The Fine Tuning Argument For God's Existence (Updated Version)




Back in 2012, I wrote a blog post on one version of The Teleological Argument for God’s Existence titled “The Fine Tuning and Objections To It”. But given my upcoming debate on arguments for God’s existence with a man named Anthony Bigg, I thought I’d write an updated version of that blog post. This one will have more objections to the argument listed and how I address them.

What is The Fine Tuning Argument? Well, physicists used to think that whatever the initial conditions of the universe were, eventually, given enough time and chances, physical life would evolve somewhere. But scientific discoveries over the last 50 years have shown that the laws and the constants of physics unexpectedly conspire in a an extraordinary way to make the universe habitable for life. If these constants and quantities were off by even a teeny tiny bit when the universe came into being, life would never have been able to evolve anywhere in the cosmos. Scientists call it “fine tuning” because it’s analogous to a bunch of radio dials. Just as a radio dial has to be tuned to a certain level in order for you to be able to listen to a certain station, so the laws of physics must be tuned to certain levels in order for life to exist. I think that this is excellent, powerful evidence for intelligent design and for God’s existence.

First, let me give some examples of fine tuning, then I’ll give a syllogism that takes us to design as the best explanation of these finely tuned parameters. I’ll then list several objections atheists frequently bring up when a theist uses this argument.

Examples Of Fine Tuning

1: The ratio of the number of electrons relative to the number of protons has to be just right in order for life to exist. The electron is that little ball thing that orbits the center of the atom and a proton is a subatomic particle that is frequently found in many different types of atoms. If we had either too many protons then electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets. If we had too many protons in the universe, electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets. Obviously no life can exist in a universe completely devoid of galaxies, stars, and planets, because if there are no galaxies, stars, or planets there’s no home for life to live on.

What are the odds that we should have the just right number of electrons to protons? 1 in 10^37 (1 chance in 10 to the 37th power). 10^37 is such an extremely huge number that it is hard to visualize. In his book, “The Creator and The Cosmos”, astrophysicist Hugh Ross gives this analogy; he says to cover the entire North American continent in dimes stacked up all the way to the height of the moon (a height of about 237,000 miles). Next pile dimes on a billion other continents the same size as North America. Paint one dime red and mix it into the billion piles of dimes. Blindfold a friend and ask him to pick out one dime. The odds that he will pick the red dime are 1 in 10^37 (the number 1 followed by 37 zeroes).

2: The Ratio Of Electron To Proton Mass must be finely tuned as well. It’s not enough just to have the just right number of electrons and protons, but their size relative to one another must also be just right. If the size of the electron or the size of the proton were off by a little bit, then the bonding between chemicals would be insufficient for life chemistry.

How finely tuned is that? 1 chance in 10^37! Again, cover the entire North American Continents in dimes, stacked all the way up to the height of the moon (a height of about 237,000 miles). Next pile dimes on a billion continents the same size as North America. Pain one dime red and mix it into the billion piles of dimes. Blindfold a friend and ask him to pick out one dime. The odds that he will pick the red dime are 1 in 10^37.

3: The Strong Nuclear Force has to be finely tuned as well. What is the strong nuclear force? The Strong Nuclear Force is the force of physics that binds together protons and neutrons inside the center of every atom. The Strong Nuclear Force is the force of physics that binds together protons and neutrons inside the nucleus of every atom. Just knowing that alone tells you how important this factor is for life! After all, every living creature is material and since they’re material they are therefore composed of atoms.

Now, what would happen is The Strong Nuclear Force were different than what it is? If the strong nuclear force were any weaker than what physicists observe, it would not be strong enough to bind together protons and neutrons inside the center of atoms. As a result, the only element that would exist in the universe would be hydrogen. Because the hydrogen atom has only one proton and no neutrons in its nucleus. It also only has one electron in its orbit. If the strong nuclear force were too weak, it would not be strong enough to bind together protons and neutrons, and therefore only single proton atoms would be the only type of atom in the universe. On the other hand, if the strong nuclear force were slightly stronger than what physicists observe, it would be so efficient at binding together subatomic particles that not one proton would remain alone, but it would find itself attached to many other protons and neutrons. As a result, only heavy elements would exist. There would be no hydrogen. Life chemistry is impossible without hydrogen. It is also impossible if hydrogen is the only element.

What are the odds that this constant should be just right? 1 chance in 10^30 (i.e the number 1 followed by 30 zeroes)

4: The Weak Nuclear Force must also be finely tuned. The weak nuclear force is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles, and it plays an essential role in nuclear fission (nuclear fission is either a nuclear reaction or a radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts). If the weak nuclear force were any stronger, the matter in the universe would be too rapidly converted into heavy elements. But if it were any weaker, then the matter in the universe would remain in the form of just the lightest elements. Either way, the elements crucial for life to exist (such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen & phosphorus) wouldn’t exist. That would mean no life chemistry could take place because the elements essential for it to take place wouldn’t exist! Moreover, unless the Weak Nuclear Force took a very precise value, those life essential elements that are produced only inside of super giant stars would never escape (i.e supernova explosions wouldn’t occur). How finely tuned is that? 1 part in 10^100th power! That’s 1 followed by 100 zeroes! 

