How to Debunk The Fine-Tuning Argument

The Argument

If the constants of the universe (mass, energy, gravity, electromagnetic force, etc.) were slightly different, nothing would exist. If the earth was a tiny bit closer or farther away from the sun, no life would exist on it. The world, and the universe as a whole, was extremely fine-tuned for life. Considering the infinite number of variables that would not have led to life, the amazing precision that it took to get everything just right for us couldn’t have come about by chance. The universe must have been deliberately fine-tuned for us, and the only thing capable of doing that is god.

How to debunk it

1. If precision is your parameter for establishing that something must have been purposely fine-tuned, then you’re only digging a deeper hole by proposing a universal fine-tuner. A fine-tuner must be even more finely tuned than the thing he supposedly fine-tuned. The very idea that caused you to conclude that the universe was fine-tuned to begin with (the overwhelming probability that things could, or would, have come out differently otherwise) must also apply to whatever you think did the fine-tuning. How, in light of the overwhelming probability that the thing in question (god) also could, or would, have been different, did he end up exactly the way he supposedly is—a perfect, universal fine-tuner? It’s an even bigger question than the one you’re claiming to answer. Because once you already have a perfect universal fine-tuner in place, for him to fine-tune the universe is not improbable at all. No, the question is how we got the perfect universal fine-tuner in the first place.
Let me make it clear that this is a natural extension of the logic you yourself are advancing, not me. All I’m showing you is where it leads you if you apply it consistently rather than arbitrarily.
2. The idea that our current state of affairs is infinitely improbable, and therefore impossible without some guiding hand, relies on a misguided idea of retroactive probability. It’s a fallacious hindsight attempt to add up independent probabilities in order to show that our current state of affairs is infinitely improbable (practically impossible) and could therefore not have come about by chance. But that’s a reversal of causality and a misunderstanding of how probability works. You can’t just reverse causality by concluding that effects necessitate causes—that the causes exist for the effects.
Causes bring about effects, not the other way around. And you can’t apply probability cumulatively and retroactively. It has to be applied independently and going forwards.
3. If the core logical problems with this argument are a bit difficult to handle, try to consider all the less desirable aspects of the universe that must, according to this argument, also have been fine-tuned. Consider how our sun is fine-tuned to give a considerable percentage of us cancer. Consider how it is fine-tuned to grow into a red giant in a few billion years and swallow the earth. Consider how fine-tuned our planet is for earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts and hurricanes. Consider how fine-tuned humanity is for war and genocide. How fine-tuned things are to cause nine million children to die every year before reaching the age of five. It’s the same exact line of reasoning, minus the favorable cherry-picking.

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3 thoughts on “How to Debunk The Fine-Tuning Argument”

1. John L Holmes

The odds of a foursome in Bridge each being dealt a complete single suit are exactly the same as them being dealt any other combination of cards. It’s just that other combinations are not “interesting” to us.

2. None of those arguments really wash.
1. Yes, the fine tuner is more greatly fine tuned than us in every religion. The fine tuning is a feature of this Simulation.
2. Plausible but no knock-out. Probability is routinely back-calculated and forecast, eg in hind-cast climate models. In this case it’s obviously not possible to measure anything going forwards on any human timescale.
3. Again, plausible but no knock-out. Crossing over into the problem of evil (which doubtless you haven’t read up on Irenaeus, nor Augustine nor even CS Lewis) will not pass muster with a well-read Christian.

The response to “who moved the un-moved mover?” needs nothing more than a quizzical look – obviously just said it was ‘unmoved’. Since your alternatives are infinite regression or brute fact, both of which are at best deeply dissatisfying, the only reasonable conclusion is there is a gap in our ability to understand causation. As a 4D creation/simulation in what physicists are increasingly seeing as 11D underlying reality, all we can say is “Causation is a Feature of the Simulation”.

1. 1. You seem to be unacquainted with the religion idea of Fine Tuning being too improbable to come about by chance.
2. Let me know when you have an actual counter-argument to the point which you have already conceded – that you cannot add up independent probabilities and cobble them up in a hindsight manner that suggests effects somehow bring about their causes – that causes are created FOR effects.
3. Again, let me know when you have an actual counter-argument to the point presented.