Monday, February 08, 2016

Intelligent Design Creationism and the fine-tuning argument

Michael Denton and the Discovery Institute are promoting his new book, Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis. I haven't yet read the book. I ordered from Amazon.ca and I won't get it until March.

Denton tries to explain the connection between the fine-tuning argument and structuralism in a recent post on Evolution News & Views: Natural Life: Cosmological Fine-Tuning as an Argument for Structuralism. I've dealt with structuralism already [What is "structuralism"?] so let's think about fine tuning.

The essence of the fine-tuning argument is that the basic laws of physics and chemistry are so precise that even slight changes would result in a universe where life is impossible. The focus is usually on the fundamental constants such as the speed of light and the charge on an electron. I don't know enough about physics to evaluate the argument that these are fine-tuned so I have to rely on physicists to inform me.

I could rely on people like Michael Denton and other fellows of the Discovery Institute but past experience in areas where I am well-informed suggests that they are not a trustworthy source of information.

Here's what Denton says,
The 20th-century cosmological evidence that the universe is fine-tuned for life is based on the observation that if the various fundamental forces and constants which determine the structure of the cosmos and the properties of its constituents did not have precisely the values they do, there would be no stars, no supernovae, no planets, no atoms, and certainly no life.
Is this correct?

Many physicists say "no." Here's Victor Stenger writing in God the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (page 148).
Only four parameters are needed to specify the broad features of the universe as it exists today: the masses of the electron and proton, and the current strengths of the electromagnetic and strong interactions. (The strength of gravity enters through the proton mass, by convention.) I have studied how the minimum lifetime of a typical star depends on the first three of these parameters. Varying them randomly in a range of ten orders of magnitude around their present values, I find that over half of the stars will have lifetimes exceeding a billion years. Large stars need to live tens of millions of years or more to allow for the fabrication of heavy elements. Smaller stars, such as our sun, also need about a billion years to allow life to develop within their solar system of planets. Earth did not form until nine billion years after the big bang. The requirement of long-lived stars is easily met for a wide range of possible parameters. The universe is certainly not fine-tuned for this characteristic.

One of the major flaws with most studies of the anthropic coincidences is that the investigators vary a single parameter while assuming all the others remain fixed. They further compound this mistake by proceeding to calculate meaningless probabilities based on the grossly erroneous assumption that all the parameters are independent. In my study I took care to allow all the parameters to vary at the same time.
Stenger goes on to quote other physicists who have done the same simulations and come up with similar conclusions. The universe is not fine tuned.

I have to trust an authority on this one. I choose to trust physicist Victor Stenger who has actually done an experiment to test the hypothesis of fine tuning.

I conclude that fine tuning is not a valid argument for the existence of gods.

It's even more complicated than that. Apparently the "constants" aren't even constant. Here's how Stenger explains it (page 147). He's referring to a, the fine structure constant that determines the strength of the electromagnetic force ...
However, a is not a constant. We now know from the highly successful standard model of particles and forces that a and the strengths of the other elementary forces vary with energy and must have changed very rapidly during the first moments of the big bang when the temperature changed by many orders of magnitude in a tiny fraction of a second. According to current understanding, in the very high-temperature environment at the beginning of the big bang, the four known forces were unified as one force. As was discussed in the previous chapter, the universe can be reasonably assumed to have started in a state of perfect symmetry, the symmetry or the "nothing" from which it arose. So, a began with its natural value; in particular, gravity and electromagnetism were of equal strength. That symmetry, however, was unstable and, as the universe cooled, a process called spontaneous symmetry breaking resulted in the forces separating into the four basic kinds we experience at much lower energies today, and their strengths evolved to their current values. They were not fine-tuned. Stellar formation and, thus, life had to simply wait for the forces to separate sufficiently. That wait was actually a tiny fraction of a second.
If Stenger is correct, then the fine-tuning argument loses much of its potency. Can Intelligent Design Creationists refute the views of Stenger and other physicists or have they just convinced themselves that what they say to each other is true?


75 comments :

  1. According to a number of physicists, Victor Stenger makes some pretty damning mistakes in his book. That puts someone like me, as a non-physicists, in the position of being faced with authorities with conflicting positions and I don't really know who's right.

    Turns out there are very different (and logically rigorous) alternatives than to quibble about the physics.

    My own is this: I reject the claim that fine-tuning is more probable on theism as nothing but question-begging. How does anyone know what god would do? Are gods generally in the business of creating life-hospitable universes and how does anyone know that?

    If anyone's going to respond that god, by definition, is creating life-containing universes, then the next question just becomes: How do you know your definition has a referent in reality?

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    1. Heck, for all I know, gods enjoy making sand and radiation much more than they enjoy making life. There could be quintillions of universes full of nothing but deserts and particle soup. That would make life-containing universes extremely unlikely on theism.

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    2. Mikkel says: My own is this: I reject the claim that fine-tuning is more probable on theism as nothing but question-begging. How does anyone know what god would do?

      The same way theists have always done it: wait until scientists observe or discover something, then after the fact, say, "I knew all along God clearly wanted it that way."

