Fine tuning Intelligent Design

Why must fine-tuning be classed as a problem, not just a fact?

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This image represents the evolution of the Universe, starting with the Big Bang. The red arrow marks the flow of time.
Big Bang/NASA

What if the fundamental constants of nature had values other than the ones they do?

What would happen in a hypothetical universe in which the fundamental constants of nature had other values?

There is nothing mathematically wrong with these hypothetical universes. But there is one thing that they almost always lack — life. Or, indeed, anything remotely resembling life. Or even the complexity upon which life relies to store information, gather nutrients, and reproduce. A universe that has just small tweaks in the fundamental constants might not have any of the chemical bonds that give us molecules, so say farewell to DNA, and also to rocks, water, and planets. Other tweaks could make the formation of stars or even atoms impossible. And with some values for the physical constants, the universe would have flickered out of existence in a fraction of a second. That the constants are all arranged in what is, mathematically speaking, the very improbable combination that makes our grand, complex, life-bearing universe possible is what physicists mean when they talk about the “fine-tuning” of the universe for life.Luke A. Barnes, “The Fune-Tuning of Nature’s Laws” at The New Atlantis

Apparently, the number to bet on is 1/137. Why that number? Here’s Barnes on 1/137.

A good deal of effort goes into explaining away the fine-tuning of our universe and our Earth for life. But note the intellectually disastrous theses that are casually accepted as alternatives. For example, one alternative, the multiverse, is science’s assisted suicide; if we must consider an infinity of universes whose very existence cannot beverified, we have simply come to an end of thinking. Another dodge is that we merely evolved to see the universe as fine-tuned but it really isn’t. The very existence of the person making such a case is evidence that his case isn’t true.

What if we just accepted the fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life and for exploration? The way we accept the significance of 1/137. For what project would that be a problem? If we had that out in the open, we might have a clearer picture of the purpose of cosmological research.

See also: Should We Call The Pauli Exclusion Principle Quantum Fine-Tuning?

Rob Sheldon: Researchers Showed That The Carbon State Of The Universe IS Fine-Tuned

Shedding light on water’s weird, life-friendly qualities

and

What becomes of science when the evidence does not matter?

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23 Replies to “Why must fine-tuning be classed as a problem, not just a fact?

  1. 1
    ScuzzaMan says:

    It’s not the fact of the tuning that’s the problem – it’s the rational implications of it.
    So if you don’t like those implications then you have two choices:
    1) Give up the fact of the tuning.
    2) Give up reason.
    Option 1 being demonstrably untenable, the materialists have been forced by reason into option 2.
    I love the smell of irony in the morning …

  2. 2
    hazel says:

    That’s how I look at it: it’s just a fact, the central mystery of our existence. I accept it as the world I live in, as it is.

    However, as Seversky said recently, explaining it by positing a God or Intelligent Designer is no more an answer than speculations about multi-universes. Let’s just truly accept it as a fact, and study how it, and we, work, without pretending to somehow know what the metaphysics behind it is like. Those can be useful stories, but they are not facts.

  3. 3
    ScuzzaMan says:

    The problem, Hazel, is that science advocates increasingly demand that only what they deem to be science can be taught, discussed in political settings, and used as a basis for collective decision-making.
    I remain perfectly content for you to believe whatever you want, and to teach your children the same.
    I ask only the same consideration in return, but I don’t get it.
    And as a matter of historical record, it’s not possible for a multivalent society to stick together. Fundamental differences of belief have real-world repercussions that cannot be waved away by emotional appeals to tolerance and diversity. The cult of tolerance can no more tolerate my cultural and religious bigotry (as they see it) than I can tolerate their mass murder of unborn innocents (which they term reproductive choice). We will either separate peacefully or violently but we WILL separate because we ARE separate.
    the spirit divides.

  4. 4

    Hazel @#2 said:

    That’s how I look at it: it’s just a fact, the central mystery of our existence. I accept it as the world I live in, as it is.

    How incredibly incurious.

    However, as Seversky said recently, explaining it by positing a God or Intelligent Designer is no more an answer than speculations about multi-universes. Let’s just truly accept it as a fact, and study how it, and we, work, without pretending to somehow know what the metaphysics behind it is like. Those can be useful stories, but they are not facts.

    Nobody here is “pretending to know,” as far as I can see. People are using that fact as a part of their reasoning process when it comes to extrapolating rational inferences and conditional conclusions with regards to metaphysical perspectives. If that’s something you don’t wish to participate in, fine. Other people here think that’s a pretty big piece to account for in one’s metaphysics and find value in discussing it.

    BTW, most of life, including science, is comprised of arranging “useful stories.” The usefulness of any story accounts for the facts and arranges them in stories that are both rational and predictive. Some of those useful stories are called scientific models & theories, some are called metaphysical models and theories, and some are called moral models and theories.

    I think that many people who have difficulty integrating the fact of fine-tuning into their current narrative are usually the ones that would prefer not to give it any significant value in various scientific, metaphysical and existential “stories.”

