My World View – Fine Tuning Of The Universe

Some theists will argue that the universe is created by their god and that science tells us that if some of the constants of the universe were changed as little as 2% then the universe could not have formed as it has and that life as we know it would not be possible. This they refer to as fine tuning. Also called the anthropic principle

Then, there are those who do not believe the universe is fine tuned, but that life began and has adapted itself to the universe over time … so successfully that it now appears that the universe was fine tuned for life. I do not think you will find any rational thinker that thinks the universe is the perfect place for life. Most of it is so harsh and uncaring that life as we know it cannot exist there. In fact, much like Adams’ thinking puddle, we find ourselves in a small bubble which is barely stable enough for life to arise and evolve to the point that we might contemplate the beginning of the universe and of life itself.

The cure for such thinking? Education. Broad science education that will allow people to know that the universe is not fine tuned, but we who are fine tuned by evolution for this universe. We are not special, just human apes on a pale blue dot in a cold harsh vast expanse that we call the universe… or one of them.

There is no reason to think that the universe is fine tuned, never mind by a god that created it. There is every reason to think that we evolved to be compatible with this universe by virtue of evolving to be compatible with the conditions of the Earth. For the Abrahamic monotheists out there, the notion that this is fine tuned universe to hold this planet… what was the garden of Eden? Surely not a place on the Earth, because that would mean an omnipotent and omniscient god created a paradisical garden for his new little friends and placed it inside a bubble that will only last 10 billion years tops, and will probably be unable to support life for far less than that. Was he planning to move the garden to some other bubble when time ran out on Earth? Maybe he was just going to thoughtlessly let it be destroyed? Oh wait, you think he will return and take people to heaven. When was that supposed to happen again? hmmmm Time’s up on that relocation plan, and we have about 5 billion years to think of a plan B – better start supporting the space programs so we can learn out to adapt to live in some other part of this universe that is not tuned well enough that we can just go live on any planet.

Just try scaring a 3rd grader with the threat of Gamma Ray Bursts from space that would microwave all life on this planet to a crisp if one hit us and you will have some idea of what real terror is. For me hell has no fury like a death ray from a black hole that cooks everything it touches randomly spinning about in space while the Earth dances around like one of those ducks at a shooting gallery at the fair.  Why would a creator god make one of those, never mind millions of them. As a third grader I once tried to contemplate the math regarding the probability that we might get fried by death rays from space. My 8 year old self let it go for a time when the math became far more complex than I had thought…. which lead to other discoveries, but that will be other post.

Darkantics has a take on this that is breathtakingly thought provoking.

 

Douglas Adams was a staunch atheist, who famously

imagined a sentient puddle who wakes up one morning and thinks, “This is an interesting world I find myself in—an interesting hole I find myself in—fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!”

From Wikipedia:

Victor Stenger argues that

… The fine-tuning argument and other recent intelligent design arguments are modern versions of God-of-the-gaps reasoning, where a God is deemed necessary whenever science has not fully explained some phenomenon”.

The argument from imperfection suggests that if the Universe were designed to be fine-tuned for life, it should be the best one possible and that evidence suggests that it is not. In fact, most of the Universe is highly hostile to life.

Additionally, Stenger argues:

We have no reason to believe that our kind of carbon-based life is all that is possible. Furthermore, modern cosmology indicates that multiple universes may exist with different constants and laws of physics. So, it is not surprising that we live in the one suited for us. The Universe is not fine-tuned to life; life is fine-tuned to the Universe.

 

So, do you think that the universe was fine tuned for human life? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Great post. I find Darkantics’ argument weak though; it’s essentially a semantic argument. He’s pointing out that finely-tuned implies that the universe had to be tinkered and fettled, and a perfect God would get it right first time. To which any theist can say, “OK, ‘finely-tuned’ was a poor choice of phrase. God did get it right first time.”

    The classic argument as to whether God is bound by the laws of the universe is, I guess, his larger point, and that’s a very interesting one. But overall to him I say, “That was both good and original. Unfortunately, the parts that were good were not original, and the parts that were original were not good.”

    I absolutely agree with you though; evolution creates a fantastic illusion of design (to quote Dawkins) and it’s endlessly fascinating. Creationists say, “God made the world” is a wonderful thought. Perhaps, but it ends there; there’s nothing more to learn. Evolution gives as a fantastic vision of amazing ways physics, chemistry, and biology have made life.

    • My first thoughts about his vlog were as yours, that’s easy to refute. Then it struck me, he says why didn’t god make a galaxy sized garden of eden or even something we’ve not thought of that would clearly show his handiwork?

      If the universe looks like it was not created and apologists have to say their god created to look that way, you can’t tell the difference. If you can’t, the more likely explanation is that it was not created. They cannot claim that this universe is the garden since humans were thrown out of it. The whole creation story of the Abrahamic faiths is flawed beyond repair.

      Many apologists do argue for fine tuning in the way he refuted it. I think that in either case it is difficult to credit a god with the universe, not least because most of it will quickly kill life as we know it… which leads to the question of why god created evil. We live in a tiny bubble that not so amazingly exactly supports the life which evolved here.

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