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Monday, December 16, 2013

Can Infinite Universes Explain Fine-Tuning?

In my debate against Richard Carrier, one of the facts I offered for God s existence is that the universe clearly shows evidence of being finely-tuned for life. Our universe is not simply "fine-tuned" but exquisitely -tuned for advanced life. Examples of fine tuning may be found in the laws of the universe, in the fundamental constants of the universe, and in the initial distribution of mass and energy at the universe's beginning.

First, the LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE. Two such finely tuned laws are:
  • The law of gravity that acts on all matter. Without gravity, stars would break apart and we would have no long-term energy to sustain life.
  • The strong nuclear force. Without this, the protons in the nucleus of an atom would repel each other and our universe would be made up of nothing more than hydrogen.
Secondly, we see fine tuning in the FUNDAMENTAL CONSTANTS that govern just how much items in the universe are affected by certain laws.Here are just two:
  • We know that the gravitational constant, which is the value of how much masses will be attracted to one another could sit in a range anywhere within 1x 1040 power, or 1 followed by 40 zeros. But if the force of gravity was increased by one part in a billion, billion, billion, billion, advanced life would be crushed according to Cambridge Royal Society Research professor Martin Rees.[1]
  • Barrow & Tipler, in their landmark book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, note that if Einstein's cosmological constant varied in either direction by as little as 1 x 10120, (which is a fraction so small that it would take more zeros to write than there are atoms in the universe) If this were to be changed by even that amount, the universe would expand too fast for galaxies & stars to form.
Thirdly, we see that the INITIAL DISTRIBUTION OF MASS AND ENERGY of the Big Bang needed to be just right. The initial conditions of the universe show extremely low entropy. Roger Penrose calculated the chances of this to be 1x1010^(123), a fraction so incredibly small it defies any example. Penrose said, "I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010^(123)."
Taking all this into account, John Leslie remarks, "Clues heaped upon clues can constitute weighty evidence, despite doubts about each element in the pile."[2]

Does the Multiverse Solve this Problem?

Carrier claims that the multiverse hypothesis solves the problem of an exquisitely fine-tuned universe poised just right for advanced life to develop. He claims by simply having an infinite number of universes being created, there is bound to be one that would have the conditions we see, and naturally we are here because we happen to live in that universe. But I see at least three problems with this assumption:

The Many Worlds Hypothesis is Speculatory

The idea of an infinite number of universes having every conceivable construction of laws is sheer speculation. There simply is no observable data to back this up. In fact, there cannot be any observable data since we would never be able to observe anything outside our own universe. If we can see it, measure it, or in some other way capture data, we know it's in this universe.

The Many-Universe Making Machine Would Then Need to be Designed.

If an infinite number of universes that are all divergent are somehow being generated continually, we've simply pushed the problem back a notch. What is this thing, this mechanism that is a universe-generating machine? How come it functions so well at generating universes that it never stops? How does it get all the right components to make a self-sustaining universe together and spit out a finished product? If it is a mind, then it s still evidence for God. If it is material, then the machine must itself have been created somehow, which means we're back to the same question.

Even with Multiple Universes, Our Universe is Special

 EVEN IF multiple universe creation in chaotic/eternal inflation is true, it coupled with our observation that the cosmological constant is non-zero would seem to suggest that our universe would appear to be the first one ever to appear. In their paper "Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant" physicists at MIT and Stanford (Lisa Dyson, Matthew Kleban, Leonard Susskind) show that given the factors necessary for life and the low initial entropy conditions, either there is no real cosmological constant or "an unknown agent intervened in the evolution, and for reasons of its own restarted the universe in the state of low entropy characterizing inflation." [3]


[1] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe (New York: Basic Books, 2000) 30.
[2] Collins, Robin. "A Recent Fine-Tuning Argument." The Philosophy of Religion Reader. Ed. Meister Chad. New York: Routledge, 2008.
[3] L. Dysona,b, M. Klebana, L. Susskinda, "Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant" Journal of High Energy Physics 0210:011,2002. Revised 14 Nov 2002
Available online at


  1. This is all still the logical fallacy of "argument from ignorance." In truth, physicists don't even know if these constants are truly independent or related in some way. You are appealing to unknown facts as evidence for God... I guess because you have no real evidence to offer for the existence of God, you have a "god of the gaps" kind of argument like this.

