said something to the effect that “Why did not God create an eye that can see in all directions?”,,, But if we were dealing with an eye that could see in all directions,, He could just as easily of asked ‘Why did not God design an eye that could hear as well as see?” Why did God not design an eye could run for twenty years on a drop of water?,,, and this argumentation could be continued on and on until finally he would ask “Why did not God give me eyes that see as well as He sees?” ,,, the point being is that the foundation for his argument presupposed that could should ultimately have unlimited abilities just as God has! Thus instead of the man rightly conceding the common sense conclusion that the human eye is optimally designed in the first place, and thus by default of his argument admitting that there is indeed a God, the evolutionist instead denied the obvious, and instead argued for an absurd position. An absurd position of argumentation that would not find satisfactory resolution for him unless it turned out that he himself was God. The inherent logical fallacy, as well as the blatant overriding Theological concerns of the battle between good and evil, of the position, should be enough, markf, to make you draw back in horror at such a line of argumentation.

  10. markf,

    Of course He couldn’t do it better. He did it perfectly the first time.

  11. Just for something completely different: The thread on the new paper of R. Marks II and W. Dembski A Search for the Search doesn’t allow for commenting. I suppose that there is quite an interest in discussing this paper here at Uncommon Descent. Can’t the thread be opened for comments? Or can another post be created for the discussion? Thanks!

  12. The point that emerges is that the claim that the “universe is just the right size” is pretty meaningless. We don’t what other sizes it might have been, given God’s ability to change the laws of physics, or what God was trying to achieve – just support life? or impress the hell out of us? Or what?

  13. markf you state:

    “The point that emerges is that the claim that the “universe is just the right size” is pretty meaningless.,,,”

    Let’s see markf, the size of the universe, as Mr. Arrington referenced, is balanced to within ‘just one of grain of sand’ ,,,

    And you say it is pretty meaningless,,,

    markf could you please go out tonight and look up at stars and planets??? ,,, then could you reach down and pick up a grain of sand???,,, and then could you look at the grain of sand??? and Then could you look at the stars again??? repeat a few times,,, and then let this thought sink in,,, If that grain of sand did not exist, out of all the grains of sand in the universe, you would not exist!!! Then put that grain of sand on your desk in front of your computer,, then come back to this blog and tell us again how meaningless that grain of sand is to the size of this universe.

  14. markf,

    We do know that the universe is incredibly fine-tuned for life. One can either argue about how it might have been different or ponder the incredible probabilities that can only point to God.

    It wasn’t always easy but I finally choose the latter. There is just too much evidence that points to Him.

  15. 15

    BA, your attempt to get markf to reflect upon his comments is completely misplaced.

    He gave up on the search for truth long ago.

  16. 16

    Upright, BA’s attempt to get markf to reflect on his comments is not misplaced. It may be true that markf’s heart is hardened beyond the point of return (I am not saying it is); but even it it is, remember there are thousands of lurkers who read these pages, and markf might be asking questions that some of them have.

  17. 17

    Barry, I am certain you are correct.

  18. Is it contrary to Christian doctrine that there be other life in the universe? Could there be an Adam and an Eve who did not fall?

  19. 19

    Collin, how can semiotic content be established by physics?

  20. #11

    Let’s see markf, the size of the universe, as Mr. Arrington referenced, is balanced to within ‘just one of grain of sand’

    this might be true given the current laws of the universe – but who knows what sizes are possible if you are allowed to vary the physical constants (which the fine tuning argument presupposes)

  21. #12 elliejacket

    The fine tuning argument has been discussed in some detail on this forum – in particular I remember debating it with vjtorley. I don’t know if you are familiar with its various twists and turns. But it is not at all clear cut. Among other things it requires treating physical constants as random variables and applying the principle of indifference in a fashion that is hard to justify. For example, why should we say that all values of a physical constant are equally likely, rather than all values of the log of that constant, or the fifth power of that constant? More to the point does it make any sense to talk of the probability of a physical constant having a value in the first place?

  22. markf you ask:

    “but who knows what sizes are possible if you are allowed to vary the physical constants”(?)

    actually physicists have played around with this concept and have found that not only are the individual constants finely tuned, but have also found that they are ‘irreducibly complex’ in relation to one another,,,

    “If we modify the value of one of the fundamental constants, something invariably goes wrong, leading to a universe that is inhospitable to life as we know it. When we adjust a second constant in an attempt to fix the problem(s), the result, generally, is to create three new problems for every one that we “solve.” The conditions in our universe really do seem to be uniquely suitable for life forms like ourselves, and perhaps even for any form of organic complexity.” Gribbin and Rees, “Cosmic Coincidences”, p. 269

    Anthropic Principle – God Created The Universe – Michael Strauss PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4323661

    Here are a few sites that list the finely tuned ‘transcendent’ universal constants:

    Fine-Tuning For Life In The Universe
    http://www.reasons.org/fine-tuning-life-universe

    Evidence for the Fine Tuning of the Universe
    http://www.godandscience.org/a.....ignun.html

    Here is a video that shows that the evidence for design extends to every ‘size’ we examine (universe, galaxy cluster, galaxy, solar system, arrangement of planets in solar system etc.. etc..)

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

    Even the ‘exotic’ virtual particles are found to be necessary for life in the universe:

    Virtual Particles, Anthropic Principle & Special Relativity – Michael Strauss PhD. Particle Physics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4554674

    So markf, at just which point, of examining the overwhelming evidence for design, do you concede that God just might know more than you do in constructing a universe? Will you always harbor a doubt that you could have done it better than God? Perhaps you could have balanced the universe to within one atom instead of a grain of sand!?! But then the creatures upon which the purpose of this universe is founded (us) would not be able to hold that atom within a pinch of their fingers as they can hold a grain of sand. Perhaps it is all a matter of taste, but myself I feel God made the balance to within one grain of sand specifically so to make it ‘personal’ for us to realize how much He cares for us.

  23. Actually, I made a music video based on the one grain of sand fine-tuning finding:

    My Beloved One – Inspirational Christian Song – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200171

  24. This is a science blog, no? Why all the Christian stuff?

  25. 25

    lastyearon, you seem to be unaware that science as we know it would not exist but for the “Christian stuff.”

  26. lastyearon,

    Most famous scientists of the past were Christians and believed their pursuit of knowledge was glorifying to God.

    I don’t feel any differently.

  27. 27

    Regarding #3

    It seems to me this is more of a definition type-thing. Perhaps the way the universe is simply defines what a perfect uniververse should be like, and to ask why God didn’t make it bigger or smaller is like asking why God couldn’t make a circle with four corners.

  28. 28

    Regarding #14

    Being the Calvinist that I am, I would say that all of our hearts are hardened “beyond the point of no return” from the git-go, and God softens who he wills. In light of this, I would say if God decides to soften markf’s heart, there is nothing he can do about it.

  29. upright biped,

    I’m sure your question is brilliant because I have no idea what it means.

  30. It seems obvious to me that God created such a vast universe because He has many inhabited worlds with many children.

    And maybe we’ll learn to travel to the distant stars and galaxies and learn to be creator’s too, in a more limited extent.

  31. 31

    Collin :)

    It was a fumbled attempt to get the conversation onto relevant science. My apologies.

  32. 32

    Collin, you seem to be buying into the “there are billons of planets; therefore there must be many planets on which life exists.” Sorry; it is not that simple. The whole point of Professor Gonzalez’s work is to demonstrate that the existence of the conditions necessary for life is extremely improbable. In fact, those conditions are so highly improbable that it is not unreasonable to conclude that the earth may be the only place in the universe where life beat the odds.

    Obviously, we cannot know for certain whether life exists on other planets. The point is that there is no reason to blithely assume that it does for no other reason than because a large number of planets exist.

  33. In order for one to determine whether a system, mechanism, process, etc. is “perfect” we must understand the purpose of its creation. One purpose, it seems to me, assuming of course that humans are significant, is to maximize our intellect. We require adversity, challenge, opposition, opportunity, etc., in order to progress. To what end? That is the question.

  34. Echoing Mr. Arrington’s concern @ 32,,,

    “Obviously, we cannot know for certain whether life exists on other planets. The point is that there is no reason to blithely assume that it does for no other reason than because a large number of planets exist.”

    This article “serendipitously” just came up on Crevo news:

    Exoplanet Hunters Fail Predictions – August 2010
    In Caltech’s latest Engineering and Science magazine,1 John Johnson was interviewed about the state of extrasolar planet hunting. Johnson has been involved with leading planet-hunting pioneers. A recurring theme in the interview is the surprise that planetary systems were found to be radically different from predictions.

