Design and Fine-Tuning Arguments: Analysis and Criticism (w/ Dr. Robin Collins)


Recently, I had Dr. Robin Collins onto my channel to discuss the intricacies of fine-tuning arguments. Since the video is quite long, here is the transcript of the interview where we discuss everything from different formulations of the fine tuning argument to arguments for and against the fine-tuning argument. I hope you enjoy.

To watch the full interview with Dr. Collins, you can check out my YouTube channel:


Joshua Yen
Hello, and welcome to this video today we have Dr. Collins to talk about design arguments on this channel. This carries on with our introductory series two arguments for the existence of God. So if you’re interested in design arguments, this is the video for you. We’re going to be introducing what design arguments are some of the arguments for and some of the arguments against it. Dr. Collins, how are you?

Dr. Collins
I’m pretty good.

Joshua Yen
So Dr. Collins is the chair of the Department of Philosophy at Messiah University. And He specialises in the philosophy of the field of philosophy of religion, especially design art, and fine tuning arguments. So it’s a great privilege to have him on in on this channel. So to start off with, what’s our design arguments?

Dr. Collins
Design arguments are arguments from the apparent structure of the universe, or some part of the universe. That is, looks like it’s for some end. So that if something it’d be difficult, seemingly difficult to be explained by chance.

Joshua Yen
So I suppose, um, design arguments have quite a long history and I suppose have a lot of different formulations. If someone’s perhaps talking to their teacher talking to their Sunday school teacher, they might first get introduced to a design argument along the lines of well, why does God exist? Look at the trees, the trees are so beautiful. And someone might of course, if they’re starting to read into the literature, be exposed to different more objections, their criticisms to that. And they’re more developed arguments against design arguments and formulations of design arguments, what would you say are some of the different formulation of these design arguments.

Dr. Collins
So one that goes in the west and also in the Hinduism, hint in the Indian tradition that goes back to ancient times was about the order of the universe, and apparently, is seems to be, in some sense, ordered for an end. And so that same argument, then in the West, is given by Thomas Aquinas, it’s like his fifth, fifth way to the existence of God. And then, the next big kind of development of the design argument is William Paley, in the around in the 19 century, around 1800, in his natural theology, and there, the focus is on mostly on the intricate structure of plant and animal life. So there was during that period of development of anatomy, and like, when you look at the heart or the eye, it seems very intricately, intricately put together for the purpose of seeing or pumping blood. And so it’d be difficult to explain that by chance. And then, of course, along came Darwin’s theory of evolution, which kind of undercut that argument, because there was an alternative explanation to chance, namely, chance and natural selection, which a lot of people thought was a plausible alternative. So then the next big development is the fine tuning of the cosmos, which I’ll be talking more about how the cosmos itself, which is the universe is very finely structured for the existence of life initially, then I’ve extended that to scientific discovery. So there we’re talking about the universe as a whole instead of some aspect of the universal evolution itself can’t touch that argument. Now, there hasn’t been other evolutionary versions of it connected with the intelligent design movement like Michael B. He’s claim that certain systems in the body are irreducibly complex and could not be accounted for, by an evolutionary process, or Steven Myer’s about the initial sell that there’s no way good way of accounting for it and naturalistic grounds. And then, throughout, especially in, there’s been philosophical criticisms of the argument besides the appeal to Darwinian evolution. And David Hume is most well known for that. So that’s kind of a real brief sketch of the history of it.

Joshua Yen
So there seems to be perhaps three kind of main strands. There’s the Aquinas, kind of teleological argument, I suppose, looking at ends. And then there’s the intricate structures of Paley and now it seems to move on to the fine tuning arguments. Would you say that at the present day in modern kind of discourse, that all three of them still play a major role in modern discourse or have some of them kind of fallen out of modern popularity perhaps and, and search and it’s one of the failures of tuning?

Dr. Collins
Yeah, the intricate structure of plants and animal life has largely fallen out of favour for at least among intellectual’s because it seems to be at least explicable, whether you believe in Darwinian evolution or not, it seems explicable by Darwinian evolution. And so the revive a lot of people don’t buy the revival of it by the Intelligent Design movements. So, but it’s much, much more widely accepted to fine tune. And so probably the big focus is on the fine tuning. I didn’t mention another one that I think is actually needs more development. And that’s just the or the plain order of the universe as reflected in the laws of nature, and the mathematical structure, those can all be kind of combined a little bit into fine tuning. They have been around too, but I think things could be more developed,

Joshua Yen
perhaps developing on kind of this difference, what would you say are the main differences between a fine tuning argument a design argument, or I suppose design is an intricate structure argument in the teleological argument, I suppose. What would you say were the biggest differences between them?

