Debate Info

Opposed to the FTA In favor of the FTA
Debate Score:8
Total Votes:8
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Argument Ratio

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 Opposed to the FTA (5)
 In favor of the FTA (3)

Debate Creator

modus-pwnens(17) pic

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Challenge Debate: The Argument from Fine Tuning

The "argument from fine tuning" (FTA) is a well-known feature in modern apologetics, in which some selection (which varies from presentation to presentation) of physical features of the universe are offered as evidence that the universe was designed by some transcendent designer, on the basis of the claim that they are "finely tuned."

I think that this line of reasoning is fatally flawed, and I so I am issuing this open challenge to the community, here: I ask my challenger to present what he or she feels to be the strongest rendition of the argument from fine tuning they can muster, and see if they can defend it against my critique.  


Opposed to the FTA

Side Score: 5

In favor of the FTA

Side Score: 3

Welcome, Deli Subs! I'm stoked that you decided to tackle this argument with me, as it is a subject that I have found myself really interested in lately.

I personally have found all of the arguments from fine tuning that I have read (most notably, those by William Lane Craig and Robbin Collins) to be uncompelling, but I am looking forward to seeing what you feel to be the strongest rendition of the FTA available.

Would you mind kicking this off for us by writing out your favorite Argument from Fine Tuning?

Side: Opposed to the FTA


So, I take it from your link that your interest is in discussing Dr. Craig's rendition of the argument from fine tuning, or "teleological"argument (teleology being a word that refers to design goals or intentional purpose, which Dr. Craig argues is indicated by the set of particular physical constants and initial conditions the video describes). The argument, put formally, looks like this:

1.) The Fine Tuning of the universe (call this FT for short) is due either to necessity, chance, or design.

2.) FT is not due to necessity or chance.

C.) Therefore, FT is due to design.

Clearly, the deductive structure of this argument is valid (truth-preserving) but it does leave us with some fairly important questions, the first (and most important) of which is this: what does "chance" mean, as Dr. Craig uses it here?

Both in his academic work and in his public-facing articles, Dr. Craig talks about thsi "chance" category as simply being the category of all possible explanations which do not fall into either the "necessity" or "design" categories. Though these two categories are fairly well defined, he intentionally leaves the "chance" category poorly defined, or rather, defined only in terms of being a "catch-all" set into which he sorts everything that doesn't meet the much clearer definitions of the other two categories. This is smart, in a way, because it renders the first premise incorrigible: not possibly false. In effect, it divides the space of possible explanations, possible hypotheses, into the disjoint spaces of "design" hypotheses, "necessity" hypotheses, and the complement of the union of these two spaces, "chance." Effectively, then, he can note that the probability of this union of design and necessity--we might wright this as P(D u N)--added to the probability of the complement of this union, P(C), must equal one: hence the probability of the union of C, N, and D must equal one: P(C u N u D) = 1, thus guaranteeing that the first premise is true.

In starting, then, I would ask whether you personally agree with this formalization of the argument as well as the manner in which Craig defines his "chance" category, and whether you have anything else you feel is critical to this discussion of the first premise. If we agree to treat "chance" in the way that Craig does, the first premise moves beyond argument, and my focus will shift to the second premise and, specifically, the claim that no explanations from this "chance" category are true.

Fair enough?

Two quick notes:

First, though I disagree also with Craig's arguments against the "necessity" category, this isn't really the topic I am interested in, and so I am likely to let this one rest, or assume it for the sake of argument. If you are interested in it, though, let me know.

Second, I apologize for the overlap in our first two posts. I started typing the argumetn above this one before I saw your first argument appear. I found the notification that you'd accepted immediately after waking up from a nap, and assumed that more time had passed (and, thus, that I should make an introductory post). However, clearly, you were on it, and I needn't have bothered. Awesome! And, again, thanks for agreeing to participate in this debate with me. Hopefully we will both find it productive.

Side: Opposed to the FTA
Deli_Subs(108) Disputed
1 point

No problem word it however you wish unless you commit equivocation or other fallacies. I was expecting general objections to the Teleological Argument such as the Multiverse. You ask what does Dr. Craig mean by chance? I would have to say the definition of chance using the video and logic is the probability of all the quantities and constants being FT themselves without design or physical necessity present or in place.

And yes I believe we will both find this productive and regardless of who wins we will both learn some more objections to strengthen our arguments in the future.

Side: In favor of the FTA
modus-pwnens(17) Clarified
1 point

Just to clarify, "chance" can't be a probability in and of itself. It has to be a category of explanations of some sort.

That said, the probability of these physical constants and initial conditions having the values that they have, in the Lambda-CMD model, given that neither design nor physical necessity is in play, is certainly a central feature of the argument. We could write this as the "probability of fine tuning given the complement of the union of necessity and design," and since, as I suggest above, Craig uses "chance" to mean the complement of the union of design and necessity, this probability is the same as the probability of fine tuning given chance:


Side: Opposed to the FTA

So, with that, it looks like we are on the same page with regard to the meaning and truth of p1.

The question, then, becomes why we should accept p2. P2 is, of course, the conjunction of two claims: FT is not due to chance and FT is not due to necessity. I would like to srt the second of these aside for the moment. We can assume it as a given for the sake of the argument.

What I want to talk about, instead, is the first of these conjuncts: FT is not due to chance. Let's call this p2a.

Given that chance is simply the space of hypotheses that are neither "necessity" nor "design," how would you argue in support of p2a? Why should we believe that fine tuning is not due to any of these "chance" hypotheses?

Side: Opposed to the FTA
Deli_Subs(108) Disputed
1 point

First I would like you to give me some examples of hypotheses that could give chance a shot at being more plausible than design would be. I would support p2a by showing with logic and evidence how the hypotheses wouldn't work.

Side: In favor of the FTA

So, the thing is that "design" like "chance" is a huge space of possible hypotheses.

The form of the argument you've chosen, here, doesn't compare individual explanations, but, rather, categories of explanations, and, as such, you need some way of aggregating likelihoods over the multitudinous and varied hypotheses in each category. If you can't do that, you need to find a different argument. If you want to talk about very specific hypotheses, we could do that, too, but, again, this would be a very different argument from the one you have borrowed from Craig, here.

Basically, the question you're asking isn't well-formed enough to have an answer. You can reformulate it, or you can maybe take a stab at answering my question, but there's not much to do, otherwise.

Side: Opposed to the FTA

So, the point, really, is that the hypotheses in both categories are all across the board, in terms of the likelihoods of fine tuning they yield. We can easily construct "design" hypotheses on which the likelihood of fine tuning is very high, just as we can easily construct design hypotheses on which the likelihood of fine tuning is very low.

Similarly, we can construct chance hypotheses on which the likelihood of fine tuning is very high, or even one, in, for instance, the case of some multiverse hypotheses, as well as chance hypotheses on which the likelihood of fine tuning is very low.

Side: Opposed to the FTA
1 point

I don't know if you are experienced in Philosophy or not but what I will do to start is give a link to an explanation of the FTA (Teleological Argument). I am doing this because I am limited with my time. Anyway what I am expecting you to use is either the multiverse theory or the Poker argument.

Teleological Argument

Side: In favor of the FTA