• RogueAI
    2.7k
    This is a good argument by John Leslie that William Lane Craig often uses when discussing the fine-tuning argument. Very briefly:

    1. The values of a bunch of physical constants are "balanced" on a knife-edge for life to exist in the universe. If they had been just a little bit different, the universe would have failed in some spectacular way.
    2. But we're here, so the universe must be amenable to life, otherwise what are we doing here? How can you be surprised by your own existence?

    And here's Leslie's argument (William Lane Craig's version, which I think it slightly superior):

    "Suppose you are to be executed by a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all of them aiming rifles at your heart. You are blindfolded; the command is given; you hear the deafening roar of the rifles. And you observe that you are still alive. The 100 marksmen missed!"

    Taking off the blindfold, you do not observe that you are dead. No surprise there: you could not observe that you are dead. Nonetheless, you should be astonished to observe that you are alive. The entire firing squad missed you altogether! Surprise at that extremely improbable fact is wholly justified - and that calls for an explanation. You would immediately suspect that they missed you on purpose, by design."

    Anyone want to argue that, in the above scenario, they wouldn't be surprised to find themselves still alive? Or that you wouldn't immediately conclude you survived by design?
  • Gregory
    4.6k
    Design implies a designer. There doesn't have to be an intellect behind life, instead just some factor(s)
  • tim wood
    9k
    And what are the odds of you being you. But you are. And if you think that's God, then riddle me the odds on being God. It's like winning the lottery: you won't, but someone did.
  • Gregory
    4.6k
    ANYTHING outside what science can measure could have been the force or factor to top the scales towards life. It could be that a puppy in a multivariate chewing on its toy caused this. And in his universe there isn't any unlikelyhood of life!
  • RogueAI
    2.7k
    No, I don't think it's any gods. The point is that your own existence CAN be considered surprising, in the firing squad scenario. Agreed? Or would you NOT be surprised to find yourself alive in such a situation?
  • tim wood
    9k
    Firing squad, sure. But what does that have to do with anything? If I walk into my local bank and ask for a loan because I'm special, they'll just say everyone's special - so not special.
  • RogueAI
    2.7k
    Well, if we CAN be surprised by our existence, and a life-permitting universe (any kind of life) is highly highly improbable, then the fact that we find ourselves in a life-permitting universe is surprising and needs an explanation. So far, that explanation is multiverse theory, but it's interesting that some scientists have taken umbrage with multiverse theory, claiming it's not really a theory.
  • tim wood
    9k
    and needs an explanation.RogueAI

    What, exactly, needs an explanation? And why does it need one? And of course the multi-verse is a theory, just not at the moment a testable theory.

    Btw, most of the universe is apparently hostile to all and any life. The claim, then, that the universe is life-permitting calls for at least some qualification. And as to life-permitting itself, how do you know that any universes are not "life-permitting, after all, the one you're in....

    So I invite you to a more thoughtful and critical consideration of your own language, for the sake of the meaning you mean to convey.
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    To my knowledge, this matter was settled a long time ago with the aid of the ubiquitous game of chance - lotteries.

    The chance of winning the jackpot in an average game of lottery maybe arounf 1/10,000,000. You have a better chance of getting hit by lightning I guess. Anyway, the point is someone always wins.

    It's shocking for the winner for the simple reason that the odds of winning are near-zero. However, given the number of players, a winner is assured. :chin:
  • Echarmion
    2.5k
    Taking off the blindfold, you do not observe that you are dead. No surprise there: you could not observe that you are dead. Nonetheless, you should be astonished to observe that you are alive. The entire firing squad missed you altogether! Surprise at that extremely improbable fact is wholly justified - and that calls for an explanation. You would immediately suspect that they missed you on purpose, by design."RogueAI

    The interesting question here is why you are surprised. Is it because you expect at any moment to die? No. It is because you know how guns work, you know the intention of the firing squad, and hence you can construct a model of the future - a prediction - where you are dead. And then the model turns out to be false.

    No such thing exists for the fine-tuning argument, and hence a similar surprise isn't warranted.

