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Why Earth isn’t fine tuned for life

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Because that wouldn’t be respectable, according to David Waltham at The Scientist.

And even nature caters to Darwin’s followers:

There are three scientifically respectable explanations for our 4 billion years of life-friendly weather. Firstly, it could be a fundamental principle that biogeochemical processes on inhabited worlds tend to stabilize climates. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised by Earth’s suitability for life because the physical, chemical, and biological laws of the Universe guarantee the existence of many such worlds. Alternatively, it may be that life is extraordinarily adaptable and will thrive under a wide range of conditions. Again, we shouldn’t be surprised that Earth fits life because, in fact, life has adapted to fit Earth. Finally, perhaps planets suitable for complex organisms occur only rarely and purely by chance. But even then we shouldn’t be surprised that we inhabit one of the few lucky worlds. Intelligent observers can only arise on planets where conditions allow complex life, even if such worlds are so unusual that we’d need to search a billion galaxies to find another. The tautology that we must inhabit a habitable world, even if such planets are extraordinarily peculiar, is an extreme example of the scientifically common problem of observational bias. This anthropic selection effect, as it is known, is a central theme in Lucky Planet.

Here’s an excerpt from his new book, Lucky Planet.

See also: University of London Astrobiologist: “Earth is Lucky” and “Almost the Perfect Place for Life”

and

Science-Fictions-square.gif The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).

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16 Replies to “Why Earth isn’t fine tuned for life

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    But would not ‘respectable’ be just as illusory as all the other mind related aspects of reality are for the materialists/atheists?

    A few notes:

    Do the New Atheists Own the Market on Reason? – On the terms of the New Atheists, the very concept of rationality becomes nonsensical – By R. Scott Smith, May 03, 2012
    Excerpt: If atheistic evolution by NS were true, we’d be in a beginningless series of interpretations, without any knowledge. Yet, we do know many things. So, naturalism & atheistic evolution by NS are false — non-physical essences exist. But, what’s their best explanation? Being non-physical, it can’t be evolution by NS. Plus, we use our experiences, form concepts and beliefs, and even modify or reject them. Yet, if we’re just physical beings, how could we interact with and use these non-physical things? Perhaps we have non-physical souls too. In all, it seems likely the best explanation for these non-physical things is that there exists a Creator after all.
    http://www.patheos.com/Evangel.....#038;max=1

    Self-refutation and the New Atheists: The Case of Jerry Coyne – Michael Egnor – September 12, 2013
    Excerpt: Their (the New Atheists) ideology is a morass of bizarre self-refuting claim. They assert that science is the only way to truth, yet take no note that scientism itself isn’t a scientific assertion. They assert a “skeptical” view that thoughts are only constructed artifacts of our neurological processing and have no sure contact with truth, ignoring the obvious inference that their skeptical assertion is thereby reduced to a constructed artifact with no sure contact with truth. They assert that Christianity has brought much immorality to the world, yet they deny the existence of objective morality. They assert that intelligent design is not testable, and (yet claim the counter proposition, that life is not designed, is testable).
    And they assert that we are determined entirely by our natural history and physical law and thereby have no free will, yet they assert this freely, claiming truth and personal exemption from determinism.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....76541.html

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    The Atheist’s Guide to Intellectual Suicide – James N. Anderson PhD. – video
    https://vimeo.com/75897668

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere (10^-1054) – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;
    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 miracles.
    http://www.reasons.org/files/c....._part3.pdf

    Here is a glimpse at how the aurora borealis is actually formed by solar flares interacting with the magnetic field:

    NASA Magnetic Reconnection – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_Gny2JVqQ8

    Image of Protective Belts Surrounding the Earth
    http://www.eos.unh.edu/Spheres.....eto_lg.jpg

    The Earth as You’ve Never Seen it Before: Atmosphere, Airglow and Aurora – video
    https://vimeo.com/42909676

  2. 2
    ppolish says:

    Lucky is winning the Powerball Lottery. Winning it 5 times in a row goes beyond lucky.

  3. 3
    tjguy says:

    This is called irresponsibly explaining away the inconvenient and unexpected evidence. There is no accountability here for their view.

  4. 4
    JacobyShaddix says:

    @ppolish

    It is guaranteed that somebody wins the lottery however unlikely it is.

    Even if the requirements for life were so extreme that on average it would only happen once in a universe containing 10^24 planets, it shouldn’t surprise you to find yourself in that one place where it can happen.

    This is because if the stuff from which you were made was located anywhere else in the universe, there wouldn’t be the conditions necessary to allow your stuff to contemplate this.

    This is what they mean by the anthropic selection effect.

  5. 5
    snelldl says:

    There is no guarantee that someone will win the lottery.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    JacobyShaddix you state:

    “there wouldn’t be the conditions necessary to allow your stuff to contemplate this.
    This is what they mean by the anthropic selection effect”

    And exactly what conditions of material particles allow ‘my stuff’ to ‘contemplate’ our extremely fortuitous planet (1 chance in 10^1032) in the first place?