Dr. Collins
Well, the biggest differences is what the focus of apparent design as and the one on the universe as a whole is not subjected to a Darwinian explanation. And it also it’s not. It’s quantifiable in a way that the others are not because you can look at what happens when you change a parameter. And parameters are just numbers in physical equations. So there also isn’t as clear of, you know, a particular end except for the existence of intelligent life in a fine tuning one.

Joshua Yen
Perhaps what would you say are the major criticisms of design arguments in the present day?

Dr. Collins
Oh, I mean, you’d have to look at one. I mean, I think the biggest one that shows up op ed is while you’re no better off invoking God, than just accepting the apparent design of the university’s fruit given because the idea is the designer of an artefact would have to be just as fine tuned as the artefact itself. Like in the case of human beings, you know, our, when we design something, we design a watch, well, we’re a lot more fine tuned our brain as then the watch is a lot more organised complexity, as they put it. So that’s one of the big ones. And then there’s a whole bunch of other ones that get into specific very specific, what particular design argument you’re talking about. And another very general one is they don’t get to you know, all the way to God, well, why can’t you have, you know, a bunch of different finite designers, etc. So how do you get to the theistic God from there?

Joshua Yen
So would you say a lot of them are still inspired by suppose Hume’s arguments against natural field, again, against the design argument? Do you think Hume still plays a very major role?

Dr. Collins
Hume still plays a big role right now, one of them who designed God, what I call the who designed God objection, which I just articulated, being the most, you know, common one goes back to David Hume. And then whether you have an indifferent designer versus the designer of theism is another one. Why not just a different designer? It’s morally indifferent to us.

Joshua Yen
What would you say are some of the major responses that a theist can give if they were if they were proposed proposing a design argument I suppose what are somethings that can be said?

Dr. Collins
I denied you know, one idea on who designed to God objection was I considered the strongest objection is to just design arguments in general is that only works if the being is by hypothesis made of parks and so the parts have to be put together in the right way in order for it to be able to bring things about but tradition traditionally theist of all always held that God is not made apart so there’s nothing to fine tune in God. And there’s not even fine tuning of God’s basic attributes because they’re all unbounded. So you don’t even have a fine tuning that applies there. So like picture of you know, if you have a picture of Abraham Lincoln, or I guess, you know, Boris Johnson up over in England, you know, made of inks, Ink Spots. Those they would need find all those Ink Spots would need fine tuning to give you a coherent picture of some well known person, because they’re all little parts that have to be arranged in just the right way but not not so with God. So first of all, there’s no fine tuning. It’s it’s you inapplicable to God. So it’s what they call a red herring. The real issue is whether it’s plausible for there to be such a being that doesn’t need fine tuning that’s infinite in the beings attributes, for instance, that just a kind of an unbounded consciousness and well, as way you could think about it. So it’s a myth, it’s a misdirected criticism,

Joshua Yen
So I suppose, developing on that, or perhaps changing a bit to other objections of the fine tuning argument, if someone came back and said, well, perhaps the universe just had to be this way, there was always this brute fact, nature of the universe and said, well, actually, there, the universe is just the way it is, how would someone go around responding to perhaps someone trying to bite the bullet against the fine tuning arguments?

Dr. Collins
Well, it depends. There’s two sorts of positions you are taking, let me just distinguish between the two one is to brute fact idea, just a brute fact it just the way it is, and there’s no further explanation. Well, that seems enormously improbable mean, in the sense that there’s all these each look like equally good alternatives, just an enormous number of them. And there’s only this one small range or example of parameters that will yield intelligent life and our usual way we proceed, there’s, we look for an explanation. I mean, this is common in science, like, why did people the atomic theory eventually went over when there was scepticism about it, and around 1900? A lot of people scientists were sceptical. It was because under atomic theory, their atomic theory made sense of these, like, there was 14 different methods of finding Avogadro number. And they all yielded the same result. And that made sense under atomic theory, but without atomic theory would have been a huge coincidence. Just enormous coincidence. And so the argument was, well, that greatly confirms atomic theory, because atomic theory takes away the coincidence. And so we generally want to explain those coincidence, that’s one way you can go in, you can formulate that in terms of Bayesian formulation that, you know, in the atomic theory case of atomic theory was false, then it’d be very unlikely that all these different methods of finding Avogadro’s number would yield the same result. But if atomic theory is true, it’s not improbable at all. So then Bayes theorem, which is a theorem from the probability calculus says that evidence that those all came together, would in same number would greatly confirm atomic theory over its opposite. And we see that same kind of reasoning going on in the courtroom. That’s why DNA evidence or fingerprint evidence counts in favour of guilt, because the idea is that the person was innocent, it’d be very unlikely that the finger the fingerprints they find on the gun would match their fingerprints, it’s possible that somebody else with nearly identical fingerprints couldn’t touch the gun, but very unlikely, where it’s not unlikely if the defendant is guilty. And so that’s the basis of the inference to guilt over in a sense, in most cases, so like, same thing is going on. In the case of the fine tuning argument, I think.

