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Universal fine-tuning – quotes and references

August 30th, 2014

Galaxy

I seem to be getting into quite a few discussions about universal fine-tuning lately. Only recently I discussed the argument for the existence of God based on the science of fine-tuning, and before that I discussed the science.

Here, I want to give some quotes and references to cosmologists who have written on this topic.

Cosmologists and fine-tuning

I am not a scientist, and certainly not a cosmologist. But I have been interested in astronomy and cosmology since I was a teen, and I have read a little on the subject.

All of the scientists I reference here are some of the most respected scientists in their field. None of them is a christian or theist, as far as I can find out – all are fairly agnostic about God.

Martin Rees

“These six numbers 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.”

Just Six Numbers. Martin Rees is an eminent British cosmologist with a raft of awards. He goes on to discuss the possibilities to explain this, and suggests the multiverse.

“If we modify the value of one of the fundamental constants, something invariably goes wrong, leading to a universe that is inhospitable to life as we know it …The conditions in our universe really do seem to be uniquely suitable for life forms like ourselves.”

Cosmic Coincidences, Martin Rees and John Gribbin

Leonard Susskind

“can science explain the extraordinary fact that the universe appears to be uncannily, nay, spectacularly well-designed for our own existence? ….. to make the first 119 decimal places of the vacuum energy zero is almost certainly no accident.”

The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design. Leonard Susskind is Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford, and an expert on string theory. He too believes the multiverse is the best scientific explanation of fine-tuning.

Paul Davies

“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming”

The Mind of God. Paul Davies is an English physicist and prolific writer who later wrote The Goldilocks Enigma. He seems to lean towards the multiverse as a scientific explanation, but says “it falls short of a complete explanation of existence…. The problem has simply been shifted up a level from the laws of the universe to the meta-laws of the multiverse.”

“There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the universe is in several respects ‘fine-tuned’ for life … the conclusion is not so much that the universe is fine-tuned for life; rather it is fine-tuned for the building blocks and environments that life requires”

Wikipedia

Roger Penrose

“This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123. This is an extraordinary figure…. But why was the big bang so precisely organised ….. ?”

The Emperor’s New Mind. Roger Penrose was Professor of Mathematics at Oxford and worked with Stephen Hawking. His use of the word “Creator” was (I believe) metaphorical.

Fred Hoyle

“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so over-whelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

The Universe: Past and Present Reflections. Fred Hoyle was Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge, the originator of the term “big bang” and the discoverer of carbon resonance in supernova, a key example of fine-tuning.

Lee Smolin

“Perhaps before going further we should ask just how probable is it that a universe created by randomly choosing the parameters will contain stars. Given what we have already said, it is simple to estimate this probability. For those readers who are interested, the arithmetic is in the notes. The answer, in round numbers, comes to about one chance in 10229.”

Life of the Cosmos. Lee Smolin is an American theoretical physicist.

Luke Barnes

“a number of authors have noticed that very small changes in the laws, parameters and initial conditions of physics would result in a universe unable to evolve and support intelligent life…. In the set of possible physics, the subset that permit the evolution of life is very small.”

The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life. Luke Barnes is a postdoctoral researcher at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney. This paper is the most up-to-date review I can find of the scientific literature on this topic.

In this paper Barnes references about 200 scientific papers and lists more than 20 of the most eminent cosmologists and theoretical physicists who support his conclusions on fine-tuning. In In Defence of The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life, Barnes provides quotes from 7 eminent cosmologists (including Rees, Susskind and Smolin quoted here, plus Wilczek, Hawking, Guth and Linde) in support.

Conclusion

The majority of cosmologists believe the physics (the laws and numbers) behind our universe is amazingly unusual, and this is immensely improbable if this was left to chance and this was the only universe.

Most believe that the only viable scientific explanation is the multiverse – the hypothesis that there are or have been zillions of universes, most of them sterile and short-lived, and ours is an extremely rare occurrence. But many admit that the multiverse cannot be demonstrated or observed, and may never be more than a hypothesis, and Barnes sets out a series of problems facing those who wish to develop the hypothesis.

Davies and others point out that if we explain the fine-tuning of our universe in this way, we then have to explain how the multiverse is so fine-tuned that it can produce zillions of universes with different properties. This ‘higher level’ fine-tuning is more difficult to analyse because we cannot observe the multiverse or even know for sure if we are part of one.

