Living in a ‘fine-tuned’ universe.

It always amazes me how much of creation we take for granted.  We can hold in the palm of our hand, tiny little capsules that contain the entire information required for making a tree or plant . . . and they are tasty too!  I don’t know if you ever bite a nut in half and wonder where all that information is stored?  Maybe it’s just me – I’m the nut!

On a larger scale, When I look at the universe, it blows my mind how everything is just so spot on.  It’s a bit like a Greggs cheese and onion pasty – Perfect puff pastry, a deliciously balanced filling of potato, cheese (just the right strength mind!), onion and seasoning.  Baked to perfection and served at the optimum moment while the pastry is still light and crisp and the filling is still oozy warm, but not so hot it takes the skin off the roof of your mouth.

How is that incredible? Well everything had to be just right. You could take all those pasty ingredients and play with them all day and make nothing but gundge.  The processes and timings are just as (if not more) important than the ingredients – not to mention the helpful hands making, baking and timing them.

In the same way, it’s not what is present in our universe that is so important, rather the way in which they have been brought together in finely-tuned way.  In this Short clip, Professor John Lennox of Oxford University explains just one element that was crucial to get right at the beginning.  Pay attention to the way he works out the probability of a chance happening.  Then think about all the other millions of processes required and if you can, think what the compound result would be for them all happening by chance – then you are better than me.

I don’t believe in a random-chance ‘Greggs cheese and onion pasty’, so it stands to reason that I certainly won’t go there with our ‘fine-tuned’ universe.  If a pasty needs a maker, why doesn’t a universe?

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7 thoughts on “Living in a ‘fine-tuned’ universe.

  1. Because the universe isn’t as finely tuned as the metaphor tries to make it sound.

    We live on a planet that is mostly water. Of the portion that isn’t covered with water, most is either two hot or two cold for humans to live without technology. How is that ‘finely tuned’? Especially if you mean tuned for humans. That sounds dangerously close to disaster.

    Douglas Adams put it best:

    “Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.”

    1. Thanks for for taking time to comment. You said that we live on a planet that is mostly water. Perhaps you meant ‘mostly covered by water because even though water cover 2/3rds – 4/5ths of the earth’s surface, it only accounts for around 1/4400th of the earth’s mass. I guess that’s more water than all the other planets anyhow!

      Humans have inhabited the planet from pole to pole for millennia – I’m not sure what is dangerous or disastrous about that really. We cope.

      My point isn’t a metaphor. It is what science has and is observing more and more, in that the tolerances for life to be sustained on the planet (Which it is – quite successfully too) and in the universe as a whole are incredibly small. So much so that the margins for error don’t lend themselves to random chance events. It’s just not a reasonable scenario.

      As for Adams ‘Imagine a puddle waking up in the morning and thinking . . .’ I suppose if you can stick with him on this thought, then it really doesn’t matter what he writes after it. You’re not a puddle and neither am I. We can can use highly intelligent thought processes to interpret the universe in which we live.

      Adams was just an atheist with a good sense of humour.

      1. And I think you missed his point.

        To the puddle, it appears that the universe…his hole…was made for him. To humans, it appears that the earth was made for us. When in fact, the opposite is true. The earth existed first, and we adapted to it to the point where it seems like a perfect match.

  2. Not really, I just didn’t think it was a particularly good point sorry. It’s just another meta-concept – a big idea. But all it is is a rough drawing on the back of a napkin. It doesn’t offer any explanation. You can’t probe it, take it apart, lift the lid up and look under the bonnet (hood). There is all the ‘what and where’ without the ‘why and how’.

    Perhaps you missed my point which is that the more we observe the universe and do some serious thinking and analysis of it, the less those old models and paradigms fit the data. There is a precision that you would not normally associate with randomness. The margins for error are infinitesimally small and the need for consistent ‘good luck’ is enormous. The universe threw a double -six at the big bang and has thrown them consistently ever since.

    I just don’t buy it sorry.

  3. I don’t see the good luck you speak of. We only been around for a few hundred thousand years at most on a rock that is covered in all sorts of creatures and bacteria trying to eat us. The universe was fine for 13+ billion years before we got here and will be fine long after Andromeda crashes into our galaxy sometime around 2.5 billion years from now. Almost a trillion humans have suffered and died from exposure, starvation, disease, up to 8,000 BC. Most were children. If this universe was fine tuned for us, then it appears to be fine tuned for suffering.

