Universal Questions

This week we’ve got old friends as guests: The Discovery Institute’s Dr. Stephen Meyer joins to remind us that the God hypothesis gets us a lot further than alien astronauts. (Check out his excellent New York Post piece.) And then our own Dr. George Savage follows to speak about the new ominous Delta variant, and to point out that industrial policy is better left to innovators rather than bureaucrats. Rob Long is off this week, but James and Peter delve into the January 6th Commission, and rich people in space!

Music from this week’s podcast: Dear God by XTC

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There are 61 comments.

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  1. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Dr Meyer in talking about the idea that the universe keeps being recreated over-and-0ver, repeating Big Bang and expansion, then contraction, and it starts over again…  stated that additional energy would be required, and where does that come from?  Aside from an option that energy could just appear and we don’t know how but it doesn’t matter if we don’t know; his argument would only seem to be relevant if the NEXT “explosion” were to be the same size as the current one.

    But what if each new universe is smaller than the one before, due to loss of energy from the previous one?  If the previous universe expanded to X light-years across, and our current universe is “only” X-Y light-years across, we would have know way of knowing or measuring.  Nor would it particularly matter to us eve if we could measure it.

    • #1
  2. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Tiny semiconductor tech note: FAB stands for Factory Automated Bay.

    Each one currently costs between $7-$10 billion to build. Filled with etch machines that take silicon wafers to etch and create chips, and a few engineers in bunny suits to keep the mostly automated equipment running.

    • #2
  3. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    This was a good, even-paced show. I appreciate Mr. Robinson asking questions from Ricochet members, it really broadened the discussion. I’m glad we added the Discovery Institute to the podcast library. Shows that go a bit off the political path into the byways that extend conservative thought – faith, the value of life, reason – are always woven into the cultural fabric and enriches the depth of knowledge needed for understanding a vision of a free and virtuous society. Wesley Smith has been excellent in the subject of medical euthanasia, an important subject that is gaining ground, for example. Thank you again for a great show and for the end contrast of the hosts on the subject of space exploration. Two divergent views, yet they find common ground in praising the power of ingenuity and imagination.

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Complexity all the way down.

    Nicely put, @peterrobinson.

    Sometimes them scientists catch up with the philosophers.  This point was in Leibniz somewhere.

    • #4
  5. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    “Masks didn’t do anything.”

    I completely agree with that. It makes me sick that they are shoving those things down anybody’s throat at this point without any explanation. Terrible.

    • #5
  6. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I have been saying the same thing as Dr. George Savage for years, here. Over and over like a broken record. The only difference is, he left out monetary policy. To the extent that the GOP doesn’t get this, everything is going to move left and populist until the bond market collapses. Good luck.

    I thought the most interesting part was the value added in China doesn’t get taxed. I hadn’t heard that before.

    • #6
  7. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    Ricochet Audio Network: ominous Delta variant

     

    Ominous Delta  Variant ??

    • #7
  8. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Love the picture!

    This was the first live podcast I’ve watched, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I especially like the “inside baseball” aspect of seeing decisions made on the fly (“we’ll add the spot later”).  The Q&A from members was an added bonus.

    And of course, watching James do a segue was even more entertaining than just listening to it . . .

    • #8
  9. ericB Lincoln
    ericB
    @ericB

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But what if each new universe is smaller than the one before, due to loss of energy from the previous one?  If the previous universe expanded to X light-years across, and our current universe is “only” X-Y light-years across, we would have know way of knowing or measuring.  Nor would it particularly matter to us eve if we could measure it.

    The key difference is between infinite and finite.

    Before the three foundational scientific discoveries over roughly the last century that Meyer examines in his book, a common assumption among scientists was that the material universe was eternal.  So no need to explain a beginning and no limit to the amount of time in which things could happen.

    The discovery that the universe has a finite age and a beginning raises the problem not only of what causes it to begin, but also how to explain the incomprehensible degree of exquisite fine tuning.  Therefore, some try to explain it away as the result of being “lucky” (not designed) in a mindless process that is like some ultimate lottery with infinite chances to play and sometimes win.