    Additionally, exactly what conclusion is justified given the facts depends on circumstances that aren't given in the example. Most importantly, how many executions there are in total and how many people survive them.
  • Isaac
    10.3k


    Indeed. The fact that people who can't see this are given 'air time' in serious philosophy is shocking. We shouldn't even know the names of those promoting such obvious nonsense beyond identifying them as some whaco in the park. Basic misunderstanding of physics, basic misunderstanding of probability.
  • RogueAI
    2.7k
    To my knowledge, this matter was settled a long time ago with the aid of the ubiquitous game of chance - lotteries.

    The chance of winning the jackpot in an average game of lottery maybe arounf 1/10,000,000. You have a better chance of getting hit by lightning I guess. Anyway, the point is someone always wins.

    It's shocking for the winner for the simple reason that the odds of winning are near-zero. However, given the number of players, a winner is assured.

    Let's take the lottery example. Suppose someone wins the lottery. No big deal. Suppose that same person wins again next week. Big deal, but it happens sometimes. Suppose they win again. And again. Eventually, you're going to conclude they're cheating or the game is rigged.

    Here's another interesting example: suppose a new lottery is rolled out. On the first draw, the lottery numbers spell out the first 10 digits of Pi. That lottery would immediately be shut down because it would be obvious someone rigged it, even though a Pi result in a lottery is perfectly within the realm of chance. The reason you would shut the lottery down in the Pi example is because
    Probability("fair lottery") <! Probability("rigged lottery").

    The point is, the longer the odds get, the more the "cheating" hypothesis becomes viable. Another example: suppose someone shows you (what they call) a "fair coin". And they proceed to get 20 heads in a row when they flip it. That outcome COULD be chance. But nobody would believe it.
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    Let's take the lottery example. Suppose someone wins the lottery. No big deal. Suppose that same person wins again next week. Big deal, but it happens sometimes. Suppose they win again. And again. Eventually, you're going to conclude they're cheating or the game is rigged.

    Here's another interesting example: suppose a new lottery is rolled out. On the first draw, the lottery numbers spell out the first 10 digits of Pi. That lottery would immediately be shut down because it would be obvious someone rigged it, even though a Pi result in a lottery is perfectly within the realm of chance. The reason you would shut the lottery down in the Pi example is because
    Probability("fair lottery") <! Probability("rigged lottery").

    The point is, the longer the odds get, the more the "cheating" hypothesis becomes viable. Another example: suppose someone shows you (what they call) a "fair coin". And they proceed to get 20 heads in a row when they flip it. That outcome COULD be chance. But nobody would believe it.
    RogueAI

    The crux of your argument rests on improbability of certain events but the fact that you have to consider is that improbable doesn't mean impossible. If you're impressed by lady improbable, you're going to love miss impossible. Right? :chin:
  • Gregory
    4.6k


    My tablet, since you didn't like the multivariate argument, could have tipped the scales in favor of life. Saying it's God is as random as saying it's a rock, mountain, or river that was the factor. You can't see the universe as a whole, so Craig's line of reasoning is just retarded
  • RogueAI
    2.7k
    "My tablet, since you didn't like the multivariate argument, could have tipped the scales in favor of life. "

    Your tablet? I have no idea what you're saying here.
  • Gregory
    4.6k


    Thomas Aquinas said that reason produces will although it is dependent on it. This is a deep concept. As a materialist, I believe matter can produce both consciousness and conscience. The world started with gravity producing time, like reason producing will for the Angelic Doctor. You might find it strange to use Aquinas to defend materialism, but it certainly seems to work. Now within the universe, you say, the chances are unlikely that matter would produce life. But it is just as random to say God did this than some form of matter. We can't measure the whole universe. There are forces we might not know about. So it's just unfounded to posit a Person behind the scenes when matter alone can be the explanation
  • Relativist
    2.3k
    The values of a bunch of physical constants are "balanced" on a knife-edge for life to exist in the universe. If they had been just a little bit different, the universe would have failed in some spectacular way.RogueAI
    Failed at what? Was the universe required to produce life?

    If we assume those fundamental constants could have differed, then this universe (which happens to be life permitting) is low probability - but the exact same low probability as every alternative. Each of the n possible universes had a 1/n chance of winning, so it was a certainty that the winner would be that low 1/n probability.

