Friday, April 16, 2010

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument: A Simple Break-Down

This is the second installment of my blog series "Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument" in which I try to give a simple, common-sense breakdown of the argument.

The idea behind it is this: Physicists know what numbers that they should plug in to their equations to describe certain physical laws and forces. But no one knows why our universe had to have the numbers it does and not some other numbers. For example, why does light have to travel at 186,000 miles per second rather than 200,000 miles per second or 50,000 miles per second (or any other number we can imagine)? What's more is that, when physicists change some of the numbers that they use in their equations (even to a very small degree), it appears that the universe described in their equations would not support life as we know it. It seems that out of all the logically possible universes, very few would support life (as we know it, anyway). How do we explain that? Many believers argue that God is the explanation. I suppose they believe that God would have wanted life to exist, and so if God exists there is a 100% chance that our universe will exist with all the laws of physics having values that will allow life to exist. However, if chance is behind the laws of the universe, then our existence would be very, very improbable. Of course, many will object that chance is not the only alternative to God, and they are right. In later blog posts I will discuss the alternatives. But for now, suffice it to say that believers tend to argue that the alternative explanations are contrived or in some way not as good as the theisitic explanation.


Anonymous said...


I follow your blog but it's the first time I comment.
I have a particular interest in the Fine Tuning Argument (FTA) as I have training (BS in fact) in physics, altough I'm not a physicist.
Every time I hear, and think about the FTA, it trills me as how somebody can buy it.
First, who say the Universe is Fine Tunned at all?
What does it mean to say that this Universe is "friendly to life"? Friendly to life? Wow! I don't think we can say that without having a very naive understanding of what the Universe, and our own planet are.
This Universe is not "friendly" to life, it's one when life is, AFAWK, barely possible.
There is a huge distance between friendlyness and possibleness.
The FTA begs the question I think, as it presumes that the existence of life, our life, is some direct consequence of this state of affairs, of the physics to be the way it is, and this assumption is false.

Anonymous said...

but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...

Fail like when Sam Harris puts Deepak "Earth-shakes-when-I-fart" Choppra in his proper place by calling him out for pretending to know what nobody knows? That fail?
Or the one when Harris again said to Choppra that repeting the same thing loudly and relentelessly doesn't make it truew
Or you mean that other one when D"ESWIF"C says the Moon is not there when nobody is looking?

Well those were really EPIC FAILS!