The Weak Anthropic Principle

I’m reading A Meaningful World, and chapter 6 deals with ‘A Cosmic Home: Designed for Discovery. It’s a fabulous book, but you do have to do some thinking while you read. These quotes are not from the book but are from essays and articles on the web that deal with topics related to the sixth chapter.

The Weak Anthropic Principle:
“The weak anthropic principle states that the ways that the universe might be observed to be is limited by the fact that observation requires the existence of observers. It is impossible to observe a universe that does not permit the existence of observers; only a universe that permits the existence of observers could be observed.
The criticism of the argument from fine-tuning based on the weak anthropic principle seeks to exploit this idea that the universe could not have been observed to be any of the ways that would not have allowed the development and sustenance of life. All possible observed universes are universes inhabited by observers, and so all possible observed universes are universes that permit life. There is therefore no need, the criticism concludes, to explain the fact that the universe is observed to be such as to permit life; it couldn‘t have been observed to be any other way.
In response to this objection, defenders of the argument from fine-tuning often make use of a story involving a firing-squad devised by John Leslie. You are to be executed by a firing-squad of a hundred trained marksmen, the story goes. You hear the command to open fire, and the sound of the guns, and then silence; you are not dead, you hear silence. All of the marksmen missed! Pondering, you realise that had the marksmen not missed you would not have been able to reflect on the attempted execution, that only a failed execution would have allowed you to be here now, listening to the silence. However, you do not infer from this that the fact that the marksmen missed is unsurprising. You remain astonished that one hundred trained marksmen could all miss simultaneously.
In this illustration, it seems that what is surprising is not that looking back at the execution you see that it failed, but that you are able to look back at the execution at all. Similarly, what is surprising about the universe is not that we observe it to be such as to allow the development and sustenance of life, but that we are able to observe it at all.”

“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Richard Dawkins’ Failed Rebuttal of Natural Theology

Peter S. Williams (MA, MPhil)

The man described as ‘Darwin’s Rotweiller’[1] (by supporter Charles Simonyi) has evolved to metaphorically resemble the big bad wolf of nursery rhyme fame[2], and he is on a bestselling mission to liberate the pigs (the analogy is mine, not his) from what he sees as their prisons of straw. Zoologist Richard Dawkins, who is Oxford University’s Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, has been described as ‘materialistic, reductionist and overtly anti-religious.’[3] Nevertheless, The God Delusion – which is descended by design from Dawkins’ controversial two-part television series The Root of all Evil?[4] – is his first book written to make a direct (undoubtedly well-intentioned) attack upon theistic religion: ‘If this books works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.’[5]

Dawkins thinks that if his book fails to have the desired effect, this can only be because ‘dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument, their resistance built up over years of childhood indoctrination using methods [such as issuing] a dire warning to avoid even opening a book like this, which is surely a work of Satan.’[6] On the other hand, anyone who is ‘open-minded’, whose ‘childhood indoctrination was not too insidious… or whose native intelligence is strong enough to overcome it’, will ‘need only a little encouragement to break free of the vice of religion altogether.’[7]

The God Delusion is the work of a passionate and rhetorically savvy writer capable of making good points against religious fundamentalism. As Stephen Law (editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s journal Think) observes: ‘what Dawkins attacks is typically a highly Authoritarian brand of religion…”

More here

And here:
“Indeed, according to cosmologist Paul Davies, the scientific ‘multiple worlds hypothesis
merely shift the problem [of ‘fine tuning’] up a level from universe to multiverse. To appreciate this, one only has to list the many assumptions that underpin the multiverse theory. First, there has to be a universe-generating mechanism… This mechanism is supposed to involve natural, law-like processes – in the case of eternal inflation, a quantum ‘nucleation’ of pocket universes, to be precise. But that raises the obvious question of the source of the quantum laws (not to mention the laws of gravitation, including the causal structure of space-time on which those laws depend) that permit inflation. In the standard multiverse theory, the universe-generating laws are just accepted as given: they don’t come out of the multiverse theory… Furthermore, if we accept that the multiverse is predicted by string/M theory, then that theory, with its specific mathematical form, also has to be accepted as given… the multiverse theory [cannot] provide a complete and final explanation of why the universe is fit for life…[20]

As philosopher Robin Collins argues:
even if [a] many-universe generator exists, it along with the background laws and principles could be said to be an irreducibly complex system… with just the right combination of laws and fields for the production of life-permitting universes: if one of the components were missing or different… it is unlikely that any life-permitting universes could be produced. In the absence of alternative explanations, the existence of such a system suggests design.”