      The fatal flaw in theistic teleology is its circular nature: observe first, guess at purposes later.

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    3. Agreed. How can one assume the universe is fine tuned to produce life given the amoint of it we see in this galaxy? Drake equation, anyone? Why aren't we neck-deep in aliens or at least their signals?

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    4. Yeah, given that as far as we can tell so far only one planet has managed life despite the supposed "fine-tuned" parameters. Perhaps the supposed tuners were trying to create a completely life-free universe by their choices and we managed despite the terrible choice of parameters much like how Deinococcus radiodurans survives in places where radiation kills off other life.

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  2. Here's Sean Carroll's response to the fine tuning argument, from his "debate" (actually a rout) with Wm Lane Craig:

    Responding to the "Fine Tuning" Argument for God

    OK, we're done here.

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    1. Two points Dr. Carroll makes are especially telling, I think:

      - First, we *don't know* whether the universe is fine tuned. (I'll have more to say on this in a bit.) The particular values we see may necessarily fall out of deeper explanatory theories, as Carroll explains has already occurred for the rate of expansion of the universe, which falls out of relativity (i.e., if relativity is correct, the expansion rate cannot be different than it is in *any* universe; relativity is fundamental and any universe must obey).

      - Second, if we live in a multiverse, as many theories predict, then there is nothing special at all about a universe that happens to have conditions under which humans may arise. One would expect to find one or more of these among the uncountable multitudes of universes in the multiverse.

      - A point Dr. Carroll did not make, but I will: Quantum physics has been proved as thoroughly as any theory can be. If God made the universe, he made it quantum. The very nature of quantum physics is that there is no such thing as the deterministic Newtonian clockwork universe, there are only probabilities. There was thus no way to predict at the origin of the universe whether humans would be able to exist 15 billion years later. This is exactly the opposite of what a Creator would do if He were intent on ensuring the existence of not only humans, but one very particular human from among billions. Thus if this Universe were the handiwork of a Creator, what we must unavoidably deduce from its fundamentally quantum non-deterministic nature is that the Creator did not give a rusty Goddamn about the existence of humans in general or Jesus in particular. Bottom line - A universe governed as ours is by quantum physics not only *is not* fine-tuned, but fundamentally *cannot* be.

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    2. An important point Carroll makes is that some parameters are fine-tuned, but not fine-tuned for life. A major example being the initial entropy of the universe. The initial entropy of the universe is fine-tuned in the sense that it's incredibly smaller than a randomly chosen value. But it's not fine-tuned for life in that it could be many orders of magnitude larger than it was, and life could still exist. (To be fine-tuned for life, the parameter needs to be within about an order of magnitude of the minimal/maximal value permitting life. The initial entropy is many, many orders of magnitude smaller than the maximum value permitting life to exist.)

      So if some parameters are fine tuned for life, and others are not fine tuned for life-- how can we falsify the "Fine Tuning for Life" hypothesis?

      Some parameters we used to think were fine tuned for life (e.g. amount of dark matter) turned out later to not be fine-tuned. So how many times do we have to find out that parameters aren't really fine tuned for life, before the FT4L hypothesis is falsified? Is it even a hypothesis, or is it a combination of observations, assumptions and deductions?

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    3. I don't agree entirely with Sean Carroll. There are some conditions under which we could be fairly confident that life couldn't exist.

      For example, take a universe where the most complex atoms possible were those produced in the big bang: Hydrogen, Helium and Lithium. I don't think it's reasonable to suggest that life could exist in such a universe.

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    4. @Judmarc

      To your last point, the only possible way for a theist to rescue themselves from that argument is to presuppose that God needs to be continually fighting the random processes of quantum mechanics and tinkering with the universe to bring about his/her plan. Divine foreknowledge is out, dinosaur breeding is in

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    5. @Aceofspades:

      I don't think this (constant tinkering) gets you past the problem. Creating a universe that forces you to continually tinker in order to "get it right," instead of designing the Universe to "get it right" (eventually bring forth Jesus) in the first place tells us one of two things for certain about a Creator:

      - He could not have designed a non-quantum universe, thus was not omnipotent, thus was not God.

      - He was quite stupid (not to design correctly in the first place), thus was not omniscient, thus was not God.

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    6. Aceofspades says: take a universe where the most complex atoms possible were those produced in the big bang: Hydrogen, Helium and Lithium. I don't think it's reasonable to suggest that life could exist in such a universe.

      But to get rid of mid weight elements, you have to alter the laws of physics, which has unpredictable side effects.

      If you change the laws of physics, what will be the *most complex side effect* the size of an amoeba in a sphere that is 40 billion light years in radius? You don't know.

      But go to a fractal program, make a small change to a simple equation, and look at the incredibly complex phenomena that emerge as output. Simple equations produce complex output.

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  3. I found Richard Carrier's argument, that fine-tuning is actually an argument AGAINST theism, to be compelling. http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/9630

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  4. Before I get technical, I want to point out how creationism is totally incompatible with fine-tuning. You can't have both of them.

