January 29, 2010

Seeing the World Through Teleology-Colored Glasses

My previous post on evaluating traditional theistic arguments has generated a lot of discussion! Thanks to Jonathan, Lewis, and Clayton for helping to clarify some issues with my initial presentation.

Most of the discussion centered on the teleological argument. I'm not sure if that's just because I presented it first, or because it was the most problematic. (Lewis, who I hope doesn't mind me quoting him, told me offline yesterday that the teleological argument is the 'nutsiest' of all theistic arguments because it requires the theist to take the evidential argument from evil seriously and makes it difficult to use skeptical theism as a response to it. I agree that it has these problems, but I think classical theists are faced with these problems to begin with. That's a topic for another day.) Anyway, let me try to make my version of the argument a little more precise, and consider some objections. (The most important objection, I take it, is that we see the world through teleology-colored glasses, as it were; more on that below.) In trying to make the argument the more precise, I will necessarily rely on more controversial philosophical premises than my quick sketch did, but that's always the way it goes with precise arguments.

I begin with some terminology. Philosophers distinguish between perceiving an object and perceiving that a proposition is true. Perceiving that p is often (though not always) held to be sufficient for knowing that p. Furthermore, perceiving that p is factive - that is, it is part of the meaning of 'perceives that' that if S perceives that p, then p. What is not clear to me is how exactly the belief that p is supposed to be formed, and how this is related to the agent's perceptual apparatus. Some philosophers think the perceptual apparatus actually forms the belief, but I have imbibed too much classical empiricism to find this plausible. So let me (controversially) define perceiving that as follows:

S perceives that p =df. S has a veridical perceptual experience and, by the normal operation of S's cognitive apparatus S forms the true belief that p on the basis of that perceptual experience without conscious inference.

I define it seems to S that p as the non-factive counterpart of S perceives that p - that is:
It seems to S that p =df. S has a perceptual experience and, by the normal operation of S's cognitive apparatus S forms the belief that p on the basis of that perceptual experience without conscious inference.

I next define 'reasonable' (this definition is patterned on Anil Gupta's definition in Empiricism and Experience):
S is reasonable in performing cognitive act φ =df. In φing, S approximates the ideal of rationality as nearly as can be expected given S's limitations.

I take it that if a cognitive act (and I count entering or remaining in a state as an act) is reasonable, then the agent cannot rightly be criticized for it. Now, I take it that the following claim is widely accepted:
Reasonableness of Seemings (RS): If (i) it seems to S that p and (ii) S has no evidence that not-p and (iii) S has no evidence that this particular seeming is untrustworthy, then S is reasonable in retaining p.

Note that I have defined seemings in such a way that its seeming to S that p implies that S has already formed a belief that p, so I speak here of the reasonableness of retaining that belief. The definitions could be modified to talk about a natural inclination to belief, bu that would complicate things.

Now, I take it that the reason (RS) is true is that a seeming confers some sort of positive epistemic status on a proposition. This status may not be especially strong. As mentioned above, many philosophers do think perceiving that is sufficient for knowledge, but I think that might be because they have a different conception of perceiving that than I do. Or perhaps seemings only confer full justification when they are seemings of certain sorts - e.g. when an object seems to have a particular perceptible quality. So I think the epistemic status here is weaker than full justification. However, it cannot be too weak for, under certain circumstances, it is sufficient for the reasonableness of belief. For comparison, suppose I am investigating a murder, and I learn that Smith was not at home at the time of the murder. This confers some sort of positive epistemic status on the proposition that Smith committed the murder, but surely I would be unreasonable to positively believe that Smith committed the murder if I had no further evidence. So seemings confer stronger positive epistemic status than circumstantial evidence.

Now, here is the next problem. Lewis has shown that the argument schema for the transmission of epistemic status in the previous post won't work. What needs to be said instead is that when an agent comes to know that p entails q (where p may be a long conjunction), some sort of harmonization of the agent's confidence in those propositions ought (rationally) to occur. Bayesianism provides a formal framework for this kind of adjustment, but non-Bayesians also agree that it needs to occur. For instance, if p is certain, then knowing that p entails q is sufficient for knowing that q. (Though we have to take into account one's confidence in the entailment claim as well.) However, and this is the main problem with my previous formulation, sometimes the adjustment ought to go backward. This is what happens in a reductio ad absurdum: q is absurd, so the fact that p entails q ought to undermine our belief in p. However, in general, being entailed by premises which have positive epistemic status will improve the epistemic status of a proposition. So here is my new principle:

Transmission of Reasonableness (TR): If (i) S believes that p and (ii) S knows that p entails q and (iii) S is reasonable in continuing to believe that p after learning that p entails q, then S is reasonable in believing that q.

