The Return of the God Hypothesis
Stephen Meyer, 2021
"It was a public speaker's nightmare unfolding at a most inauspicious time." Quite a beginning to a prologue - he was hit by a terrible migraine headache during a debate with physicist Lawrence Krauss, author of "A Universe from Nothing". The other weird thing was that Krauss did about ten minutes of an ad hominum attack on Meyer, ignoring the subject of debate to declare that Meyer was not worthy of debating. Uses this bad behavior of Krauss, which is not surprising, to launch into a brief survey of "scientific materialists" who regard the laws of physics as the creator of everything, self-existent, from eternity past. Krauss "denounces philosophy as a vacuous enterprise".
p3-5 Overview of materialism and materialists, the new atheists, Sagan and Cosmos, Dennett, Stephen Hawking's Grand Design, Victor Stenger's "God: The Failed Hypothesis", points to projected cause for most skepticism about belief in God as chemical evolution as beginner of life and unguided biological evolution as the developer of life.
p6-7 Describes his previous work as pointing to design in life, but not specifically arguing for God as the designer. Comments about questions he has received about his writing. "natural next step for me to explore what science can tell us about .. the possible existence of God"
p7 While reeling from the impact of the severe migraine, he gave a brief summary. Interesting comment about a friend with Tourette's who had difficulty speaking, but would come up with brief pithy summary statements that were very insightful. Compares to his brief summary.
Part I: The Rise and Fall of Theistic Science
p13 1. The Judeo-Christian Origins of Modern Science
p14 Bashes Barash for assaulting his evolutionary psychology classes with "science has rendered belief in God implausible".
p14-15 moves to Dawkins and his "blind, pitiless indifference" trumpeting.
p14 But properties of the universe and of life are just "what we would expect" [I think that is from Penzias or Wilson] so initiates the "story of reversal, the return of the God hypothesis."
p14 Recaps the 1985 meeting, including Owen Gingerish, historian of science and astrophysicist, - then Allan Sandage, both emphasizing fine tuning and its implication of prior intelligence. Then Dean Kenyon and his reversal on the plausibility of chemical evolution, having written "Biochemical Predestination" with the suggestion of a pathway to life. He had moved to a view of a directing intelligence.
p16 Charles Thaxton and discussion of an "intelligent cause". This meeting influenced Meyer on his way to Cambridge, where he earned a PhD in origin-of-life-biology. Wrote "Signature in the Cell" in 2009 and later "Darwin's Doubt".
p17 The Warfare or Conflict Model
p19 Credits a host of current historians (he lists 18) who assert that Christianity had a decisive role in the rise of modern science.
p20 The Rise of Theistic Science "so many historians and philosophers of science now identify Judeo-Christian ideas as critical to the origin of modern science."
p20 "Why there? Why then?" - points to historian of science Joseph Needham.
p21-24 Peter Hodgson, Herbert Butterfield, Ian Barbour The "X factor" arose in western civilization. They had to work their way out of formal thought exercises to actual observation of nature. Gives lots of credit to Boyle: "Boyle argued that God's freedom required an empirical and observational approach, not just a deductive one."
p24 Alfred North Whitehead and conviction of an "Order of Nature", attributed this conviction among the founders of modern science to the "medieval insistence upon the rationality of God."
p24-25 Steve Fuller, Western science is grounded in the "belief that the natural order is the product of a single intelligence from which our own intelligence descends." Holmes Rolston III "a world with a blueprint, which was therefore open to the searches of the scientists."
p25-26 The Fallibility of Human Reasoning Steve Fuller points to Augustine and his dichotomy of image of God and original sin. In the middle ages a big factor was them being able to read the Bible for themselves. "human beings could attain insight into the workings of the physical world, but on the other side, they were vulnerable to self-deception. They had capability and fallibility. "scientists should not take their initial observations of nature at face value. Instead they must 'interrogate' nature using systematic experimental methods."
p27 Emphasizes Oxford theologian Robert Grossteste and his famous student Roger Bacon. Grossteste "the real founder of the tradition of scientific thought in medieval Oxford"
p27-28 Ockham's Razor "Ockham's principle of parsimony"
p29 Assessing the Warfare Model Dawkins and others including Sagan who taught the warfare model were on the ascendance in the 1980s, with dubious credit to Draper and White. This kicked Meyer off to read works of the founders of modern science.