    Contradiction 1. "Abiogenesis is impossible!" Creationists say "The laws of physics say that non-living matter can NEVER become a living organism! It is FORBIDDEN by the laws of physics!" Then fine-tuning creationists say, "The laws of physics are friendly to life and make life possible!" No dummy, you just said they make life impossible.

    Contradiction 2. "Miracles everywhere!" Creationists say "God violated all the laws of nature during Creation Week, or in the Garden of Eden (when there was no death and no Second Law of Thermodynamics) and on a huge scale during Noah's Flood, and God violated the laws of nature when he made the sun and moon stand still for Joshua, resurrected Jesus, etc." Then fine-tuning creationists say "Any tiny change in the laws of nature will extinguish all life everywhere!"

    This is ridiculously the case of Young Earth creationists and their claims that all fossil-bearing strata are young and were laid down during Noah's Flood. Hey, why do deeply buried strata have large amounts of radiogenic daughter radionuclides and a smaller ratio of their parent isotope, with the ratio growing larger the deeper into the Earth you go? Why, says the YEC, because God super-accelerated the laws of radiocative decay by a factor of A BILLION during the one year of Noah's flood, so all those radiogenic isotopes are young!

    Yeah, and if you accelerated the decay of all the uranium, thorium, potassium etc. in the core, mantle and crust of the Earth, by a factor of a billion, the Earth would be vaporized. In addition, all living things contain potassium and 4% of that is the radioactive isotope, and if you accelerate its decay by a factor of 1 billion, you might not explode, but the radiation from your own body would kill you and other organisms around you. So Noah, his family and the animals on the Ark would be dead many times over.

    But, say the fine-tuning creationists, "Any tiny change in the laws of nature will extinguish all life everywhere!"

    You can pick creationism or fine-tuning, but you can't have both.

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  5. (Credulous teleological argument) therefore (irrelevant theological belief).

    Once you recognize the pattern, it is hard to do anything more than point and laugh. Ultimately all theological claims are question-begging.

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  6. We can break down the "Fine Tuning for Life" (FT4L) argument into 9 parts. The major fallacies are God of the Gaps, invoked in Step 9, and Bridge Hand fallacy, invoked in Step 8. An outrageous assumption is used in Step 3, and questionable or unsupported major assumptions are in Steps 1, 5 and 6. Only Step 2 involves any valid science; Step 7 would be nice, but FT4L proponents all skip Step 7.

    In addition, contradictions with creationist claims about physics are ignored in Step 4, and contradiction with theistic teleology is ignored in Step 8.

    1. Assume a way of parametrizing the laws of physics. Ignore the fact that our method of parametrizing the laws of physics is largely a cultural convention, e.g. velocities are meters/second not seconds/meter. Questionable assumption.

    2. Deduce that tiny changes in the free parameters will cause something, like nucleogenesis or carbon-carbon bonds, to not exist.

    3. Assume (but DO NOT PROVE) that universes without carbon-carbon bonds or nucleogenesis will have no self-aware intelligent beings anywhere in them even if the hypothetical universe is 40 billion light-years in radius like ours. Do not back this up with any simulations larger than a molecule. Certainly do not model a system 40 billion light-years in radius. Ridiculous Assumption. Phenomenological work not done, nor even started.

    4. From 1, 2 and 3, say "Any tiny change in the laws of physics will extinguish life everywhere." ("life" being subtly redefined as "life as we know" which is dependent on nucleogenesis and carbon-carbon bonds.) Ignore the fact that 4 contradicts creationist claims that God has changed the laws of nature through miracles without killing all life everywhere. Contradictions with creationism ignored.

    5. Assume all free parameters in Step 1 are independent, which we don't know, and which will certainly be *not* true if a Grand Unified Theory or Theory of Everything ever unites the fundamental forces.

    If the GUT or TOE is found, these free parameters will certainly *not* be independent variables but will have (currently unknown) interdependences. If the GUT or TOE is *never* found, we have no way of estimating the probability density of different values of the parameters, because we don't know how they came about. Unsupported assumption of Independent Probabilities.

    6. Ignore the problem in Step 5 (If the GUT or TOE is *never* found, we have no way of estimating the probability of different values of the parameters.) Just assume that all values of the free parameters chosen in Step 1 are equally probable, that is, have flat probability density functions. Ignore the fact that your parametrization, from step 1, was just a cultural convention, and the probability densities now depend on your cultural convention (e.g. a flat distribution for velocities of light, written in meters/second, is UNFLAT if written as "slowocity", seconds/meter.) Flat distributions for all continuously-valued parameters must have vanishingly small probability densities.

    7. In this step, ignoring all your previous blunders, if you could at least do statistics, you should here sum up the tiny probability densities (which you guessed in Step 6), over the set of all universes with self-aware intelligent beings in them (which, in Step 3, you incorrectly equated with the set of all universes that have nucleogenesis and carbon-carbon bonds.) This integral of probability densities should, theoretically, yield a probability *mass.*

    Continued...

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    1. Continuing...

