A Universe Balanced on a Razor’s Edge
Is our universe the result of impersonal, unguided chance or an intelligent mind? In recent decades scientists have been stunned by the remarkable discovery that our universe appears to have been fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life with incredible precision. It appears that our universe is balanced on a razor’s edge. For example, if the force of gravity or the atomic weak force had been altered by as little as 1 part out of 10100 the universe would not have been life permitting.
Stephen Hawking estimates that a decrease in the expansion rate of the universe by even one part in a hundred thousand million million one second after the Big Bang would have resulted in the universe re-collapsing long ago. A similar increase in the speed of expansion would have stopped galaxies from forming. No galaxies – no life!
Roger Penrose, an Oxford Mathematical Physicist, calculates the odds of the special low entropy condition of our early universe having arisen by sheer chance as being at least as small as one part in 1010(123). How can dozens of values like these be explained? There are only 3 possible explanations:
- Physical Necessity
1. Physical Necessity – it had to be those values – it was physically impossible to be other than what they are
However, it can’t be due to physical necessity because the constants and quantities in question are independent of the laws of nature. In fact, string theory predicts that there are 10500 different possible universes compatible with nature’s laws.
Even Hawking and Mlodinow in their recent book, The Grand Design, reject the hypothesis of physical necessity: “It appears that the fundamental numbers, and even the form, of the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle” (p. 143).
So could the fine tuning be due to chance?
The problem with this alternative is the possibility that all the constants and quantities would, by chance alone, fall into the life-permitting range is inconceivably minute.
We now know that life prohibiting universes are incomprehensibly more probable than any life permitting universe. So if the universe were the product of chance the odds are overwhelming that the universe would be life-prohibiting.
In order to rescue the alternative of chance, atheists have therefore been forced to an extraordinary hypothesis. They’ve had to posit the existence of an infinite number of randomly ordered universes. These universes compose a sort of world ensemble or multiverse of which our universe is but a part. Somewhere in this infinite world ensemble, finely tuned universes will appear by chance alone and we happen to be one such world. The very fact that scientists must resort to such a remarkable hypothesis shows that the fine-tuning does cry out for an explanation.
There are however at least two major failings with the multiverse hypothesis:
- There is no evidence that there are any other universes, much less an infinite number of them, and that they are randomly ordered.
- If our universe is just a random member of a world ensemble then it is overwhelmingly more probable that we should be observing a much smaller universe.
Roger Penrose has calculated that it is unbelievably more probable that our solar system should form suddenly by random collisions of particles than our finely tuned universe should exist by chance. Penrose calls it “utter chicken feed” by comparison.
So if our universe is just a random member of a world ensemble it is inconceivably more probable that we should be observing a universe no larger than our solar system. Observable universes like that would just be much more abundant in an ensemble of universes than massive universes like ours and, therefore, ought to be observed by us. Since we are not observing a small universe, that fact strongly disconfirms the multiverse hypothesis. On atheism, at least, it is therefore highly probable that there is no multiverse.
Moreover, even if there is a multiverse, does the multiverse itself exhibit fine-tuning? Hawking and Mlodinow appeal to superstring or M-Theory to explain the generation of the multiverse. But M-Theory requires precisely eleven dimensions if it is to be viable. So this only pushes the problem back a notch. M-Theory cannot account for why just that number of dimensions should exist. The fine-tuning that cries out for an explanation just increases in scope.
The fine-tuning argument can then be summarized logically by the following syllogism:
1. The fine tuning of the universe is due to physical necessity, chance or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity, or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.
This fine-tuning argument, taken together with the arguments for the beginning of the universe, and for the existence of objective moral values & obligations, tells us that the cause and designer of the universe is an intelligent, personal, good, immaterial, changeless, space-less, uncaused and enormously powerful being that existed in a timeless eternal state beyond the beginning of the universe.
This is consistent with the Christian concept of God, and therefore belief in God need not be a matter of blind faith. It can be a reasonable belief.
I find these arguments from cosmology fascinating! What do you think? Does this fine-tuning argument help you in your search for the truth about God’s existence?
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