The Fine Tuning Argument Is Unconvincing


(Anthony R. Guthry) #1

I don’t find the fine tuning argument convincing for the following reasons:

  1. If you change constants in the equations that govern the laws of nature, even slightly, it is true that the Universe will change a lot. However, there is no justification for the claim that life in this new Universe couldn’t exist. This is because nobody yet knows the full range of conditions under which life can exist.

  2. The whole argument implies that God is somehow restricted in the sense that if he wanted to create life like ours in a Universe, then the range of constants that he could choose from was limited to a narrow range. Being omnipotent, God could create life in any Universe, no matter what the laws of nature in that Universe are.

  3. We can’t say anything about the likelihood of a Universe such as ours (with our physical constants) coming into existence, because we only have a sample of size one. This is analogous to taking out a red ball from a bag of different colored balls (colors and numbers unknown) and then trying to estimate the likelihood of drawing a red ball.

  4. It is possible that an infinite number of universes may be popping into existence within some larger Multiverse, with each Universe having random physical laws and constants. If this is true, one would eventually get a Universe with our laws and constants by pure chance.

I’d love to hear what others think about the above.


(David Heddle) #2

Yes there is. Certain tweaks of the constants lead in a variety of ways to the elimination of nuclear synthesis in stars (in better known examples because stars simply will not form.) No nuclear synthesis means no heavy elements which means no life of any kind. Hydrogen and helium give you nothing but hydrogen and helium.

That is sort of begging the question. And it moves us from the fine tuning question–which is a genuine scientific puzzle, to religious interpretations of the fine tuning, which are interesting but not necessary.

Agreed. Fortunately the fine tuning argument (stated properly) makes no comment about the probability of the constants. It states only that if you tweak our constants a bit, our universe becomes uninhabitable. It does not say anything about the probability of the constants, or depend on the constants being low probability.

Yes that is a reasonable argument. It is not science–since these universes are casually disconnected (probably) but it is a plausible explanation if you accept the multiverse.


(Anthony R. Guthry) #3

Thanks for your feedback.

I should restate 1) as follows: If you change constants in the equations that govern the laws of nature, even slightly, it is true that the Universe will change a lot. However, there is no justification for the claim that life couldn’t exist in all Universes that are different to ours. This is because nobody yet knows the full range of conditions under which life can exist.

Can you explain a bit more about what you meant in your comment to 2) please.


(George Brooks) #4

@Anthony,

You are absolutely correct.

For the “fine tuning” argument to really have traction (and this is still a “maybe”), people would have to argue that ALL life ONLY exists on the very edge of the mathematical possibility. But the problem, as always, is deciding what is the true size of that mathematical possibility?

If we define it as definitionally demonstrated by wherever life is - - we have the problem of only having Earth as a model.

If we define the size of that mathematical possibility with a “proxy” concept - - like … the probability of how many planets within 10% of Earth’s attributes can be assumed to exist in a galaxy of a 100 billion solar systems… as a benchmark … just to do some trial anaylsis…

Assuming the above, you still face one unavoidable fact:

For anyone alive in that 20% range (Earth PLUS 10% to MINUS 10%), there will ALWAYS be those Earth-like populations that are on the very edge of either the +10% line or at the very edge of the -10% line.

SOMEONE has to exist near these two limits… and if we listened to the prophets among those folks … they would say this is PROOF of design! But they forget that they are simply the ones luck enough to have the self-awareness that they are the SOMEONES who are so situated!


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #5

Being omnipotent God can anything God wants to do, but God only created one universe as far as we know and there is no way God has given us to see anything beyond our universe.

Since God is not only Omnipotent, God is also All-wise and Good, what is important here is not what God could have done and chose not to do, but what God did do. God chose to create one universe, and create human beings in God’s Image which means that we have the ability to understand and love God and God’s universe.