      8. But skip Step 7. No proponent of fine tuning does Step 7! Instead, Fine Tuning advocates jump right to saying, "The probability densities I pulled out of my ass are small, therefore the universe is fine-tuned for life." Formally, if you confuse probability mass (the only kind of probability that can refute a hypothesis, in classical statistics anyway) and use in its place probability density, you've made what's called the Bridge Hand Fallacy or the Lottery Winner Fallacy. "Wow, the probability of me getting the specific hand of cards I got and won the bridge game with, is astronomically small, therefore it couldn't have happened by chance!" No dummy, you need to integrate over the set of all winning hands of cards the probability density of possible each hand of cards, and that would be the probability mass. If you confuse one for the other, you're way off.

      9. Tiny probability? God of the Gaps! Ignore that most of the universe (about 1-10^-62 of the universe) is totally uninhabitable by life. Teleological contradictions ignored.

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    2. I apologize for writing at length, but what I'm getting at is that there's a distinction between fatal errors and problems or questionable assumptions. FT4L has both.

      In addition, there's a distinction between refuting

      1. the bare claim that, as a scientific, non-religious fact, "The universe is fine tuned for life",

      and refuting

      2. the creationist/apologist versions, "Therefore God of the Gaps."

      The non-religious, scientific claim is *invalid*-- we do NOT know that the universe is "fine-tuned for life", as a scientific fact-- because even the non-religious claims involve two fatal errors, the Bridge Hand fallacy (substituting probability density for probability mass) in Step 8, and the assumption that universes without heavy elements or carbon-carbon bonds will lack self-aware intelligent beings, even if said hypothetical universes were 40 billion light-years in radius, in Step 3. These errors are fatal; it means we need not acknowledge, as a scientific fact, that the universe is fine-tuned for life. In addition to the fatal errors, there are questionable or unsupported assumptions in Steps 1, 5 and 6.

      If things change, Fine Tuning for Life might be proven at some point in the future. Right now, it's rank speculation dishonestly passed off as an observation. If FT4L were proven at some point in the future, we could still just conclude the assumptions in Steps 1, 5, or 6, or all of them, must be wrong.

      Switching now to the creationist/religious argument, the creationist claim "Therefore God did it" introduces yet another fatal error, God of the Gaps (in Step 9). In addition it contradicts thousands of years of old theistic and creationist claims about God changing the laws of nature (in Step 4.) That's enough to kill it.

      As for modern creationist claims, like Guillermo Gonzalez' "Privileged Planet" claim that, since planets like ours hospitable to life are (he believes) incredibly rare, therefore our planet must be "fine-tuned for life" and so, God did it-- this of course assumes that God did *not* fine tune the laws of physics to make the universe hospitable for life; rather, Gonzalez' God set up the laws of physics so that, in almost all of the universe, life would be so mind-bogglingly improbable as to be *nearly* impossible. Gonzalez' religious teleology does not directly contradict the non-religious claim "If the laws of nature are changed by any tiny bit, all life will be extinguished"; however, it does introduce contradictions in the "God of the Gaps", teleological step, where you assume you know God's purposes. Gonzalez' "Privileged Planet" thesis implies that there are two cross-purposes, or two competing gods, one trying to make life incredibly improbable, and the second competing against and trying to undo the work of the first.

      One cannot be a creationist and a proponent of Fine Tuning for Life.

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    3. I was hoping you would chime in here Diogenes...thanks!

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    4. "and if you accelerate its decay by a factor of 1 billion, you might not explode, but the radiation from your own body would kill you and other organisms around you. So Noah, his family and the animals on the Ark would be dead many times over."-

      not if its origin was before the earth was form,

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    5. We have a YEC. He is apparently going back to Henry Morris' original claim that all rocks were directly created by God with the appearance of age. Do you know why creationists don't try that one anymore?

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    6. not appearance of age but with acceleration because of the great heat when the univerese was form.

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    7. Oh God, you're referring to Jan Peczis' hypothesis that on Day One of creation week, God held the entire universe in the state of a superheated plasma for a few hours in order to super-accelerate nuclear reactions. Then made the Earth.

      Doesn't work. How much a superheated plasma accelerates a nuclear decay depends enormously on which element is decaying. Different elements are either accelerated a very tiny amount, or accelerated a bit more, or even *decelerated* depending on the decay mode and physics. Beta decay reactions would be accelerated in a superheated plasma, but most of them by only a little bit. Electron capture reactions are the reverse of beta decay, so those reactions would be *slowed down* in a plasma and that would actually mean that the universe is in reality *older* than it already appears to be. (If all the atoms are ionized, how could an ion capture an electron?)

      Only one element (I think lithium?) is accelerated by a factor of a billion, and that's not used in radiometric dating of rocks, and anyway a billion-fold acceleration for a few hours would still be 1000 times too small to explain radiometric dating results (as Peczis acknowledges, he hypothesizes plasma + more miracles.)

      Moreover, the geological fact is that rocks appear older in deeper strata, and igneous intrusions appear younger than the strata they squirt between. How could a superheated plasma, before the Earth solidified, explain that pattern?