    What are some of the current big questions that you guys are trying to tackle?

    We’re interested in how the solar system formed. We’re interested in our immediate environment and describing its origins. And beyond that, we’re interested in general in how planetary systems formed. There are some very specific questions that arise at every turn. There are so many surprises in this field—almost nothing is turning out as we expected. There are Jupiter-mass planets in three-day orbits. There are planets with masses that are between those of the terrestrial planets in our solar system and the gas giants in the outer part of our solar system. There are Jupiter-mass planets with hugely inflated radii—at densities far lower than what we thought were possible for a gas-giant planet. There are giant planets with gigantic solid cores that defy models of planet formation, which say there shouldn’t be enough solids available in a protoplanetary disk to form a planet that dense. There are planets with tilted orbits. There are planets that orbit the poles of their stars, in so-called circumpolar orbits. There are planets that orbit retrograde—that is, they orbit in the opposite direction of their star’s rotation. There are systems of planets that are in configurations that are hard to describe given our understanding of planet formation. For instance, some planets are much too close to one another.
    But a lot of those surprises have to do with the fact that we have only one example of a planetary system—our solar system—to base everything on, right?
    What’s interesting is that we’ve found very little that resembles our example.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100831a

    further notes on the privileged planet principle:

    To answer our second question (What evidence is found for the earth’s ability to support life?) we will consider many ‘life-enabling characteristics’, for the galaxy, sun, moon and earth, which establish that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to host advanced life in this universe. Again, the presumption of materialistic blind chance being the only reasonable cause must be dealt with. As opposed to the anthropic hypothesis which starts off by presuming the earth is extremely unique in this universe, materialism begins by presuming planets that are able to support life are fairly common in this universe. In fact astronomer Frank Drake (1930-present) proposed, in 1961, advanced life should be fairly common in the universe. He developed a rather crude equation called the ‘Drake equation’. He plugged in some rather optimistic numbers and reasoned that ten worlds with advanced life should be in our Milky Way galaxy alone. That worked out to roughly one trillion worlds with advanced life throughout the entire universe. Much to the disappointment of Star Trek fans, the avalanche of recent scientific evidence has found the probability of finding another planet with the ability to host advanced life in this universe is not nearly as likely as astronomer Frank Drake had originally predicted.

    First it does not seem that our solar system is nearly as haphazard as some materialists would have us believe:

    Thank God for Jupiter – July 2010
    Excerpt: The July 16, 1994 and July 19, 2009 collision events on Jupiter demonstrate just how crucial a role the planet plays in protecting life on Earth. Without Jupiter’s gravitational shield our planet would be pummeled by frequent life-exterminating events. Yet Jupiter by itself is not an adequate shield. The best protection is achieved via a specific arrangement of several gas giant planets. The most massive gas giant must be nearest to the life support planet and the second most massive gas giant the next nearest, followed by smaller, more distant gas giants. Together Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune provide Earth with this ideal shield.
    http://www.reasons.org/thank-god-jupiter

    In fact when trying to take into consideration all the different factors necessary to make life possible on any earth-like planet, we learn some very surprising things:

    Privileged Planet Principle – Michael Strauss – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318884/

    There are many independent characteristics required to be fulfilled for any planet to host advanced carbon-based life. Two popular books have recently been written, ‘The Privileged Planet’ by Guillermo Gonzalez and ‘Rare Earth’ by Donald Brownlee, indicating the earth is extremely unique in its ability to host advanced life in this universe. Privileged Planet, which holds that any life supporting planet in the universe will also be ‘privileged’ for observation of the universe, has now been made into a excellent video.

    The Privileged Planet – video
    http://video.google.com/videop.....ed+planet#

    There is also a well researched statistical analysis of the many independent ‘life-enabling characteristics’ that gives strong mathematical indication that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe and shows, from a naturalistic perspective, that a life permitting planet is extremely unlikely to ‘accidentally emerge’ in the universe. The statistical analysis, which is actually a refinement of the Drake equation, is dealt with by astro-physicist Dr. Hugh Ross (1945-present) in his paper ‘Probability for Life on Earth’.

    Probability For Life On Earth – List of Parameters, References, and Math – Hugh Ross
    http://www.reasons.org/probabi.....h-apr-2004
    http://www.johnankerberg.com/A.....304RFT.pdf

    A few of the items in Dr. Ross’s “life-enabling characteristics” list are; Planet location in a proper galaxy’s ‘habitable zone’; Parent star size; Surface gravity of planet; Rotation period of planet; Correct chemical composition of planet; Correct size for moon; Thickness of planets’ crust; Presence of magnetic field; Correct and stable axis tilt; Oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere; Proper water content of planet; Atmospheric electric discharge rate; Proper seismic activity of planet; Many complex cycles necessary for a stable temperature history of planet; Translucent atmosphere; Various complex cycles for various elements etc.. etc.. I could go a lot further for there are a total of 322 known parameters on his list which have to be met for complex life to be possible on Earth, or on a planet like Earth. Individually, these limits are not that impressive but when we realize ALL these limits have to be met at the same time and not one of them can be out of limits for any extended period of time, then the condition becomes ‘irreducibly complex’ and the probability for a world which can host advanced life in this universe becomes very extraordinary. Here is the final summary of Dr. Hugh Ross’s ‘conservative’ estimate for the probability of another life-hosting world in this universe.

    Probability for occurrence of all 322 parameters =10^388
    Dependency factors estimate =10^96
    Longevity requirements estimate =10^14
    Probability for occurrence of all 322 parameters = 10^304
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in universe =10^22

    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^282 (million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion) exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    Dr. Hugh Ross, and his team, have now drastically refined this probability of 1 in 10^304 to a staggering probability of 1 in 10^1054:

    Does the Probability for ETI = 1?
    Excerpt; On the Reasons To Believe website we document that the probability a randomly selected planet would possess all the characteristics intelligent life requires is less than 10^-304. A recent update that will be published with my next book, Hidden Purposes: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, puts that probability at 10^-1054.
    http://www.reasons.org/does-probability-eti-1

  35. further notes:

    The following is another surprising Privileged Planet parameter which recently came to light:

    Cosmic Rays Hit Space Age High
    Excerpt: “The entire solar system from Mercury to Pluto and beyond is surrounded by a bubble of solar magnetism called “the heliosphere.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....133244.htm

    The Protective Boundaries of our Solar System – NASA IBEX – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O0qcQZXpII

    “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called “Lord God” ??????????? [pantokratòr], or “Universal Ruler”… The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.”
    Sir Isaac Newton – Quoted from what many consider the greatest science masterpiece of all time, “Principia”

    Many people assume that solar system formation in this universe is a fairly well understood process by science but that is in fact not the case:

    Are Saturn’s Rings Evolving? July – 2010
    Excerpt: Not all is well in theories of planet formation, though. Astrobiology Magazine complained this week that many of the exoplanets discovered around other stars do not fit theories of the origin of the solar system.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100710a

    As well, the prevailing ‘impact theory’ for how our life-enabling moon formed seems to be in jeopardy:

    Researchers discover water on the moon is widespread, similar to Earth’s – July 2010
    Excerpt: The finding of volatiles on the moon has deep implications for how it, and the Earth, formed. It is generally believed that the moon was created when the early Earth was hit by a Mars-sized proto-planet called Theia, melting and vaporizing itself and a large chunk of the Earth. The cloud of particles created by the impact later congealed to form the moon, which supposedly was devoid of highly volatile elements such as hydrogen and chlorine. However, the researchers’ discovery of these volatiles challenges this theory. “If water in the Moon was residue water kept during the giant impact, it is surprising that water survived the impact at all because less volatile elements, such as sodium and potassium, are strongly depleted. The details of the impact theory need to be re-examined,” Liu said.
    http://www.physorg.com/news198934028.html

    Even tectonic activity is found to be far more finely-tuned then at first suspected:

    New Definition Could Further Limit Habitable Zones Around Distant Suns: – June 2009
    … liquid water is essential for life, but a planet also must have plate tectonics to pull excess carbon from its atmosphere and confine it in rocks to prevent runaway greenhouse warming. Tectonics, or the movement of the plates that make up a planet’s surface, typically is driven by radioactive decay in the planet’s core, but a star’s gravity can cause tides in the planet, which creates more energy to drive plate tectonics…. Barnes added, “The bottom line is that tidal forcing is an important factor that we are going to have to consider when looking for habitable planets.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....124831.htm

    As well, It is found that not only must you have the right chemicals present on earth to have life, the chemicals must also be present on the earth in ‘specific abundances’.

