The opposite of discoveryAugust 4, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
Via AnswerTheSkeptic.com comes this report, from Dr. Hugo Ross, on what Martian ice ages teach us about God.
Schorghofer demonstrated that the mid-latitude subsurface ice was well explained by large intermittent increases in the tilt of Mars’ rotation axis. His explanation implied that, unlike Earth, the main driving force behind Mars’ ice ages was changes in the tilt of its rotation axis…
What makes Earth so extraordinary is that the variation in the tilt of its rotation axis is virtually nil and changes in the eccentricity and inclination of its orbit are very small compared to the other solar system planets. Evidently, Earth’s orbital and rotational features have been exquisitely fine-tuned to allow for the long-term survival of advanced life on its surface.
Notice Ross’s use of the passive voice in the last sentence above. “Earth’s orbital and rotational features have been exquisitely fine-tuned…” In other words, we don’t have any evidence linking any particular “fine-tuner” to the characteristics of Earth’s rotation and orbit. It’s passive; the characteristics “have been fine-tuned,” by some unknown agency or agencies.
Ross goes on to the conclusion that this way of looking at things gives people reason to believe in God.
The degree of fine-tuning design in Earth’s orbital and rotational characteristics has become increasingly apparent and contributes to the conclusion that Earth and the solar system have been supernaturally and superintelligently manufactured to make human life and human civilization possible. Thanks to Schorghofer’s work, it should not be too long before scientists uncover even more evidence of God’s handiwork in the design of Earth and the solar system.
The only problem with that conclusion (or at least one of the problems) is that it is essentially superstition: assigning credit to some supposed supernatural force, without any actual evidence or explanation linking that particular force to the observed effects. Contrast this superstitious approach with a scientific one: the scientific approach is to describe the operation of the cause in sufficient detail that you can predict what detectable real-world consequences would result, and how they would be different from alternative possibilities. Ross has to use the passive voice to claim that the Earth has been fine-tuned because the evidence gives him absolutely no information about who or what would have conducted this fine-tuning, nor about how this tuning was accomplished.
Obviously, the superstitious technique of arbitrarily assigning credit to supernatural agencies is an exercise in ignorance: it gives you no new insights, and in fact discourages further exploration of the question. If God used His magical, or excuse me, His miraculous powers to poof the earth into precisely the forms and functions He desired, science has no hope of reconstructing His techniques or predicting the expected consequences that ought to result. And without this sort of specific functional description of the process, science can never produce any experimental or observational tests that one could use to scientifically verify whether or not the God hypothesis was really true, so you end up having to take the conclusion on faith alone.
Even if it were true, knowing that God “tuned” the Earth’s orbit would not tell us anything about how nature works, because all superstition is doing is declaring that such things are done by magic, and thus don’t make use of natural processes in the first place. We were ignorant when we started, and appealing to superstition only enshrines the ignorance, and makes it holy. That’s the opposite of discovery.