All these conclusions are scientific, and don’t necessarily point to God. Several of these writers discuss the possibility of God being the cause of the fine-tuning, but as this isn’t a scientific question, none of them (that I am aware) draw strong conclusions about God’s existence or non-existence.

But any discussion of fine-tuning and God should start with these scientific conclusions.

Read more

Picture: NASA.

23 Comments

  1. Peace! Some have posted that things just came into existence as the result of the BIG BANG, but the first “LAW” of thermodynamics says that matter cannot be created or destroyed, yet it was. Some say that all matter came from a single point in our universe; can you imagine that billions upon billions of GALAXIES came into existence from one single point, that all matter blew up and made perfection, and that life came from inanimate material? On the other hand, the Bible has never been proven wrong! Empirical data is what God does! Prophecy about the coming of Jesus, God in the flesh, all came true. All the Bible stories have been proven true; archaology proves it by what they have unearthed and what still exists today, like Noah’s ark on Mt. Ararat, exactly where the Bible said it would be, after the flood. Some, here, have said that “multi-verses” make the most sense, yet THERE IS NO EMPIRICAL DATA TO PROVE THIS! I am very surprised that this “theory” could even be a consideration for the simple fact that scientists are so big on EMPIRICAL DATE. I’d love to share ides with you so please write to me at canddwiner@gmail.com and/or visit my website at http://www.afreetickettoheaven.com BE BLESSED!

  2. “But any discussion of fine-tuning and God should start with these scientific conclusions.”

    I also feel that any discussion regarding design (a.k.a. fine-tuning) and God should start with the one who argues for God because of the fine-tuning making a distinction between what he/she believes is designed and what is not designed. For instance, does the one making the fine-tuning argument believe that the universe and the life in it are designed?

  3. Hi Terrell, I presume anyone making the argument would believe in the conclusion. But many people discuss the argument who don’t accept the conclusion. But I think all should start with the scientific conclusions.

  4. The scientific evidence is relevant. However, one’s conception of design is just as relevant. Perhaps even more crucial than the scientific evidence. We can presume that the one making the argument believes that the universe is designed but that leaves the other half of the question unanswered. The arguer should also answer if they believe that life is designed as well. Since you were the one who did make the argument, do you believe that life is also fine-tuned or teleologically designed?

  5. Hi Terrell, this post isn’t about the fine-tuning argument, but about the science, so I will be brief. Since the fine-tuning argument doesn’t depend on whether life is designed or not, it doesn’t really matter. My own view is that God created the universe with the physical laws and settings that he knew would result in human life.

  6. I think you are mistaken in thinking that the fine-tuning argument (an argument from design) does not depend on whether life is designed or not. Allow me to explain. When people say something is designed they usually imply that something is not designed and you stated that you use design in the usual sense so this leads me to wonder what you believe isn’t designed if you claim that the universe is designed. Since you claim that the universe is designed for life then it only makes sense for me to ask you if you believe life is designed. If you wish not to answer this question here I hope I could post this question on one of your other blogs if you could simply tell me where.

  7. Thanks Eva, it’s now fixed.

    Terrell, the argument works exactly the same whether life is designed or not, so it doesn’t matter. And I answered your question, I think God set up the laws so life would occur the way he wanted it. Do you regard that as designed or not designed?

  8. Shalom and peace to y’all! It is very simple, isn’t it! Everything in our environment had to be fine-tuned and made for life, or if life came first, it could not survice. If plants, animals, insects, and human beings came into a hostile environment (no air or water, etc.) we would all perish before we even had a chance to live here! It is also very simple to see that evolution is not possible. Let’s say that one-celled organism was smart enough to evolve into another life form for example. That one-celled organism (OCO)would have to evolve into a male and a female of that new specie at exactly the same time to bring forth that new life form. How in the world can anyone believe that a OCO could do that all by itself, when that OCO is neither male nor female. That would be as ridiculous as thinking that a sperm and an egg could unite and make a being with neither male or female reproductive organs. God, the designer and Creator of all, made everything “according to its own kind.” We have proof of that simply because that is exactly what all life forms do; they reproduce! Another impossibility for evolution is the theory of “survival of the fittest.” If that were so, there would be no lower life forms, simply because they would have been overcome by the new and stronger life form, but they are all still here, including the OCO. Go figure. Just take a look at DNA and see how God, the ultimate designer, made this incredibly intricate blueprint, if you will, that makes every cell fall into place upon conception! Wow! Did that OCO make DNA? I DON’T THINK SOOOOO! Well, y’all be blessed and have an awesome day. I know that my God and my Savior lives! How about you?