From the book: The question being asked isn’t “Is the fine tuning for technological life the sole purpose of the cosmos?” The question is rather, “Is it a purpose of the cosmos?”

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Bergdahl pleads guilty of desertion and other news

Six soldiers died searching for him after he deserted his post and abandoned his comrades in a war zone. Obama traded terrorists for him, feted him in a Rose Garden ceremony, called him a hero.
He just pleaded guilty to desertion. He was and is no hero.

In England- Muslim spits at a random baby’s face, shouts ‘White people shouldn’t breed,’ and gets off scot-free. Another man leaves a bacon sandwich in front of a mosque along with a St George flag saying ‘No mosques,” and is jailed for a year. He can’t fulfil his sentence because he was found dead in his cell four months later.

If your name is Clinton, you don’t get to claim there are sexual predators in the White House. We know it isn’t sexual predation you object to, but a nominally GOP candidate in the WH, because it isn’t you.
Nothing Trump is accused of comes close to what Clinton did. Juanita Broaderick, now in her seventies, is still telling anybody who will listen that Bill Clinton raped her, but Hilary is one of the people who not only won’t listen, but has tried to silence Ms Broaderick in the past.

New FBI documents enforce claim that Comey was ready to exonerate Hilary before his ‘investigation’ was completed- before key witnesses were interviewed.

Hilary falls on stairs, breaks toe. I saw the headline linked on twitter and I almost didn’t go look because I thought, ‘meh. People fall on the stairs, it doesn’t have to mean anything. I’ve broken a toe moving a table. Don’t overdo it with the negative reports, guys.’ But then I clicked through and read Hilary’s ‘explanation:’

“I was running down the stairs in heels with a cup of coffee in hand, I was talking over my shoulder and my heel caught and I fell backwards,” Clinton told “The Graham Nortion Show.”

“I tried to get up and it really hurt. I’ve broken my toe. I’ve received excellent care from your excellent health service.”

She’s lying. She doesn’t run on stairs. She can barely walk on them, often needing support. Watch how careful she is, and how hard she clutches the rail, sometimes with both hands, and how labored a single step is:

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Beautiful, raw (language warning) insider response to Weinstein allegations.
This is powerful stuff and I am sure writing it was cathartic and helped with his guilt. Guess what? Nobody is surprised that he knew and kept quiet. We know all of Hollywood knew.
You know what else we know? We know Harvey is not the only one. We know there are others still being protected by silence. The author know this, too. If he was really sorry, so sorry victims mattered more than his self disgust at not speaking up about Harvey, about not being the head of the pack there, then he would speak up now about the other ‘open secrets.’

In the wake of Weinstein there’s this ‘Me Too’ thing on social media, where you’re supposed to say “me, too’ If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment and such- the idea being to give American a sense of the magnitude of the problem so maybe things will change. I am thinking a culture that celebrates the founder of Playboy magazine and considers Larry Flynt an admirable free speech advocate isn’t going to get it, and is not going to know what to do about it anyway. Going along with that campaign, here are some tips a helpful feminist offered men on what they could do. mostly, I think the’d do well to do the opposite of her suggestions.

I have previously compared the left to Mao’s cultural revolution where victims were publicly shamed, made to recant, disavow and engage in self criticism. Pretty much every day I see another example of that mob mentality. Here we go again- author of a young adult novel which was given a positive review by a Muslim reviewer on Kirkus is victim of backlash- and Kirkus pulled the positive review.

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News and so forth

The removed Confederate Flags- which I, shortsightedly and in an emotional reaction to Dylan Root shooting up a church Bible study of peaceful black people, thought at the time was a good idea.

Then it was statues of Confederate generals or statues that looked like they might be confederate generals or artwork that looked like somebody might think it looked confederate (I am not making that up).

