Fine tuning Intelligent Design

Sabine Hossenfelder dismisses fine-tuning; Brian Miller and Steve Meyer respond

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She calls fine-tuning of the universe for life “anthropic selection”:

The general argument against the success of anthropic selection is that all evidence for the finetuning of our theories explores only a tiny space of all possible combinations of parameters. A typical argument for finetuning goes like this: If parameter X was only a tiny bit larger or smaller than the observed value, then atoms couldn’t exist or all stars would collapse or something similarly detrimental to the formation of large molecules. Hence, parameter X must have a certain value to high precision. However, these arguments for finetuning – of which there exist many – don’t take into account simultaneous changes in several parameters and are therefore inconclusive.

Importantly, besides this general argument there also exist explicit counterexamples. In the 2006 paper A Universe Without Weak Interactions, Harnik, Kribs, and Perez discussed a universe that seems capable of complex chemistry and yet has fundamental particles entirely different from our own. More recently, Abraham Loeb from Harvard argued that primitive forms of life might have been possible already in the early universe under circumstances very different from today’s. And a recent paper (ht Jacob Aron) adds another example:

Sabine Hossenfelder, “Sorry, the universe wasn’t made for you” at BackRe(Action) (September 6, 2016)

She has tweeted on this and written a paper as well.

From Miller and Meyer:

Hossenfelder’s arguments represent common errors committed by critics, so they deserve special attention. Her weakest argument is that the assumption of fine-tuning has led to inaccurate predictions related to the discovery of new fundamental particles. This assertion is without merit since a few inaccurate predictions related to one set of parameters in no way challenge the generally accepted evidence of fine-tuning for a completely different set. Another weak argument is that the analyses of individual parameters, such as the mass of an electron, “don’t take into account simultaneous changes in several parameters and are therefore inconclusive.” This criticism completely overlooks Luke Barnes’s careful studies of the effect of altering multiple parameters at the same time. His results only reinforce the fine-tuning conclusion.

A more substantive argument is that some details of the universe might be less restrictive than originally assumed. Hossenfelder cites a paper by Harnik, Kribs, and Perez that asserts that a universe without a weak force could still support life. Yet such claims have not withstood careful scrutiny. For instance, a paper by Louis Clavelli and Raymond White demonstrates that the authors of the initial paper only considered some of the consequences of removing the weak force. They ignored other consequences that would likely have precluded any possibility of the universe hosting complex life.

Brian Miller, Stephen C. Meyer, “Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder Challenges the Evidence for Cosmological Fine-Tuning” at Evolution News and Science Today

Fine-tuning of the universe is one of those concepts that can pass every possible evidence test and still be rejected because it is just not supposed to be true. No matter how foolish the arguments against it are, they will always appear preferable. If the situation results in confusion, well, confusion is clarity.

See also: What becomes of science when the evidence does not matter?

11 Replies to “Sabine Hossenfelder dismisses fine-tuning; Brian Miller and Steve Meyer respond

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    Really to bad Edward Feser would make short work of her position, it’s simple and boring

    If she is correct we would not know better nor would we be able to image differently

    In a universe with no free will and there could only ever be this universe because it works, there would be no way to no different, no argument otherwise, this is all there is.

  2. 2
    BobRyan says:

    It isn’t difficult to defeat a Darwinist in any argument. Start with their own supposition that they have no mind. They claim that their is no free will and everything they do is nothing more than reaction to action. If they have no mind, any argument they give is without meaning. They limit themselves to being forced to defend their own meaninglessness.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    I think the 1 in 10^10^123 initial entropy of the universe is, by far, the most compelling evidence for fine-tuning of the universe by God.

    Sept. 2020 – Quantum Zeno Effect, Entropy, Quantum Information Theory

    Verse and quote

    Romans 8:20-21
    For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    “We have the sober scientific certainty that the heavens and earth shall ‘wax old as doth a garment’ . . . . Dark indeed would be the prospects of the human race if unilluminated by that light which reveals ‘new heavens and a new earth.’”
    – William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, an Irish mathematical physicist and engineer who formulated the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

  4. 4

    An example of how, regardless of evidence or argument, people can choose to believe whatever they want and feel like their position is perfectly rational and supportable.