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/pro.....9919758.do

    ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    David Barash – Materialist/Atheist Darwinian Psychologist

    “We regard promissory materialism as superstition without a rational foundation. The more we discover about the brain, the more clearly do we distinguish between the brain events and the mental phenomena, and the more wonderful do both the brain events and the mental phenomena become. Promissory materialism is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists… who often confuse their religion with their science.”
    – John C. Eccles, The Wonder of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind, 1984 – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1963

    We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    A neurosurgeon confronts the non-material nature of consciousness – December 2011
    Excerpted quote: To me one thing that has emerged from my (Near Death) experience and from very rigorous analysis of that experience over several years, talking it over with others that I respect in neuroscience, and really trying to come up with an answer, is that consciousness outside of the brain is a fact. It’s an established fact. And of course, that was a hard place for me to get, coming from being a card-toting reductive materialist over decades. It was very difficult to get to knowing that consciousness, that there’s a soul of us that is not dependent on the brain.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ciousness/

    Here is something else to contemplate about the earth:

    The Known Universe – Dec. 2009 – a very cool video (please note the centrality of the earth in the universe)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4240304/

    “People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”
    – George Ellis

    Here is something else to ‘contemplate’

    The Scale of The Universe – Part 2 – interactive graph (recently updated in 2012 with cool features)
    http://htwins.net/scale2/scale.....olor=white

    The preceding interactive graph points out that the smallest scale visible to the human eye (as well as a human egg) is at 10^-4 meters, which ‘just so happens’ to be directly in the exponential center of all possible sizes of our physical reality (not just ‘nearly’ in the exponential center!). i.e. 10^-4 is, exponentially, right in the middle of 10^-35 meters, which is the smallest possible unit of length, which is Planck length, and 10^27 meters, which is the largest possible unit of ‘observable’ length since space-time was created in the Big Bang, which is the diameter of the universe. This is very interesting for, as far as I can tell, the limits to human vision (as well as the size of the human egg) could have, theoretically, been at very different positions than directly in the exponential middle;

    Moreover, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even a central, position within material reality. [14]
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3D state is centered on each individual conscious observer in the universe, whereas, 4D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism, Christian Theism in particular, offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe. [15]
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit

    Verse and Music

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill How Great thou Art – Standing Ovation!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLLMzr3PFgk

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.”

    “The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.”

    “There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.”

    Those are from “The Privileged Planet”- without our Moon we wouldn’t be here,

    “The combined circumstance that we live on Earth and are able to see stars- that the conditions necessary for life do not exclude those necessary for vision, and vice versa- is a remarkably improbable one.

    This is because the medium we live is, on one hand, just thick enough to enable us to breathe and prevent us from being burned up by cosmic rays, while, on the other hand, it is not so opaque as to absorb entirely the light of the stars and block the view of the universe. What a fragile balance between the indispensable and the sublime.” Hans Blumenberg- thoughts independent of the research done by Gonzalez.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks Joe, the ‘light coincidence’ is sublime in its Design implications:

    Visible light is also incredibly fine-tuned for life to exist. Though visible light is only a tiny fraction of the total electromagnetic spectrum coming from the sun, it happens to be the “most permitted” portion of the sun’s spectrum allowed to filter through the our atmosphere. All the other bands of electromagnetic radiation, directly surrounding visible light, happen to be harmful to organic molecules, and are almost completely absorbed by the atmosphere. The tiny amount of harmful UV radiation, which is not visible light, allowed to filter through the atmosphere is needed to keep various populations of single cell bacteria from over-populating the world (Ross; reasons.org). The size of light’s wavelengths and the constraints on the size allowable for the protein molecules of organic life, also seem to be tailor-made for each other. This “tailor-made fit” allows photosynthesis, the miracle of sight, and many other things that are necessary for human life. These specific frequencies of light (that enable plants to manufacture food and astronomers to observe the cosmos) represent less than 1 trillionth of a trillionth (10^-24) of the universe’s entire range of electromagnetic emissions. Like water, visible light also appears to be of optimal biological utility (Denton; Nature’s Destiny).

    Extreme Fine Tuning of Light for Life and Scientific Discovery – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/7715887

    Fine Tuning Of Universal Constants, Particularly Light – Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491552

    Fine Tuning Of Light to the Atmosphere, to Biological Life, and to Water – graphs
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....aGh4MmdnOQ

    We Live At The Right Time In Cosmic History (To see the Cosmic Background Radiation) – Hugh Ross – video
    http://vimeo.com/31940671