  9. It does matter if life was designed or not because if you believe that life and the universe is designed then you are claiming that the environment and the entities in it are both designed which is claiming that everything is designed. If everything is designed then the concept of design is unintelligible because you have destroyed the ability to distinguish between design and non-design. Being able to refer to a non-design is a huge part of recognizing design but claiming that everything is designed eliminates that capability which leaves us impotent in our ability to determine what a design looks like. It’s sort of like arguing that cars are designed for humans but also claiming that humans are designed for cars which makes no sense. It is one or the other. If one claims that life isn’t intentionally designed then that throws a huge wrench into Christian theology. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  10. Hi Terrell,

    We have discussed all this before without reaching even understanding, let alone agreement. There’s a lot of convoluted argument in your comment which I can see no reason to believe is relevant or true, I’m sorry, but I don’t propose to go over it all again.

    May I simply repeat what I said last comment: I think God set up the physical laws so life would occur the way he wanted it. Do you regard that as designed or not designed?

  11. No. I believe calling God a designer renders design unintelligible so I wouldn’t call God a designer in any meaningful sense. Could you answer my questions now? Could we talk about the implications of the conclusion of the fine-tuning argument since you wish not to talk about the argument? I am simply asking if you believe that life and the universe is designed by God? Do you believe design conveys that there is non-design? There is nothing convoluted about those questions. Very simple questions.

  12. Hi Terrell, since you believe the idea of God being a designer is unintelligible, and I have seen no good reason to think that, we are at the same impasse we were at before. But to answer your question, I don’t think anything is 100% designed. There are always random elements and people’s choices as well as design. The further away we are from the design (in terms of causes), the more likely choice and randomness play a bigger part.

  13. Of course you don’t believe what I believe but it seems that your notion of design is so vague that one can say anything is designed. What stops me from me from saying that the universe is designed so that fart jokes exist? Since we are at an impasse then I will just ask you questions regarding this topic. Before that I would like to clarify what I mean when I talk about design. I am not arguing with you. I am simply explaining myself. With that said, I do not except a refutation. I simply want to be clear and I also would like to share a different perspective since arguing about it hasn’t helped much during our dialogue regarding design. Surely, others reading this blog could learn something from my response.

    From here on I will be using the term design in the teleological or intentional sense. I believe that design implies that there is non-design. For instance, when I say that a dam is designed I am implying that the river is not designed. Likewise, when I say that a particular medicine is designed to combat Ebola I am implying that Ebola isn’t designed. However, one could refute this by stating that there are things that are designed for other things that are designed. For example, gasoline is designed for fuel for cars which are also designed. This is true but one would not conclude that the oil from which the gasoline is created out of and the metals that the car are made out of are designed. In this sense there are non-designed objects that one compares to designed objects which play a role in enabling us to recognize something that is and isn’t designed. The same way that knowing what is designed implies knowing what is not designed is the same way that knowing what health is like implies knowing what being sick is like.

    It seems strange that you state that you do not believe that anything is 100% designed. Does this include the parameters of the universe? If so then what parameters are not designed and how can you tell?

    You also state that this:

    “There are always random elements and people’s choices as well as design. The further away we are from the design (in terms of causes), the more likely choice and randomness play a bigger part.”

    However, this in no way tells me how you tell the difference between design and non-design. You essentially just asserted that design is different from non-design (i.e. randomness/people’s choices). I agree that there is a difference but I’m asking you how you tell the difference; not that there is a difference. I’m asking you how you can tell the difference between random elements/people’s choices and design. I’m asking you how you determine that we are further away from design. I’m asking how you know that choice and randomness are playing a bigger part in any given scenario rather than design. The key word is how. With this said, how do you tell the difference between design and non-design? What enables you to recognize the difference between chance, necessity, and design? If you conclude design merely based on the improbability of chance and necessity then what stops one from positing that everything is designed since everything being the way they are is highly improbable? What are the chances that a specific neutrino would pass through my body at this very exact time and place out of all the possible outcomes that could have occurred? There is no reason I could not conclude that it was by design simply because the specific neutrino passing through my body at this specific time and in this specific location in the universe is so improbable to occur by chance or necessity that the most reasonable conclusion is that it must have been by design, right? If my assessment is incorrect then why is my assessment incorrect?

