Saturday, May 1, 2010

an argument for agnosticism

The most recent lecture in my astronomy class (at a secular college) was on cosmology. The professor (who, btw, has no covert agenda to make theists out of the students) remarked about the unlikeness of our universe. Anyway, I'm curious how an atheist (or non-theist, if you prefer) would respond to the fine tuning argument.

From a scientific perspective, there is no more reason to believe in the multiverse hypothesis than the God hypothesis in regard to an explanation for the fine tuning conundrum (hence the title of the post). Here is an article on fine tuning from the BioLogos Foundation.


  1. Why is there "no more reason to believe in the multiverse hypothesis than the God hypothesis"?

    I think the logic is a commitment to naturalistic methodology:
    If you can create a hypothesis to account for natural events without introducing spirits, ghosts, demons or gods, it is preferable to an account that needs those.

  2. Hey, Sabio,

    In regard to your question, both the multiverse hypothesis and the God hypothesis are without any scientific evidence, in fact, many would argue that (at least for the time being) those questions lie outside the realm of science.

    My question: Why the commitment to naturalistic methodology? Wouldn't a Divine power be the simplest solution (Occam's razor)?

  3. I agree that presently the multiverse hypothesis is outside the realm of testing and thus of gathering evidence, but that may not always be the case. Whereas the "God Did It" hypothesis is always outside the realm of evidence. THAT is why the naturalist methodology is the commitment of those who want to expand our knowledge. Many have written on this advantage - I am sure you have read them. I won't duplicate the long rhetoric here.

  4. I could definitely provide more reasons why I believe that the God hypothesis is the better; however, debating the existence of God in the abstract is worthless.

    Reasons relevant to individual experiences are the only "proofs" for or against God's existence, since the existence of God (or lack thereof) can't be proven (scientifically).

    The validity of any reason that provides "proof" regarding the existence of the Divine for some individuals could be endlessly debated; however, the validity of that reason is based on pre-existing faith.

    The anthropic principle is one of my personal reasons for belief in the Divine; obviously my faith in the Divine provides the argument with personal validity.

  5. @ Nathan
    I sounds like you want to argue scientifically but you really just feel your belief is based on "faith". This is common with Christians. They want to play hardball but run indoors when the playing gets tough. It is a contradiction.
    I get why taking that stance feels so safe.
    But if you ever want to read a little on the topic, I found a page for you:

  6. Thanks. I will check out the page. My response above was only to demonstrate that I realize that there is no conclusive proof for the existence of God and that experience wields great influence in our beliefs regarding the existence of God.

    I still believe that "fine tuning" is problematic for atheists. From my understanding of the multiverse theory, it was developed without any scientific evidence to provide an alternative to the only other option: God. Futhermore, the multiverse theory is incapable of eliminating the need for the Divine: ". . .there is no guarantee that the process which produces all of these universes would randomly set all the physical parameters in such a way that every possibility is realized. It could be that there are constraints on the characteristics of these many universes and that the production process itself would have to be fine-tuned in some way to guarantee that we get enough variety of universes to account for our remarkable cosmic home."

    I sincerely believe the current understanding of cosmology presents a very real challenge for those who would like to believe that science substantiates the case for atheism: "Not surprisingly, fine-tuning arguments unsettle those who embrace the philosophy of naturalism, since a straightforward interpretation of the evidence points in favor of an intelligent creator."

  7. @ Nathan,

    Nathan, I may be mistaken, but it sounds like your diet is mainly in-house (Christian) readings on this "fine tuning" issue.

    My readings of Atheists (myself included) is that "fine-tuning" arguments are like creationist arguments -- laughably see-through. After you read that page, maybe you will see why.

    "Fine Tuning" is not problematic for atheists at all. Again, you did not address the naturalist methodology issue which shows that running to supernatural explanations is not preferable when natural positions can be offered easily. Instead, you went to the "Faith" excuse --- or, "My truth is the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart" epistemology.

    But I don't think we will make progress on that issue.

    There are Christians who don't buy into the fine-tuning argument, btw. I forgot, are you a creationist Christian -- if so, this conversation is indeed a waste of both our time.

    Peace, dude.

  8. Sabio, I apologize for the delayed response.

    I read the article you provided. I found some very uncompelling arguments against the idea that God is the fine tuner. Example: "What did an all-loving being do before there was anything to love?" Easily answered by Trinitarian theology.

    However, despite the weaknesses, I concede that I would have to study these issues in much greater depth in order to refute some of the content in the article.

    Ultimately, I still believe that there isn't conclusive evidence for or against the existence of God. For me, the anthropic principle points toward the existence of God, but my belief in God is not contingent upon it.

    Thanks for the imput; I enjoy having my ideas/beliefs challenged.

    BTW I'm not a YEC (I'm a biology major at a secular college, so evolution is important to me).