    Elemental Evidence of Earth’s Divine Design – Hugh Ross PhD. – April 2010
    Table: Earth’s Anomalous Abundances – Page 8
    The twenty-five elements listed below must exist on Earth in specific abundances for advanced life and/or support of civilization to be possible. For each listed element the number indicates how much more or less abundant it is, by mass, in Earth’s crust, relative to magnesium’s abundance, as compared to its average abundance in the rest of the Milky Way Galaxy, also relative to the element magnesium. Asterisks denote “vital poisons,” essential elements that if too abundant would be toxic to advanced life, but if too scarce would fail to provide the quantities of nutrients essential for advanced life. The water measure compares the amount of water in and on Earth relative to the minimum amount the best planet formation models would predict for a planet the mass of Earth orbiting a star identical to the Sun at the same distance from the Sun.

    carbon* 1,200 times less
    nitrogen* 2,400 times less
    fluorine* 50 times more
    sodium* 20 times more
    aluminum 40 times more
    phosphorus* 4 times more
    sulfur* 60 times less
    potassium* 90 times more
    calcium 20 times more
    titanium 65 times more
    vanadium* 9 times more
    chromium* 5 times less
    nickel* 20 times less
    cobalt* 5 times less
    selenium* 30 times less
    yttrium 50 times more
    zirconium 130 times more
    niobium 170 times more
    molybdenum* 5 times more
    tin* 3 times more
    iodine* 3 times more
    gold 5 times less
    lead 170 times more
    uranium 16,000 times more
    thorium 23,000 times more
    water 250 times less
    http://www.reasons.org/files/e.....010-02.pdf

    Computer simulations reveal that getting the correct chemical composition of a ‘just right’ planet is nowhere near as likely as was first presumed by Drake, Sagan, and other atheistic scientists:

    Compositions of Extrasolar Planets – July 2010
    Excerpt: Today astronomers stand at the verge of discovering rocky terrestrial-type planets the size of Venus and Earth. Already they’ve found several only a few times the mass of Earth. In anticipation of this forthcoming discovery, a number of theoreticians have generated detailed computer simulations of extrasolar terrestrial planet formation based on the measured physical properties of known extrasolar planetary systems. So far, however, these simulations have considered only the dynamics of terrestrial planet formation and not the detailed chemical compositions of the final terrestrial planets produced. In the June 1, 2010 issue of the Astrophysical Journal three astronomers from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) and the Planetary Science Institute (PSI) in Tucson, Arizona, responded to this deficiency.2 As the three astronomers discovered, the presumption that extrasolar terrestrial planets will consistently manifest Earth-like chemical compositions is incorrect. Instead, the simulations revealed “a wide variety of resulting planetary compositions.
    http://www.reasons.org/composi.....ar-planets

    The stunning long term balance of these necessary chemicals for life, on the face of the earth, is a wonder in and of itself:

    Chemical Cycles:
    Long term chemical balance is essential for life on earth. Complex symbiotic chemical cycles keep the amount of elements on the earth surface in relatively perfect balance and thus in steady supply to the higher life forms that depend on them to remain stable. This is absolutely essential for the higher life forms to exist on Earth for any extended period of time.
    http://www.uen.org/themepark/cycles/chemical.shtml

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  36. I just wonder if we ever communicated with intelligent aliens, would peoples’ faith be shaken? I believe that their solar system would be just as fine tuned as our own, so Christians would not lose their argument that Earth is special. It is special even if God created other special worlds.

    I guess part of my assumption is based on what I would do if I were God (I know, hubris up the wazoo). But if I were God, I would be creating all sorts of cool things, all over the universe. I don’t deny that God could create the whole universe just for Earth and humans for a purpose only He knows.

  37. Collin maybe the important thing for us to do right now, individually, since we are all in fact going to die someday, is to establish ‘communication’, or at least a relationship, with our Creator instead of vainly trying to so with ‘hypothetical’ aliens???

    I find the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence by SETI to be amusing:

    SETI – Search For Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence receives message from God,,,,, Almost – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4007753

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

    “When I was young, I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And he told me.”
    George Washington Carver

  38. BA77, going back a few posts, it never ceases to amaze me that you think people who don’t believe the universe was created with us in mind are arrogant. Surely it is the height of arrogance to believe that the whole vast glittering universe was created just for you and creatures of your kind? In fact I couldn’t really conceive of a much more arrogant position than that.

  39. 39

    Collin, are you a Mormon per chance?

  40. Barry, Atheists are mystified by the vastness or complexity of the universe, and they will remain mystified. For Christians and Jews the answer is undoubtedly tied to the mystery of the Tree of Knowledge, and the first sin of humans when they wanted to become “like gods”, (Genesis 3). The universe was made vast enough to diminish the big ego and the significance of humans, of which they would become conscious, (this was also Kant’s observation), since they were indeed created a little lower than the angels, including their ability to reason and discover.

    Curiously, it was the young man Elihu who finally chastised Job, (before God Himself finally brought Job to his senses), by pointing out, among many other interesting things, that “God is great beyond our knowledge” (Job 36:26), “He does great things beyond our knowing” (Job 37:5), and “He shuts up all mankind indoors” (Job 37:7), all this so “therefore men revere him, though none can see him, however wise their hearts.” (Job 37:24)

    Really, despite all the knowledge mankind has acquired, it is all still just ignorance compared to the knowledge of God (Job 38). And the structure of the universe, its vastness on one hand, and the complexity of matter and life itself that the modern science has revealed, is there to safeguard the Tree of Life from plundering, since it is guarded by cherubim with their “fiery revolving sword”, whatever that terrible weapon is. (Genesis 3:24)

  41. zeroseven you state:

    “Surely it is the height of arrogance to believe that the whole vast glittering universe was created just for you and creatures of your kind? In fact I couldn’t really conceive of a much more arrogant position than that.”

    Actually zeroseven I called it arrogant for one to presuppose he could design a better universe than God did since we cannot even create a single photon.

    Second I did not start out, years ago, with the ‘arrogant’ presupposition that the universe was designed for ‘me and my kind’, but I started out with the presupposition that the universe had no bounds and that I was nothing. Yet as the scientific evidence itself has come together into a coherent, focused, and integrated, form, I find myself greatly surprised that such insignificant nothings, as ‘me and my kind’ are, would in fact be found to have significance. So I agree with you that it would be arrogant to start out with that position with no foundational knowledge to back up your position as to that claim. whereas conversely, nowadays, with such a wealth of knowledge that has been forthcoming for the design of the universe, I hold it would be very, very, unwise for one to deny the overwhelming evidence for design and to continue to mock and ridicule God and those who have placed their trust in Him. ,, It simply is no longer justifiable, in the least, in the face of such an avalanche of ‘scientific’ evidence.

  42. Bornagain,

    You’re right.

    Holcumbrink

    You are too.

    zeroseven,

    I agree that it is arrogant. But I think it has justification. Christians get even more arrogant when they assert that God Himself would submit to painful death in order to save His children. But it is not so hard to believe when you have your own children.

  43. The critic who thinks the vastness of the universe somehow means the earth is insignificant is not putting forth any positive evidence to support that claim, nor that God doesn’t exist. He’s just voicing an assumption that is entirely subjective and leaving it up to theists to scramble to reply to it as if it was more significant than it is.

    Let’s pretend for a moment and see how far this line of reasoning can go. I’ll pretend to be a critic of anthropic design arguments.

    “The universe is so small, so tiny, that God couldn’t have made it. After all, why would a really big, powerful God create a universe so tiny and with so little material?”.

    That line of reasoning didn’t go very far did it? As you can see, either way, the size of the universe is not evidence of anything about God, except that the way that God created it happens to be just right for intelligent life to observe, rationally comprehend and enjoy.

  44. Addendum:

    This reminds me of the law of non-contradiction… in a way. No two opposing truth statements can be both true at the same time. As such, either statement about the universe being either immensely large, or very tiny, as being some kind of evidence that the universe is mediocre, or the earth is somehow insignificant, or as some kind of explanation for why God didn’t do a good job of creating the universe..cannot both be true at the same time.

    Additionally, for those who consider the universe so vast and immense, and if that means something to you just consider this. You haven’t seen anything yet! At the present rate of expansion (and if left undisturbed by an external cause), the universe will continue to expand and (get bigger) for eternity forward. What you may consider a very large universe now may be quite small in a few billion years.