  5. 5
    hazel says:

    When I wrote, “That’s how I look at it: it’s just a fact, the central mystery of our existence. I accept it as the world I live in, as it is”, WJHm replied, “How incredibly incurious.”

    No, I’m quite curious. But I am also committed to not thinking I know what I don’t know, or is unknowable – telling the differences between evidence-based conclusions and speculative stories. If people discover more about why the universe is at it is, I will be excited, and I support such research.

    But I think I agree with News and others that at some point, if suggested conclusions can’t be tested, they really don’t add to our knowledge.

    WJM writes,

    BTW, most of life, including science, is comprised of arranging “useful stories.” The usefulness of any story accounts for the facts and arranges them in stories that are both rational and predictive. Some of those useful stories are called scientific models & theories, some are called metaphysical models and theories, and some are called moral models and theories.

    I agree. Human beings are narrative animals, and besides our testable, empirical models, we also have metaphysical and moral models that are useful in important ways to us. I have my own tentative, speculative metaphysics that includes my understanding of modern physics, and I’ve discussed this at some length in threads that WJM participated in. However, the acceptance of the mystery of existence always lies at the foundation of my thought, and always tempers my sense of belief.

    WJM writes,

    I think that many people who have difficulty integrating the fact of fine-tuning into their current narrative are usually the ones that would prefer not to give it any significant value in various scientific, metaphysical and existential “stories.”

    FWIW, I don’t think I am one of those people. Recognizing the fundamental mystery of existence enhances the value of the universe, in my mind: it doesn’t detract from it.

  6. 6
    Brother Brian says:

    I think that the “fine tuning” speculations are interesting, but ascribing them to design is a leap of faith. Literally.

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    ‘Why must fine-tuning be classed as a problem, not just a fact?’

    Is that what they say ? It’s a problem ? What a give-away ; the spirit of Lewontin strugglng to prevent that divine ‘foot in the door’.

  8. 8
    Brother Brian says:

    Axel

    s that what they say ? It’s a problem ? What a give-away ; the spirit of Lewontin strugglng to prevent that divine ‘foot in the door’

    The Devine foot is welcome in my door any time it decides to reveal itself and ring the doorbell. Until then …

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, much more than empty speculation. The message of the math is plain, fairly closely neighbouring possible worlds in terms of framing parameters would be radically hostile to life as we see it. That is a message. KF

    PS: As for Divine feet in the door, with all due regard on fair comment you have never seriously addressed on the merits manifest moral government of rationality for months.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    I think that the “fine tuning” speculations are interesting, but ascribing them to design is a leap of faith.

    And it is very telling that you cannot actually make a case to support your drivel.

  11. 11
    ET says:

    hazel:

    However, as Seversky said recently, explaining it by positing a God or Intelligent Designer is no more an answer than speculations about multi-universes.

    Seversky doesn’t know jack about science. Positing a Designer for anything that warrants it tells us quite a bit. Nature can produce stones but it cannot produce Stonehenge. Positing a designer for Stonehenge tells us how to proceed with our investigation of the structure. And positing a designer for the universe tells us how to proceed with the investigation of the universe.

    The fine tuning exists. And as such it had a root cause. That root cause is fundamental to scientific investigation.

  12. 12
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    The message of the math is plain, fairly closely neighbouring possible worlds in terms of framing parameters would be radically hostile to life as we see it. That is a message.

    That is the problem with the “fine tuning” argument with respect to design. You keep saying that changing any of numerous physical constants would result in worlds that are radically hostile to life. This is a specious claim as there is no evidence that these constants could be anything other than what they are. If we re-ran the origin of the universe (i.e., big bang) numerous times, the universes resulting from each iteration would undoubtedly look different than the one we live in, but there is no evidence suggesting that the basic physics underlying them would be any different. The only conclusion that we can rationally draw about the cause of this “fine tuning” is “we don’t know”.

    PS: As for Divine feet in the door, with all due regard on fair comment you have never seriously addressed on the merits manifest moral government of rationality for months.

    Since there is absolutely no evidence supporting objective moral governance, and a plethora of evidence suggesting otherwise, the logical and rational conclusion is that there are no merits to the manifest moral government of rationality.

  13. 13
    john_a_designer says:

    Why is the so-called multiverse so popular with those who embrace a naturalistic/ materialistic world view? It is because it appears to explain the fine-tuning that has been discovered by astrophysicists and astronomers over the last 50 years. In other words, the facts of fine-tuning don’t fit their world view so they invoke a purely speculative, faith based explanation so they what have to face the obvious implications. What are those implications? They know, even if they try to pretend they don’t.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    This is a specious claim as there is no evidence that these constants could be anything other than what they are

    Scientists disagree with you.

  15. 15
    daveS says:

    KF,

    You’re getting shelled from all angles (mostly in the L&FP XX1 thread). At least ET has your back.

  16. 16
    ET says:

    daves:

    You’re getting shelled from all angles!

