Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Demolition of hotel collapse following bomb blast explosion

7. Dillahunty Asks 2nd Oldest Question: If God Exists, Why Evil?

In the debate between Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty, the question of raping a baby was bound to arise.

In the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we have at last got round to the Problem of Evil. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then,…

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Small kitten

In an Infinity of Universes, Countless Ones Are Run by Cats…

Daniel Díaz notes that most of the talk about the multiverse started to appear once it was realized that there was fine-tuning in nature

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they look at whether life was seeded in our universe by advanced life forms (directed panspermia), as advocated by some prominent scientists. In the second portion, they discuss the view — again, held by prominent science figures — that our universe is an advanced computer sim. In the third segment, they tackle the idea that there is nothing to…

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Nuvole nel cielo azzurro

The Divine Hiddenness Argument Against God’s Existence = Nonsense

God in Himself is immeasurably greater than we are, and He transcends all human knowledge

In my recent debate with Matt Dillahunty about the existence of God, Dillahunty invoked his favorite argument against God’s existence — the Divine Hiddenness argument. We didn’t have a chance to go into that argument in detail in the debate, and Dillahunty is unwilling to have any more debates with me (even if he’s paid, apparently). So this is a good forum to look at that argument in more detail. What is the argument for atheism from God’s Hiddenness? This is a standard form of the argument from Divine Hiddenness against God’s existence: Necessarily, if God exists, then God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be. Necessarily, if God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be,…

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Professional pano technician repairing hammer mechanism.

Weak Anthropic Principle? Not an Explanation but a Tautology!

Compared to the Strong Anthropic Principle — the universe is objectively fine-tuned for life — the Weak Anthropic Principle aims to avoid evidence and subvert discussion

My friend and colleague Dr. Bob Marks has a wonderful podcast with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz, regarding a recent paper they published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics on fine tuning for life in the universe. It’s very clear from astrophysics that many physical variables in the early universe needed to take very specific values — with very little margin for error — to permit the emergence of life. This is quite remarkable, and the authors have written a very nice paper exploring the probabilities involved in this apparent fine-tuning in considerable detail. It’ fascinating and I highly recommend listening to the podcast. In the most recent segment, “Our universe survived a firing…

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genesis of life and beginning of evolution concept illustration

Our Universe Survived a Firing Squad and It’s Just an Accident?

According to the Weak Anthropic Principle, if things weren’t the way they are, we wouldn’t be here and that’s all there is to it

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they looked at whether life was seeded in our universe by advanced life forms (directed panspermia), as advocated by some prominent scientists. In the second portion, they discussed the view — again, held by prominent science figures — that our universe is an advanced computer sim. Both concepts stem from the difficulty of accounting for the existence and complexity…

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heaven cloud sky sunny bright for future wealth fortune day concept

Science Can and Does Point to God’s Existence

Natural science is not at all methodologically naturalist — it routinely points to causes outside of nature.

In my recent debate at Theology Unleashed, with Matt Dillahunty, Dillahunty made the claim that science necessarily follows methodological naturalism, allowing only for causes within nature. This is a common assertion by atheists. It’s wrong, and here’s why: First we need to start with the definition of science. Despite the huge literature on this topic and the great confusion about the answer, I think the answer is relatively simple. Classical philosophers defined science (scientia) as the systematic study of effects according to their causes. To clarify, consider the three assertions in this definition: 1) science is systematic — that is, it is not merely the occasional musing or haphazard insight but an organized planned course of action to deepen understanding.…

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Alien mothership UFO nearing Earth

Could Advanced Aliens Have Fine-Tuned Earth for Life?

That’s a surprisingly popular thesis, considering how hard it is to account for life without assuming a creator

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they looked at whether fine tuning of the universe for life can be accounted for by the theory that advanced life forms seeded life throughout the universe (directed panspermia). Surprisingly, perhaps, the theory is considered at least plausible, due to the difficulty of accounting for the existence of life otherwise. As Marks and his guests noted, great scientists such…

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Space cosmic background of supernova nebula and stars field

Leading Astronomer Gets It All Wrong About Free Will and Destiny

Logic and reason aren’t laws of physics and therefore they transcend physical properties

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, has recently written an essay in which he considers whether human beings have free will and how long the human race will survive. Loeb is a prolific and often quite thoughtful scientist who has a refreshing propensity to think outside the mainstream. However, his recent essay in Scientific American, titled “How Much Time Does Humanity Have Left?”, is well off the mark. I think he profoundly misunderstands human nature and human destiny. Loeb opines on the question of human free will: The Standard Model of physics presumes that we are all made of elementary particles with no additional constituents. As such composite systems, we do not possess freedom at a fundamental level, because all particles and…

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Planet Earth from space

Is Life From Outer Space a Viable Science Hypothesis?

