Answering a Stupid Quiz Part 2

This is part 2 to the 12 question quiz directed at atheists:

3. How do you account for the physical parameters of the universe (the gravitational constant, the strong nuclear force, the mass and charge of a proton,etc.) being finely tuned for the existence of stars, planets, and life?
This is another question that intends to expose scientific ignorance, and in the process, attempts to push the respondent into committing a logical error – this is hard to understand, therefore, it must be God.  Again, just because an individual (or the scientific community) doesn’t know something, that does not mean the answer is God.  For people who grew up in a religious home, it takes time to realize that ignorance is not proof of God.  I’d go so far as to say that invoking God to explain our ignorance is an altogether dishonest tactic that leads to nothing except more ignorance.

It appears this question advocates for something in the neighborhood of Spinoza’s pantheism.  Would the person who formulated this question presume that Spinoza was right, and that Christians are wrong?  Even if this were not the first half of the begging the question fallacy, I still don’t see how equating complicated scientific phenomena with God honestly gets someone from Deism or pantheism to any monotheistic religion.  It’s still absurd to believe that bronze-age fairy tales were revelations from God.

To try to answer the question directly, I suppose if there weren’t some order to the universe, then we wouldn’t be here to debate these matters.  Does this question presume these natural phenomena prove supernaturalism?  Couldn’t it just be lucky that there appear to be natural laws that guide the universe that allow us to be here, no matter how temporarily?

This question is a blanketed attempt at the teleological argument (argument from design, watchmaker).  Of course, we can cite many examples of how the universe does not follow a well-planned order.  For instance, look at how many pregnancies end in miscarriage – what an inefficient use of biological resources that is.  Another example is the example of the Andromeda galaxy encroaching on the Milky Way.  Eventually, they will collide, almost certainly ending all life on Earth (if there’s any left by that point).  There are a lot of examples of how the universe is not finely-tuned.

4. Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?
We live in the natural world.  This seems to be another version of the watchmaker argument.

Of course, not all human minds are naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and there was a long period where humans and humanoids (h. Erectus, etc) would not have understood mathematics.  Our current mathematical paradigm is evidence that we are capable of understanding a fairly consistent world and describing it.  The physical parallels, and the fact that math can describe other parts of the universe is an artifact of our ability to accurately describe the universe with a language, given a fairly consistent universe.  Math’s ability to describe the universe is not an answer for God – the logical bridge this question tries to create gives rise to numerology and pseudoscience.

Isaac Newton, who may have been the smartest human being who ever lived, did an excellent job of capturing his interpretation of the universe’s mathematical manifestation in “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”.  But even Newton, a guy who basically invented calculus more-or-less on a dare from his friend, couldn’t get the math right, in terms of how gravity caused light to bend.  It took a new paradigm that wasn’t understood for 99.95% of the time that humans have lived on the earth in a biologically similar state as they exist today.

There are inconsistencies in the universe, and there is not a magical equation that explains everything.  It takes very complicated math to explain very complicated phenomena, and this math is nothing close to intuitive; it is not eerie that we can create a language to describe observable phenomena.

5. Do you believe that DNA repair mechanisms, catalytically perfect enzymes, and phenomena such as substrate channeling are best explained by naturalism? If so, why are rational human scientists and engineers so woefully incapable of imitating the precision and complexity of cellular machinery that (presumably) arose via strictly irrational processes?
Here we go again.  Look, we can make reference to complex science, therefore God.

Yes, naturalism provides a consistent and intellectually honest paradigm that we can use to frame how we understand complex cellular behavior.  Of course, materialism doesn’t define science, nor does it define specific scientific implementations or processes.

Maybe someday we will be able to engineer cells that behave the same way as biological cells.  We haven’t been working at it very long, and we’ve already made great strides, in terms of the ability to model protein folding, creating enzymes, and artificial photosynthesis.  This is God of the gaps, again.

In terms of evolution via strictly irrational processes, I don’t see it is strictly irrational.  Genes can mutate and find new ways to do things.  The term irrational is invoked out of a misunderstanding and fear of what evolution is.  By the way, I don’t see God as more rational than evolution, but then again, I don’t necessarily see evolution and God being mutually exclusive, either.

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Author: Tim...Stepping Out

Tim Stepping Out

4 thoughts on “Answering a Stupid Quiz Part 2”

  1. The God of the gaps response by the atheist, to the order inherent in the universe is not sufficient.
    The theme of fine tuning concerns the nature of the universe and therefore begs for a cause.
    Without God, the Creator, as the First Cause, we are left with the fundamental dogma of atheism:

    Everything just happened all by itself.

    The information and order that are inherent in the universe prove intelligence since information and order are the signatures of intelligence.

    Further, the human mind isn’t naturally fluent in mathematics. Mathematics, like any other language must be learned, used and absorbed in order to attain fluency.

    Regarding DNA and biochemistry, here again we see a high degree of information and order which prove intelligence.

    Proteins, in fact, are the highly specialized factory tools of nature’s bio-manufacturing. Tool-making proves intelligence.

    “God” is the term used as the source of the intelligence that caused fine tuning and biochemical tool-making.

    Without God as the source of the intelligence that caused the universe, the order, information and tool-making happened all by themselves.

    And that atheistic notion is a denial of not only simple reason (common sense) but of modern science itself.

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    1. Thanks for the comment SOM

      “Without God, the Creator, as the First Cause, we are left with the fundamental dogma of atheism”. You’ve begged the question there. I posit that there is no evidence to support a supernatural creator. We don’t seem to have much evidence for the supernatural, nor is there compelling evidence it happens at all. A few years ago, this absence of evidence led me down the road of Deism, but the problem with deism is that there’s no way to distinguish a non-intervening God from no god at all, and therefore it’s a logical dead end.

      “The information and order that are inherent in the universe prove intelligence”. I don’t believe that. I think that’s a logical overstep, because one can imagine a universe that is complicated and simultaneously lacked a God. I think what’s more likely is that Bronze age people saw this lack of evidence as a problem, and so they invented revelation stories.

      “And that atheistic notion is a denial of not only simple reason (common sense) but of modern science itself.” So why is it that most serious scientists and philosophers are atheists? I know I risk appeal to authority there, but the truth of the matter is that there doesn’t appear to be any “there” there

      I can’t claim that a supernatural being did NOT create the universe, but then again, it’s not my burden of proof to demonstrate a negative such as this; similarly, it is not my responsibility to prove it wasn’t a flying spaghetti monster, unicorn, or leprechaun. If evidence for the claim of the existence was so profound, religion would not require such irrational assertions.

      The lack of knowledge does not give us license to invent fairy tales, legislate based on those fairy tales, and force people to live their lives according to some supposedly (and demonstrably non-) moral standard of behavior that adherents to those fairy tales concocted.

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  2. Re #3 Physicists have explored this “perfect match” of fundamental constants and found that there is more than a little wiggle room amongst many of them. But these arguments seem to be just variations of “God must love us because he made so many of us” argument. There are no connection between the premises and the conclusion and the argument applies equally well to fruit flies as it does to people. How about “God must hate us because so many of us die.” “God could have made us to live longer but He didn’t so he must hate us.” These are not even arguments but gropings for … something. What I do not know. Same is true for the “Gee, Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, therefore God” arguments.

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