Cosmology Fine tuning Intelligent Design

Do Natural Explanations Rule Out the Universe’s Fine-Tuning?

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Astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink writes some thoughts on cosmological fine-tuning:

For many years, mowing my yard required a high degree of fine-tuning. My mower required gasoline and the gas can usually sloshed the fuel all over the mower, concrete, and surrounding grass. Unless I tuned the position of the can, the rate of flow, distance from the tank opening, and numerous muscle movements, the gas would not make it into the tank so that the lawn mower would start. A few years ago when I finally started using the funnel that came with the gas can, the fuel reliably made it into the tank regardless of how fast I poured (and most of the other parameters that appeared finely tuned). Consequently, I recognized that all the fine-tuning required for my mower to work was not real, it just appeared fine-tuned. That conclusion might seem odd, but it parallels how some scientists seek to explain the fine-tuning observed in the universe.

Examples of Fine-Tuning
As scientists gain increasing knowledge of the beginning and history of the universe, they continue to discover aspects of the universe that must take exacting values for life to exist. Stars’ interior furnaces produce the carbon and oxygen that all life requires. Three finely tuned “coincidences” (a meta-stable beryllium-8 nucleus, a specific nuclear energy level in carbon, and no similar nuclear energy level for oxygen) ensure that stars produce the proper abundance of carbon and oxygen. The form and strengths of the four fundamental forces govern these coincidences and, without fine-tuning, the coincidences don’t occur. Incidentally, the finely tuned values of those forces also ensure that our universe keeps sufficient hydrogen—another element critical for life.

For stars to exist (at least those capable of producing carbon and oxygen), the geometry of the universe must match a specific value to incredible precision. If larger or smaller by a small fraction, the universe either forms no stars or only massive stars that quickly turn into black holes. For more fine-tuning examples, see the extensive catalog of various aspects of the universe that appear fine-tuned for life compiled by my colleague Hugh Ross.

Proposed Explanations of Fine-Tuning
How do scientists account for the fine-tuning? Sometimes, ongoing research appears to explain a fine-tuned aspect of the universe by natural means. One illustrative example relates to the geometry of the universe mentioned above. Back in the 1980s, the dominant quantity known to contribute to the energy budget of the universe was mass (the product of density and volume), and this posed a problem. Even without knowing much about dark matter or anything about dark energy, scientists knew the geometry of our universe is remarkably close to flat—not flat like a piece of paper, but flat in a geometry sense. However, flat is an unstable geometry for our universe such that any small deviations from flatness grow quickly and result in a closed or open universe. Measuring a flat geometry today required the mass density of the universe to vary by no more than one part in 1060 in the earliest moments of the universe. The discovery of dark matter and dark energy did not explain this fine-tuning. Eventually, scientists found a mechanism called inflation that ensures the flatness we see today.

Two relevant points about inflation warrant mention. First, getting inflation to work seems to require a high degree of fine-tuning (more on that in a future blog). Second, inflation does not remove the requirement of a precise density to get a flat geometry—it simply provides a mechanism to ensure that density happens. Inflation basically acts like the aforementioned funnel that produces universes with a flat geometry regardless of any deviations from flat that might have existed in the earliest moments of the universe.

Fine-Tuning Is Robust
As we continue to understand more about our universe, we often find fascinating explanations of how things work, and those explanations add to the evidence that our universe seems fine-tuned for our existence.

See the complete article at Reasons.org.

10 Replies to “Do Natural Explanations Rule Out the Universe’s Fine-Tuning?

  1. 1
    jerry says:

    Maybe someone could explain.

    I fail to see an explanation for fine tuning other than it is necessary for it to exist as it is.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note.

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;?
    Probability Estimates for the Features Required by Various Life Forms:
    Excerpt:
    Requirements to sustain bacteria for 90 days or less:
    Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10-614
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22
    Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10^-333
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^311 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    Requirements to sustain unicellar life for three billion year:
    Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-859
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22
    Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-578
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^556 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle

    Requirements to sustain intelligent physical life:
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-324
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle
    http://d4bge0zxg5qba.cloudfron.....3_ver2.pdf

  3. 3
    PaV says:

    Jerry:

    In physics they have “funnels,” and in evolution they have “sieves.” And proof of none of this!

  4. 4
    jerry says:

    BA77,

    Thanks for the reference and summation.

    less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe

    I believe the odds of any anti ID person addressing this is even less than the above number.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    As to: “Eventually, scientists found a mechanism called inflation that ensures the flatness we see today.”

    Well actually, inflation does not ‘ensure’ flatness. Inflation is, for all intents and purposes, nothing but an ad hoc explanation that was put forth by Atheistic Materialists. An ad hoc explanation that can, in principle, ‘explain away’ any conceivable geometry that we may have found the universe to be in.

