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Intelligent Design, Natural Theology And The Anthropic Principle

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Posted by Richard Ruquist on October 17, 2004 21:24:13 UTC

In searching for writings on Natural Theology, I found a very interesting essay by a scientist from the Harvard Smithonian Center for Astrophysics. Dr. Owen Gingerich makes a convincing argument that the universe was created by Intelligent Design because the physical constants had to be so finely tuned for the universe to exist today, and even more finely tuned for life to exist, that only an intelligent being could do so. The link is: http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9501/natural.html, and the title is: Is There a Role for Natural Theology Today?

To quote:
". Not just that: it looks as if the entire universe has been tuned-shall I say designed?-for the emergence of intelligent life. And these facts have not escaped notice. The evidence of design appeared so striking that cosmologists even gave it a name: the anthropic principle. The initial energy balance of the universe and many other details were so extraordinarily right that it seemed the universe had been expressly designed to produce intelligent, sentient beings. Such was the original context that led to the anthropic principle. "

My first comment is regarding semantics. First of all he is equating Intelligent Design with Natural Theology. This is valid as Paley, the father of Natural Theology argues for a god on the basis of design.

Second he claims that scientists use of the word 'anthropic' is really a substitute for the design argument. This is not so valid as there may be alternatives to the design argument to creat a finely tuned universe. To wit:

Smolin has actually published such an alternative.
He suggests that baby universes come from Black Holes in mother universes- an evolutionary theory of universes based on selection of the fittest. This hypothesis automatically rules out all but the most finely tuned universes because if a universe either quickly expanded and collapsed, or expanded very rapidly, there would be no opportunity to create Black Holes- such universes are not 'fit'- they are sterile. Perhaps such sterile universes are produced all the time. But they are all dead ends.

In order to have successive generations of universes according to Smolin, they must be finely tuned. More significantly, according to Smolin, a universe tuned to create black holes, is coincidently tuned to produce life. He claims to have done the numbers to justify this proposition. Sorry- no reference available.

Anyway Smolin's hypothesis seems to be an easy refutation of the claims of Natural Theology or Intelligent Design, at least the claims based on the Big Bang.

What do you think?

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