The Widow’s Mite Fallacy
In his debunking of fine-tuning, Stenger has fallen for the “Widow’s Mite Fallacy”. (I know, we all like to name things so we can use a stigma to beat a dogma.) It is explained in Mk 12:42, where Jesus is standing with his disciples near the entrance to the temple and the collection box. It’s one of those trumpet-shaped devices they have in the grocery store that makes the coins fall for a long time, so a good handful of shekels makes a marvellous racket. The donors are being ostentatious with their shekels, when in comes a poor widow–no husband, black outfit, worn sandals–and drops in two copper coins that barely make a plink. Jesus turns to his disciples and says: Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. The disciples were working in absolute monetary units, since of course, the maintenance of the temple was paid in absolute monetary units. But honor and esteem, Jesus said, needed to be awarded based on relative measures (which have no units), on percentages. And when properly renormalized, the widow is deserving of far more honor than the ostentatious rich.
The widows mite fallacy is confusing the absolute units of physics with the relative units of metaphysics. If we want to know whether the universe is fine-tuned, it does no good to say “It must be, because it is 13.7 billion lightyears in size!” We can’t evaluate a purpose with a unit like a lightyear. But if we said, “Every other universe I’ve seen is only a few millimeters, but this one is ginormous!” then we have a calibration point, something we can make a ratio with, something that converts size into a unitless measure.