Fine-Tuning is Unlikely, but Unlikely Things Happen All the Time

by Tim Barnett

I recently wrote an article about how we live in a very fortunate universe. This is evident by the incomprehensible precision of the laws of physics for the possibility of life. The fine-tuning of the fundamental constants and initial conditions of the universe demand an explanation. I think the best explanation is a Designer.

In response to my article, I’ve encountered a number of challenges. These challenges do not disagree with the scientific evidence itself. Rather, they challenge the conclusion I’ve reached from the evidence. What I’d like to do over the next few weeks is offer a quick response to some of the most popular challenges.

The first challenge I want to look at goes like this: “Yes, the fine-tuning of the universe for life is highly unlikely, but unlikely things happen all the time.”

For a standard example of a highly unlikely event, look no further than your own existence. For you to exist, your mom and dad had to meet, fall in love, and have sex at just the right time. Not only that, but you are the result of a particular sperm—one in 300,000,000—and a particular egg—one in 2,000,000. We can multiply the improbability of your existence by looking at the likelihood of your grandparents meeting and conceiving your parents. You get the point. You are highly unlikely, but here you are.

In the same way, it is argued, the universe is highly unlikely, but here it is. Unlikely things happen, and we don’t need to appeal to a designer to explain it.

This response may have some rhetorical force, but it makes a fundamental mistake…

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