Potentially Interesting New Book by Eric Hedin

There is a new book out, by physicist Eric Hedin. I have not read it, and so make no comment, positive or negative, but the preview pages on Amazon look interesting, and relevant to some of the concerns discussed at PS.

What is the evidence that atheists don’t want people to see?


Jerry Coyne’s own website looks to have a lot of pertinent material:

Of note is the email sent out by Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora:


Presumably the book contains the answer to that question, so the logical thing for you to do, if you want the answer to that question, is to read the book. From the preview pages, it looks as if it would be an easy and fast read, so it shouldn’t take much of your time to get the answer you’re looking for.

Hedin of course discusses Coyne in the opening pages of the book, readable in the Amazon preview.

If you are interested in hearing why Hedin thinks that Coyne is misguided, you will read Hedin’s side of the story, and not rest content with reading only Coyne’s.

As far as I can tell from the preview, Hedin does not endorse “creation science” in the book, but, as I say, I haven’t read it.

I think the book is largely about cosmic fine-tuning, but I could be wrong. But if it is about fine-tuning, it’s surely relevant to some of the topics discussed here on PS – which is why I mentioned it.

You mean buy the book.

ID is creationism. That’s the major sticking point.

Ultimately, it wasn’t Coyne’s decision. It was Ball State’s decision.


So why not read it before presenting it?


The title is suggestive of Q-anon and other Republican Party paranoid fantasies. Was that intentional?


You could borrow it from a friend, or from a library.

In the preview I read, Hedin didn’t mention “ID”, so I don’t know why you are characterizing his book by that. In any case, ID isn’t creationism, but as that’s not the topic here (we’ve been over it many times on this site), there is no need to let the discussion slide into that. I just thought someone here might be interested in a new book by an advanced theoretical physicist that appears to deal with fine-tuning. If you’re not interested in what an advanced theoretical physicist has to say on that subject, don’t bother reading the book.

Because there is no need to do so. If I were making a judgment on the book, it would be mandatory for me to read it first (which unfortunately is not a principle held by all who post on sites like this), but since I explicitly stated that I was making no judgment, but merely informing people of the book’s existence, I have no responsibility to do anything beyond what I did – show that the book was out there and that it seemed to concern a topic some people here have found interesting.

How could I possibly know what an author or a publisher intended? I’m not the author or the publisher. I go by the topic of a book, not by the title. The topic sounded of interest to some people here, so I mentioned it. People can read it or not read it, as they please. I have no interest in cajoling people into reading it, or condemning people for not reading it. If it’s interesting, read it; if it’s not, don’t.

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And–for some this goes without saying–dishonest, because it gives the impression that Hedin was doing something resembling science that was canceled, not teaching a course. The blurb is pure Culture War.

Creationists, since they don’t do much science themselves, relentlessly conflate doing science with teaching about it.


4 posts were split to a new topic: A Book Club on Confident Pluralism?

The Discovery Institute says it’s a book about ID*, and they ought to know, since they’re the foremost pushers of ID and they printed it.

Of course they could be telling porkies. They frequently do.

Yes, that’s one of the porkies they tell.

*Hedin both recounts his story and advances his own case for intelligent design from the evidence in his field.

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Haven’t you claimed that you interact with people from the DI on a very frequent basis?

I would be much more interested in a peer reviewed paper that contained original research. A theoretical physicist discussing his religious beliefs in a popular press book doesn’t interest me as much.


Categories: Intelligent Design, Science

The DI website explicitly categorizes the book as ID. That said, fine tuning discussions interest me and I would skim the book if I had a copy.

This is the problem with the ID big tent - “we are interested in design, whether from a YEC or OEC or what have perspective.” Among the premises of fine tuning is that the universe presents conditions necessary and sufficient to permit the emergence and sustenance of life". This is exactly what all narratives involving divine intervention deny. It may be possible to formulate some sort of “the universe was fine tuned, but it was not enough to get the job done, so it was necessary to tinker now and again” type scenario, but that is a bit of a muddle. I would suggest that fine tuning is in particular completely incompatible with YEC, which holds that the carbon in our bodies has nothing to do with stellar nucleosynthesis. How can an organization present as scientifically investigating origins, and be evasive or unable to clearly answer the simple and basic question as to where our carbon comes from?


Shhh! Don’t let on that we hid all the unicorns! :eyes:

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Yes, there is no doubt that Hedin talks about intelligent design (lower case) in the book – that’s evident from the excerpt from Hedin’s introduction found in the preview. My point to aquaticus was that ID (upper case) in the sense of the specific position of the Discovery Institute, of Meyer, etc. is not mentioned by Hedin in the preview, nor is creationism or creation science, yet aquaticus dragged these ideas in, based on what had happened at Ball State as interpreted by Coyne. It was clear that aquaticus was not quoting from the preview, and it seemed he had not even looked at the preview, but was just taking Jerry Coyne’s view of Hedin, without looking at what Hedin had to say. That’s an odd way of determining what’s in a book, by reading only what someone who strongly disagrees with the author has to say, while not reading what the author himself has to say, even when the author’s words are available for free in an Amazon preview which wouldn’t take more than five minutes to read.

