The fallacy of fine tuning part


The claim that certain fundamental constants of nature are fine tuned for life and that this provides strong evidence for supernatural design is perhaps the best scientific argument for the existence of God since Paley’s watch. Even atheist physicists find these so called “anthropic coincidences” difficult to explain and need to invoke the Weak Anthropic Principle and multiple universes to do so. Certainly if there are many universes, fine tuning is simple. Our form of life was fined tuned to our universe by evolution. While multiple universes are expected from modern cosmological theories, theists and some scientists object that invoking the unobservable is not science. Of course, God is unobservable too, so the best theists can claim is a standoff. This is the first in a series of columns based on a book in the works that attempts to show that the apparent fine tuning of fundamental constants can be understood from basic physics without invoking multiple universes. In some cases the explanation is provable. In other cases, it is not provable but plausible. Fine tuning by design is a God of the Gaps argument. The proponent has the burden if proving that no possible natural explanation can be found. Thus a plausible natural explanation is sufficient to defeat the argument. A list of thirty four parameters that seem to be fine tuned has been assembled by Rich Deem on the God and Science website. Several of Deem’s constants, such as the speed of light in a vacuum, c, Newton’s constant of gravity, G, and Planck’s constant, h, are just arbitrary numbers that are determined simply by the unit system you are using. They can be set equal to any number you want, except zero, with no impact on the physics. So no fine tuning can possibly be involved, just as the number p is not fine tuned. I will focus first on the five parameters that have the most significance because, if interpreted correctly, they seem to pretty much rule out almost any conceivable kind of life without fine tuning: · Ratio of electrons to protons · Ratio of electromagnetic force to gravity Expansion rate of the universe · Mass density of the universe · Cosmological constant I will admit that the features a universe would have for slightly different values of these parameters, all other parameters remaining the same, would render unlikely any form of life even remotely like ours, that is, one that is based on a lengthy process, chemical or otherwise, by which complex matter evolved from simpler matter. Let me discuss each in turn, with the last, the most difficult, reserved for a future column..



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