God is not restricted in what God is able to do, but God is restricted by God’s wisdom and goodness to what God does do. Thus we should not judge God by what we think God can do, but by what God has done.


(David Heddle) #6

This is not the cosmological fine tuning argument at all. This is a “privileged planet” argument which is very different. Fine tuning has absolutely nothing to do with earth or life on earth or life like ours. If it is about the fine-tuning to make something, that “something” could most accurately be said to be rocks. The universe is peculiarly fine-tuned to make rocks, the elements for which are forged in stars. As a happy byproduct, the same elements are necessary for any kind of life. The universe would still be just as fine-tuned (heavy element production existing on a razor’s edge) if there is no earth and no earth-like planets.


(Juan Romero) #7

Hello, Anthony.

I think that you might find the videos on this playlist very helpful to understand the fine tunimg argument and some objections to it, including those you mentioned.


#8

This is the main reason I don’t find the fine tuning argument to be convincing. We simply don’t know how universes come about, so we have no idea how rare our universe is or isn’t. To use your analogy, for all we know the entire bag is full of the same red marbles.


(George Brooks) #9

@heddle

I’m not sure your brief comparison is very convincing.

As I said before … we don’t really have any idea what can or can’t live anywhere… but that the Earth can be used as a proxy for this kind of discussion. It’s an EXEMPLAR of this kind of discussion. What’s more … it is also just a special form of Rocks.

The point of my posting was that no matter how PRECISE the fine tuning - - ultimately, it should be no shock that those lucky enough to be living and conscious and self-aware … are going to fixate on any “close call” and say - -

“Hey, this must be INTENTIONAL, we came this close to NOT existing!”

But this is what everyone says who notices how slender the odds can be in any form of existence! Because, after all, if the close call (almost being hit by a truck, or bus, or a bad meal, or whatever) had been just a little closer … the man or woman wouldn’t be able to say anything.

George

ONE IMPORTANT QUALIFICATION:
I would like to go on record about one last consideration. I am moved by “close calls” - - just as any mere mortal might be. And I am fine about the idea of someone evaluating an emotional view of his or her existence … and saying, “I’m convinced that there is some vast intelligence behind this!”

I frequently object to Atheists rejecting this kind of faith or belief… just on their say so.

So what I object to, in regards to this Fine Tuning issue, is saying that it is some kind of Scientific Proof. No sir. It is not.

But it can still give you a sense, a hunch, of how you want to wager on the rest of your life! We don’t need Science to tell us these things … which is fortunate, because Science is in no position to tell us these things!


#10
  1. Yes there is. If the higgs boson mass was much different, space either collapses on itself or protons don’t come together to form atoms. Not even in anyones imagination will life exist in these conditions.

  2. No, this is simply an atheist strawman. God is not restricted in any sense, He could have created supernaturally viable life if He wanted to (in fact, that’s called heaven). Simply asking “Why didn’t God create us in another way?” is an unanswerable question and can’t be shown to challenge fine-tuning.

  3. The sample size is irrelevant. If you have a bag of balls, and there are a billion balls that are red, and one that is white, and you’ll die if you choose anything but the white one, then if you choose the white one it was rigged. You don’t need to repeat this. If you have a firing squad with someone about to get executed, and then the firing squad starts shooting for twenty seconds and, when they’re done, all the bullets missed, then it’s clear the execution wasn’t an accident. You don’t need to repeat the firing.

  4. Some people assume that there are an infinite number of universes with different constants, so that inevitably a universe like ours will exist. But this is pretty dubious. If a multiverse existed, why should I expect that there are an infinite number of universes? Why not, say, 4? If there are only 4 universes, that solves nothing. Likewise, why should I accept that, even if there were an infinite number of universes, they all have different constants? Why can’t they all have the exact same constants, and so once again, nothing is solved? Why should I accept that the universes would have different constants at all? It turns out that the multiverse itself can’t solve fine-tuning without resting on dubious assumptions.