But of course, it’s nothing new around here that some people decide what’s of value and what’s not of value based on hearsay rather than by reading an author’s statements. Anyhow, it’s no skin off my nose if particular individuals aren’t interested in the book. I wrote the notice up in case some other readers here would benefit from knowing about it.

I do, but in this case I did not know until the other day that the book existed. It’s not as if Discovery calls me up every time they are thinking of publishing a book to let me know. Sometimes I hear when a book is in the works, but in this case I didn’t. There’s a difference between having frequent contact with many people from Discovery on intellectual matters and being a staff member in their publishing division, which I’m not. In any case, I immediately wanted to read the preview because the topic interested me, and only afterward realized it was a Discovery book. And I would have put my notice of the book in here whether it was a Discovery book or not, simply because the topic might be of interest to those inquiring into origins.

There we differ. I’m not a theoretical physicist, and would not be able to glean very much (beyond bits from the abstract) from a technical paper in plasma physics (and science being so specialized nowadays, I’m not sure most biologists would be able to glean much more), but I am interested in what a scientist with years of scientific education and research experience thinks about broader questions – philosophical, religious, and other – insofar as his own expertise can shed light on them. I therefore maintain a continual interest in the thought of figures such as Boyle, Newton, Einstein, Hoyle, Heisenberg, Capra, Denton, etc. on subjects of wider human interest. I suspect that at least some of the readers of this site are like me in this respect, i.e., more interested in broader questions of science and faith than in the nitty-gritty technical details of various scientific fields. My book notice was aimed at them.

OK, but when you go on to say:

you miss the point that intelligent design is not exhausted by interventionist scenarios. A scenario in which the laws and constants, the initial amount of matter and energy in the universe, etc., are fine-tuned so as to produce life, is just as compatible with intelligent design as an interventionist scenario is.

You’ll have to take up these questions with a YEC advocate. Since YEC is not my position, I don’t feel obliged to imagine myself a YEC and try to concoct a rebuttal.

I don’t know Hedin’s personal version of “intelligent design.” I don’t whether he is in the Behe camp (ID-evolutionist), the Meyer camp (ID-OEC), or the Nelson camp (ID-YEC). I haven’t read the book. If I ever get down to reading it, I’ll know then.

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Yes, you could have front loading, but then how would that be distinguished from blind natural law, or detectable as design? The tuning parameters themselves seem to be arbitrary, at least until you consider the possibility for subsequent emergent phenomena.

I think the fine tuning argument is interesting, and does invite consideration of agency and teleology. I do not agree that it is a simple extension of Intelligent Design, as by definition fine tuning infers that natural law is sufficient to account for all of nature, whereas ID posits that design is detected by insufficiency.

Understood. My complaint is that ID presents as cohesive, but ID seems beset by some sort of inverse “I am the true Scotsman” fallacy, where people speak for ID but hold incompatible positions, and just paper over essential differences so as not to divide their audience.


Is this anything like your claim that you did not know that ribozymes are RNAs?

We can’t really discuss either fine tuning or front-loading in relation to Hedin’s thought (and by the way, I don’t think that fine tuning in itself requires front-loading, the latter term being much more specific and the first much more general, pertaining strictly only to the possibility of life and not implying its necessity), for I haven’t read Hedin yet, so I don’t know what he would say. I think the time to relate these subjects to Hedin is after some of us have read the book.

No, not “ID” as such, but some ID proponents argue that. Maybe even the majority of ID proponents.
But I have never argued in that way. Nor has Denton. ID is a big tent. But this is a topic on its own, and I think if anyone wants to debate this proposition, he/she should start a new topic, which is not Hedin-specific, but a more general issue.

You need to distinguish between family resemblances that hold all ID people together, and differences that distinguish them. All three sub-groups of ID people, the ID-evolutionists (Behe, Denton), the ID-OECs (Meyer, Luskin), and the ID-YECs (Nelson), agree on two broad general points:

1-- there is evidence in nature for design
2-- purely unguided and unplanned processes do not account for what we see

It is these agreements that hold ID together. Within that framework of agreement there are camps which as you say hold incompatible views. But they are all views within the broad ID family.

I do not find this diversity a problem. Greek Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Reformed Christianity are all “incompatible” on many points of detail, but all are still Christian. I see no problem with people from all of these churches working together to oppose, say, secular humanism, which they all regard as erroneous. And just as the falsification of, say, Reformed theology would not prove that Christianity itself was false, so the falsification of, say, the YEC version of ID would not prove that ID is false.

If you find that sort of loose agreement unsatisfying, if you would like to see a tighter agreement among ID people, that’s an interesting subject, but it belongs elsewhere; here I’m merely alerting people to a particular book.