    Every lottery winner is surprised when he wins, but it's not the sort of surprise that should lead anyone to think the lottery was rigged for that outcome.

    Suppose you are to be executed by a firing squad of 100 trained marksmenRogueAI

    The problem with the firing squad analogy is that it treats life as a target. So if you assume God wanted to create life, it implies he had to finely tune the constants to meet that goal. So as an argument for God's existence, it's circular.
  • RogueAI
    2.7k
    Failed at what? Was the universe required to produce life?

    No, by "failed" I mean the universe would not have been life-permitting had the constants been different. I should have been clearer.

    If we assume those fundamental constants could have differed, then this universe (which happens to be life permitting) is low probability - but the exact same low probability as every alternative. Each of the n possible universes had a 1/n chance of winning, so it was a certainty that the winner would be that low 1/n probability.

    Setting aside issues of infinity, the set of non life-permitting universes is vastly larger than the set of life-permitting universes, so if we were surveying the multiverse (and it contained universes where the constants were different), we would very very rarely see any universes with life. Therefore, the odds of a universe being life-permitting are not the same as the alternative, as you claim.

    Every lottery winner is surprised when he wins, but it's not the sort of surprise that should lead anyone to think the lottery was rigged for that outcome.

    It depends on the lottery. Suppose there was a brand-new lottery created, just for you. The odds of you winning are a quadrillion to one. You win on the first try. You're going to conclude it was rigged.

    The problem with the firing squad analogy is that it treats life as a target.

    In the firing-squad analogy, YOU are the target. Your continued existence is surprising because it is so implausible that so many people would miss you at point-blank range. The conclusion that your execution was rigged follows from Pr("marksmen miss by chance") <! Pr("marksmen miss on purpose").

    So if you assume God wanted to create life, it implies he had to finely tune the constants to meet that goal. So as an argument for God's existence, it's circular.

    The firing-squad analogy isn't an argument for God. It's argument that you can, in certain situations, be surprised by discovering you're alive.
  • Relativist
    2.3k
    Setting aside issues of infinity, the set of non life-permitting universes is vastly larger than the set of life-permitting universes, so if we were surveying the multiverse (and it contained universes where the constants were different), we would very very rarely see any universes with life. Therefore, the odds of a universe being life-permitting are not the same as the alternative, as you claim.RogueAI
    If there is a multiverse, with a universe for each possible set of values, then it is a certainty that there will be at least one that is life-permitting. Obviously, we would find ourselves in such a universe, so there's no relevant implications.

    But let's suppose there is only one universe, and the parameter values are entirely due to chance. The specific set of parameters of our universe is just as (im)probable as any other set. When all possibilities are equally improbable, there are no relevant implications when one of these low probability sets "wins" the universe lottery. Someone had to win.

    Yes, this universe is life-permitting. It is as also binary-star permitting, uranium permitting, black-hole permitting, ... and many, many other x-permittings. So what? With other set of parameter values, different sets of things would exist.

    The firing-squad analogy isn't an argument for God. It's argument that you can, in certain situations, be surprised by discovering you're alive.RogueAI
    OK, but this is the same sort of surprise that a lottery winner has when he wins: the odds were against it, but it has no relevant implications.

    Life is low probability, but low probability things happen all the time.
  • Caldwell
    1.3k
    Surprise at that extremely improbable fact is wholly justified - and that calls for an explanation. You would immediately suspect that they missed you on purpose, by design."

    Anyone want to argue that, in the above scenario, they wouldn't be surprised to find themselves still alive? Or that you wouldn't immediately conclude you survived by design?
    RogueAI

    I like this little snippet of contemplation.

    Though I cannot justify a comparison between the contemplation of the existence of the universe with the contemplation of surviving a firing squad, your calling our attention to our reactions to these scenarios is warranted.

    For the firing squad, I'd be shocked if a 100-gun squad missed me, so I could only think it was intentional or, philosophically speaking, by design that I came out alive.

    But I think that the astonishment we feel whenever we contemplate the existence of the universe is of a different kind. "Surprised" or shocked wouldn't be the right word, I think. "Wow!" is more like it, or breath-taking, no pun intended. Or even a revelation -- yes, it is more like a realization that it is awesome!
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