Friday, December 18, 2009

The Fine-Tuning Argument for the Existence of God

This argument affirms that this universe must have been designed by a supreme Intelligence. Everything is just too elegant, harmonious, and life-supporting! It’s just tailor-made for us! However, one atheist informed me, “The fine-tuning argument is insufficient to require a supernatural force at the onset of the universe. The physical laws of the universe are what they are.”

On the contrary, it appears that our physical laws are all calibrated in just the right way to support the very existence of the universe, let alone life. In this regard, the atheist astronomer Martin Rees writes,

“These six numbers [physical constants] constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign Creator?” (“Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe,” (Basic Books: 2001)

For instance, according to Walter L. Bradley, Professor of Engineering at Baylor University, “The strong force: (the force that binds nucleons (= protons and neutrons) together in nucleus, by means of meson exchange)

If the strong force constant were 2% stronger, there would be no stable hydrogen, no long-lived stars, no hydrogen containing compounds. This is because the single proton in hydrogen would want to stick to something else so badly that there would be no hydrogen left!

• If the strong force constant were 5% weaker, there would be no stable stars, few (if any) elements besides hydrogen. This is because you would be able to build up the nuclei of the heavier elements, which contain more than 1 proton.…So, whether you adjust the strong force up or down, you lose stars than can serve as long-term sources of stable energy, or you lose chemical diversity, which is necessary to make beings that can perform the minimal requirements of living beings.”

All astro-physicists seem to agree that our fine-tuned physical laws are necessary for life. John Wheeler, formerly Professor of Physics at Princeton, writes,

“Is man an unimportant bit of dust on an unimportant planet in an unimportant galaxy somewhere in the vastness of space? No! The necessity to produce life lies at the center of the universe's whole machinery and design.....Slight variations in physical laws such as gravity or electromagnetism would make life impossible.”

Bradley concludes, “When cosmological models were first developed in the mid-twentieth century, cosmologists naively assumed that the selection of a given set of constants was not critical to the formation of a suitable habitat for life. Through subsequent parametric studies that varied those constants, scientists now know that relatively small changes in any of the constants produce a dramatically different universe and one that is not hospitable to life of any imaginable type.”

Where does this leave atheism and naturalism? It seems that they have only one recourse – the existence of an infinite number of universes! I think that Tim Folger, writing for “Discover Magazine,” sums it up nicely:

“Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life….The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non¬religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life. (“The Multiverse Theory,” Dec. 2008)

However, even if there were an infinite number of universes, thereby making it reasonable that our own fortuitous one could just happen, many problems are created by such a solution – What generates all of these universes with their laws? What keeps them separated so that they don’t collides and self-destruct? What maintains the constants in the midst of all the molecules-in-motion? Besides, there’s no scientific evidence for even a second universe, let alone millions of them. In view of all the evidence of fine-tuning, Wheeler concludes,

• “The design requirements for our universe are like a chain of 1000 links. If any link breaks, we do not have a less optimal universe for life -- we have a universe incapable of sustaining life! …I must conclude that it takes a great deal more faith to believe in an accidental universe than to believe in an intelligent creator, or God who crafted such a marvelous universe and beautiful place of habitation in planet Earth, and then created life (including human beings) to occupy it.”

Perhaps, therefore, the Biblical assertion that God made everything is not unreasonable – far more reasonable than the bland assertion that the laws just “are what they are!”

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