I have begun this discussing with my good friend, the atheist lawyer known as Martin. We are discussing the topic Is The Universe A Design? (First Rebuttal) Now it may be noticed that I did not use the word debate. That is because I have grown tired of debates. Debates are heated and hostile, they are two people defending their positions rather than looking at the data and reasoning to a conclusion. Perhaps I am looking too much into terminology, but my point is that I hope this can be more of a discussion, than a debate, as I have so defined it. I hope we can leave our intellectual presuppositions are the door and look to what is being said as we debate the topic, Is The Universe A Design? (First Rebuttal).
My introduction can be found here, and Martin’s introduction is in the comments section. This debate is also being mirrored at martinandrichard.blogspot.com.
Now, onto business.
Are the cosmos an example of specified complexity?
In my introductory post I argued that the fine-tuning of the cosmos for sentient life are an example of specified complexity. When I say sentient life, I mean any intelligent life in the universe. Many of these anthropic constants prohibit the existence of planets anywhere in the known universe, so I do not think this can be avoided by saying that there could be life aside from carbon based life.
So while the universe would be unfriendly to any life in the absence of these anthropic constants, Martin argues that the much of the universe is unfriendly to life forms, to which I would simply reply: so what? Suppose there was a painting filled with scribbles and paint splatter all over 90% of the paper, but in the center, there was a little drawing of a few people and a smiling sun wearing sunglasses. It would be irrational for us to say that the 90% negates the 10%. The reason that the rest of the universe does not contain specified complexity is that we were never intended to abide in that location.
The idea that there is specified complexity in one location is not negated by the the fact that there is not specified complexity in another.
Marin goes on to raise a further objection about the nature of the anthropic constants by appealing to what is known as a futuristic Theory Of Everything that may explain a way the specified complexity in the universe as a function of natural law. The problem with this is that the anthropic constants are independent of the laws of nature. In fact, string theory predicts that there exist 10×500 different possible universe which are consistent with natures’ laws. The idea that these constants are due to physical necessity is not supported by the science of the day.
It should also be noted that my good friend Martin did not even attempt to appeal to the idea that the anthropic constants just come to be by chance alone. Indeed his attempt to use a futuristic TOE to explain away the idea of the anthropic constants suggest to me that he does believe that it would be irrational to maintain that they just happened by chance, a point that I agree with.
I think in some cases, our childhood awe when we look to the universe is correct. It is my opinion that a design hypothesis cannot be avoided.
Is the DNA molecule an example of specified complexity?
In my introductory post, I argued that if there is a case of specified complexity in the universe, this would be a very strong indicator of a creation model, and as far as I can tell, my good friend Martin does not dispute this notion. So I argued that the DNA molecule is an example of specified complexity in that it contains more information than 1000 encyclopedias (according to Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, not The Blind Watchmaker as I said in my original post).
Martin contests the idea that the DNA molecule is not an example of specified complexity on the basis of the manner in which the specified complexity came to be. He said that DNA evolved from a series of very simple replicators. I do not dispute that. I am not arguing that DNA is necessarily irreducibly complex, nor am I arguing that it was necessarily the product of an ex nihilo special creation act, so I am not attacking a straw man; I am instead talking about the nature of the DNA molecule. I am arguing only that it is an example of specified complexity. The manner in which the designer brought that specified complexity to be is not relevant.
If one is to argue that it is not an example of specified complexity on the basis of the simplicity of the replicators, then one would be guilty of what is known as the Fallacy Of Composition, which is to say that because all of the parts, of a whole, have a particular trait, therefore the whole has a particular trait. For example, if we were to say that all parts of an elephant were light in weight, that therefore the whole of the elephant was light in weight, this would be an example of the fallacy of composition.
In the same way, if we are to argue that all of the parts of the DNA molecule are simple and lack specified complexity, that therefore the whole of the DNA molecule is simple and lacks specified complexity, this would be an example of the fallacy of composition, and I think that is what my debate opponent is guilty of.