We have a treat for you today, dear reader — a post at Discovery Institute’s creationist blog by Denyse O’Leary. The Discoveroids have a page of biographical information about Denyse (we haven’t given her a nickname yet), which also has a charming photo of her — you can see it here. We’re told: “She received her degree in honors English language and literature.”
We could refer Denyse to The Magic of Design Intuition, in which we discussed Discoveroid Doug Axe’s concept of a “design intuition” we supposedly all share, and which — in the case of their “theory” of intelligent design — Axe says is “valid and confirmed by science.”
Anyway, let’s see what Denyse does with the question present by her post’s title. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Philosopher of religion Mary-Jane Rubenstein asks at Nautilus, “Why is the universe so well suited to our existence?” She answers herself:
[Alleged quote:] The weakest answer is that it’s just a brute fact. If the constants of nature were any different, then we wouldn’t be here to ask why we’re here. The strongest answer verges on theism: The cosmological constant is so improbably small that a godlike fine-tuner must have fashioned it into existence.
She doesn’t like that “strongest answer” at all. She suggests cosmic pantheism intertwined with the multiverse instead.
We have a couple of problems with this. First, Denyse is criticizing the idea of the multiverse, which is very easy to do. We don’t think much of it either. Of course, her unstated purpose to use that as a wedge for criticizing all of science — especially evolution — so we know where she’s going. The second problem is that she quotes at least a dozen different people. It’s way too much work to verify those quotes and then respond to her remarks. We’re not even going to try. Instead we’ll just skip along and pluck out any “points” she tries to make. She says:
When evidence points people away from what they want to believe, they often respond by undermining the evidence. That strategy is particularly difficult in science. [Hee hee!] Readers may remember the slogan popularized nearly half a century ago by Carl Sagan, to discredit miracles: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” But that won’t work here. As David Deming writes at Philosophia, “Extraordinary evidence is not a separate category or type of evidence — it is an extraordinarily large number of observations.” Fine-tuning of our universe for life easily meets that standard.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We discussed the subject in The Multiverse or God-Did-It?, and we decided it was a false dichotomy. Okay, back to Denyse. She tells us:
Twelve hallmarks of good science theories, noted in Michael Keas’s recent summation at Synthese [link omitted], are “evidential accuracy, causal adequacy, explanatory depth, internal consistency, internal coherence, universal coherence, beauty, simplicity, unification, durability, fruitfulness, and applicability… ”
The multiverse meets causal adequacy only by sacrificing evidential accuracy (voiding the significance of evidence altogether). It offers explanatory depth by voiding the value of consistency or coherence. It offers unification by voiding the meaning of applicability (the entities to which the concepts are to be applied may or may not exist and it does not matter whether they do). Multiverse theory is perhaps best seen as a bid for an alternative science. Its theories display quite different hallmarks from those of traditional good theories and it can only succeed by undermining those hallmarks.
We’re not going to defend the multiverse. It’s an easy target. So is intelligent design, for the same reasons, but Denyse never goes near that subject. She continues:
The multiverse advocates’ project is not to undermine the evidence base as such. There just isn’t any evidence for a multiverse. Their project is rather to undermine the idea that evidence, as used in normal science, should matter in cosmology. … It bears repeating: Advocates do not merely propose that we accept faulty evidence. They want us to abandon evidence as a key criterion for acceptance of their theory.
That’s also true of intelligent design “theory” — but the subject never comes up. Instead, Denyse drones on and on — and she never quite lets us know what her point is. Here’s one last excerpt:
Post-modern science is not a blip. It’s part of a general trend toward de-emphasizing fact, evidence, and truth in favor of narrative, spin, and talking points. Plus, proponents have a weapon that defeats all objections: Human beings did not evolve so as to perceive reality correctly anyway.
That’s enough. We can’t figure out what she’s trying to say — other than the Discoveroids’ basic claim that scientists can’t be trusted. Go ahead, read her whole essay. We’d like to know what you make of it.
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