Joshua Yen
I suppose when someone might be objecting to the fine tuning garment or theists might be trying to approach the fine tuning argument, they might be initially thinking that it’s something which is quite simple. However, I suppose if they’re listening to this video, they hear things like Bayesian probability and other things like that. Do you think there’s a more simple way for someone to kind of get their head around? What actually are these fine tuned probabilities? Or is it something which actually does is actually something which is very complex and something that perhaps some industry might prefer not to get muddled up?

Dr. Collins
well, the I mean, the real simple idea is that the universe has fine tuning means, you know, just the normal language things are have to be precisely set. So like, you know, in the case of the cosmological constant, which governs the expansion rate of the universe, the typical estimate in the physics literature is one part and 10 up followed by one followed by 123 zeros enormously precisely set so whenever we find something enormously precisely set like that, we say that would just be way too improbable on chance. So we look for some explanation and you The explanation the explanation kind of stares us in the face here is that some intelligent being God set that. So in that way, it provides evidence for very strong evidence for the existence of God, it’d be like, you know, if you had a car that to get that some the fuel air mixture, which is precisely set, let’s say one part at 1000 to get optimised fuel economy and you looked in the car and it was set there, you wouldn’t just think that happened by accident, you would think that, you know, the engineer said it that way. And especially if it was like one in a million, then you’d say certainly it’s not by accident. But here, it’s not way more fine tuned in one in a million. That would be the simple way of thinking about it in terms of analogies. But then if you get more you can get more filled in to answer objections. And it’s nice to philosophically make it more sophisticated argument that’s based on things that are even more secure, like the probability calculus to kind of get to the bottom of what’s going on in the argument.

Joshua Yen
I suppose, if one might be talking to atheists, atheists might say something along the lines of, well, I suppose for the situation of the car or with these analogies, we have experience of already a designer, existing or engineer existing with the universe, it kind of is just, we never had any experience of any other universes or any other probabilities. And I suppose this ties back to the brute force argument a bit. But how would you go around responding to the suggestion that what we experience what we view as probabilities are often something which is experienced alongside a lot of other events. Whereas when it comes to the whole universe as a whole, we don’t really see any other universes out there to say to come to anything?

Dr. Collins
Well, I mean, so I would deny a very good grounds that you need this prior experience. I think that’s the focus. If you because look, at the case of atomic theory, we had no prior experience, whether those Avogadro’s number, you know, we we didn’t look at it, find a universe in which Avogadro’s number didn’t match, and then found a whole bunch of them in which they don’t match those 14 ways of testing it. And then the one that match is, is one in which atoms exist. And there’s all kinds of other cases in science, like, quantum electrodynamics predicted the, what’s called the geomagnetic moment of the electron to, like, it’s nine significant digits. And we take that as strong evidence for quantum electrodynamics, but we had no prior experience with that that was the first time. So to think that you have to have a prior experience, like you know, you know, toss a coin many, many times to get its probability of something occurring. It’s just not how confirmation works in science. So if they want to argue that and let’s throw out the inferences to atomic theory as a confirmation, all those cases you can look at in science. And I think, if they’re unwilling to do that, then they should drop the criticism in this case.

Joshua Yen
If you’ve been enjoying this video so far, and you liked this interview, then make sure you go check out my blog and my newsletter after this video, so you can stay up to date with all my insights, all my updates, and all my notices about people I’m going to interview the topics I’m going to be discussing and wrestling with. Without further ado, let’s carry on with the interview. So I suppose I’m taking a step back from some of the criticisms what would you say are the main strengths for why someone who might be trying to defend the existence of God or someone who might be wrestling with the existence of God? Why someone might be drawn to you or might be convinced by the fine tuning arguments?