I showed you how improbable 1 in 10^37 was! Well, this is 1 in 10^100! This is 3 times as improbable as the original dime illustration!

5: The Force Of Gravity must be finely tuned as well. If the force of gravity were slightly stronger then stars would be too hot and would burn too rapidly and too unevenly for life. This is bad because a planet capable of sustaining life must be orbited by a star that is both stable and long burning. But if gravity were slightly weaker, then stars would never become hot enough to ignite nuclear fusion. Thus, many of the elements needed for life which are cooked inside of the hot furnaces of stars would never form.

But that’s only what would happen if gravity slightly stronger or slightly weaker. If gravity were significantly stronger, the effects of life would be even more devastating! If gravity were significantly stronger, then the universe would only consist of black holes and neutron stars. No galaxies, stars, or planets. Why? You see, when the universe was forming, gravity was the force of physics that took all of the matter, gas, and dust in the universe and coalesced them into galaxies, stars, and planets. If gravity were significantly stronger, gravity would not have taken all of the stuff in the universe and condensed them into celestial bodies but instead would take all of the stuff of the universe and condense them into black holes and neutron stars. And in black holes and neutron stars, gravity is so intense that even atoms and molecules are crushed under their own weight! Think about that for a second; the gravity inside of black holes and neutron stars are so strong that even atoms, as tiny as they are, are too heavy to sustain their own weight. Obviously, life can’t exist in a universe that consists of nothing but black holes and neutron stars. On the other hand, if gravity were significantly weaker, then it would not be strong enough to take the matter, gas, and dust in the universe and condense them into any sort of celestial bodies at all! Everything would just fly apart!

How finely tuned is that? 1 chance in 10^36! Again, this number is so large that it’s hard to visualize. Lee Strobel in his book “The Case For A Creator” and in the movie of the same name, gives this analogy; he says to imagine a ruler that stretches from one end of the universe to another (a length of 14 billion light years), and the ruler is separated by one inch increments. Those inches represent the possible number of power strengths that gravity could have fallen into. Now, in order for life to exist, gravity would have to fall on only one particular inch! One inch out of 14 billion light years worth of inches! It is statistically impossible that out of 14 billion light years worth of inches, that’s the one inch it happened to fall on!

6: The Electromagnetic Force. If stronger, chemical bonding would be disrupted. Elements more massive than boron would be unstable to fission. If lesser, chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry.

The electromagnetic force is finely tuned to 1 part in 10^40!

7: The Expansion Rate Of The Universe. If the universe expanded to rapidly one second after The Big Bang, then gravity would not have the opportunity to collect gas and condense it into galaxies stars and planets and in such a universe life would be impossible. The universe would be forever nothing, but disperse gas. But if the universe were to expand to slowly, then gravity would work at such an efficient level that it would pull all matter, energy and space backwards and the universe would have collapsed in on itself. Why? Because in physics, the gravitational pull of 2 massive bodies attract one another, and the larger those bodies are relative to one another and the closer they are together, the more powerfully they will attract. When the universe is young (and hence, small) the bits and pieces of matter will be close together, and therefore, gravity would act as a powerful break to slow down cosmic expansion (and in fact, it did in the very first few seconds of the universe’s age). But as the universe gets older and older, the surface gets bigger and bigger, and therefore all the matter in the universe becomes more widely dispersed, therefore the gravitational attraction between all of the matter in the universe grows weaker, and therefore gravity becomes progressively weaker in its capacity to slow down the cosmic expansion (while dark energy becomes more effective as driving the universe' expansion, we’ll talk about dark energy in a moment). If the universe were not expanding at the just the right speed, gravity wouldn’t have just slowed down the cosmic expansion, but reversed it entirely, and thus, the universe would have collapsed in on itself.

Stephen Hawking has estimated that the odds of the universe’s expansion rate being at just the right speed was around 1 part in 10 to the 60th power.

Now I’ve showed you just how precise 1 part in 10 to the 37th power! You know, if you had dimes covering 1 billion continents the same size as North America and a height all the way up to the moon, and having a blindfolded person picking a randomly painted dime among such a monstrous pile! Well, 1 part in 10 to the 60th is even MORE unlikely then that.

8: Dark Energy has to be finely tuned as well. You see, the expansion rate of the universe is governed by 2 factors; gravity (which I already talked about) and dark energy. Now, what is dark energy. Dark Energy is a type of energy that is emedded in the very fabric of space. Dark Energy is the constant that drives the universe’s expansion.

