In my previous post I began investigating design in nature that would reveal the Designer. I listed three ways such design could be discerned: common sense, irreducible complexity, and complex specified information. The question, then, is whether or not any of these means actually show design that would imply, if not necessitate, a designer. In this and future posts I want to explore that question.
One of the more common arguments used by apologists is the argument from the fine-tuning of the universe to support life on our planet. Since I do not accept the Standard model of cosmology (“Big Bang”), I personally do not find this argument as compelling as some others, though I do still use it. If, however, one accepts the standard model, as almost all atheists do, then it becomes very compelling. “By ‘fine-tuning’ one means that small deviations from the actual value of the constants and quantities in question would render the universe life-prohibiting or, alternatively, that the range of life-permitting values is exquisitely narrow in comparison to the range of assumable values.” (Craig, William, Reasonable Faith, p. 158). I will note some of the examples, but many more can be listed and are easily found in standard books on apologetics or by searching “fine-tuning argument” on apologetic sites online.
The basic idea of the argument is that the conditions for life on earth are so specific and so many factors have to be so precisely correct, that common sense would dictate that it could not have happened by random chance processes. Although it would be difficult to precisely calculate the mathematical odds because there are so many factors and the exact number of factors are debated, it should be clear to anyone that the odds are greater than statistical impossibility. Dr. Robin Collins calculates that the odds would be “one part in a hundred million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion” (The Case for a Creator, p.134). The famous mathematician Roger Penrose “calculates that the odds of the special low entropy condition having arisen sheerly by chance in the absence of constraining principles is at least as small as about one part in 10 to the 10(123) in order for our universe to exist.” (Craig, Reasonable Faith, p. 159). These kinds of odds are far beyond mathematical possibility.
Fine-tuning can refer to the constants in the laws of physics and to the precise arrangement of physical entities that provide the necessary conditions for life to exist. For instance, the fundamental constants in the law of gravity, the strength of the four fundamental forces, and the cosmological constant cannot be different but are precisely as they should be for life to be sustained. Fine-tuning is also seen in the physical nature of the universe itself. This includes the arrangement of matter throughout the universe, the arrangement of our solar-system and many other factors. For instance, water’s physical characteristics is very dissimilar from other similar chemicals in a way that supports life and the amount of water on our planet is perfect for the support of life. Our moon is unusually large in comparison to its host planet when compared to other moons, yet its size and distance is as it needs to be to support life on earth. Our Sun is just the right color for photosynthesis, just the right mass and we are just the right distance away for life to be maintained. Many other examples could be cited. If one does accept the standard model of cosmology, then they must additionally deal with the exceptionally fine-tuned parameters for such an event to produce all these other factors.
Atheists have made several attempts to deal with this argument. Some attempts play number games with the odds either pointing out that all possibilities are equally unlikely or that, since we do exist, the odds are one. These approaches misunderstand the nature of the argument. It would be as easy for a suspect to say that although the odds of another person having his exact same DNA and leaving it at the crime scene is astronomical, yet the odds were one because it really was not his DNA there. One needs to produce much more evidence to back such a story. Even so, one needs much more than a naturalistic worldview to support such reasoning. The more common approach is that of the multiverse. In this rescuing device inflation, the expansion of the universe at a rate greater than the speed of light shortly after the Big Bang, produced a nearly infinite number of universes all having different laws and constants. We are able to consider this question because we are in the one universe having the correct parameters for life to exist. Of course this is a statement of faith for neither the Big Bang nor inflation has been observed or tested in a lab nor is there any way to confirm the existence of other universes. Therefore, the idea of a multiverse is hardly scientific at all. Furthermore, the whole idea of inflation, which is almost essential to big bang theory, has many versions and challenges even from leading scientists (Heibert, Jake, “Big Bang Blowup at Scientific American,” ICR.com).
The question, then, is which world-view is most rational. Actual observational science has never discovered a way for random processes to produce such precise machinery as our universe which seems to have our own existence as the intended product (the anthropic effect). On the other hand, we all have often witnessed amazing machinery produced by intelligent agency. I am arguing, then, that it is more rational to have faith in an unseen Rational Agent designing our universe for life than to have faith in an unseen random process producing unseen universes as an explanation. Neither model can be scientifically verified, but one fits well with what we do observe and the other does not. Not only so, but the fine-tuning argument is just the beginning. In my future posts, Lord willing, I will present other arguments from God’s revelation through creation that are better explained by the God’s-revelation model than the naturalistic model.