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    8. "Only one element (I think lithium?) is accelerated by a factor of a billion,"-

      not according to this data:

      http://www.0095.info/en/index_thesesen_95onesentencethesesagainste_radioactivedecayatplasmatemp.html



      " and anyway a billion-fold acceleration for a few hours would still be 1000 times too small to explain radiometric dating results"-

      what if it take only several seconds\minutes?



      "Moreover, the geological fact is that rocks appear older in deeper strata"-

      true. maybe all those rocks from the starting point was in this order on earth when its form. then the upper rocks (suppose younger one) form above the bottom rocks.

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    9. I'm ashamed that I am compelled to refute this radioactive decay crap.

      First, I made a mistake in saying that lithium could be accelerated by a factor of a billion if it were a plasma. The one element that does that is actually 187Re. Lithium's decay can be changed by only a few percent depending on what chemical it is part of.

      Now as to dcsccc's claim, in his creationist source, that common elements used for radioactive decay (e.g. uranium, thorium) can have their half-life accelerated from ~1-100 billion years to a few minutes... it's garbage.

      dcsccc in fact links to a creationist page, "95 Theses Against Evolution" which has a table with U238, Th232, Sm147, Rb87, and K40 which alleges that these common elements will have half-times in minutes if they are heated to "15.4 billion degrees Kelvin."

      Leaving aside the absurd temperature, the acceleration numbers seem impossible, and its source is creationist. "95 Theses" cites only one source, the "Proceedings of the Cosmology Conference 2003" allegedly held at "Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio."

      In fact, a bit of googling shows that this "Cosmology Conference" is only cited by creationists, and appears to be a creationist conference, as this PDF says creationist Charles W. Lucas presented a talk there called "The Creator's Fingerprints." The PDF I linked to is a physics crackpot, 'get rid of quantum mechanics' paper.

      As for the acceleration numbers, I don't think their possible. Uranium and Thorium have complex decay chains with some steps that are beta decay and some that are electron capture. These are opposite processes, and if you super-ionize an element, you might accelerate the first but you'd slow down the second. How can an element capture electrons if there are no electrons around to capture?

      Let's compare the creationist numbers to the main theoretical work on bound state beta decay acceleration by Takahashi [Takahashi, K. et al., Bound-state beta decay of highly ionized atoms, Physical Review C36(4)1522–1527, 1987]. Takahashi says:

      187Re accelerated by factor 3.2 x 10^9.

      (Note that the decay series for U238 has 13 principal intermediate daughter isotopes of eight elements.)

      235U to 207Pb: Neutral HL: 704Ma [227Ac decay would be accelerated by 2.6 x 10^2, part of decay chain of U-235.]

      238U to 206Pb: Neutral HL: 4.47Ga. [210Pb decay would be accelerated by 8.5 x 10^2, part of decay chain of U-238]

      As for Thorium:

      232Th to 208Pb: Neutral HL: 14Ga [228Ra (radium) decay would be accelerated by 1.3 x 10^3. Part of decay chain of Thorium-232]

      The acceleration factors for *some*, not all steps in the decay chains of Uranium and Thorium are of magnitude 10^2 or 10^3, not many hundreds of billions, as Young Earthers require.

      Experimentally, the billion-fold acceleration of 187Re decay was observed here: Observation of Bound-State β- Decay of Fully Ionized 187Re: 187Re-187Os Cosmochronometry. F. Bosch1, T. Faestermann2, J. Friese2, F. Heine2, P. Kienle2, E. Wefers2, K. Zeitelhack2, K. Beckert1, B. Franzke1, O. Klepper1, C. Kozhuharov1, G. Menzel1, R. Moshammer1, F. Nolden1, H. Reich1, B. Schlitt1, M. Steck1, T. Stöhlker1, T. Winkler1, and K. Takahashi. Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 5190–5193 (1996). http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v77/i26/p5190_1

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    10. Note that dcsccc's explanation for 'why do deeper geological strata appear older?' is that the deeper strata were formed first, with fossils in them, by directly solidifying straight from a superheated plasma at "15.4 billion degrees Kelvin." Think about that.

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    11. ok diogenes. first- its interesting but what if the temp isnt about 300 my kelvin but a lot more? (maybe trilions like in the big bang).


      "' is that the deeper strata were formed first, with fossils in them,"-

      no. i actually refer that the fossil layed after the earth formed. so when the fossil lay down it already was an "old rock".

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  7. Creationists latch on to the "Fine Tuning" concept because they have the misconception that this means design. As far as I can tell, the entire fine tuning argument simply says, if things were different, things would be different.

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  8. The fine-tuning argument is (if correct) an argument for some kind of supernatural entity. But with respect to evolution, it is irrelevant. An evolution biologist may be excused for saying that she doesn't care about fine-tuning, the point is that in this universe, with the laws of physics that we have, evolution works. That it might not work in other universes is irrelevant. And the fine-tuning argument, even if correct, does not establish that there has been any supernatural intervention in the evolutionary process.

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    1. Typo: "An evolutionary biologist may ..."

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    2. Hi Joe
      Here is Denton's argument regarding fine tuning and biology. The structuralist hypothesis is a mystery to me because like ID it does not really provide a change (new biological forms) mechanism; just an abstract concept.

