The Fine-tuning of the Universe So Objects Can Exist

The Fine-tuning of the Universe So Objects Can Exist December 11, 2020

You are probably familiar with the concept that the universe is “fine-tuned” for life on earth.  That is, if the earth were very slightly closer to the sun, it would be too hot to sustain life, since liquid water would boil away, among other reasons. And if the earth were very slightly farther away from the sun, it would be too cold to sustain life, since liquid water would be frozen.  Similarly, if the earth had a little more oxygen or a little less oxygen, life would be impossible, going along with a host of other factors.  Life on earth is possible only because of this “Goldilocks” effect, of conditions being “just right.”

Cosmologists and other scientists do not dispute this reality.  Many of them insist that we are just very lucky, though others posit the existence of an infinite number of parallel universes to account for it.   Christians and other theists say that the finely-tuned nature of the universe is evidence for the existence of God, a mind behind the universe who designed and created everything.

But the fine-tuning goes beyond what is necessary to produce life.  If certain constants of physics were infinitesimally different—and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be, if they all emerged randomly in the Big Bang—then material objects could not exist.  The universe would either consist solely of energy plus thinly distributed undifferentiated matter or implode into the ultimate black hole.  There could be no stars, no planets, no molecules, no elements, no atoms, no sub-atomic particles.

The British apologist Justin Brierley, a fellow Patheos blogger at Unbelievable, makes this point and explains the physics in his post Why I Still Think a Dice Can Show That God Exists.

If the force of gravity were slightly less, he says, it could not be the “glue” that holds planets, stars, and galaxies together.  If the force of gravity were slightly stronger, the universe would collapse into itself.

Physicists have calculated that the universe as we know it could not exist if the force of gravity varied by as little as one part in 1060.  That is, a one with 60 zeroes after it.

Moreover, Brierly cites “the initial low entropy distribution of mass and energy in the early universe.”  He explains this at his post, but it has to do with the capacity of entities to organize themselves, as opposed to becoming more disordered.

The amount of variance in entropy that would make the universe nothing but chaos is even more unimaginably miniscule: 1 part in 1010(123).  How much is that?  Brierley quotes philosopher of science Robin Collins:

“If you took a sheet of paper and filled it with zeros, then reproduced zeros on sheets of paper lined up across the entire universe, 15 billion light years across, that number would still be smaller than 1010(123).”

Read Brierley’s post and watch his video from a few years ago in which he talks about the odds of such thing happening, illustrating them with the chances of rolling the same number in a dice over and over again.  He concludes that if you saw a person rolling a six for 80 straight times, you would assume that someone has loaded the dice.  And so it is with the universe.


Image by Alex Myers from Pixabay 


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