    The Fine-Tuning for Discoverability – Robin Collins – March 22, 2014
    Excerpt: The most dramatic confirmation of the discoverability/livability optimality thesis (DLO) is the dependence of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB) on the baryon to photon ratio.,,,
    …the intensity of CMB depends on the photon to baryon ratio, (??b), which is the ratio of the average number of photons per unit volume of space to the average number of baryons (protons plus neutrons) per unit volume. At present this ratio is approximately a billion to one (10^9) , but it could beanywhere from one to infinity; it traces back to the degree of asymmetry in matter and anti – matter right after the beginning of the universe – for approximately every billion particles of antimatter, there was a billion and one particles of matter.,,,
    The only livability effect this ratio has is on whether or not galaxies can form that have near – optimally livability zones. As long as this condition is met, the value of this ratio has no further effects on livability. Hence, the DLO predicts that within this range, the value of this ratio will be such as to maximize the intensity of the CMB as observed by typical observers.
    According to my calculations – which have been verified by three other physicists — to within the margin of error of the experimentally determined parameters (~20%), the value of the photon to baryon ratio is such that it maximizes the CMB. This is shown in Figure 1 below. (pg. 13)
    It is easy to see that this prediction could have been disconfirmed. In fact, when I first made the calculations in the fall of 2011, I made a mistake and thought I had refuted this thesis since those calculations showed the intensity of the CMB maximizes at a value different than the photon – baryon ratio in our universe. So, not only does the DLO lead us to expect this ratio, but it provides an ultimate explanation for why it has this value,,, This is a case of a teleological thesis serving both a predictive and an ultimate explanatory role.,,,
    http://home.messiah.edu/~rcoll.....osting.pdf

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  9. 9
    ppolish says:

    @Jacoby,

    I think there is other life in the Universe.

    What I find beyond lucky is the fact that there are “physical, chemical, and biological laws”
    that enable intelligence here on Earth and maybe on other worlds.

    Luck versus Laws. I find the odds of Universal Laws arising from chance impossibly slim. Impossible.

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington says:

    JacobyShaddix” “It is guaranteed that somebody wins the lottery however unlikely it is.”

    Jacoby, suppose the same person won the lottery every week for a year. Would you suspect the lottery was fixed?

  11. 11
    gpuccio says:

    JacobyShaddix:

    It is guaranteed that somebody wins the lottery however unlikely it is.

    I am not sure you understand probability. That somebody wins the lottery is not unlikely at all. It is, indeed, necessary.

    That a specific person wins the lottery is more or less unlikely, it depends on how many tickets were sold.

    That a complex functional proteins emerges by random search or random walk is so unlikely that it cannot practically happen in our universe (too many tickets sold, one for each possible protein sequence of a certain length).

    So, a complex functional protein will never win the lottery, in our limited universe.

    I can’t see how the anthropic selection can help you there. Unless you recur to the multiverse scenario, which is simple folly, because thousands of different complex proteins have indeed won the lottery on our planet, and that cannot be explained by probability.

  12. 12
    ppolish says:

    There might be a billion worlds where scientists debate “privileged” vs “lucky”.

    I mean c’mon, that’s a whole lotta luck:)

  13. 13
    gpuccio says:

    JacobyShaddix:

    Just to be clear, here are some numbers:

    a) A lottery is held. One billion tickets are sold. One ticket is extracted as winner. We assume the lottery is fair (therefore, probabilities are computed according to an uniform distribution).

    a1) Probability that there is a winner (any winner) = 1 (necessity).

    a2) Probability that one specific person, buying just one ticket, wins the lottery = 10^-9.

    OK?

    Now, a new scenario:

    b) Five consecutive lotteries are held, each of them selling one billion tickets. Again, we assume the lotteries are fair.

    b1) Probability that the same person (any person) wins all five lotteries (assuming that the same persons buy one ticket per lottery) = 10^-36

    b2) Probability that one specific person wins all five lotteries (assuming that that person buys one ticket per lottery) = 10^-45

    OK? If I am wrong, please correct me.

    So, statements like yours:

    “It is guaranteed that somebody wins the lottery however unlikely it is”

    mean really nothing.

    Events have specific probabilities, which can be computed, provided one defines correctly the event and the scenario.

  14. 14
    gpuccio says:

    JacobyShaddix:

    Some more numbers which can be of interest.

    In the b) scenario (see previous post), using the binomial distribution, we can compute the following probabilities that the same specific person, buying one ticket per lottery, wins:

    One lottery = 5 * 10^-9

    Two lotteries = 1 * 10^-17

    Three lotteries = 1 * 10^-26

    Four lotteries = 5 * 10^-36

    Five lotteries = 1 * 10^-45

    As you can see, probabilities change a lot according to how one defines the event whose probability is being computed.

  15. 15
    Barb says:

    The three scientifically respectable reasons given in the OP begin with “It could be”, “it may be”, and “perhaps.” And here I thought science dealt with empirically verifiable, falsifiable results, not mere speculation.

    Then, at the very end, he states “the tautology that we must inhabit..” At least he’s honest enough to admit that his beliefs rest, not on evidence, but on a logical fallacy.

  16. 16
    The Karaite Heretic says:

    Well, well, you can’t expect them to be reasonable you know 🙂

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