    I would also like to know if you specifically believe that life is designed. I can’t tell from your response. Do you believe life is designed by God? How much of life do you believe is designed by God?

  14. Hi Terrell, I feel we are now going over old ground, but I will try to answer your questions briefly.

    “It seems strange that you state that you do not believe that anything is 100% designed.”

    All I mean is that there is some degree of randomness in almost everything. For instance, an architect may design and fully specify a building, but he doesn’t specify or control it down to the atomic level, or even down to all individual components like which individual brick should be laid next).

    “Does this include the parameters of the universe? If so then what parameters are not designed and how can you tell?”

    I don’t know – how could I? The cosmologists tell us they couldn’t have arisen totally by chance. That is enough. They also calculate a small range of each one that “works”, so they could have been random within that range, how would I know?

    “I’m asking you how you can tell the difference between random elements/people’s choices and design”

    Clearly in some cases I can tell and some cases I can’t. In the case of cosmology, I rely on the cosmologists who have done the theoretical physics.

    “Do you believe life is designed by God? How much of life do you believe is designed by God?”

    I believe the cosmological evidence points to the universe being designed by God to allow human life to form. I have no way of knowing whether he specified us to be about 1.5m-2m tall, have hair on our heads, have 46 chromosomes, etc, or whether some of these were random. Clearly some aspects of life are not specified by him (e.g. that I once told a lie).

    Thanks again.

  15. “All I mean is that there is some degree of randomness in almost everything. For instance, an architect may design and fully specify a building, but he doesn’t specify or control it down to the atomic level, or even down to all individual components like which individual brick should be laid next).”

    Of course an architect doesn’t control its design down to the atomic level. The architect isn’t omnipotent. However, the same cannot be said of God. This leaves one to wonder how you can tell if anything physical in the universe is or isn’t designed if the being you believe designed the universe can design the universe down to the atomic level and beyond.

    I’m really confused. I thought the cosmologists said it was unlikely that the universe is that way it is if only by chance when you stated this:

    “The majority of cosmologists believe the physics (the laws and numbers) behind our universe is amazingly unusual, and this is immensely improbable if this was left to chance and this was the only universe.”

    Now you are saying that cosmologists are saying that it couldn’t have come about by chance when you stated this:

    “The cosmologists tell us they couldn’t have arisen totally by chance.”

    Which one is it? There is a distinct difference between something being improbable and something that couldn’t occur.

    Furthermore, you stated this:

    “My own view is that God created the universe with the physical laws and settings that he knew would result in human life.”

    This statement seems odd because God could make human life exists no matter what physical laws and physical settings the universe followed unless you are admitting that God is physically limited. In other words, God knew no matter what physical universe obtained.

    Furthermore, when I’m talking about the universe being designed or not designed I’m talking in terms of the physical universe being that your argument pertains to the fine-tuning of physical universe. I’m not talking about the action of lying. That has nothing to do with fine-tuning or cosmology which is what your argument talks about. This is why I am skeptical of your design argument because what you believe to have designed the universe entails that this designer designed or did not design so much that goes beyond the fine-tuning of the universe to the point that you are arguing that lies are not designed by God. Well, what else isn’t? How do you know what is and isn’t designed by God if it entails knowing that something as mundane as lying isn’t designed? What are the mundane things that are designed?

    If you can’t tell the difference between the physical parameters that are designed and the ones that are not designed then why even accept that any of the parameters are designed? It seems absurd that you conclude that the universe’s laws and settings are designed yet turn around and claim that you have no idea which laws and settings are designed. It seems that you don’t really know what you are talking about.

    “Clearly in some cases I can tell and some cases I can’t. In the case of cosmology, I rely on the cosmologists who have done the theoretical physics.”

    You still have not answered the question. You being able to tell in some cases and not being able to tell in other cases does not tell me how you can tell what is and isn’t designed. does theoretical physics help you tell what is and isn’t designed by God?

    It seems that you have little reason to believe the universe is designed besides the improbability of the universe being the way it is (you have not even told me how you recognize design). If that is the case then why can’t I conclude that anything is designed since it seems that almost everything seems very unlikely? For instance, it seems so unlikely that a particular photon from the sun would bounce off the piece of waste my dog left in the lawn so it must have occurred by design, right?

