Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If resurrections were as thick as blackberries

The relative probability of this or that arrangement of Nature is something which we should have a right to talk about if universes were as plenty as blackberries, if we could put an quantity of them in a bad, shake them well up, draw out a sample, and examine them to see what proportion of them had one arrangement and what proportion another.

There are two reasons why the term “appearance of age” is fallacious. First of all, even as a figure of speech, this term makes no sense when applied to the universe. We might colloquially say that a person “looks 40 years old,” but what do we really mean by this? We do not mean that the age actually has appearance. Rather, we mean that the person has certain physical characteristics that are commonly found in people 40 years of age, and not as commonly in older or younger persons.
But can we say in the same way that the universe “looks a certain age”? Do we mean that when we compare our universe to all the other universes of known age, ours has certain physical characteristics that resemble all those universes of a particular age? Clearly not. As far as we know, the universe is the only one. We do not have any basis for comparison to say how a thousands-of-years-old universe looks different than a billions-of-years-old universe.

[HT: Patrick Chan]

These two statements generate a striking dilemma. On the one hand, the first statement is the type of objection which critics level against probabililistic cosmological and teleological arguments, viz. the strong anthropic principle, fine-tuning argument.

On the other hand, if critics accept Peirce’s principle, then it’s hard to see how they can object to mature creation on inductive/probabilistic grounds. By the same token, it’s hard to see how they can object to the Resurrection on inductive/probabilistic grounds. 

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