What explains the fine tuning of the Universe?

Second in series 20 Atheist answers to questions they supposedly can’t.

2. What explains the fine tuning of the universe?

Short answer: There’s no rigorous way to define fine tuning that’s hospitable to a fine tuning argument. Even if there were, a multiverse ensemble would be about as good an explanation as Theism.[ref] Another move atheist could make is to ‘trump’ fine tuning with an argument from evil. For even if it is the case that a fine tuned universe alone would support theism, it might be that further knowledge (it is fine tuned but has lots of evil in) will support atheism, in a similar way that knowing the accused was in the house at the time of the murder is some evidence for his guilt, but finding out he was locked in the basement is evidence for his innocence. (cf. Draper’s work on this). [/ref]

Long answer: The fine tuning or teleological argument has had a long and august history, and it has a new lease of life due to modern scientific discovery. For a variety of parameters (the gravitational constant, the cosmological constant, and so on) any slight deviation from their actual values would, as far as we can work out, lead to a universe where intelligent life is impossible. So surely this is a cosmological watch for want of a watchmaker? Continue reading “What explains the fine tuning of the Universe?”

Fine tuning, a dialogue

Revised from this:

Scene setting

Charles: Consider our universe. It seems to be precisely tuned for life. Were its initial parameters even slightly different, the universe would have no stars, or no matter, or collapse in on itself a moment after it arose, amongst many other life denying fates.

It would be strange if this ‘just so happened’ in a purposeless, undesigned way. That out of all the possibilities, we landed on the one that permitted life. Theism (and other more ‘anthropocentric’ hypotheses, admittedly) provide a much more plausible explanation for the data. Because God wanted living beings, he would make a life-permitting universe. It makes a much better fit for the facts.

Debbie: How are you constructing this sort of inference? I can see ways you can do it, but what do you have in mind? Continue reading “Fine tuning, a dialogue”