More fine tuning…NOT

One of the so-called fine-tuned parameters in our solar system (fine-tuned specifically for the development of complex life) is that we have a planet with a large moon (compared to the planet).  In his long list of supposed fine tunings, Hugh Ross mentions that we even need a big moon to have life on this planet. Much of the fine tuning argument is a thinly veiled God-of-the-Gaps argument: we can’t explain it, therefore God must have done it.  One of the things that happens to such arguments is that people finally explain it.  So, in that vein, we have the following idea that we may not need such a large moon after all.

According to Darren Williams of Pennsylvania State University, “Large moons are not required for a stable tilt and climate. In some circumstances, large moons can even be detrimental, depending on the arrangement of planets in a given system. Every system is going to be different.”
 

This is one example of lack of imagination leading to erroneous arguments.  The problem is not the mistake itself, it’s that once you attribute a theological “solution” to your problem, then you cease to look for the truth.

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About brianblais

I am a professor of Science and Technology at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, and a research professor in the Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, Brown University. My research is in computational neuroscience and statistics. I teach physics, meteorology, astonomy, theoretical neuroscience, systems dynamics, artificial intelligence and robotics. My book, "Theory of Cortical Plasticity" (World Scientific, 2004), details a theory of learning and memory in the cortex, and presents the consequences and predictions of the theory. I am an avid python enthusiast, and a Bayesian (a la E. T. Jaynes), and love music.
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2 Responses to More fine tuning…NOT

  1. That last sentence captures the problem with mixing religion and science quite well. Once a person says God did it” the inquiry ceases.

    I do know quite a few Christians who are also chemists, biologists and geologists, and I think (although I’m sure they would heartily disagree) they have to *act* like atheists in the laboratory in order to function as scientists. I mean, what good would they be if, when presented with some mystery, they said “God must have done that”? They can say that all they want outside the lab, about the child who survived cancer, or their friend’s narrow escape from an auto accident, or their coincidental meeting with an old friend at the grocery store, but they can’t *ever* say it on the job.

  2. brianblais says:

    Yes, that is common: people are very good at compartmentalizing their thinking. I think part of it may be a subtle God-of-the-Gaps: those things that one doesn’t understand, and doesn’t want to think to deeply about, is filled in with the God concept. Theistic physicists appeal to the “design” in biology, and theistic biologists appeal to the “design” in physics, and only admit theistic intervention in the fringe of their own field. I don’t think people go around pretending to be atheists in the lab (not that you said that), but that their “acting” like atheists comes from them, essentially, being atheist in their approach to the field they know very well. Outside of that field is a different story.

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