Thoughts on the “Fine Tuning” Argument

I’ve been watching several debates on Youtube lately including this one where the christian debater has used the fine tuning argument as proof that the god of the bible exists.  Admittedly, in the video linked to above, David Wood wasn’t necessarily trying to argue for the christian god, but as John Loftus pointed out, that’s the god he believes in, so obviously, that’s the god he is arguing for, whether overtly or not.  I’ve also seen this argument used by others, including William Lane Craig, and Lee Strobel in his book, The Case for a Creator.

If you’re not familiar with the fine tuning argument, let me give a brief overview: the universe, and specifically our planet, have all of the features necessary for life.  If any of the laws of physics, amount of gravity, chemical properties, etc. were even slightly different, life could not exist.  Thus it seems that our universe, and specifically our planet, was fine tuned by a creator for us and life in general.  Through a series of additional arguments those who use this argument work out that this points to the god of the bible existing and being all that they say he is.  A more thorough explanation of this line of reasoning is presented here, directly from their pen.

After hearing and reading this argument several times, I finally figured out what is wrong with it, as well as the use of evolutionary theory to bolster christian claims.  I will detail two of the reasons why these claims do not work.

1. The fine tuning argument used by christians is backward.  They say that the fact that the universe is perfect for life demonstrates that god must have created the universe for life.  I, however, think it would be better stated that life in our universe, and specifically on our planet, is a function of the laws, chemical properties, amount of gravity, etc. of our universe and planet.  That is, because of these features of our universe and planet, the life that developed is the way it is.  not the other way around as the christians claim.  If life has developed on another planet, it probably looks different than our own, but follows all of the same laws.  If the multiverse theory is correct and there is life in another universe with different laws, chemical makeup, and gravity, that life will follow the laws of that universe.  It will be fundamentally different than our own because it has to be a function of that universe.  Who knows what other types of life may be out there, such as this, that look nothing like life as we know it, dispelling the fine tuning argument.  Fine tuning says that the universe was created the way it is for life, but I think it is better explained that life developed the way it did because of the way the universe is.

2. Even if the universe was created the way it is to support life as we know it, that doesn’t necessarily lead to the god of the bible.  In fact, it cannot lead to the faith of the bible.  The bible details creation as happening in six days, as shown in Genesis 1.  We know the six day creation cannot be taken figuratively when we read verses such as Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21 where the new testament author takes the Genesis account as literal (let bible interpret bible, as they say).  The fine tuning argument relies on acceptance of the modern scientific theory of the Big Bang.  The biblical accounts of creation are completely incongruous with the Big Bang theory, and thus the fine tuning argument.  Now that I think about it, it is seriously unauthentic for christians to resort to the fine tuning argument, since the bible cannot be reconciled with modern science in this aspect.  You cannot accept the doctrine of biblical inerrancy at the same time that you accept the idea of fine tuning, although some like William Lane Craig try to by redefining inerrancy.  These two ideas are mutually exclusive.

I think this is just one example of a system of faith evolving to try and stay relevant to its adherents.  After Darwin published his research, christians published The Fundamentals as a response to Scientific findings like Darwinism, modernity, and liberal christian theology.  Back then, many of these christians absolutely denied the theory of evolution and would go on to deny the Big Bang as being incompatible with their christian beliefs.  Over time, however, science wins out and christians must find a way to incorporate the scientific findings that disagree with their religion into their religion, even if they have to come up with a pseudo-scientific version of the science in order to do this.  We know, however, that the christian answer of using this pseudo-science, such as the fine tuning argument, are in fact not real science.  None of the “science” they offer as proof of their arguments and positions has ever been published by any reputable peer reviewed journal, thus it is not, per se, science, and cannot authentically be used as real proof of any of their positions.

So there you have it.  The fine tuning argument does not work.


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