Thursday, April 21, 2005

Privileged Planet - interchange

I hadn't realised that blogger only allows 300 characters in comments - a feature that greatly restricts the potential for interchange!! I can't see that this is configurable; however, since I had the following comments on an earlier post, I am (with the commenter's permission) including them as a separate post. (See this link, or just scroll down!)

Mmmmm....interesting thoughts. Firstly, instead of the tautological anthropic inevitability argument, wouldn't atheists point to the stars and argue that given the enormous amount of planets in the universe, it is no surprise that at least one planet that we know of has these ideal conditions for life?
"Privileged planet" argues that, given the number of factors that are now linked with habitability, the number of likely suitable planets present in the 100,000,000,000 or so stars in our galaxy is still small - well less than 1. That's why people have drifted towards anthropic arguments again, or other mechanisms that make life more likely (self organisation, multi-verse instead of universe etc).

Secondly, if God exists, an internally coherent world (evidence of evolution included) makes very good sense. However, this presupposes the idea of 'general revelation'. I've not explored this concept before but how well does it sit with the other forms of revelation as witnessed in the OT and then with the life of Jesus? Is it consistent with the sort of intervention seen in the Old Testament and with the existence of miracles too?
Those are big questions, and probably (theologically) require an overview of much of the Bible to come to coherent answers. I'm happy to do that - but not at 11.10pm!!! :-)

Finally, isn't the 'eternal power' mentioned in Romans 1 just the age-old cliche for 'proving' God's existence: 'isn't the world amazing, it must have been designed'? (i.e. a clumsy attempt at theological proof for the existence of God)
Um, I think most of the supposed "proofs" for the existence of God (the Thomist [?] Five Ways [?]) don't really stack up as proofs in the formal, logical sense. Paul the apostle doesn't try to prove the existence of God - he says that people actually know God is there, but they suppress what they know to be true. In terms of relating this to arguments from design - from a theological perspective, people argue against "intelligent" design because they are trying to repress what they know to be true. From a scientific perspective, even Dawkins agrees that design is apparent - he simlpy believes that it is possible to explain the appearance of design from natural causes. The ID movement is trying to demonstrate that natural causes aren't able to generate what exists - and that the best explanation (which isn't a formal proof, but a scientific hypothesis) is that an external, intelligent agent is required. This applies not only to irreducible complexity of life, but the link between habitability and observability, and the cosmic fine tuning. Anti-ID people say that it is not a scientific hypothesis, because invoking an external agent is by definition not science.

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