Sunday, 14 November 2010

C4ID’s Introduction to Intelligent Design: Part 4

The Centre for Intelligent Design website features a set of brief (sometimes very brief) pdf documents which collectively form an Introduction to Intelligent Design, credited as written by Dr Alastair Noble, C4ID Director. These files form a pamphlet setting out C4ID’s manifesto for ID. Often these documents are written in a way that could be seen as persuasive to the uninformed. In general, the arguments used are those of ‘common sense versus rational investigation’, and the hoary old ‘argument from ignorance/incredulity’
Another very brief section with no authorship credit (therefore presumably written by Noble), it is prefaced by a quotation from the late Sir Fred Hoyle, an astronomer with unconventional views. As often the case, no citation is given for the quotation. Unfortunately for Sir Fred and for those who use the quotation (and here I assume it’s not taken out of context), common sense itself is no substitute for rational investigation.
In essence, the ‘fine tuning’ argument observes that if any of the physical constants (or in the formulation presented here, about 20 such constants) of the universe were different, life as we know it could not exist. This is taken as evidence of design.
One fundamental flaw in this argument is that we are dealing with a sample size of 1. This does not offer good statistical power! But more devastating to the argument is the observation that were the constants be different (and of course this made life impossible) we would not be in a position to observe such a universe.
The alternative explanation, that a ‘designer’ set this (and by ‘this’ I mean the Universe in all its vast scale) all up purely so that life, and in some formulations meaning humans, can exist is so absurd and unscientific a position that it effectively marks ID out as a proposal that existence depends upon the supernatural.
I have to ask the question: if there is a ‘designer’, what evidence is there that he/she/it actually exists?
Robert Saunders, BSc (Hons), PhD

1 comment:

  1. Robert, thanks for these little analyses - they're very good. One very funny "fine tuning" scenario that often pops up is that the rate of inflation of the universe is precisely balanced against the amount of matter in the universe; if it was higher, the universe would fly apart, whereas if it was lower, it would end in a Big Crunch very soon after the Big Bang.

    Problem is that current cosmological models suggest that the reason these two are precisely balanced is that they are enormously mutually-dependent - they arise from the same fundamental aspect of reality.

    I previously blogged over at Answers in Genes ( ) about the amazing degree of fine tuning involved in giraffes - if their necks were even the tiniest bit shorter, they would not reach their heads, and their heads would fall off. Any longer, and the blood vessels and nerves would over-shoot, and the giraffe would die. When you consider the thousands of giraffes in the world, the probability that all this is down to just good luck is infinitessimally tiny.

    Keep up the good work!