  16. Hi Terrell, I think you are still missing the central point.

    “This leaves one to wonder how you can tell if anything physical in the universe is or isn’t designed if the being you believe designed the universe can design the universe down to the atomic level and beyond.”

    He could, but I am not saying that. Just like the architect, God could design the cosmic laws, without specifying the location of every atom at every point in time. And fine-tuning of the laws is all that is claimed by the fine-tuning argument. I don’t have to be able to know what else is designed. Do you understand that?

    “I’m really confused. I thought the cosmologists said it was unlikely that the universe is that way it is if only by chance”
    “Now you are saying that cosmologists are saying that it couldn’t have come about by chance”
    “Which one is it? There is a distinct difference between something being improbable and something that couldn’t occur.”

    Yes there is a difference, but in this case the difference is small, but I’m sorry if I was imprecise. The majority of cosmologists say the probability of fine-tuning occurring by chance is exceedingly small, and therefore can effectively be ruled out. So both statements are effectively true, though the more accurate statement is the probability one.

    “This statement seems odd because God could make human life exists no matter what physical laws and physical settings the universe followed unless you are admitting that God is physically limited. In other words, God knew no matter what physical universe obtained.”

    Maybe so, maybe not. But it isn’t important. All I am saying is that God did in fact choose universal parameters that he knew would result in carbon based intelligent life – i.e. humans.

    “Well, what else isn’t? How do you know what is and isn’t designed by God if it entails knowing that something as mundane as lying isn’t designed? What are the mundane things that are designed?”

    I’m sorry Terrell, but this is a very tortuous argument here and I don’t understand it. Like I said before, all this argument uses is the cosmic laws and constants – whatever else may or may not be designed, and whether we can tell, are all irrelevant to this argument.

    ” It seems absurd that you conclude that the universe’s laws and settings are designed yet turn around and claim that you have no idea which laws and settings are designed. It seems that you don’t really know what you are talking about.”

    My answer remains the same. There are many, many laws and constants in all of science, and I don’t know how they all relate, and which ones depend on others, etc. But in the case of cosmology, I rely on the cosmologists who have done the theoretical physics. Read the Luke Barnes paper or the Martin Rees book I have referenced and they will tell you a number of parameters (maybe a dozen or so) that the science shows are finely tuned. That is all this argument requires. It doesn’t matter about the rest.

    “It seems that you have little reason to believe the universe is designed besides the improbability of the universe being the way it is “

    I have two reasons, and they are both in the argument. (1) It is improbable that the universe was this way by chance. (2) It is improbable the universe was this way by necessity.

    It seems your objections come down to these two things:

    1. You argue about what else in the universe is designed when this is irrelevant to this argument. It is based on the universal constants.

    2. You object to the conclusion that there are only 3 possibilities, (1) necessity, if not necessity then (2) random chance or (3) some form of purpose or design, yet you cannot show either logically or empirically that there could be any other option.

    I really think if you want to argue against the fine-tuning argument, you need to understand and address these two matters. Thanks.

