Adamson’s Cru[de] Arguments for God – Part 3

Adamson’s Cru[de] Arguments for God – Part 3 May 1, 2016

Campus Crusade for Christ sponsored a website called EveryStudent.com, a site that targets college students as its primary audience.  The director of the website is Marilyn Adamson.   Adamson wrote a key article for the website called “Is There a God?” which provides six reasons in support of the claim that God exists.   Adamson completely destroys her own credibility in the opening paragraphs of the article where she presents an obviously bad argument that constitutes the first of the six reasons.

I had planned to address a possible reply to my objection in this post, a reply asserting that cosmic pluralism is a speculative theory which has not been established by scientific observations and evidence.  However, it is more important to clarify Adamson’s initial argument for the existence of God, so I will address this reply to my objection in another post later in this series.

A portion of Adamson’s first argument is presented in the opening paragraphs, and it can be summarized in two sentences:

(SJR) The size of the Earth is just right, so that the Earth can sustain plant, animal and human life.

(RDS) The Earth is the right distance from the Sun, so that the Earth can sustain plant, animal and human life.

In the previous post in this series, I have already presented a major objection to this argument.  But before I go any further, I think it would be helpful to clarify Adamson’s reasoning.

One serious problem with Adamson’s arguments is that they are very sketchy and thus are unclear. Most of her argument for this first point is left unstated, which means that it is the readers of her article who must do all the heavy lifting.   In order to thoughtfully and critically evaluate her reasoning, one must first read between the lines in order to guess at the missing premises and inferences that were left out of her presentation of this argument.

Although it would be possible to make use of the above two premises in a sophisticated version of a Fine Tuning argument, it is clear that this is NOT what Adamson had in mind.  The most obvious clue to her intentions comes in the following sentence from her presentation of the first argument (emphasis added by me):

Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

This sentence implies that the Earth is a rare or unique planet in having properties that make it capable of sustaining plant, animal and human life.  Such a claim does not fit well with a Fine Tuning type of argument.

If this were a Fine Tuning argument, then Adamson would be arguing that the laws of nature and the configuration of matter and energy that were present in the initial moments of the big bang were such as to make it PROBABLE that natural processes would result in the development of planets (like the Earth) with properties that make them capable of sustaining plant, animal and human life.

But this sentence suggests the very opposite view.  It suggests that the existence of a planet with properties that make it capable of sustaining plant, animal and human life is IMPROBABLE, given what we know about the laws of nature and about the configuration of matter and energy in the universe and about the natural processes involved in the development of stars and planets, assuming that there was no God to guide or intervene in the natural processes that led to the formation of stars and planets.

Because of this clue, we can infer an important unstated premise of Adamson’s argument, which I will refer to as the Natural Improbability Thesis or NIT:

(NIT) Given our knowledge of the laws of nature, and of the general configuration of matter and energy in the universe, and of the natural processes involved in the development of stars and planets, it is IMPROBABLE that natural processes would lead to the formation of at least one planet with the right size and at the right distance from a sun that would make it capable of sustaining plant, animal and human life (if there was no God to guide, or intervene in, those natural processes).

This assumption suggests a contrast with the alternative view that there exists a God who could, and who probably would, guide, or intervene in, natural processes in order to bring about the formation of a planet capable of sustaining life.  This second key unstated premise of Adamson’s argument I will call the Divine Guidance Thesis or DGT:

(DGT) If God exists, then given our knowledge of the laws of nature, and of the general configuration of matter and energy in the universe, and of the natural processes involved in the development of stars and planets, it is PROBABLE that at least one planet would come to exist with the right size and at the right distance from a sun that would make it capable of sustaining plant, animal and human life, because if natural processes would not cause this to happen on their own, then God would probably guide, or intervene in, those natural processes to bring about the existence of such a planet.

In short, if there is no God, then (given what we know about natural laws and processes in the physical universe) a life-friendly planet like the Earth probably would NOT have developed, but if there is a God, then (given what we know about natural laws and processes in the physical universe and what we know about God’s purposes and inclinations) a life-friendly planet like the Earth probably would have developed.