If either Dark Energy or Gravity were off by a little bit, then either the universe would have expanded too rapidly (hence, no galaxies, stars, or planets), or the universe would have expanded too slowly (in which case, the universe would have collapsed in on itself). How finely tuned is dark energy? 1 part in 10^120! That’s 120 zeroes after the number 1!

Lee Strobel, in his book “The Case For A Creator” and in the movie of the same name, gives this example to help you grasp how improbable this is. He says that the odds of dark energy’s being just right are the same odds as if you were to fly hundreds of miles out into space, and throw a dart at the Earth, and nail a target a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter!

Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has said, regarding the dark energy "The level of fine tuning in dark energy, exceeds the best example of human design achievement by a factor of 10^97 times.... What this is telling us, is that the One who designed the dark energy, to make our existence possible, is 10^97 times more intelligent, and better educated, than those cal-tech MIT Physicists. And at-least that many times better funded than the US government."

The fine tuning of dark energy however, pales in comparison to this next law I’m about to talk about.

9: The Entropy Level Of The Universe. It's finely tuned to 1 part out of 10^10^123! That's 10^123 zeros after the number 1!  If you want to get an even better idea of how huge this number is, consider this. If you set a laptop computer in front of a 2 year old toddler with Microsoft Word open and you told him to put his finger on the 0 key until he had 10^123 zeroes typed after the number 1 which you already entered, how long would it take that child to type in 10^123 zeroes? He would die as an old man before he got finished typing all the zeroes. In fact, if you replaced the old man with another 2 year old toddler and told him to type in zeroes in order to finish the work of his predecessor, he too would die as an old man before he got finished. In fact, you could go through 10 generations of men spending their entire lives typing in zeroes and they still wouldn’t be able to type this number out in full.

Actually, scientists have estimated that the universe is about 10^14 seconds old (1 with 14 zeroes after it). If you typed in a 0 for every second from The Big Bang until today, you would still fall short of typing out the number 10^10^123!!!

THAT'S A REALLY HUGE NUMBER! When I first found this out in a physics textbook, my head exploded! That's not even counting the number of members that the written number is supposed to describe. The number of members in a set is always more than the 0s used to describe it. The number 100 only has 2 zeros but there are far more members in the set than the number of 0s that number is describing!

To return to the original dime analogy, just how many piles of dimes would your friend have to search through to get the red dime? Well, remember how improbable it was for your friend to get the red dime out 10^37? That was just 37 zeroes! This is 10^123 zeroes! The odds that your friend should find the red dime out of a pile this size is billions of times more improbable than in the original dime analogy I used!!!!

If it were slightly stronger, stars would not form within proto-galaxies. If it were slightly weaker, no proto galaxies would form. Stars only form within galaxies and not in intergalactic space. Hence the need for proto-galaxies (i.e. "young" galaxies). No proto-galaxies, no galaxies. No galaxies, no stars. No stars, no life. That is finely tuned to 1 Part in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123!

Astrophysicist Rodger Penrose has given an illustration to show just how large this number is. He stated, “It’s so special that the odds against the special initial state coming about by chance are less than one part in 10 to the power, 10 to the power 123. So if you try to write this out 100000… with this number of zeros you’d try to put one zero on every particle of the observable universe you’d be way short, you’d never do it that way. That’s not enough room to put all the zeros in so.”

An Argument For Design

How do we account for this remarkable fine tuning of the constants and quanities of nature? Well, I think there are only 3 possible explanations for it. I think the best explanation is Intelligent Design. To prove that, I’ll employ a syllogism formulated by philosopher William Lane Craig that he uses in his books “Reasonable Faith” and "On Guard".

1: The Fine Tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance or design.
2: It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3: Therefore, it is due to design.

This is a logically valid syllogism. The conclusion follows from the premises by the rules of logic. I know this because the argument form is disjunctive syllogism. 7 In order for us to reach the conclusion, we’ll have to confirm that both of the initial premises are true. So are these premises true or are they false? Well, let’s look at them.

The first premise states that “The Fine Tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.” I think that this premise is indisputable. All this premise states is that the fine tuning can be best explained by one of these 3 things. It’s simply a list of possible explanations for how one may account for the fine tuning of the laws of physics. How could anyone possibly object to a list of possible explanations? Now, if the skeptic can think of another explanation, he’s welcome to add it to the list and then we’ll consider it when we come to premise 2, but in all of the debates I’ve ever heard and had on the fine tuning of physics, these 3 explanations are the only ones that ever come into play. I can’t think of another alternative. So premise 1 certainly seems to give an exhaustive list of possible explanations. So premise 1 is true. Now let’s move on to premise 2.

Is premise 2 true? Premise 2 says that the fine tuning is not due to either physical necessity or chance. It says that these are inadequate explanations to account for the delicate balance of the physical laws.