    A bouncing universe that loses steam won’t retry infinitely.  To be able to dismiss/ignore/disregard the insane levels of fine tuning of many independent considerations, one would need to make a plausible case that infinite opportunities exist.

    Even that doesn’t solve it. Just repeating similar universes fails.  One would need to justify a lottery that explores ALL the possible universe variations.

    Even that isn’t enough.  As Meyer’s book explains, any mechanistic process that is capable of trying all those finely differentiated alternatives must itself be a finely tuned process/mechanism.  Trying to avoid the idea that this universe is intentionally designed just pushes the problems of the origin and the fine tuning back one step.

    And that still doesn’t even touch the third discovery: the later origin of life based on stored coded information.

    The only cause that accounts for all of that is an eternal, transcendent, immaterial, intentional, powerful, creating mind.

    • #9
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Stad: I especially like the “inside baseball” aspect of seeing decisions made on the fly (“we’ll add the spot later”).

    The most crucial part of what we do is time management, that is, adhering to a schedule so talent and guests can get on with their day. A guest’s biggest concern may be when we want him and for how long and, absent something totally out of our control, it’s up to us to keep to schedule. 

    Podcasts are incredibly flexible compared to live radio or television. 

    • #10
  11. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Really enjoyed the podcast and I enjoy being able to see them live and how they are made. I have been behind recently but I’m happy I caught this one. 

    • #11
  12. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    This was a good, even-paced show. I appreciate Mr. Robinson asking questions from Ricochet members, it really broadened the discussion. I’m glad we added the Discovery Institute to the podcast library. Shows that go a bit off the political path into the byways that extend conservative thought – faith, the value of life, reason – are always woven into the cultural fabric and enriches the depth of knowledge needed for understanding a vision of a free and virtuous society. Wesley Smith has been excellent in the subject of medical euthanasia, an important subject that is gaining ground, for example. Thank you again for a great show and for the end contrast of the hosts on the subject of space exploration. Two divergent views, yet they find common ground in praising the power of ingenuity and imagination.

    Dear Jenna,

    Coming from you, such a loyal and perceptive listener, that means a lot. And you’re right: There’s more to conservatism than politics. Thank God. 

    • #12
  13. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    This was a good, even-paced show. I appreciate Mr. Robinson asking questions from Ricochet members, it really broadened the discussion. I’m glad we added the Discovery Institute to the podcast library. Shows that go a bit off the political path into the byways that extend conservative thought – faith, the value of life, reason – are always woven into the cultural fabric and enriches the depth of knowledge needed for understanding a vision of a free and virtuous society. Wesley Smith has been excellent in the subject of medical euthanasia, an important subject that is gaining ground, for example. Thank you again for a great show and for the end contrast of the hosts on the subject of space exploration. Two divergent views, yet they find common ground in praising the power of ingenuity and imagination.

    Dear Jenna,

    Coming from you, such a loyal and perceptive listener, that means a lot. And you’re right: There’s more to conservatism than politics. Thank God.

    You set the example and as always, @peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    • #13
  14. SParker Member
    SParker
    @SParker

    Manufacturing output in the US as a percentage of Real GDP has been roughly constant (hovering around 11%) since the 1940s.  So, that’s not the problem.  The nice picture in comment #2 explains the decline in manufacturing employment, which apparently is the problem people keep yammering about, although not at all ashamed of conflating it with output.  

    This suggests two solutions for displaced or about to be displaced US workers, neither involving the government, and neither particularly pleasant:  a) take a cut in pay to save your job (it’s not going to Bangladesh because it wants to travel–and, really, it’s not your job) or b) get another, preferably better job.  As that austere Stoic philosopher and all-round exponent of cruelty, Mama, used to say:  Simple fact, the world does NOT owe you a living, child.

