There was a time when I found the fine-tuning argument alone to be sufficient for belief in god. I still think it’s a pretty good one, though it doesn’t get you anywhere close to the personal god that most religious people believe in. That said, I’ve reached a point where I no longer find it persuasive, not even for a deistic god.
There’s a whole laundry list of details we could rattle off about our universe, any of which, if it had been the slightest bit different, would have prevented life as we know it from existing. That’s staggering to think about, and it’s no wonder that many people find this reason enough to believe in God. But I think the biggest problem with it is that it looks at our situation backwards. It takes the current state of things and projects backwards through time, pointing out all the details that were necessary to get us to this point. But that’s a game we can play with any scenario.
People do it all the time with their personal lives, for instance. They think about their spouse, their children, their job, and they think “how would things have turned out if I had never done X?” Or even consider your own existence. If your parents had married different people, or even if they had just conceived at a slightly different time, you wouldn’t be here. And not just your parents, but their parents, and their parents, and their parents, all the way back through history. If any of them had died young, or made different choices, you would not exist. The odds that you as an individual are here as opposed to all the other people that could have been here but aren’t are astounding. But few people would claim that it took divine intervention to get you here.
When we consider the universe as a whole, if things had been different, then we wouldn’t be here to think about it. Maybe some other species would be wondering at the incredible combination of factors that were needed to them to get here. Or maybe there would be nothing conscious at all.
Our universe was here for 14 billion years before we were able to stand in awe of our existence. Is it reasonable for us to assume that it was all done for us? Just a 14 billion year lead up to feature us as the climax?