A poet might say that the universe is exquisitely tuned, almost as if to accommodate us

Giancoli is a very popular college physics text. This is a quote from the 4th edition for Scientists and Engineers. It occurs in the last section, on the last pages of the last chapter:

The questions raised by cosmology are difficult and profound, and may seem removed from everyday “reality.” We can always say, “the Sun is shining, it’s going to burn for an unimaginably long time, all is well.” Nonetheless, the questions of cosmology are deep ones that fascinate the human intellect. One aspect that is especially intriguing is this: calculations on the formation and evolution of the universe have been performed that deliberately varied the values–just slightly–of certain fundamental physical constants. The result? A universe in which life as we know it could not exist. [For example, if the difference in mass between a proton and a neutron were zero, or less than the mass of the electron, 0.511MeV/c2, there would be no atoms: electrons would be captured by protons never to be freed again.] Such results have contributed to a philosophical idea called the Anthropic principle, which says that if the universe were even a little different than it is, we could not be here. We physicists are trying to find out if there are some undiscovered fundamental laws that determined those conditions that allowed us to exist. A poet might say that the universe is exquisitely tuned, almost as if to accommodate us.

What an amazing way to end a physic’s textbook!


Of course, the unbeliever/denialist will say of course parameters are just right for us to exist and the anthropic principle is true as was stated in the citation: otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

But I do like this response to the fine-tuning self-selection argument:

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It sounds like he’s contrasting the ways physicists and “poets” understand, or at least articulate, how “the questions of cosmology are deep ones that fascinate the human intellect.”

I like the excitement both statements can generate.

But I expect it’s also a subtle warning to the “poets” that the work in this class will help broaden, or more deeply ground, the poetic imagination in the work of the physicist. That is, this class is about science, not poetry.
[It reminds me of my Pascal programming textbook, which began each chapter with a photo of a piece of Dada art. My best intro to Dadaism! I had all the images memorized. Elementary programming, however, … Well, I worked hard for that B+.]


Of course, poetry and poets have NOTHING to do with it. This was simply a way to keep religion out of it – to give students and teachers a way to talk about this aspect of the universe while making it sound secular and thus acceptable in the public venu.

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If science points to God and the observer refuses to accept it, the fault lies with the scientist, not with science itself. If young-earth creationists didn’t polarize the issue so intensely, we wouldn’t need to read between Giancoli’s lines.


Why would it be? There is no such thing as coincidence in such a fundamental relationship. Neither is there anything unnatural.

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What hypothesis testable by measurements are you referring to? What is the written procedure which anyone can perform no matter what they want or believe which gives the result that God exists?

Without these science does not point to anything of the kind. In fact, I wouldn’t believe in a God for which either of these two are possible. Science doesn’t point to God or even to this idea that the universe is “tuned” “accommodate us.” The scientific finding about the consequences of the difference between the mass of a proton and a neutron doesn’t equal either of these conclusions. I do believe the universe was created by God with a design to support life, but even if this is true, it does not follow that any argument supporting such a conclusion is valid.

Seems to me the fault is with ideologues who cannot stand that science operates according to rules which they cannot dictate in their efforts to control everybody. But the rules of science are the source of its success and thus these power-mongering ideologues can go to the blazes.

“Points to God” does not mean any of that. I don’t think science can prove God exists anymore than it could prove a multiverse or any of the other unfalsifiable propositions and science fiction masquerading as theoretical physics today.

But anyone with the physics knowledge and math prerequisites–so actuality just a few more people than none at all — can tweak the constants in their mathematical models and see what happens to our universe.

To me this sounds like putting God in a box. I haven’t predetermined how and why He must have created the universe. If he let it evolve he let it evolve. If he let the universe evolve but specially created certain types of life in certain increments, that is is business and the job of scientists to figure out. Some solutions are more attractive than others but at the end of the day it is the business to science to evaluate the evidence, not presuppose or hand wave dismiss it up front (e.g @klax).

