Prepare to be amazed
Since mankind has existed, looking up was a humbling experience. Beholding the sun, moon, and stars suspended in space, even before we knew how vast the observable universe is, gave evidence that there is something outside of ourselves that is so much greater. “By my own hands and brainpower these great lights in the sky came into being,” said no man or woman ever.
With the limited tools available to our ancestors, the earth, sun, moon and stars were the observable universe. And though for some of those early humans the heavenly bodies themselves were credited with that greatness and power and were worshiped accordingly, for others the primordially intuitive Law of Causality led to the reasonable conclusion that a supremely great Being exists apart from the heavenly bodies which brought them into existence. And they believed in him as Creator God.
Over the centuries as man’s knowledge of himself, the world, and the cosmos increased, our greater understanding engendered pride and a temptation to consider the possibility that no God was involved. But just as the limits of our knowledge are constantly being pushed and expanded, so too is the realization that there’s so much more to know…and that the universe is so much bigger than we thought. And bigger than we can observe, or ever observe, because the expanse is so incomprehensibly great as to be beyond reach of any kind.
It seems God reveals enough of himself through Creation to provoke awe and stimulate investigation, and when we have sufficiently apprehended these realities so that they become almost blasé, he reveals more. He ensures that scientists have increasingly more sophisticated and precise tools so that they discover new realities previously hidden…jaw-dropping wonders in the microscopic biosphere like the unimaginable complexity of a single cell, and in the macroscopic cosmos like the equally unimaginable expanse of the universe and its incredible fine-tuning for life.
What early star-gazers did not and could not have known is that there are multiple constants and quantities in the universe so finely-tuned to allow for life that the probability of them all existing by chance is 1 in 10138. That’s an incomprehensible number, virtually equal to zero. William Lane Craig likens it to a lottery drawing where the one black ball among billions and billions of white balls is selected…five times in a row.
Would you like to know what physicists like Stephen Hawking and Paul Davies have to say about the fine-tuning of the universe? Watch this short but excellent video from Craig’s organization Reasonable Faith. And prepare to be amazed.
Puddle thinking. The question isn’t whether there is an intrinsic existential necessity, but whether there is an extrinsic existential necessity. That’s something which we can never know.
Hi, Keith. Thanks for reading and commenting. Puddle thinking, huh? The question at hand is whether it is more plausible than not that all the intricacies and fine-tuning we observe in our universe evidence design. And that is something we can know. Not with 100% certainty, but with as much as we rely on for most of what we take to be true.
I have to disagree. I don’t think we could claim to know the context within which the universe exists. We are stuck with an N of 1, an observation, not the basis for a hypothesis.
I’m sorry…I’m not sure what you’re saying. Observation is not a basis for a hypothesis?
Observations and proposed mechanisms for their consistencies and inconsistencies provide the basis for a hypothesis. Extrapolation from existing knowledge and a single observation is speculation. The parable of the blind men and the elephant applies here. The guy with the trunk is perfectly justified in speculating that he’s holding a snake. But he can’t form a real hypothesis without the ability to make additional observations. What he’s got in hand is a simple correlation.
Forgive me…I’m still not sure what you’re saying. I know the parable, but what exactly is the “single observation” you’re referring to?
It may be just a puddle, but I’m stuck anyway.
The guy at the trunk can reasonably say, “I have a cylindrical object, which moves like it’s alive and has the characteristics which I’ve felt before when holding a snake.” To form a hypothesis, he needs some other snake characteristics. Maybe he can feel for scales. If he feels something scale-like, he can say, “Aha! this object has now met an expectation which I would typically have of snakes. I can now explore the object to see if it meets more of my snake-expectations.”, and he’s off on the scientific process. It is by nature a process of categorization. How do we feel for scales on the skin of the universe? As you point out, we are stuck in it. How do we hope to categorize or even characterize it then? Scientists are accustomed to dropping the caveats when they talk about these things like fine tuning, string theory and evolutionary psychology. It’s easy to make too much of these speculative ideas.
So, I take it you’re saying we can’t possibly know how the universe came into being. Do you consider it futile then to choose any explanation as the most plausible?
The short answer is yes. There’s still a singularity at the bottom of it all, right? May I suggest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ4zlvqOtE8
the probability of them all existing by chance is 1 in 10^138 .
We have not established the parameters life could live within. We have not established the mechanisms by which the parameters arise. We have not observed 10^138 universes to establish that our universe is unique among them (that’s how probability works).
The expansion rate of the universe used to be one of the parameters in question, with an establish probability of 10^-63. Except, we then derived the probability from Einstein’s equations and the probability came out at 1, making it a physical necessity…
The figure is from astrophysicist Hugh Ross in Why I Believe in Divine Creation. So are you disagreeing with the scientists cited in the video clip, including Stephen Hawking, who affirm that the universe is finely-tuned?
Hawking says it appears finely tuned. But as Hawking is overtly atheist, do you suppose that the intended meaning of this quote and the meaning you have received could be different?
Of all the cosmologists in the world admit the “appearance” of fine tuning, it remains that the cause could be necessity, chance or design.
The probability cited against the universe emerging as it has are less scientifically supported than the multiverse. The multiverse is a sound prediction emerging from robust scientific theories. The probabilities cited by people discussing the teleological argument are nonsense. I challenge you to find the research paper those numbers are taken from.
Yes, I understand the difference and I should have worded it as such. So we all agree that the universe appears finely-tuned. The disagreement is regarding how that is best explained.
As for the multiverse, it is my understanding that the theories are purely speculative, with no solid evidence of it at all. So to say that, “The probability cited against the universe emerging as it has are less scientifically supported than the multiverse” just leaves me baffled. If the probabilities are not well-supported by scientific evidence, if the constants and quantities are not so unusually and incredibly precise as to require an incredible explanation but instead are “nonsense,” then how is it that “all the cosmologists in the world admit the ‘appearance’ of fine tuning”?
We have precisely no reliable way of establishing the probability of any given constant. We don’t know how wide the parameters they could be is; we don’t know what the distribution of probabilities is; we don’t know whether they are related to each other. Any given number on probability for the mass of an electron, for example, is made up and entirely speculative. There are not even good scientific theories that predict probabilities.
The multiverse is a prediction of many different good scientific models. Any theory of quantum gravity currently supposes a “big bounce” and therefore a series of consecutive universes. String Theory predicts one universe for each possible way the extra dimensions could fold up (of which there are considerably many — enough to make the question of probability a small question indeed). What ever mechanism created our universe didn’t have to fire off only once. (This is even true if you’re religious: you can’t account for why God created other galaxies, but I suppose you accept that It did; you couldn’t guess reasons why It’s create other universes, but there’s no reason It wouldn’t.)
I hope the difference is apparent. The multiverse is extrapolation, the figures applied to probability are made up.
Remember, the expansion rate of the early universe once was one of these constants religious people argued were finely tuned because of it’s necessity and immense improbability. But when we mathematically derived the probability from Einstein’s equations we founds that it was actually guaranteed.
Again, I just want to point out that if the majority of physicists and cosmologists accept that the universe appears finely-tuned, then I think it follows that they give credence to the validity of the probability figures.
As for the multiverse, I’ll just direct you to a transcript of William Lane Craig’s recent podcast where he discusses physicist George Ellis’ article in Scientific American. Maybe you have an online subscription – I don’t or I would link you to it directly. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-end-of-the-discovery-of-physics