Friday, March 25, 2011

Does God Exist? Part 2

*The following is a compilation of arguments and rationale from William Lane Craig and his Reasonable Faith website.*

Reason #2 to believe in the existence of God:

God makes sense of the fine-tuning of the universe for 
intelligent life

Scientists, at one point in time, assumed that no matter what the initial conditions of our universe were, life might eventually come about. However, we now know that our existence is dependent upon many different variables, needing to be more precise than one could possibly imagine. In fact, these fine-tunings are so precise that they are literally unfathomable.

There are two aspects to consider regarding the fine-tuning of the universe:

     1. When you communicate the laws of nature as mathematical equations, there appears certain kinds of constants (i.e. gravitational constant)
    • These constants are not determined by the laws of nature, as the laws of nature are steady with many different possible values for these constants.
     2.  There are certain chance quantities that are set as the initial conditions of the universe that the laws of nature function under (i.e. amount of entropy, balance between matter/anti-matter in universe)
    • These quantities and constants fall into a narrow range of life-permitting values. If any part of them were altered by even the slightest amount, life would cease to exist.

    Some of the fine-tunings that if altered would not permit life:

    A change in gravity's pull by one part in 10100
    (that's 1 part in 10,000,000,000,000,002,048,152,312,936,744,064,968,280,736,496,704,368,200,216,912,448,184,576,664,144,552,576,752,872,304,304,512,280.0000000000000002e+100)

    The cosmological constant by one part in 10120 
    (that's one part in 1,000,000,000,000,000,384,216,968,488,640,432,840,928,368,184,096,208,592,344,560,296,704,312,272,880,432,872,384,504,432,456,880,328,408,304,736,184,568,656,384.0000000000000003e+120)

    The Big Bang's low entropy existing by chance by one out of 1010(123) 

    (NOTE: in trying to calculate this number, one program froze my computer every time I attempted to calculate, and a dozen others I tried gave the answer "infiniti" - this should give you an idea of how big this number is!)

         Roger Penrose of Oxford University comments, "I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010(123).

    Now keep in mind, it's not just these individual quantities and constants that need to be taken into consideration. One mustn't forget that the ratios between all of these values must be calculated. Here, we are multiplying improbability by improbability by improbability. Our mind cannot even begin to comprehend these types of incomprehensible numbers.

    There are 3 possible explanations for the presence of fine-tuning:

    1. Physical necessity (a universe would need to have these conditions - assuming a so-called "Theory of Everything" [T.O.E.] necessitating a life-permitting universe.)
    2. Chance (we are the lucky recipients of good fortune.) 
    3. Design (an intelligent mind behind the cosmos who designed the universe to allow for life.)
    Physical Necessity
    There is simply no reason to believe that the constants and quantities of this universe needed to be the way they are. P.C.W. Davies explains:

    Even if the laws of physics were unique, it doesn't follow that the physical universe itself is unique. . . . the laws of physics must be augmented by cosmic initial conditions. . . . There is nothing in present ideas about 'laws of initial conditions' remotely to suggest that their consistency with the laws of physics would imply uniqueness. Far from it. . . .. . . it seems, then, that the physical universe does not have to be the way it is: it could have been otherwise.

    In fact, String Theory allows for what is referred to as a 'cosmic landscape' with 10500 different universes that are governed by the laws of nature we observe. So there is no reason to assume that the constants and quantities we observe are physically necessary.

    The odds of this universe happening by chance are so fantastically unfathomable that it would be nonsensical to assume that position. Although there are an enormous amount of possible universes within the existing constants and quantities, the amount of worlds that would be life-permitting are absolutely astronomically low. Anyone who throws out the claim 'It could happen by chance' truly has no idea and cannot comprehend how impossible this is. Also, they would never assert that assumption to explain anything in their own lives (such as a giant boulder appearing in their backyard overnight.)

    Some have said that we should not be surprised that this universe has happened by chance and is extremely fine-tuned simply on the grounds that we are observing it. "If the universe were not fine-tuned, we would not be around to observe it!" However, that argument is nonsensical. Consider the following situation often offered by William Lane Craig:

    "Such reasoning is logically fallacious. We can show this by means of a parallel illustration. Imagine you're traveling abroad and are arrested on trumped-up drug charges and dragged in front of a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. You hear the command given: "Ready! Aim! Fire!" and you hear the deafening roar of the guns. And then you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 trained marksmen missed! Now what would you conclude? "Well, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that they all missed. After all, if they hadn't all missed, then I wouldn't be here to be surprised about it! Given that I am here, I should expect them all to miss." Of course not! You would immediately suspect that they all missed on purpose, that the whole thing was a set-up, engineered for some reason by someone. While you wouldn't be surprised that you don't observe that you are dead, you'd be very surprised, indeed, that you do observe that you are alive. In the same way, given the incredible improbability of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, it is reasonable to conclude that this is not due to chance, but to design."

    Some have argued for an Infinite-World hypothesis, where there are an infinite number of universes out there, and so eventually one would have life-permitting values as it's constants and quantities. As covered in the previous 'Does God Exist' post, an actually infinite number cannot exist, so this hypothesis is logically impossible. Also, due to the ridiculously improbability of this universe happening by chance, it has been argued that if it did happen by chance, we should expect to see many other things happening that are far more likely to happen than this universe existing: such as horses popping into and out of existence, perpetual motion vehicles, etc.         

    The argument for the existence of God based on the fine-tuning of the universe can be summed up as follows:
    1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
    2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
    3. Therefore, it is due to design.
    What do you all think of this argument? Or of Charlie Horse's cameo above?

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