The Fine-Tuning and Design Catch-22

Continuing the discussion from Brian Miller: Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life:

This a really good paper:

We argue that there is a tension between two types of design arguments the fine-tuning argument (FTA) and the biological design argument (BDA). The tension arises because the strength of each argument is inversely proportional to the value of a certain currently unknown probability.

How this often plays out in conversation is that:

  1. ID proponent argues that certain structure very improbable to arise, therefore design.
  2. We show how it is actually not impossibly improbable.
  3. ID proponent argues now that this just push problem to fine-tuning. therefore design.

We have seen this play on the forums more than once. Most recently with @EricMH. Which makes we wonder if this is a truly absurdist argument. If what ever the likelihood is, then it is design, why even enter into the debate in the first place? Isn’t the design argument much more appropriately expressed as astonishment at the beauty and complexity of life, as we all should be?

I agree with that.

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I agree it is a catch 22. :slight_smile:

Just think of the fine-tuning that must be involved to allow a population of non-nucleated cells lacking mitochondria to have a path available by which it can evolve into all the diversity of life we see around us today.

May as well believe in miracles I say!

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Yes, Dembski makes this exact point in his writings. ID is fully consistent with a completely deist perspective where all information is frontloaded and there is no teleological intervention afterwards. I’ve met at least one deist ID proponent. IDists are also fine with frontloaded Darwinian evolution. That’s why you see this common pattern.

The crucial point is that no naturalistic processes, including Darwinian evolution, can create the information. It has to come from a non random/deterministic cause, which we call “intelligence”. That is the disagreement with evolutionists, who want to attribute the information creation to some random/deterministic cause, which we know by multiple information conservation laws is mathematically impossible.

This is also why ID is consistent with, but not coextensive with, creationism. ID can admit positions that creationism cannot.

So you also agree this is an excercise in absurdity? Why would you even care where some thing is probable or not? It just doesn’t matter to the design argument.

Not tracking with you. The complexity term in CSI is probability, the smaller the higher potential CSI…

Yet we empirically observe naturally occurring genetic processes like gene duplication followed by random SNPs to the duplicate producing new genetic sequences, new functions, and new information.

You remind me more and more of the 50’s aerospace engineer who “proved” it is mathematically impossible for bumblebees to fly. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Front-loading is quite different from what is being discussed here, which is God fine-tuning the laws of nature so as to make life happen. Is there anyone who still thinks front-loading is viable? Behe has abandoned it. Anyone else?

But i thought some ID proponents are against front loaded scenarios (which I hold to. But I am in no way a deist. I believe God is very active in the universe, causes miracles, and acts in people’s lives) because particles are information poor or something like that. How would God infuse the information into the system at the beginning of the universe? It looks like God set up the universe and created it in such a way that it has the inherent ability to accomplish many of his goals. Including the evolutionary history of life

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Insofar as the function is independent of the evolution process, then the ID argument would still apply. On the other hand if the function is somehow dependent on the process, then that can totally happen by chance and determinism.

Yes, I don’t think anyone believes front loading is viable. It is just consistent with ID.

In other words, I think natural law and processes can create information. But those laws and processes have to be fine-tuned and have a certain order to them.

Everything seems to be consistent with ID. That seems to be a problem

I pointed out that theories claiming chance and determinism can create information, such as Darwinian evolution claims, are inconsistent with ID.

What pray tell would be inconsistent with ID?

There are plenty of things which if found would falsify current evolutionary theory. What discovery if made would falsify the hypothesis biological life was Intelligently Designed? Because if your idea can’t be falsified it isn’t science.

If we could generate programs that exhibit signs of life such as reproduction, resource usage, etc. by flipping a coin, that would show life is not intelligently designed. The game of life would be one setting to do this in.

Well how do you define ID? I see my position being consistent with ID. And my position laws can produce information. Just takes a high amount of fine tuning to do so. So are you defining it more narrowly?

We do not think function is independent of the evolutionary process. There is no evidence it is. Therefore ID does not apply.

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Strictly speaking that position is inconsistent with ID, at least if we define ID as consistency with Dembski’s explanatory filter.

So yeah you’re defining it very narrowly. Fair enough.

If you are correct, then ID indeed does not apply. That is a pretty broad statement, though. What does it mean?