You can find part 1 here.
As I said in the first post, my friend UnkleE gave me a series of questions recently that he believes present difficult problems for an atheist’s worldview. I had forgotten, but we’ve actually had similar discussions before, and you can find them here, here, and here (thanks for the reminder, Howie).
Now that the preamble’s out of the way, UnkleE’s third question was this:
Is the “fine-tuning” of the universe caused by design, chance or necessity?
Many people have written reams about this topic, so I won’t belabor any of the points unnecessarily. To keep things very simple, the fine-tuning argument boils down to this as I understand it:
There are certain fundamental qualities to our Universe that, had any of them been the slightest bit different, our Universe would have been so fundamentally different that matter could not have formed together, stars could not have formed, etc. Thus, life, especially as we know it, could not have existed.
What accounts for these specific values? The short answer is that we don’t know. Some people find the situation too convenient to be the result of mere chance, so fine-tuning becomes the backbone for their belief in a creator of some kind. Others suggest that just as there isn’t just a single planet, a single star, a single solar system, or a single galaxy, there’s no reason to think there’s a single Universe. If our Universe is just one of many, then it stands to reason that a Universe such as ours could form randomly. Others still point out that there’s an awful lot we don’t know about these fundamental forces — perhaps their values can’t be different from what they are. Or even if they can vary, perhaps the range is small. Or perhaps they depend upon one another to some degree so that if one changes, others must change to compensate. Because we can only observe one Universe, it’s hard to make definitive conclusions about any of this.
Some experts also argue that we shouldn’t be so quick to insist that this Universe is so perfectly attuned to us. After all, we can’t currently reach any planets beyond our own that would be capable of sustaining human life. Furthermore, the majority of our one planet is uninhabitable to us as well. We can’t breathe under water, and we can’t survive in outer space. From that perspective, it’s hard to argue that this Universe is so perfectly suited to us when the vast, vast majority of it would kill us in moments.
Personally, I find the fine-tuning argument interesting, and I’m curious about what ultimately accounts for our Universe having the conditions that have allowed life to form. But like the two previous questions, I feel like this one treads too closely to an argument from ignorance. And for a moment, let’s say we discovered that the Universe was actually fine-tuned with us in mind. We would know nothing about the agent that did the fine-tuning. There’s a huge gap between the fine-tuning argument and any specific deity.
Some interesting (brief) videos on the topic: