The Fine-Tuning argument for God

In the Atheism-Theism debate, the claim a god exists is put forwards due to the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmos. If one of these constants is changed, then this cosmos will no longer be possible, and therefore no life, and no us.

Anthropic principle (fine-tuning argument): There are several universal constants, such as the speed of light, that have specific measurable quantities. If these constants varied by the slightest amount, stars would not form and there could be no life. The chance that all those constants happen to be exactly right for intelligent life to develop on Earth is so infinitesimal, the constants must have been preset by God.

Here I summarise why I find it unconvincing.

Firstly no one knows whether it’s even possible for physical constants to differ, let alone how likely that would be. Perhaps our universe had to have those exact constants.

Cosmic Homeostasis

The Buddhist Daoist in me questions the idea of Fine-Tuning. Because it assumes the cosmological constants are separate from each other. It’s the complex self organising system metaphor that questions this argument.

If we get too hot, we have a biological feedback loop that makes us sweat; water evaporation cools our body. Bringing our temperature back to a more comfortable range that’s life perpetuating: this is biological homeostasis.

The cosmos itself is a complex system that might work in the same way—think of it as a Cosmic Homeostasis.

The constants influence each other; they are not independent. It means any calculations and claims we have about the implausibility of life are in doubt.

Further still, no one knows whether it’s even possible for physical constants to differ or change, let alone how likely that would be.

For the theists to say the cosmos has to be fine tuned doesn’t hold water either. You can’t draw conclusions from a sample size of one – we only have one cosmos to examine.

The arguments don’t work because they assume too much are too quick to draw spurious conclusions from limited data.

Reductionist science

This point I made above that we assume these constants are separate because of the reductionist method of science.

Reductionism is to break things up into their parts to examine and study. However separating things out give the false impression things are separate.

The further point is that theists will rightly criticise such reductionism because it’s dehumanising.
‘People are more than just atoms or chemicals.’ They are quite right, the scientific method of reductionism cannot yield all knowledge, it’s a method, that has its limits.

Yet here they’re using reductionism to argue for a god. With cosmological constants being separate, changing one and the universe is impossible, therefore the has to be a god that made the cosmos is the fin tuning argument.

The method they criticise as having limitations is being used to argue for a supreme being.

If you can’t get to a person with just chemicals and atoms, then how can it be argued there’s a god from just cosmological constants?

On one hand, they point out the limits of reductionism and then ignore them.

Reductionist science dehumanised humans, not a thesis, using the same reductionist method de-godifies’ God. An all-powerful God has to restrict creativity and the cosmos to these constants to have life.

Does God have limits? Can God create life in any configuration of constants? If so, then there is no fine-tuning argument; there’s no specialness to our cosmos; God can create life anywhere, in any way.

But if God is limited to nature’s laws, then God has limits and therefore is not all-powerful, and not God.

It’s what happens when you claim God is both knowable and therefore has limits, but also unknowable and powerful. It’s a direct contradiction.

Lego Set

The image proffered up by theists is suggesting the cosmos is made up of inert matter. Like a lego set, needing a godlike agency to push stuff together to make more complex things.

But the matter is neither inner nor separate. Interconnections are formed. Gravity, magnetism. No agency is required to have a positive polarity attract a negative one.

The cosmos has its own interconnectedness, there’s no need for an agency to push stiff together, it does the by itself.

Such is the way with self-organising systems. Like The Force, these interconnections bind the galaxy, and the universe together.

I go a little more into this with a the related Design Argument.

Other Objections I have


Another point is miracles, events that break the laws of nature, yet how can it be argued for fine-tuning if god can just do miracles that break those laws.

There’s no need for fine-tuning if miracles are possible. Otherwise it would be God breaking his own laws or nature.

Are Long odds long?

Theists say the odds of our cosmos existing to be very unlikely. It might be claimed there’s a one in a billion chance of something occurring.

But that’s only half the equation. What if the dice is rolled a billion times? Then the chances of it occurring become much higher to a 1:1 certainty. It’s called the Law of Large Numbers, roll the dice enough times, and even the most unlikely possibilities will occur.

Something rare or unlikely doesn’t mean impossible, or it has to be supernatural.

Also, where’s the threshold between the natural and supernatural? If 1 in 6 chance is not supernatural, and 1 in a billion is, then there must be a transition point between them, natural and the unnatural. Where is this threshold? How do they know it exists, why there, and how do they know where?

It’s also worth pointing out that life is made upon oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen, making up 96% of our bodies, mainly in the form of water. They are some of the most common chemicals in the cosmos. Hydrogen is the most common.

To say life is unlikely fails to accept so many building blocks are all around, and life only has to begin once.

The cosmos and the number of places for life to evolve are huge. The absence of life is more a plausible argument for God than life.

The Lottery Fallacy arises when we invalidly infer x must be designed because x is improbable. Such as, we might think a winner of the lottery must have cheated because winning the lottery is so unlikely.

Closing Thoughts

The Fine-tuning argument happens when you mix up the method with the result.

Here, we are mistaking the method of inquiry, i.e. reductionism, for the facts. Separating things into their parts must mean they are only separate parts.

Oddly theists will criticise scientific reductionism, but here, they’re using it to formulate an argument for god, seemingly forgetting the criticism they direct at science.

It goes back again to Naïve realism and mistaking the map for the territory.

Reality is interconnected, the scientists accept that fact now, but the theists have yet to catch up.