Nony's "Fallacy"

jeffreyalex
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Nony's "Fallacy"

In a recent thread, A_Nony_Mouse suggests that we should not at all be impressed by the fine-tuning of the universe. He suggests that it's easy to produce big numbers, and he uses an example:

If there are 10^7 sperm cells 'racing' to fertilize an egg, the chance of any sperm cell fertilizing the egg is 1:10^7. But here you are, despite the odds! Nony says we should not be     so impressed by this, and so we should not be impressed by the small chances of a life-prohibiting universe either.

This is a flawed argument.

Any given sperm cell would result in a unique human being. Any number of possible constants would result in a unique universe.

It is certain that a unique human being will be born. The chances of a unique human being (given that the egg was fertilized and carried to term) are 1:1. The chances of unique possible human being A (me, say) are 1:10^7, as are the chances of unique possible human being B. So my chances versus the chances of another possible unique human being are not 1:10^7, but rather 1:1.

Similarly, the chances of the unique set of universal constants A obtaining may be equal to the chances of unique set B obtaining. But that is not what we're talking about in the fine-tuning argument. This is where Nony's analogy ends.

Here, a simple example will make the point:

If you have 10,000 different pennies in a bag, and you draw one penny, are you surprised? No, and rightfully so. Given that there is a penny draw, you will necessarily draw a unique penny. Yes, the chances of that penny being drawn are 1/10,000, but so are the chances of any and all the other pennies.

Now, imagine you have 10,000 pennies in a bag, with only one painted blue. You reach in and draw the blue penny, are you surprised? Yes, and rightfully so. What is the difference? The penny had a 1/10,000 just like any other penny, it seems nothing has changed. This is not the case, however. Here, we are not comparing any unique penny to any other unique penny. Here, the comparison is between a blue penny and non-blue pennies. So, in the first case, the chance of a unique penny being drawn is 1, it is certain. All the pennies are unique in the first example, whichever you draw will be unique and that's not impressive. In this second case, however, the chance of drawing the blue penny is 1:10,000.

(Uniqueness is a feature of all pennies in both examples, and so any penny drawn will be unique; blueness is a feature of only a single (unique) penny, and it is BLUENESS that we are asking about in the second example).

The fine-tuning argument does not seek to say the chance of any unique universe with its constants existing is 1: 10^n. That wouldn't say much, at all. It would be the equivalent of the first penny example and of Nony's sperm-cell example.

Fine-tuning compares life-permitting universes to non-life-permitting universes. This scenario is the equivalent of the second (blue) penny example. It is not equivalent to Nony's example.

Disregarding other aspects of this argument, it should at least be admitted that Nony's analogy is fallacious and misleading. It does not hold.

jeffreyalex
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harleysportster wrote:Double

harleysportster wrote:

Double post. Damnit. Why does that keep happening ? Must be something wrong with my computer. Second time that's happened this morning.

We observe such a thing as universal laws and constants. We are clearly told that if, for example, the cosmological constant was off by 1 part in something like 10^53, the universe would have either expanded and cooled to near absolute zero well quick or simply collapsed in on itself.

All the objections raised here have been answered. If you don't want to see that, cool. As long as you can convince yourself.

In debates about God, the fine-tuning argument is often brought up. I've seen many such debates, even with prominent physicists such as Sean Carroll, and other scientists such as Peter Atkins. The reason no one responds that "oh, well there's no fine tuning" is because it's a bogus response. That's what's observed. Dawkins knows it, Carroll knows it, Atkins knows it, Hawking knows it, Penrose, Tippler, Rees, Barrow, Weinberg, even Stenger, despite his failed attempts to try to explain it away, knows it. By the way, you don't try to explain away things you don't acknowledge exist.

Therefore, based on the evidence we do have, it is reasonable to hold that the universe appears fine-tuned, and there is no explanation for that. This observation has led to the postulation of infinite universe—a metaphysical hypothesis if ever there was one.

Vastet
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jeffreyalex wrote:  In a

jeffreyalex wrote:

In a recent thread, A_Nony_Mouse suggests that we should not at all be impressed by the fine-tuning of the universe. He suggests that it's easy to produce big numbers, and he uses an example:

If there are 10^7 sperm cells 'racing' to fertilize an egg, the chance of any sperm cell fertilizing the egg is 1:10^7. But here you are, despite the odds! Nony says we should not be     so impressed by this, and so we should not be impressed by the small blah blah blah

You already lost this argument 20 times over in the first thread. Do you really think repeating the process in a new one will change anything?

This is why theists fail science courses. The scientific method is foreign to them.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

harleysportster
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jeffreyalex

jeffreyalex wrote:

harleysportster wrote:

Double post. Damnit. Why does that keep happening ? Must be something wrong with my computer. Second time that's happened this morning.

We observe such a thing as universal laws and constants. We are clearly told that if, for example, the cosmological constant was off by 1 part in something like 10^53, the universe would have either expanded and cooled to near absolute zero well quick or simply collapsed in on itself.