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Dr. Collins
Well, first of all, it’s a very intuitive argument. So it just transfers are normal inferences that we do when we find like, you know, like I mentioned, with a car that fine tuned, you know, fuel to air ratio that you get for the car, or when we find a watch, we don’t just like we found a watch on Mars or like alarm clock, we wouldn’t just say it happened by chance, let’s say metals got together, you know, some volcanic eruption just gotten just the structure that made an alarm clock or a building. Right? Because it would be too unlikely. So all these cases we have of ordinary inference. So what we do is we’re just applying it to the universe as a whole. So there’s huge intuitive basis for this arguments easy to understand, and that’s why Richard Dawkins, you know, said with the one Richard Dawkins, the famous atheist said that at least about Paley’s argument from the complexity of animal and plant life. It was that argument before Darwin’s theory of evolution made it impossible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. So that’s one reason the intuitive nature of it. But I also think it’s philosophically has an advantage over like cosmological and other arguments is, the cosmological argument at best gets you to a necessary being than the step that that necessary being is personal, I think, is much more difficult to make. Whereas, and we also don’t have, I think there’s less intuition behind it. Whereas in this case, it immediately gets you to an intelligent being. And then I think it can get you a lot further because it’s not just an intelligent being, if you require that the intelligence you’re invoking, does not transfer, the fine tuning up one level, that, you know, you’re explaining the fine tuning of the universe, by invoking something else will it that thing you invoke better not require the same amount of fine tuning? Well, in that case, I think it ends up getting you to an unbounded being for you, by way of doing this as you kind of start with something like this is either consciousness is fundamental to nature, to the universe. So or the input of consciousness which involve the personnel, or what’s Ultimate is unconscious, like matter. And so then you have two ways of going, if you go the route of consciousness, that of consciousness is fundamental, the basic thing, then there’d be nothing else to bound the consciousness. So it makes the most sense to think that consciousness is unbounded. And so it’d be unbounded. Knowledge, no, everything is its knowledge should be unbounded, its will is unbounded, you get automatically naturally comes out of that omniscience and omnipotence. And because of that, you don’t have any fine tuning that enters and, and so I think you can get pretty close to the God of theism, you could even get I think, to the perfect goodness of God, because I think this is going back to Plato, is that somebody who knows the good at least is motivated to do it, just to acknowledge the good, so God knows something is good. God is motivated by that to do it. So the only reason people don’t do the good if they don’t recognise something to be good, is that they have some other contrary desire. But if God’s unbounded, God would be perfectly free, there’s nothing to give God a contrary desire. Like in our case, we have other desires, we’re finite beings, we have sexual desires that might, you know, weigh in, we know we shouldn’t do this. committed adultery, we know that’s a bad but we do it anyhow. Because we have this contrary desire. But that wouldn’t be the case with God’s there’d be no conflict in desire, it’d be all the good would be self motivating, which means God’s desires will always be directed towards the good, which makes God perfectly good. So you actually get a being just from those arguments. I think that is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good, just from the fine fine tuning argument. So you actually get long ways towards long ways towards a personal God of theism.

Joshua Yen
Yes, I suppose in response to the idea about the good someone might raise Well, if God was motivated for to see the good, then perhaps, what what should one say about evil? Or I suppose it’s the problem of evil but formulated more directly towards the fine tuning argument, I suppose. How would one go around responding to that and explain the existence of evil in the world?

Dr. Collins
Well, I what I do is I do a kind of Bayesian formulation of this I, I say that, okay, so we have two choices. I call beings like as highly vulnerable, embodied conscious agents. So you, that’s what we observe what why vulnerable, embodied conscious agents, I mean, ones that are vulnerable to both natural and moral evil. So, you know, atheists, a theist admit that once you grant the existence of such beings, then that’s going to account for the evil in the world, right? Because if we’re vulnerable beings to doing moral evil, then, you know, it’s likely we’re going to do moral evil. So now shifting the question it becomes, given that fact, it’s highly improbable under Athea assume that such beings would exist because the existence of such beings themselves require an enormous fine tuning. But so that’s a probability under atheism, but it’s not highly improbable under theism. Because we can glimpse a reason for why God would allow that there’s something valuable about being able to, let’s say, exercise courage, I’ve developed the connection building theodicy will have to go with my connection building theodicy, but as long as you can glimpse, some viable reason, that renders it not highly improbable, then that fact is not highly improbable under theism, but enormously improbable under naturalism, excluding the multiverse hypothesis would have been discussed separately. Therefore, it strongly confirms theism over naturalism. That’s how I approach it.

