The Poorly-Tuned Universe?

Question from Alex:
Hi, this question has the intention to find if there are direct counter-examples of the fine-tuning argument, by this I mean constants that could be adjustable without impeding the emergence of life in the universe; are there such constants?

If the universe was designed by an intelligent creator, we should expect things like the fine-tunings for life we observe, but what if we find there are examples of non-fine tuning? Or have we finally found the evidence for a creator?


Answer by SmartLX:
In Just Six Numbers by Martin Rees, he brings up one direct counter-example: the value of the gravitational constant could vary by up to a factor of 3,000 before it precluded the formation of stars and thus the emergence of life. Some of the other constants would throw out the balance if they changed by themselves, even slightly, but if other constants were also different it could compensate very well. If you consider only the six most well-known constants, and the idea that any of them could be any value positive or negative, that presents an enormous six-dimensional sample space of possibilities which isn’t even close to being exhausted as a source of other viable “settings”.

Even if there were no counter-examples, and every constant had to be exactly what it is for life to emerge, it wouldn’t be evidence for a creator until all other possibilities were eliminated. Contrary to the sample space I’ve described, maybe the nature of the early universe was that each constant could only have been within a small range. Maybe each constant influences the others, such that the current constants are in stable equilibrium for purely physical reasons. Maybe we’re in the one universe out of billions of billions of universes with varying constants where they all came out just right. There are also counter-arguments like the idea that if the universe were actually fine-tuned, such a mind-bogglingly huge percentage of it wouldn’t be empty and/or uninhabitable – it would likely be friendlier or smaller.

To say that the universe supports life is not to say that the universe is fine-tuned for life, because one can happen without a “tuner” and one can’t. Keep an eye out, because many arguments for God based on this idea try to pull that particular switcheroo.

4 thoughts on “The Poorly-Tuned Universe?”

  1. Alex – One thing that I try to mention to creationists whenever they bring this up is that OF COURSE the universe is “fine-tuned” for life, otherwise we wouldn’t be here to realize that and talk about it. It’s takes a universe that allows for life to arise for life to be able to arise and think about that.

    But just because the universe is aligned in such a way that life can happen doesn’t prove that it was designed that way. If theories about multiple universes are correct than there could be a billion other universes that AREN’T conducive to life, but of course there is no one in those to ponder it because life can’t arise.

    The existence of life in our universe only proves that life does indeed exist. It does not prove that the conditions that allowed for that life were pre-set or created on purpose.

    There is no evidence for the creationist claim of intelligent design, and their claim of fine tuning doesn’t change that. It’s pure conjecture on their part…

  2. @SmartLX

    I will have to read that book. I have found other adjustable constants an parameters, for example the initial level of entropy, and the rate of expansion of the universe. But I want to have a longer list.

    Aside form that, I agree with you, six dimensions could bring a lot of settings, however, as good as it is such objection it doesn’t deal with the problem: theists want to see a poorly fine-tuned universe, without changing other constants and parameters. That’s why there are needed more examples of this.

    If someone could provide me of examples of this (I have 3 now) I would be very grateful.


    I agree with the anthropic anrgument (the real one)

  3. This reminds me of a TED lecture I saw recently. I’m afraid I can’t remember the name of the person speaking, it was on the rationale of the current theories behind teh conundrum posed by dark energy and the acceleration of the expansion of the universe. He used a brilliant analogy that I feel works well in this context.

    In Gallileo’s time, it was known that the Earth was 93 million miles away from the Sun, but they couldn’t understand WHY the Earth was in precisely this goldilocks zone, where if it was too close it would be too hot for life and if too far away it would be too cold. It turned out they were asking the wrong question, because it was later discovered, with the advent of more powerful telescopes, that other stars had their own planets and our star system was just one of billions of star systems. There’s no reason we had to be 93 million miles from our Sun, it just happens that we are and so life was given the opportunity to arise.

    Likewise, in calculating the amount of dark energy required for our universe to be expanding as much as it is, and instead of there being too much dark energy, resulting in an expansion too fast for life to arise, or too little dark energy, resulting in a universe that collapses in on itself before stars and planets even get a chance to form, it could be that our universe is one of billions of universes in a multiverse, each with differing levels of dark energy, and so we simply inhabit one of the universes that has formed in such a way that made it possible for life to form.

    We simply inhabit the universe that was “tuned” to within the margins required for life, out of the many universes that exist.

    The multiverse theory works out mathematically, in fact it elegantly ties up all the mysteries revolving around dark energy, string theory and mutiple dimensions. However, like Galileo’s exoplanets, we simply have no way to verify it. Yet.

  4. The argument for a for a tuner or creator of everything as who is the creator of the creator and on and on!! As this reasoning will prove a creator of a the cosmos that will go into infinity, and will be impossible!! As all things always been here in the cosmos, only to change by time recycling and evolving into different things and forms, from the modules changing from environments encountered with time, As life evolved out of simple single cell organisms from the right environments by the right temperatures, molecules of soil of earth, water, light, and gases of our earth environment, that all come from the infinite cosmos star dust!!!……………………………….. joe

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