    There’s nothing magic about manufacturing, anymore than there was about farm labor, which most of the country did not all that long ago, and now occupies a whopping 3% of us.  Human needs and desires are pretty much infinite, which makes it’s a pretty good bet there’ll always be someone willing to pay you to do something.  Mostly stuff they haven’t yet thought they need or want.

    I appreciate Dr. Savage’s blistering comment to last week.  Sensible tax and regulatory policy are a whole lot better solution to the wrong problem than national industrial policy (which has a long history of being idiotic).  Maybe Scott Lincicome of Cato will write you all a blistering comment and you can have him on the show next.  I’d like that.

    • #14
  15. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    No, the world does not owe you a living, but a country that wants to be prosperous and free does not outsource important production to other countries who have their own interests that may not always coincide with yours, and may decide to limit or cut off supplies for any reason, or just for grins.

    • #15
  16. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    kedavis: …but a country that wants to be prosperous and free does not outsource important production to other countries…

    The one thing absolute free traders and communists have in common? Neither deal in the world as it is. 

    • #16
  17. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    ericB (View Comment):

     

    The discovery that the universe has a finite age and a beginning raises the problem not only of what causes it to begin, but also how to explain the incomprehensible degree of exquisite fine tuning. Therefore, some try to explain it away as the result of being “lucky” (not designed) in a mindless process that is like some ultimate lottery with infinite chances to play and sometimes win.

    A bouncing universe that loses steam won’t retry infinitely. To be able to dismiss/ignore/disregard the insane levels of fine tuning of many independent considerations, one would need to make a plausible case that infinite opportunities exist.

    Even that doesn’t solve it. Just repeating similar universes fails. One would need to justify a lottery that explores ALL the possible universe variations.

    There is also the problem that the mass of the observable universe is insufficient to provide a mechanism for a “big  crunch”. The attempts to rescue the cyclical model with which I am familiar all involve dark matter and dark energy, i.e. speculative mathematical models that have little to no observational basis.  

     

    • #17
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    This was a good, even-paced show. I appreciate Mr. Robinson asking questions from Ricochet members, it really broadened the discussion. I’m glad we added the Discovery Institute to the podcast library. Shows that go a bit off the political path into the byways that extend conservative thought – faith, the value of life, reason – are always woven into the cultural fabric and enriches the depth of knowledge needed for understanding a vision of a free and virtuous society. Wesley Smith has been excellent in the subject of medical euthanasia, an important subject that is gaining ground, for example. Thank you again for a great show and for the end contrast of the hosts on the subject of space exploration. Two divergent views, yet they find common ground in praising the power of ingenuity and imagination.

    Dear Jenna,

    Coming from you, such a loyal and perceptive listener, that means a lot. And you’re right: There’s more to conservatism than politics. Thank God.

    You set the example and as always, @ peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    Isn’t he a great guy?

    • #18
  19. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    This was a good, even-paced show. I appreciate Mr. Robinson asking questions from Ricochet members, it really broadened the discussion. I’m glad we added the Discovery Institute to the podcast library. Shows that go a bit off the political path into the byways that extend conservative thought – faith, the value of life, reason – are always woven into the cultural fabric and enriches the depth of knowledge needed for understanding a vision of a free and virtuous society. Wesley Smith has been excellent in the subject of medical euthanasia, an important subject that is gaining ground, for example. Thank you again for a great show and for the end contrast of the hosts on the subject of space exploration. Two divergent views, yet they find common ground in praising the power of ingenuity and imagination.

    Dear Jenna,

    Coming from you, such a loyal and perceptive listener, that means a lot. And you’re right: There’s more to conservatism than politics. Thank God.

    You set the example and as always, @ peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    Isn’t he a great guy?

    Almost suspiciously so!

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    This was a good, even-paced show. I appreciate Mr. Robinson asking questions from Ricochet members, it really broadened the discussion. I’m glad we added the Discovery Institute to the podcast library. Shows that go a bit off the political path into the byways that extend conservative thought – faith, the value of life, reason – are always woven into the cultural fabric and enriches the depth of knowledge needed for understanding a vision of a free and virtuous society. Wesley Smith has been excellent in the subject of medical euthanasia, an important subject that is gaining ground, for example. Thank you again for a great show and for the end contrast of the hosts on the subject of space exploration. Two divergent views, yet they find common ground in praising the power of ingenuity and imagination.

    Dear Jenna,

    Coming from you, such a loyal and perceptive listener, that means a lot. And you’re right: There’s more to conservatism than politics. Thank God.

    You set the example and as always, @ peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    Isn’t he a great guy?

    Almost suspiciously so!

    Surely you’re not suggesting he’s a droid . . .

    • #20
  21. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    You set the example and as always, @ peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    Isn’t he a great guy?

    Almost suspiciously so!

    Surely you’re not suggesting he’s a droid . . .

    You don’t think… no, it’s not possible… Peter Robinson DALEKS? 

    “Uncommon! Uncommon! Uncommon! Uncommon!”

    • #21
  22. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    You set the example and as always, @ peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    Isn’t he a great guy?

    Almost suspiciously so!

    Surely you’re not suggesting he’s a droid . . .

    You don’t think… no, it’s not possible… Peter Robinson DALEKS?

    “Uncommon! Uncommon! Uncommon! Uncommon!”

    Well, Peter is a National Treasure.

    Wait . . . that makes him a member of the Knights Templar!

    • #22
  23. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    You set the example and as always, @ peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    Isn’t he a great guy?

    Almost suspiciously so!

    Surely you’re not suggesting he’s a droid . . .

    You don’t think… no, it’s not possible… Peter Robinson DALEKS?

    “Uncommon! Uncommon! Uncommon! Uncommon!”

    For the released recordings, and I think on tour too, the band was referred to as the Toot Uncommons.

     

    • #23
  24. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I’m broadly skeptical of the substance and the wisdom of the intelligent design movement and its attempt to defend faith with science and inform science with faith, and I’ve commented on Mr. Meyer’s book before. I’m going to do that again, but I decided to go ahead and buy the book and read it, so that I’m not criticizing him merely for what he says during his various appearances.

    So I’ve purchased the book, and I’ll look forward to commenting on it when I’ve finished reading it. It will be a nice break from whatever else I’d be grumbling about — Wuhan virus panic, probably.

    • #24
  25. ericB Lincoln
    ericB
    @ericB

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I’m broadly skeptical of the substance and the wisdom of the intelligent design movement and its attempt to defend faith with science and inform science with faith,

    Not to distract you from Meyer’s book, but you and any others who are suspicious that this might be nothing more than an “attempt to defend faith with science” might also be interested in

    Taking Leave of Darwin
    A Longtime Agnostic Discovers the Case for Design
    by Neil Thomas

    As a longtime member of the British Rationalist Association, university professor Thomas did not approach the topic with any interest or motivation to “attempt to defend faith with science”.

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    So I’ve purchased the book, and I’ll look forward to commenting on it when I’ve finished reading it.

    Excellent.  Even if you are still not persuaded, a sincere and informed critique can be constructive to sharpening ideas and improving communication.  (There are far too many out there who have nothing better than misrepresentation, insults and/or mocking.  An informed, serious engagement with the actual ideas is a rare and precious commodity.)

    The foundation to assess is whether a choosing, intentional mind can produce effects that are distinguishable from the effects of mindless unguided material processes (clearly so, e.g. to all readers of meaningful text) and whether there are effects in nature that are best explained as the result of an intentional mind, rather than by mindless unguided material processes.

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    You set the example and as always, @ peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    Isn’t he a great guy?

    Almost suspiciously so!

    Surely you’re not suggesting he’s a droid . . .

    You don’t think… no, it’s not possible… Peter Robinson DALEKS?

    “Uncommon! Uncommon! Uncommon! Uncommon!”

    For the released recordings, and I think on tour too, the band was referred to as the Toot Uncommons.

     

    Too funny!

    I read somewhere Martin did a spoof of the song “I Got What Boys Like” on SNL, but I can’t find a video anywhere.

    • #26
  27. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti
    @BlueYeti

    Hi All, 

    By popular demand, Please join us tomorrow at 9AM PT/11AM CT/12PM ET for a members only Q &A session with Steven Meyer. We’ll take the questions we didn’t get to from this thread and try to take a few from the audience who attends this session.  Here’s your Zoom link. 

    • #27
  28. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    This was a good, even-paced show. I appreciate Mr. Robinson asking questions from Ricochet members, it really broadened the discussion. I’m glad we added the Discovery Institute to the podcast library. Shows that go a bit off the political path into the byways that extend conservative thought – faith, the value of life, reason – are always woven into the cultural fabric and enriches the depth of knowledge needed for understanding a vision of a free and virtuous society. Wesley Smith has been excellent in the subject of medical euthanasia, an important subject that is gaining ground, for example. Thank you again for a great show and for the end contrast of the hosts on the subject of space exploration. Two divergent views, yet they find common ground in praising the power of ingenuity and imagination.

    Dear Jenna,

    Coming from you, such a loyal and perceptive listener, that means a lot. And you’re right: There’s more to conservatism than politics. Thank God.

    You set the example and as always, @ peterrobinson a high bar. Thank you.

    Isn’t he a great guy?

    Almost suspiciously so!

    Maybe it’s the draped sweater? 

    • #28
  29. ericB Lincoln
    ericB
    @ericB

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I’m broadly skeptical of the substance and the wisdom of the intelligent design movement and its attempt to … inform science with faith

    p.s. It might be helpful to anyone contemplating these issues to keep in mind that

    1. Meyer’s case does not rest upon faith in any religious text.  It is abductive reasoning we use for any investigation of an unobserved past cause by looking at the lasting effects we can examine and study in the present (cf.  CSI).  We infer mind from distinctive effects that are best explained by an intelligent cause.
    2. The alternatives to Meyer’s proposal rest upon huge leaps of faith.

    We cannot observe reality before the big bang.

    If someone supposes an infinite multiverse as part of avoiding Meyer’s conclusion (e.g. about fine tuning), that will necessarily be a leap of faith that can never possibly be observed.

    It would be difficult to name a proposition that is a greater leap of blind faith, i.e. faith that is contrary to scientific knowledge, than the faith that mindless matter could create life.  It is a leap of faith that goes against everything we have ever observed unguided matter to do.  To put it another way, in all that science has learned about the regularities of unguided matter, we do not have even a single example in all the universe of unguided matter ever creating what origin of life researcher Leslie Orgel identified as the distinctive characteristic of life, for which he coined the term “specified complexity”.  Nothing from scientific observation supports the article of faith that unguided matter has ever had this effect anywhere.

    Most fundamental of all, it is a leap of faith to assume that the physical universe of space+time+matter+energy is an isolated system where every physical effect has only physical causes.  That might be convenient to assume (and some may prefer to believe that), but nevertheless it remains an article of faith.

    In short, science already depends on leaps of faith.  Meyer proposes a cause-effect inference more consistent with our uniform observations.

    • #29
  30. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    ericB (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I’m broadly skeptical of the substance and the wisdom of the intelligent design movement and its attempt to … inform science with faith

    p.s. It might be helpful to anyone contemplating these issues to keep in mind that

    1. Meyer’s case does not rest upon faith in any religious text. It is abductive reasoning we use for any investigation of an unobserved past cause by looking at the lasting effects we can examine and study in the present (cf. CSI). We infer mind from distinctive effects that are best explained by an intelligent cause.
    2. The alternatives to Meyer’s proposal rest upon huge leaps of faith.

    We cannot observe reality before the big bang.

    . . .

    And by “abductive reasoning,” you mean inference to the best explanation, right?

    • #30