Another Kraussian Gem.
Posted by Reading Aquinas
I am completely unaware of, and have little interest in finding out, who Eric Metaxas is. But penning this piece, which certainly reeks of an agenda, got him an apoplectic response from Lawrence–Mr. Bait and Switch–Krauss.
Lawrence Krauss though, as appears to be his wont, keeps missing the point. You’d think a renowned scientist like him would have little trouble understanding something that’s been expounded for him by the likes of William Craig ad nauseaum. But I suppose that would be asking too much from someone who, for a quick buck, piques our interest by claiming to have the solution to how the universe emerged from nothing, only to later admit that the nothing from which the universe emerged is actually a whole lot of something.
About Eric’s piece, Lawrence–Mr. Bait and Switch–Krauss, rather smugly whines:
“To the editor:
I was rather surprised to read the unfortunate oped piece “Science Increasingly makes the case for God”, written not by a scientist but a religious writer with an agenda. The piece was rife with inappropriate scientific misrepresentations. For example:
1. We currently DO NOT know the factors that allow the evolution of life in the Universe. We know the many factors that were important here on Earth, but we do not know what set of other factors might allow a different evolutionary history elsewhere. The mistake made by the author is akin to saying that if one looks at all the factors in my life that led directly to my sitting at my computer to write this, one would obtain a probability so small as to conclude that it is impossible that anyone else could ever sit down to compose a letter to the WSJ.” [..]
The thing is.. we DO know the factors that WON’T allow the evolution of intelligent life, and we DO KNOW that playing around with the values of the universal constants produces a universe that is inhospitable to life — moreso to intelligent life.
So perhaps Lawrence is privy to some new scientific information that opens up the possibility of intelligent life emerging from a universe that consists of only Hydrogen or only Helium, or one where small stars and not a single planet exists, or even a universe where atoms don’t exist. Perhaps he’s figured out a way to circumvent the Pauli Exclusion Principle, a principle which makes it impossible for life to evolve out of non-complex structures (because evolution requires a sufficiently complex environment to get going). Perhaps Lawrence has, in recent yeas, been able to solve all that, because, certainly, fiddling with the values of the universe’s constants results in a universe that’s something like any one of that, which, as far as I know, makes it unlikely, if not impossible, to produce any kind of life, much less ‘intelligent’ life.
I have my doubts, however.
If Lawrence’s history of bait-and-switch is any indication, it’s likely he is yet again blowing smoke. But, hey, maybe Lawrence is able to imagine intelligent beings made solely out of Helium, so I suppose it’s possible — who knows?
Lawrence’s analogy is flawed because it addresses an argument that wasn’t made (assuming it’s the teleological argument that was being made). The teleological argument, which is what Eric Metaxas — whoever he is — is no doubt bandying about (something I cannot confirm because his artice is behind a pay wall), is not about the astounding improbability of intelligent life on earth, but the astounding improbability of intelligent life itself!
This can either be to only chance or design. Or, actually, maybe it’s a brute fact (it’s magic!).
Scientists take the anthropic principle more seriously than Lawrence would have us believe — which isn’t to say that they believe God exists, rather, that they believe the constants being so finely tuned requires an explanation, and not merely a waving away. That’s why we see all sorts of theories purporting to be able to solve it, like the various multiverse theories, or other theories where there are lesser and more fundamental universal constants that exist that determine what the values of the other constants will be. A lot of these theories, I would argue, have little going for them and are likely unfalsifiable, making them therefore border on the metaphysical, which is something we should perhaps overlook for now. But the salient point is that Lawrence Krauss.. well, he ought to know better than serve us up with more dialectical ploys.