In some cases, learning the entailment will undermine the reasonableness of believing the premise, but in those cases where it doesn't, the entailment confers reasonableness on the conclusion.

Now, here is the actual argument:

  1. Many objects and events have purposes not conferred by humans or animals.

  2. But anything that has purpose must have that purpose conferred on it by some agent.

  3. Therefore, some agent or agents other than humans and animals have purposes for objects and events.

It seems to many people (in my technical sense of 'seems to') that (1) is true, and (2) is fairly plausible. So (3) will be reasonable unless either (a) condition (ii) or condition (iii) of (RS) is not satisfied, or (b) the independent evidence against (3) is strong enough that the argument should be taken as undermining the premises rather than establishing the conclusion. Now, if the theistic hypothesis is true, then (3) is true. So, strong evidence against (3) would be strong evidence against theism. However, evaluating the plausibility of theism in light of our total evidence has proven to be a cognitively demanding task. So it seems likely that if the argument fails for reason (b), there is still some real person somewhere who is reasonable, in my sense, in increasing her confidence in theism as a result of this argument. Accordingly, I won't spend any more time on (b).

(a) is, I take it, the more interesting case. The argument will be undermined due to condition (a) if either (ii) the agent has evidence that, despite appearances, these objects and events do not have purposes, or (iii) that teleological seemings are unreliable. Of course, I don't claim that if one of these conditions is satisfied the agent would necessarily be unreasonable in accepting (1), or even in accepting (1) on the basis of the seeming, but only that if either (ii) or (iii), then the agent would be unreasonable to accept (1) on the basis of the seeming alone.

In the comments on the previous post, Jonathan gave reasons for supposing that teleological seemings fail both condition (ii) and condition (iii). On condition (ii) he said:

There are things (such as living creatures) which appear to have purpose but which in fact don't, they are the result of undirected evolutionary processes. Therefore there are things in the universe which have the appearance of purpose (of design) but where that appearance is an illusion.

Now, we are here evaluating the plausibility of theism. So in order for the reasonableness of an agent's accepting (1) on the basis of teleological seemings to be undermined in this way, the evidence has to be independent of the question of theism. (Otherwise it begs the question.) I take it that the evidence for evolution is independent of the question of theism. Whether one accepts theism or not, there is excellent reason to suppose that scientific methodology is a good way of arriving at truth in certain areas, and this is one of them, and the evidence clearly leads to at least the general evolutionary picture. No objection there. But does that demonstrate that the appearance of teleology in these cases is misleading? I think not. When I posted on the teleological argument a few years ago, I explained it like this:
One way of [undermining the 'watchmaker' analogy] might be to argue that watches have never been observed to reproduce themselves, whereas plants and animals have been observed to do so, and the production even of stars and planets by natural causes has been observed, and in biological reproduction, changes often result so that natural selection and survival of the fittest seem able to produce the illusion of telos; animals seem to have the survival of the species as their purpose even though, in the absence of a designer, there is no actual purpose. This objection is not particularly successful. Imagine, by way of analogy, that watches were seen to reproduce themselves naturally and to improve over time: sundials collected parts from their environment which were used to construct pendulum clocks, which collected parts from their environment which were used to build main-spring clocks, etc., until, over time, we arrived at quartz wristwatches and, ultimately, atomic clocks. Would not this cry for explanation in terms of intelligence even more than a single watch found on its own? Doesn't this make the case for design better rather than worse?

Jonathan's claim that the process is 'undirected' is simply a question-begging claim that there isn't any genuine teleology. But the actual mechanics of evolution don't support that, unless one first assumes the falsity of theism. So the evolutionary response does not provide an independent reason to think that teleological seemings are misleading.

Jonathan supports the claim that condition (iii) fails as follows:

A cognitive illusion commonly suffered by humans is mistakenly to discern agency where in fact there is none, where there is only randomness. This has been demonstrated in innumerable psychological experiments.