    Mere cotton balls. To shell someone you need actual arguments supported by real evidence.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, if the cosmos is such that forcing laws (of which there is no evidence) set the parameters and structures to in some cases 1 in 10^60 or so, then that too is a fine tuning superlaw. And the evidence is right there is the cosmological frameworks which on sensitivity analysis produce the fine tuning result. As you could easily ascertain, e.g. for a simple article cf here: https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-fine-tuning-of-natures-laws . KF

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The evidence supporting that we are under undeniably known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, fairness and justice etc include how in order to persuade you assume that we acknowledge that duty. The denial of such government radically undermines rationality, turning reason into a clever means of manipulation and deception. This is reductio ad absurdum, and it tells us a lot about you that you resort to assertions such as “there is absolutely no evidence supporting [==> appeal to the binding nature of the duties just denied] objective moral governance, and a plethora of evidence suggesting otherwise, the logical and rational conclusion [–> appeal again] is that there are no merits [–> appeal again] to the manifest moral government of rationality” first tells us that your ability to recognise self-referential incoherence on your part is nil. Second, that you have no credibility.

  19. 19
    john_a_designer says:

    Again let me state the obvious: the so-called multiverse is a last-gasp-effort to save materialism which is a philosophical, and therefore, metaphysical position. Materialism since ancient times* has made a fallacious appeal to chance which posits the unproven and unprovable premise that given enough time anything can happen by “chance” (which is never precisely defined.)

    On the other hand, if we begin with the assumption that this could be the only universe that has ever existed, which is all we really know from the evidence, then why don’t the materialists try to explain it by chance? My guess it is because they themselves think that it’s a non-starter which would leave them looking rather foolish.

    (*Democritus, for example argued that all that was needed to explain the “Kosmos” was the void + atoms + “chance.”)

  20. 20
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @John_a_designer:

    I’ve never received an even half-coherent answer as to why;
    1. the statement “there is a God” is religion,
    while
    2. the statement “there is no God” is science.

    It is a risibly ludicrous claim that changing the sign from positive to negative changes the subject completely. That claim makes no sense mathematically, linguistically, or in any other context.
    You could argue that both are religious (as you said, philosophic and metaphysical), or that both are scientific, or that both are both … or that neither are either.
    But how exactly did materialists smuggle this idiotic double-standard into our culture, which adamantly, stridently, vociferously, even violently, proclaims that the very subject and content of the two statements are categorically distinct, having no overlap?
    Non-overlapping magisteria” has to be the weaseliest lie in millennia …

  21. 21
    Brother Brian says:

    S

    I’ve never received an even half-coherent answer as to why;
    1. the statement “there is a God” is religion,
    while
    2. the statement “there is no God” is science.

    I don’t think that either statement is science. What we can do, however, is use science to test some of the “God” claims. For example, those who believe in God believe that he answers prayers. We can design a randomized double blind experiment to test the efficacy of prayer. When this was done, no efficacy of prayer could be detected. Example number two. Some people who believe in God believe in faith healing. Every time this has been examined scientifically, there does not appear to be any merit in it.

    Obviously there are some “God” claims that can’t be tested and must be taken on faith. One of these is life after death and the eternal soul. This being said, I don’t know how you can use the scientific method to get the claim that there is no God.

  22. 22
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    Obviously there are some “God” claims that can’t be tested and must be taken on faith.

    Obviously there are many, many, many “nature didit” claims that can’t be tested and are taken on faith but promoted as science.

  23. 23
    john_a_designer says:

    I along with other ID’ists see a lot of evidence for design in the world that has been uncovered by modern science. Fine-tuning is but one example.

    One of the best evidences that Theism is true and naturalism/materialism is false if the fact that we have minds that can give us factually true knowledge about the world within which we find ourselves.

    It is not a matter of what one believes about the reliability of his own reasoning (truth detecting) capabilities but whether one can explain such capabilities on the basis of his world view. Naturalists/ materialists like Dawkins begin with the assumption that our minds– our reasoning/ truth detecting capabilities– are the result of non-teleological mindless process. Theists, on the other hand, begin with the assumption that our minds are a creation of a Mind. The burden of proof is on those who try to explain on a mindless process, like Darwinian, naturalistic evolution can “create” minds in the first place and the minds with reliable truth detecting capabilities. Remember, a committed Darwinian like Richard Dawkins is arguing that his world view is based on empirical science. Therefore, he should be able to give me a compelling and objective science based explanation (“proof”) of how mindlessness creates minds.

    Frankly, this is something that the naturalist relying on science and “methodological naturalism,” cannot answer. I would argue that the theist doesn’t have that problem. How could he? For the theist the ultimate ground of being is an eternally existing transcendent Mind. The Mind (or Mind of minds) is the explanation why the universe is rational and human being have rational albeit imperfect minds. Therefore, as imperfect as we might be, we have the potential to discover real Truth not only about the cosmos but the Truth about the so-called big questions.

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