  45. Is it not arrogant to think that man is the highest intellect in the whole universe?

  46. smordecai,

    No as far as ‘physical’ life is concerned,

    and let me state why.

    for one thing I have absolutely no ‘natural’ reason to presuppose life to originate, nor evolve, on any planet even if the whole universe were populated with nothing but planets like earth that could host life,,,,:

    Dr. Don Johnson lays out some of the probabilities for life in this following video:

    Probabilities Of Life – Don Johnson PhD. – 38 minute mark of video
    a typical functional protein – 1 part in 10^175
    the required enzymes for life – 1 part in 10^40,000
    a living self replicating cell – 1 part in 10^340,000,000
    http://www.vimeo.com/11706014

    ,,, evolution has never demonstrated a single gain in functional complexity/information that would violate the principle of genetic entropy,,,:

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248 ,,,

    The key thing is information,,,

    It turns out that everything in the universe from the constants, to the photons, to the particles is reducible information,,,

    “It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom – at a very deep bottom, in most instances – an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that things physical are information-theoretic in origin.” John Archibald Wheeler

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

    Considering computers can’t pass this following test for creating new information,,,

    “… no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”
    — Douglas G. Robertson, “Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test,” Complexity, Vol.3, #3 Jan/Feb 1999, pp. 25-34.
    http://www.evoinfo.org/

    Evolutionary Informatics – William Dembski & Robert Marks
    Excerpt: The principal theme of the lab’s research is teasing apart the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems.,,, Evolutionary informatics demonstrates a regress of information sources. At no place along the way need there be a violation of ordinary physical causality. And yet, the regress implies a fundamental incompleteness in physical causality’s ability to produce the required information. Evolutionary informatics, while falling squarely within the information sciences, thus points to the need for an ultimate information source qua intelligent designer.
    http://evoinfo.org/

    ,,Whereas humans can fairly easily pass the test for creating new information,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-357770

    ,,,thus these findings strongly imply that we humans have a ‘higher informational component’ to our being,, i.e. these findings offer another line of corroborating evidence which is very suggestive to the idea that humans have a mind which is transcendent of the physical brain and which is part of a ‘unique soul from God’. Moreover this unique mind that we humans have seems to be capable of a special and intimate communion with God that is unavailable to other animals, i.e. we are capable of communicating information with “The Word” as described John 1:1.

    i.e. smordecai, the burden is on you to tell me just exactly why should I presuppose that God would create a ‘higher’ intellect in this universe than humans. Humans who clearly seem to be made in ‘the image’ of God with an inbuilt ability to commune with ‘The Word’ which created and sustains this universe???

  47. I agree with points 1 & 2. Not sure about point 3 and all the math having to do with the Big Bang. I know many Christians support the Big Bang, but there are so many versions out there of the Big Bang and they are all filled with holes. The Big Bang also hinges upon stuff that we don’t even know exists – dark energy and dark matter. There are even secular scientists who doubt the Big Bang and yet people talk as if it is a fact that it happened. I’m not ready to go that far. There are hundreds of versions precisely because they haven’t come up with one that actually works yet.

    I think there is a better reason to explain the vastness of the universe – a great God who loves beauty and who displays His glory in the heavens!

    Psalm 19
    1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

    2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

    3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

    4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

  48. I just remembered this guy, Louie Giglio, has very proper response, as to what our reaction should be to the vastness of the universe:

    You could fit 262 trillion earths inside (the star of) Betelgeuse. If the Earth were a golfball that would be enough to fill up the Superdome (football stadium) with golfballs,,, 3000 times!!! When I heard that as a teenager that stumped me right there because most of my praying had been advising God, correcting God, suggesting things to God, drawing diagrams for God, reviewing things with God, counseling God.
    - Louie Giglio

    Louie Giglio – How Great Is Our God – Part 2 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfNiZrt5FjU

  49. Thanks, Bornagain. I keep telling God how to fix my life. That’s the only time I think that He doesn’t answer my prayers.

    tjguy,

    Not that I’m a big fan of concensus science, but I think that most physicists agree that the Big Bang probably happened, but many of the details are not agreed upon/settled.

    As a side note to the OP, I heard a brilliant statement once in response to the multiverse argument. If there are so many universes that one of them HAD to be fine-tuned for life, then there are enough universes for one of them to have a benevolent Supreme Being who created life. So the multiverse argument does not actually save atheists. Sorry for the tangent.

  50. 50

    Collin, I am curious… Do you not consider the God of Israel to be the creator of the known universe?

  51. 51

    Regarding #49, multiverses

    Behe has an absolutely profound answer to the infinite multiverse argument in “Edge of Evolution”. If there are infinite universes, then we couldn’t trust our senses, because it would be just as likely that our universe might only consist of a human brain that pops into existence which has the neurons configured just right to only give the appearance of past memories. It would also be just as likely that we are floating brains in a lab, with some scientist feeding us fake experiences. Those scenarios would be just as likely as the one we appear to be in now (one universe with all of our experiences being “real”).

    Bottom line is, if there really are an infinite number of universes out there, then we can’t trust anything we perceive to be true, which means there is no point in seeking any truth whatsoever.

  52. M. Holcumbrink that is profound from Behe!!!

    Thanks for pointing that out,,, The point is now referenced with these notes,,,

    Using the materialist same line of reasoning for an infinity of multiverses to explain the extreme fine-tuning of this one we can surmise; If it is infinitely possible for God to exist then He, of 100% certainty, must exist no matter how small the probability is of His existence in one of these other infinity of universes, and since He certainly must exist, then all possibilities in all universes automatically become subject to Him since He is, by definition, All Powerful. To clearly illustrate the absurdity of what the materialists now consider their cutting edge science: The materialistic conjecture of an infinity of universes to explain the fine tuning of this one also insures the 100% probability of the existence of Pink Unicorns no matter how small the probability is of them existing. In fact a infinity of universes insures the existence of an infinity of Pink Unicorns an infinite number of times. Thus it is self-evident the materialists have painted themselves into a inescapable corner of logical absurdities in trying to find an escape from the Theistic implications we are finding for the fine-tuning of this universe.

    Ontological Argument For God From The Many Worlds Hypothesis – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4784641

    Atheism In Crisis – The Absurdity Of The Multiverse – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4227733

    Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of our universe’s low entropy condition obtaining by chance alone are on the order of 1 in 10^10(123), an inconceivable number. If our universe were but one member of a multiverse of randomly ordered worlds, then it is vastly more probable that we should be observing a much smaller universe. For example, the odds of our solar system’s being formed instantly by the random collision of particles is about 1 in 10^10(60), a vast number, but inconceivably smaller than 1 in 10^10(123). (Penrose calls it “utter chicken feed” by comparison [The Road to Reality (Knopf, 2005), pp. 762-5]). Or again, if our universe is but one member of a multiverse, then we ought to be observing highly extraordinary events, like horses’ popping into and out of existence by random collisions, or perpetual motion machines, since these are vastly more probable than all of nature’s constants and quantities’ falling by chance into the virtually infinitesimal life-permitting range. Observable universes like those strange worlds are simply much more plenteous in the ensemble of universes than worlds like ours and, therefore, ought to be observed by us if the universe were but a random member of a multiverse of worlds. Since we do not have such observations, that fact strongly disconfirms the multiverse hypothesis. On naturalism, at least, it is therefore highly probable that there is no multiverse. — Penrose puts it bluntly “these world ensemble hypothesis are worse than useless in explaining the anthropic fine-tuning of the universe”.
    http://elshamah.heavenforum.co.....es-t20.htm

    “The multiverse idea rests on assumptions that would be laughed out of town if they came from a religious text.” Gregg Easterbrook

  53. Isa 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord. For as the heavans are higher than the earth so are may ways heigher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    Yet it also says “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:… (Isa 1:18)

    I submit that there is an intellect higher than human. And, those who consider otherwise are arrogant.

  54. smordecai, I said physical life in this universe which is exactly what you intended when you said,,,,

    “Is it not arrogant to think that man is the highest intellect in the whole universe?”

    thus you cannot reference the infinite wisdom of God to refute me when you intended to convey a higher ‘created’ being within this universe!!!

  55. Genesis 1:26
    Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.,,,

  56. 56

    I’m a little late to the party here, but I wanted to respond to markf in post #7 regarding what God is capable of vs. what He created.

    Mark, I’d be very careful in assuming to know the mind of God when conjecturing about what He’s capable of based on what He has created.

    First of all, God might have purposes other than creating neat big things like universes. Scripture indicates that part of God’s purpose is directed towards us, and in that direction is His desire for us to know him. I would think that one of the best ways to imagine God is to imagine a vast universe, and understand that God created it all and is greater. Even if the Earth and human beings were all he had in mind concerning sentient beings and a liveable planet, when considering what Scripture states about God’s desire’s concerning us, it makes all the sense in the universe that he would make such a magnificent one – both to humble us about ourselves, and to magnify our appreciation for Him.