Currently, panspermia has been rated as “plausible but not convincing.” Marks, Hössjer, and Diaz discuss the issues

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they look at one explanation offered for that fact in recent decades: panspermia (life was seeded throughout the universe) by advanced extraterrestrial beings. Prominent scientists who were atheists gave the theory the needed push. What is the science support for it? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-153-Hossjer-and-Diaz.mp3 This portion begins at 01:53 min. (The simulation theory portion begins at 4:59 min). A partial transcript,…

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Black hole illustration

6. Is Matt Dillahunty using science as a crutch for his atheism?

That’s neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s accusation in this third part of the debate, which features continued discussion of singularities, where conventional “laws of nature” break down

At this point in the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, turning to the origin of the universe, Egnor…

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Anomalocaris, creature of the Cambrian period, isolated on black background

Did Minimal Consciousness Drive the Cambrian Explosion?

Eva Jablonka’s team makes the daring case, repurposing Hungarian chemist Tibor Gánti’s origin of life studies

Eva Jablonka is “one of the world’s foremost experts in epigenetic inheritance and evolution” but she has also had a longstanding interest in consciousness studies. She was author, with Marion J. Lamb, of Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life (MIT Press 2006/rev. 2014). She and neurobiologist Simona Ginsburg, along with illustrator Anna Zeligowski, offer a new approach to the origin of consciousness in an essay at IAI.TV — one with an interesting departure from many approaches to consciousness: Taking their inspiration from Hungarian chemist Tibor Gánti (1933–2009), who posited a chemoton — the minimal life form or protocell — as the origin of life, they first attempt to define minimal consciousness,…

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Planet with numerous prominent ring system

5. Egnor, Dillahunty Dispute the Basic Causes Behind the Universe

In a peppery exchange, Egnor argues that proofs of God’s existence follow the same logical structure as proofs in science

At this point in the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as a former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). No matter, they agreed to keep talking. The…

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Science and research of the universe, spiral galaxy and physical formulas, concept of knowledge and education

Why Did Stephen Hawking Give Up on a Theory of Everything?

Daniel Díaz and Ola Hössjer continue their discussion of the fine tuning of the universal constants of nature with Robert J. Marks

In a continuing conversation with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz on the fine-tuning of the universe — and Earth — for life, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks asks them about why a Theory of Everything eludes us and about the life-permitting interval — the narrow window for life that the constants of the universe permit. This is the second part of Episode 3, “The universe is so fine-tuned!” (September 16, 2021). Earlier portions, with transcripts and notes, are listed below. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-152-Hossjer-Diaz.mp3 This portion begins at 12:36 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: In truth, there’s a lot of fundamental constants — the electric charge of an electron,…

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Molecules, abstract molecular and research background

Top World Chemist, James Tour, To Speak at COSM 2021

Tour builds molecules for a living, a position that causes him to stand in awe” of God: “Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith.”

Rice University chemistry professor James Tour is officially best known for his many research papers (700) and patent families (130). He is popularly known more for his passion for introducing the lay public to the awesome chemistry of life. The ORCID database of science achievements puts it like this: Tour’s scientific research areas include nanoelectronics, graphene electronics, silicon oxide electronics, carbon nanovectors for medical applications, green carbon research for enhanced oil recovery and environmentally friendly oil and gas extraction, graphene photovoltaics, carbon supercapacitors, lithium ion batteries, CO2 capture, water splitting to H2 and O2, water purification, carbon nanotube and graphene synthetic modifications, graphene oxide, carbon composites, hydrogen storage on nanoengineered carbon scaffolds, and synthesis of single-molecule nanomachines which includes molecular…

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Human hand fine tuning levels on professional audio equipment

Was the Universe Created for Life Forms to Live In? How To Know?