All the objections raised here have been answered. If you don't want to see that, cool. As long as you can convince yourself.

In debates about God, the fine-tuning argument is often brought up. I've seen many such debates, even with prominent physicists such as Sean Carroll, and other scientists such as Peter Atkins. The reason no one responds that "oh, well there's no fine tuning" is because it's a bogus response. That's what's observed. Dawkins knows it, Carroll knows it, Atkins knows it, Hawking knows it, Penrose, Tippler, Rees, Barrow, Weinberg, even Stenger, despite his failed attempts to try to explain it away, knows it. By the way, you don't try to explain away things you don't acknowledge exist.

Therefore, based on the evidence we do have, it is reasonable to hold that the universe appears fine-tuned, and there is no explanation for that. This observation has led to the postulation of infinite universe—a metaphysical hypothesis if ever there was one.

I was referring to a technical glitch in my computer causing posts to appear more than once. So, I have no clue how why your answering that post.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno

x
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This has probably been said before, but anyway...

jeffreyalex wrote:

We know that universal constants exist. We know that if constant X was valued at a number that was off by more than 1 part in trillions there would be no possibility for life (for example the cosmological constant or the low entropy condition of the early universe). This has nothing to do with what happened at the big bang.

I'm no physicist, but can you prove that the universal constants have nothing to do with the big bang?

jeffreyalex wrote:

If scientists discover that the big bangs conditions physically necessitated these constants it would make no difference. It would just push the question back with the equally stunning and uncanny fact that physics NECESSITATES the existence of life permitting constants and can produce no other constants.

In this universe, these are the constants. To call them 'life permitting constants' is anthropomorphic, or at least life-shaped. They could also be described as constants that permit Collingwood to win the 1903 Premiership, constants that permit stars, atoms, galaxies; constants that permit what happened in the cosmic inflation. In fact, constants that permit whatever happens in the universe. They are an aspect of the universe, they 'permit' the universe to be what it is. The very word permit is misleading, they don't permit anything, they just are.

We don't know why they are and we don't know the odds of them being what they are. I can see the wit in calling this 'atheism of the gaps', but you probably just meant it as a wisecrack. Saying 'we don't know' when we don't know is part of the scientific method and agnostic atheism. It contrasts nicely with 'we don't know' meaning god did it.

jeffreyalex wrote:

You may have read my painting analogy. If you see an endless wall with one single painting hanging, you might ask "what are the chances the painting should hang here?" Then you take the painting down to find a screw in the wall. You don't exclaim "oh that's where the screw is! It had to hang here." It's a non-answer.

If I understand correctly, in this analogy, the painting is life, the screw is the constants and the wall is all possible universes? If so, when seeing the screw I would indeed claim that is the only place it could hang, assuming it is not possible for a screw to be anywhere else and that paintings can only hang on screws. Oh, and that there is a Great Fine-Tuner who lives outside all universes, who creates walls that have a single screw in them and pops in to hang paintings on all screws.

Jabberwocky
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jeffreyalex wrote: We

jeffreyalex wrote:

We observe such a thing as universal laws and constants. We are clearly told that if, for example, the cosmological constant was off by 1 part in something like 10^53, the universe would have either expanded and cooled to near absolute zero well quick or simply collapsed in on itself.

All the objections raised here have been answered. If you don't want to see that, cool. As long as you can convince yourself.

In debates about God, the fine-tuning argument is often brought up. I've seen many such debates, even with prominent physicists such as Sean Carroll, and other scientists such as Peter Atkins. The reason no one responds that "oh, well there's no fine tuning" is because it's a bogus response. That's what's observed. Dawkins knows it, Carroll knows it, Atkins knows it, Hawking knows it, Penrose, Tippler, Rees, Barrow, Weinberg, even Stenger, despite his failed attempts to try to explain it away, knows it. By the way, you don't try to explain away things you don't acknowledge exist.

Therefore, based on the evidence we do have, it is reasonable to hold that the universe appears fine-tuned, and there is no explanation for that. This observation has led to the postulation of infinite universe—a metaphysical hypothesis if ever there was one.

The Universe does appear fine-tuned, but it's been re-iterated to you many times: Science does not yet hold the answer to how the particular constants came to be the way they were, to permit the universe as we know it. More importantly, science does not know definitively what the possible RANGE of values actually is. Since the laws of our Universe have the values that they do, it's currently somewhere between absurdly difficult, and impossible, to posit a REALISTIC range of possible values that could have arisen different from how they did.

A ridiculously long list of things could be made that we now know, that used to be deemed impossible by most without supernatural intervention. The existence of diverse species, life itself beginning on our planet, natural wonders of the world, etc. Are you suggesting that with regards to the coming into existence of our Universe, we will somehow come to a supernatural conclusion instead?

Theists - If your god is omnipotent, remember the following: He (or she) has the cure for cancer, but won't tell us what it is.