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    Well her position shoots itself in the foot, she could never know any different other than the universe that we have so she can’t speculate on different universes and we would never know if our universe is fine-tuned because that’s the only universe we would ever know it’s like a blind man from birth trying to dream the brain can’t formulate what images look like

    So her position is self refuting because she doesn’t believe in the one thing that would allow her to believe any differently furthermore her position is absolutely self or feeling because she petals super determinism so people who think the universe is fine tune was told to think that by the universe from the very beginning of the big bang

  6. 6


    Why could she “never know any different other than the universe that we have?”

  7. 7
    Querius says:

    While I very much appreciate Dr. Hossenfelder’s commitment to no-nonsense experimental verification over mathematical “beauty,” symmetry, speculation, and other aesthetics, it seems that her commitment to materialism and determinism unfortunately surpasses her other commitments.

    Just like Einstein, she seems to be searching for a solution that’s compatible with her ideology rather than simply allowing science to lead her into interpretations that simply accept that the nature of reality is fundamentally based on probability, information, chaos theory, and so on.


  8. 8
    AaronS1978 says:

    @ 6

    For the same reason a bind from birth person could never tell you what the color blue was like

    In the universe of direct cause and effect you have to have some kind of interaction, some kind of effect for you to have any such knowledge

    So the only knowledge that could exist as knowledge that a affects you

    In her world that is the only thing that exists push, cause, and effect

    How could she ever even speculate on other universes or other types of physics? she’s never experienced other types of physics she could never tell us about other types of physics, because they never effected her, why would her brain ever have that type of knowledge? it is like a program coming up with new knowledge that never existed without being feed data of any kind, and why would it seek this knowledge when none ever existed for it to seek

    So if she is right and we are nothing more than directly determined by the entirety of the universe then we are nothing more than computers and there is no way we would be able to produce any form of knowledge that doesn’t exist and it would have to directly impact us

    So how would she be able to speculate about the physics of other universes?

    How can she say that our universe isn’t fine tuned or is fine tuned, she wouldn’t know any different because she has no such knowledge otherwise

    The only way that she could ever have the knowledge required to say is if she went to another universe and studied it, only the would she have that information and knowledge logged in her computer of a brain

    But there is no knowledge of other universes other than our own, we only know our physics

    That being said this is why I don’t agree with her position, she exercises in ability to speculate without information but in her world the only thing that exists is cause and effect so where did that information come from

    She is inherently wrong and her position with super determinism is 100% pointless same with Coyne’s position as well trying to espouse it

    Both of their positions are predetermined by the beginning of the universe they’re just idiots then and the idea that we are experiencing this go by is also equally stupid because there’s no reason for us to experience anything, we don’t exist

    It is their metaphysics that back them into this contradictory metaphysical corner

  9. 9
    AaronS1978 says:

    And here’s a stupid question if we do actually managed to get out of our universe what happens to her super determinism then?

    So if we escape our universe does our universe predict what we do outside of it? And how could it if we are interacting with another universe it did not determine

    So what then

    What would happen if I came back to this universe after being affected by another universe

    Is everyone of my actions still predetermined by the big bang in our universe because there’s no logical way it could be as I was affected by forces our universe had nothing to do with.

    Would our universe just pop because I returned to it with information from another universe and there is no way for it to determine my outcome. And my presence now undermines every determination made by our universe as well

    All of these are questions that she needs to start answering and if another universe affects our own that can’t be predicted by our universe because it wasn’t determined at the beginning of the big bang

  10. 10
    Seversky says:


    And here’s a stupid question if we do actually managed to get out of our universe what happens to her super determinism then?

    So if we escape our universe does our universe predict what we do outside of it? And how could it if we are interacting with another universe it did not determine

    Here’s a stupid answer to your stupid question, then. If the two universes were connected such that information could flow between them then they would presumably be some sort of single superdeterministic entity. Everything that passed back and forth between the two universes will also have been determined.

    Personally, I don’t like the idea either. although the universe isn’t arranged the way I would like it so what I like probably doesn’t count for anything. Besides, it’s still just speculation at this point.

  11. 11
    AaronS1978 says:

    All right with that stupid response here comes an even stupider comment

    So pretty much what you’re stating we have here is Super Duper determinism, determinism that predetermined universes interacting with one another not just from the big bang but from the overall system of the entirety of the multi-verse

    Can I honestly not thank you enough for allowing me to have a valid reason to come up with Super Duper Determinism

    This is the first time in my life I could validly say I have used Super Duper Determinism correctly in a sentence

    This new position shall be known as SDD! 😛

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