The conjunction of (NIT) and (DGT) implies that the explicitly stated premises of Adamson’s argument provide evidence for the existence of God.   That is to say, if (NIT) and (DGT) are both true, then (SJR) and (RDS) would provide some evidence for the existence of God.  But if (NIT) is false (or dubious), then Adamson has failed to show that (SJR) and (RDS) constitute evidence for the existence of God.  And if (DGT) is false (or dubious), then Adamson has failed to show that (SJR) and (RDS) constitute evidence for the existence of God.

Both of these important unstated premises of Adamson’s argument are problematic and questionable.  That is the problem with CLARITY.   If you present an argument clearly, which involves explicitly stating your basic assumptions and inferences, then people who read your argument can rationally and critically evaluate your argument, and if your reasoning involves false or questionable assumptions, or illogical inferences, this will make it much easier for others to see that your argument is defective.

By leaving most of her argument unstated, Adamson hides the false or questionable assumptions of her argument, and makes it difficult for others to rationally and critically evaluate her argument.  Thus, even if this first argument was a solid argument (which it assuredly is not), Adamson’s sketchy presentation of this argument makes it difficult for readers of her article to rationally and critically evaluate this argument, and it makes it easier for college students to be taken in by an illogical or defective argument.

The main problem with (NIT) is that we know that the universe contains a fantastically huge number of stars and planets of various sizes and configurations, so it is a matter of common sense that some of the planets in the universe are bound to be of the right size and the right distance from a sun so that those planets would be suitable for sustaining plant, animal and human life.

There are additional factors required to make a planet capable of sustaining plant, animal and human life besides the size and location of the planet, but Adamson’s argument focuses on these two important factors, and given the focus on these two factors, (NIT) seems clearly to be false.

Given our knowledge of the laws of nature, and of the general configuration of matter and energy in the universe, and of the natural processes involved in the development of stars and planets, it is actually PROBABLE that natural processes would lead to the formation of at least one planet with the right size and at the right distance from a sun that would make it capable of sustaining plant, animal and human life; there is no need to assume the existence of a God to account for the existence of such a planet.  The laws of nature, general configuration of matter and energy in the universe, and the natural processes involved in the development of stars and planets are sufficient by themselves to make the existence of a planet with the right size and at the right distance from a sun extremely probable, virtually certain.

There are about 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe (we cannot observe the entire universe because some parts of the universe are more than 13.7 billion light years away, so there has not been enough time for light from stars that far away to reach the Earth) .  There are about 100 billion stars in a galaxy, on average.  So, the approximate number of stars in the observable universe is:

200,000,000,000 galaxies  x  100,000,000,000 stars/galaxy =

 20,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars

That is a lot of stars!

What about planets?  How many planets are there?  There are at least 100 billion planets in our galaxy, the Milky Way galaxy, and there might well be about 10 trillion planets in our galaxy.  If we use the lower estimate and assume this to be an average number for a galaxy, then the approximate number of planets in the observable universe is about the same as the number of stars:

200,000,000,000 galaxies  x  100,000,000,000 planets/galaxy =

 20,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets

That is a lot of planets!

Clearly, with this huge number of stars and planets of various sizes and distances from each other, it is virtually certain that at least one planet in the universe would be the right size and at the right distance from a sun in order to make the planet suitable for sustaining plant, animal and human life.  According to one estimate, based on recently gathered astronomical data, there are probably 15 to 30 billion planets in the observable universe which would be of the right size and at the right distance from a sun to be suitable for sustaining life.

Therefore (NIT) is clearly false, and Adamson has failed to show that her factual premises (SJR) and (RDS) provide any evidence for the existence of God.

 

"It is, unfortunately, more rare than palladium to receive an apology on the internet! I ..."

Some Reflections on Epistemology
"I didn't claim begging the question was not a fallacy. I called it "begging the ..."

Some Reflections on Epistemology
"Yes, I went back and reread the Wiki page on Accessibility Relation. I had never ..."

Some Reflections on Epistemology
"Further reply -- I have shown that Bradley's claims are NOT true, by providing refutations ..."

Some Reflections on Epistemology

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment