Image via WikipediaIs the universe fine-tuned for life?
Let's say you found four metal rods on the ground as you walked along the beach. Different sizes. You strung them, banged on them, and they "just happened" to play a C chord - C-E-G-C.
Beautiful! What are the odds of that, you might think?!
Now imagine you went out collecting more rods. You strung them all together, as you found them, and, to your amazement, found that they played the notes to Beethoven's Ode to Joy.
What are the odds of that ??!!
Infinitely better than the odds that the parameters of the universe we inhabit "just happened along" and each "just happened" to be within the range of narrow constraints that would permit life to arise.
This is what is called the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God. As with origins of life (OOL), people who write about it use the word "fluke" to describe it. (If this keeps up, we may need to cut to the chase and call the Big Bang The Big Fluke.)
As we begin our primer on fine-tuning, let's start with a Wikibit of facts:
Martin Rees formulates the fine-tuning of the universe in terms of the following six dimensionless constants:
N = ratio of the strength of electromagnetism to that of gravity;
Omega (ω) = relative importance of gravity and expansion energy in the universe;
Lambda (λ) = cosmological constant;
Q = ratio of the gravitational energy required to pull a large galaxy apart to the energy equivalent of its mass;
D = number of spatial dimensions in spacetime.
Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe has compiled a list of 140 fine-tuned parameters, but, who's counting.
Finally, let's take a look at a scholarly perspective -- THE FINE-TUNING DESIGN ARGUMENT:
A SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD by Robin Collins of the human genome project: "Suppose we went on a mission to Mars, and found a domed structure in which everything was set up just right for life to exist..." For more, visit Robin's site.
Now, none of this "proves" that God exists -- there's always wiggle-room -- but it certainly makes it rational to believe that there is a guiding intelligence behind the universe.
Plus, when you combine the uncanny convergence of these fine-tuned factors of physics with origins of life studies which show that the laws of chemistry seem to have been conspiring to create life, and biology (in other words, it was all far more law-based than chance-based), this is a powerful, powerful one-two punch indicator that an intelligent agent, a mind, is behind the universe.
The skeptic's response? "The rods on the beach all had to resonate at some frequency, and there was just as much probability that they would resonate at these frequencies than any other". This is the actual counter-argument that is made. I will leave it to the reader to decide how convincing this counter-argument is. (The other is the "multiverse", a topic for another day.)
Note to Jonathan: this post is in response to a question you asked me.
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