p30 2. Three Metaphors and the Making of the Scientific World Picture
p30 A book, a clock, a law-governed realm
p31 The book of nature: Anthony the Abbot in the 3rd century, Basil the Great, Augustine, Maximus the Confessor, Thomas Aquinas. Scripture in Psalm 19 and Romans 1.
p32 John Ray, 17th century biologist, Robert Boyle, chemist
p33 Contingency and the intelligibility of nature.
p34 Boyle "looking for specific physical mechanisms." Boyle on air.
p34 Boyle "he explicitly invoked the purposive or intelligent activity of God to explain the original construction of the universe, the mechanisms that made regularities possible and especially the diverse creatures of the living world."
p35 Rejected "so blind a cause as chance"
p35 "Edward Davis summarizes Boyle's methodological approach: 'Diligently pursue the physical causes of things, for that's how science is done; but, at the same time, [recognize that] design is sometimes evident in the the whole contrivance one is studying.'" Davis was 'thunderstruck' to discover Boyle's design arguments as being so similar to Paley's . Boyle even has a watch story similar to Paley's.
p36 "Davis goes so far as to call Boyle the father of the modern theory of intelligent design."
p36 The Laws of Nature
p36 "Natural philosophers during the scientific revolution ..began to .. characterize the natural world as a law-governed realm"
p36 John Hedley Brooke: "For Newton, as for Boyle and Descartes, there were laws of nature only because there had been a [Divine] Legislator."
p37 "As the Nobel laureate [Calvin Cycle] and University of California-Berkeley chemist Melvin Calvin argued, the notion of an 'Order of Nature' was 'discovered 2,000 or 3,000 years ago, and enunciated first in the Western world by the ancient Hebrews."
p37 Meyer read article by Edgar Zilsel who "argues that the concept of laws of nature expresses a 'juridical metaphor' of theological origin. He shows that the first people to conceive nature as an eternally governed system were - in fact - the ancient Hebrews. Zilsel notes that various passages from the Bible - from the book of Job, Proverbs, Psalms, and even the various prophetic books - implied that God had issued 'laws' or 'decrees' that set 'boundaries' on the range of possible natural phenomena."
p38 Use of "laws of nature" dropped out of use with Greeks, Romans.
p39 "Only in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, after Western Christianity had begun to rely more heavily on the Bible as a source of authority .. did the term 'laws of nature' .. come back into currency." "begin to emerge in the writings of philosophers and scientists such as Bacon, Descartes, Kepler, Christian Huygens, Richard Hooker, Boyle, and Newton to describe natural regularities."
p40-46 Extensive discussion of the conflict between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, described as a "mechanical philosopher". Very interesting, and I'm surprised that I have not run across such a description of this conflict before. Both were Christians, and the mechanical philosophy had contributed positively to the scientific revolution since it helped the movement toward experimental approaches to understanding the laws of nature. And it was an understandable debate, since Newton's law of gravity was like an "action at a distance" with no obvious mechanical interaction. Newton proposed his law of gravity in 1687 and the graviton was not proposed until the 1930s, so we were over two hundred years away from a mechanistic theory of the law of gravity, and we still don't understand it. So it is understandable that this "action at a distance" bothered Leibniz. Newton stuck to his guns about the validity of his theory, but admitted clearly that he did not know the cause. p43 "Newton could not identify any material cause for gravitational action at a distance." "Though a theist, Leibniz rejected attributing the regularities in nature to God's direct and constant governance. For Leibniz, a proper respect for the wisdom of God required seeing a preestablished design built into matter from the beginning, not a constant regulation of matter by the divine Spirit." p44 "Newton defended the rigor and legitimacy of his new theory. He did so on the basis of its ability to describe with mathematical precision the motions of the heavenly bodies and the forces acting on falling bodies - however mysterious such action at a distance might be. Newton also thought that his use of mathematics to describe universal phenomena such as gravitational attraction represented an advance over the practice of trying to imagine a mechanical explanation for ever specific class of phenomena."