The first explanation we need to examine is physical necessity. People who argue for option state that the universe has to, out of physical necessity, be life permitting. This seems far-fetched to me. This alternative is an assertion that gravity couldn’t have been stronger or weaker than it is, or that the Strong Nuclear Force couldn’t have been more attractive or less attractive, or that the universe couldn’t have expanded any more rapidly or any slower than it actually did. All of these constants and quantities look as if like they could have been different, and any one of them, if they were different, would have disallowed the universe from containing life. The individual who argues that the cosmos is life permitting on the grounds that it physically has to be that way needs to cough up some good quality substantiation for this option. However, there is none!

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.”

Then…could it be….the result of chance? I don’t think so. Lee Strobel, in the film “The Case For A Creator” says that the odds of even getting the cosmological constant (another name for dark energy) and gravity to be just right are the same odds that a blind folded person could pick one specific atom out of all the atoms in the universe! The odds of the universe’s low entropy state coming about is 1 in 10^10^123! That would be like finding one randomly marked dime out of a pile billions of times the size of the universe!

Each one of these constants and quantities is statistically impossible on their own but when you add them all together, improbability is multiplied by improbability by improbability by improbability until our minds are reeling in incomprehensible numbers.

1: The Fine Tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance or design.
2: It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3: Therefore, it is due to design.

Given the truth of the 2 premises, the conclusion logically and necessarily follows.

OBJECTIONS TO THE ARGUMENT GIVEN BY ATHEISTS

1: The Multiverse Argument

One of the most common responses to The Fine Tuning Argument is an appeal to the multiverse. What is the multiverse? The multiverse is a “scientific” theory that says that our universe is not the only universe in existence. Rather, it’s a part of a much wider ensemble of universes. Our universe is just one in an infinite number of universes. And given the laws of probability, life is guaranteed to exist in at least one, and we happen to be that one. So this theory gives chance a chance so to speak.

Does the multiple universe theory really undermine The Fine Tuning Argument? No, I don’t think so. I have a 3 pronged critique of the multiverse theory. First, there’s no evidence whatsoever that a multiverse even exists! No one knows if there are any other universes at all, much less an infinite number of universes. There’s no scientific evidence for the multiverse whatsoever. In fact, I don’t there ever even could be any evidence for a multiverse. It’s not like you can hop out of one universe and into another. You can’t see these others universes. You can’t see them. You can’t taste them. You can’t smell them. You can’t hear them. You can’t detect their radiation. You can’t verify their existence in anyway. So if the atheist wants me to abandon design as the best explanation for the fine tuning argument, he’s going to need to provide some good evidence for a multiverse. You know, I really hate blind faith. I think blind faith is for superstitious people. If I’m going to believe something, I want evidence for it. I’m amazed that atheists, who pride themselves on being champions of science and reason would have such an irrational thing as blind faith. Namely, blind faith in an infinite number of universes.

Secondly, I’d agree that the multiverse, if it existed, would be able to explain the fine tuning due to chance. It could indeed. In fact, it could be used to explain anything and everything. One issue I take with the multiverse is that it has too much explanatory scope.

If you were playing a poker game with someone and they got a royal flush 7 times in a row, what would you conclude? That he got a royal flush by chance? No. You’d conclude that he was cheating. But what if he said “Well, I know it looks like I’ve designed the game so that every time I deal, I get a royal flush. But you’ve got to remember that this universe is only one out of an infinite number of universes. There’s an infinite number of poker games going on. So in one universe, I’m bound get a royal flush 7 times in a row. How do you know this isn’t that universe?” Would you honestly accept that answer? Of course not, you’d respond “You think I’m an idiot, don’t you? You are clearly cheating.”

So if you’re going to appeal to the infinite number of universes (and there does need to be an indefinite number in order to guarantee that by chance alone, you get a universe that is life permitting), if you’re going to appeal to the infinite universe theory in order to explain away the fine tuning, we could never rationally explain ANY highly improbable event. You could also explain this entire blog post by means of the multi-verse. Perhaps a cat and mouse were running back and forth, back and forth across my computer keyboard and just happened by chance to make coherent sentences to make this blog. Yes, the odds of multiple coherent sentences forming by chance from 2 animals running across a keyboard is astronomically high (and that’s an extreme understatement) but we just happen to be in that one universe where it DID happen.

You could also explain the existence of a Boeing 747 by appealing to the multi-verse (of which there is no evidence). Let’s say a tornado struck a junk yard and tossed a bunch of parts around and formed the Boeing 747. Because there are an infinite number of universes, there were an infinite number of attempts to get it right in each one of them. This just happened to be the universe where one of those attempts was successful. Well, there you go no need to invoke a designer.

Really, we could assume that just about every electronic at your local Radio Shack was formed by chance, because in an infinite multi-verse, it’s bound to happen eventually.