Just semantics. The universe clearly has constants very finely tuned to support the existence of periodic table based life-forms. Countless parameters lined up just right for advanced life capable of love and faith to develop.Physicists all recognize the “fine-tuning problem”–regardless of what conclusions they draw from it.

If you believe Genesis is inspired by God then it plainly and unequally teaches the form and function of the world was designed by God for human stewards created in God’s own image. For a while science seemed to go against this. The whole copernican principle. Now it has swung full circle in the opposite dictation. Everything we have learned about the universe shows us a universe, galaxy, solar system and planet consistent with the providence and care of God.

Everything we see, all the space-time, matter, energy and dimensions of our universe seem to have begin 13.8 byo. All evidence points to a virtual creation type event. All the physical constants are fine-tuned to the point that minor changes create universe where life is impossible. So many events had to happen for advanced life to evolve. Heck, we could look at just the moon. If Theia had not collided with the earth early in its history we would not be here.

At every level so many things lined up just right for advanced human life to happen. This begs for an explanation. And we have it. Just read Genesis 1. All of it squarely consistent with a Biblical creation model.

It is either Genesis 1 or multiverse to a lot of people. But even then we could still ask the same questions about the multiverse as our universe. Where does it come from? Did it always exist?

We see as in a mirror dimly lit but I think we live in an exciting time to be a person of faith and a person of science. The more we learn the more we see how special earth and life actually is.


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A puddle might say the same thing.

Such arguments can be tautological - If things were different, then things would be different. What is useful is to reason about conditions in the PAST that would allow what we observe TODAY.

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When you find a puddle that talks, let me know.

Where science ends rationality continues. Theoretical physics is part of that. Not part of sci-fi. The multiverse is a rational fact. God or no. Seen one universe you’ve seen 'em all. And the people playing with mathematical models of nature are called theoretical physicists.

If God didn’t let this infinitesimal universe evolve above grounding being, then He doesn’t exist. Because there is only evidence of evolution in its broadest metaphoric sense, including of the handful of self-tuned, uncalculated, measured constants. It is the business of scientists to work out why they are what they are. It begs scientific explanation. By theoretical physicists. Theoretical biologists have no business figuring out whether pigs have wings.

And we are a talking puddle. If it only it could think, eh? And as for be eusocial!

Perhaps it comes down to how we (be it scientists or poets) express our feelings. To say “it points to God” would be incorrect, as no science can do that. However, for a scientist and believing Christian who enjoys poetry, I prefer to say “the Universe points to its creator” and we should see the harmony between scientific insights and poetic expressions of the Faith.


ChatGPT: anthropic principle in style of dr. suess

In a universe, so vast and wide,
With stars and galaxies, on every side,
There’s a principle, that’s hard to see,
The Anthropic Principle, it’s name is key.

It says that our world, is just right,
For life to exist, with all its might,
And that if it were, just a little bit different,
Life as we know it, would not be present.

From the stars that shine, to the planets that spin,
From the laws of physics, to the forces within,
It all works together, in perfect harmony,
To make our world, a place for you and me.

So if you ever, wonder why we’re here,
And why the universe, is so very dear,
Just remember, the Anthropic Principle so grand,
It’s why we exist, in this universe so vast and so planned.

So let’s embrace it, this principle so bright,
And see the world, with a new sight,
For it has opened, doors so grand,
And helped us understand, our universe’s hand.


He brooded over the troubled planet.

Continents cracked
Volcanoes erupted
Molten lava flowed as sulphurous clouds
Saturated the air with acidic fumes.

The violent convulsions
Rent the heart of the planet
Seas flooded land masses
Hurricanes devastating the surface.

He corrected its orbit and tilt,
Giving it summer, autumn, winter, and spring.
The sun shone brilliantly in clear blue skies
Seas gently lapped golden shores

Vegetation covered the land with emerald green
Embroidered with a rainbow of flowers
Magic beams of moonlight lit the night
The day filled with a chorus of sounds
From animals in pasture
Oceans swarmed with a myriad of creatures.