      "There is no doubt this cosmological fine-tuning provides a very powerful line of circumstantial evidence, drawn ironically from outside the biological sciences, for a return to a structuralist biology and the notion that life's origin and evolution were built into the order of nature from the moment of the Big Bang"

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    3. I can't see why it "provides a very powerful line of circumstantial evidence ... for a return to a structuralist biology". I would think that even if true it would say little or nothing about what evolution would do.

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    4. the problem is that even genes are fine tuning. scientists estimated that we can have about 10^90 variations of a 100 aa protein. so the fine tuning is about a factor of 10^90, because we know that even 2-3 mutations can make the protein function less efficient.

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    5. Yah, dcsccc. Just like winning lottery tickets have been "fine tuned" to match the numbers that were drawn.

      LOL!

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    6. Or maybe you think it's the numbers drawn that have been "finely tuned", dsccc. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 175,223,510. But three people won it at the same time! It must be a fix, right?

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    7. not true. in lottery milions of peoples have tickets. so the chance that someone will win is actually very high.

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    8. in lottery milions of peoples have tickets

      Exactly, just like proteins. There are like 1200-1300 different protein folds in all living forms combined. Imagine how many viable variants of each protein there are. That alone should tell you proteins are nowhere near fine tuned. You're wrong, simple as that.

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    9. Bwah ha ha ha ha ha! You walked right into my trap, dcsccc!

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    10. @dcscccc
      "the problem is that even genes are fine tuning. scientists estimated that we can have about 10^90 variations of a 100 aa protein. so the fine tuning is about a factor of 10^90, because we know that even 2-3 mutations can make the protein function less efficient."

      Two words: Natural selection.

      If you can gradually degrade a protein's function, mutation by mutation, then you it can gradually evolve by the same route.

      If mutations can gradually change the function of one protein into another, then natural selection makes that transition possible through evolution.

      There are literally thousands and thousands of studies of protein evolution through duplication and sub/neo-functionalization that prove this.

      Recently it was even discovered that a key step in the evolution of multicellular animal life involved a single mutation changing an enzyme into a structural protein with a DNA binding pocket.

      Key question for creationist retards: If this transition did not actually take place through mutations in the ancient past, why did simple computational studies infer they happened, using nothing but comparative genetics, and manage to produce functional proteins both before and after the mutational event?

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    11. Another way of looking at it: Given the number of organisms and reproductions involved over the milions of years this took, what are the chances that that one mutation would not have eventually occurred? It seems to me it would have required an "intelligent designer" to prevent multicellular organisms from evolving.

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    12. in lottery milions of peoples have tickets

      Right, whereas we have nowhere near millions of bacteria, viruses, insects, humans, fish...oh, wait.

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    13. "There are like 1200-1300 different protein folds in all living forms combined"-

      and how much is this comparing to the whole sequence space of a tipical protein (20^300)? so what is the chance to get a functional fold in this space?

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    14. mikkel. from your article:

      "This region could bind both partners because the key portion of the anchor protein happened to have a similar shape and pattern of electrical charges as the ancient enzyme substrate did. The crucial mutation in the ancestral gk protein exposed the binding surface without changing it, giving the larger anchor protein easier access to it.

      “It’s just coincidence that the two molecules look so similar,” Thornton said"-

      so its actually not even a new function but only variation of an old one. so how do you get a new protein like a smell receptor for example from a protein that its not a smell receptor? a tipical olfactory receptor is about 200 aa. what is the chance that all functional proteins is near each other in a sequence space of 20^200? even if we have more then the number of atoms in the universe functional proteins its actually nothing.

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    15. And if if even one number was drawn differently in the lottery, then the people who won would not have won. There were 175,223,510 possible combinations of numbers that could have been drawn. Do you really expect us to be believe that the exact combination of numbers that allowed those three people to win the jackpot came up just by chance? Seriously?

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    16. and how much is this comparing to the whole sequence space of a tipical protein (20^300)? so what is the chance to get a functional fold in this space?

      That's just plain idiotic. 20^300 would be the entire search space for every conceivable protein, not one particular fold. For all we know there could be billions of variants of each known fold, and who knows how many unknown folds could be formed with other combinations. You keep making the same stupid mistake assuming there's are just a few "winning tickets". The fact that folds are known to vary wildly and still retain the same basic function suggest that there's tons of winning combinations. There are also countless organisms "buying tickets" every day, and they don't find new proteins by complete shuffling of amino acids as you seem to suggest: that's not evolution. You were likely born with a couple mutations in protein coding genes. If it was all so fine tuned you wouldn't be alive to post stupid stuff like that

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    17. "so its actually not even a new function but only variation of an old one."

      Straightforwardly false. The function did not exist before, it had to evolve by mutation. The function is entirely new.

      " what is the chance that all functional proteins is near each other in a sequence space of 20^200?"

      Demonstrably, it is actually high. The vast majority of functions are actually close to each other in structure-sequence space.

      See, this is the problem with your creationism, it has led you to believe in things that are demonstrably empirically false, such as the idea that there are these colossal deserts of complete nonfunctionality separating all the different known functions in protein sequence space. This is a DELIBERATE LIE you have been told by religious apologists.