And how could we ever use evidence to convict a murderer in a court of law? Those fingerprints on the weapon? You can’t really say that those fingerprints belong to John Doe, because given an infinite number of universes, chance chemical formation was bound to match John Doe’s fingerprints identically eventually. We just happened to be in that one universe where it did happen. So if I were the lawyer defending John Doe, I’d say to the judge “Your honor, given the multi-verse, it’s entirely possible that those fingerprints on the weapons formed by sheer accident. Now I know it defies the odds, but hey, if an infinite number of universes are being spawned, then in one of them we’re bound to wind up in the universe, where, against all the odds, it did happen by chance!” Do you think any judge would buy that answer?

You could explain away the Egyptian Pyramids by appealing to the multi-verse. I could go on and on with examples of extremely improbable events you could explain by appealing to the multi-verse. But no sane person appeals to the multi-verse for ANY of these things….only when it comes to explaining the fine tuning of the universe to avoid a designer. I find this to be a desperate attempt to keep atheism logically tenable.

Finally, I think design should be preferred over the multiverse because of a scientific principle called Occam’s Razor. Occam’s Razor says that if two different hypotheses can both explain the data, you should prefer the one that has less explanatory agents. ONE God VS. an INFINITE number of universes? Occam’s Razor says we should prefer Intelligent Design.

2: This is a God-Of-The-Gaps argument!

Actually, it isn’t. You see when it comes to the fine tuning, you only have 3 options that can explain the fine tuning of the universe. Physical Necessity, Chance, Or Design. Physical Necessity and chance have been ruled out as having explanatory power and design is the only explanation left, so you should go with that one. And not only is it the only remaining explanation, this explanation also has the causal power to explain the fine tuning and whereas the other ones do not. Now if you can think of another alternative to explain the fine tuning, then we’ll add that to the list of possible explanations in premise 1 and then we’ll consider that alternative when we come to premise 2. If this alternative that you can come up with has the causal power to produce the fine tuning, then perhaps we can go with that explanation rather than design. But I can only think of 3 possible explanations to explain the fine tuning of the universe and those 3 possible explanations are physical necessity, chance and design. As I’ve demonstrated above, physical necessity and chance do not have the causal power to produce fine tuning, while an Intelligent Designer DOES have the causal power to explain the fine tuning and that’s why we should go with that explanation.

Whatever it is you’re talking about, if you only have 3 possible explanations, and you rule out option 1 & option 2. You’re not using Option-3-Of-The-Gaps Reasoning, you’re making an inference to the best explanation.

As you can see, this isn’t god-of-the-gaps, this is an inference to the best explanation. To further illustrate my point that this is an inference to the best explanation rather than a god-of-the-gaps argument, consider the syllogism below.

1: Either P, Q, or R.
2: Not P or Q.
3: Therefore, R.

This how the syllogism for the fine tuning argument is layed out.
Now Imagine the following argument:

1: The Flintstones takes place in either the past, the present or the future.
2: It does not take place in the present or the future.
3: Therefore, it takes place in the past.

Now the first premise seems indisputable. All it does it list the 3 possibilities as to the time period when the cartoon “The Flintstones” is supposed to be taking place. Either it takes place in the past, the present, or the future. Now, the 2nd premise rules out present and future. The conclusion is that it takes place in the past. We can affirm the 2nd premise by doing some thinking. There are dinosaurs around. The theme song describes The Flintstones as “your modern STONEAGE family” (of course MODERN stone age is a contradiction they put in there to make it humorous as the stone age takes place in the ancient past), There’s no technology anywhere to be seen in the show except for animals and dinosaurs that provide the same function as some of the things we have today (i.e the mammoth dish washer). A lot of the animals are animals that have been extinct for millions of years. Therefore, the conclusion follows “3: Therefore, it takes place in the past”

Now would an atheist seriously say that this is Past-Of-The-Gaps reasoning? That you can’t think of another time period and therefore you’re unjusitifed in inferring “the past”? No, of course not. You made an inference to the best explanation. Given all of the dinosaurs, extinct animals and references to the “Stoneage”, you inferred that the writers of The Flintstones intended for the cartoon to take place in the ancient past, and humorously arranged it to resemble some of the things we have in modern society (e.g feet powered cars and mammoth dishwashers, and tiny pterodactyl powered remote controls).

Or how about this example?
1: Evan is either male, female or genderless.
2: Evan is not female or genderless.
3: Therefore, Evan is male.

Now the first premise seems indisputable. All it does it list the 3 possibilities as to what gender I am. Either I’m male, female, or A-sexual. Now, the 2nd premise rules out female and a-sexual (or genderless). The conclusion is that I am male. We can affirm the 2nd premise by doing some research. Evan is masculine. Evan has a male sounding voice. Evan has male genitalia. Evan has the male chromosomes. So Evan is obviously not genderless and he’s obviously not a female. The 2nd premise is confirmed. Therefore, the conclusion follows “3: Therefore, Evan is a male”

Now would an atheist seriously say that this is Male-Of-The-Gaps reasoning? That you’re merely inferring that I’m a male because you can’t think of another explanation and that therefore you’re unjustified in inferring that I am a male? I hope not!