    God’s purposes are not only pragmatic in the material sense, but also in the spiritual sense, which quite often materialists cannot comprehend due to their metaphysical commitments; and thus, are more likely to make unwarranted assumptions about what God would or wouldn’t do. It seems that such assumptions are the seeds, which bring forth ideas like Darwinian evolution.

    Darwin’s objection to design inferences were theological. And in addition, Darwin overlooked many theological considerations in order to focus on the one. His one consideration was his assumption about what a god would or wouldn’t do. The considerations he overlooked are too numerous to mention here, but here’s a few:

    1) God’s purpose in creation (according to scripture) is more than simply to set nature and evolution in motion, but to bring about a spiritual relationship between sentient beings (humans) with nature, other humans, and with God. Two books might help here, one is Francis Schaeffer’s “The God Who is There,” where he talks about the planes of human relationships (horizontal and vertical), and “The End of Christianity.”

    2) The fall and the presence of human sin. The present conditions of nature in light of the fall – “the Earth groans,” etc…

    3) General revelation as in nature manifesting the attributes of God.

    4) Special revelation as in Scripture manifesting the atttributes and the purposes of God in creation.

    5) The incarnation of Christ in the world in line with God’s purposes in creation.

    6) Future prophetic prophecies, which point to the fulfillment of God’s purposes in creation.

    All of these things, and many others, Darwin overlooked in order to posit a theological objection to design as if God was finishied with all his purposes in creation. Darwin was quite the theological ignoramous in light of all these, and hundreds of other theological considerations.

    So it’s best not to make assumptions about what God’s purposes are; especially if one is not inclined to consider theological issues with much depth.

  57. After reading through all of the above I remain convinced that the Christian attitude to the universe is monumentally arrogant, not to mention narcissistic.

  58. Holcumbrink,

    Yes, I do.

  59. zeroseven,

    After reading through all of the above I remain convinced that the Christian attitude to the universe is monumentally arrogant, not to mention narcissistic.

    You wouldn’t if you were a Christian. There is nothing arrogant about a father leaving his house to his children.

  60. Bornagain77 – Amazing that you can read my intent!. FYI I have read Behe, Meyer, etc. I’m convinced that ID is real. However, I do not assume that the Christian God or the Jewish God, etc. is the designing agent(at least from a scientific view point). I think I must follow the evidence wherever it leads, without allowing my “theology” to interfere. I do believe that the God of Israel is the Creator but this site should focus on the science and not on any particular theology or metaphysical position.

  61. zeroseven, and just which line of thought do you consider to be more arrogant??? To believe that God may just want a intimate relationship with human beings, which is amply corroborated by solid evidence and apologetics to any fair minded man who honestly studies the matter, or to believe that man can create a better universe (or eyeball) than God did, though there is not a single shred of evidence whatsoever that man can create even a single photon of energy nor a single novel functional protein to perform any task that he may so desire????.

  62. smordecai,

    this is exactly what I stated,,,,

    No as far as ‘physical’ life is concerned,

    Thus I correctly prefaced my position in addressing you, and contrary to you now saying it is a ‘theological’ issue, I actually gave ‘scientific’ evidence for why I believe my position to be true i.e. I referenced the foundation nature of information to the reality of the universe and the completely unique ability of man’s mind to generate information as well as understand information!!!

  63. smordecai,

    I invite you (and everyone else) to my blog then where we can discuss it.
    http://sakalava47.blogspot.com/

  64. Shalom!

  65. BA:

    Where did I say that man could create a better universe? Or a photon or an eyeball? It seems clear to this fair minded man who has honestly studied the matter that the only thing we know of that is capable of producing the complexity we see in the eye is an evolutionary process.

    But getting back to my point, I find it a paradox that Christians purport to be humble, but think that the whole universe was created for them. Can you not see that paradox?

  66. Onlookers

    Pardon a few Footnotes:

    1] Mr Arrington:

    Excellent, thought-provoking post.

    The use of Psalm 8 is especially powerful in correcting chronological snobbery.

    2] MF, 20: . . . who knows what sizes are possible if you are allowed to vary the physical constants (which the fine tuning argument presupposes)

    The problem with such an objection is that a locally fine-tuned cluster of laws and parameters isd just as wonderful as a global one. (In other words, it is a distractive dismissal attempt.)

    To see this, consider John Leslie’s analogy of the lone fly on a portion of a wall:

    1: the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life).

    2: Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning?

    3: . . . the need for such explanations does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes.

    4: 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.

    In short, the observation that a local cluster of laws and parameters seems to be irreducibly complexly fine-tuned to permit C-Chemistry, cell based, intelligent life is more than enough to be wondrous.

    And, it is more than enough to to highlight the major explanatory gaps in the currently institutionally dominant evolutionary materialistic views, where we are held to have arisen by chance and necessity, by accident, from hydrogen to humans.

    3] 07, 65: the only thing we know of that is capable of producing the complexity we see in the eye is an evolutionary process.

    Speculation and confident assertions notwithstanding, given the gaps in explanatory power to account for functionally specific, complex — and digitally coded — information to account for the origin of either the first living cell, or key elaborations and structures such as an eye, we know no such thing to have any such capacity.

    We do know that intelligence is fully capable of creating systems that embed and use digitally coded, functionally specific complex information in their working.

    And so we come tothe significance of the design inference.

    And, on your wider point, the key issue is that we face a great silence. If the formation of planets that support intelligent life in Galactic Habitable zones were as simple as some assert, and if the formation of intelligent life were equally as simple, then there should be galactic colonisation waves that — simply on the scope of energy required and resulting signals detectable to us [even if there have not been deliberate attempts to communicate or to send out von Newman-style self-replicating probes] — should be obvious to us, by now.

    That silence is a key fact to be cogently explained. (Thus, the pessimistic inductions about self-extinction. But, I suspect they are not addressing the core challenge to get TO intelligent embodied life, which so far as we can see has to be based on C-chemistry.)

    –> Of course, the perceived silence from other intelligences may be in part an artifact of where we are looking, multiplied by where we are NOT looking [cf say Pascal's Fire vision, Nov 23, 1654] and what sort of intelligence we expect.

    _________________

    GEM of TKI

  67. zeroseven you state,

    “Where did I say that man could create a better universe? Or a photon or an eyeball? It seems clear to this fair minded man who has honestly studied the matter that the only thing we know of that is capable of producing the complexity we see in the eye is an evolutionary process.”

    zeroseven despite your protestations to the contrary, Darwinian evolution, as has been amply pointed out by Dr. Hunter, and summarized by CannuckianYankee here is at its core a theological argument:

    Darwin’s objection to design inferences were theological. And in addition, Darwin overlooked many theological considerations in order to focus on the one. His one consideration was his assumption about what a god would or wouldn’t do. The considerations he overlooked are too numerous to mention here, but here’s a few:,,,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-362918

    ,,, Thus when Darwinist said that the retina is inverted in the eyeball (now known to be an optimal design) or when they said that 180 organs in the human body were vestigial (now known to be completely wrong), or when Darwinist say that 95% of the DNA is junk (in the process of being overturned on almost a weekly basis) or when a Darwinist points to a unsubstantiated multiverse to deal with the extreme fine-tuning of this one (now known to be overwhelmingly wrong from logical considerations) The Darwinist is merely stating the core theological objection to design that Darwinism is in fact based on (that God would not have done it that way), and despite your ardent protestation to the contrary, the whole argument is based on the assumption that man is wise enough to know how to do stuff better than God!

    You state this and then quickly tried to move on to another point, as if I would not notice the blatant falsehood you stated,,,

    ‘the only thing we know of that is capable of producing the complexity we see in the eye is an evolutionary process.’