This is really an excellent discussion of an important debate at the time, and Meyer does a great job with it. Newton's regard for mathematics reminds me of the contribution of Eugene Wigner in his article "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics" where he, like Newton, marvels over the effectiveness of mathematics, a non-material reality, for the description of the behavior of the universe. I'm somewhat in the same position at present with the effect of the Higgs field throughout the universe and its connection to the mass of fermions and the entire structure of matter.
p44-45 Meyer does add "Still, Newton probably did hold the view that Leibniz suspected." Newton, in a letter to Bishop Richard Bentley in 1692, after his dispute with Leibniz, implied that he thought that "gravity must be caused by an agent acting constantly according to certain laws."
p46-47 More evidence along the same line that Newton saw God's hand in the working of nature.
p47 The Importance of Design Arguments During the Scientific Revolution
p47-48 Further discusses Kepler, Boyle and Linnaeus as well as Newton to reemphasize the importance of design arguments in their approach to their respective scientific specialties. Newton was quite eloquent in his design narratives, making the claims of the new atheists that he proposed a purely mechanistic view of the universe appear as dishonest historical revisionism, as outrageous as those of Draper and White in their "warfare model". An example from Newton: "this most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets, and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being".
p48-49 From Newton to Dawkins?
"How then did we get from Newton to Dawkins?" "Clearly, an enormous intellectual shift has occurred in the West since the founding of modern science. But what caused it?"
p50 3. The Rise of Scientific Materialism and the Eclipse of Theistic Science
p50 "Scientific materialism" rose following the 18th century period called the Enlightenment.
p51 Reason and Religion During the Enlightenment
p51 Systematic investigation of nature, philosophers who extolled reason and science over religion, strife and warfare between Catholics and Protestants, the Thirty Years War (1618-48) heritage, exhausted by religious conflict. French philosophers Voltaire and later Comte viewed science as the best example of the power of human reason and the most reliable source of knowledge.
p52 Skeptical empiricist David Hume used idea of laws of nature as a reason to reject theistic belief. Miracles are impossible because they violate the laws of nature - these laws being "autonomous entities rather than descriptions of how God normally chooses to order the material world, as Newton and earlier scientists had believed." Hume justified rejection of miracles "insisting that uniform and repeated human experience demonstrated that natural laws could not be violated." His "radical empiricism" advanced "observation of the natural world through the five senses offers the only sure path to knowledge." "In short, miracles violate the laws of nature, and the laws of nature cannot be violated; therefore miracles are impossible."
p53 French philosopher Auguste Comte, radical empiricist, 1840s, positivism. Real or 'positive' knowledge only by reference to natural laws or strictly material mechanisms. "Thus, he secularized two of the theological metaphors - nature as mechanism and a lawful realm - that had previously expressed the theistic inspiration for doing science."
p53-54 The Demise of Theistic Arguments
p55-56 The Demise of the Cosmological Argument
p56-58 The Demise of the Design Argument
p58-60 The Rise of Scientific Materialism
p60 Interesting quote of biologist Francisco Ayala "The functional design of organisms and their features would .. seem to argue for the existence of a designer. It was Darwin's greatest accomplishement [however,] to show that the directive organization of living beings can be explained as a result of a natural process, natural selection, without any need to resort to a creator or other external agent." This is the kind of statement from one who appears to be sympathetic to faith in God, as I found by reading the "Darwin's Gift.." book, that makes you nervous about the apparent inconsistency. It appears to me that this apparent reverence for "natural selection" neglects the fact that in Darwin's scenario this is preceded by "random variation" and the logical dilemma that information and complexity must arise, but cannot arise from a purely random process.
p60-62 Changing Norms: The Role of Methodological Naturalism
p62-63 Darwin, Marx and Freud: A Comprehensive Materialism
p63-66 Scientific Materialism and the Relationship Between Science and Faith
p66 "Although many scientists came to regard the witness of science as hostile to a theistic worldview, others began to view it as entirely neutral. Few, however, have thought ..like Kepler, Boyle, and Newton - that the testimony of nature (or science) actually supports belief in God. By the beginning of the twentieth century, science - despite its theistic beginnings - seemed to have no need of the God hypothesis."
Part II: The Return of the God Hypothesis
p69 4. The Light from Distant Galaxies
p69 Interestingly, he points to the poet Edgar Allen Poe as providing a model for the origin of the universe before scientists pointed to a beginning.
p69 Aristotle thought time to be infinite because each moment had a beginning that must come from the ending of a previous moment. But Augustine, Aquinas, Maimonides, Bonaventure broke with Aristotle and reaffirmed creation ex nihilo.
p70-71 The Kalam cosmological argument proposed that if there was an infinite past, you could never get to the present. Many thinkers, including Descartes and Newton,in the scientific revolution period thought there was a finite time but infinite space.But infinite spatial extent gave rise to Olber's paradox, why any dark sky? Olber's 1758-1840 and Diggers 1576
p72 In 1848 Edgar Allen Poe proposed that light from the most distant stars had nor reached us yet because the universe was not old enough.
