Adamson’s Cru[de] Arguments for God – Part 7

Adamson’s Cru[de] Arguments for God – Part 7 May 29, 2016

There are more pathetic arguments given by Marilyn Adamson in the section of her web article that she characterizes as her first reason (out of six) for believing that God exists:

The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

 After her crappy argument based on the size of the Earth and it’s distance from the Sun, she gives another crappy argument based on the properties of water:

Water…colorless, odorless and without taste, and yet no living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and human beings consist mostly of water (about two-thirds of the human body is water). You’ll see why the characteristics of water are uniquely suited to life:

It has wide margin between its boiling point and freezing point. Water allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees.

Water is a universal solvent. This property of water means that various chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels.

Water is also chemically neutral. Without affecting the makeup of the substances it carries, water enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.

Water has a unique surface tension. Water in plants can therefore flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.

Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.

Adamson not only fails to explain how these properties of water are supposed to provide evidence for the existence of God, she also fails to give any clues as to why they might be considered evidence for God.

Given the absence of any explantion by Adamson, one might reasonably impose the logic of her first argument concerning the size and position of the Earth on this second argument about the life-sustaining properties of water.  To parallel Adamson’s reasoning about the Earth, we need a premise that asserts the Natural Improbability Thesis about Water:

(NIT-W) 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 material substances, it is IMPROBABLE that natural processes would lead to the formation of a substance that possesses all of the various life-sustaining properties of water.

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 substance that possesses all of the various life-sustaining properties of water. This second key unstated premise of Adamson’s argument I will call the  Divine Guidance Thesis about Water:

(DGT-W) 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 material substances, it is PROBABLE that at least one substance comes to exist with all of the various life-sustaining properties of water, 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 substance.

If (NIT-W) and (DGT-W) are both true, then the existence of water with it’s various life-sustaining properties would provide some evidence for the existence of God. But if (NIT-W) is false (or dubious), then Adamson has failed to show that the existence of water constitutes evidence for the existence of God. And if (DGT-W) is false (or dubious), then Adamson has failed to show that the existence of water constitutes evidence for the existence of God.

It is clear and obvious that (NIT-W) is 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 material substances, it is actually PROBABLE that natural processes would lead to the formation of a substance that possesses all of the various life-sustaining properties of water.  Water is H2O, and the various life-sustaining properties of water are the results of the laws of physics and chemistry.  If you have matter consisting of electrons and neutrons and protons, and if those components of matter interact in accordance with the laws of physics and chemistry that we know about, then they can form hydrogen and oxygen, and hydrogen and oxygen can combine to form H2O, and this substance, which we call “water” will necessarily have all of the life-sustaining properties that Adamson mentions.

In other words, given the laws of nature that we know about, and given the general configuration of matter and energy in the universe, there is nothing improbable about the existence of water and its various life-sustaining properties.  So, (NIT-W) is false.

One could try to rescue Adamson’s argument from water by shifting the argument away from one about divine intervention in natural processes to an argument from fine-tuning.  If we think of God as a supreme engineer, then we can argue that the existence of water and it’s life-sustaining properties are to be expected given the laws of nature and the general configuration of matter and energy in the universe, because God would have designed the laws of nature and the general configuration of matter and energy so that it was PROBABLE that water would be produced by the natural processes that bring about the existence of various material substances.  Nature produced water because God designed natural laws and matter in such a way that natural processes would be likely to produce water, among other material substances.

Such an argument would not be as obviously bad as one based on (NIT-W).  However, Adamson provides absolutely NO REASON whatsover to think that alternative laws of nature and alternative configurations of matter and energy in the universe would probably fail to produce a substance with the various life-sustaining properties of water.  So, if Adamson intends to be giving a fine-tuning type of argument here, she has utterly failed to provide any rational support for the key premise of this argument.

Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine how such an argument could be made.  How can we determine what are all of the various alternative systems of natural laws that could have existed?  This seems like it would be an infinite set of alternatives, and a subset of these alternatives would be an infinite number of alternative sets of highly complex systems of natural laws that would be too complex for any human being to comprehend in one lifetime (even if those laws were all clearly written out in English and mathematical formulas in a massive encyclopedia).   Also, how can we determine whether or not some hypothetical-imaginary-alternative set of natural laws would be likely to produce a substance with the life-sustaining properties of water?

Finally, even if we could somehow overcome these daunting intellectual challenges, what about the possibility that an alternative set of laws of nature and configuration of matter and energy could produce a substance with several life-sustaining properties, but a set of properties somewhat different from those of water?  In other words, even if an alternative system of laws and configuration of matter and energy failed to produce water, it might well produce a substance that was just as good, or even better than, water in terms of sustaining life.  But that would invalidate the results of the previously described investigation into alternative sets of laws of nature, and would add a whole new layer of complexity to the already daunting intellectual challenge.

If Adamson’s argument is based on the natural improbability of water, then a key premise of her argument is clearly false.  On the other hand, if Adamson’s argument was intended to be based on the natural probability of water (i.e. a fine-tuning argument), then she has a very serious intellectual challenge (i.e. a huge burden of proof) in order to show that alternative systems of laws of nature and alternative configurations of matter and energy would be unlikely to produce water (or some other substances with equally impressive life-sustaining properties), a very serious intellectual challenge that she has made ZERO intellectual effort to meet.  In short, either a key premise of her argument is false, or else a key premise of her argument is very dubious and without any rational support.


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