    The fact is that there is not one single instance of the purely material processes creating any functional information whatsoever!!! (and what is Darwinian evolution save for material processes with replication thrown in!?!) Would you like to be the first Darwinist in the entire world to demonstrate that purely material processes can produce any functional information whatsoever. If you do so, there is a million dollar prize waiting for you,,,

    “The Origin-of-Life Prize” ® (hereafter called “the Prize”) will be awarded for proposing a highly plausible mechanism for the spontaneous rise of genetic instructions in nature sufficient to give rise to life.
    http://www.us.net/life/index.htm

    Perhaps you think that the origin of life is too much to ask of a Darwinist,, so I will settle for you showing me just one example of enough ‘trivial’ functional information being generated to pass the fitness test,,,

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248

    Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria – 2008
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....-drugstore

    Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology – Kirk Durston – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995236

    and this paper:

    Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins – Kirk K Durston, David KY Chiu, David L Abel and Jack T Trevors – 2007
    Excerpt: We have extended Shannon uncertainty by incorporating the data variable with a functionality variable. The resulting measured unit, which we call Functional bit (Fit), is calculated from the sequence data jointly with the defined functionality variable. To demonstrate the relevance to functional bioinformatics, a method to measure functional sequence complexity was developed and applied to 35 protein families.,,,
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/4/1/47

    Thus zeroseven, despite you saying this statement,,,

    ”’the only thing we know of that is capable of producing the complexity we see in the eye is an evolutionary process.”’

    with absolutely no evidence to back your claim up, the truth of the matter is that the only thing we know that is capable of producing functional information is intelligence,,,

    Stephen C. Meyer – The Scientific Basis For Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4104651

    etc… etc… etc…

  68. 68

    Zeroseven,

    I’m not certain you’re getting the gist of my argument in #56. I’m not saying that the focus of God’s creation is us. What I am saying is that God’s purposes are multifaceted, and for us to assume he meant one purpose only is to make unwarranted theological assumptions. I don’t believe Christians hold an arrogant position regarding God’s purposes towards us. All we are saying is that God does not consider us insignificant despite the vastness of the universe. This says more about God than it says about us.

  69. 69

    Zeroseven,

    BTW, Christians purporting to be humble would be a paradox, yes. :)

  70. I’m humble and proud of it!

  71. 71

    Collin,

    We used to say something like: “Humility, and how I acquired it in 3 easy steps.” :)

  72. ba @ 52 “Using the materialist same line of reasoning for an infinity of multiverses…”

    Not to mention that it is impossible for an actual infinite of anything physical to exist. :-)

    If it’s physical, it can be counted. If it can be counted, it’s not infinite. The multiverse or landscape “theory” is hogwash. They’ll have to do better than that. But they can’t do better than that. Fun to watch, sometimes. Mostly aggravating, though, I must admit.

  73. Dear God, please give me patience… and give it to me NOW.

  74. 74

    tg,

    I’ve had many problems with infinite universes as well, but two observations add to the absurdity for me, and they are the fact that our own is expanding and that eventually universe(s) die(s). First of all, how can infinite universes expand? I thought they were already infinite. Also, If one among an infinite number of universes dies, is the number of existing universes now infinite minus one?

    Baffling that anyone could even think of such things.

  75. Indeed. Or worse, bet an eternal future on such “thinking.” Sheesh.

  76. KF, your argument @66 that “intelligence” did it has already been completely dismantled by aiguy. There is no such thing (that we know of) as an “intelligence”. It is a description of a capability we see in humans and possibly other things. We have never seen it exist by itself out of a body. So your theory is pure metaphysical speculation.

    BA, contrary to what Dr Hunter thinks, scientists, when doing science, do not give a seconds thought to what God might or might not have done. There is no need of God in their hypotheses (to paraphrase). It is on this blog and forums like it that atheists talk about what God would have done because of the self-evident poor designs that we see in the natural world. If an omniscient being designed me, surely he could have structured my skeleton in a way that I don’t get a sore back all the time.

    Which takes me to a point that puzzles me. Given that we are supposedly made in the image of God, he must have looked like us right? Is that what this means, that we are made in his image? So is he a bipedal hominid type creature as well? Just something I wonder about. And the pictorial representations often show him as an old man.

  77. Actually zeroseven you are so far off the mark of the truth it almost unbelievable,, First Modern science owes its very existence to Christianity,,,

    Little known by most people is the fact that almost every, if not every, major branch of modern science has been founded by a scientist who strongly believed in Christ:

    Christianity and The Birth of Science – Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D
    Excerpt: Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”
    http://ldolphin.org/bumbulis/
    http://www.tektonics.org

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://www.tangle.com/view_vid.....e044148a1b

    A Short List Of The Christian Founders Of Modern Science
    http://www.creationsafaris.com/wgcs_toc.htm

    The Origin of Science
    Excerpt: Modern science is not only compatible with Christianity, it in fact finds its origins in Christianity.
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....rigin.html

    Then you made some off the cuff comments of what God looked like since we were made in His image,,, yet I actually have a ‘photograph’ of God,,,

    The Turin Shroud – Comparing Image And Photographic Negative – interactive webpage (Of note: The finding that the image on the Shroud is indeed a photographic negative is still as much a mystery today as when it was first discovered by Secondo Pia in 1898.)
    http://www.shroud.com/shrdface.htm

    The very first part, and very last part, of this following paper discusses the Shroud in more detail as concerned to the physics and the authenticity of it:
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

    ————–

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

  78. zero @ 76 “There is no such thing (that we know of) as an “intelligence”.”

    Actually, having read all of your last post, I can see why you’d say that.

  79. 79

    BA,

    Yes, all that and the fact that to say that science has no need of a God hypothesis is itself a “no God hypothesis,” which is theological. To be truly neutral in the matter, the scientist would have to be of no opinion either way. In other words, “we don’t know if we are in need of a God hypothesis.”

  80. zero

    There is no such thing (that we know of) as an “intelligence”.

    Aiguy played a game of rhetoric in place of being able to argue the observable evidence.

    Its a materialist last card – deny the “self” and argue over definitions (see K Popper).

    Aiguy knows that any statement of intelligence can be drawn into a definitional battle of rhetoric, and that battle can offer the cover necessary to flank what is observationally verifiable. He simply payed that card and hoped you’d bite.

    But good God man, pick yourself up from your doo! To say that something doesn’t exist just because (gasp!) we humans can argue over it, is a wee bit too much don’t you think?

    Lets see what else doesn’t exist over those terms shall we? Well shucks… SCIENCE does not exist because their are those who still argue over its complete meaning. SPECIES do not exist because their are those who still argue over its complete meaning. LIFE does not exist because their are those who still argue over its complete meaning.

    How far do you wany this to go?

    Does science exist, Zero?

    Does life exist, Zero?

    Does intelligence exist, zero?

    We have never seen it exist by itself out of a body.

    Does mathematics exist. Zero?

    Do abstractions exist, zero?

    Does language exist, Zero?

    Does reason exist, Zero?

  81. Peeler…tee hee

  82. Bornagain77- I did not know that Jews made no significant contribution to science!

  83. Onlookers (and 07):

    Re 07, 76: There is no such thing (that we know of) as an “intelligence”. It is a description of a capability we see in humans and possibly other things. We have never seen it exist by itself out of a body. So your theory is pure metaphysical speculation.

    The cynic in me wants to laugh bitterly, and the Christian in me wants to cry when I see a live reduction to absurdity like that.

    Here we have an intelligent and educated person — an intelligence! — trying to deny that intelligence is real, and to tiptoe by the basic point that we discern the presence and action of intelligence from its effects, in a two stage empirical inference that makes no a priori commitments; save that it refuses to rule out the possibilities that materialists are ever so eager to rule out ahead of time.

    As a simple corrective — and noting that this is probably a distractive attempt to shift the thread’s focus — we will bring out the error and note on how relevant the cosmological issues are. So, let’s go at it again, since 07 is patently labouring under the notion that there is a smuggled in a priori on the nature of intelligence.

    1 –> We are undeniably intelligent [on pain of immediate absurdity], and we routinely exercise purposefully directed contingency; such as 07 did to compose 76, including the cited above. If we meet a robot or an Alpha Centurian who is able to do these things, we will accept it as intelligent, even as we acknowledge limited intelligence in animals.

    2 –> That is, we can see that directed contingency is the action of intelligence is an empirical fact, indeed it is close to being a first fact of our experience as conscious, purposeful creatures.

    3 –> We live in a world full of cases that shows that three causal factors commonly occur: (a) mechanical necessity [a dropped heavy object falls], (b) chance [a dropped fair die then tumbles and comes to a reading at random], (c) directed contingency [we can set a die to a given reading].

    4 –> In the case of complex functional organisation and associated information, we routinely, reliably observe that it is the product of directed contingency produced by intelligences, per massive observation.

    5 –> Similarly, complex functional states are so isolated in the credible space of possible configurations, that the other source of highly contingent outcomes is maximally implausible, i.e. chance. (And, 07, if you think there is a law of mechanical necessity that programs digitally coded functional information into C-chemistry cell based life, you have just described the set of laws of nature to do that as a program written into the physics and chemistry of the universe.)

    6 –> We have an empirical basis, and a reasonable search space basis for inferring that such observable features are signs of directed contingency.

    7 –> So when we turn to origins sciences contexts, we have good reason to infer — regardless of AIG’s doubts — that the signs point to the signified causal process, directed contingency, which is routinely associated with a source, intelligence.

    8 –> We have excellent reason, just on the PCs we are using, to note that mere embodiment and possession of brains or analogous processors are not sufficient to account for sufficiently complex and subtle systems. Highly knowledgeable, skilled and capable, reasoning intelligence is required.

    9 –> In the case of life forms, we see a case of digitally coded functionally specific complex information, which warrants the inference to intelligent design, unless and until an empirical counter-example can be produced. (The resort to trying to play games on the reality of intelligence tells us that this has been pretty much given up.)

    10 –> In the case of our observed cosmos, we have good reason to believe the underlying physics and parameters are functionally integrated in quite subtle, finely balanced, sophisticated and complex ways, leading to the inference that the system is evidently intelligently designed, not a happy accident. The odds — epistemic probability sense — against that are just too long, especially given that the functionality of the observed cosmos is locally isolated in the space of parameters.

    12 –> That points to an extracosmic powerful and deeply knowledgeable intelligence, which will be stoutly resisted by those with a prioris at stake.

    ___________________

    But for the rest of us, the evidence points to empirical support for the inferred best explanation.

    GEM of TKI

  84. SM: The main founders of the main fields of modern science predominantly were Christian, in the worldview sense, and often in the sense of personal piety. Jewish scientists came to prominence across C19 – 20 (and mostly as we moved to C20), which is after the relevant era. G

  85. Zeroseven,

    But the fundamnetals of nature seem to be information. After all, matter seems to be immaterial: made up of energy and force fields and inscrutible laws. Maybe intelligence is all there is.

  86. Science was not a competition among religious peoples, and I am certain that is not the implication being made here. The only time this comes up is when materialists must stoke the wholly manufactured war between science and religion.

    What else is there to keep their faithful in line? Evidence?

  87. Tgpeeler, intelligence of course exists, but I am starting to wonder if reading comprehension does.

    To you and the others, I never said intelligence does not exist. I said it doesn’t exist by itself (there is a crucial word “an” that you might have missed). It’s a description or observation that that is ascribed to something else (a person and possibly other animals). That is not rhetoric, its actually basic english grammar.

    BA, in response to all your questions – yes.

    Also BA, as smordecai impied, great thinkers about science came from all of the major religions, (in particular Islam).

    CY, I have no need of astrology in my views of the world either. I guess you would say that never the less I am indulging in astrology by taking that position.

  88. 88

    A little OT, but what the heck;

    I was just checking my Yahoo email and came across this:

    “God did not create the universe, says Hawking”

    “LONDON (Reuters) – God did not create the universe and the ‘Big Bang’ was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book.
    In “The Grand Design,” co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.
    ‘Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,’ Hawking writes.
    ‘It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.’”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/201.....in_hawking

    Sigh. :(

  89. 89

    More from Hawking, regarding the recent discovery of planets that orbit stars:

    “‘That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions — the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings,’ he writes.”

    So Hawking is making the same fatal mistake – assuming the theological position of us theists “that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings” – the same assumptions we see here in this discussion. It’s a strawman, can’t you see? We’re not saying that God created just to please us. Fine tuning; which apparently Hawking denies because some planets orbit other suns is still a relevant hypothesis. If I’m reading him right, Hawking is assuming that by simply discovering other orbital planets makes life elsewhere more likely. Well even if it were true, that too would be beside the point.

    Here’s why:

    Let’s assume that once upon a time all humans lived in natural caves – not a bad assumption. Now one day out of the blue, a house is built, and some humans begin to live in it. No-one knows where the house came from, but it’s clear that such a house is unique from the caves.

    If other houses start springing up and more humans begin to live in them, this does not detract from the uniqueness of houses from caves.

    The same is true if there are other habitable planets with life. Such a discovery would not necessarily detract from the fact that such habitable planets are unique among all other planets, and that the fine tuning of their systems is required to support such life.

    I personally believe it’s a huge gamble to make such assumptions; that the existence of life supporting planets elsewhere in the universe somehow diminishes the uniqueness of our own. If anything, it is more likely to add to the verifiability of fine tuning. The more data we gather about other systems, which support life may continue to demonstrate that special conditions are required. Thus, we will have the fine tuning hypothesis verified by the fulfillment of a very likely scientific prediction; that wherever we see life in the universe, such special finely tuned conditions are required.

    Hawking seems to think that more life elsewhere in the universe is indicative of a lucky throw of the dice played out by the laws of physics. I fail to see how any future evidence of life on other planets supports such a hypothesis.

    Simply because the universe is vast and expanding in no way warrants such assumptions.

    If this article is true to the hypothesis of the book in question, I’m not persuaded.

  90. Hawking has really gone down hill in his intellectual prowess since his work on Black hole evaporation and this work from the 70′s,,,

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”
    (Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970
    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/bigbang.html

    ,,, the funny thing is he states this,,,

    ‘Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing,’

    This statement makes absolutely no sense as far as science is concerned… He has completely left the bounds of scientific endeavor.,, Once you allow that nothing can cause, not only a specific effect to happen, but all effects to happen, you have no leg to stand on as far as science is concerned,,

    How did matter and energy come into existence? Hawking’s answer ??? NOTHING spontaneously created it!!!

    How did space and time come into existence? Hawking’s answer ??? NOTHING spontaneously created it!!!

    How did the over 100 transcendent constants governing matter and energy come into existence? Hawking’s answer ??? NOTHING spontaneously created them!!!

    How do Quantum Waves collapse? Hawking’s answer ??? NOTHING spontaneously makes it happen!!!

    What a thoroughly sad state of affairs for a man I had such high respect for.

  91. 91

    BA,

    I like the euphemism of his title: “The Grand Design.” Once again, materialists using the language of design in order to simply deny it.

  92. “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

    Thus the obvious question, whence the law of gravity? What are these people THINKING? This is insane on the face of it.

    “Because gravity exists” somehow implies that something can create itself? The very idea is incoherent whether gravity exists or not. Since nothing can be created by nothing, something would have to first exist in order to create anything. The irrationality of that claim is stupendous. That Hawking or the author of this article couldn’t see that in an INSTANT is depressing. That people will jump in and argue against the rebuttals to Hawking in this space is almost beyond belief. But there it is, the evidence will be here before morning, I’m sure. One of us (not me) will find ourselves arguing with an allegedly sentient and reasoning human being that something cannot create itself. And if the reply is “well, gravity is something” then the question has only been begged once again. Whence gravity? And everything else?

  93. “And if the reply is “well, gravity is something” then the question has only been begged once again. Whence gravity? And everything else?”

    One cannot even concieve “nothing” To talk about “nothing” one always resorts to talking about something in order to assert that “nothing” caused this or that. I mean the concept is so absurd and incoherent it gives ones mind a charlie horse.

    Take Hawkings he must first assert something, the laws of phsyics,to assert that nothing created the universe. Are these people nuts?? Well I guess if one embraces irrationality we can conclude that they indeed have lost their minds?

    Opps I forgot there are no minds soooo0….. nevermind!

    Vivid

  94. Since nothing can be created by nothing, something would have to first exist in order to create anything.

    Well that would be gravity of course! Don’t you see?
    Although… it seems a bit odd for there to be a law hanging out in a condition of absolute nothingness…a law about what, if nothing existed? A potential law? A law that would be in effect if something should ever exist?

    It sounds so…planned.

  95. 95

    “A potential law? A law that would be in effect if something should ever exist?”

    Which leads to the question: What if the law existed prior to anything else, and then nothing decided to exist?

    Hawking says “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing,”

    But prior to this, he states: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

    So he requires the law of gravity for spontaneous creation. Then this spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing – including gravity, I presume. So gravity is the reason for spontaneous creation, and spontaneous creation is the reason for gravity. Cause and effect all rolled into one.

    New term for the “Big Bang:” The “Hawking Happening” or the “Hawkening” for short.

    Maybe it’s his cosmological constant; a hypothesis for which he’s begging for a refutation. The problem is there won’t be a scientific refutation forthcoming, because it isn’t a scientific hypothesis.

  96. F/N re Hawking

    CY, BA, Vivid et al:

    First, let us note the inspiring example of a man who has fought a terrible disease for decades, and prevails in his work despite such odds.

    That said, you are right that he is moving from a domain of acknowledged expertise (Physics) to one of probably unrecognised want of expertise (Philosophy), and in the context that tempts physicists into such errors, cosmology. A pity really.

