Over the past few months, I have gone from thinking that fine tuning is an interesting argument to probably one of the worst arguments for god. Im not that good in articulating these kinds of thoughts but I will try my best
Philosophical arguments for god are useful because they demand consistency from the opponent. like when a theist uses the kalam argument and claims that everything that begins to exist has a cause, and the atheist rejects this premise, then the theist will call out the atheist for not being consistent since we always assume effects have causes in everyday life
The fine tuning argument uses this same kind of approach. it asks the atheists for consistency in how we come to conclusions based on probabilities. but the problem I see is that there are zero examples the theist can give which are analogous to the probability judgement we are expected to make about fine tuning, so the argument cant even get off the ground, and the theist is in no position to demand any kind of consistency from the atheist
Lets say im walking on the beach and see a sand castle. technically its possible that the wind haphazardly carried every sand particle in the correct position somehow and it became a sand castle. the probability of this happening is not zero. but the chances are so ridiculously low that it would be stupid of me to assume that the wind is responsible for this castle. the reasonable conclusion I make is that a human made this. now this is a comparative judgement I made between two possibilities: letting nature runs its course vs human interference
The thing with this example is that I have two possibilities that actually exist in real life. I know there are natural phenomenon that occur on earth. wind, rain, animals running around, etc. so I have a good idea of what the environment looks like without human interference, and this background knowledge allows me to infer that the probability of the sand castle being formed out of wind is too low to take seriously (literally no one has ever seen a sand castle being formed by the wind)
Coming back to fine tuning, theists ask us to choose between two options: chance or design. but where is the chance coming from? in the sand castle example, the chance is coming from weather, animals, natural disasters, etc. we know for a fact that these phenomena exist so we plug them into the chance factor, and we also have real life experience that natural forces have never created sand castles. but in regards to the big bang, we dont even know what the state of affairs was before this cosmic event. so where exactly is this claim of low probability coming from ?
The theist claim is usually something like this: “under naturalism, it is more probable that the universe would not be finely tuned”, but how can they even make this claim? why should I expect the universe to not be finely tuned if the state of affairs before the big bang is a complete mystery? what even is this “naturalistic first cause” that theists have in mind, and what are its attributes? how do they rule out that the probability of a fine tuned universe is not 100% under naturalism ?
I have read some of Luke Barnes work and he talks quite a bit about how we are supposed to make these judgements. in his book ‘A Fortunate Universe’, Luke says the other possible values the universe could have had are based on conceptual possibilities. this admission alone is enough to see how badly the argument fails. conceptually, you can think of anything as long as its not a logical contradiction. conceptually, I can explode into butterflies in the next 5 seconds. should I consider that possibility in my everyday life then ?
All probability judgements I make in my life are based on nomological possibilities. the sand castle spontaneously appearing out of nothing is a conceptual possibility, but its not a nomological possibility. so I give it probability of zero. barnes spends some time in the book explaining that physicists test theories following objective bayenism. all we need is that the conceptual possibilities we’re testing should be free from internal contradiction, and thats the foundation of how all cosmologists test theories like the multiverse hypothesis and whatnot. ok thats fine, but when a transcendental god for you is a theory, this approach doesnt work anymore
[In his debate with Alex Malpass](https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MXzM_tBPm-0), Barnes makes the argument that if theism were true, then a morally significant universe with life is highly probable. I mean… sure. but you just made up that possibility in your head. once again going back to the sand castle example, the 2 possibilities I was considering (natural phenomenon vs human interference) are possibilities that I actually have evidence of in real life. I didnt make up these possibilities purely from imagination like theists do for god. I know for a fact that humans exist, and I know natural events like wind also exist. so I compare from these possibilities based on real life experience.
But why is Luke picking god as a possibility? the theist solution is basically “hmm, lets assume a thing that has a high probability of creating a fine tuned universe exists…. yea thats a good explanation”
I think Malpass’s objection is brilliant, he calls it the ‘stalking horse’. if the theist is allowed to help himself in making up a conceptual theory in his head and proposing it as a solution… then the atheist can do that too. malpass talks about god’s desires but I think the objection can be made even stronger. here’s my solution:
Im going to help myself in making up a theory that an immaterial, atemporal, eternal thing exists and has no consciousness. this thing has the intrinsic attribute of automatically generating the exact universe we see today with a 100% probability.
I did exactly what the theist is doing. I made up a theory in my head using my imagination, and gave it specific attributes that I want it to have. the theist arbitrarily gave his theory the attribute of omnipotence and free will, so I gave my theory an arbitrary attribute as well. now my solution is better than god, because the probability is 100%. its objectively the better theory.
In [WLC’s video on fine tuning](https://youtube.com/watch?v=EE76nwimuT0), the narrator says physical necessity is off the table, and should not be considered a possibility. his reason? that there is no evidence….
But theres no evidence for god either..? like what am I missing here? for the god theory the theist is allowed to propose something as a solution that has no evidence, but for the necessity theory the theist says proposing things without evidence is not allowed? theists say that we can conceive of the universe in different ways, and thats enough to say that the universe could have been otherwise. ok, I can conceive that god doesnt exist. same issue and you’re back to square one.
