Philip Goff: Cosmopsychism and Fine-Tuning

Interesting stuff, but from the get go, Goff’s understanding of theism is… unsophisticated, to say the least, but here you go. @PdotdQ , @dga471 , other physicists, thoughts?


I think the best response to the fine-tuning, and this is the response I worry about because it may be correct, is fine-tuning doesn’t need an explanation. Why does it need an explanation? Is life cosmically special? But that’s only true if Theism is true. On naturalism humans are no more special cosmically than space dust. Does a universe filled with nothing but dust require an explanation? That universe is just as unlikely as ours. Fine-tuning arguments seem kinda question begging.



You mean fine-tuning by necessity? The universe is fine-tuned because well…of course it is, otherwise we wouldn’t be here to observe it? That’s what you mean? Is there any philosopher today that actually defends this? It’s my understanding that John Leslie sort of blew that out of the water a long ago. The only reasonable response seems to be a multiverse, but then Boltzmann brains becomes an issue, as well as the conditions necessary for a “universe generator.”

Or do you mean something else by question begging?

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One of the many reasons I’m not a huge fan of natural theology.

Boltzmann Brains do not depend on multiverses. Rather, they depend on our universe eventually reaching global thermodynamic equilibrium and staying that way for an unlimited time. BB’s then result from the random fluctuations still allowed even in TD equilibrium. In an unlimited time, even the most fantastically improbable fluctuation events happen.

There is a book and podcast by two physicists/cosmologists who explain why fine tuning is an issue for current science and why it should be treated as an open problem still to be addressed within physics.
They explain why many common dismissals of fine tuning fail, and which possible explanations they still see as viable (and among those four they include theological explanations).


Podcast interview of authors (which has two explanations of BB, the second being clearer):

Sober’s “Design Argument” also carefully considers arguments from fine tuning, but more from the viewpoint of how successful they are in showing design. As another poster pointed it, this book and several others in the Cambridge Elements series are still available for free download as pdfs:



You aren’t a fan of natural theology because there are counter-arguments or just you feel the counter-arguments are more persuasive? Anything in life has counter-arguments: economics, political philosophy, the benefits of drinking celery juice, you name it. I don’t see why natural theology should be above this.

Sometimes I feel like some people think natural theology must be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Rather, it’s just one tool that is helpful to a minority of Christians and a smaller minority of inquiring non-Christians. Nonetheless, if some of its claims are true, and I believe they are, and they help even a small group of people, then we can’t afford to be ignorant of the good work by people like Plantinga, Swinburne, Craig, Wright, Licona, Hart, Robin Collins, Keith Ward, etc. They do great work, even if a small minority find it benefical. Like me!

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In other news, how do people feel about a Christian adoption of panspychism while acknowledging that consciusness also transcends the cosmos? Pan-en-psychism. I would put a very Aristotelian twist on this but it seems to be one explanation of how souls could arise without God’s constant intervention. I don’t much like the “creationist” model of God miraculously inserting a new soul into someone every time a new baby is conceived. It seems to go against the rarity of miracles of every-day life.

I just don’t find most of natural theology particularly persuasive. If it helps someone else, great. I, myself, am not all that into it.


No, fine-tuning by chance.

Leslie’s fly on the wall is seriously flawed

Not his fly analogy, the marksmen analogy.

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Panpychism seems obviously false to me, but I’m just a scientist.

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Why obviously false?

Does everyone here hate Rupert Sheldrake? Haha

Panpsychism seems to make more sense to me than William Hasker’s emergent dualism. This way, you would always have conciousness rather than it being produced by the body.

Or you could modify it a bit. What if, in an aristotelian way, combining various “forms” of chemicals ultimately produces the first life on earth, whose “form” is to constitute “life”? I’m speaking of the origin of life. Then consciousness doesn’t need to be EVERYWHERE, it could just be in anything living, although at the very beginning, consciousness could be something less than. As @sygarte says, “intrinsic biochemical intelligence.” If the soul is the form of the body, then this might make sense.

As a sidenote, I don’t see Nancey Murphey’s non-reductive physicalism as very compatible with Eastern Orthodoxy. There’s too much about death being the separation of soul from the body and prayers for the departed as well as their prayers for us. Though some say that we are immediately brought into our resurrected state after we die since God is outside of time. But this would still seem to imply “soul sleep,” which again, I don’t see as very compatible with Eastern Orthodoxy.

Sorry if what I’m saying seems very jumbled. I’ve been reading and thinking about the soul and consciousness in conversation with modern science a lot lately and am voicing my musings.

It’s like the same thing lol

I thought I remember them making slightly different points. I’d have to look again. Anyways, what’s the flaw?

Neil Manson: “This is a fool’s game. We are drawn into it only if we are persuaded by Leslie’s story of the fly on the wall. That story works, however, only because Leslie illicitly imports a perspective. We know how big we are, we know how big flies are relative to us, and we know what it is for an empty area surrounding a fly to be ‘largish’ relative to a fly. There is no correspondingly natural perspective when it comes to surveying the space of sets of possible parameter values.”

Keith Parsons:
“The alleged improbability of the cosmic “coincidences” is often illustrated by comparing it to extremely improbable mundane situations—such as every gun jamming at once in a firing squad. But such analogies are not apt. We have prior experience of rifles and their performance and, on the basis of that experience, we know how unlikely it is that, say, ten of them would simultaneously jam. We have no similar experiences that would justify such an inference about the cosmic “coincidences.”… Once this disanalogy is recognized, the “fine tuning” argument loses all of its intuitive appeal.“

I want to like the FTA. Just have some concerns that haven’t been addressed adequately IMO. But I do like natural theology

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Going to watch Unbreakable to prepare for Glass. :slight_smile: but this is interesting, I’ll respond soon.

Well, I think the probabilities that Lesie was referring to were the probabilities of the physical constants, etc. being the way they are given what we know about this universe. These don’t really seem to be in doubt. Hawking, Penrose, etc., as far as I know, never said their calculations were in doubt, though there are some that question this today.

So I’m not sure what these authors mean when they say “we have nothing to compare this to.” They seem to be saying we have no reason to believe that life permitting universes are improbable. But of course we do. The only thing that would make another universe probable is physical necessity and no philosopher defends this. We have no reason to believe such a law exists. But suppose the probability is high that if another universe popped into existence, it would have the same life permitting characteristics of our universe.

We are then pushed to ask what necessitates that each universe produced is life permitting despite the odds of all the physical constants and quantities lining up. What sort of physical law would something like that and why does it exist? Even if we grant the existence of some physical law that necessitates that our universe be life permitting, that’s quite an extraordinary law and seems much more probable to exist given theism than atheism. Under atheism, where humanity is no more intrinsically important than a rock, why would such a law exist? Under theism, this would make perfect sense.

In addition, we have no reason to think such a law exists and we have independent reasons for thinking that God exists (kalam, leibnitzian cosmo arg, moral arg, arg from consciousness, religious experience, evolutionary arg against nat, etc.).

I think leslie is assuming no such law of necessity and if there is no such law of necessity, his analogies hold up just fine.

Unless of course I’m missing something! And I could be.