A “Fine-Tuned” Universe as Proof of a God?
There are many scientists who believe that, if one or more physics constants of the universe had varied only slightly, they would have produced a universe incapable of supporting life. For example, if one constant had been slightly different, the universe would have collapsed back in upon itself before life had a chance to form.
Some religious people look at this supposedly “fine-tuned” universe and claim it is proof that a god exists who did the fine-tuning. Let us examine this claim.
God of the Gaps
At heart, this is a god-of-the-gaps argument. It says that since we can’t think of a natural way that the odds would have resulted in life in the universe, that “god did it.” However, we have no knowledge of what this god is, nor what mechanism it uses to accomplish anything. Therefore, “god” is not an answer to anything.
Religious people claim that we aren’t entitled to a “free lunch” when it comes to assuming a natural explanation for life in the universe, but “god” is the ultimate free lunch–no explanations are ever provided.
The vast, vast majority of the universe is decidedly inhospitable to life. Outer space is deadly to anything other than, perhaps, microbes–and the majority of planets, moons, and asteroids aren’t much better.
Judging by what we observe now, the universe will continue expanding forever, creating a “big chill” effect. Heat energy will be so dissipated that no life will be possible. A person alive just before this happens won’t view things as so “miraculously fine-tuned” as some religious people do today.
While natural conditions are favorable for life on Earth now, this won’t be true in about five billion years. At that point the sun’s supply of hydrogen will run out and it will begin to fuse helium into heavier elements. The sun will expand and engulf the Earth, wiping out all life. Even a billion years from now, all water will have boiled off the Earth, making life improbable, if not impossible. Again, a person alive just before either of these events occurs won’t view things as so “miraculously fine-tuned” as some religious people do today.
Apart from the physics constants of the universe, some religious people claim that the Earth itself is so fine-tuned for life (proper distance from the sun, the right kind of elements, etc.) that only a god could have established it. This, of course, is the same god-of-the-gaps type argument we encountered with the “fine-tuned” universe.
An obvious natural explanation is that, given the likelihood of trillions of planets existing in the universe, it would only take a tiny fraction of them to have the right kind of conditions to produce some type of life. If only one planet per galaxy had life on it, that would still amount to 100 billion planets and at least 100 billion different species.
The fined-tuned universe argument for a god assumes that what we think we know about the universe today is accurate. But this is cutting edge physics, and what we believe to be true today is far from certain. Even now there is much dispute among physicists as to how much these constants of the universe can vary and still produce a universe capable of leading to life.
Extraordinary odds against life in one universe become a near certainty if there are many universes. If many universes exist (sometimes called a “multiverse”), or many “bubble universes” exist within a single universe, and each universe or bubble universe has its own set of random constants, then life will almost certainly arise in at least one of these universes or bubble universes. (For example, roll a set of dice long enough and you will eventually get two sixes.)
While there is, as yet, no evidence for other universes, their existence is more plausible than the existence of a god. After all, we know it’s possible for universes to exist–we live in one. We have no evidence that it is possible for gods to exist.
A Fine-Tuned God?
Those who believe a “fine-tuned” universe proves the existence of a god admit there is some slight margin for variance in these physics constants of the universe. But what about the god they believe exists? Could that god be anything other than exactly what it is? If not, then there is zero margin for variance for that god. So, as improbable as the existence of life in the universe may seem, the existence of a god would be even more improbable.
The track record of naturalistic science for answering questions about the natural world far exceeds the track record of supernatural “revelation.” The existence of a god seems more improbable than life arising in the universe. “God” has not provided us with any answers and has instead raised more questions.
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