    Things are bad when it is New Scientist that corrects a champion of materialism in a review. Here is Craig Callender:

    The Grand Design, written with Leonard Mlodinow, is Hawking’s first popular book in almost a decade. It duly covers the growth of modern physics (quantum mechanics, general relativity, modern cosmology) sprinkled with the wild speculation about multiple universes [My NB: metaphysics alert!] that seems mandatory in popular works these days . . . . Early on, the authors claim that they will be answering the ultimate riddles of existence [metaphysics alert no 2] – and that their answer won’t be “42″. Their starting point for this bold claim is superstring theory . . . .

    Having declared that “philosophy is dead” [traipsing into alert . . . ], the authors unwittingly develop a theory familiar to philosophers since the 1980s, namely “perspectivalism” [traipsing into . . . ]. This radical theory holds that there doesn’t exist, even in principle, a single comprehensive theory of the universe. Instead, science offers many incomplete windows onto a common reality, one no more “true” than another. In the authors’ hands this position bleeds into an alarming anti-realism: not only does science fail to provide a single description of reality, they say, there is no theory-independent reality at all. [self-referential incoherence: there is no more to reality than what is real to me or you is a claim to an objective reality: radical subjectivism, thus self-refuting] If either stance is correct, one shouldn’t expect to find a final unifying theory like M-theory – only a bunch of separate and sometimes overlapping windows. [now, that physics may well be following mathematics and finds itself confronting the possibility of irreducible complexity so no finite axiomatic system or postulational system will be complete is a sign that The Old One has a sense of humour, not of absence of a reality that the physics is trying to come to grips with!]

    So I was surprised when the authors began to advocate M-theory. But it turns out they were unconventionally referring to the patchwork set of string theories as “M-theory” too, in addition to the hypothetical unified theory about which they remain agnostic.

    M-theory in either sense is far from complete. But that doesn’t stop the authors from asserting that it explains the mysteries of existence: why there is something rather than nothing, why this set of laws and not another, and why we exist at all. According to Hawking, enough is known about M-theory to see that God is not needed to answer these questions. Instead, string theory points to the existence of a multiverse, and this multiverse coupled with anthropic reasoning will suffice. Personally, I am doubtful. [For good reason, cf John Leslie as already cited at 66: local finetuning is quite wondrous enough, and breaks through multiverses. Which are of course metaphysical speculation, we have no observational base.]

    Take life. We are lucky to be alive. Imagine all the ways physics might have precluded life: gravity could have been stronger, electrons could have been as big as basketballs and so on. Does this intuitive “luck” warrant the postulation of God? No. [What do you mean by "warrant"? On inference to best explanation at worldview level, with all the evidence in play, not just datum lines ruled on "science" . . . ?] Does it warrant the postulation of an infinity of universes? The authors and many others think so. In the absence of theory, though, this is nothing more than a hunch doomed – until we start watching universes come into being – to remain untested and untestable. The lesson isn’t that we face a dilemma between God and the multiverse, but that we shouldn’t go off the rails at the first sign of coincidences.

    Of course, I have brought out a bit on the understatements used by NS.

    And, all of this comes back full circle to the issue in the original post: what are the lurking premises (and where are the points of misinformation and chronological snobbery . . . ) in cosmological arguments.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Vivid, BA and CY, good work.

  97. Does Hawking believe that there are infinite multiverses? If so, then my previous point applies to his reasoning as well.

  98. 98

    Collin,

    While the article doesn’t state directly that Hawking believes in the multiverse hypothesis, I think it’s clear that with his current metaphysical commitment, this is really the only option. But Hawking is a thinker of Einsteinian caliber. Perhaps he might come up with some new unconventional thought once he discovers (or rather acknowledges) the incoherence of his current thinking. This is why I mentioned in an earlier post (and I clarify here) that this current thinking might simply be a pitstop in the process towards something a little more coherent – his “cosmological constant,” leading to a new hypothesis or theory. I trust though, that he will still be committed to metaphysical materialism no matter what new thinking he posits.

    Hawking’s books are at the top of the best sellers in science, even more so than Richard Dawkins’. But he doesn’t publish often. I’m thinking that perhaps this new book was published in haste to get something out there, and maybe it’s a little premature. In some future book, he might just surprise us like he did with his first.

  99. 99

    KF,

    There was an unauthorized publication not too long ago entitled “A Theory of Everything,” which was a collection of Hawking’s unpublished writings. Hawking never endorsed it’s publication; and in-fact has repudiated it.

    What’s interesting about this is his initial excitement over a “unified theory” in “A Brief History of Time,” eventually leading us to knowing “the mind of God.” Hawking talked a lot about God in that book, but it’s important to understand that Hawking’s God is very different than the God of theism. To Hawking, God is simply an “abstract concept of order and harmony,” which is perhaps why he is now dismissing the concept. His current repudiation of a “unified theory” indicates that his concept of God as an “abstract concept of order and harmony” is no longer needed.

    So I think we should use caution with respect to what Hawking means by “God.” He doesn’t mean the theistic God. However, he seems to lump his concept of God with the thesitic God in dismissing both concepts. I’m not even certain he realizes the distinction when he says “That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions — the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings.”

    When Hawking says “design” he doesn’t mean teleological design, but design by the “order and harmony” of the laws of physics. This is perhaps what his book’s title is referring to.

    Another interesting observation is that he doesn’t dismiss “design” as an abstract meaning “order and harmony,” but he does dismiss a designer as the “harmonic orderer.” In other words, Hawking posits design without a designer.

    BTW, thanks for the interesting article from NS.

  100. CY:

    You are right, there are many views and ideas on God afoot, and God as ordering principle, an impersonal, perhaps immanent, even almost pantheistic view, has been fairly common.

    The NS article lays out the basic problem with the current stage of argument. Though, it tries t6o soften the blow.

    It would be interesting to see something really new.

    G

  101. 101

    Here’s HuffiPo’s take on Hawking’s new book:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....05773.html

    Pretty dismal rationalizations:

    “Is it true? Maybe. It is a reasonable extrapolation from incomplete evidence. However, there may be other explanations that have yet to be explored in a scientific manner. Two things are certain. The evidence clearly shows that the Universe we inhabit is not the handiwork of an omnipotent, perfect Creator. Whatever the true explanation, the traditional interpretation of Genesis makes no sense. There are just too many inefficiencies, extravagances, and plain bad “design” for that to hold.”

    But according to Naff, we should still be able to have faith in such a Creator err….faith in something:

    “The other certainty is this: authentic faith does not depend on traditional creation stories. ‘Faith’ is a vague term, but I suggest it has two essential characteristics: it is a belief that ultimately some good will come of it all, and while its components may be reshaped by evidence it is a belief that transcends the evidence. In short, people who feel that such and such scientific claim must be false or their whole religious belief system will collapse don’t really have faith. They have a membership in a particular ideology.”

    Faith transcends the evidence? No clay, faith does not transcend evidence. Faith in what is reasonable is confirmed by evidence. Faith in what is not reasonable transcends nothing.

    Continuing, he states:

    “Ideologies come and go. Faith is an enduring characteristic of most human beings. I have, in various essays, suggested ways that faith might be empirically true. I won’t reiterate them here. Let me instead close with these thoughts:
    * Every single word of what Hawking now says might be true, and yet something wonderful may yet happen.
    * Beyond all doubt, God exists — in the minds of his (or her) followers. Whether God is more than a belief is itself a question of belief, but that belief makes a difference in our world.
    * The future is not wholly determined, and to the extent that we control our destiny, our fates depend not on pure reason nor on pure faith, but on just the right intertwining of the two.”

    So that’s it; God only exists in the minds of “His (or her) followers,” but all the evidence suggests that He is not real. So why have faith? Because “Faith is an enduring characteristic of most human beings,” and “I have, in various essays, suggested ways that faith might be empirically true. I won’t reiterate them here.”

    Well he can’t reiterate them here because he has already dismissed the ways that faith (at least in God) could be empirically true. Well faith is empirically true in the sense that some people have faith in certain things. That part of faith is empirically true. But what of the objects of faith? Does he have evidence that the objects of faith (God or fairies or devils) could be empirically true? I doubt it.

    But we could all at least have faith that good will overcome evil; right? Just what “good” would that be?

    Well the good inherent in Darwinism or the larger materialistic philosophy, of course. But “there are just too many inefficiencies, extravagances, and plain bad “design” (without a designer arguments) for that to hold.”

    So what does this all have to do with the vastness of the universe? Well despite the vastness of the universe and all the chance potential for great thinking, which would inevitably come out of it, we are still capable of irrationality, I guess.

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