p73 Modern astronomers: "correct solution to Olber's paradox: the universe has a finite age, so light has only had time to reach us from a limited number of stars."[But the current version of that has inflation factored in for a universe that expands faster than the speed of light.]
p73 The Great Debate
p74-75 Discussion of the "great debate" between Shapley (only Milky Way) and Curtis 1920 (nebulae are 'island universes' beyond our galaxy).
p75-77 The Cosmological Distance Ladder
p78 In 1913 Ejnar Hertzsprung determined the distances to 13 Cepheid variables relatively close to the Sun by parallax methods. Since he could measure their apparent brightness by their periods, he could then develop a relationship between absolute brightness and period. He determined the distance to the Small Magellanic Cloud (`30,000 light years), and put in place a method to determine distance based on brightness period.
P79 Galactic Distances and the Great Debate
p80-84 Spectroscopy and the Discovery of the Red Shift
p84 Hubble used Slipher's discovery and along with the Cepheid distance scale, was able to plot recessional velocity from Earth vs distance and found a precisely linear relationship, Hubble's Law. "the further, the faster"
86 "Hubble's discovery ...implied that the universe was expanding and had a beginning, just as Edgar Allen Poe's 'Eureka' moment had anticipated three quarters of a century before."
p87 5. The Big Bang Theory The evidence of galactic red shift 'conjoined' with Einstein's general relativity, with the ideas of length contraction and time dilation, the spacetime curving of space made major changes in our perception of the universe.
p89 Wheeler "Space tells matter how to move, and matter tells space how to curve." Describes the precession of the orbit of Mercury and the bending of starlight by the Sun as first observed in 1919 by Arthur Eddington after Einstein predicted it.
p91 Einstein realized that if gravity were the only force acting, matter would congeal and contract upon itself. He thought something must be counteracting this force for there to be the observed empty space between massive bodies.
p91 The Cosmological Constant and the Static Universe
p96 The Steady-State Cosmology
p96 Eddington: "Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply do not believe the present order of things started off with a bang. The expanding universe is preposterous .. It leaves me cold."
p96 "Robert Dicke, a leading Princeton University physicist during the 1950s and 1960s, later explained why a finite universe elicited such knee-jerk philosophical opposition among so many scientists. An infinitely old universe 'would relieve us' he said 'of the necessity of understanding the origin of matter at any finite time in the past.' A finite universe, by constrast, would force scientists to confront uncomfortable questions about the ultimate beginning of the material universe itself. It also raised the possibility that the universe had begun in something like a creation event produced by a cause that existed independently of matter, space, time, and energy."
p97 1948 Gold, Bondi and Hoyle proposed "steady-state" model with continuous creation of matter to explain the expansion of the universe.
p99 Evidential Challenges to Big Bang Cosmology
p101 The Big Bang's Big Win
p104 The Oscillating Universe
p106 The Big Bang's Galaxy Problem
p107 The Final Rock
p108 Allan Sandage "During his talk, however, he not only described the astronomical evidence for the beginning of the universe; he shocked many of his colleagues by announcing a recent religious conversion and then explaining how the scientific evidence of a 'creation event' had contributed to a profound change in his worldview."
"I now have to go from a stance as a complete materialistic rational scientist and say this super natural event, to me, gives at least some credence to my belief that there is some design put in the universe. I cannot ... with certainty say that. What now do I do? I am convinced that there is some order in the universe. I think all scientists, at the deepest level, are so startled by what they see in the miraculousness of the inner connection of things in their field ... that they must have wondered why it is this way."
p109 Owen Gingerich: Commented about Owen's whose lecture "Biblical Creation and Scientific Cosmogony" at SMU 1985 "did explore what he called a 'strange convergence' between the testimony of modern cosmogony and the specificically biblical idea that the universe flashed instantly into existence a finite time ago."
p111 6. The Curvature of Space and the Beginning of the Universe
p112 Hawking "Penrose's black hole work has implications for beginning of the universe."
p112 Hawking's PhD thesis, and an interesting discussion of the 2014 film "The Theory of Everything" and a description of his PhD exam on the thesis, including Penrose who was on the faculty at the time. Description of exam in film concludes with "'What comes next?' Hawking vows to develop further mathematical proof for the idea that 'time has a beginning.' "
General Relativity and the Singularity Theorems
p116 Cites Paul Davies from "Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology", p78-79 "If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of space-time itself."
