Creationist Wisdom #827: Plenty of Evidence

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Hamilton Spectator of Hamilton, Ontario. It’s titled There’s plenty of evidence for the existence of God, and the newspaper doesn’t seem to have a comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Jeff. At the end of his letter we’re told that he “works in the software business. He spends his spare time engaging the Hamilton community through volunteer activities. His hobbies include reading, wood working, and rock climbing.” That’s nice, but it doesn’t qualify for full-name treatment. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

It might be true that that which is asserted without proof can be rejected without proof, as Peter Schneider states at the end of his opinion article [Leave religious dogma in the dark it came from], but I’d like to contend that there’s plenty of evidence that God does exist, and not a shred to prove that He doesn’t. Any prominent/honest atheist, skeptic, scientist, would agree that there’s no credible evidence to disprove Gods existence.

We agree with Jeff, because the Burden of proof for a proposition is on those who advance the proposition. It’s not our task to prove the negative — regarding gods, leprechauns, or whatever. Then he says:

I’ll mention something about science and then introduce three pieces of evidence for God’s existence.

Okay, we’re ready. He tells us:

Science is wonderful, most amazing, and is unparalleled at describing how things are, but not how they ought to be. Science explains that if I hit my neighbour, blood from the ruptured capillaries near the skins surface escapes by leaking out, and with no place to go the blood gets trapped, forming a red purplish mark called a bruise. But science has nothing to say about whether or not I ought to hit my neighbour.

True — no one ever claims that science is a system of ethics. Jeff continues:

I turn to the work of Dr. William Lane Craig, professor at BU, who makes a cumulative case that the existence of God is more plausible than not. … He uses five arguments to build his case, for lack of space, I’ll introduce three of them.

We can save ourselves a lot of time because four years ago we posted about William Lane Craig and his five arguments — see Fox Offers “Five Reasons Why God Exists”. However, here’s what Jeff says about Craig’s “fine tuning” argument:

The odds of the properties of the universe aligning to allow for life are calculated at 1010123. [What?] That number is so astronomically high that if you wrote a ‘0’ on every proton and neutron in the universe, you would not be able to write it down. The evidence suggests that it’s unreasonable to believe that the constants which allow for life came by chance. Not by necessity? The constants which allow life are independent of the laws of nature, and independent of one another. This only leaves one possibility for the fine tuning of the universe, and it makes perfect sense, design.

Yeah, right. Jeff finishes his letter with this:

Our society and government have become so consumed by the wonders of science that we’ve made a discipline into a god, and this has to be one of the greatest blunders of our time. Questions of purpose and moral objectivity are not easy, and unfortunately religion can play a destructive role in the world. [Why?] But that these questions are difficult, and that humans can deform religion, has no bearing on the cumulative proof for a God who created all things. I’m convinced that if we follow the evidence with an open mind, and an open heart, all roads lead to one truth. A creator God.

So there you are, dear reader. Jeff has his evidence, and now you do too. Aren’t you glad?

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #827: Plenty of Evidence

  1. The “Fine Tuning Argument for God” is bogus and has been for years, but think about it. every physical parameter supports the existence of life? Surely that must mean there is a god. Er, no. If just one of those parameters didn’t allow for life, then we would be here to ask that question: in order for that question to be asked, intelligent life must exist and that means in a universe that doesn’t disallow it.

    Now, if one of those parameters vetoed any chance that life could exist, and we did indeed still exist, then I might listen to their argument.

  2. 1010123 …… that undoubtedly is supposed to be 1 in 10^10^123, 10 to the power (10 to the power 123), greater than a googleplex

    If one uses the same calculatioon for the probability that an omnipotent agency would choose those values .. my approximation is that that probability is much smaller, perhaps even 0.

    @Steve Ruis
    ISTM that your suggestion is what the creationists argue: There is a natural law which vetoes the existence of life, therefore there is a super-natural agency which over-rides the veto. (Unfortunately, there is no such veto.)

  3. Michael Fugate

    Happy Solstice, everyone. How could we celebrate the light overcoming darkness without the tilt of the earth? How lucky we are.

  4. Actual science ; National Academy of Sciences article ; Odds alien life exists boosted by 3.5 BYBP fossils; Dec 20 2017, Microscopic algal strands photo-micrographed in Pre Cambrian Australian rocks existed in near zero oxygen atmospheric conditions

    Religious pseudoscientific gibberish ; “The odds of the properties of the universe aligning to allow for life are calculated at 1010123.”

  5. Science is actually often helpful in making the proper ethical decisions. Science says that an old woman concocting potions cannot make the crops fail or turn the milk sour, so there’s no reason to burn her. Science shows that there is no obvious connection between malicious supernatural entities and a person’s errant behaviour; rather, the cause is most likely in the brain, making violent exorcism unnecessary or even harmful. Also, consensual sexual relations between two people of the same sex is not positively correlated with volcanic eruptions or earthquakes, so there is no need for legal interference. And so on.

  6. Eddie Janssen

    Why does an all powerful entity has to go to the trouble of delicately fine-tuning his creation to make (human) life possible. Couldn’t he go about at random with all these precious constants and still be able to create life in these at random circumstances?

  7. @ Eddie Jannsen: Maybe you mean The Meaning of Liff?

