Robert Oerter’s Fine-Tuning Argument for Naturalism

Robert Oerter has written an interesting post on his blog outlining what he calls a fine-tuning argument for naturalism. It’s important to keep in mind that Oerter doesn’t actually believe that this argument is a good argument for naturalism. Rather, he thinks it’s useful for showing what’s wrong with the fine-tuning argument for theism.

Rather than try to summarize his argument, I invite readers to simply read it for themselves.

What follows is a comment I left at Oerter’s site.

You write:

Remember that God is, by hypothesis, omnipotent. That means that God could have caused life to arise by miraculous means, even in a universe that was not fine-tuned.

Let us define ML as the hypothesis that God miraculously allows life to arise in a universe that is not fine-tuned.

Both ML and its denial (~ML) are logically compatible with theism. So I think the best way to evaluate the evidential significance of ML is to treat ML as an auxiliary hypothesis and apply the theorem of total probability.

Pr(FTU | T & K & L) = Pr(ML | T) x Pr(FTU | ML & T & K & L) + Pr(~ML | T) x Pr(FTU | ~ML & T & K & L)

What that formula shows is that, in order for the fine-tuning argument for naturalism to work, Pr(ML | T) must be greater than Pr(~ML | T). But it is far from obvious that that is the case. So what reason is there to suppose that Pr(ML | T) > Pr(~ML | T)?

ETA: And if Pr(ML | T) < Pr(~ML | T), then it’s no longer clear how this argument is supposed to show what’s wrong with the theistic fine-tuning argument.

Swinburne's Argument from Religious Experience - Part 6
Spot the Fallacy #2: Fine-Tuning and the Prior Probability of Theism
Next Year
Swinburne's Argument from Religious Experience - Part 5
About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.


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