Tuesday, February 07, 2017


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Monroe County Community College

For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion students.
From Robin Collins, "The Anthropic Teleological Argument," in Peterson and Hasker et. al., Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings.

Explain: The “likelihood principle of confirmation.”

Observations provide evidence in favor of one hypothesis over another, if the observations are more probable under that hypothesis.

Use “Abraham Lincoln inkblot” example.

In this argument the observation is: the existence of our fine-tuned universe, which makes complex life possible.

Explain: The fine-tuning of the universe:

The constants and initial conditions of the universe are set just right for intelligent life to evolve.

If gravity were slightly stronger, then too much clumping together of particles would exist. If gravity were slightly less, then not enough clumping together would exist and individual stars would not have formed.

Collins says – “Many of the fundamental constants must fall into a relatively narrow range in order for complex life to exist.

Explain “naturalism.”

Naturalism – “the universe exists as a brute, inexplicable fact.” (195)

Reality is only physical. Purely physical objects do not think. They do not plan or design things.

Complex things are random

Either the fine-tuned universe was designed, or the fine-tuned universe came about by purely natural causes.

The question is: which is more likely?

State: The Argument

1.   The existence of a fine-tuned universe is not surprising under theism.

2.   The existence of a fine-tuned universe is enormously surprising under naturalism.

3.   Therefore, by the likelihood principle, the existence of a fine-tuned universe strongly support theism over naturalism.