Book Review: The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning (Part II)

tfoftA ‘review’ of Victor Stenger’s 2011 book The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe is Not Designed For Us. Stenger is emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado in Boulder.


Section 1.1 NOMA

A widespread belief exists that science has nothing to say about God—one way or another. I must have heard it said a thousand times that “science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God.”

Strawman and non-sequitur. [This is the first sentence of the first chapter of his book].

Atheists look at the world around them, with their naked eyes and with the instruments of science, and see no sign of God.

This is a lie, atheists do not interpret the same data available to everyone as indicative of a God. [Recall, this guy is a philosophy professor at a major secular US university].

Even the most devout theist must admit that the existence of God is not an accepted scientific fact in the same way as, for example, the existence of quarks or black holes.

Because they would be making the category error that you are making Prof. Stenger. Also, there are no accepted scientific facts, there is provisional scientific consensus, liable to change with additional information.

As is the case with God, no one has directly observed these objects.

Someone has not been reading his bible.

Now, the theist will retort that this does not prove that God does not exist. If she is a Christian, she will of course be thinking of the Christian God. But the argument also does not prove that Zeus and Vishnu do not exist, nor Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

Bad theology squared.

Still, one can easily imagine scientific experiments to test for the existence of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Just post lookouts on rooftops around the world on Christmas Eve, and at the bedsides of children who just lost baby teeth.

Category error. The existence of Santa and the tooth fairy is not solely predicated on their stereotypical actions.

… but the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God is surprisingly easy to test for by virtue of his assumed participation in every event in the universe, from atomic transitions in distant galaxies to keeping watch that evolution on Earth does not stray from his divine plan.

Bad theology straw-man. Who exactly assumes that the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God participates in every event?

While the majority of scientists in Western and non-Islamic nations do not believe in God, …

Argumentum ad populum, argumentum ab auctoritat and how does he know that?

Gould, an avowed atheist,…

Gould was a self-described agnostic.

Section 1.2 Natural Theology

This was important because every one of the endless series of “proofs” of the existence of God that has been proposed, from antiquity to the present day, is automatically a failure because, as I have mentioned, a logical deduction tells you nothing that is not already embedded in its premises.

A proof is not supposed to offer more than its logical deduction. [Recall yet again, this guy is a philosophy professor at a major secular US university].

There is only one reliable way that humans have discovered so far to obtain knowledge they do not already possess—observation.

Paging all education ministries, throw away all teachers! Only observation is reliable. [This from a teacher himself].

And science is the methodical collecting of observations and the building and testing of models to describe those observation.

That’s what is called a simplification if there ever was one.

In 1859, he published On the Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which demonstrated how, over great lengths of time, complex life-forms evolve by a combination of random mutations and natural selection.

Assuming the conclusion. Stenger also runs from explaining Darwin’s obvious European based racism.

Section 1.3 Darwinism

Living organisms not only develop without the need for the intervention of an intelligent designer but also provide ample evidence for the lack of such divine action.

Non-sequitur and bad theology.

While heroic attempts have been made by theists and atheists alike to show that evolution need not conflict with traditional beliefs, the fact remains that the majority of believers in the United States refuse to accept a scientific theory that is as well established as the theory of gravity because of its gross conflict with the biblical account of the creation of life.

Source? Bait and switch, special pleading and extrapolation beyond the evidence.

Only the 14 percent of Americans who accept that God had no part in the process can be said to believe in the theory of evolution as the vast majority of biologists and other scientists understand it today.

Argumentum ab auctoritat. [No definition of who exactly is a scientist].

That opinion sharply disagrees with that of the vast majority of biologists.

Argumentum ab auctoritat. [I doubt he can help himself].

In the theory of evolution accepted by an almost unanimous consensus of scientists, humans with fully material bodies evolved by accident and natural selection only, with no further mechanisms or agents involved, and simply were not designed by God or natural law.

Argumentum ab auctoritat. [He definitely can’t help himself]. This is also a lie. We have never had a census of ALL scientists on their view of evolution. We have problematic data from some science subsets from certain countries. [Hint: the USA is not the world].

The evolution of mind is currently more contentious, but the evidence piles up daily that mind is also purely the product of the same natural processes with no need to introduce anything beyond matter.

Where does this evidence pile up daily?

Section 1.4 Intelligent Design

Evolutionary biologists, of whom Behe is not one, easily demonstrated the flaw in this argument.

It is irrelevant if Behe is a biochemist or an evolutionary biologist. Evolution (and all of science) is more about chemistry than about biology.

In 1999, theologian William Dembski published a book called …

Dembski is not (foremost and only) a theologian, he is more accurately described as a mathematician/philosopher. Dembski has a PhD in both fields but only an MDiv in theology. This is akin to describing Stenger as an electrical engineer from his undergraduate training.

On the empirical side, many examples can be given of physical systems creating information. A spinning compass needle provides no information on direction. When it slows to a stop, it “creates” the information of the direction North.

That is not information creation or even information “creation”. Rather it is information deduction from a device designed for a specific type of information detection.


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