Do we need to posit the existence of eternal souls to make the design argument robust?
Transcription by : Sesa Visnu Das
Edited by: Sesa Visnu das
Question From Vaishakh P
Some of the atheistic forums is the question of design itself. Their claim is that there’s no intelligent design. Now, one may say that there’s order that’s visible to us, such as the beautiful mountains and how the environment is ‘just right’ for life to exist.
But their idea is that our existence is insignificant. So out of all the possible configurations that the universe could be in, our current universe is no different from the other possible configurations (which can’t sustain life) in terms of design. That we simply feel our configuration to be special because it has enabled our existence. In fact the whole “Anthropic Principle” idea is based on this.
Not necessarily it disproves the design argument. First lets understand what the anthropic principle is, then we will look at what its implications are and how atheists are misconstrue the implications. Firstly anthropic principle is a description. It’s not an explanation. Description means something which is already observed and we give a name to it and that is called as description. Explanation essentially means that there is a cause given for it. So only when we give a cause we can say that it is an explanation otherwise it is just a description. For example if we find a flower of a particular colour which we don’t know and we give a name to it. Now giving a name to that colour doesn’t explain how and why that flower acquired that colour. So naming or describing is not the same as explaining. This is very simple but it is critical to understand that the anthropic principle is a descriptive name. it is not an explanation because it doesn’t describe any causes. So what is the anthropic principle? This in simple terms is that the universe is made or set up in such a way that it is perfect for our life, exestince and our survival and because it hadn’t been then we wouldn’t be here to ask the question how it is perfect. For example the idea that the earth is tilted exactly at 23.5 degrees or that the distance between the earth and the moon is a particular value and distance between earth and Jupiter is particular or the ratio of the strong force and the weak force in the atom is of a particular value, all these universal constants and relations in this universe, why are they the way they are? That’s because if they wouldn’t be that way, we wouldn’t be alive. And then we wouldn’t be asking the question why they are like this. Yes that is fine but that doesn’t answer the question at all. If I am dying of thirst and hunger and I have fallen unconscious in a desert and I am thinking that this unconsciousness is the cause of my death and suddenly I come out of my consciousness and then I see that there are several jugs of water, there is a delicious feast kept in front of me and then I eat it and live and I wonder who brought this? I ask myself, who brought this, how did this come in this desert? If it wouldn’t have come here I wouldn’t have been alive to ask this question. That is fine but that doesn’t answer the question. There is an article in the website “ just made for you” in which the anomalous behavior of water is not anomalous at all for the aquatic life form, but exactly essential for their survival, in fact perfect for their survival. How has that come about. Now without that the aquatic life form will not survive. That’s true but that doesn’t explain where it came from. So the anthropic principle is simple a descriptive tool. It is not an explanatory tool which goes to some causes. So why is the earth at 23.t degrees? Well if it weren’t we souldn’t be alive to ask this question. That is fine but it doesn’t answer the question why it is like that. But then because this anthropic design very strongly points towards design, so the next question comes up how do we get out of the design argument. That’s what the atheists are trying to do. So then they come up with the idea of the multiverse theory. There are innumerable universes and among them in one of t universes the factors have come about just right. So if that is the case then there is no question of chance coming up. If I say the probability of the earth being tilted at23.5 degrees is just one in 10 billion thn en I say that there are 10 billion universes and then and in one of them the earth is tilted like that. So however low the probability will be one can just expand the no. of universes to that much and then can say that it is just by chance in one of the many universes. Now the problems with this are two fold. First of all many eminent scientists have pointed out that this concept of multiple universes or parallel universes is science fiction, not science. In another answer to a question about m theory I have quoted about eminent scientists talking very critically about parallel universe idea. It is not just an imaginary idea, not only just unproven but also are improvable because these universes are in parallel. they can’t be proven at all. So firstly it fits in the realm of science fiction and secondly more importantly they don’t solve the problem of probability. Because say the probability of the earth being tilted is one in ten billion and then there are 10 billion universes. Now in one of these universes the earth will be tilted at 23.5 degrees. But why should be the universe that I am in? or more specifically why should that be this universe? So if I throw 6 dices and if I calculate the probability of falling 6 in one of the dices , I have found a die which has fallen 6 then this dice has to fall six. So even if there are six dices that are being thrown up the question is if one of them is falling six, then the probability is increased. But the the probability of falling six in this particular die in front of me is not increased. It remains the same. One out of six. So the probability problem is not solved. It still remains. By positing innumerable universes we may solve the problem of how it occurred but still we can’t solve the problem of how it occurred in this particular universe in which we are living in. therefore positing of multiple universe theory also doesn’t do away with the design implications that very clearly come up from the anthropic principle. Thank you hare Krishna.