I was reading through some religion-atheism discussion/debates just now, when I came across a question that a lot of people like to talk about:Why does the Universe appear fine-tuned for life?
Or, expressed differently, The constants that govern our universe appear to be remarkably fine-tuned to allow life. What explains that if not a supernatural intelligence?
I have a few problems with this question, so I just had to put in my two cents. I wasn't sure where to post it, but then I remembered, hey, I have a LiveJournal! That's a kind of primitive blog! So here it is.
One of the problems I have with this very popular question is that, in my opinion, a lot of the scientists and atheist writers/debators approach it from entirely the wrong angle.
For example, a writer at Cross Examined
, a religious-atheist discussion blog hosted at patheos.com, responds to this question by talking about the multiverse theory, in which there are an infinite number of universes, each with different constants (meaning the essential forces of gravity, electromagnetic, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, as well as the emergent laws based on those forces, like Relativity, thermodynamics, and so on; only a few of which have the correct configuration of forces to allow for the formation of advanced chemical structures such as planets and self-replicating organisms.
For me, this is entirely the wrong approach, because it presupposes the conclusion that the universe is in fact 'fine tuned' for the development of life. Or that the universal forces are 'just so' for life. I reject the answer given by Cross Examined and other similar atheist-debate sites that immediately try to answer the question rather than examining the question itself.
Because the way I read it, the question itself is begging the question, i.e. taking for granted the unproven postulation that the universe exists to sustain life. It egotistically assumes that the universal constants are 'just so' as a consequence
of the necessary values required for the development and sustenance of life. That the universe is, therefore, purpose-driven
As an atheist, I reject that notion, and therefore the question's unstated assumption. The question is not valid, because it assumes a chronologically backward development of physics. And I submit that the universe is not 'fine-tuned' for life; but that life developed within the environment and in response to the conditions of the universe; that life, adapting to the conditions and chemical realities of the universe, has, like an insect that adapts perfect camouflage in the image of its environment (see: stick insects, mantids, those creepy spiders that look like flowers, etc.), adapted and evolved to survive within, and make best use of, its surroundings.
In short, the universe is not fine-tuned for life; that would assume that first there was life, then the universe was made to suit it, or require (as Christians intend for the question to do) a supernatural intelligence to guide it or set it up 'just so'. Instead, life is fine-tuned for the universe.
I don't know how well I have explained it, but in my head it makes far more sense for the fish to change to suit the ocean, than for the ocean to change to suit the fish.
The other problem with that question is that if the universe is indeed 'fine tuned' for the purpose of creating life, then it remarkably poorly tuned. There is one recorded instance of life in the known observable universe. Just one. If the universe were fine-tuned, shouldn't there be far more life than just us
? In the entire observable universe, a sphere 29 gigaparsecs across (that is, you can look straight forward in any direction for 47 billion light years before you can't see any further due to the expansion of the universe and the speed of light), containing a hundred billion galaxies, each containing an average hundred billion stars, each with the potential for planets that could harbour life-- and we are the only observed case? Isn't it simply more logical to conclude that the universe probably isn't 'fine-tuned' for the purpose of creating life?
I know some people would be a bit... scared, offended, whatever at that suggestion. How dare I suggest that we are the product of random one-in-a-hundred-billion chance, instead of the beloved creations of a loving god
who has tried to wipe us all out at least once
? But, in my perspective, it is an incredibly affirming idea. Yes, we are the product of chance, with a stupendously small probability of occurring, and life as we know it might never arise in the universe ever again. We might just be alone. But doesn't that just make it that much more precious? This is the only life we have each, and this is the only known instance of life in the universe. This planet is the only known planet that has the right conditions for life to survive. No re-dos, no alien benefactors, no moving to Pandora when we ruin Earth. Don't waste it.