The sapphire planet hung in the velvet night of space
Rejoicing under the care of its Creator.

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Exactly. The elephant is in charge.

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We are all puddles of a sort, temporarily contained in fragile bags. :slight_smile:

(It does get old though. ; - )

Exactly. Therefore science cannot “point to God.”

Yep. It is the box of the sort of God I will believe in. Outside that box includes the god of the Aztecs demanding human sacrifices and many many more, even some notions of God believed by some of the people calling themselves Christian. Sorry, but just because Satan calls Himself god of this world doesn’t mean I will follow him.

I have no objection to you believing this. But this is not something science can tell you. It doesn’t follow in science that these constants were tuned. And just because the our life depends on such things, doesn’t mean science shows that no kind of life is possible with different constants. You can point out all kinds of things which our life depends on, but it doesn’t make life impossible without them.

No it doesn’t. It only teaches that God created things. It does not explain how. The word design is not in the text. It says nothing about how science has shown us the universe is structured and developed. And I certainly don’t believe “created in God’s own image” means God has to look like you or some other such nonsense.

Regardless, the content of Genesis certainly doesn’t mean that science says any of these things either.

Yeah… and I think God was involved in all of that. But it doesn’t mean that all these things could not have been any different with someone like you in that different world making the same kind of argument with everything completely different. Science only tells us how things are and cannot calculate probabilities for other possibilities.

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I will just quote @Klax

When I say science points to God that is what I mean. Fine tuning is a part of that. Not part of sci-fi. I find it amazing how we sheepishly and all too readily give extra-dimensions, multiverses, string theory and inflation-- all completely untestable and unfalsifiable ideas–the moniker “science” but we are too afraid to point out the obvious when it comes to the big bang, the fine-tuned constants, and coincidences with earth’s history. Its like all the “theistic evolutionists” are blinded by Stockholm syndrome on this forum. Are we so afraid of being accused of “gaps” and being embarrassed by our peers that we go to the extreme in the other direction?

We literally have all the evidence screaming a “creation” type event at us. The steady-state universe died and all the evidence points to our universe having a beginning 13.8 byo. And all the constants appear precisely tuned to allow us to form to the point that the slightest deviation in them leads to universes with no matter and life. So many other things also have to line up perfectly for advanced life–life capable of discussing science and making moral decisions, even when those constants are tuned.

Yes, implicit in this discussion is that humans are special. More special than rocks, puddles, cockroaches or bacteria. If we weren’t, I wonder why this website even exists or why any one of us even cares what anyone else thinks or believes. I assume this yes. The alternative is nihilism and I won’t engage in that philosophy because any action other than suicide in that framework is absurd.


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Science points to what is knowable. That doesn’t include looking down the wrong end of the telescope and seeing fine tuning. Seeing that this puddle hole fits perfectly as if it were made with us in mind. Who’s the sheepish we? And why do you insist in calling rationality beyond science science? And denigrating perfectly rational thinking beyond science because it isn’t testable or falsifiable? Extra dimensions, the multiverse (how many do you need?), string theory and inflation are all perfectly rational and theogonically neutral. Your hostility to rationality does God no favours.

And is the sheepish we the same afraid we?

Not my counter mate.

What is obvious about the BB? And there you go looking in the top of that telescope again. Can you see any coincidences in Earth’s story going forward? I do agree that theistic evolution is an oxymoron. What is all the evidence of a “creation” type event, whatever that is?

There is no beginning of beginnings. God not only doesn’t change that but is fully compatible with that. Why do you insist on this Homo paleas? And what are all the constants? And what aren’t their relationships?

Absolute meaninglessness doesn’t necessitate living meaninglessly. Doesn’t mean I have to kill myself. That’s what you fear for yourself. Don’t worry, you have people who let you love them.