Wednesday 8 June 2011

Gonzalez & Richards back-to-front in Dembski & Licona's Evidence for God

"Designed for Discovery" by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards is the nineteenth chapter of Dembski & Licona's Evidence for God. It appears to be a book-promotion disguised as a litany of fine-tunerisms. Gonzalez and Richards have written a book titled The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery, and if this chapter is representative of it then they've got a problem. The whole thing is upside down and backwards. Let's face it, the idea that the universe is specifically designed so that the human race can "discover" things about it is ludicrous.

Here's what's wrong with the fine-tuning argument. Suppose you invent a teleportation machine, but there are a few snags with it, such that the first time you use it, it transports you to a completely random location in the entire universe. What do you think the chances are of finding yourself in a part of the universe where you can survive for more than a few seconds? A location, for instance, where you can breathe, where you're not immediately frozen solid, fossilised or incinerated, or subjected to lethal radiation. Pretty slim, I'd suggest. In fact your chances of survival would be infinitesimal. The universe is not fine-tuned for life.

As for being "designed for discovery", Gonzalez and Richards go through a list of recipes that their "cosmic chef" would need to compile in order to produce an environment suitable for inquiring human minds to explore, but they do it as if the human race is here first — as if everything has to be adjusted to meet the needs of pre-existing humanity (or at least a humanity whose characteristics have been predetermined). That, in case they haven't noticed, is not how it happened. This is such an obvious flaw in their argument I'll belabour it no more. I'll simply quote the late, great Douglas Adams and his famous sentient puddle:
"...imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in - an interesting hole I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise."
(From Biota)