Now, if The Flinstones argument or the Evan-Is-A-Male argument are not logically fallacious, then neither should The Fine Tuning Argument since it employs exactly the same reasoning. If The Fine Tuning Argument is logically fallacious then so should The Flinstones and Evan-Is-A-Male Argument.

3: What If Future Discoveries Prove That You’re Wrong? Maybe Some Undiscovered Principle Will Explain Why The Universe Is Fine Tuned For Life. We Should Wait For That Day To Come. Give Us Time, Science Will Find The Answer.

This is not a refutation of the argument at all. In fact, it’s merely a copout. This objection does nothing to explain the fine tuning. Rather, all it does is bid us to wait for a non-theistic explanation to come along. The problem with the atheist’s reasoning here is that if it were carried out consistently, it would absolutely destroy science! You see, no matter how much evidence there is for the truth of a certain hypothesis, there’s always the possibility, even if it’s an extremely tiny possibility, that future discoveries will overthrow the current explanation.

In fact, this has happened in science throughout history. Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity replaced Newtonian physics, and Newtonian physics replaced Aristotelian physics. But I don’t recall reading in any history books that a person went up to any of these scientists and said “Hey, you’re coming to your conclusion too early. Maybe future discoveries will prove you wrong!” Can you imagine if someone said that to Isaac Newton? "Hey, a guy named Albert Einstein might come along someday and refute your current conclusions, therefore, you aren't warranted in your conclusion." Newton would probably look at that person funny and say “Go home. You don’t know how to science.”

The notion that we shouldn't come to a conclusion because future evidence could possibly undermine the current explanation would shut down science altogether. Because no matter how small, there is always a possibility that the current explanation might be overthrown by new data. So you could never come to any scientific conclusion because there's always at least the tiniest possibility that scientists could be wrong.

Can you imagine if this logic were carried out in a court of law? Judges could never send anyone to prison. Imagine a lawyer arguing “Yes, your honor. I know that the evidence seems to indicate that my client is guilty now. But I think you’re coming to your conclusion too early. We should wait. Maybe new evidence will prove that he’s really innocent after all”. Sometimes that does happen. Sometimes detectives find evidence years after the trial that proves the defendant was really innocent all along and that he was falsely imprisoned.

Here’s the rub; if new evidence comes along in science, we abandon the current hypothesis. If new evidence comes along in law, we let the person out of prison. But we need to follow the evidence wherever it leads now. Not where it might possibly lead in the future.

4: Well, we really shouldn’t be surprised that the universe is finely tuned. After all, if it weren’t finely tuned. We wouldn’t be here to notice it. Given that we are here, we should expect the universe to be finely tuned.

But I think the fallacy of this argument can be shown by means of a parallel illustration. William Lane Craig gives this illustration in his book “On Guard” and Hugh Ross gives it in his book “The Creator and The Cosmos”;

“Imagine you're traveling abroad and are arrested on trumped-up drug charges and dragged in front of a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. You hear the command given: “Ready! Aim! Fire!” and you hear the deafening roar of the guns. And then you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 trained marksmen missed! Now what would you conclude? 'Well, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that they all missed. After all, if they hadn't all missed, then I wouldn't be here to be surprised about it! Given that I am here, I should expect them all to miss.' Of course not! You would immediately suspect that they all missed on purpose, that the whole thing was a set-up, engineered for some reason by someone. While you wouldn't be surprised that you don't observe that you are dead, you'd be very surprised, indeed, that you do observe that you are alive. In the same way, given the incredible improbability of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, it is reasonable to conclude that this is not due to chance, but to design.”


 5: The Fine Tuning Is Like A Lottery In Which All Of The Tickets Are Sold. In A Lottery In Which All Of The Tickets Are Sold, Somebody Has To Win. It Would Be Unjusitifed For The Person Who Won To Say “The Odds Of Me Winning Were A Million To One. Therefore, The Lottery. Must Have Been Rigged”.

This objection actually helps us to see where the advocate of chance has misunderstood the argument. Contrary to popular opinion, the fine tuning argument is not trying to explain why this universe exists, or why this particular dial setting exists. Rather, it’s trying to explain why a life permitting universe exists.

In his books “On Guard” and “Reasonable Faith”, philosopher William Lane Craig answers this by saying that a better analogy would be a lottery in which a trillion trillion trillion white ping pong balls are mixed in with one black ping pong ball, and one ball will be drawn at random. Now, even though any particular ball is equally as improbable as any other ball. Nevertheless, it is overwhelmingly more probable that whichever ball you pick…it will be white rather than black.  