We can begin by looking at the fundamental constants that underlie the universe

In a continuing conversation with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz (podcast 153) on the fine-tuning of the universe — and Earth — for life, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks asks them about fundamental constants. This is the first part of Episode 3, “The universe is so fine-tuned!” (September 16, 2021). Earlier portions, with transcripts and notes, are listed below. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-152-Hossjer-Diaz.mp3 This portion begins at 01:09 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Why is the speed of light, the speed of light? Why isn’t it slower or faster? Why is the universal gravitational constant what it is? It turns out these and other constants of the cosmos are…

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Fog in the forest

Longtime Skeptic Now Accepts Parapsychology as Science

But read the fine print. It’s a matter of determining what can be considered a science statement, whether it is proven or disproven

University of London psychology prof Chris French has a complex relationship with parapsychology (research into, for example, extrasensory perception or ESP). At one time, he believed in it, then was, for four decades, a skeptic — but he has now come round to a new approach to the question: How do we decide what is and isn’t “science”: Before we can assess the scientific status of any discipline, we must first consider what philosophers of science refer to as the demarcation problem. What criteria must be applied in order to decide whether a discipline is a true science or not? This is a fascinating topic that has been a subject of discussion amongst philosophers of science for a very long…

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A moody science fiction concept, of a figure standing in a field with UFO lights glowing in the sky. On a foggy spooky night. With a vintage, grunge edit

The UFOs Carl Sagan Was Convinced Of But Couldn’t Talk About

Sagan had already been denied tenure at Harvard, a sci-fi screenwriter reflects, and he couldn't afford to take more chances

Sci-fi screenwriter Bryce Zabel recalls a memorable dispute with cosmologist Carl Sagan (1934–1996) in a parking lot forty years ago: The Voyager II unmanned spacecraft had been launched in August of 1977. Now, four years later, it was due to make its closest approach to Saturn on August 25, 1981. It was even going to send back photos in almost real time. I got an idea. Bryce Zabel, “Cosmic Collision: My UFO Debate with Carl Sagan” at Medium (August 24, 2021) His idea was to interview Sagan (remember the insignificant Pale Blue Dot that Earth is supposed to be?). I got to host Saturn and Beyond, and it was going to be Carl Sagan and me “live,” without commercial interruption,…

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Chess Pieces on Board for Game and Strategy

3. Atheist Dillahunty Spots Fallacies in Christian Egnor’s Views

“My position is that it’s unacceptable to believe something if the available evidence does not support it.”

“Does God exist?”Earlier this month, Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty began to debate the question at Theology Unleashed. As they briefly explain in the first episode, Egnor was an agnostic and became a Christian, based on his experiences; Dillahunty went the opposite route. In the second episode, Egnor set out his position briefly, offering ten proofs of the existence of God. Now it is Matt Dillahunty’s fifteen minutes — to spot weaknesses in Egnor’s arguments and offer his own, beginning at 20:30 min. He begins by remarking on Egnor’s speed of presentation: A partial transcript and notes follow: Matt Dillahunty: Never in the entire history of doing debates has someone come in and, in 15 minutes,…

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Printed circuit board

“Listen to the technology; find out what it’s telling you…”

That’s the motto of CalTech’s Carver Mead, who will speak at COSM 2021

A COSM 2021 speaker that tech watchers won’t want to miss is CalTech’s Carver Mead (1934–), best known in computer history for pioneering the automation, methodology and teaching of the integrated circuit design used in microprocessors and memories. According to the Lemelson–MIT Student Prize program, “Carver Mead has made many of the Information Age’s most significant advances in microcircuitry, which are essential to the internet access and global cellular phone use that many people enjoy and take for granted every day.” Mead is also honored as a teacher. Forty years at CalTech, he advised the first female electrical engineering student there, Louise Kirkbride, who went on to become a tech developer and inventor in her own right. He has helped…

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Knight chess isolated on gray background

2. A Neurosurgeon’s Ten Proofs for the Existence of God

First, how did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is irrefutable proof for God?

“Does God exist?” On September 17, in a dramatic debate, Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty squared off on the question at Theology Unleashed. The debate hosts are Arjuna Das for Theology Unleashed and Nathan from Digital Gnosis as the moderator. A partial transcript and notes follow. Egnor has been a guest at Theology Unleashed, before, debating materialist philosopher David Papineau. The ten proofs of God that he presents as his opening argument below are not drawn from sacred texts but from philosophical reasoning: Michael Egnor: There are, broadly speaking, two different kinds of theology. There’s natural theology and there’s revealed theology. Revealed theology is the use of scripture, personal experiences, or relationships to God. And that’s…