Joshua Yen
I suppose you’ve said the multiverse hypothesis should be discussed separately. But perhaps now that you’ve raised the viewer might find it very confusing or a bit worried about this multiverse hypothesis? Would it be possible to summarise it very quickly.

Dr. Collins
So the multiverse there’s two aspects to what needs to be explained was through the fine tuning for Life is why there exists a life permitting universe, given how, you know, everything has to be adjusted just right, and then why we find ourselves as kind of generic, embodied conscious agents in such a universe. So let’s start with the first one. The first one, the idea is if there is enough universes, and the fundamental structure of the universe varies from universe to universe, then eventually, there’s going to be one that is just right for Intelligent Life to occur. Even if it’s enormously improbable, you know, think of a lottery ticket. If the lottery generating machine generates enough tickets, eventually, one will be the winning number. So if you have enough universes, or some like some usual hypothesis is some underlying physical process as it generates these universes and that some of the fundamental parameters vary from universe to universe, eventually, you’re gonna get one where it’s just right. Okay, and then the second part of it is important. Why do we find ourselves in such a one that’s just right for life? Well, we couldn’t have found ourselves anywhere else. Because none of them could have given rise to observers. So there’s no coincidence left to be explained. And often, it’s used to make this intuitive to people it’s often used. Why it is, you know, why do we find ourselves in a planet that has just the right distance from the site, and I think if we were too far from the sun, we’d go into ice age, it would never end. And so we wouldn’t really exist very early on, if we were to close all the water would boil off. So why are we just the right distance from the Sun? Well, the idea is, if there’s enough planets, you know, we got a real big universe, eventually, one’s going to be just the right distance from the Sun. And then among those that are just the right distance from the Sun, eventually, life will evolve in one of those planets. And then, of course, that life is going to find itself and a planet just right from distance from the Sun, because it couldn’t find itself anywhere else, it couldn’t find itself on a planet like mercury, or Jupiter, because it couldn’t have existed there. So that’s the multiverse explanation.

Joshua Yen
So how would someone go around responding to it? Or how would someone go around kind of providing a theistic hypothesis which is more convincing?

Dr. Collins
Okay, so one of the problems with the multiverse if you take the universe generator version is, it looks like the universe generator, whatever is generating these, this physical process has to be fine tune, not only to create the universes, but to vary the fundamental parameters from universe to universe. And in order to generate this ball papers and I give an analogy, like a bread machine, which I used to have, you know, even produce one decent loaf of bread, it has to be had the right programme the right ingredients. So if you actually look into the proposals for these multiverse generators, they have to be adjusted just right have the right initial conditions and laws of nature to produce these universes. So it really doesn’t fully eliminate the fine tuning. It just kind of pushes it back. One level. So that’s one objection. Another really hugely discussed objection is the Boltzmann brain objection. And that is at least for the why we have the mass energy why its order is so very precise. I said the beginning of the universe, that’s an enormous precision. It particularly deals with that. And and under that is that if you try to explain that it’s just a chance of fluctuation, then it’s far, far, far, far, far more likely we would exist as isolated brains that only existed for a short amount of time with chaos everywhere else. But that’s not where we observed. So it’s contrary to our observation. And then, my, my further development of all this is the fine tuning for scientific discovery. And that cannot be explained by the multiverse because even though a universe might exist, where it’s, it certainly exists where it’s really optimal for scientific discovery, given enough of them. It’s very unlikely we would find ourselves in such a universe because all the other ones that are life permitting that are not very good for scientific discovery would exist. So why don’t we find ourselves in one of those? So that second, that second kind of fine tuning or coincidence, why do we find ourselves in such a good universe? That a certain kind of universe is not eliminated? In the case of the fine tuning for scientific discovery?

Joshua Yen
Definitely, perhaps someone coming into fine tuning arguments right now might be curious as to where the current academia, or the current discussion in fine tuning arguments surrounds or what they’re debating right now, what would you say is the are the current questions, the big questions in fine tuning discourse? At the present moment?

