Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Great Debate

The Free Library has a story on the round of debates going on between Chris Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Dinesh D'Souza, Lee Strobel and others around the notion of whether or not the concept of religion in general and God in specific is useful or harmful to society. D'Souza and Hitchens squared off in Las Vegas. Of note is the emphasis on ID placed by Strobel:

"I think today more than ever in history we have strong scientific evidence that points in the direction of a creator of the universe in the areas of cosmology, physics, astronomy, biochemistry, genetics and human consciousness," said Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and author of "The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ."

In recent decades, scientists have made a series of extraordinary discoveries, including that the universe, space and time had a beginning, and that the laws of the universe are fine-tuned with almost microscopic precision to make life possible.

"The speed of light, the expansion rate of the universe, the strength of gravitational attraction and the strength of many other fundamental forces are balanced within very fine tolerances to allow for the possibility of life in the universe," said Stephen Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle, Wash.-based Discovery Institute, in another debate at Freedom Fest entitled "Is There Scientific Evidence For Intelligent Design in Nature?" "The evidence has led many physicists to suspect that the universe itself is intelligently designed."

The problem I have here and have always had with this "evidence" is that, while it is certainly information that causes one to scratch the head in puzzlement, it is circumstantial and proceeds from argument based on personal incredulity. Further, there simply isn't any way to test the hypothesis that God is behind these "tweaks." To accept that God created the universe in just this way boils down to...uh, what's that word—Oh yeah, "faith."


  1. To accept that God created the universe in just this way boils down to...uh, what's that word—Oh yeah, "faith."

    True, but fine tuning (to the extent it is real) does offer some grounds for faith. For instance, a YEC might have faith that Genesis 1-2 is literally true, but he must do so in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary. But a person who has faith that God created the universe can at least look at fine tuning as an example of where God might fit in.

    An example isn't a proof, but at least it's not a counterexample.

  2. This is true. The YEC position is much harder to maintain for exactly this reason. They don't even have the science to back up their perspective (although they would argue otherwise.) For the fine-tuning example, though, it kind of reminds me of that line in Star Trek VI, where Spock says "all we have is a theory that just happens to fit the facts." Other theories might fit them equally well.