Goff and Dembski (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, November 17, 2023, 14:18 (156 days ago) @ David Turell

I don’t have time to write a detailed response to all of this, so I’ll just pick on a selection of points:

GOFF: "The two arguments I was finding compelling – the fine-tuning argument for ‘God’, and the argument from evil and suffering against ‘God’ – were not actually opposed to each other. The argument from evil and suffering targets a very specific kind of God, namely the Omni-God: all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good creator of the universe.

Of course evil and suffering are not an argument against the existence of God but against a particular concept of a possible God’s nature. I agree with you, David, that biological complexity is a basic argument for God’s existence (which he omits), and the very concept of an unknown, eternal and sourceless consciousness which creates billions of stars that come and go for no apparent purpose is a basic argument against God, which he also omits.

GOFF: Meanwhile, the fine-tuning argument supports something much more generic, some kind of cosmic purpose or goal-directedness towards life that might not be attached to a supernatural designer.

The only alternative I can see to chance and a supernatural designer (or designers) would be that a bunch of non-living materials consciously decided to organize themselves in such a way that they would produced conditions suitable for life. Panpsychism ad absurdum.

GOFF: "One of the most fascinating developments in modern science is the surprising discovery of recent decades that the laws of physics are fine tuned for life.

I doubt if anyone interested in this field would have been surprised to hear that if conditions hadn’t been suitable for life, we wouldn’t have had life, and we have all been told a thousand times how colossal are the odds against the right combination. So atheists opt for chance, and theists opt for design.

GOFF: The latter option amounts to a belief that something at the fundamental level of reality is directed towards the emergence of life. I call this kind of fundamental goal-directedness ‘cosmic purpose’. (David’s bold)

You can’t detach purpose from whatever has that purpose and acts to fulfil that purpose. And I really don’t see how anything that has a purpose and acts to fulfil that purpose can be anything other than a form of consciousness. He rightly says that “Panpsychism is the theory that consciousness goes down to the fundamental building of matter. Fundamental particles or fields have incredibly rudimentary forms of consciousness…” I suggest it would take more than an incredibly rudimentary form of consciousness to fine-tune inanimate materials in such a way that they are suitable for life. Something” with a “cosmic purpose” is what theists call “God” – a “supernatural designer”. What other name does he want to give it?

Goff goes on to deal with the problem of theodicy, though he never mentions the word, and quotes Richard Swinburne’s argument that evil is necessary for good to take full effect. This is not far removed from Leibniz’s view that this is the best of all possible worlds, but it has nothing to do with God’s existence, and Goff himself disapproves of the idea anyway: “I don’t believe that God would have the right to cause or allow suffering in order to allow for these goods.” I don’t know who grants rights to God, but I have to agree that I too would prefer the notion of a limited God to that of a sadist who wishes to create suffering. Who wouldn't?

GOFF: "I think a better option is a limited designer who has made the best universe they are able to make." (dhw's bold)

Reasonable enough. Exit the all-powerful God of most monotheistic religions.

Goff: "For these reasons, I think overall the best theory of cosmic purpose is cosmopsychism, the view that the universe is itself a conscious mind with its own goals.”

What is a cosmic, conscious mind with its own goals if it's not what some folk call "God"?

GOFF: "I think human life can be very meaningful even if there is no cosmic purpose, so long as we engage in meaningful activities, such as kindness, creativity and the pursuit of knowledge.”

And so say all of us.

DAVID: You will note that is exactly what I have proposed in stating my all-knowing God knows His limits, because He is all-knowing. That means He is all-powerful with limits.

Stop there. How can anything or anyone be all-powerful with limits???

Dembski’s latest book

QUOTE: “Such analyses demonstrate evidence for design that is now so clear and rigorous that, for intellectually honest and sincere seekers of the truth, denying it is no longer feasible."

Why on earth Dembski has to offer all the preceding, complicated analogies I do not know. All he needs to say is what David says in his comments: the complexity of living forms is such that it can only have been designed. Ten times simpler than the rest, and totally to the point!

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