Teleological Argument Details

Cosmic Fine Tuning:

What is meant by "fine-tuning"? The physical laws of nature, when given mathematical expression contain various constants whose values are not determined by the laws themselves; a universe governed by such laws might be characterized by any of a wide range of values for these constants.

It's important to note that the fact the universe exists does not necessarily imply its life permissibility. Scientists once thought that whatever the initial conditions of the universe were, eventually the universe would evolve the complex life-forms we see today.

However, in the past 30 years, scientists have been stunned at how incredibly fine-tuned our universe had to be from the moment of the Big Bang in order to permit the origin and evolution of life. In the various fields of physics and astrophysics, classical cosmology, quantum mechanics, and biochemistry, discoveries have repeatedly disclosed that the existence of life depends on a delicate balance of physical constants and quantities. If these values and their proportion to one another were altered just a hair, the balance would be broken and life would not exist. In fact, the universe appears to have been incomprehensibly fine-tuned from the moment of its beginning to allow for the existence of intelligent life.

For example, changes in the gravitational force (F) or the electromagnetic force (G) by only one part in 10^40 would have precluded the existence of stars like the sun, making life impossible. A slight alteration in the speed of the expansion by only one part in a million million when the temperature of the universe was 10^10 degrees, the universe would have re-collapsed into a hot fireball. These are just a few examples of the many finely tuned constants and quantities.

Objection:

If the constants and quantities had assumed different values, then other forms of life might well have evolved.

This is not the case. By "life" scientist mean the property of organism to take in food, extract energy from it, grow, adapt to their environment, and reproduce. The point is that in order for the universe to permit life so defined, whatever form organisms might take, the constants and quantities have to be incomprehensibly fine-tuned. Without fine-tuning, not even atomic matter or chemistry would exist, not to mention planets where life might evolve!

The argument can be summarized as follows:

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance
  3. Therefore, it is due to design

Physical Necessity:

According to this conclusion, the constants and quantities must have the values they do and there was really no chance or little chance of the universe's not being life-permitting. In other words, it requires us to believe that it's impossible to have a life-prohibiting universe. But just think about it, if the primordial matter and anti-matter had been differently proportioned, if the universe had expanded just a little more slowly, if the entropy of the universe were marginally greater, any of these adjustments would have prevented a life-permitting universe.

Chance:

This alternative holds that all the physical constants and quantities each assumed their values by chance thus rendering a life-permitting universe. British physicist, John Barrow, gives us a great illustration. Imagine a red dot on a piece of paper and let it represent our universe. Now tweak some of the initial conditions just a bit and let that represent another universe. If it is life-permitting, put a red dot; if it is life-prohibiting, put a blue dot. Then repeat this over and over again until the sheet of paper is covered with dots. The result? You end up with a sea of blue and only a few red dots. This illustrations shows how the existence of a life-permitting universe is incomprehensibly improbable.


Objections:

The existence of any universe is equally improbable and yet some universe must exist. The fine-tuning is said to be like in a lottery in which any individual's winning is fantastical and equally improbable but the fact remains that some one has to win. Thus, just as the winner should not conclude that the lottery must be rigged just because he/she won, so we should not conclude there is a cosmic designer just because our universe exists.

The fallacy in this reasoning is that we are not trying to explain the existence of our universe; rather it is the existence of a life-permitting universe that demands an explanation. We're not asking why our dot exists but why a red dot exists. Thus, a better analogy would be a lottery in which a billion, billion, billion, billion black balls are mixed in with one white ball. Each ball has an equal probability of being picked but it is overwhelmingly more probably that you should pick a black one than a white. Blind-folded, you are told that your life depends on you picking out the white ball. Now if you somehow managed to pick out the one and only white ball you'd probably think the whole thing was rigged! If you are still skeptical just imagine that you now have to do pull it out 3 times in a row in order to stave off execution. Similarly, the existence of any particular universe is equally improbably, but it is overwhelmingly more probable that whichever universe exists will be life-prohibiting rather than life-permitting. So much for chance!

What about the "Many Worlds" Hypothesis?

According to this hypothesis, our universe is just one of an infinite collection of universes, all of which are real, actually existing universes, not merely possible universes. Thus, somewhere in this world ensemble there will appear by chance alone finely tuned universes like ours.

  1. Ockam's Razor - It is simpler to postulate one cosmic designer than to postulate an infinite collection of universes required by the many world's hypothesis
  2. There is no way of generating a world ensemble. No one has been able to explain how or why such varied collection of universes should exist. Moreover, attempts that have been made require fine-tuning themselves.
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