    As Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, stated, “it doesn’t make any sense to say what inflation predicts, except to say it predicts everything. If it’s physically possible, then it happens in the multiverse someplace”,,

    Cosmic inflation is dead, long live cosmic inflation – 25 September 2014
    Excerpt: (Inflation) theory, the most widely held of cosmological ideas about the growth of our universe after the big bang, explains a number of mysteries, including why the universe is surprisingly flat and so smoothly distributed, or homogeneous,,,
    Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, who helped develop inflationary theory but is now scathing of it, says this is potentially a blow for the theory, but that it pales in significance with inflation’s other problems.
    Meet the multiverse
    Steinhardt says the idea that inflationary theory produces any observable predictions at all – even those potentially tested by BICEP2 – is based on a simplification of the theory that simply does not hold true.
    “The deeper problem is that once inflation starts, it doesn’t end the way these simplistic calculations suggest,” he says. “Instead, due to quantum physics it leads to a multiverse where the universe breaks up into an infinite number of patches. The patches explore all conceivable properties as you go from patch to patch. So that means it doesn’t make any sense to say what inflation predicts, except to say it predicts everything. If it’s physically possible, then it happens in the multiverse someplace
    Steinhardt says the point of inflation was to explain a remarkably simple universe. “So the last thing in the world you should be doing is introducing a multiverse of possibilities to explain such a simple thing,” he says. “I think it’s telling us in the clearest possible terms that we should be able to understand this and when we understand it it’s going to come in a model that is extremely simple and compelling. And we thought inflation was it – but it isn’t.”
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....CajrGl0y00

    And as Steinhardt further stated in the following article, “the multimess, (i.e. the inflation model), does not predict the properties of our observable universe to be the likely outcome. A good scientific theory is supposed to explain why what we observe happens instead of something else. The multimess fails this fundamental test.”

    Pop Goes The Universe – Scientific American – January 2017 – Anna Ijjas, Paul J. Steinhardt and Abraham Loeb
    Excerpt: “If anything, the Planck data disfavored the simplest inflation models and exacerbated long-standing foundational problems with the theory, providing new reasons to consider competing ideas about the origin and evolution of the universe… (i)n the years since, more precise data gathered by the Planck satellite and other instruments have made the case only stronger……The Planck satellite results—a combination of an unexpectedly small (few percent) deviation from perfect scale invariance in the pattern of hot and colds spots in the CMB and the failure to detect cosmic gravitational waves—are stunning. For the first time in more than 30 years, the simplest inflationary models, including those described in standard textbooks, are strongly disfavored by observations.”
    “Two improbable criteria have to be satisfied for inflation to start. First, shortly after the big bang, there has to be a patch of space where the quantum fluctuations of spacetime have died down and the space is well described by Einstein’s classical equations of general relativity; second, the patch of space must be flat enough and have a smooth enough distribution of energy that the inflation energy can grow to dominate all other forms of energy. Several theoretical estimates of the probability of finding a patch with these characteristics just after the big bang suggest that it is more difficult than finding a snowy mountain equipped with a ski lift and well-maintained ski slopes in the middle of a desert.”
    “More important, if it were easy to find a patch emerging from the big bang that is flat and smooth enough to start inflation, then inflation would not be needed in the first place. Recall that the entire motivation for introducing it was to explain how the visible universe came to have these properties; if starting inflation requires those same properties, with the only difference being that a smaller patch of space is needed, that is hardly progress.”
    “…inflation continues eternally, generating an infinite number of patches where inflation has ended, each creating a universe unto itself…(t)he worrisome implication is that the cosmological properties of each patch differ because of the inherent randomizing effect of quantum fluctuations…The result is what cosmologists call the multiverse. Because every patch can have any physically conceivable properties, the multiverse does not explain why our universe has the very special conditions that we observe—they are purely accidental features of our particular patch.”
    “We would like to suggest “multimess” as a more apt term to describe the unresolved outcome of eternal inflation, whether it consists of an infinite multitude of patches with randomly distributed properties or a quantum mess. From our perspective, it makes no difference which description is correct. Either way, the multimess does not predict the properties of our observable universe to be the likely outcome. A good scientific theory is supposed to explain why what we observe happens instead of something else. The multimess fails this fundamental test.”
    https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~loeb/sciam3.pdf

    As to this comment in the OP, “Measuring a flat geometry today required the mass density of the universe to vary by no more than one part in 10^60 in the earliest moments of the universe”,,,

    And indeed, “any deviation of the Universe from flatness in the Big Bang would have grown, and grown markedly, as the Universe expanded and aged. Like the pencil balanced on its point and given the tiniest nudges, the Universe soon shifts away from perfect flatness.”

    “The Universe today is actually very close to the most unlikely state of all, absolute flatness. And that means it must have been born in an even flatter state, as Dicke and Peebles, two of the Princeton astronomers involved in the discovery of the 3 K background radiation, pointed out in 1979. Finding the Universe in a state of even approximate flatness today is even less likely than finding a perfectly sharpened pencil balancing on its point for millions of years, for, as Dicke and Peebles pointed out, any deviation of the Universe from flatness in the Big Bang would have grown, and grown markedly, as the Universe expanded and aged. Like the pencil balanced on its point and given the tiniest nudges, the Universe soon shifts away from perfect flatness.”
    – John Gribbin, In Search of the Big Bang

    In short, and as the following article notes, “as far as we can tell, to within an incredibly small margin of uncertainty, is that the universe is flat.,,, but there are also no laws of physics that predict or restrict the topology.”

    Yes, the world (universe) really is flat – December 8, 2016
    Excerpt: The universe has all sorts of deformations in space-time where it varies from the perfectly flat. Any place where there’s mass or energy, there’s a corresponding bending of space-time — that’s General Relativity 101. So a couple light beams would naturally collide inside a wandering black hole, or bend along weird angles after encountering a galaxy or two.
    But average all those small-scale effects out and look at the big picture. When we examine very old light — say, the cosmic microwave background — that has been traveling the universe for more than 13.8 billion years, we get a true sense of the universe’s shape. And the answer, as far as we can tell, to within an incredibly small margin of uncertainty, is that the universe is flat.,,,
    ,,, but there are also no laws of physics that predict or restrict the topology.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....y-is-flat/

    Simply put, even with their inflation model, Atheistic Materialists have no realistic clue exactly why the universe is flat, and/or why the universe continues to remain flat.

    Moreover, If the universe were not exceptionally flat, modern science simply would not be possible for humans to achieve in the first place.

    As stated in the following article, “We say that the universe is flat, and this means that parallel lines will always remain parallel. 90-degree turns behave as true 90-degree turns, and everything makes sense.,,,’

    How do we know the universe is flat? Discovering the topology of the universe – by Fraser Cain – June 7, 2017
    Excerpt: We say that the universe is flat, and this means that parallel lines will always remain parallel. 90-degree turns behave as true 90-degree turns, and everything makes sense.,,,
    Since the universe is flat now, it must have been flat in the past, when the universe was an incredibly dense singularity. And for it to maintain this level of flatness over 13.8 billion years of expansion, in kind of amazing.
    In fact, astronomers estimate that the universe must have been flat to 1 part within 1×10^57 parts.
    Which seems like an insane coincidence.
    https://phys.org/news/2017-06-universe-flat-topology.html

    Simply put, without some remarkable degree of exceptional, and stable, flatness for the universe, (as well as exceptional stability for all the other constants), Euclidean (3-Dimensional) geometry simply would not have been applicable to the universe at large, and this would make modern science, (particularly the mathematical analysis of the universe), for all practical purposes, all but impossible for humans to achieve.

    Specifically, Newton, the father of modern physics, was crucially dependent on Euclidean geometry in order for him to make his crucial breakthrough into modern physics.

    “Isaac Newton explicitly referred to the authority of Euclidean geometry as a justification for the conservative form of the proofs in his Principia,,,”
    https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/691412

    Moreover, the ‘insane coincidence’ of the flatness of the universe, and the necessity of a ‘flat universe’ for humans to rationally, i.e. mathematically, analyze the universe in the first place, adds considerable weight to both Einstein’s and Wigner’s observation that the applicability of math to the universe is to be considered, by all rights, a ‘miracle’:

    On the Rational Order of the World: a Letter to Maurice Solovine – Albert Einstein – March 30, 1952
    Excerpt: “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way .. the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if a man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.
    There lies the weakness of positivists and professional atheists who are elated because they feel that they have not only successfully rid the world of gods but “bared the miracles.”
    -Albert Einstein
    http://inters.org/Einstein-Letter-Solovine

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.,,,
    The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
    https://www.maths.ed.ac.uk/~v1ranick/papers/wigner.pdf

    And whereas physicists, (especially including their theoretical model of inflation), have no realistic clue exactly why the universe is as flat as it is, Christian Theists have no problem whatsoever finding the answer for why the universe is as fact as it is.

    In fact, the Bible ‘predicted’, thousands of years before it was discovered by modern science, that the universe would be flat:

    Job 38:4-5
    “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
    Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

    I would call that a pretty amazing scientific ‘prediction’ to come from a dusty old book that many physicists consider to be nothing more than a collection of myths.

  6. 6
    Fasteddious says:

    There are at least two very different types of fine tuning in physics and cosmology:
    1. the finely tuned fundamental physical constants (a dozen or so?) that account for physics as we know it.
    2. the finely tuned initial conditions (at least six, probably more) at the Big Bang that result in the Universe we observe today.
    These two sets are independent of each other (as far as we know). Thus, even if some future theory might “explain” some of the fine tuning, it cannot explain all of it. The fact that both of the above sets are needed for us to exist strongly suggests they were set that way on purpose.

