Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

The Fine Tuning Falacy

There is an argument that because there are many properties of our universe that if changed by even a small amount would have made the universe impossible to support life.  Some people like to use this as proof that the universe had to have been created because everything is “just right” for life to exist.

If, for example, the strong nuclear force were 2% stronger than it is (i.e., if the coupling constant representing its strength were 2% larger), while the other constants were left unchanged, diprotons would be stable and hydrogen would fuse into them instead of deuterium and helium.[9] This would drastically alter the physics of stars, and presumably preclude the existence of life similar to what we observe on Earth. The existence of the di-proton would short-circuit the slow fusion of hydrogen into deuterium. Hydrogen would fuse so easily that it is likely that all of the Universe’s hydrogen would be consumed in the first few minutes after the Big Bang.  (1)

On the face of it, this seems to make sense in regards to an intelligent designer of the universe.  If everything is just perfect to support life, then it must have been designed that way.  

But look at it from a different way.  We are here.  We exist.  Of course the universe seems fine tuned for us, simply because we are here to observe it.  It is a fluke of nature.  Just as a depression in the ground wasn’t specially created to hold a puddle after the rain, our universe wasn’t specially created just for us to live in.

We have to get over the idea that we are somehow special.  99% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct.  Many of those existed for millions of years before disappearing.  We, as a species, have only been here, maybe 500,000 years.  The earth doesn’t care about us.  Nature doesn’t care about us.  Neither does the universe.  

We are just a happy happenstance.  Star stuff that coalesced into a star with planets.  Once of those was the earth.  It was in the right place, at the right time, with the right stuff.  

On second thought, perhaps that does make us special.  But not because we are the pinnacle of some grand plan, but because we are lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time.  Serendipity.  Splendid serendipity.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe#Premise

If, for example, the strong nuclear force were 2% stronger than it is (i.e., if the coupling constant representing its strength were 2% larger), while the other constants were left unchanged, diprotons would be stable and hydrogen would fuse into them instead of deuterium and helium.[9] This would drastically alter the physics of stars, and presumably preclude the existence of life similar to what we observe on Earth. The existence of the di-proton would short-circuit the slow fusion of hydrogen into deuterium. Hydrogen would fuse so easily that it is likely that all of the Universe’s hydrogen would be consumed in the first few minutes after the Big Bang.

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January 29, 2013 - Posted by | Science | , ,

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