Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to Fine-Tune Arguments for God’s Existence

One of the main points Bussey develops in his book is based on the following observation:

"At the very least, our own planet must be of a suitable kind, located in a suitable region of the universe, such that human life is possible on it. This is obviously true, and there are many planets for which it is not true, drawing our attention to the fact that not all planets can generate advanced life. Much more significant is the fact that for us to be here, the universe itself must have suitable properties. (...) This statement is normally called the "weak anthropic principle"' (p.94).

The emergence and continued existence of complex life in our universe is fragile. I believe this can trigger a genuine sense of wonder about Creation that can ultimately point to God. However, it appears to me that Bussey's way of presenting the argument is not "fine-tuned" enough to actually do the job.

For starters, we need to focus on the big picture. Together, the laws of nature form an integrated whole that sustains the complexity of conscious life. It's easy to get lost in the details by compiling a long list of properties of the universe that are precisely suitable for complex life on earth. Bussey writes: "With the complex history of the universe kept in mind, we are in a position to write a basic 'shopping list' of conditions that would allow a planet with advanced life to form" (p.96)He goes on to list about ten physical constants that are "right" within ranges that appear to be quite narrow.[1] I am sceptical of reliance on the narrow range of these physical constants. A hypothetical alien race in a hypothetical parallel universe might be wondering about completely different constants that were essential to its development. It is more relevant to emphasize the entire structure and pattern of our universe that sustains the complexity we observe. That beauty is essentially what triggers the "wow factor."

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