Fine Tuning the Multiverse Theory

by Peter May

A friend of mine was enjoying a coffee break at an Open University seminar for his philosophy course. Out of the blue, a colleague asked him, “Why do you believe in God?” He was a bit taken aback but, after a few deep breaths, managed to order his thoughts and summarized several different lines of argument. As he did so, he found that other conversations in the room gradually stopped, until everyone was listening to him. When he finished, his questioner said, “That is amazing. I have never heard anyone answer that question before. In fact, I did not think that Christians had reasons for belief in God.”

Certainly, the reasons we can offer are diverse, and some seem more compelling than others. I was particularly interested to see recently the 90 minute DVD called “Collision”, which features atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian pastor Douglas Wilson in dialogue on a book promotion tour.[1] I have yet to read their book, which is a conversation between them on the subject, “Is Christianity Good for the World?”

The film, anyway, is sharp, quirky and engaging. They both speak with wit and candor, and don’t pull any punches. On the dust cover, Hitchens is quoted as saying, “Christianity is a wicked cult and it is high time we left it behind.” Wilson is quoted alongside saying, “There are two tenets of atheism. One, there is no God. Two, I hate him.” This rough and tumble dialogue is certainly educational, though not for the faint-hearted!

Despite appearances, they both hold each other in mutual respect, and this is shown in a number of informal exchanges, where they have almost forgotten that the cameras are still rolling. A particular sequence comes right at the end of the film, when they are relaxing together as passengers in a car.

Hitchens raised the question as to which was the strongest argument used against atheists and he had no difficulty in identifying it. “The fine-tuning argument we all agree is the most intriguing. It is not trivial – we all say that.” Here he is clearly speaking for his New Atheist friends. Hitchens is emphatic and repeats the point, “We all agree about that.”

Now one might be forgiven for not realizing this, as Dawkins is quite dismissive of the fine-tuning argument. He states the problem correctly: “Physicists have calculated that, if the laws and constants of physics had been even slightly different, the universe would have developed in such a way that life would have been impossible.” This mystery has become known as the Goldilocks Enigma, because the universe appears to be ‘just right’ for us in the same way as the little bear’s porridge, chair and bed were all ‘just right’ for Goldilocks in the children’s story…

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