Q&A: Is the Fine-Tuning Argument Mistaken?
By Nate Sala
“Whenever I bring up the fine tuning argument and the constants of the universe in a conversation with my husband, he asks if the constants could have been different. I never fully understood what he really wanted to know. But I googled a bit to try and figure out what he really wants to know, and it seems as if it has something to do with “top-down cosmology”. According to Stephen Hawking: ” it is inevitable that we find our Universe’s “fine-tuned” physical constants, as the current Universe “selects” only those past histories that led to the present conditions”. He seems to be saying that the constants aren’t fine tuned because it could not have been different. Therefore, no fine tuning argument. I don’t know how to answer him to this. I hope this makes sense :)” – Jana B.
Thanks for the great question! I should say, I’m so glad to see you’re engaging your husband with substantive dialogue on God’s existence. We’ll keep praying for you and him! Jana, I think your question could be boiled down to this: In light of Stephen Hawking’s “top down cosmology”, are the physical constants the way they are necessarily, and thus not fine-tuned after all? The short answer is no, and I’ll explain.
In the book The Grand Design (which is currently holding up an uneven coffee table leg in my living room) Hawking argues against the typical way of trying to understand the universe. That is the “usual assumption in cosmology is that the universe has a single definite history.” This is what Hawking and co-author Leonard Mlodinow describe as the “bottom-up” approach to cosmology. The “bottom-up” approach trades on our everyday experience of cause and effect: A causes B causes C and so on. For example, both sets of your grandparents fall in love and give birth to your parents who fall in love and give birth to you. But what Hawking and Mlodinow are suggesting flips causality and ends up with the absurd claim…
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