      For example, by virtue of a demonstrable empirical fact (which entails that your denial of it will prove your irrationality), over 70% of all enzyme functions (we are talking tens of thousands of wildly different chemical reactions catalyzed) are found in less than 276 enzyme superfamilies.
      Even better, we now have evidence for the ancient origin of almost all protein folds from a relatively small set of 40 or so peptide fragments.

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    18. "You keep making the same stupid mistake assuming there's are just a few "winning tickets". The fact that folds are known to vary wildly and still retain the same basic function suggest that there's tons of winning combinations"-


      great.lets say that the number of functional sequence is about more then the number of atoms in the universe. so again- what is the chance of finding new functional protein from another one in a 20^300 space when "only" about 10^80 of them are functional? do you see the probelm?

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    19. great.lets say that the number of functional sequence is about more then the number of atoms in the universe. so again- what is the chance of finding new functional protein from another one in a 20^300 space when "only" about 10^80 of them are functional? do you see the probelm?

      If this were really true (which it is not), then it would have to be an extremely stupid creator who did not make a Universe far more receptive to life, and thus such a creator would not meet the definition of God. So which is it: is the universe fine-tuned for life and new protein sequences are a piece of cake, or is the Creator of the Universe an idiot who made the chances that humans would evolve minuscule?

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    20. "great.lets say that the number of functional sequence is about more then the number of atoms in the universe. so again- what is the chance of finding new functional protein from another one in a 20^300 space when "only" about 10^80 of them are functional? do you see the probelm?"

      These numbers are meaningless as long as you, (demonstrably falsely) assume that the known functional protein sequences are spread out equally over the entirety of protein sequence space. They demonstrably aren't. Look at the papers.

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    21. Our creationist friend of course did not even glance at the experiment results in the papers cited by Mikkel.

      But here's some more experimental refutation, which I'm sure our creationist will read and seek to understand. Sure.

      These scientists started with a ***random polypeptide with 139 amino acids.***

      Abstract: The fitness landscape in sequence space determines the process of biomolecular evolution. To plot the fitness landscape of protein function, we carried out in vitro molecular evolution beginning with a defective fd phage carrying a ***RANDOM POLYPEPTIDE of 139 amino acids** in place of the g3p minor coat protein D2 domain, which is essential for phage infection. After 20 cycles of random substitution at sites 12–130 of the initial random polypeptide and selection for infectivity, the selected phage showed a 1.7×10^4-fold increase in infectivity, defined as the number of infected cells per ml of phage suspension. Fitness was defined as the logarithm of infectivity, and we analyzed (1) the dependence of stationary fitness on library size, which increased gradually, and (2) the time course of changes in fitness in transitional phases, based on an original theory regarding the evolutionary dynamics in Kauffman's n-k fitness landscape model. In the landscape model, single mutations at single sites among n sites affect the contribution of k other sites to fitness. Based on the results of these analyses, k was estimated to be 18–24. According to the estimated parameters, the landscape was plotted as a smooth surface up to a relative fitness of 0.4 of the global peak, whereas the landscape had a highly rugged surface with many local peaks above this relative fitness value. Based on the landscapes of these two different surfaces, it appears possible for ***adaptive walks with ONLY RANDOM SUBSTITUTIONS to climb with relative ease up to the middle region of the fitness landscape FROM ANY PRIMORDIAL OR RANDOM SEQUENCE**, whereas an enormous range of sequence diversity is required to climb further up the rugged surface above the middle region. [Experimental Rugged Fitness Landscape in Protein Sequence Space. Yuuki Hayashi, Takuyo Aita, Hitoshi Toyota, Yuzuru Husimi, Itaru Urabe, Tetsuya Yomo. PLosONE. December 20, 2006. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000096.

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    22. And another: this paper by Todd Yeates is about "evolutionary bridges between folds", not "evolutionary islands."

      'Protein Structure: Evolutionary bridges to new folds', Todd. O. Yeates, 23 January 2007. Current Biology, vol. 17 no. 2, pp. R48 - R50

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    23. Says Yeates: ‘In any given protein fold, the identities of some amino acids are important, while a great deal of sequence variability is permitted at other positions [17,18]. This general property implies the existence of broad wells in sequence space around any given fold. This would be an essential feature for enabling evolutionary transitions between different protein folds.’

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    24. ok. about the paper see here:

      http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.il/2011/01/protein-evolution-problem-that-defies.html

      also- they take a fold that is already have a degenerate function and then give back is ability to work. its only need a several mutations because its already have the right fold.

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    25. dcscccc, retards like you are immune to evidence (and plenty has been provided). But something in the back of your mind tells you where all the evidence points to and you know it's not where you'd like it to, or else you wouldn't be here asking for it just to ignore it completely.

      Your YEC cult is dying slowly but steadily, choking in it's own nonsense. Deal with it, the sooner the better

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    26. @dcscccc

      "ok. about the paper see here:

      http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.il/2011/01/protein-evolution-problem-that-defies.html

      also- they take a fold that is already have a degenerate function and then give back is ability to work. its only need a several mutations because its already have the right fold."


