Re: [asa] Because of us - Steve Fuller's anthropic principle - Darwin's original sin

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Wed Apr 29 2009 - 10:51:49 EDT

Hi Bill,

With the caveat that "front loaded universe" vs "no front loader" are not the only options (and even the concept of "front loader" may be a bit nebulous)...

I am simply at a loss to answer your question about evidential difference!

This is because, to be frank, I neither know whether there would be a difference between a front-loaded universe and one with no front-loader, nor precisely how we would go about ascertaining an answer to the question. I also have ringing in my ears Lakatos' view that there is no possibility of a decisive experimental confirmation of one theory over another, and that's really what we're talking about here - a decisive experiment (observation) that would decide the front-loaded/no front-loader universe question, isn't it?

Lakatos aside, I would, if forced to an answer, say "no" on the basis that there exist theists, deists, pantheists, panentheists, atheists, and whatever else, arguing that this universe is "precisely what we would expect" given their own particular metaphysical point-of-view. Speaking only for myself, this seems to me to suggest there is no clear opinion as to what constitutes the decisive evidence between the various outlooks.

I think there is quite a bit of careless polemic being bandied about here but even so, it's interesting to note just how flexible people can be when it comes to accommodating evidence into their own particular world-view. So, for instance, we have Richard Dawkins taking the anthropic principle in stride on the basis that "a universe fine tuned for life is PRECISELY what we would expect given that we are alive to observe it."

Examples could be multiplied, but the basic point is that I don't see how one could EVER put the question to an evidentiary test as it seems to me the ultimate case of paradigm determining interpretation of data (Hence, by the way, Lakatos' claim that there can be "no decisive experiments" - theories routinely "stretch" to accommodate all sorts of apparently problematic data!)

That said, I acknowledge that I haven't thought much about the matter and may be being rather too pessimistic. Perhaps somebody who's reflected more on the issue of front-loading could place their finger on a definitive point of evidential difference.

PS: I've assumed we're talking purely about "scientific" evidence here - obviously if one accepts, as I do, that God became incarnate in Jesus, then for such a person the broad question of decisive evidentiary difference would be considered substantially answered.


Bill Powers wrote:
> I have one further question to add:
> Echoing Antony Flew's parable of the Invisible Gardner, is there an evidential
> difference between a "front loaded" universe and one that has no
> "front-loader" at all?
> It would seem to me that there might be. After all, finding a neutrino
> detector thousands of feet below the ground, I would not conclude that it came
> there by chance just because it uses an understanding of chance to do its
> work. The difference, of course, is that in the case of "front loading" we
> are inside the neutrino detector and there is no thousands of feet below the
> ground, making the matter virtually invisible.
> If there is no difference, then "front loading" or no "front-loader" is a
> matter of choice, perhaps of convention. Is this where MN politely bows to
> convention? After all, we might ask, what difference is to science whether
> there is a "front loader" or not? Is this like asking whether there is a
> Matrix or not?
> Well, just asking.
> bill

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Received on Wed Apr 29 10:52:04 2009

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