p117 Hawking and Ellis in their 1973 book reflected "The creation of the Universe out of nothing has been argued .. from early times; .. The results we have obtained support the idea that the universe began a finite time ago. However, the actual point of creation, the singularity, is outside the presently known laws of physics."
p118 About confirmation of general relativity "Such experiments have provided precise quantitative confirmation of the predictions of the theory, even out to the fifth decimal place. Thus, general relativity now stands as one of the best confirmed theories of modern physics."
p118 "at some point the universe would have been small enough that physicists would need to use quantum mechanics to describe the behavior of matter and energy in that subatomic realm." This raises questions related to the non-existence of a quantum theory of gravity at present.
p118-120 Discusses uncertainties about extremely tine space. The 1973 work of Hawking and Ellis acknowledge this, but "As they put it, 'Such a curvature would be so extreme as that it might well count as a singularity." Fig 6.5 p121 sketches both types of inflation.
p122 "The one inflation field therefore gives birth to endless bubble universes - 'many worlds in one,' as the Russian physicist Alexander Vilenkin described it."
p123 The Explanatory Power of Inflation
p124 Inflation and the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem
p128 Vilenkin: "With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape; they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning."
p124-128 I need to examine the BGV theorem for HyperPhysics. Meyer has a diagram on p127 and a discussion. Its critical thesis is that nothing can exceed the speed of light in whatever frame it resides, which is really an aspect of special relativity and doesn't make any presumptions about general relativity or inflationary theories. The BGV proof dates to 2003. Concluding that the universe is 'past incomplete' says that "if one follows any spacetime trajectory back in time, any expanding universe, including one expanding as a consequence of an 'inflation field,' must have had a starting point to its expansion, including a beginning."
p129 Guth's caveat: "There may be models with regions of contraction [of space] embedded within the expanded region that could evade our theorem." He allows that "some new physics (i.e., not inflation) would be needed to explain the past boundary of the inflating region. One possibility would be some kind of quantum creation event."
p129 "No proof can establish any conclusion with certainty, since all proofs must make some assumptions. For now, though, it's worth noting that a proof (in the case of the BGV theorem) and a strong indicator (in the case of the Hawking-Penrose-Ellis singularity theorems) have reinforced the testimony of observational astronomy: as best we can tell, the universe did have a beginning."
p130 7. The Goldilocks Universe
p130-135 The best telling of the story of Fred Hoyle and his journey from staunch atheist to amazed advocate of design that I have seen.This includes his discovery of the carbon resonance, the "Hoyle resonance", without which there would have been no life.
p130 Fred Hoyle, 1951 "Religion is but a desperate attempt to find an escape from the truly dreadful situation in which we find ourselves ... No wonder then that many people feel the need for some belief that gives them a sense of security, and no wonder that they become very angry with people like me who say that this is illusory."
Cited by Meyer to make the point that Hoyle "started his scientific career as a staunch atheist who saw no evidence of design in the universe."
p130 "His atheism played a major role in his approach to science, priming him to reject the idea that the universe had a beginning. In fact, as we saw, he coined the term 'big bang' to ridicule the idea of a cosmic beginning and later developed the steady-state model as an alternative. Unfortunately for Hoyle, after the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR), support for his steady-state model dwindled as more and more astronomers came to accept the big bang theory."
p131 The Mysterious Prevalence of Carbon in the Universe
p131-135 Nice description of the intense efforts of Hoyle, Gamow, Alpher, and Bethe to find a path to overcome what they called the "5-nucleon crevasse", the non-existence of any stable mass-5 nucleon. It was Hoyle who came up with the idea that beryllium-8 and and helium-4 might combine to form carbon-12 if there was a nuclear excited state of carbon-12 at just the right level. He calculated the level to be 7.65 MeV and persuaded physicist Willy Fowler at CalTech to look for it. The fact that the resonance was found precisely where he predicted, and the fact that without it there would be almost no carbon and no chance for life as we know it, was an event that shook Hoyle's atheism.
p136 The Discovery of the First Fine-Tuning Parameters
p139 Hoyle was a major figure in exploring these fine-tuning examples, and it led him to his famous "super-intellect" quote.
p139 Cites astrophysicist Luke Barnes in A Fortunate Universe p320,323 "Fine tuning suggests that, at the deepest level that physics has reached, the Universe is well put-together... The whole system seems well thought out, something that someone planned and created."
