I have spent the last several blogs talking about the fine-tuning of the universe, the fine-tuning of the galaxy, the fine-tuning of a solar system, and the fine-tuning of a planet. There are incredible odds in each of those categories. But what does it all mean? Why is our universe fine-tuned for life? Dr. William Lane Craig writes in his book On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision:
Astronomers have been stunned by the discovery of how complex and delicate a balance of initial conditions must be present in the big bang itself if the universe is to permit the existence of intelligent life anywhere at all in the cosmos. This delicate balance of initial conditions has come to be known as the “fine-tuning” of the universe for life. We’ve come to discover that the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life with a complexity and delicacy that literally defy human comprehension.
There are 3 possibilities for the fine-tuning of the universe: design, physical necessity, and chance.
By design, it is meant that the constants and quantities of the universe were designed to have the values that they do.
By physical necessity, it is meant that the constants and quantities of the universe must have the values that they do, which means that a life-prohibiting universe is physically impossible.
By chance, it is meant that the constants and quantities of the universe fell into the life-permitting range simply by accident, that we simply lucked out.
By physical necessity and chance are lacking. Let’s look at each of them:
To claim physical necessity is to claim that there are no other possibilities for the constants and quantities of the universe. It is to claim that a life-prohibiting universe is physically impossible. In regards to this, Dr. Craig says this:
The constants are not determined by the laws of nature. So Why couldn’t they be different? Moreover, the arbitrary quantities are just boundary conditions on which the laws of nature operate. Nothing seems to make them necessary. So the opponent of design is taking a radical line that requires some proof. But there is none. The alternative is put forth as a bare possibility.
J. Warner Wallace, in his book God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe, after examining the evidence, says this:
There is no reason to believe the laws of nature (and/or their values) could not have been different, and even if the foundational laws of the universe were fixed, this would fail to explain the regional and locational evidence we’ve described.
The regional evidence is the evidence for the fine-tuning of a galaxy (discussed here) and the locational evidence is the evidence for the fine-tuning of a planet (discussed here).
To claim chance as the cause of a fine-tuned universe is to claim that the constants and quantities of the universe fell into the life-permitting range simply by accident, that we won the lottery. But the odds are overwhelmingly improbable that a universe would be life-permitting, as discussed here, let alone a galaxy, solar system, and planet.
J. Warner Wallace writes this in consideration of chance:
Some have argued the apparent fine-tuning of the universe is simply a fortuitous accident. But this explanation is logically inconsistent with the purpose of any scientific investigation (to push beyond the appearance of “coincidence” to find an explanation) and completely ignores the evidence we’ve described related to the high improbabilities of fine-tuning.
There are a couple of attempts to explain chance as a possibility, which space doesn’t allow me to focus on, so I’m going to focus on the one most common that I’ve heard: we must have won the lottery.
Dr. Craig explains the lottery analogy:
The correct analogy would be a lottery in which billions and billions and billions of white ping-pong balls were mixed together with just one black ping-pong ball, and you were told that one ball will be randomly selected out of the horde. If it’s black, you’ll be allowed to live; if it’s white, you’ll be shot.
Now notice that any particular ball that is randomly selected is equally improbable: No matter which ball rolls down the chute, the odds are against that particular ball are fantastically improbable. But some ball must roll down the chute. This is the point illustrated by the first lottery analogy. That point, however, is irrelevant because we’re not trying to explain why this particular ball was picked.
The crucial point is that whichever ball rolls down the chute, it is overwhelmingly more probable that it will be white rather than black. Getting the black ball is no more improbable than getting any particular white ball. But it is incomprehensibly more probable that you will get a white ball instead of a black one. So if the black ball rolls down the chute, you certainly should suspect that the lottery was rigged to let you live.
So in the correct analogy, we’re not interested in why you got the particular ball you did. Rather we’re puzzled by why, against overwhelming odds, you got a life-permitting ball rather than a life-prohibiting ball. That question is just not addressed by saying, “well, some ball has to be picked!”
This analogy is reinforced even more when you consider that the black ball has to randomly be picked more than 5 times in a row to consider all of the probabilities!
Dr. Craig finished with this:
In the same way, some universe has to exist, but whichever universe exists, it is incomprehensibly more probable that it will be life-prohibiting rather than life-permitting. So we still need some explanation why a life-permitting universe exists.
So physical necessity fails as does chance. Consider this very simple argument:
- The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
- It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
- Therefore, it is due to design.
If there was a 4th alternative, then philosophers and scientists would consider it. But so far, there have only been 3 alternatives proposed (when you boil them down). With physical necessity not being a good explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe, and with chance not being a good explanation, we are left with design as the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe. But if it’s Design, then you have a Designer.