It is true that psychological experiments show that human beings see purpose everywhere. (Incidentally, this supports the claim that it seems to many people that premise (1) is true.) The claim is that we human beings see the world through teleology-colored glasses, as it were. Just as someone wearing red glasses should not (once she learns that she is wearing red glasses) trust red seemings, we should not trust teleological seemings.

However, this line also begs the question. For it presupposes the ability of the psychologists to determine that the teleological seemings experienced by the subjects are false. However, if the theistic hypothesis is correct, then there really is teleology everywhere. So without assuming naturalism, one can only use these experiments to show that human beings see teleology everywhere, not that they incorrectly see teleology everywhere.

There is, however, one more point against the satisfaction of condition (iii) which both Jonathan and Clayton brought up, and which I take to be far more interesting and difficult than these first two lines. That is the question, what would a purposeless universe look like? If there is no possible world that wouldn't seem to humans to be a product of design, then, teleological seemings are probably worthless. I recognize the force and importance of this objection and will perhaps evaluate it in more detail on another occasion. I think, however, that this is enough for today.

Posted by Kenny at January 29, 2010 9:35 AM
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Comments

S has a veridical perceptual experience and, by the normal operation of S's cognitive apparatus S forms the true belief that p on the basis of that perceptual experience without conscious inference.

Ooh, dangerous!

The problem here is the phrase "without conscious inference". Consciousness isn't a binary condition. There are degrees of consciousness, and degrees to which a thought is either consciously or unconsciously held. Saying that you are consciously inferring something is merely a statement that you regard the thought as being definitely above some arbitrary dividing line by which you choose to distinguish conscious from unconscious thought.

But to use the phrase in a definition like this requires you to define where the dividing line is, and why the dividing line being precisely there enables you to justify the use of the phrase for the purpose of that definition. I think you might find that hard to do.

Unless you can overcome this objection, then the line of reasoning that follows from it concerning reasonableness and transmission of seemings is worth very little, and I shan't go into it now.

So let's go on the the new main formulation of the argument.

1. Many objects and events have purposes not conferred by humans or animals.
2. But anything that has purpose must have that purpose conferred on it by some agent.
3. Therefore, some agent or agents other than humans and animals have purposes for objects and events.

#1 is based on your description of "seeming". I see no reason to accept the premise.

#2 is a matter of definition. I've had related discussions in the past on the Guardian website concerning the concept of "inherent value". I argued that the phrase is an oxymoron because value does not exist in the abstract, but only in the context of being of value to some agent, and therefore value by definition is assigned rather than inherent. A similar line of argument applies to purpose.

But this gets you no further forward. If #2 is true by definition, then #1 cannot be true if there are no agents of the kind you describe. The purpose (and similarly "value") of objects is assigned and not inherent, and is therefore dependent on the context of the objectives of the agent doing the assigning. Therefore you cannot discern whether an object has a nonhuman purpose without knowing the objectives of the nonhuman agent assigning that purpose. To talk of purpose without this knowledge is to start out by asserting that which are trying to infer, and so you end up with circular reasoning.

Posted by: Jonathan West at January 30, 2010 5:17 AM

One thing that interests me about all this is why we are still discussing the Teleological Argument at all?

It has become weaker over time, as its premises have been progressively undermined, and the links from the premises to the conclusions have become weaker as it has been reformulated to deal with new and inconvenient evidence.

The whole development of science seems to point away from its validity. Every scientific development in an area previously thought to be evidence of God at work has been shown in fact to be the operation of unchanging natural laws. For instance, in Bbiblical times, disease was thought to be a sign of God's displeasure in some fashion. But today we know what causes many diseases, and we know that antibiotics cure a range of them - and that they work just as well in sinners as on the righteous. Similarly, we now know the cause of lightning, and that a lightning conductor works just as well on the roof of a brothel as on the spire of a church.

Most devastatingly, Darwin showed that that was a naturalistic mechanism for the development of human beings themselves, thus deposing God from involvement in what had previously been thought to be his crowning achievement within the universe. Quite apart from the scientific aspects of his discovery (and it is perfectly true to say that nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution), this was a philosophical discovery of shattering magnitude.

Because of all this inconvenient evidence, the Teleological Argument is now in a state such that nobody would ever become convinced of the existence of God as a result of it. It seems only to be used as an ex post facto argument to justify a belief in God already acquired through other means.