    1. Hi Josh,

      Thanks for your comments, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

      In my response to Notascientist, I was referring to the fact that for a ‘Big Bang’ model to work, it would require consistent ‘Good Luck’ because it is a ‘random’ model and to get to the point of where we are today in the universe would require probability defying the odds time and time and time again.

      I was not suggesting that we had had ‘Good Luck’. I was proposing that what we observe in the universe is so finely tuned (See video and original post again please) that a ‘random chance’ model is intellectually redundant.

      The bacteria you suggest would support that in so much that they have a ‘finely tuned’ environment in which to survive. I think you will find though that it is the rest of creation that quakes in the shadow of man as we are the most destructive organism on the planet.

      This post is about the universe in it’s entirety and not just human existence. I do wonder how you know what was or wasn’t there 13+ Billion years ago or what will happen in 2.5 billion years. You, I or any other were not and will not be there.

      When you say: ‘Almost a trillion humans have suffered and died from exposure, starvation, disease, up to 8,000 BC’ I am really not sure how can you know this. That number is massive given that we are only under 7 Billion population today.

      But whether we agree on the data or not, man is still here on the planet, exploiting and dominating it and I have to be honest and say that all the suffering that we see today and can observe in history can or could have been resolved by us, but wasn’t and isn’t because of greed, selfishness and gain. I can’t blame the universe for that.

  4. Whoops! I meant a billion! That’s way to many zeros. lol.

    http://www.prb.org/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx

    What I tried to do in my last post was jump ahead of the argument that the universe designed for us. But that was the wrong approach. (And slightly off topic…) Let me just deal with your summary.

    The fine tuning argument for a creator is complicated because a lot of it is based on a misunderstanding of the science behind it. (both the method and the data) I am no scientist but I do know enough about modern cosmology to know that it does not infer a need for a designer. That is not what scientists mean by “fine tuning.” I don’t think I can explain it as well as I should so, I will refer you to the works of Steven Hawking and Victor Stenger for specifics. The real problem seems to be that people are using their intuitive notions in areas of science where they have never been tested. Often this works out in biology and in the realms of physics that we are most familiar with. But when it’s pushed into the dark unknowns of the quantum realm and theoretical physics, things can get very tricky. We must continue to develop ways of testing and proceeding with the hypothesis that will not allow us to deceive ourselves with what might ring true at first glance. This is what science does. It rises above our intuitions and puts them to the test. If they hold up, then we can put them into working theories. So when non-scientists come along and make claims about what the of data means without knowing the data.. well, it can lead to all kinds of mistakes.

    “I don’t believe in a random-chance ‘Greggs cheese and onion pasty’, so it stands to reason that I certainly won’t go there with our ‘fine-tuned’ universe. If a pasty needs a maker, why doesn’t a universe?”

    You don’t believe that a pastry gets assembled at random. I don’t either. Our planet also didn’t get assembled at random. It was the product of non-living natural processes. Stars were born of gravity, they created elements and then exploded. Then gravity brought the elements together again to make our planet. (among other things) A pastry needs a maker like cheese needs bacteria and planets need stars. Both are formed by a complicated line natural processes, but not all are formed by sentient beings. Make sense? Our universe could be the same. In fact, it seems a very logical explanation.

    Here is the bottom line. Either something has always existed. Or something came into existence from nothing. (god, universe, matter or whatever) Both of these options are impossible to wrap our minds around. So, when someone says that one is correct because there is no way the other could occur… that is just playing our intuitions. Its not a fair comparison.
    If you can logically postulate a God without a beginning. You can logically postulate a Universe without one as well. Which is more likely? More parsimonious? More in line with the natural explanations we have discovered already? That the universe is where the buck stops. In fact, this is the scientific consensus. Because there was no time before the big bang. In way, both are true. There never was a ‘before’ and then there was a universe.

    Thanks for reading.

    Most of this I am remembering form the cosmology books I read by Brian Greene, Stenger and Hawking .

    P.S Here is evidence for the big bang and how we know the universe is 13ish billion years old.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html#evidence

    http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/uni_age.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andromeda_Galaxy#Future_collision_of_the_Milky_Way_with_Andromeda

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