Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bob's War on Science: Support the Battle Against Logic!

People that know me in my day-to-day life often ask: If you dislike Bob so much, why do you listen to him?

To answer this question, I have to reveal tiny bit about myself. You see, I hold a degree in philosophy. When I was young, I enjoyed asking hard questions. Over time, I discovered that the people around me could no longer answer my questions. So I sought people who could. And those people were in the philosophy department at a university.

The philosophers I discovered refused to answer my questions, for that would be too simple. They did, however, teach me to answer them myself.

These philosophers taught me logic. They also taught me to rigorously apply that logic. By being rigorous, they taught me to appreciate Truth and the people who advocate for Truth.

Bob takes to the airwaves and declares what he thinks is true. Bob believes that he can conclusively demonstrate the existence of God through various proofs. One such proof is the "precision of the universe."

This argument is properly known as "The Anthropic Principle."

The Anthropic Principle, for Bob, goes like this: There are so many precise factors in the universe that support the existence of life. In fact, if any of these factors are changed even slightly, the universe would be incapable of supporting life. So the universe is "fine-tuned" to support life. Fine tuned by God, of course.

So Bob points to "fine-tuned" physical laws like gravity. If gravity were slightly stronger, matter would clump together and the universe could not support life. If gravity were slightly weaker, matter would fly apart and the universe could not support life. So Bob, like most Creationists, has a list of factors he thinks support the Anthropic principle.

But here's the problem: Bob has his premise and conclusion reversed. Bob assumes that the universe is fine-tuned to support life. He has no reason to assume this. Bob is so egotistical to think the universe exists to create him. And this is just one problem with the anthropic principle. Talkorigins gives us others:
If the universe is fine-tuned for life, why is life such an extremely rare part of it?

How fine is "fine" anyway? That question can only be answered by a human judgment call, which reduces or removes objective value from the anthropic principle argument.

The fine-tuning claim is weakened by the fact that some physical constants are dependent on others, so the anthropic principle may rest on only a very few initial conditions that are really fundamental...It is further weakened by the fact that different initial conditions sometimes lead to essentially the same outcomes...For all we know, a universe substantially different from ours may be improbable or even impossible.

If part of the universe were not suitable for life, we would not be here to think about it.

There is nothing to rule out the possibility of multiple universes, most of which would be unsuitable for life. We happen to find ourselves in one where life is conveniently possible because we cannot very well be anywhere else.

Intelligent design is not a logical conclusion of fine tuning. Fine tuning says nothing about motives or methods, which is how design is defined. Fine-tuning, if it exists, may result from other causes, as yet unknown, or for no reason at all...

In fact, the anthropic principle is an argument against an omnipotent creator. If God can do anything, he could create life in a universe whose conditions do not allow for it.
What does this have to do with listening to Bob Dutko? Well, Bob is the intellectual equivalent of a car crash. Like slowing down to witness the detritus strewn about the highway after a twenty-five car smash up, I can't help but listen to Bob. Because listening to him claim superior logic, intellectual honesty, and absolute conclusions where none are warranted is an affront to everything I learned through earning a degree.

So listening to him and writing this blog is my way of warning people of the rank dishonesty of Bob Dutko and to pay homage to the wonderful people that taught me the discipline of logic.

Next time, we'll examine how Bob butchers the Laws of Theromdynamics.

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