So Kenny, I'm curious. Why are you following such a well-trodden route?

Posted by: Jonathan West at January 30, 2010 9:12 AM

1) What you say about consciousness not being a binary property is plausible, though some would disagree with it. If it is true, then my definition of 'seeming' is vague. That's fine, though. Most of our concepts are vague and we nevertheless use them successfully. There will be some borderline cases, and how or whether to apply my argument/principles to those cases will be complicated, but that doesn't mean that the whole thing is entirely useless. In order to show that there was an actual problem, you would have to show (or give reason to believe) that my argument relies on such a borderline case.

2) I take it that my premise (2) is NOT true by definition. As I mentioned in the previous post, Aristotle would have denied it. Furthermore, some philosophers of biology today would deny it; some think that evolution has genuine purposiveness/directedness despite the fact that no one confers that purpose on it. (This is known as 'immanent teleology' - the purposiveness is inherent in the thing - as opposed to 'transcendent teleology' where the purposiveness is conferred by an external agent.) I don't think those who deny (2) are working with a different definition of 'purpose' than mine. This, of course, weakens the argument, since it can be escaped by denying (2), but many - perhaps most - people believe (2) and I don't think those people are unreasonable (under my definition of 'reasonable' above).

3) Teleological arguments are a large class of distinct arguments. One sub-class of teleological arguments are 'God-of-the-gaps' arguments. God-of-the-gaps arguments are bad for all of the reasons you list, but I don't see how that applies to my argument (or, for that matter, most modern 'fine tuning' arguments).

Now, you do say something very interesting in complaining about teleological arguments. You say, "It seems only to be used as an ex post facto argument to justify a belief in God already acquired through other means." I think that this post has actually given some support to that claim insofar as I have said that your objections are question-begging. That is, someone who already believes in God shouldn't be moved by your objections. However, I want to make two points about this. First, a line of argument can increase your rational confidence in a theory, despite the fact that you wouldn't consider that line of argument if you didn't already believe in the theory. This is often the case, for instance, when a prediction of a scientific theory is confirmed. Second, part of my claim was that as an historical/psychological matter, a sort of teleological intuition - which I think goes something like my argument - does lead a lot of people to believe in a God or gods. This second claim is in principle open to empirical confirmation or disconfirmation, though I'm not sure how you would go about it. Also, even if my historical/psychological claim is correct that doesn't necessarily show that the belief formation process is reasonable. What it would show is that the line of reasoning is not only used ex post facto.

Still, I didn't claim that any informed person today could be reasonable in forming a belief in God on the basis of teleological arguments alone. All I claimed was that for people in certain epistemic situations, teleological arguments could make a (small) positive contribution toward their rational confidence in the existence of God. I don't think you've given me any reason to revise that claim.

Posted by: Kenny at January 30, 2010 10:38 AM

In order to show that there was an actual problem, you would have to show (or give reason to believe) that my argument relies on such a borderline case.

Well, your own claim was based on a distinction between conscious and unconscious inference, and I was wondering why conscious needed o be included. Until you tell me that, I'm not in a position to judge whether this is another example of lack of precision in your choice of words, or whether there is a borderline case that can be used to assess the validity of the statement.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Aristotle would have denied it.
Appeal to Authority. Not impressed with that.

Furthermore, some philosophers of biology today would deny it; some think that evolution has genuine purposiveness/directedness despite the fact that no one confers that purpose on it.
Sounds like a combination of the No True Scotsman fallacy (i.e. "genuine" purposiveness) with a redefinition of the term to give it a meaning different from the one which is commonly understood. Of course, you can redefine words in whatever way you wish, but if you do so, then if you wish to communicate (rather than obfuscate) your ideas, then it is necessary provide your new definition alongside your use of the word.

One sub-class of teleological arguments are 'God-of-the-gaps' arguments. God-of-the-gaps arguments are bad for all of the reasons you list, but I don't see how that applies to my argument (or, for that matter, most modern 'fine tuning' arguments).
Fine-tuning arguments are of course God-of-the-Gaps arguments, where God resides in our ignorance as to why the universal constants are as they are. But as the physicist David Deutsch has notably pointed out (specifically in the context of fine-tuning arguments), "the existence of an unsolved problem in physics is not evidence for a supernatural explanation any more than the existence of an unsolved crime is evidence that a ghost committed it".