  17. The problem with your analogy involving the architect is that the architect is not just like God. In fact, the architect in your analogy is virtually nothing like God. The architect cannot control the environment down to the atomic level. The architect did not create the laws of the universe. The architect was not omnipotent or omniscient and already existed in a physical environment. The problem is that fine-tuning only makes sense if no omnipotent or omniscient being created the universe yet you are claiming the exact opposite. How in the world does one tell that the universe is in fact fine-tuned by God if God can make life arise in any physical universe that obtains? In other words, no matter how much the universe appears to be not designed you could still conclude that God designed it. How can you not realize how unintelligible this notion of design is? God could have created a single black hole and allow life to arise inside of it if he wanted to. In other words, God could create a universe where life arises [without] fine-tuning the universe for life (pay attention to the emphasis). However the only fine-tuners that we actually agree exists (humans) are fine-tuners that do not possess the ability to allow anything to arise without having to fine-tune its design for the purpose it is intended for (not to mention that there are physical constraints prior to even thinking about the design for the fine-tuners we actually agree exists). This means that there is only one type of design and one type of designer that we both actually agree exists (human/physically limited beings/material/exists in environment prior to designing). However, there is an additional type of design and designer that you believe on top of the one type of design that we agree on (God/omnipotent/not physically limited). This means that the burden of evidence is on you. It is not my job to disprove the conclusion you came up with because I am not the one asserting an additional type of design or an additional type of designer. It is your job to provide evidence for the actual conclusion you want to conclude with. This means explaining the type of design you actually want to conclude with and then providing evidence for that additional type of design that you want to actually conclude with. Despite the burden of evidence being on your shoulders I can still refute your improbability claims. The improbability of the parameters of the universe occurring by chance or necessity is not an argument for design. If the improbability of the fine-tuning of the parameters of the universe is so unlikely to occur by chance and necessity that design is the more reasonable conclusion then one can claim that the universe is actually designed so that knock-knock jokes could arise since it is even more improbable on chance or necessity alone that any kind of joke exists at all let alone knock-knock jokes. This is why arguing for the improbability of the fine-tuning occurring on chance or necessity is not enough to conclude that the fine-tuning of the universe is due to design since one can arbitrarily select anything that is improbable and claim that the universe is designed for that arbitrarily selected phenomenon. Furthermore, you have no idea if the parameters are a mix of chance and necessity. There is no reason to think that the parameters of this universe can only arise by chance alone or necessity alone. Chance, necessity, or chance/necessity in combination cannot be ruled out because you and the scientists you quote have no idea what physical laws can be different and what physical laws can’t be different if at all.

    1. You argue about what else in the universe is designed when this is irrelevant to this argument. It is based on the universal constants.

    This is false. The reason I object is because there is an additional type of design that you actually want to conclude with and you have not met your burden of evidence nor have you even attempted to explain this additional type of design you want to actually conclude with. The additional type of design you posit is not merely based on the universal constants. There are implicit assumptions hidden in the conclusion you actually want to make. Again, it is not my job to provide evidence against your conclusion. You are the one positing an additional type of phenomena, namely an omnipotent and omniscient designer, so it is up to you to provide that evidence. However, you refuse to explain how you recognize this additional type of design and designer. Therefore, I reject your notion of design and this designer you posit. Furthermore, the reason I ask how you can tell what is and isn’t designed is because you have not explained how you recognize design. It seems tremendously important to be able to know how to recognize design if you want to conclude that the universe is designed. Don’t you? If I grabbed two identical rocks and told you that one is designed and one isn’t wouldn’t you question how I know? Wouldn’t you ask me how I recognized which rock is designed? It seems trivially obvious that you would question me. It seems trivially obvious that you would deny that any of the identical rocks are designed if I never tell you how I know which one is designed. In regards to the universe, what is worse is that there is no other universe or universes that we know are designed for anyone (including the scientists) to compare this universe with to determine if this universe is designed or not.

    The designer you posit renders design so unintelligible that one can conclude that anything is designed by this designer no matter how much the supposed design in question appears like it was not designed. For instance, you assert that the universe is designed for life yet the universe is immensely hostile to life that it equally appears that the universe is designed to keep life from arising. In fact, it would probably be more reasonable for theists to conclude that the universe isn’t designed for life and claim that life probably requires a miracle for it to arise or claim that life is designed for the universe. However, that would result in the universe being not designed. Too bad one cannot have it both ways.

    2. ” You object to the conclusion that there are only 3 possibilities, (1) necessity, if not necessity then (2) random chance or (3) some form of purpose or design, yet you cannot show either logically or empirically that there could be any other option.”

