The Fine Tuning Argument in 12 Quick Points
Saints and Sceptics
1) Scientists have increasingly become aware that the universe is ‘just right’ for life. If any one of a number of features of the universe had been even slightly different, life as we know it would be impossible.
2) For example, various features of the universe are ‘just right’ for the existence of stars, galaxies and life itself; had they been slightly different the human race could not exist. Had the ratio of the electromagnetic and gravitational forces differed by about 1 part in ten thousand billion billion billion billion then stars such as the Sun, which are capable of supporting life, could not exist.
3) If the strong nuclear force been weaker this could have resulted in the instability of elements necessary for carbon-based life, while if it had been stronger this could have had a negative impact on the production of carbon and oxygen. The existence of hydrogen is sensitive to the strength of the weak nuclear force. A decrease in the weak force would mean that there would be no hydrogen burning stars like the Sun.
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4) Theism provides a very neat explanation for this fine-tuning. Fine-tuning is an example of the sort of order we’d expect to find in a universe created by God. God would have reason to bring about valuable things, like a community of embodied moral agents. We must compare God’s reasons for creating a fine-tuned universe with the absence of any reason for a finely tuned universe given atheism. Such a complex and valuable state of affairs is much, much more likely given theism than chance.
5) Some have objected that theism doesn’t provide a good explanation because we don’t know what sort of universe God would want to create. However, God and humans would have certain properties in common. Both are rational, both are agents, and -unless we wish to embrace moral scepticism – we should acknowledge that both would recognise similar values. We also know from observation and our own direct experience that rational agents bring about complex states of affairs that are ordered for some purpose (eg. machines) or that bring about some value (eg art). The complexity of our universe brings about great beauty and life is a valuable state of affairs. So fine-tuning seems much more likely given theism.
6) Some object that theism doesn’t provide a mechanism to explain how fine-tuning came about. However, many good explanations don’t provide a mechanism. Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity, for example, provided powerful explanations of planetary motion even though there was much disagreement about the mechanism by which one massive body exerted a force on another. The same applies in quantum theory; no-one really knows what’s going on, but quantum theory certainly explains a lot…