  2. Bernie, if you and I were walking in the park, and we saw 10 oak leaves lying on the ground, perfectly aligned, and equidistant from one another, I would readily conclude that such order quite obviously resulted from the operation of some intelligence.

    I would conclude that the odds of those leaves landing in such a configuration by mere chance alone would be staggeringly small. I would dismiss any suggestion that the wind or the way in which they fell from the tree would have arranged them in such a fashion.

    However, using the argument you are presenting, you would likely say that I have no logical reason to believe that a human being arranged the leaves in that way, and that I'm employing a "man of the gaps" argument to explain it.

    Though, you would probably agree with me that neither the wind nor the way in which the leaves fell from the tree could possibly arrange them in such a fashion, you would likely also dismiss my "human arranger" hypothesis and would simply plead ignorance of some third, heretofore unarticulated cause for which we have yet to find evidence.

    At that point, I would be forced to ask: "why are you so resistant to believe that some intelligence arranged the leaves in such a way?" I would be forced to believe that your dismissal of the most reasonable hypothesis is not based on a logical objection, but a psychological objection.

    1. Jeremy I think your leaf analogy is a false one. A better version is if you went to a newly discovered island and found these ten leaves arranged like this. If we find this in a park, it's quite easy to conclude that a human arranged it like that, after all, humans clearly exist in the park. But on the island, this would be sort of a mystery, as we didn't think any human had ever gone there before. Is this evidence of a human tribe? Well maybe. Certainly there may or may not be other trees (universes) but we can't see them because we leave the island. We aren't sure if the leaves on this tree often fall like this or if this is a rare occurrence. Would you conclude that there are humans on the island simply based off of a circle of leaves? No. It is possible that they simply landed like that. The leaves by themselves do not prove anything.

      Also, it is well known that order can arise from nature. Certainly everyone here seems well educated, so you believe in evolution (if you don't this discussion is over as the evidence for it is overwhelming). This is a perfect example of how order can arise from disorder. It's not hard to believe a similar process happened with the universe. In my opinion it's a much simpler explanation than an omnipotent being that exists outside of time that somehow exists yet never came into existence.

  3. Bernie, I understand your appeal to both "argument from ignorance" and the "god of the gaps". My concern specifically with the "god of the gaps" defense is that there is no evidence that can be offered for god that "cannot" be classified as "god of the gaps." An eventual material explanation can always be claimed. If god himself appeared to you and shook your hand, you could also claim that this new evidence for god is simply of the "god of the gaps" variety until you discover the natural explanation. If you think no one would be that unreasonable then you should read this link.
    It is the "god of the gaps" defense that is actually a fallacy since it cannot be falsified.
    Does that make sense?

  4. The thing is, this is the only reality we know. You can't argue that this universe is finely tuned because it's the only universe we know. You don't know of a better way, or a worse way. It is just the way it is because it is.

    Your argument about leaves only makes sense when you see thousands of leaves all the time, falling each year, randomly. Only then does a clear pattern emerge as something 'designed' and even then statistically it can happen. You have no frame of reference to compare this universe to, you have no knowledge about how other universes may function without intelligent design.

    If you only ever see one set of leaves on the ground, you cannot say what is normal and what is not. However you might wonder at the sight of leaves, no matter what shape they are in.

  5. I don't see how this helps resolve the problem, James, When archaeologists come across stone shapes that are completely new, they can identify whether those shapes are from an intelligence or are a result of naturally occurring forces. Look at the SETI program. We don't have any idea what kind of signals we would hear from an alien mind. However, we are pretty confident that we can distinguish between signals that represent an intelligence and the myriad signals that already exist across the universe. Otherwise, the whole program is a waste of money. Intelligence has identifiable characteristics, whether it's signals in space, rocks positioned from an unknown civilization, or the perfect balancing of dozens of parameters that allow our universe to permit intelligent life.

  6. But then you have another problem. You say where is this machine that creates universes... Where is the thing that created God? Claiming that he always existed, is no different than claiming the universe always existed. Except we can see the universe. Either way, something apparently had no progenitor. Either God, who we can't prove exists, or the universe, which we know exists. You are the one reaching.

  7. "Where is the thing that created God?' This is a nonsense statement. God by definition is uncreated i.e. has no beginning. There is incredibly good evidence, however that the universe had a beginning. It's why Wilson and Penzias won their Nobel prize. No reach here.


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