EDIT: I think @heddle gave a pretty good response I’d like to add on to #2.

That is sort of begging the question. And it moves us from the fine tuning question–which is a genuine scientific puzzle, to religious interpretations of the fine tuning, which are interesting but not necessary.

Well said!


(George Brooks) #11

@Korvexius,

Yes there is? …ahhhhh… TO WHOM are YOU WRITING?


#12

OP: “However, there is no justification…”

Me: “Yes there is”


(George Brooks) #13

@Korvexius

Okay… MEGA-BALL… HUGE fortunes at stake… The odds against winning are HUGE!

But even when there isn’t a winner for a month… eventually SOMEONE wins… and it is IMPOSSIBLE, no?

Well, the odds that YOU or I might win are staggering … but the odds of SOMEONE winning… well, that’s not really too surprising at all, is it…


#14

But with the universe, there are not multiple attempts to win the game of life. I’ve already outlined how even the multiverse doesn’t save one from fine-tuning.


(GJDS) #15

This way of thinking keeps coming up - we need to understand that a constant, by definition, cannot be changed in science. Otherwise it becomes a variable.

The value of any constant may be obtained with greater accuracy as science advances, and then the equations will be used to obtain results of greater accuracy. Nothing is “fine tuned” by this. Nor is God limited in any way.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #16

Note to Cosmology groups, stop simulating changing the ‘constants’ of nature:


(Anthony R. Guthry) #17

Yes, constants in the laws governing our Universe cannot be changed. However, there could conceivably be other universes with the same laws as our, but different constants. So when I talk about varying the constant, I mean considering what would be different in such a universe compared to our own universe.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #18

I think Sean Carroll said something similar in his debate with WLC. I actually don’t really like the word ‘even slightly’ as we don’t know what ranges of values they could take or even what the odds of getting each value within the range even would/could be (edit: I see you already pointed this out in your #3!). Sure, we can do parameter space scans changing the constants of nature to see in what universes one can even get stars (like one could make the gravitational constant a billion times weaker and still get stars-I personally wouldn’t call that ‘slightly’ but the word ‘slightly’ implies we know more about what ranges it can take than we do). Modeling of stars forming seems like a bare minimum place to start though as without stars- certainly life as we know it couldn’t exist. You wouldn’t even get elements beyond Hydrogen and Helium (at least for our universe’s beginning) to work with.

Maybe. I personally try to shy away from saying what God wouldn’t/would do or couldn’t/could do. What would a ‘designed’ universe compared to an ‘undesigned’ universe even look like? Nobody could say.

What evidence could you provide to even suggest that the physical laws and constants can change (other than our ability to theoretically model the physics of such universes)? What mechanisms exist to change the laws of nature? Note: I won’t accept ‘string theory’ as an answer unless you have a resource to share with me that has at least some mechanism for how strings can change such fundamental constants. Maybe there are some, but this seems extremely speculative on that aspect, let alone suggesting an infinite number of universes. I think that would be cool, but I wouldn’t put any money on it just yet (or perhaps ever depending on how things go in the next several decades).

Second edit: I would add perhaps the closest experimental evidence we might have to constants being able to change would be this group:
http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/~mmurphy/research/are-natures-laws-really-universal/


(GJDS) #19

This speculation seems to stem from speculative work that is carried out on “beginnings of our Universe” and such. I am ok with scientists speculating to examine hypothetical models, but this is all it is. Even attempts to verify such models are almost impossible, so everyone keeps saying, “But what if this or that ….?” This is not the way to discuss ‘laws of science’.

@pevaquark Note to all theoretical chemists - run for your (our) lives - the charge on the electron has been changed by cosmologists …… :wink::confounded:


(George Brooks) #20

@Korvexius

I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but your outline is inadequate to the task.

Do ANTS that are just outside of the reach of bug spray rejoice in the fine tuning of the entire universe … because they are still alive? They could… according to you.

George