From Rob Sheldon,
I think Stephen Barr’s “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith” (one of those Thomists who doesn’t like ID), addresses this issue. It works something like this – an ID person notices that the Big Bang is highly contingent, if one grain of sand were added to or removed from the Big Bang, we wouldn’t exist. So the ID guy says “Look at this fine-tuning. Why, this is evidence of design and a creator!” Then along comes the high energy physicist, and says, “No, this is exactly what you would expect if the Big Bang was followed a nano-nano-second later by an inflaton that expanded precisely 72 times. You, poor slob, were believing in a God-of-the-gaps, postulating God to fill that contingency when all along it was your ignorance of the inflaton that made you a believer. Now that we know about the inflaton, your assumption of an intervening intelligence is removed, and in such a manner all religion belief is and will be removed by increasing knowledge.”
So the sheepish George Murphy says, “Boy, I’m never going to be a dupe using that God-of-the-gaps argument again, I narrowly escaped becoming an atheist! So I’m going to resolve that henceforth I will reject any proof-of-God that relies on God doing something that science can detect. From now on, God will be indetectable, and my faith pure and unpolluted by the facts.”
Stephen Barr, a theoretical physicist and Thomist, says “Not so fast George. What are the requirements on that inflaton? Doesn’t it require a 1:10^72 tuning to overcome the 1:10^60 contingency of the Big Bang? How then has it removed any of the fine tuning it was employed to explain?” And Barr goes on to show that all these supposed “explanations” based on deeper symmetries raise even more questions about the origin of the symmetry than the thing they were explaining. Rather than explanations having “turtles all the way down,” theoretical physics shows that the turtles are getting smarter, and at some point they become archangels and after that, well, it looks like God again. So if we are trying to get rid of God by positing symmetry laws, we are merely postponing the inevitable.
Carbon 12, for the record, was the explanation for how the Sun burns helium by nuclear fusion. It turned out that C12 had an accidental resonance with Boron-8 which made it possible for stars to convert primordial hydrogen into the element which makes up most of life. Sir Fred Hoyle predicted this resonance based simply on the unusual abundance of C12 (the experimental discovery by Fowler led to a Nobel prize), and later remarked that if any coincidence would have converted him from a dedicated Democritean materialist, it would have been this observation. George Murphy is then referring to C12 as an example of a contingent, fine-tuning example.
Background: Christian evolutionists/Darwinists avoid these problems, however, by pointing out that evidence is superfluous to their God, who is so great that he need not exist. (Atheists agree with them and go merely one step further: God has actually dispensed with existing.)
In their view, the ID theorists – who attract the wrath of atheists – have themselves to thank for their trouble: They imagine a God so paltry, so unsatisfactory, that there is evidence in nature for his existence.