Why 'The Universe Is Perfectly Set Up For Life' