Sunday, February 19, 2012

Interfaith Dialogue: Hamza Tzortzis and William Lane Craig

Hamza Tzortzis just tweeted about his response to The God Delusion. I'd missed it before now. While reading it some of the quotes and statistics he used seemed familiar. In this post I'll be comparing Hamza's article to one by William Lane Craig, entitled Does God Exist? (Free registration required.)

*Update June 2012: Two years after publication, Hamza has updated his article to reflect the sources and has modified the description to list it as a compilation. This is a positive step. A link to my followup article has been added to the end of this post.*

For copyright reasons I won't reproduce both articles in their entirety. Let's start after Hamza's preliminary note:
Hamza Tzortzis: "The existence of a life permitting universe is due to conditions that must have been fined-tuned to a degree that is literally incalculable. Take the following examples:"
William Lane Craig: "The existence of intelligent life depends upon a conspiracy of initial conditions which must be fine-tuned to a degree that is literally incomprehensible and incalculable."
Hamza Tzortzis: "The Strength of Gravity & the Atomic Weak Force: Physicist P. C. W. Davies has calculated that a change in the strength of gravity or of the atomic weak force by only one part in 10100 would have prevented a life permitting universe."
William Lane Craig: "For example, the physicist P. C. W. Davies has calculated that a change in the strength of gravity or of the atomic weak force by only one part in 10100 would have prevented a life-permitting universe."

Hamza Tzortzis: "Big Bang’s Low Entropy Condition: Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the Big Bang’s low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of one out of 1010. Penrose comments, “I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010.”"
William Lane Craig: "Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the Big Bang's low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of one out of 1010^(123).  Penrose comments, "I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010^(123).""
It's worth noting the difference in figures - William Lane Craig quotes Penrose correctly, Hamza accidentally drops ^123, leaving Penrose describing the relatively paltry figure of ten billion as unknown in discussions of physics.
Hamza Tzortzis: Volume of the phase space of possible universes: Roger Penrose of Oxford University states “In order to produce a universe resembling the one in which we live, the Creator would have to aim for an absurdly tiny volume of the phase space of possible universes” Now, how tiny is this volume? According to Penrose the volume of the phase space would be 1/10 to the power of X which is 10123. This is smaller than the ratio of a Proton! This precision is much, much greater than the precision that would be required to hit an individual proton if the entire universe were a dartboard!
At this point I couldn't find any references in William Lane Craig's article. There's a drop in quality - take the sentence "This is smaller than the ratio of a Proton!". The ratio of a proton to what? What's X in the above quote? How does Hamza know the size of the universe, as opposed to the visible universe? I had a look in another of Craig's works, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology:
William Lane Craig: "According to Roger Penrose, one of Britain's leading theoretical physicists, “In order to produce a universe resembling the one in which we live, the Creator would have to aim for an absurdly tiny volume of the phase space of possible universes” (Penrose 1989, p.343). How tiny is this volume? According to Penrose, if we let x = 10123, the volume of phase space would be 1/10x of the entire volume (1989, p.343). This is vastly smaller than the ratio of the volume of a proton - which is about 10-45m3 - to the entire volume of the visible universe, which is approximately 1084m3. Thus, this precision is much, much greater than the precision that would be required to hit an individual proton if the entire visible universe were a dartboard!"
Another match, much clearer and consistent with how physics is normally described. To be honest it seems Hamza didn't follow the argument.
Hamza Tzortzis: "There is just no physical reason why these constants and quantities should have the values they do. As P. C. W. Davies states:
“Even if the laws of physics were unique, it doesn’t follow that the physical universe itself is unique…the laws of physics must be augmented by cosmic initial conditions…there is nothing in present ideas about ‘laws of initial conditions’ remotely to suggest that their consistency with the laws of physics would imply uniqueness. Far from it…it seems, then, that the physical universe does not have to be the way it is: it could have been otherwise.”
William Lane Craig: There is just no physical reason why these constants and quantities should have the values they do. As P. C. W. Davies states,
"Even if the laws of physics were unique, it doesn't follow that the physical universe itself is unique. . . . the laws of physics must be augmented by cosmic initial conditions. . . . There is nothing in present ideas about 'laws of initial conditions' remotely to suggest that their consistency with the laws of physics would imply uniqueness. Far from it. . . .  it seems, then, that the physical universe does not have to be the way it is: it could have been otherwise."
The similarities need no commentary. I'll end the comparison with a final quote from Hamza:

Hamza Tzortzis: "Specified probability [sic] is a probability that also conforms to an independent pattern. To illustrate this, imagine you have a monkey in a room for twenty-four hours, typing a way on your laptop. In the morning you enter the room and you see, “O Romeo, O Romeo, where art thou O Romeo? Deny thy father and deny thy name…” ... in this case not only have you seen the improbability of typing intelligible English words – but they also conform to the independent pattern of English grammar!"
Specified complexity, and this time it's a concept borrowed from the Christian Creationist William DembskiI'm not his biggest fan. Still, how probable is it that we find so many matches between these two apologists?

As mentioned at the start of this article, Hamza has updated his piece to reflect the Christian apologists that influence his views. There's a full followup here.

24 comments:

Terry Nielsen said...

did you let Hamza know you caught him? If so, what was his response?

Geoff said...

I mentioned it on Twitter but didn't get a response.

In fairness, he's in the middle of a fairly demanding speaking schedule right now and gets a lot of communication from other sources. Plus, much as it hurts my ego to admit it, I'm not exactly a big name.

He's taken criticism well before though, so I'll definitely do an update if he comes back to me.

StopS said...

Nice research.
It fits in neatly with my upcoming video on YouTube, where I want to show the 3 clones Craig/Deen/Tzortzis on top of each other, all reciting the Kalam argument.
I remember the common factor of "the bang behind me" but can't find the videos for them, but that does not matter.
Can I use a paragraph from you as a screenshot?
Also, we are pro-actively streaming my interview with Prof Hoodbhoy on Saturday on the J&T, where he explains what Hamza really did to prompt the heated exchange and the prof to charge out of the room.

Geoff said...

Glad you enjoyed StopS. You're welcome to use it and I look forward to your videos.

Jon said...

Thank you, Geoff. I wish that I had the opportunity to undertake such painstaking research.

We occupy a blink in the space/time of our present universe and it is true to say that, had conditions been even slightly different within our galaxy/solar system, what we are experiencing now would not have existed, but that does not mean that the same conditions would not have existed elsewhere, for example, in those nearby solar systems that we can observe that do not have the 'Goldilocks' conditions.

Also, perhaps it is possible that our current universe, evidently in the process of expansion, will, ultimately, contract to the singularity from which it was created and the whole process will start all over again. Perhaps that has already happened, perhaps an infinite number of times and, perhaps, life (as we know it, Jim) has been and gone infinite times and will do so infinite times more.

Religion is not equipped to answer these questions, science is. Who knows, one day, maybe it will.

Curt Cameron said...

"Where art thou O Romeo?"

I'd fire those monkeys.

Claudio said...

You have to be extremely dumb if you need to copy from W.L. Craig

moother said...

is this the same Hamza Tzortzis ignorant lying fuck for islam?

no surprise he's a plagiarist then.

Anonymous said...

The remarkable similarity is incontrovertible proof of design.

Geoff said...

Common design, common designer?

Anonymous said...

Meh... tired old arguments being presented by people as if they were new ones...to people that hadn't heard them before because they are uneducated and know no better? and lazy bastards too stupid or ignorant to rationalise new ones but rather copy the old ones from idiots word for word... what else is new?

I mean the bible itself is lttered with proclamations supposedly from a God...who seems to have plagerised earlier literature word for word.

I point readers in the general directions of Exodus 20 and the Code of the Hammurabi

21st century... the information age... where people really will be able to check up whats said by any authority in an instant with an object in the palm of their hand...

Goodbye religion...don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!

Anonymous said...

Gotta say I love the way the only original text he actually wrote was

"I have to say that I was disappointed. What I read were rehashed, incoherent and outdated arguments that made me realize that Richard Dawkins is not very well read in philosophy"

Kinda ironic!

CaptainDisguise said...

Plagiarizing and Quote-mining are among Hamza's forte

Critical Reflections By Furqan Hussain said...
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Critical Reflections By Furqan Hussain said...

If we don't understand the basics of human understanding, communication, language, and symbiosis then all the above claims and any other alike are plausible.

Until then it is the human knack for the conspiratorial mind to work overtime.

People reason with in a set of rules given the nature of reality we occupy and resulting acculturation; we are bound to say similar things differing ways especially when our research is interlaced. I may use Godel to make a point and so will an atheist and so will another theist that has similar point to make. This is how reality and symbiosis works.

I have number of times reached views that I have never heard before and turn on to anyone of the major speakers, they may also have the same thoughts, only in the public space.

Much of this (comments above) is the human psychology that Eleanor Roosevelt would describe as people discussing people, and use that to synthesize their reality and in turn project insecurities instead of taking in what is being communicated and contemplate.

Hamza - William Lane Craig; relating arguments shouldn't be surprising given our religions are almost same (sister religion which results in very many universal conceptions) and so is some of the research where theology and epistemology differs. The ontology of God doesn't

All you have done is taken the same ideas that have been expressed differently and said that it is being plagiarized. No conspiracy needed.

Geoff said...

Furqan, given that Tzortzis (eventually) admitted that he'd used Craig's work without giving credit, don't you feel your coincidence explanation is a little flawed?

Critical Reflections By Furqan Hussain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Critical Reflections By Furqan Hussain said...

There's no coincidence in symbiosis and plagiarism is an oft topic without any connotations. I myself am often at odds in writing given that there's number of influences and sometimes the influences that invoke original thought be it brief and later development can't be pinpointed. Admittedly I did not read the update and was mostly reflecting on the above comments but it seems the due diligence or lack of was something that was fraught for a public speaker and in someways exasperated and then appropriately bought to an end.

But it's good to see you after a long time nonetheless my friend and your blog progressing. Keep up the good work.

Ummer F said...

William Lane Craig tells us why:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17DL_MWORH8

Geoff said...

Hi Furqan, likewise good to hear from you. Hope you're well. I should really keep up with my comments more regularly!

Geoff said...

Hi Ummer, that video's over an hour long and doesn't immediately seem relevant. Care to summarise how it addresses the point?

James Bond said...

Geoff, you seriously need to get a life ..If all you could do is whine about a few supposed plageorised comments ..Both apologists happen to use the Kalam cosmological argument as a fundamental framework to explain the existence of God.. I suggest you get your facts right before harping on about plageurism.

James Bond said...

Geoff, you seriously need to get a life ..If all you could do is whine about a few supposed plageorised comments ..Both apologists happen to use the Kalam cosmological argument as a fundamental framework to explain the existence of God.. I suggest you get your facts right before harping on about plageurism.

Geoff Shorts said...

Might I suggest you take an introductory spelling class before engaging in any further online correspondence?

Tzortzis admitted the essay was plagiarized. Do you think he lies?