Dr. Collins
Well, there there is the questions. The physics questions, what parameters are really fine tune? And can we explain, ultimately be able to explain those like entropy, there’s been a lot of proposals, none of which seem to work on trying to explain the extremely low entropy of the beginning of the universe. That’s one. So the physics questions. And like you interviewed Luke Barnes on that, as well, a lot of the, you know, we have a massive amount of different physics reasons to believe there is fine tuning, even if one of them we can eventually explain while there’s still a whole bunch of other ones, and digger, the deeper we dig, the more fine tuning we find. So that seems, I think, is answered in favour of the fine tuning advocate. The other is to philosophical questions. And so does this really, you know, what’s the nature of probability? How do you assess the probability here? All those kinds of the who designed God objection, all those kinds of objections I mentioned and that’s where you know, my previous work big published article on that in the Blackwell companion to natural theology on the fine tuning and tries to address those questions. Now, another kind of fine tuning, which really hasn’t been really picked up on that much is to fine tuning for scientific discovery, it’s been discussed the intelligence under the intelligibility of the universe, like by Eugene Wagner, his, which find easily on the internet. He’s the founder and one of the founders of quantum mechanics, the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the physical sciences, easy to find, type it in. And Einstein who noticed this most miraculous thing about the universe is intelligible at all. But that’s all on the intelligibility or the ability of us to discover the laws of nature. So what I’ve advanced us and this I’m completing a project on this is the fine tuning of the parameters of physics. And no one has addressed this for their discoverability. So if it was really the laws were constructed to be discovered, if there was some providential ordering venue, I think that would show up in the fundamental parameters. So if you change the parameters, then you would expect things to get either stay the same for ability discover the universe or get worse. I think I’ve got enough data now to show that they actually get worse and it’s quite fine tuned for that at the very exciting edge, but you know, all that all that our physical arguments have got to get out there. So that’s my what most other people are talking about.

Joshua Yen
Definitely. So perhaps, to end off this interview, what would you say are the top five six books on design arguments? What would be some of the best books that people can read or articles that people can read to get into fine tuning arguments that they want to learn more about beyond this video?

Dr. Collins
Well, there’s books on first of all the fine tuning itself and the Luke Barnes. Number one recommendation on that book, The fortunate universe. So that’s number one. There’s also one by Martin Rees, just six numbers, which is a good one pretty excited. I suppose I’d put the top two and any references there in. Luke Barnes is the most recent in terms of design arguments as a whole, it’s more articles, I would think. And there, you just have to look at the literature I published a fair amount on that. But then there’s people that you know, raise objection. Some of them I don’t think are very good objections, but there is a whole literature out there on that mostly coming out in article form. Definitely. So that’s where I, that’s where I’d be at on you know, recommendations and accessible ones if you know, things that occur in philosophy or religion readers often your give of overviews, or pull out some of them from the literature.

Joshua Yen
So I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Dr. Robin Collins. It was great to have him on to the channel to discuss such an important and influential argument in the history of the philosophy of religion sphere. If you’re enjoying this content and want more interviews, then make sure liking subscribing let me know what you want in the comments below. I’ll happily hear your thoughts there. Also, you want to support our channel financially, then it makes sure that you check out our Patreon which will give you exclusive access to newsletters on different works. I’m working on Upload exclusive access to copies of essays and writing and much more so make sure you go check that out. So like always stay safe my friends. I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. Stay safe. See you soon. Thanks for watching and God Bless. I’ll see you next one.

12 responses to “Design and Fine-Tuning Arguments: Analysis and Criticism (w/ Dr. Robin Collins)”

  1. unsurprisingly, there is no evidence for even a “probability” of a god, and even less that some certain god exist, considering how christians can’t agree on what god they worship. the claim of the “goodness of god” fails since these folks can’t agree on what that even means.

    As for “design”, the claimants for their god supposedly designing the universe *for* humans have quite a problem when their god was evidently too stupid to figre out that making a sun that is lethal to humans isn’t a good idea, and that putting the trachea beside the esophagus guarantees that thousands of humans choke to death every year.

    • Three preliminary remarks.
      Firstly, the fine-tuning argument stems from the improbability of a certain phenomena (in this instance the existence of sentient beings). There is good evidence to suggest that such a phenomena is greatly improbable in both theistic and atheistic literature. As to what the God is, is rather irrelevant for the fundamentals of the fine-tuning argument.
      Secondly, it is fallacious to make the argument that just because a certain group of people cannot agree on x that a certain argument cannot aim to, and establish, x. Propositions and the features found within an argument are independent and unique to the argument, and whether Christians agree on what good is, is irrelevant to Collins’ argument.
      Thirdly, the fine-tuning argument doesn’t argue for a perfect universe, but for an improbable phenomena (as seen above), and even the design argument does not require perfection. To say that the sun has harmful effects or the trachea is poorly positioned can be true, yet it doesn’t follow that it is a poor end product of a universe. To say that such a situation acts as evidence against God would be to imply the inverse that there is a world where humans exist in which the sun didn’t exist and that the trachea was not beside the esophagus. Evidently, problems arise not only whether such a world is possible, but also whether there may be any other problems to such an anatomy which may outweigh the problems found in the present human condition. Either way, the atheist has the burden of proof to demonstrate the inverse, and I do not see how the atheist would go around doing it, especially since we are considering counter-factuals.

