Fine Tuning, wuh?

The Fine Tuning Argument. The argument that argues that the universe's physical constants must have been "fine tuned" for the existence of life and, in particular, humanity.

I'm going to lump the religious version of the Anthropic Principle into this argument because the basic concept is the same - Everything in the universe is the way it is because it's fine tuned specifically for our existence.

Fine tuned by who/what? God, they argue.

I reject this notion on the grounds that the concept is based on a biased premise which is basically an egocentric idea.


Disgustingly Anthropocentric
The fine tuning argument is bursting at its seams with anthropocentrism.

On the basis that the combination of physical constants is too improbable and other combination is alleged to render human existence impossible, the Fine Tuning argument concludes that a god must have had fine tuned the constants for life and humanity to exist.

As for the anthropic principle, it puts forth that numerous variables that must be the way they are in the current universe we live in order for us to exist and persist. A frequently used example is the fact that our planet Earth sits in the habitable zone which enables life to exist and flourish.

In all examples, there is an unstated assumption - humanity is the intended result.

To illustrate the point, we'll use a deck of cards as an example. We will draw four cards. Also, we also want to note that certain combinations are significantly special to us - 4 Aces, Sequential cards of the same colour, etc. When we draw 4 Aces, we might feel "Wow, I'm so lucky." If we were to draw a Two of Clubs, a Five of Spades, Six of Diamonds and a Queen of Hearts, we don't find that it is of any significance except of bad luck.

Here's the point. However insignificant the combo we had, it is still as improbable as the combo of, say, 4 Aces. Mathematically, it can shown that the probablilities is the same. The difference being which combo do we assign significance to.

However improbable our combination of physical constants or variables in our world is, it is as improbable as any other possible universes. The improbability is not an argument for the necessity of god.

The argument was made because of the significance we placed on ourselves. It's a good thing to value our existence but it is not an argument for god.


The Improbability and Fine Tuning
To an extent, the improbability is a non-issue. Basically, the point is: Improbable ≠ Impossible.

To account for the improbability of, say, the emergence of life, simply invoking large numbers solves the problem. Given that we know some criteria that a planet must fulfill before life can arise, for example, lying in the habitable zone of the star. We know that the universe is huge, with lots of stars where planets orbit, of which some will undoubtedly lie within the habitable zone. However improbable the event, it will occur given the chance and luck.

For people who accepted the theory of evolution, the idea of fine-tuning/design seems out of place completely. The environment need not be fine tuned for the existence and persistence of life - the reverse is true, life adapted itself to fit the environment.

Videos with related content:
Why do people laugh at creationists? - Part 8
Why do people laugh at creationists? - Part 9


Evident in Religions
Understanding the Big Bang theory and the Theory of Evolution, in my opinion, does do some severe damage to the credibility of religions in general.

The anthropocentrism in religion is extremely obvious - Jesus died for you; God made the heavens and the earth for his creation; Humans are the pinnacle of god's creation, etc.

Ancient Man were so egocentric about humanity in general that even the gods they invented had to have humanity on the pedestal of creation - it always boils down to the idea that everything was made with humanity in mind one way or the other.


Shoving God into the Gaps
As humanity utilize Science to understand the universe better, god is frequently relegated to the gaps of our knowledge.

Wow, it's too improbable? Goddidit!

God guided the evolution to produce us eventually.

Abiogenesis must have been jump started with some god magic.

Who caused the Big Bang? Must have been god.


I find these comments laughable, if not tragic.

If we take what we understood so far and shove god into the unknown, an unusual picture of god emerges. Let's see......

Between the beginning with Big Bang and the formation of the Earth spans, (13.7 - 4.6), about 9 billion years. All the while, god sits his transcendent arse on his incorporeal throne as he waits for stars to go off in supernovas to produce the higher elements from stellar nucleosynthesis.

Since we're touching on the timeline, check out the entry: God's Timeline at Pharyngula.


Eventually, in some corner of the universe, in the Milky Way, in the Solar System, Earth is beginning to take shape. Then god allegedly jump starts abiogenesis. After that he guides evolution for 3 billion years or so (where for most of the time, life is all single celled organisms) to eventually produce his "pinnacle of creation."

I love this part - in the case of Christianity (after distortion to fit the facts), god goes to Earth to forgive us, by sacrificing himself to himself, for the original sin which was never commited.

Okay, some believers is going to think I'm being an arse - Too bad. The point is, shoving god into gaps doesn't quite help.

Not to mention, invoking god is historically futile: See an earlier post.


I haven't covered everything, neither do I claim to have properly rebutted the argument. So meanwhile, check out other objections to the Fine Tuning Argument and the Anthropic Principle at the Iron Chariots Wiki.

3 comments :

Princeofoz said...

Hmmm interesting points. I apologize but I intend to take the side of the religious just to see if your logic is truly fool-proof, since people do not seem to challenge your assumptions....

The Improbability and Fine Tuning
To an extent, the improbability is a non-issue. Basically, the point is: Improbable ≠ Impossible.