p139 The Fine Tuning of the Laws and Constants of Physics
p139 The laws of physics usually relate one type of variable to another, but their proportionalities depend upon one or more constants, and it is in those constants that much of the fine tuning occurs.
p141 "These force constants have one of the rare sets of values that make life in the universe possible. In other words, the constants in the equations describing the fundamental forces of physics turn out to be exquisitely finely tuned within extremely fine tolerances."
p141 Paul Davies "The really amazing thing is not that life on earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural 'constants' were off even slightly."
p141 Stephen Hawking "The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life."
p141-142 Fine-tuning of constants and ratios therof:
p142-143 Describes visit with John Polkinghorne, who wrote extensively on fine tuning and thought it provided persuasive evidence of design.
p144 Brian Josephson, Cambridge physicist, Nobel laureate, "It could have been [that there was] some mind around before the kind of universe we know came into being. And if that were right, that mind could, as it were, have intentions for the universe and been able to set it up so that the end result came out right." later claimed about 80 percent confidence in intelligent design.
p145 Henry Margenau, Yale professor of quantum physics, about fine tuning:"There is a mind which is responsible for the laws of nature and the existence of nature and the whole universe. And this is consistent with everything we know."
p145 George Greenstein, physicist "the thought consistently arises that some supernatural agency, or rather Agency, must be involved. Is it possible that, suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof for the existence of a supreme being? Was it a God who providentially stepped in and crafted the cosmos for our benefit?"
p146 8. Extreme Fine Tuning - by Design?
p146 Charles Townes, Nobel Prize winner, UC Berkeley "Intelligent design as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it's remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren't just the way they are, we couldn't be here at all. The sun wouldn't be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here at all."
The Fine Tuning of the Initial Conditions of the Universe
p148-151 Initial entropy fine tuning. The initial entropy must be very low. A black hole has the highest known entropy.
p149 Penrose determined that getting a universe such as ours with highly ordered configurations of matter required an exquisite degree of initial fine tuning. Calculated entropy of present universe. Probability of our universe unimaginably miniscule. Paul Davies "The present arrangement of matter indicates a very special choice of initial conditions."
p151-2 Fine tuning of the expansion rate of the universe. At 10-9 s a density of 1024 kg/m3 with +/- 1kg/m3 implying no galaxies. Or fine tuning to 1 part in 1024. Fine tuning of cosmological constant no less than 1 in 1090.
p153 Discusses weak anthropic principle and cites Leslie's firing squad. Dismisses WAP as needing causal explanation.
p155-156 Strong anthropic principle pretty well dismissed.
p156-157 Chance and natural laws. Laws not capable of explaining fine tuning. They don't explain the values of the associated constants, and don't explain initial conditions.
p157-162 Cosmic Clues Discusses William Dembski's "The Design Inference". Uses Mt. Rushmore and the "Welcome to Victoria" in flowers as examples of design we can see. Infer design from extreme improbability and "specification" or an independently recognizable pattern. For the universe as a whole, that second requirement might be stated "a set of parameters necessary for producing a life-sustaining universe."
p162-163 "A Revived Natural Theology?" John Polkinghorne "We are living in an age where there is a great revival of natural theology taking place. That revival of natural theology is taking place not on the whole among theologians, who have lost their nerve in that area, but among the scientists."
p164 9. The Origin of Life and the DNA Enigma
p165 "It was, however, due in large measure to Crick and Watson's own discovery of the information-bearing properties of DNA that the materialist understanding of life has begun to unravel. Scientists have become increasingly, and in some quarters uncomfortably, aware that there is at least one appearance of design in biology that has not been explained by natural selection or any other purely naturalistic mechanism: the information present in even the simplest living cells."
p166-167 Reviews information in DNA and the other steps in the "central dogma" - transcription, translation,
p168 Information stored, but where did it come from?
p168-169 Dallas and Yale conferences. The evolution of Kenyon's views,departing from his "biochemical predestination".
p169 Bradley, Thaxton and Olsen and The Mystery of Life's Origin. Meyer was working on digital signal processing and went to talk with Thaxton.
p170 Meyer wrote MPhil and PhD theses on the origin of life biology. Discussed the inadequacy of Miller-Urey.
p172-3 Shannon information. DNA beyond that to specific information or specified complexity.
p174 "Beyond the reach of chance" - "purely chance interactions ...could explain the information in DNA. Since the late 6os, however, few serious scientists have supported this view."
p175 Mentions "probability of obtaining functionally sequenced, information-rich biomacromolecules at random is" re Ilya Prigogne: "vanishingly small...even on the scale of ... billions of years" and his own "Signature in the Cell"
p176 Nobel laureate Christian de Duve cited.
p180-1 RNA World Cites chicken-and-egg problems of DNA storing information but needing multiple proteins to function, which required DNA to be made. RNA shows some enzymatic function and some information storage capability, hence the proposal of it being the first self replication.
p181 The Impasse Deepens. Cites Crick's 1981 comment.