      • To claim something is “improbable” means you have a way to know that this is the case. How do you know that some phenomena is improbable? E.g. we cannot know if life or if this universe as it is, is improbable or not. Right now the probability of a universe as we have it is 1 since it certainly exists.

        The claim of what a god is isn’t irrelevant at all. That is a claim by someone who needs to invoke a completely vague god for his arguments to work, but has to have a certain god for his religion to work.

        You must insist that this god equals your particular one for your religion to work, Joshua. You have no evidence to support that claim.
        It is not fallacious at all to point out that there is no reason to assume there is a right answer in religion since you all claim to have the one “truth” *and* cannot demonstrate it despite trying for thousands of years, Joshua. Again, nothing indicates that existence is improbable. Again, your, and collins’ argument depends on a god as you need it to be. A vague god doesn’t fulfill your requirements.

        I’ve seen many theists try to back away from the fact that their claim that their god created the universe for humanity requires that this universe is not lethal to humanity. Unfortunately, the universe is quite lethal, and we only exist since life has been modified to fit it, not that it fits us. You also have to explain how a perfect being makes anything imperfect and explain why this would be needed.

        That the sun causes cancer and the physiology of humans is poorly done certainly does follow from the position of either your god is a moron or it doesn’t exist. All you have is the best possible worlds exist, Joshua, which fails since you claim your god is perfect, omniscient and omnipotent. If your god is limited to making things that cause its supposed favorite species harm, then it is not what you claim.

        You try a typical “but but god knows best, and we can’t know what benefit choking to death thousands has”, which is just silly, a sycophant who must imagine that his tyrant must have a good reason for everything it does, even with no evidence to that. Alas, I don’t have the burden of proof to show that choking is bad and your god does nothing about it. You need to show that is good since that is what you claim.

      • Your point about probability is incorrect, this was discussed in the interview. The study of probability goes beyond the simple understanding of let’s flip a coin six times and see how it lands.
        The claim of what god is completely irrelevant and fallacious, it appears you completely misunderstand the fine-tuning argument and the response that I have provided.
        The point about the universe being imperfect is likewise beside the point when it comes to the fine-tuning argument, which I would remind you is the topic of the interview. You misunderstand how burden of proofs work. I make a claim and I have to defend it. If you make a claim that the universe is bad and harmful and consider that evidence against God, you have the burden of proof to show that there is a better possible scenario which also fits into God’s plan for the universe.
        Please read the preliminary remarks, understand the perspective and purpose of the arguments and you will very quickly realise that most of your points have already been responded to in the interview, or are irrelevant to the present discussion

      • It is not incorrect at all, and unsurprisingly, you cannot demonstrate it so. Yes, you indeed talked about it in the video, but as always an object that exists has a probabilty of 1.

        I do not misundestand the claims of fine-tuming. It is that a god created the universe for humanity, correct?

        You claim a perfect being made something imperfect for some reason. You have yet to explain how this works.

        I have not said the universe is bad or harmful. It is what it is. You claim a magical being has created this universe for the benefit of humans, since our main energy source can harm humans, you need to explain how this works. If I create a garden, I would not intentionally put something in it that would destroy the garden. You need to explain why your god did.

        Again, still nothing more than the best world possible argument. Christians also can’t agree on what “plan” this god has, with each of you making something different up, Joshua.

        Again, you’ve yet to show that my points are irrelevant. You simply say they are and assume I must agree with you.

      • To illustrate the problem of your probabilistic framework, there is only one world and one state of affairs which probability is not one. For example, Leicester winning the premier league was not of the probability one even if no one won the premier league apart from them.
        You clearly misunderstand the fine-tuning argument because christians disagreeing what God is exactly is irrelevant to the proposition a god created the universe for humanity. To say they are the same is not only guilty of equivocation but also the lack of philosophical nuance.
        Well remind me if i am wrong but you did claim that the sun is harmful and if that is not the claim then I fail to see your point. If the sun is not harmful then no problem there, if the sun is harmful then please return to me with a potential further solution as I have said in a previous point.
        Since it is clear you are either missing my argument, unless your further reply does apply to the comments made within, it was fun discussing this topic with you and no further repitition of faulty reasoning on your part is required

      • That makes no sense Joshua. Try again.