I’ll stop here. Malpass commented in his opening statement that the fine tuning argument is like a hedgehog with its scary spikes. the regular person hears these absurdly large numbers and crazy probabilities and is left wowed. but the hedgehog also has a soft underbelly. and this underbelly of the argument is exposed once you look past the rhetorical tricks and philosophical jargon. I think Malpass is spot on because that has been my exact experience reading the literature on this topic 🤷♂️
Btw I highly recommend that debate I linked above to both atheists and theists. its probably the best debate on fine tuning currently available on youtube
I’m annoyed at fine tuning arguments as there is a simple and unjustifiable assumption at their heart.
They assume that physical constants could change, but then find the consequences of plugging those into the equations that we use to describe the universe.
If we’re just going to claim that the physical constants of the universe could have been different, then why couldn’t the equations that describe the universe not also be different? The assumption that only the constants would change but not the equations? Why? I can’t see any reason for assuming this other than a feeble attempt to make the argument.
Don’t forget survivorship bias. Imagine if we are one of billions of different universes with different natural constants. You can’t have observers in the billions of universes that don’t support life to establish a probability. So you are sampling the probability that life exists, from the subset of universes whose natural constants support life.
Maybe more specifically and to the point, the fine-tuning argument relies on a claim about probability that cannot be defended or established, and requires we assume a particular answer to a question that is currently unanswered by physics. Without knowing what values or ranges of values for the physical constants are physically possible, we are not able to calculate the probability of the constants taking on those values. If the observed values are the only physically possible ones, then the probability of those values is 1 (or 100%). Or, if a very large or infinite range of values is physically possible, then the probability of the constants taking on the observed values is very small or infinitesimal.
The problem is that we simply have no idea what values or ranges of values are physically possible, as we do not have any accepted scientific theory that tells us this: and so the values cannot be predicted by theory, only measured. Until we have a deeper physical theory that tells us what ranges of values are possible, we cannot calculate the probability of the constants taking on those values.
And therefore the FTA fails and cannot proceed, utterly shipwrecked in light of those single fact alone.
>philosophical arguments for god are useful coz they demand consistency from the opponent. like when a theist uses the kalam argument and claims that everything that begins to exist has a cause, and the atheist rejects this premise, then the theist will call out the atheist for not being consistent since we always assume effects have causes in everyday life
Of course no theist really wants to answer – if there must be a cause for everything, what caused their god to come into existence, fully formed? If that god is deemed eternal it belies the very basis of their argument doesn’t it? Why can’t a material universe not have a creator and be eternal? Constantly changing form perhaps, but eternal.
I’d go further and say that it makes no sense to attribute any probabilities to an undefined essence. The probability that a God created the Universe no longer makes sense to me because we don’t know what a God exactly is so we can not know its attributes/abilities.
Probabilities are derived from observed attributes at some level not attributes that are conveniently and arbitrarily defined to fit the conclusion.
The fine tuning argument makes no sense at all if we assume a creator god.
Who’s the boss here, god or physics?
God is claimed to have created a heaven, no physics there, so why is it needed on earth or in the universe?
Why did stars need to form and die to give us the chemical makeup of our bodies? It surely wasn’t needed for heaven.
Life on earth isn’t needed for testing the worthiness of souls OR to appreciate an afterlife. Unless theists think dead babies don’t get into heaven, of if they do they can’t appreciate it of course.
The universe, this earth, are entirely unnecessary as preludes for the hereafter, whether that’s fucking perpetual virgins according to some beliefs, or singing ‘wow god you’re so awesome’ for an eternity as others would have me believe.
I really struggle to believe that some ‘thing’ could and would go to all this trouble just to put a G spot into a male anus to then get their panties in a twist if anyone uses it.
>coming back to fine tuning, theists ask us to choose between two options: chance or design. but where is the chance coming from?
Exactly. God’s role is to offer enhanced occasions of experience. God participates in the evolution of the universe by offering possibilities, chances, which may be accepted or rejected. If there were no order to the cosmos, there would be no need for an entity to account for it, but there is order, thus there must be an entity to account for it. Actual order requires the act of an actual entity to actualize it. Creation isn’t something God did, it is something God does. Actualization happens in the present. God is the primordial lure of desire that persuades us to act.
>”under naturalism, it is more probable that the universe would not be finely tuned”
In Processism the supernatural is an ontological impossibility.
>but why is luke picking god as a possibility?
Because they have a predicated concept of God. They can say “God exists” as an analytical truth. An unpredicated concept isn’t going to express much value or potential at all.
>Im going to help myself in making up a theory that an immaterial, atemporal, eternal thing exists and has no consciousness. this thing has the intrinsic attribute of generating the exact universe we see today with a 100% probability.
How could it generate a universe without having material or temporal aspects? In the view of process theism, the denial of real relations in God renders classical theism paradoxical to the point of incoherence. It is an essential attribute of God to be fully involved in and affected by temporal processes.
>ok thats fine, but when a transcendental god for u is a theory, this approach doesnt work anymore
It works just fine. The existence of God doesn’t matter and isn’t the point, just the fact.
*In Deleuze’s own terms, it is not quite right to say that he does not believe in God, as if God were a concept in relation to which one still had to take a position. Deleuze’s aim is to set out a plane of immanence in which the very question of belief in God is no longer relevant, for the one who actively disbelieves in God “would still belong to the old plane as negative movement”.*
Like you said, the fine-tuning argument is more convincing if you already have some disposition towards a creator entity.
I think this argument is actually catered for theists who need to rationalize their belief rather than convincing people who don’t naturally gravitate towards creaction beliefs.
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