      None of this gibberish is relevant to what you've been provided here. Except to say that Cornelius Hunters article contains one of the LIES I told you about.

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    27. here is one simple test to evolution: do you think that if we will have a self replicating car it can evolve step wise into an airplane?

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    28. dcscccc, you are fucking retarded. Seriously

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    29. Dcsccc says: "do you think that if we will have a self replicating car it can evolve step wise into an airplane"

      Step one: Explain to us which phylogenetic tree of descent would even require a car species to evolve into an airplane species, assuming they could self-replicate.

      Oh, wait, there is no such tree.

      Step Two: Examine the means by which a car makes babies.

      Oh, Wait, cars don't make babies.

      Step three: When it makes babies, determine how a car's genome changes under observed mutations.

      Oh, Wait, cars have no genome and don't mutate.

      Having done the above, we could then ask the question if a hypothetical mutation system could produce a hypothetically required jump from car to airplane.

      But evolution does not say anything can be turned into any other thing. Creationism does.

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    30. its an analogy. lets say that we indeed has a self repliciating with dna )i think that some one already build one in micro scale). do you think it can evolve into an airplane?

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  9. Perhaps the universe is a Boltzmann Brane.

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  10. It seems to me the "fine tuning argument" presumes a great deal of scientific acumen on the part of those making it. Here's a thought experiment: Imagine you are an observer at the precise moment of the Big Bang, and you have complete knowledge of every single law of physics and every single physical constant, but no advance knowledge of the history of the univese that is about to unfold. With this knowledge alone, would you be able to predict that, 14 billion years hence, in one miniscule corner of the universe, there will be giraffes? I sincerely doubt anyone would.

    So how can anyone say with such confidence that life, or something like it, would not arise under any other set of conditions at the beginning of a universe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's even worse. We could concede for the sake of argument, that no other combination of laws would ever lead to life, and that still wouldn't support the assumption that gods are generally in the business of creating life-supporting universes.

      How do the proponents of fine-tuning arguments know that gods make life? How many gods have they known?

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  11. What is there left for design if all the fundamental rules are imposed? The fine tuning argument is a self refuting one

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  12. Vis a vis Denton's book, is it just me, or is there something, oh, let's call it oxymoronish, about using the words "still" and "crisis" in the same sentence?

    ReplyDelete
  13. The fine-tuning argument is easily dismissed when you actually state it: if the fundamental constants of this universe were not as they are, then this universe could not exist.

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  14. Regarding fine tuning I can say this much that fine tuning argument is not actually necessary for proving the existence of God, because it can also be proved even if there is no fine-tuning. For this please see the link below:

    https://sekharpal.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/is-fine-tuning-actually-required-for-proving-the-existence-of-god/

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  15. Regarding fine tuning I can say this much that fine tuning argument is not actually necessary for proving the existence of God, because it can also be proved even if there is no fine-tuning. For this please see the link below:

    https://sekharpal.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/is-fine-tuning-actually-required-for-proving-the-existence-of-god/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was a pile of shit the last time you posted it here, and it remains a pile of shit today.

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  16. Not really on topic, but Victor Stenger became Igor a couple of paragraphs on.

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    Replies
    1. All scientists named Victor have assistants named Igor.

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  17. The error that the ID folks like Denton make is that they treat the set of physical constants as a univariate problem where each of them can be varied independently one at a time with the others held constant. In fact, the the problem is a multivariate one where one must consider that more then one constant can be varied at a time. Case in point, ID folks argue that the neutron/proton mass difference must lie in a very narrow range for the universe as we know it to exist, based on the fact that the value determines the mean lifetime of the neutron. However, the mean lifetime of the neutron also depends on the value of the weak interaction coupling constant. Thus, if the neutron/proton mass difference was larger, it could be compensated for by a smaller value of the weak interaction coupling constant such that the mean lifetime of the neutron was unchanged. Conversely, if the neutron/proton mass difference was smaller, a larger value for the weak coupling constant would compensate leaving the mean lifetime of the neutron unchanged.

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  18. Larry,

    Has Victor Stenge mentioned in his book that all or almost all physicists with exception of losers agree that the laws of entropy lead to only one conclusion that the universe must have begun with low entropy which can mean only one thing-that the universe after the big bang MUST HAVE begun highly organized?

    How could that have happened due to random, natural processes?

    Has Victor Stenge done any experiments to disprove this fact?

    How about the fine-tuning of the expansion of the universe? Does he know that it doesn't even get close to anything intelligently fine-tuned?

    You should do some more reading and without bias professor Moran!

    It would suit you nice and maybe you would learn that people can write shit if shit can be absorbed, like Victor Stenge's shit. There was a need for shit, so he produced shit book.

    You're welcome!

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  19. Fine tuning argument is not actually necessary for proving the existence of God, because it can still be proved even if there is no fine-tuning. Special theory of relativity is sufficient for that purpose.
    So long special theory of relativity will be there, we will require no special pleading for proving the existence of God.

    ReplyDelete