Now we’re at Dr. Seuss and To Kill a Mockingbird. School district pulls To Kill a Mockingbird from reading list. It makes people uncomfortable. https://trib.al/2zObDXh

Telling your kids they might be the wrong sex, trapped in a wrong-gendered body is child-abuse. IT’s evil. It’s not science

35 women have now accused Harvey Weinstien of various levels of abuse, from harassment, to rape. Two women have also accused Ben Affleck and at least one has accused George Clooney, and a couple big names at Amazon as well. (I don’t agree that the refusal to publish these stories is the Gawker Effect. It’s a political issue for the media. If it hurts conservatives, they publish, if it hurts leftists, they generally won’t, as anybody can see who stops to consider why Bill Clinton and Teddy Kennedy were never held accountable for their sexual exploitation- and manslaughter in Kennedy’s case- of women, and why it took ten years, a transition from registered Democrat to registered Republican, and the month before the election before the media released and commented repeatedly on Trump’s lewd and crass remark about how women let men do something disgusting when you’re famous.)

Kaya Jones, formerly of the Pussycat Dolls, says she wasn’t in a band, she was trapped in a prostitution ring, and that she told Hollywood executives and members of the press on more than one occasion and was ignored, but she also says she is going to start naming names.

Remember that Corey Feldman has been telling us for years that pedophilia is a huge problem in Hollywood. Here’s Barbara Walters reprimanding him for speaking out.

Deadliest outbreak of Hepatitis A in years, in California:
“According to the CDPH, there have been a total of 18 deaths so far – all in the San Diego area, which has reported 490 cases of hepatitis A and 342 hospitalizations.

The CDPH said the Santa Cruz area has 71 reported cases and 33 hospitalizations; Los Angeles has 8 reported cases and 6 hospitalizations; and other regions in California have 7 reported cases and 5 hospitalizations.

This brings the total number of cases in the state to 576 with 386 hospitalizations.

California is experiencing the largest hepatitis A outbreak in the United States transmitted from person to person – instead of by contaminated food – since the vaccine became available in 1996.”

In this case, that ‘person to person’ contact they don’t explain is coming from the large number of people defecating on the streets and sidewalks in public spaces.

Trump and the Iran deal.

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Find a special place

“According to a study commissioned by the National Trust, people experience intense feelings of wellbeing, contentment and belonging from places that evoke positive memories far more than treasured objects such as photographs or wedding rings….

…It found places that are intensely meaningful invoke a sense of calm, space to think and a feeling of completeness.

…It found the brain’s emotional response to special places was much higher than towards meaningful objects. Two thirds of those surveyed (64%) said their special place made them feel calm, while 53% said it provided an escape from everyday life. Among younger people, 67% said their meaningful place had shaped who they were.”

More here

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Why is There Beauty?

“The foregoing remarks lead me to say a few words on the protest lately made by some naturalists against the utilitarian doctrine that every detail of structure has been produced for the good of its possessor. They believe that many structures have been created for the sake of beauty, to delight man or the Creator (but this latter point is beyond the scope of scientific discussion), or for the sake of mere variety, a view already discussed. Such doctrines, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.” (Origin of the Species)

Darwin explains why he doesn’t think this is a valid argument (among other things, beauty existed before man arrived, he says.  This is true if one believes the geological time table, but for YEC it would be an invalid rebuttal).  But what if beauty wasn’t created for man, but rather, for the enjoyment of the Creator, and He created man in order to share that love of beauty with us (and other reasons? Well, then, Darwin says it’s beyond the scope of scientific discussion, although he admits that if true, would be completely fatal to his theory.

 

One of Darwin’s other objections is that beauty is subjective.  There’s some truth to that, but it’s an open question exactly how much. There are variations in standards of beauty and styles between cultures and eras. In countries that have known starvation a certain level of plumpness is considered more attractive than in areas that have know plenty long enough to have forgotten starvation. Sometimes extreme fashions take root- footbinding, breast flattening, shaveing the forehead and plucking hairs to give an artificially high forehead, multiple face piercings, bustles and hoopskirts- although I would argue that those are more successful marketing trends than they are actual standards of beauty. They are the trappings, but certain things seem fairly universal. A symmetrical face is always viewed as more beautiful than asymmetrical. I don’t know of a culture that admired or admires warts on the nose. Left to ourselves, standards of beauty are less extreme and an increasing amount of research indicating beauty is not totally subjective.
Today’s evolutionary scientists attribute appreciation for beauty to sexual selection traits, but it’s harder to explain why humans also find and admire beauty in flowers, stars, a full moon, rainbows, waterfalls, butterflies, horses, dogs, and diatoms.   Darwin himself demonstrates this truth when he dismisses the beauty of diatoms and similar creatures is because of their symmetry:

“If beautiful objects had been created solely for man’s gratification, it ought to be shown that before man appeared there was less beauty on the face of the earth than since he came on the stage. Were the beautiful volute and cone shells of the Eocene epoch, and the gracefully sculptured ammonites of the Secondary period, created that man might ages afterwards admire them in his cabinet? Few objects are more beautiful than the minute siliceous cases of the diatomaceae: were these created that they might be examined and admired under the higher powers of the microscope? The beauty in this latter case, and in many others, is apparently wholly due to symmetry of growth.”

