D Rizdek’s Objection to Fine-Tuning Arguments for God’s Existence

D Rizdek at Debunking Christianity tries to turn the tables on defenders of fine-tuning arguments for God’s existence; he says that apparent fine-tuning only makes sense if there is no God.

LINK (HT: The A-Unicornist)

It’s a short post, so go read it. Then I’d love to read your answers to this question: is that a good defeater to fine-tuning arguments?

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14408364244593519914 Matt DeStefano

    I posted this over on DC, but I'll throw it on here as well. I'm not usually in a rush to defend fine-tuning arguments, but I think this critique misunderstands the nature of Cosmic Fine-Tuning (CFT) arguments.

    You said:

    God can design things any it want's to. Life need not have a planet it live on IF god designed it otherwise.

    CFT arguments rely upon empirical evidence that, after the Big Bang, life-creating and life-sustaining universes were not exactly a dime a dozen. To quote the SEP: "As John Jefferson Davis points out, an accuracy of one part in 1060 can be compared to firing a bullet at a one-inch target on the other side of the observable universe, twenty billion light years away, and hitting the target."

    Proponents of the CFT are not worried about other possible worlds God could have created, but they are arguing that the ridiculous odds for all necessary accommodations for life to converge just so indicates that the universe had a design. To argue that these particular accommodations are not the only ones God had to choose from is irrelevant.


    The reasoning is that because WE are limited in how we must interact with the immutable physical universe, somehow the theist becomes ingrained in thinking their god must also be thus limited. They believe he must come up with "just so" constants otherwise nothing would work.

    Just to reiterate, the theist isn’t saying “This is the way God had to do it” but rather, “Wow, this outcome was so vastly outnumbered by outcomes unfavorable to life that the Universe must have been designed!"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05501109533475045969 Explicit Atheist

    I mostly agree with D Rizdek. I would put it a little differently. I would say the fine tuning argument cuts both ways. On the one hand, it suggests our universe is special to allow a strictly materialistic universe to support life. On the other hand it doesn't therefore actually favor theism over atheism like theists claim because under theism there is no need for the universe to function on a strictly materialistic basis. So I think D Rizdek has a very good argument, but I think it could be expressed a little better. I would expect theists to try to counter that there is very good justification for god to create the universe so that it appears to function on a strictly materialistic basis, but that would need to balanced with their claim that the universe doesn't function on a strictly materialistic basis. There really is a tension here between the materialistic foundation of the fine tuning argument and the anti-materialism of theism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    I think there is both something correct and something incorrect about Rizdek's objection. This can be shown by considering a Bayesian formulation of the fine-tuning argument, where we explicitly state the propositions which constitute our background knowledge, the evidence to be explained, and the rival explanatory hypotheses.

    For an example of what I mean by "explicitly" stating the relevant propositions, see here.

    Regarding how to apply this approach to Rizdek's objection–and what I think is both correct and incorrect–I'll leave this as an exercise for the reader. :)

  • JC2013

    Why does author attribute the overwhelming beauty, discoverability, intelligibility, and complexity of the universe to mere laws that we would normally attribute to artists? This sounds just like a priori commitment to reject theism at all costs. I agree with Matt DeStefano’s previous comment that it’s quite silly to postulate that God would have made something unintelligible (like a planet with no life or no physical laws) because that is what gods do. Perhaps we can imagine how else a god could have logically created but humankind has experienced intelligent beings for thousands of years and have come to recognize the hallmarks of things created by minds. This is demonstrated quite reliably in scientific studies like forensic science, archaeology, cryptography, and the search for extraterrestrial life.

    Man does have the common sense ability to understand that objects that it has never seen created (ie. prehistorical tools) and which its use is not even known were created by a mind, not the product of just-so organizing laws. When we see complexity that is unified into meaningful specific arrangement we know intuitively and logically that it is product of a mind and not of chaotic randomness of accidents.

    Yes, maybe this god is a little too mysterious for some to be instantly excepted, but inferring intelligence as the cause to many situations and objects works everyday for us.

    I just the writer hasn’t tied his hands behind his back by assuming a priori that no gods exist. That would be crucial self-handicap before the game has even started. Would not giving a little more credence to the idea that an intelligent designer could very well exist be more useful in a scientific endeavour? It would allow the possibility to find evidence of a designer if he did exist.


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