        I don’t misundestand the fine-tuning argument at all. You have not shown this but have only made baseless accusations. If I’m wrong, then do give what the fine-tuning argument is. I’ll be waiting.

        The fine tuning argument is where a theist laims that their god, and only their god, created th euniverse and created it *for* humans exclusively, based on the idea that humams are somehow special to this god.

        Christians only mean their god, as do each of the other types of theists, so your claims that you dont’ “really” mean your god exclusively is simply a lie, an attempt to claim how “inclusive” this nonsense is.

        Unsurprisingly, you cannot show any equivocation on my part nor any lack of “nuance”. That last is a typical whine from a christian who is using the common “sophisticated theology” argument.

        If the universe is made *for* humans, as is claimed by christians, etc, then a lethal sun shows that claim is false at the core. Making the main energy source of the one planet that humans are on to be lethal is rather stupid, since you cause those humans you supposed “love” to die rather miserably.

        Again, you have the lovely “best possible of worlds” failed argument, which makes your god less than omnipotent (unable to make either the sun not lethal or to make humans unaffected by radiation), less than omniscient (to konw that this would happen) and less then omnibenevolent (intentionally or ineptly causing harm).

      • Thank you for making your misunderstanding of the fine tuning argument clear. No one is claiming that the fine-tuning argument proves the entirety of the Christian theistic framework of a resurrected Christ. Rather it attempts to prove that a theistic hypothesis (the idea that there is a creator) is more probable than the atheistic hypothesis (that there is no creator). It appears evident that you have equivocated the bare claim of a creator with the Christian God and as a result has confused the scope of the argument.
        The point about the sun has already been replied to, your framework of demanding the world to be exactly as you want it is flawed as an objection to the theistic hypothesis. If God doesnt fit into the standards that you set for him, then good for you I dont really care.
        Finally, your usage of less than savory language in a philosophical discussion like whine or stupid or nonsense does not reflect well on your mental maturity so yeah.
        Have a great day, it seems like we have uncovered your equivocation and error

      • And yet more false claims from you, Joshua.

        Christians have indeed claimed that finetuning is proof for their god, and they fail since there is no fine-tuning at all.

        It fails for the reasons I have already mentioned, reasons that you can’t explain why your supposed omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent god would be so incompetent or malicious.

        It’s hilarious when a christian tries to claim that their argument isnt’ for their god when it is painfully obviously you are arguing for no god but your sad little version of the christian one.

        Alas, your god doesn’t fit into christian claims, including your own, when one looks at the supposed evidence yuo claim for it.

        As always, your argument of the best possible world fails if your god is what you claim is it from your bible. That you have to depower it to make it fit what we observe is rather funny.

        Oh dear, Joshua is upset that I point out that he is a whiner and his god is quite stupid. Now, he has to claim those words “less than savory” which is wonderful. This is a typical version of the whine that many christians make when they want to hide behind accusations that someone isn’t being”respectful” or “polite” to their made up nonsense.

        Alas, you have uncovered nothing at all, Joshua, and your god is still imaginary.

      • Well have a good day mate, you clearly fail to read any of the points made in my responses, lack any understanding of philosophical principles of charity and methodology. So since you consistently fail to object to the argument presented in the script, I dont think there is much point in responding to strawman after strawman after strawman.
        If you cant face the truth of your flawed logic and only get more and more irritated by my pointing it out, well there is no point in having this discussion.
        And if you think im upset by your pathetic attempt at anger and sarcasm, well you must be smoking something pretty powerful because i have better things to do then cry about people on the internet. Everything Im telling you is for your benefit and if you dont take it that’s your choice and explains why you debase yourself to mere angry comment nonsense.
        Have a great day and well, hope you improve your understanding philosophical principles.

      • Now, you try to invoke charity, to try to pretend I have to accept your nonsense. This is nothing new, in addition to your continued false accusations.

        Unfortunately, for you, you have yet to show that I have used any strawman arguments at all.

        Your response has demonstrated that you are indeed upset with being unable to address my points. You find you have to accuse me of “smoking” something, etc, rather than simply supporting your claims.

        Your nonsense is for no one’s benefit but your own.

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