As for your particular version of the teleological argument, it is not yet entirely clear what strengths and weaknesses it has because you are being notably vague as to what variety of divine being you are trying to infer the existence of. I did mention this in my comment on the ontological argument. If you could describe the the divine being you are hypothesising about in a little more detail, then we might be in a position to make some more progress as to whether your version of the teleological argument works for it.

Posted by: Jonathan West at January 30, 2010 12:19 PM

... if the theistic hypothesis is correct, then there really is teleology everywhere. So without assuming naturalism, one can only use these experiments to show that human beings see teleology everywhere, not that they incorrectly see teleology everywhere.

One cannot disprove the teleological argument. It may be that the whole universe consists entirely of the purposive artifacts of some being whose capabilities and objectives are beyond our understanding. If you follow this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, you end up with a definition for this being which is unfalsifiable. An unfalsiable proposition is one for which no evidence in either direction can possibly be adduced. The very property of a proposition which makes it impossible to falsify means that there is equally no reason to believe it true. (Try falsifying the 5 Minute Hypothesis sometime, and when you fail, ask yourself whether as a result you ought to believe it to be true. I suspect that your decision will be negative. Then ask whether there is any more reason to believe in the existence of an Unfalsifiable God. If you come to a different answer, then you aren't thinking rationally.)

So if you want to engage in a meaningful speculation, then the hypothesis has to be of the existence of some agent which can in principle be detected by humans, even if we have not yet discovered how. It is a major weakness of the teleological argument in this context that we are still having to put it forward, because it means that we haven't been able directly to detect this being, and are still having to find some means of inferring its existence indirectly.

For the teleological argument not to be an exercise in circular reasoning, and therefore for us to have a chance of accurately inferring the existence of this being, one has to have a means of distinguishing order from randomness, so we can tell whether randomness is a sufficient explanation for some phenomenon, or whether the phenomenon should be regarded as so unlikely as to require us to hypthesise some outside agency. That's not as easy as one might on the face of it think it to be. Or rather, we are very bad a intuiting this. Consider the following statement:

You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won't believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing! (Richard Feynman)

And of course, he's completely right that is a long-odds coincidence. But seeing some long-odds coincidence and claiming after the event that it is too improbable to have happened by chance is fallacious reasoning (which of course Feynman knew perfectly well - he was using the story to demonstrate just such a point). So many things happen in the world that it is implausible for some of them not to be very long-odds coincidences. Feynman's is a mere 10-million-to-1 chance or thereabouts, and in essence you experience one of those youself every time you see a car license plate. Also, somebody wins the lottery almost every week, and that involves odds of about the same magnitude. For something to be truly regarded as improbable, one of two conditions has to be met. Either:

1. You make the prediction of the improbable event ahead of time and then see if it comes true, or
2. The event is so extremely improbable that even in the context of a large number of events, random chance is an implausible mechanism.

In the case of the teleological argument, we cannot get case #1 to apply, since the universe is already in existence and we are not in a position of being able to make predictions of how it would turn out ab initio. And if you look into the mathematics of it, you'll be surprised at how high the bar actually has to be set for the second of those conditions to be met. As we have seen, mere one-in-ten-million chances don't even start to look impressive in this context.

Going back the the question of living things, the necessary statistical analysis has been done. The frequency of mutation needed to provide the variation on which natural selection needs to act has been calculated. The rate of mutation has been measured and found to be sufficient. Various mechanisms by which mutations occur have been discovered. In other words, we know enough to conclude that no purposive external agent needs to be hypothesised in order to explain the complexity and variety of life on earth.

That doesn't prove that there is no such agent. It merely means that the variety of life and species on earth is not evidence of it, and therefore cannot be coinstrued as evidence in support of the teleological argument. You can of course take the Catholic view that God has worked through the laws of natural selection by ensuring that specific mutations that opnly appear to be random happened in such a way that humans were the ultimate result. If you want to believe that, be my guest. I can't disprove it. Nobody can or ever will be able to. There's no evidence for it though. It seems a peculiarly weak argument, that the best that can be said in its favour is that you can't disprove it. That applies to just about all varaieties of the Teleological argument and not just to "directed evolution".

Posted by: Jonathan West at January 30, 2010 4:23 PM

I take it that my premise (2) is NOT true by definition.