"In 2008 in the film Expelled, Richard Dawkins publicly acknowledged that 'we don't know' how life originated in the first place and even speculated that the information in DNA might represent a 'signature of some kind of designer'. Not a divine designer, though. He proposed as an 'intriguing possibility' that an alien civilization evolved elsewhere in the cosmos and then 'designed' and 'seeded' the first life on Earth." Crick and Orgel in 73 posited 'directed panspermia' and revisited the theme in his 1981 "Life Itself". "That figures as prominent as Dawkins and Crick, ardent defenders of evolutionary theory and a materialistic approach to science, would posit such speculative hypotheses only underscores the depth of the origin-of-life problem and the closely associated enigma of the origin of genetic information."
p182 Cites Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen and "The Mystery of Life's Origin", which is republished with additional commentary in 2020. An intelligent cause was posited in the original. Also physical chemist Michael Polanyi argued that physics and chemistry could not produce information. Dean Kenyon departs from his "biochemical predestination" and takes the position that the information in DNA provided "evidence for intelligent purpose in the cosmos, or design".
p183-184 Peter Lipton: Meyer after his PhD at Cambridge was considering "Could the intuitive connection between information and the prior activity of designing intelligence justify a rigorous scientific argument for intelligent design based on the presence of the functionally specified digital information in DNA?" He had noted that many scientists had made use of "abductive inferences", "inferring past conditions or causes from present clues." Stephen Jay Gould "infer history from its results." He met Peter Lipton, who wrote "Inference to the Best Explanation". Lipton further developed the criterion called "causal adequacy".
p185 Cites Charles Lyell, who developed this principle in his "The Principles of Geology".
p185-186 Cites Henry Quastler: "The creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity."
Meyer's response "Uniform and repeated experience affirms that intelligent agents can produce large amounts of functional or specified information, whether in software programs, ancient inscriptions, or Shakespearean sonnets." This kind of statement is found often in Meyer's writing.
p187 This page is an excellent summary of the defense for the statement "intelligence is the only known cause of specified information". "Thus, intelligence or mind or what philosophers call 'agent causation' now stands as the only known cause capable of generating large amounts of specified information, in particular, the amounts necessary to produce a new protein fold, the minimal unit of biological innovation." Cites his "Darwin's Doubt" and McDonough "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence."
p189 10. The Cambrian and Other Information Explosions
p189 Cites his Darwin's Doubt "major innovations .. often occur abruptly or discontinuously, meaning that the newly arising forms bear little resemblance to what existed earlier" "one of the most dramatic ...the Cambrian explosion ... beginning about 530 million years ago ..most major groups of animals first appear in the fossil record in a geologically abrupt fashion." "Eugene Koonin describes this as a "biological big bang".
p193 "Centennial Euphoria" at the 1959 Darwin centennial, "triumphalist" mood to which Meyer reacts.
p194 Wistar Philadelphia conference 1966 "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution", mathematicians, physicists and computer scientists
p195 2008 Altenberg, Austria meeting of 16 evolutionary biologists.
p195 2016 Gerd Muller of Austria at Royal Society Conference in London. "Opened the proceedings by outlining 'the explanatory deficits' of neo-Darwinism, including its inability to explain the origin of 'phenotypic complexity' and 'anatomical novelty' in the history of life." (Meyer attended this conference)
p195-196 contain very important material in the challenge to neo-Darwinianism.
p196 "old aphorism affirming that mutation and natural selection can account for 'the survival of the fittest, but not the arrival of the fittest". Discusses the relatively complicated origin of this catch phrase.
p197 At 1988 meeting in Seattle "Sources of Information Content in DNA" where he met Michael Denton and they talked well into the night. He had read Denton's "Evolution, A Theory in Crisis" (1985).