  1. What if beautiful objects are not created solely for man’s gratification, but beauty, and human gratification of beauty, are both designed by the designer of the universe?
  2. What on earth does it even mean to say that beauty in any situation is ‘wholly due to symmetry of growth?’  Isn’t he admitting here symmetry is itself inherently beautiful? In which case, beauty would appear to be not quite as subjective as Darwin believed.

For instance:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3631018.stm Researchers in England present evidence gathered in a couple of studies showing that infants have a fairly systematic and similar appreciation of beautiful faces- that is, it doesn’t seem subjective, as infants prefer the same beautiful faces over less beautiful ones.

“There is no doubt that beauty (which here means both male and female attractiveness) is to some extent in the eye of the beholder, but across individuals and across cultures there is nevertheless considerable agreement about what makes a pretty or handsome face, and the evidence strongly counters the conventional wisdom that attractiveness preferences are mainly acquired through life experience. For one thing, the beauty bias is already present in infancy. Six-month-olds prefer to look at the same relatively attractive faces that adults do (Rubenstein, Kalakanis, & Langlois, 1999).”

Darwin again undermining his own argument that beauty is subjective:
“On the other hand, I willingly admit that a great number of male animals, as all our most gorgeous birds, some fishes, reptiles, and mammals, and a host of magnificently coloured butterflies, have been rendered beautiful for beauty’s sake. But this has been effected through sexual selection, that is, by the more beautiful males having been continually preferred by the females, and not for the delight of man. So it is with the music of birds. We may infer from all this that a nearly similar taste for beautiful colours and for musical sounds runs through a large part of the animal kingdom. When the female is as beautifully coloured as the male, which is not rarely the case with birds and butterflies, the cause apparently lies in the colours acquired through sexual selection having been transmitted to both sexes, instead of to the males alone. ”

So while beauty is subjective and varies widely between human cultures, apparently female fish, peacocks, butterflies, all our most gorgeous birds’ and human beings all have the same standard of beauty? And why would sexual selection alone cause human beings to see the male peacock and hummingbirds and butterflies as beautiful?

Keith Buhler on Jonathan Edwards :

Edwards presents a compelling understanding of beauty. Though he is not persuaded by the naturalistic scientism of many modern thinkers, he does not consider aesthetics to be located in the emotions but  in mathematical relations. And though he is fairly enamoured with the beauty of Nature, he does not paint the saccarine and sometimes sappy portrait of it that we are familiar with in the writing of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, etc. Rather, he grounds beauty in proportionality and ‘suitableness.’ He even goes so far as to anticipate modern light theory and suggest that it is a proportionate relationship of vibrations stimulating the optic nerve that makes the green grass and blue sky and white clouds agreeable. (“Beauty of the World”Jonathan Edwards Reader, p.14)

It’s all about advantages in sexual selection and reproduction really only goes so far, and ignores too much. I agree with Wiker and Witt when they say:
“What we deny is the crudely dogmatic reduction of the desire for beauty to these (sexual) levels alone.
“And so, we are not trying to ignore the body as if humans were all head, rather, we object to those who wish, for the sake of their argument, to cut off the head and present a human being as a creature from the neck down, (or even from the waist down). Thus, ours is the more inclusive argument, the one that truly describes our entire human appreciation of beauty, it doesn’t dogmatically exclude the higher or reduce what is higher to the lower aspects of our nature. Darwin, in contrast, felt compelled to do just that, noting that the existence of beauty for its own sake, or more properly, for the sake of human beings, “would be absolutely fatal to my theory.” (Page 117, A Meaningful World)

Also from A Meaningful World, this quote from Philp Skell, The Scientist, 2005:
‘Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive- except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed- except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less even use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.’

I don’t know why there is so much beauty in the world. I have guesses. That’s really any of us have. My gues is that it is a reflection of the Designer:
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Psalm 50:2

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