I agree with your statement. It is possible. However, lets use the real numbers physicists use to calculate just how improbable such an event is. The drake equation gives the probability of intelligent alien life in the universe. N=RxfpxnexflxfixfcxL. Already, by very generous estimations, we have 200 civilizations possibly co-existing in our universe. The formula itself is not really accurate, but 200 is rather small in the billions and billions of solar systems that exist. The fact that life exists on earth at all is due to a large extent to the so-called Goldilocks principle, ie our planet is just right -not so near the sun that there can be no water, not so far from the sun that water is frozen solid, the list of conditions that are just right are quite extensive. And I will add that life at our level of intellect would be impossible- not improbable, impossible- if any one condition were not met. The drake equation does not even take these factors into account so it is safe to say that the probability of life capable of thought is far smaller. All this assumes current laws of physics. Yet, if the electrostatic force or the nuclear forces were different by a small fraction, life would not exist period.Surely you must agree that this comparison is less a 52 card poker deck and more winning trillion dollar lottery with 10 to the power of 1000 entries. To deny even the possibility of divine selection at this point would be to say "well, the odds are slim but someone has to win and it may as well be me". In reality, such a view is the most egocentric view of all-instead of questioning why you won you simply accept it as your right. there is only one universe that we can prove exists. This universe. That this universe won the lotto seems to indicate that someone, deity, God or space-faring race had skewed the odds in our favor.

Finally, you deny anything that cannot be proven- the question I would ask you what have you really proven yourself and what have you misquoted from scientists like Dawkins. If you intend to lambast religions so I would like some evidence from science instead of random examples, using a properly objective tone. If not your words are as trite as the ramblings of a mad man. A scientist states the fact. he does not interpret it nor does he project what is true or false from it unless he can prove one from the other. Can you prove that a higher power does not exist? I acknowledge that the reverse is also true but a strong atheist needs proper reasoning, no?

Nox said...

However, lets use the real numbers physicists use to calculate just how improbable such an event is. The drake equation gives the probability of intelligent alien life in the universe. N=RxfpxnexflxfixfcxL. Already, by very generous estimations, we have 200 civilizations possibly co-existing in our universe. The formula itself is not really accurate, but 200 is rather small in the billions and billions of solar systems that exist.

Actually, no. The Drake equation is meant to stimulate discussion of the probability of extraterrestrial life not actual science.

The fact that life exists on earth at all is due to a large extent to the so-called Goldilocks principle, ie our planet is just right -not so near the sun that there can be no water, not so far from the sun that water is frozen solid, the list of conditions that are just right are quite extensive.

"Due to a large extent to the so-called Goldilocks principle"? It is with hindsight that we recognize that those conditions are necessary for life on THIS planet.

If we have learnt anything at all from our own biology, it is that life can thrive in extreme conditions (ie, extremophiles). This means that life may be possible even on exoplanets.

And I will add that life at our level of intellect would be impossible- not improbable, impossible- if any one condition were not met.

This is unjustified. We're dealing with ONE sample set here. That is us. We're the only intelligent lifeform we have discovered. There is no way that anyone can declare that intelligent life is impossible without any real criteria to compare with.

All this assumes current laws of physics. Yet, if the electrostatic force or the nuclear forces were different by a small fraction, life would not exist period.

Life as we know it wouldn't exist. But some other life may exist unless we're talking about a universe that denies chemistry.

I have read that two of the fundamental forces may not be necessary for life to occur (one being gravity if I recall correctly). If you're interested, I can try to find where I read that from.

Surely you must agree that this comparison is less a 52 card poker deck and more winning trillion dollar lottery with 10 to the power of 1000 entries. To deny even the possibility of divine selection at this point would be to say "well, the odds are slim but someone has to win and it may as well be me".

Like I mentioned previously, the numbers are not accurate and probably not even a good approximation. Nonetheless, other real scientific hypothesis postulate scenarios that resolve the issue of "fine-tuning". However wild these hypothesis may seem, none of them can hold a candle to postulating a deity, capable of universe creation, as the answer to our questions.

In reality, such a view is the most egocentric view of all-instead of questioning why you won you simply accept it as your right. there is only one universe that we can prove exists. This universe. That this universe won the lotto seems to indicate that someone, deity, God or space-faring race had skewed the odds in our favor.

The universe exist. We know that.

Postulating a deity is by no means providing an explanation. Seriously, think about it. We're trying to explain how our universe, this complex state of affairs, came into existence in the first place. Postulating a deity, which itself must at least be as complex (since it's at least supposed to be intelligent - a freaking designer/mathematician/physicist), is plain nuts. We can't explain this complex thing so we'll postulate something even more complex - WTH?

As for the charge of egocentricism, which is more egocentric, believing that the whole universe was created just for us or us recognizing that we won the cosmic lottery with hindsight (we had to win or we would not exist to talk about it).

Nox said...

Finally, you deny anything that cannot be proven- the question I would ask you what have you really proven yourself and what have you misquoted from scientists like Dawkins.

Yes, I do not believe in things that are not supported by evidence. And no, I do not need to do that job myself - it is simply not practical. I will believe a claim if there is evidence for it. Science lives up to that.

And when did I misquote? I would like to know. As far as I can tell, I did no such thing. Do enlighten.

Can you prove that a higher power does not exist? I acknowledge that the reverse is also true but a strong atheist needs proper reasoning, no?

Nobody can prove anything does not exist since non-existence would produce no evidence.

I am NOT a strong atheist. I'm an agnostic atheist. I remain unconvinced that any deities exist.