Fine-tuning (Part 4): Is The Fine-tuning Of The Universe Due to Physical Necessity, Chance or Design?


Premise 1: The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance or design.
Premise 2: The fine-tuning is not due to physical necessity or chance.
Conclusion: Therefore, it is due to design.


In our last blog, we said that “laws of nature” are commonly expressed as mathematical formulas, and there are two elements in those formulas we need to understand, but these two elements are true, entirely independent of any laws of nature:
“Constants” are set values that don’t change like gravity or the electromagnetic force.
• An “arbitrary quantity” represents initial conditions that existed before a law of nature took effect. One example of this is the amount of entropy or disorder that initially existed at the inception of the big bang explosion.

“Fine-tuning” refers to the fact that constants and quantities in those formulas or laws of nature MUST fit an extraordinarily narrow range to sustain life.


In our last blog, from the standpoint of particle physics, we discussed how incredibly fine-tuned and delicately-balanced these constants (set values) and quantities (representing initial conditions) have to be for there to be a life-permitting universe.

So what explains this extraordinary fine-tuning? Theorists have come up with three possible explanations:
• Physical necessity
• Chance
• Design


In trying to explain why constants and quantities have to be so finely tuned to support life, there are “physical necessity theorists” who actually say that:
• these constants and quantities HAD to have the exact values that we presently observe,
• it would be physically IMPOSSIBLE for these constants and quantities to be life-prohibiting!


• Physical necessity theorists hold a position that is radical and very difficult to defend.
• The constants and quantities are what they are, regardless of any laws of nature. As we said before, they are entirely independent of the laws.
• There is no rational basis for anyone to make the assumption that it would somehow be impossible for constants and quantities to be life-prohibiting.
In fact the odds of these constants and quantities being life-prohibiting are far greater than the chance that they would be life-permitting.

Conclusion: For physical necessity theorists to take this extreme view that it would be impossible for constants and quantities to be life-prohibiting makes the “physical necessity theory” the least plausible of the three explanations.

So how do we explain the extreme fine-tuning of these constants and quantities that seem narrowly-honed to sustain life?


Could the fine-tuning of the universe be due to chance alone?

“Chance theory” says that it was just an accident that constants and quantities all fall into the life-permitting range. We just lucked out. We won lottery after lottery, each with mind-boggling odds against our living, but here we are!

Chance theorists frequently compare it to winning a local lottery, but you have far better odds of winning any kind of real life lottery than of winning against the odds we were talking about in the last blog. After a while chance theorists realize that kind of lottery analogy doesn’t work because the odds in particle physics are on an entirely different scale!


Take a piece of paper and barely touch it with a red pen to make a tiny dot. This tiny red dot will represent a “life-permitting universe.” Now using:
• the same laws of nature that are in our universe, but
different constants and quantities,
imagine every possible universe that you possibly can. For every universe you come up with that is life-permitting, make a red dot. For every one that is life-prohibiting, make a blue dot. Physicist John Barrow says you will eventually have a page that is entirely blue except for perhaps your one red dot or maybe one other. That’s it!

So chance theorists have come to realize that no matter how we manipulate the constants and quantities in particle physics, chance or accident alone will not explain the extraordinary fine-tuning that we see!

But the debate about chance theory explaining the fine-tuning of the universe does not end there. Stay tuned, and we will discuss this in the next blog.

Just keep in mind that we are NOT asking this question:
“Why did we specifically win all of the particle physics lotteries we’ve talked about?”

The question actually is:
“In light of the extraordinary odds against it (as shown to us in John Barrow’s illustration), how is it that a life-permitting universe of any kind exists?”

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