p197 Randomness problem: "According to neo-Darwinian theory, new genetic information arises as random mutations occur in the DNA. 'Random' means that mutations occur without respect to the functional needs of the organism - mutations have no inherent directionality. Nevertheless, natural election can only 'select' what random mutations first generate. And in the evolutionary process to produce new forms of life, random mutations must first generate - at the very least - new genetic information for building novel proteins."
p197-199 Good pages on Denton. He and Denton discussed the 'needles in a combinatorial haystack' skepticism about random processes producing meaningful new information. See Ch 13 in Denton's "Evolution, A Theory in Crisis", p308ff.
p199 David Berlinsky in "The Deniable Darwin" discusses the logical problem of 'combinatorial inflation' in the claims of evolutionists.
p199 "For a sequence of bases in DNA of any significant length, there likely were vastly more ways of arranging nucleotide bases that would not produce a functional protein than there were ways of arranging nucleotide bases that would. ...Consequently, random mutational changes were overwhelmingly more likely to degrade biological function than to generate a new functional gene or protein."
200-202 Explores the probability further using the key and lock rationale and concedes that there can be more than one combination that will open a lock.
p202-207 Determining the golden ratio. Discussions with Denton in 1988 and with Doug Axe in 1990. Axe was at Cambridge 1990-2003. Discusses probabilistic resources 1040 organisms in the 3.85 Gyr history of life. 150 amino acids, 1077 possible sequences. It is therefore overwhelmingly more likely than not that a random mutational search would have failed to produce even one new functional (information-rich) DNA sequence capable of coding for one new protein fold in th entire history of life on earth."
p209-213 Statements of intelligent design, Figure 10.12 Cites his statements in Darwin's Doubt, Louis Agassiz, the challenge of generating new information, ...needed ...a means of selection that (a)operates during a search - before success- and that (b)is guided by information about or knowledge of a functional target.
Part III: Inference to the Best Metaphysical Explanation
p217 11. How to Assess a Metaphysical Hypothesis
p217 Addresses metaphysics and ontology.
p217 Describes his presentation of intelligent design in Baylor's "Nature of Nature" conference 2000, followed by Christian de Duve on 'Vital Dust' who only objected to Meyer's objections to methodolological naturalism.
p218-219 Cites Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson and then dwells on Sean Carroll (the cosmologist Carroll) and his "The Big Picture". Discusses the "prime reality" question and the divisions of worldviews on that question.
p219-221 Four worldviews on prime reality, Figure 11.4 illustration.
p223 Abduction and Charles Sanders Pierce, called 'the method of hypotheses'
p224 Deducttive and abductive schemas
p225 May not affirm the consequent with certainty, one may affirm it as a possibility. Abduction may be a rather weak kind of argument, but it is often used in science if a hypothesis is found to correlate with an anticipated result, that is taken as evidence that the hypothesis is valid. Pierce argues that abduction can provide 'epistemic' support.
p226 Since abduction by itself can't provide a proof, it needs to have its explanatory power strengthened by something like "inference to the best explanation" or by accumulation of evidence for "causal adequacy".
p231 Thomas Bayes and his probability theorem for evaluating hypotheses.
p239 12. The God Hypothesis and the Beginning of the Universe
p239-240 Tells story of debating Michael Shermer and a subsequent conversation with him.
p241-242 Argument that a deductive proof of God not possible, but only acceptable type of proof for many philosophers and theologians. Suggests that superior explanatory power, rather than deductive proof, can support the God hypothesis.
p243 Positing existence of God would cause one to expect a finite universe. Cites Arno Penzias' famous statement:
pp244-245 Two good pages. Philosophical reasons theists might expect the universe to have a beginning. Theists would hold that:
246 Roll call of persons finding a beginning repugnant: Carroll, Dicke, Hoyle, Einstein (for a time), Eddington.
247 Takes another poke at Sagan's "cosmos is all that is" because of the implication that "nothing else exists beyond or separate from it that could act as its cause".
p259 13. The God Hypothesis and the Design of the Universe
p279 14. The God Hypothesis and the Design of Life
Part IV: Conjectures and Refutations
p301 15. The Information Shell Game
p326 16. One God or Many Universes?
p348 17. Stephen Hawking and Quantum Cosmology
p368 18. The Cosmological Information Problem
p388 19. Collapsing Waves and Boltzmann Brains
Part V: Conclusion
p409 20. Acts of God or God of the Gaps?
p431 21. The Big Questions and Why They Matter
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