The Fine-Tuning Argument and ID arguments

Refuse? He has done so more times than I can count on this very forum. And I see no refusal on his part on this thread. He just hasn’t done it yet.

Also, still waiting for a response on independent patterns. I have read multiple papers by Demsbki and tons of posts on evolution news and none have been helpful.

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Well, it does matter.

The EF’s logic takes these questions in order.

  1. Is it known natural processes alone? If yes, then conclude not designed.
  2. Is it chance alone? If yes, then conclude non designed.
  3. Conclude design.

Here is one major error though. Design, known natural process, chance are not exhaustive. Here are a few other examples of explanations that are not considered:

  1. Natural processes (known and unknown)
  2. Natural processes (known and unknown) + Chance
  3. Known natural processes + Chance

Of course, if we are talking about God’s design, natural processes alone can also be design any way! So even finding it is natural processes alone should not cause to conclude not designed. Mount Everest, after all, is also designed by God.

So, for all these reasons and more, EF is a totally invalid inference. So the EF formulated version of FTA is not valid. That matters.

And I already said that if you don’t like the EF, the argument I’m making can be made in exactly the same way with a simple specified complexity argument, which is always the one I’ve preferred. I think Dembski tried to turn it into a mathematical proof and that was doomed to failure. He should have stuck with his original idea of making it a framework for a scientific paradigm. That is where it is useful.

  1. The values of the fundamental constants are complex.
  2. The values of the fundamental constants are specified (the range which allows for life to exist is the specification).

Therefore, the values of the fundamental constants are intelligently designed.

I’m pretty sure that the values of the fundamental constants are real, not complex. If they were complex, they would be of the form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers.

No, they’re real.

No, they’re observed after-the-fact.


“Complex” in this context means “improbable”. I will try to believe these were sincere comments and simply believe you haven’t read Dembski, like at all.

The YEC use of The Fine Tuning Argument is a score on its own net.

The FTA is the argument that the fundamental constants, such as mixing parameters for quarks and neutrinos and the cosmological constant, are tuned allowing for the emergence of life. As expressed by astrophysicists Livio and Rees: That is, relatively small changes in their values would have resulted in a universe in which there would be a blockage in one of the stages in emergent complexity that lead from a ‘big bang’ to atoms, stars, planets, biospheres, and eventually intelligent life. One of the earlier such examples offered was the triple-alpha process for the stellar nucleosynthesis of carbon. The balance of carbon and oxygen production in stars is sensitive to variation of the strong nuclear force, with one paper concluding that a deviation of even 0.4% would tilt to almost entirely one or the other.

There also exist features of the universe which do not necessarily classify as fundamental constants, but are also found in a narrow band leading to the universe as we know it. The temperature variation of the CMB is sufficient to allow matter to clump in a timely fashion. A still higher variation could work, but might result in denser, more chaotic and disruptive galaxies. The FTA examines the principles of nature to ascertain the latitude permitted to result in an universe of enough stability and age to permit the generations of stars required to produce rocky worlds with water and carbon, with a sun of sufficient radiance and lifespan stability to nurture an earth-like planet.

It was not apologists, but physicists who framed the FTA, and many of them were actually quite antagonistic to religion and sought resolutions outside of theism. From a YEC perspective, who cares if over the course of millions of years stars can synthesize carbon or produce metals? For them, Adam was not fashioned from stardust, but created de novo.

YEC is often antagonistic to the very attributes of the FTA which are featured as tuned to be favorable to life. For instance, in the FTA the aforementioned CMB variation, rate of cosmic expansion, and strength of gravity all factor into the formation of stars, but YEC deny that stars can naturally form at all. Similarly, the FTA examines the balance of nuclear forces and gravitation required to have stars such as our sun burn for billions of years. Ignoring this, for years YEC made a case that the sun was powered principally by gravitational collapse, and this was supported by observation of a shrinking sun and missing neutrinos, until the whole idea was thoroughly discredited and they were forced to retreat, albeit with the protest that the sun was not proven the be older than 6,000 years. Then there is the speed of light, the “c” that permeates physics and is embedded in the fine structure constant, which YEC is forever engaging in fantastic flights of fancy to make none-constant. Finally, YEC advocates for accelerated radioactive decay, but isotope half-lives are not independent but are determined by quantum mechanics, nuclear geometry which is by definition, and fundamental forces which are at the heart of the FTA. In promoting that accelerated, vastly accelerated, radioactive decay occurred without catastrophic results, YEC essentially is making a case that fine tuning is exactly not essential for life.

So not only does YEC regard fine tuning as superfluous to existence, but is actively hostile to the uniformitarianism of the FTA, to use their favorite misnomer. The FTA is compatible with some variants of ID which largely accept conventional cosmology, although the design and mind detection blather constitutes extra baggage. In this vein, Robin Collins, professor of philosophy at Messiah College, is the most extensively published Christian scholar on the FTA.

In summary, regardless of one’s stance generally regarding the FTA, anthropic argument, theory of everything, or multiverse, it seems to me that the FTA has no legitimate place beneath the YEC canopy; and therefore, can only serve a cynical, out of context, rhetorical role when appealed to by such creationist organizations. Which means, of course, it’s perfect to them.