By the way, if #2 is not true by definition, then you cannot deduce #3 from a combination of #1 and #2.

Posted by: Jonathan West at February 1, 2010 4:04 AM

Jonathan - Let me just select a few of your many points which I take to be the most significant. (A point-by-point commentary on everything you have said would be longer than the original post.)

First, on consciousness and vagueness. Please take a look at the article on vagueness in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. In saying that consciousness may be vague, resulting in vagueness for my definition of 'seems to', I am making a very specific claim. Vagueness in the strict sense does not render a word useless or improper for definitions. It is true that the reduction of vagueness is often a useful endeavor, but this is not always the case. Sometimes vague terms better capture the concepts we are trying to get at. I take it that an explicit inference - one which the agent is consciously aware of - would not be a 'seeming' in the sense that is relevant to this discussion, and I take it that most people will know what I mean when I say 'consciously aware' in this context. On the other hand, the formation of a belief that the apple is red in response to a certain sort of visual stimulus is a paradigm example of a seeming. I claim that some people experience teleological seemings that are more or less like red-apple seemings.

Second, on my premise (2). Deducing (3) from (1) and (2) does not require (2) to be true by definition, it only requires it to be true. My mention of Aristotle and of contemporary philosophers of biology was not an appeal to authority, and it should have been obvious that it wasn't an appeal to authority because I disagreed with them. I suppose that my tacit assumption that Aristotle was minimally sane or some such might be construed as an appeal to authority, but is it really so unreasonable to assume that Aristotle was minimally sane? I mean to affirm premise (2) in the same sense in which Aristotle denied it. Since one can sanely/cogently deny (2), it is a substantive claim, not a definitional one.

Third, you are absolutely right that I have left many things unspecified. This is a single blog post, not a monograph. I am taking one small step at a time, and I am not trying to fill in every detail with maximal rigor and precision. If you want maximal rigor and precision, you should confine your reading material to include only the very best peer-reviewed technical publications (and even then maximal will often be something of a stretch). The overall evaluation of the argument will indeed depend on some details I haven't filled in yet.

Fourth and finally, there is some truth to your remarks on randomness. A similar example is often used: "what are the odds that the golf ball would land on this very blade of grass?!" The golf ball had to land on some blade of grass or other; one should be impressed only if there is something special about the blade of grass it in fact landed on to differentiate it from the other blades of grass it could have landed on. Now, according to the theistic hypothesis, a benevolent mind is responsible for which world came into being. Such a being would be very likely to create a world which was conducive to the existence of other minds. So the theistic hypothesis provides reason to think that this particular world is one of a special few. There are circumstances in which this sort of hypothesis is to be preferred. Much of science is concerned with providing unifying explanations for phenomena so that we don't have to suppose they are merely random. Even evolution is in some sense a theory like this: although individual mutations are random, environmental forces 'push' the evolutionary process in particular directions, so that we are not forced to say that the development of beneficial traits is completely random and inexplicable.

Posted by: Kenny at February 1, 2010 3:45 PM

Kenny

As for a point-bypoint rebuttal taking longer than the original post, I agree. That just goes to show how much more work you have to do before this teleological argument is in any fit state to show anything at all.

Re #2, if it is true, then it is is true by definition in that you have defined purpose as being assigned by an agent. If it is not true, it is also not true by definition, in as far as you are defining "purpose" in such a way as not to require an agent to be assigning it.

With regard to probability, it sounds as if you are taking the same line that Swinburne takes in The Existence of God, that you believe this is the sort of universe that a deity would want to make, and therefore is the sort of universe that a deity probably would make. That merely throws the need to assess probability back a degree, because you can only calculate the probability of God given the universe if you are in a position to calculate the prior probability of God as well as the probability of the universe given God. Good luck with your search for a population of Gods and Universes on which you can perform a Bayesian analysis. When you find it, do tell me about it, I'll be most interested!

Posted by: Jonathan West at February 1, 2010 5:00 PM

> That is the question, what would a purposeless universe look like? If there is no possible world that wouldn't seem to humans to be a product of design, then, teleological seemings are probably worthless. I recognize the force and importance of this objection and will perhaps evaluate it in more detail on another occasion.

I look forward to it; I'm curious whether you can come up with any purpose-less universe which isn't forbidden by the Anthropic principle.

Posted by: Andy Naaktgeboren at February 2, 2010 5:21 PM

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