Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Quote: Ed Harrison on Fine Tuning

“The fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design. Take your choice: blind chance that requires multitudes of universes or design that requires only one.”1

– Ed Harrison

1. Harrison, E. 1985. Masks of the Universe. New York, Collier Books, Macmillan, pp. 252, 263.


  1. Lee September 1, 2009

    Not the fine tuning argument AGAIN 🙂

    Did you get chance to read my post on the subject?

    Another deistic argument at best (as the quote suggests) so an honest Christian should not use it surely?

    Also – you know your logical fallacies, so why quote this?

    "blind chance that requires multitudes of universes or design that requires only one"

    False dichotomy anyone?

    Also, 150 years ago 'blind change' was the argument against complex life – there is a theory to explain that now (though some reject it for religious reasons)

    Take care…


  2. Brian September 1, 2009

    Hi there Lee, nice to see you – and I hope your weather isn't too bad over there! Too much rain here.

    I read your post. You interacted with ten sentences from a WLC debate, which I felt was mostly ridicule and strawmanning. Good for preaching to the choir, but I think it failed to seriously interact with the fine-tuning argument. I would encourage you to seriously read Craig's Reasonable Faith or pick up Paul Davies' Goldilocks Enigma or Barrow and Tipler's Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Maybe I sounding a bit harsh here, but I just don't think that picking apart individual lines from a debate presentation really shows any refutation.

    "Another deistic argument at best"

    I would say at least. But I tend to think that it is simpler to posit a God who is not limited, rather than one that is – as Richard Swinburne would argue. You can check out his presentation of a probabilistic case for the existence of God using Bayes theorem in The Existence of God.

    Besides, as we have said before, pulling one argument out that is part of a cumulative case and saying that it does not make the full case doesn't disprove the cumulative case. Like saying, "the fingerprints on the gun don't prove that Jones did the crime!" – meanwhile ignoring the rest of the crime scene.

    The fine-tuning does show that atheism is less likely than theism. When you say, "the fine tuning argument AGAIN" — yes, AGAIN, because there are so many astronomers and cosmologists who agree that things are fine-tuned, based on lots of good evidence. That is the whole reason some posit multiverse theory, to try to increase our probabilistic resources to account for the incalculable improbability of our universe being like it is.

    You assert there is a false dichotomy… please substantiate and provide your alternative and why it is more reasonable than multiverses or design.