Complexity may be improbable in some instances, but improbability does not necessarily involve complexity, as in the context of constants.


Joshua, would you deny the validity of explanatory filter-type inferences when they are employed by, say, coroners? And if not, could you specify the difference between the reasoning of the coroner and the reasoning employed when ID proponents use the EF? I’m not necessarily defending the EF, just trying to get clarity.

To be clear what I mean about a coroner’s reasoning, let me give an example:

A coroner is called in to provide the cause of death of an individual. There are three broad options:

  1. Death by natural causes, (e.g., a heart attack, stroke, etc.)

  2. Death by chance (e.g., the head struck an object after a fall, the person slipped and fell into the water and drowned).

  3. Death by design. (Someone killed the person by deliberate action.)

Doesn’t the coroner have to rule out the first two before he can be certain about the third? For example, if the person died of a heart attack, and then fell against a hard object, say, a stone or machine, a mark on the head from the impact would not in itself be proof of foul play. So the coroner, if he is going to conclude that the mark on the head was produced by deliberate assault, has to show that the kind of mark found on the head is not consistent with marks that would be made by accidental falls etc. He would have to show that certain kinds of mark on the head appear only as a result of deliberate impact delivered by a voluntary agent.

If the coroner can rule out natural causes and accident as the cause of the mark in question, is he not within reason in declaring that a blow on the head was delivered by design?

And if he is within reason in drawing this conclusion, why is such a conclusion in principle not allowable in questions of origins?

Again, I’m not necessarily defending the EF, but merely trying to find out whether your objection to it is on general principles (in which case all coroner’s verdicts of design would be in doubt), or whether you accept the general idea of eliminating chance and natural causes, but find the application of the idea by ID proponents to be sloppy or shoddy.

No. If the individual has multiple well-placed stab and bullet wounds, and the coroner has been called in to decide whether the cause of death was shooting or stabbing, then natural causes and chance wouldn’t even be considered unless the coroner somehow determined against all appearances that the stab and bullet wounds were no inflicted deliberately.

This is so trivial a counterexample that the only reason for not tripping over it immediately is if the person presenting the analogy is deliberately avoiding looking for one.


Have you changed your name to Joshua? Did you see the name of the person to whom I addressed my question? If you think I wanted an answer from anyone but Joshua, you are mistaken.

Apparently you don’t understand how discussion boards work. Any questions you post here are fair game for comment or conversation. If you wanted a private conversation with Dr. S. you do it through PM. The only thing forcing you to respond to the comments of others is your ego.


A post was split to a new topic: The Explanatory Filter and Cause of Death

This excellent video makes a comprehensive evaluation of the Fine Tuning Argument:

Your standards for excellent are pretty low. Here’s a response to said video from a physicist:



The criticism comes from Luke Barnes … who has written a whole book on a Fine Tuned Universe.

Amazingly enough, here is a scientist who doesn’t think much of Luke Barnes views on fine tuning.
[See link below - - my apologies for forgetting this link when I first made this posting]


My own personal position is based on a simple truth: the fact the Universe is turned the way it is - - is exactly why we are able to read books on this tuning - - because otherwise we wouldn’t exist.

So, “I think … therefore I live in a fine tuned Universe”!

Depending on what formulation of the fine-tuning argument is being advanced, there are different responses to them. That said, there are a lot of bad responses to them, such as the anthropic principle. I also find that Douglas Adam’s puddle-analogy doesn’t serve as a good response to many types of fine-tuning arguments(some are vulnerable to it, some aren’t).

In all honesty the best responses I have seen to some versions of the fine-tuning argument(I’m thinking of the type of argument offered by Luke Barnes) comes from philosophers, such as Keith Parsons.

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So I linked to Luke Barnes’ criticism of Arvin Ash’s video on fine-tuning in physics - in which he raises several very serious problems with said video - and your reply is to link to a completely irrelevant criticism of Barnes’ review of a book about evolution?

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The point I was trying to make is that Arvin Ash has a giant axe to grind … since he wrote a book on Fine Tuning of the Universe. And part of his giant axe to grind is that I suspect that he is a Creationist.

His critics acknowledge he does not like being called a Creationist. And many of us here at Peaceful Science understand why he doesn’t want to be labeled as such.

(correcting the name for you)

What part of his giant axe makes anything he noted in his critique of Ash’s video untrue? Or in what way does it invalidate his review article on the fine-tuning literature?


I haven’t had time to confirm much of Luke Barnes criticisms (by the way, I fixed the typo in my prior posting - - I think you saw that it was a typo. For whatever reason, I put Ash’s name instead of Luke’s name).

But I was certainly saddened by some of the criticisms Luke published. I didn’t realize Ash could so easily lose his way in the discussion. But let me say I still have to verify Luke’s criticisms.

But my position against the Fine Tuning hypothesis was not based on Ash’s video… I just thought his video was the best I had seen on the matter.

To answer the obvious question: what IS my opposition to Fine Tuning based on? It is based on the simple point that no matter what the fine tuning discussion specifies, the only reason we can discuss it is because: BY DEFINITION, the only way we can be amazed at fine tuning is because we are alive to notice it.

I THINK … therefore I live in a fine tuned universe!

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