In the same way, even though any particular combination of settings of the physical constants and quantities are equally as improbable as any other. Nevertheless, it’s overwhelmingly more probable that whichever combination of settings came out when the universe came into being, it would be a life prohibiting setting rather than a life permitting setting. There are far more possible sets of combinations that would render life impossible than the one that would render it possible.

Another way this argument has been put forth is to say that if your friend picked up a grain of sand in a desert, you’d be unjustified in claiming that his blindfold was see through and that he intentionally picked up that grain of sand…since any grain of sand is equally as improbable as any other. This version of the objection has been put to me in an online conversation I had with an atheist a few years ago. I answered by saying that a better analogy, and one that accurately represents the fine tuning argument, would be to mix one grain of salt in with the trillions and trillions of grains of sand. Now, even though any particular grain is equally as improbable as any other, nevertheless it is overwhelmingly more probable that whichever grain my blindfolded friend picks…it will be a grain of sand rather than that single grain of salt. In the same way, whichever combination of power settings these various laws of physics takes, it is overwhelmingly more probable that it will be one of the numerous life prohibiting settings rather than the single life permitting setting.  

6: The universe isn’t finely tuned for life. Life is finely tuned to the universe. If these constants were different, then different life forms would have arisen.

This argument says that if the laws of physics (i.e the number of electrons to protons, the ratio of electron to proton mass, The Strong Nuclear Force, The Weak Nuclear Force, Gravity, Electromagnetism, The Expansion Rate Of The Universe, Dark Energy, and Entropy) were to be stronger or weaker than what they are, then maybe we couldn’t exist, but different life forms may have evolved. Some atheists use the analogy of a guy lying in a puddle. He wakes up lying in a puddle and realizes the water conforms to the shape of his body. Given that the water conforms to the shape of his body, he concludes that the puddle was designed for his body. Now, some atheists argue that just as that man is a fools, so we would be fools to believe the universe was designed so life could exist.

The problem with this argument is that it radically misunderstands the consequences of what would happen if these constants and quantities were off by a little bit. For example, I said that if the universe expanded too rapidly, then gravity would not have the opportunity to collect gas and condense it into galaxies, stars, and planets. The universe would forever exist as nothing but isolated pieces of matter, gas, and dust. Because if the universe expanded too quickly, then all of the stuff of the universe would fly apart too quickly for gravity to take them and to condense them into galaxies, stars, and planets. The universe would be completely devoid of galaxies, stars, and planets.

If the ratio of the number of electrons to the number of protons were off by a little bit, electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation. Again, the universe would be completely devoid of galaxies, stars, and planets. If you don’t have galaxies, if you don’t have stars, if you don’t have planets, what kind of life could you possibly have? Floating space people?

If the Strong Nuclear Force were slightly weaker, it would be too weak to bind together protons and neutrons in the center of the atom. Therefore, no atoms could exist in the universe except the hydrogen atom (the most simple atom in the universe as it consists of only a single proton and a single electron). What kind of life can evolve from that? From hydrogen? On the other hand, if The Strong Nuclear Force were slightly stronger, protons and neutrons would have such an affinity for one another that not one would remain alone. They would find themselves attached to many other protons and neutrons. No hydrogen would exist if the strong nuclear force were stronger. And hydrogen is essential for life chemistry. No life chemistry, no life… of any type.

7: “"Most places in the universe will kill life instantly - instantly! People say, 'Oh, the forces of nature are just right for life.' Excuse me. Just look at the volume of the universe where you can't live. You will die instantly.” – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

This is a silly objection that shows only that Neil DeGrasse Tyson doesn’t understand the fine-tuning argument. The fact to be explained is why the universe is life-permitting rather than life-prohibiting. That is to say, scientists have been surprised to discover that in order for life of any kind to evolve anywhere at all in the universe, the fundamental constants and quantities of nature have to be fine-tuned to an incomprehensible precision.

By the way, It’s not just Neil Degrasse Tyson who made this statement. I saw an internet meme from an atheist claiming that the movie “Gravity” made a good objection to the fine tuning argument simply because it demonstrated that man couldn’t breathe in space (as if  everyone who went to first grade didn’t already know that prior to the release of the movie). Somehow if man can't breathe in space, the fine tuning argument is invalid? I would point out to Tyson (and others) that he still has to plausibly explain why the expansion rate of the universe, the strong and weak nuclear forces, gravity, dark energy, etc. all fall into the extremely narrow life permitting range for advanced life to exist anywhere in the universe. This is not like the other fine tuning argument which just deals with things in our own backyard, such as the size of the moon, the distance of Earth from the sun, the just-right size and distance of the 4 gas giants, etc. These are extremely important too (and according to Dr. Hugh Ross have a 1 chance in 10^500 of all being just right by pure chance alone). This kind of fine tuning must be in place for advanced life to exist in any part of the universe at any time. If forces such as gravity, or dark energy were off by a little bit, then that means that the expansion rate of the universe would be off by a little bit (since the speed of the universe's expansion is affected by both of these factors), and therefore there would be no stars, no planets, and no galaxies whatsoever in the universe. Because if the universe expanded too rapidly, gravity would not have the opportunity to collect gas and dust and condense them into gallaxies, stars and planets. The entire universe would be galaxyless, starless and planetless. Without galaxies, stars and planets, advanced life forms cannot exist. 

The odds of any individual constant falling into place by chance is extraordinarily improbable. The odds of the ratio of the number of electrons relative to the number of protons being just right by chance is 1 chance in 10^37. If it were any more or less than what it is, electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation. What are the odds of that? How improbable is 1 in 10^37? The same odds as picking one red painted dime out of a pile of silver dimes that covered the width of one billion continents the size of North America and the height reaching all the way up to the moon.

Tyson has provided no explanation for why these constants and quantities are the way they are. He hasn’t defended chance. He hasn’t defended physical necessity. Nor has he provided some fourth alternative. All he’s doing is complaining that only a part of the universe is life permitting and not the whole thing. This does nothing to refute the argument. Both premises still stand. Chance is still an unreasonable alternative to explain these  extraordinary coincidences (as I explain above), and physical necessity is an implausible alternative to explain the fine tuning. Design makes the most sense. We had 3 options, ruled 2 of them out based on the fact that they do not have the explanatory power while the Intelligent Design DOES have the explanatory power...as the syllogism above demonstrates.

It would obtuse to say that just because every region isn’t habitable that therefore the universe isn’t finely tuned to support life. That would be like that that the planet Earth isn’t designed for life because you can’t live inside of volcano or at the enter of the Earth. Or it would be like saying that the Nintendo 3DS is not designed to play video games because Game Boy Color games are incompatible with it. True, it can’t play just any and every game, but it can play certain video games. And the best explanation for why it can is because it was designed for that purpose. In the same way, even though not every square inch of the universe can support life, the cosmic parameters ((i.e the number of electrons to protons, the ratio of electron to proton mass, The Strong Nuclear Force, The Weak Nuclear Force, Gravity, Electromagnetism, The Expansion Rate Of The Universe, Dark Energy, and Entropy) have to take on extremely precise values or else life couldn’t exist, and also many local parameters (an Earth of the just right size, an Earth of the just right distance from its home star, a home star of the just right size, a moon of the just right size, a just right collider event, 4 gas giants of the just right size and distance from the terrestrial planet etc.) have to be in place in order for a particular local region to be life permitting. By the way, I talked about these local parameters in the post “The Fine Tuning Of The Earth & Universe”.

Fine-tuning is the fact that in order for the universe to be life-permitting the fundamental constants and quantities must fall into an incomprehensibly narrow life-permitting range. That fact is not negated by the fact that vast regions of the universe do not exhibit the additional (local) conditions sufficient for life. And the inference to design is not undermined by pointing out that we can’t breathe in space, or anything like that.

8: The Fine Tuning Argument Employs Circular Reasoning

I have had this one thrown at me more times than I can count. I honestly cannot see how The Fine Tuning Argument employs circular reasoning. After all, neither of the premises in William Lane Craig’s syllogism assert or assume that the fine tuning of the constants and quantities are due to intelligent design. That’s the conclusion! Premise 1 is merely a list of the possible explanations for The Fine Tuning and premise 2 merely says that it’s not due to physical necessity or chance. So how can this argument be circular?

Perhaps this is due to a misunderstanding of terminology. The term “fine-tuned” does not mean “designed.” That is a very important point to remember. “Fine Tuning” is not a synonym for “Intelligent Design”. Otherwise, that would make this teleological argument a mere tautology. To say that the fine tuning is explained by design. But if fine tuning means design, well of course it does! The design is due to design! Rather, fine-tuning is a neutral term used by both theists and atheists alike that in order for the universe to be life-permitting the fundamental constants and quantities must fall into an incomprehensibly narrow range.

The reason why I’m guessing at what this objection means is because I could never get the person I was talking to to explain just how my argument was question begging.

CONCLUSION

I’ve been using The Fine Tuning Argument in my debates with atheists for as long as I’ve been a Christian Apologist, and I can honestly tell you that no one has been able to knock it down. All I keep hearing are the objections I’ve listed above over and over and over, and we’ve seen how they fail. These 8 objections seek to defend the alternative of chance over design, but none of them succeed. It seems to me that design is the best explanation.

I’ll end this lengthy blog post with a couple of passages from scripture.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”- Romans 1:18-20 (emphasis mine)

This passage in The Bible says that God’s handiwork (and consequently His existence) can be inferred from everything He has made. In fact, The Bible says that the evidence of God’s fingerprints in nature is so powerful, so compelling that men are without excuse in not believing in Him. The laws of physics certainly render the atheist devoid of an excuse for not acknowledging his Creator.

Science has shown us that …he created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.” – Isaiah 45:18 (emphasis mine)