Addressing The Worst Objection To The Fine Tuning Argument Ever
I’ve written a blog post on The Fine Tuning argument before and in the blog post I listed a handful of common objections to the argument and I refuted those objections. Well, one objection I’ve heard two or three times in the past is so terrible that I’m reluctant to even give it any attention lest I give it some amount of credibility. But for the sake of people who may be troubled by the argument, I will address the argument. The argument is that because there are many parts in the universe that are hostile to life, that somehow that means God did a bad job, that it’s dis-teleological argument, a good refutation to the claim that the universe's laws were formed by Someone for life. I was spurred into writing this particular blog post about it due to a post by Philosophical Theist which lists a quote from famous astrophysicist; Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Oh, so because some parts of the universe are unihabitable, that negates the extraordinary fine tuning in the constants of physics which allows life to be possible AT ALL? I mean no disrespect to Tyson. But this statement does nothing to show that the universe isn’t fine tuned and it's probably a worse objection than Dawkins' "Who Designed The Designer" argument in my opinio, which was pretty bad. So that's really saying something.
"You think the universe is fine tuned for life? Well, you can't breathe in space and many planets can't support life! I bet you never thought of this before, have you? Checkmate, theist!"
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 gas giants, etc. These are important too (and according to Dr. 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 hight reaching all the way up to the moon.
The odds of Dark Energy alone being just right by chance is about 1 chance in 10^120 (one chance in 10 with 120 zeroes following after the number 10). That's 4 times more improbable than the dime analogy I gave you above. The odds of the entropy level of the universe being at the just right level during the universe’s early history is 1 in 10^10^123; A number so large that our minds cannot even fathom it.
The fine tuning must be plausibly explained. William Lane Craig has formulated an excellent syllogism to argue that the best explanation is design out the range of possible explanations we have to choose from. It’s a syllogism I use very frequently when debating atheists on the topic of God’s existence. I defended each premise in the last blog post I made about the fine tuning argument.
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.
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 the extraordinary coincidence and if you want to know why, click on this link to the original post I did about the fine tuning. Physical Necessity is an implausible alternative to explain the fine tuning. Design makes the best 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 says.
Another reason design makes the best sense is because not only the fine tuning improbable, but it conforms to a specific pattern. I think we all know that improbability (or complexity) by itself does not warrent the conclusion of design. Only when that improbability or complexity is coupled with a pattern. This is what Bill Dembski identifies as “specified complexity”. Specified Complexity is when something is not only complex (or improbable) but also conforms to a specific pattern. Examples of this would be like the words you find in a book. The words you find in a book conform to a specific pattern. They created a message. It isn’t simply that it’s extremely improbable that the words in the book would just so happen to be in the order that they’re in, but also that they’re in a type of order which created intelligible sentences…rather than just gibberish. This, by the way, is why some scientists support ID. The DNA molecule is a coded message. Much like a computer code.
In the case of the fine tuning, however, it’s like one particular person (we’ll call him Mr. X) winning a lottery 100 consecutive times. Even though it’s extremely improbable that any one person should win the lottery. It’s overwhelmingly more improbable that the *same* person should win the lottery 100 consecutive times. The former example could plausibly be explained by chance. The latter example is best explained by design (someone rigged the lottery so that Mr. X would win). The latter is an example of specified complexity. It’s improbable that Mr. X should win the lottery. It’s improbable that anyone should win the lottery. But only an insane person would even consider the notion that chance could account for the same person winning the lottery 100 consecutive times without losing once. If the same person wins the lottery ONCE, you would conclude that it was an amazing coincidence. If that person wins it twice in a row, perhaps you’d consider it strange, but you might still find chance to be a plausible explanation. Three times, you begin to get suspicious. But many of us, on the fourth win (much less the hundredth) would conclude that the lottery was rigged so that Mr. X would win (rather than somebody else).
The fine tuning is just like the Mr. X analogy. It’s not only EXTREMELY improbable, but it conforms to a specific pattern. Mr. X won the lottery 100 consecutive times. No one else won the lottery during those 100 drawings. The example of Mr. X demonstrates improbability coupled with specificity (one specific person kept winning against improbable odds). In the case of the fine tuning, we have over 30 different constants and quantities that must fall within an extraordinarily narrow (i.e SPECIFIC) range in order for advanced life to exist anywhere in the universe. If even one of these was off by a little bit, no matter how large the universe grew to be, nowhere would life be possible. Chance could plausibly explain one…maybe two...of the constants falling into the life permitting range by chance. But all 30+? Each constant and quantity falling into the life permitting range BY THEMSELVES are quadrillions and quadrillions and quadrillions of times more improbable than winning the lottery 100 consecutive times. But not one, NOT ONE fell into one of the many life prohibiting ranges. Not one. They ALL fell into the life permitting range. I find it to be just too much of a coincidence.
This fact is not refuted by Tyson merely pointing out that there are many places where life can’t exist. The fact that life can exist anywhere at all is miraculous according to the scientific data. If there were no God, no designer, there should exist a universe where not even simple life exists. A completely lifeless universe, which in many cases would have no stars, no planets, no galaxies, and possibly no matter (depending on how the nuclear forces turned out). But here we are! Gravity, Electromagnetism, dark energy, the strong and weak nuclear forces, all of these things, against all the odds, somehow was neither too strong nor too weak, nor too big or small, nor too many nor too few. Everything is just right. This cries out for an explanation, and I think that Intelligent Design is the most plausible explanation that there is. This cannot be disproved by pointing out that there are places in the universe life prohibiting, or that you cannot breathe in space.
Now, it may be a good question to ask why God did not make the entire universe life permitting, but even if an answer could not be given. It does not refute the argument that Intelligent Design is the best explanation for why the physical laws of the universe allow life to exist rather than having a 100% void universe forever expanding with no one in it. As to why God made the universe so massive, I think there are indeed good reasons why The Lord would make such a massive universe with trillions and trillions and trillions of stars and planets. One of those reasons is spiritual in nature, and the other 2 are scientific in nature. To read about these reasons, click here.