    This is also false. A completely logical option is a combination of chance and necessity rather than chance or necessity alone so I have demonstrated that there is a logical option besides the three you posit. I have argued this point in other comments as well. I would like you to demonstrate how this is not logically valid if you can. Also, I do not have to demonstrate this option empirically because the scientists have not shown that chance/necessity in combination is not possible nor have you demonstrated that chance and necessity can be ruled out as I will explain. I have already demonstrated earlier in that the improbability of chance and necessity alone does not allow one to conclude that the universe is designed for life because there are even more improbable phenomena in the universe besides life alone that one can point to and conclude that the existence of such phenomena is due to design such as knock-knock jokes being told at any given specific time and location. You would have to show that there are no phenomena more improbable than life itself to stop one from concluding that life is not what the universe is designed for since your whole argument is based on the improbability of life. In other words, the insurmountable amount of phenomena that can’t occur without life though life can do without means that the numerous phenomena that can’t exists without life is more improbable than life itself. For example, this is no reason that knock-knock jokes should exists even if life exists. This phenomena is even more improbable than life itself so there is no reason one can’t conclude that the universe is actually designed so that knock-knock jokes exists or that sneezing exists if you conclude that the universe is designed for life because of how improbable the life-permitting parameters of the universe are. In fact, the universe seems more “knock-knock joke” permitting and sneeze permitting than merely life permitting so there is not one problem with someone concluding that the universe is fine-tuned for knock-knock jokes and sneezing given that these phenomena arising are more improbable than life arisen by chance or necessity. These seem to be the implications of the fine-tuning argument as has been presented thus far. Arguing that the universe is designed for life because it is improbable that life would exists on chance or necessity completely ignores everything else that is even more improbable than life or just as improbable as the existence of life. In other words, concluding design merely based on the improbability of non-design is not how we recognize design. We recognize design by being able to compare non-designed objects to designed objects. Last time I checked there are no other observable universes that are designed and not designed that we can actually compare our universe with. Design becomes unintelligible if we were to simply conclude with design based on the improbability of non-design (i.e. chance or necessity). This is why the improbability of life permitting parameters existing in the universe is not enough to argue for the conclusion that the universe is designed for life or human life since I could always point to phenomena that is more improbable than life or human life and conclude that this particular phenomena is what the universe is really designed for. I could conclude that the universe is designed for atheists since atheists are more improbable to exist rather than life or human life. This is how absurd it is to conclude that the universe is designed simply because non-design (i.e. chance and necessity) is improbable. It does not get the job done. I does not establish design. One would have to argue why the particular phenomenon the arguer wants to conclude the universe is designed for is the phenomenon that should be focused on which means that one is no longer relying on cosmology. Now one is really making a value judgment on the significance of said phenomenon which has little to do with theoretical physics. Why conclude that the universe is designed for life rather than conclude that the universe is designed for some other more improbable phenomena in the universe?

  18. Hi Terrell, the conclusion of the design argument is “6. Therefore our universe was designed.” It doesn’t mention God. That is a step that might follow after the design argument. So it seems your first objection here isn’t to the argument but to the step which might follow the argument.

    “A completely logical option is a combination of chance and necessity rather than chance or necessity alone so I have demonstrated that there is a logical option besides the three you posit.”

    The cosmologists generally say it isn’t likely to be chance or necessity. That includes a combination of both.

    “Why conclude that the universe is designed for life rather than conclude that the universe is designed for some other more improbable phenomena in the universe?”

    The argument doesn’t conclude that the universe is designed for life. Rather it concludes, on the basis of the improbability of a life-permitting universe, that it was designed. That’s all.

    Terrell, can I ask you to consider please whether this discussion has gone far enough? Your comments are very long, yet you still haven’t said anything that seems to me to show in any clear way why I should reject what is a very clearly stated argument. Feel free to blame me for that if you like, but do you think there is anything you want to say that you haven’t said already? Thanks.

  19. I have already argued that the improbability of a life permitting universe existing on chance or necessity alone is not enough to conclude that the universe was designed. Did you not listen to anything I said? Can you actually address the argument I made? Why select the phenomenon you selected rather than a phenomenon that is even more improbable atheists or knock-knock jokes? You yourself state this:

    “The argument doesn’t conclude that the universe is designed for life. Rather it concludes, on the basis of the improbability of a life-permitting universe, that it was designed. That’s all.”

    However, why focus on life since there are more improbable phenomena?

    Chance/necessity in combination is not the same as chance or necessity alone. Two options acting in combination does not raise the same probability as they do by themselves. Two options in combination could be far more probable that the two options alone. This means that you cannot conclude that the probability of the two options alone is the same or similar to the probability of the two options in combination. The scientists have not even dealt with this option nor have they shown which physical constants can or can’t be different at all (i.e. which parameters are physically unchangeable or which can be changed). In fact, they have no idea so there is no reason to believe they have addressed the likelihood of chance and necessity in combination. Therefore, the option of chance and necessity in combination stands. I have said this in my response yet you ignore it. Why do you ignore my arguments and questions rather than address them? It seems like you are not even reading my responses since you are making responses that run right back into my previous responses. You seem to just say whatever you can to get to your conclusion even if they are already addressed.