  7. 7
    jerry says:

    the finely tuned fundamental physical constants (a dozen or so?)

    the finely tuned initial conditions (at least six, probably more) at the Big Bang that result in the Universe we observe today.

    Why don’t you list them or a source for them so everyone will have a list.

  8. 8
    Fasteddious says:

    A one minute search yields this as an introductory page for fine tuning:
    https://intelligentdesign.org/articles/list-of-fine-tuning-parameters/
    There are other parameters not listed there, but this is a start.
    Enjoy.

  9. 9
    doubter says:

    Jerry@7

    I found some material on this, though it is hard going for a non-physicist – at https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t1964-fine-tuning-of-the-initial-conditions-of-the-universe. There has been a lot of work done in this area.

    From LUKE A. BARNES A Reasonable Little Question: A Formulation of the Fine-Tuning Argument 2019, at https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/ergo/12405314.0006.042/–reasonable-little-question-a-formulation-of-the-fine-tuning?rgn=main;view=fulltext:

    Initial conditions or boundary conditions:

    • 2 constants for the Higgs field: the vacuum expectation value (vev) and the Higgs mass,
    • 12 fundamental particle masses, relative to the Higgs vev (i.e., the Yukawa couplings): 6 quarks (u,d,s,c,t,b) and 6 leptons (e,µ,?,?e ,?µ,??),
    • 3 force coupling constants for the electromagnetic (?), weak (?w) and strong (?s) forces,
    • 4 parameters that determine the Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa matrix, which describes the mixing of quark flavours by the weak force,
    • 4 parameters of the Pontecorvo-Maki-Nakagawa-Sakata matrix, which describe neutrino mixing,
    • 1 effective cosmological constant (?),
    • 3 baryon (i.e., ordinary matter) / dark matter / neutrino mass per photon ratios,
    • 1 scalar fluctuation amplitude (Q),
    • 1 dimensionless spatial curvature (? . 10?60).
    This does not include 4 constants that are used to set a system of units of mass, time, distance and temperature:

    Newton’s gravitational constant (G),
    the speed of light c,
    Planck’s constant ¯h, and
    Boltzmann’s constant kB.

    Overall, there are 25 constants from particle physics, and 6 from cosmology.
    ( https://philarchive.org/archive/BARARL-3 )

    From Ian Morison: A Journey through the Universe:

    “Had Omega not been in the range 0.999999999999999 to 1.000000000000001 one second after its origin the Universe could not be as it is now. This is incredibly fine tuning, and there is nothing in the standard Big Bang theory to explain why this should be so. This is called the ‘flatness’ problem.”

    And then there are what’s termed “brute facts” of fine tuning as opposed to the initial conditions of fine tuning. It seems a fine distinction to me:

    “Ratio of masses for protons and electrons
    If it were slightly different, building blocks for life such as DNA could not be formed.
    Velocity of light
    If it were larger, stars would be too luminous. If it were smaller, stars would not be luminous enough.
    Mass excess of neutron over proton
    if it were greater, there would be too few heavy elements for life. If it were smaller, stars would quickly collapse as neutron stars or black holes.”

    And

    “Steve Meyer: The return of the God hypothesis, page 184 –
    The density of the universe one nanosecond (a billionth of a second) after the beginning had to have the precise value of 1024 kilogram per cubic meter. If the density were larger or smaller by only 1 kilogram per cubic meter, galaxies would never have developed.18 This corresponds to a fine-tuning of 1 part in 10^24”

    And

    “Energy-Density is Finely-Tuned
    The amount of matter (or more precisely energy density) in our universe at the Big Bang turns out to be finely tuned to about 1 part in 10^55. In other words, to get a life-permitting universe the amount of mass would have to be set to a precision of 55 decimal places. This fine-tuning arises because of the sensitivity to the initial conditions of the universe – the life-permitting density now is certainly much more flexible! If the initial energy density would have been slightly larger, gravity would have quickly slowed the expansion and then caused the universe to collapse too quickly for life to form. Conversely, if the density were a tad smaller, the universe would have expanded too quickly for galaxies, stars, or planets to form. Life could not originate without a long-lived, stable energy source such as a star. Thus, life would not be possible unless the density were just right – if we added or subtracted even just the mass of our body to that of the universe this would have been catastrophic!”

    And it goes on.

  10. 10
    jerry says:

    Fasteddious and Doubter,

    Thank you for the references.

    Maybe, I’ll try to summarize and post someday. I’m always looking for references for when someone asks how do I know.

    But Jay Richards site is comprehensive.

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