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Cosmos is fine-tuned to permit human life (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Cosmos is fine-tuned to permit human life (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CI301:

The cosmos is fine-tuned to permit human life. If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, life would be impossible. (This claim is also known as the weak anthropic principle.)

Source: Ross, Hugh, 1994. Astronomical evidences for a personal, transcendent God. In: The Creation Hypothesis, J. P. Moreland, ed., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, pp. 141-172.


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. The claim assumes life in its present form is a given; it applies not to life but to life only as we know it.

This assumes that different types of life exist, something for which there is absolutely no evidence.

The only kind of life we can speak of is that which we know is feasible. Anything else belongs to the purely speculative, and is from the domain of science fiction, fantasy, fairy tales, and comic books, but not real science.

The same outcome results if life is fine-tuned to the cosmos.

Not really. A number of fundamental constants need be very close to the observed values, or life is impossible.

We do not know what fundamental conditions would rule out any possibility of any life. For all we know, there might be intelligent beings in another universe arguing that if fundamental constants were only slightly different, then the absence of free quarks and the extreme weakness of gravity would make life impossible.

But there is absolutely no evidence that such intelligent beings exist, nor that any such universe exists, nor that any such universe could exist.

In fact, the idea of the anthropic principle is precisely that anything even comparable to life as we know it, including such imaginary beings, could not exist in any other universe where even one of the referenced values was different. The strong gravity, for example, in most physicist cosmologies, would cause a rapid implosion of the universe.

Indeed, many examples of fine-tuning are evidence that life is fine-tuned to the cosmos, not vice versa. This is exactly what evolution proposes.

This is a baseless claim. It is vague, and void any examples.

2. If the universe is fine-tuned for life, why is life such an extremely rare part of it?

This is irrelevant. Even if God created a universe consisting of only one organism, the rest of that universe would exist to make that one organism possible.

If you admit that life is rare, then you should agree that it is unusual, or an unexpected occurrence, which should cause a curious scientist to look for good reason for why humans would be so specially required in the process, rather than to automatically attempt to dismiss and "explain-away" the implied significance of this strangeness that a physics principle is telling you something about.

3. Many fine-tuning claims are based on numbers being the "same order of magnitude," but this phrase gets stretched beyond its original meaning to buttress design arguments; sometimes numbers more than one-thousandfold different are called the same order of magnitude (Klee 2002).

The cited article is not freely available, as such investigating this claim is not practical. A few examples would help. Actually it is not the exact range that defines fine tuning, but the probability of getting in the right range.

How fine is "fine" anyway? That question can only be answered by a human judgment call, which reduces or removes objective value from the anthropic principle argument.

In this case "fine" means close enough that the odds of getting into the right range are astronomically small. Mathematicians that specialize in probability theory have come to equate certain tiny probabilities as equivalent to saying "impossible".

The fine-tuning claim is weakened by the fact that some physical constants are dependent on others, so the anthropic principle may rest on only a very few initial conditions that are really fundamental (Kane et al. 2000).

This argument assumes that string theory is correct. The paper's abstract says:

We argue that if' string theory as an approach to the fundamental laws of physics is correct, then there is almost no room for anthropic arguments in cosmology. The quark and lepton masses and interaction strengths are determined.

This paper is setting up an if condition, that if wrong voids the argument: that string theory is correct. There are plenty of reasons to question string theory, including the fact that it is currently untestable.

It is further weakened by the fact that different initial conditions sometimes lead to essentially the same outcomes, as with the initial mass of stars and their formation of heavy metals (Nakamura et al. 1997),

This is only a problem for progressive creationists like Hugh Ross, who assume the Big Bang. It is not a problem for Young Earth Creationists, since they disagree with the Big Bang cosmology.

It actually weakens the Big bang since a larger range of calculated values for the initial mass function of so called 1st generation stars, now it's the Big bang, making it less testable.

that the tuning may not be very fine, as with the resonance window for helium fusion within the sun.

Talk Origins seems to have a good point with resonance window for helium fusion, but so what? As new discoveries are made some anthropic values are expected to fall by the way side, as well as new ones being added, such is the nature of science.

5. If part of the universe were not suitable for life, we would not be here to think about it.

While true, it does nothing to explain why part of the universe is suitable for life, so that we are here to think about it.

There is nothing to rule out the possibility of multiple universes, most of which would be unsuitable for life. We happen to find ourselves in one where life is conveniently possible because we cannot very well be anywhere else.

There is also no evidence that multiple universes exist, nor can there be any. This is the most convenient just so story ever invented by evolutionists, since it is a logical black hole into which any problem of improbability for Evolution can simply be thrown, to make it go away.

6. The anthropic principle is an argument against an omnipotent creator. If God can do anything, he could create life in a universe whose conditions do not allow for it.

This is preposterous. Yes, God could have create life in a universe totally incompatible with it, but the fact that he did not is not an argument against His existence. The fact that God can do something does not require Him to do it. Besides if He had done it that way, Talk Origins would be arguing that the universe's incompatibility with life "is an argument against an omnipotent creator."

Actually, in one way God did "create life in a universe whose conditions do not allow for it." That is, He created life in a universe where it could not arise by chance or natural causes. So He created life in a universe where it is possible, but would be impossible without Him.


See Also