Murphy, Nancey. Evidence of Design in the Fine-Tuning of the Universe."
The purpose of Nancey
Murphys paper is to assess the possibility for using the fine- tuning of the
laws of nature in constructing a new design argument. Her paper is closely linked with George Ellis of the same volume
(George F.R. Ellis, The Theology of the Anthropic Principle, 363-400), but
with an important difference: she
treats the thesis advanced by Ellis as an argument for the existence of
God. Murphy first shows how recent
developments in philosophy overcome the traditional Humean objections to design
arguments. Carl Hempels theory that
science employs hypothetico-deductive reasoning undercut Humes assumption that
knowledge proceeds by induction. Holist
accounts of the structure and justification of knowledge, offered by both W. V.
O. Quine and Imre Lakatos, show that a hypothesis is never tested on its own,
but rather in conjunction with a network of beliefs into which it fits. Lakatos provides a detailed theory about the
structure of this network (or research program), in which a core theory is
surrounded by a belt of auxiliary hypotheses which, in turn, are both supported
and challenged by the data. Lakatoss
structure includes theories of instrumentation for relating the data to the
auxiliary hypotheses and a positive heuristic for the expansion of the
auxiliary hypotheses into new domains of data.
To avoid circularity and
relativism, Lakatos provides external criteria for choosing among competing
research programs. A progressive
program is one in which an additional auxiliary hypothesis must both account
for anomalies, predict novel facts, and occasionally see them corroborated. Moreover, such new hypotheses must fit
coherently into the existing program.
. . . The only reasonable way to assess the claim that fine-tuning
provides evidence for divine creation is to consider the design hypothesis not
as a claim standing alone . . . but rather as an integral part of . . . a
theological research program which can then be assumed as progressive or
not. But what should constitute the
data for theology? Murphy recognizes
that this is a central issue for her proposal.
Her sources typically include both Scripture (incorporated through an
appropriate doctrine of revelation; i.e., a theory of instrumentation) and
experience. Murphy suggests that the
churchs practice of communal discernment could minimize the subjectivity of
Murphy then reconstructs
Ellis paper in terms of the Lakatosian structure. Her aim is to show that theology can be regarded as a science,
that cosmological fine-tuning can serve as an auxiliary hypothesis in a
theological research program, and that theological theories can be compared
directly with scientific theories.
In what way is the
Temple-Ellis program confirmed?
According to Lakatosian standards, it must produce novel facts, and
Murphy claims that it does. Ellis added
an auxiliary hypothesis to Temples theology:
in order for there to be the free will required by Temple, Gods plan
for the world had to include that the world be law-governed as well as fine-tuned. The facts supporting the law-like character
of the world were irrelevant to Temples theology, but in the Temple-Ellis
program these facts now take on theoretical meaning. The key here is that Ellis did not set out to explain the facts
supporting the law-like character of nature but only the presence of free will
in nature. Thus, Murphy concludes,
these facts are weakly novel since they were already known but irrelevant to
Temples theology before Ellis modified it.
Finally Murphy suggests ways in which the Temple-Ellis program might be
expanded to include the theological problems of theodicy, moral evil and
natural evil, and the scientific discussion of thermodynamics, the arrow of
time, and perhaps even consciousness.
These could make the program even more progressive.
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