    Now I will move back to your comment below

    “The argument doesn’t conclude that the universe is designed for life. Rather it concludes, on the basis of the improbability of a life-permitting universe, that it was designed. That’s all.”

    This response is absurd. Either you arguing that the universe is designed for life or you are arguing that the universe is designed for something else that you have not specified which means that you need to specify what you believe the universe is designed for otherwise your conclusion is irrelevant. Despite this you still seem to believe that the universe is designed for life otherwise you would not mention the improbability of life in your premises. Furthermore, you have stated this:

    “I believe the cosmological evidence points to the universe being designed by God to allow human life to form.”

    Your quote above is an implicit admission that you feel that the universe is designed for life. Also, I already have argued that the improbability of life does not give one enough evidence to conclude that the universe is designed for that improbable phenomenon since I could always point to an even more improbable or equally improbable phenomenon and conclude that the universe is designed for that phenomenon. For instance, I could conclude that the universe is actually designed to be knock-knock joke permitting because knock-knock jokes are more improbable to exist than life is. If you are not arguing that the universe is designed for life then what in the hell is your argument arguing for?

    “Terrell, can I ask you to consider please whether this discussion has gone far enough? Your comments are very long, yet you still haven’t said anything that seems to me to show in any clear way why I should reject what is a very clearly stated argument. Feel free to blame me for that if you like, but do you think there is anything you want to say that you haven’t said already? Thanks.”

    It has not gone far enough because you refuse to address my arguments. I only repeat my arguments because you do not address them. You tend to ignore them completely or partially and then make statements that are relevant to arguments I have already made. Can you actually address my arguments in full rather than cherry-picking parts of my arguments to make it seem like I am not making any relevant arguments? I have taken the time to respond to all of your responses in full. I only ask for the same.

  20. Hi Terrell, you have made a number of arguments, including:

    * design by God is incoherent
    * there are more than 3 possible explanations of fine-tuning
    * is life designed?
    * how we can distinguish design from non-design?
    * my idea of design is too vague
    * why base the design argument on life?

    I have answered all of those arguments, in some cases by arguing against them, in other cases by saying why I thought they were irrelevant points. It’s not that I haven’t answered them, it’s that you disagree with my answers just as I disagree with your points. Unresolved disagreements happen all the time.

    My original post was about 1100 words long. You have made 9 replies totalling about 4450 words and I have made 8 responses totalling about 1500 words. That’s over 7000 words in all.

    So it’s not like you haven’t had an opportunity to make your points or that I haven’t responded. But there comes a time to realise that further discussion is only likely to lead to further frustration. I think we have reached that point. So I won’t be responding to you on this topic on this post any more, I’m sorry. Thanks for your interest.

  21. “design by God is incoherent”

    You have never refuted my argument to why I think a design by an omnipotent omniscient being renders design incoherent or unintelligible. All you have said is that it is not incoherent but you have never explained why.

    “there are more than 3 possible explanations of fine-tuning”

    You have not responded to why I think this is the case. All you have used is an argument from authority. You never once addressed the actual argument I was making.

    “is life designed?”

    All you have said about this is that you do not know. Surprisingly you do not understand the implications of your answer. It is similar to my questions on how you recognize design and non-design which you never answered as well.

    “how we can distinguish design from non-design?”

    You never answered this question besides saying that you can recognize sometimes and you can’t recognize at other times. However, that tells no one how you recognize design. Since you never answered this question there is no reason for anyone to accept your conclusion. It seems of the utmost importance that one be able to explain how they recognize design if they conclude that the universe is designed.

    “my idea of design is too vague”

    Again, you have never responded to my argument discussing why I think this. All you have done is responded by saying that your idea of design isn’t vague and throwing out a dictionary definition of design. What is ironic is that dictionary definitions are usually vague themselves and are very lacking when it comes to philosophy.

    “why base the design argument on life?”

    You NEVER responded to this question once. You tried to avoid this question by arguing that you are not arguing that the universe is designed for life yet your entire argument implicitly admits that the universe is designed for life. You yourself have stated that the universe is designed for life. You have not addressed this question without contradicting yourself.

    In all 8 of your responses and 1500 words in those responses you have mostly ignored, cherry-picked, avoided, and poorly refuted my arguments. I have had opportunity to lay out my arguments yet you have refused to take the opportunity to actually address my arguments.

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