  8. Michael Fugate:
    “Happy Solstice, everyone.”

    Just for the sake of astronomical accuracy, this year it’s actually tomorrow (Dec. 21) at 11:28 AM EST that the center of the Sun will appear directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn.

    So, everyone, get outside and do your “Return of the Sun” dance!

  9. Michael Fugate

    The odds of the properties of the universe aligning to allow for life are calculated at 1010123.

    So we aren’t really alive – good to know.

  10. @Eddie Janssens
    “Surely, God could have caused birds to fly with their bones made of solid gold, with their veins full of quicksilver, with their flesh heavier than lead, and with their wings exceedingly small. He did not, and that ought to show something. It is only in order to shield your ignorance that you put the Lord at every turn to the refuge of a miracle.”
    Notes in a copy of Jean-Baptiste Morin’s “Famous and ancient problems of the earth’s motion or rest, yet to be solved” (published 1631), as quoted in The Crime of Galileo (1976) by Giorgio De Santillana, p. 167
    from Galileo Galilei

  11. Faith: nothing like certainty without proof!

  12. Another dimwit showing how easy it is to be st00pid!
    He said”… But science has nothing to say about whether or not I ought to hit my neighbor. …” Actually science does say you OUGHT NOT hit the man. Science has the laws of motion, one states to hit an object will give and opposite force back to you. So hitting a man will inevitably lead to an opposite reaction where you will be hit and knocked down, so don’t do it!!

  13. Jeff’s whole argument is irrelevant in regard to the creation/evolution controversy. It’s perfectly possible to posit that God exists and created the universe and that He/She/It chose to allow life to emerge by natural means and evolve, again by natural means, thereafter.

  14. “there’s no credible evidence to disprove”
    And of course Jeff is the ultimate authority of what constitutes credible and what doesn’t. See, the simple fact that Jeff promotes the god idea and not his god himself is already evidence that that isn’t a god – if we accept the category error I’ll describe underneath.

    “The odds of the properties of the universe aligning to allow for life are calculated at 1010123.”
    Could Jeff provide a detailed calculation – plus especially the assumptions that calculation is based upon? No? Then I assume he pulled this number out of some lower end of an unspecified digestive system. Jeff may call what comes out of it evidence for his god, I don’t.

    “I’ll mention something about science and then introduce three pieces of evidence for God’s existence.”
    Eh? Thus far I only saw one – the Fine Tuning nonsense.
    Oh wait, my bad. What science means for me is not what science means for Jeff. Morality is also a piece of evidence for Jeff. Of course he totally neglects scientific work on the origin of morals. One name: Frans de Waal.
    But still – what’s the third one? Has our dear SC failed us? Curious minds like mine need to find out. So I had no choice but clicking the link and read the b***s*** myself.
    And yup – uncharacteristically our dear SC ignored the third (in Jeff’s article actually the first) piece of evidence: the mere existence of our Universe. Ie he brings up the Cosmological Argument. Fortunately it’s there at the beginning, so it wasn’t as much work (wading through b***s***) as I feared. Actually our dear SC was justified for neglecting this, even if he thus covers Jeff’s lack of understanding. Fine Tuning depends on the Cosmological Argument. The latter failing immediately means the first failing too. And fail it does. Not Jeff’s (or WLC’s) god is at the beginning of all cause-effect chains. Quantum Fields are. Our Universe is evidence for Quantum Fields, not fo any god.
    Jeff (and right now I’m too lazy to find out if it also applies to WLC, though I would not be surprised) is guilty of a category error. Evidence by definition is derived from our natural reality. His god resides in a supposed supernatural reality. Hence evidence for his god is impossible.

  15. @SteveR and TomS: Finetuning presupposes a goal to argue that all those finetuned natural constants serve a goal. It’s begging the question. To say it more politely: Finetuning is the Anthropic Principle combined with teleology.

    @EricL: you are right, but Jeff refers to WLC. So it becomes relevant that WLC is a semi-closet IDiot.

  16. mnb0 quotes Jeff: “The odds of the properties of the universe aligning to allow for life are calculated at 1010123.”

    And then he asks: “Could Jeff provide a detailed calculation – plus especially the assumptions that calculation is based upon?”

    Actually, although Jeff’s number is nonsense, it’s far too small. In his universe, each of those 26 constants could have been given any value, so each constant had an infinite range of values. Twenty-six constants means 26 different infinities. I don’t even know how to write such a number. What would it look like? Maybe: Infinity26

  17. Among the many problems with arguments from fine-tuning to the supernatural, consider this:
    Assuming a more potent agency makes the probability decrease.
    Consider the case of my being dealt a royal flush natural in a poker game. That demands an explanation. It is highly unlikely under standard conditions:
    a 52-card poker deck. But if we go beyond the rules of poker, asnd assume that super-poker deck – let’s say that we are using a deck to which someone has added Uno cards. That makes the hand that I was dealt less probable.
    So assuming that there is a supernatural agency, which is able to do more than the natural, will make the fine-tuning less probable.

  18. The old “Anthropic Principle” argument. It makes no sense for 2 reasons.
    1 – As Steve Ruiz pointed out, if it were not so we would not ponder about it, since we would not exist. Panglossian.
    2 – More importantly, our universe appears not very amenable to life. Even if there were a billion worlds with life in our universe (probably a highly ‘optimistic’ estimate), most of it would still be empty, deeply cold and particularly unsuited for life.
    It is like our DNA, why all the junk?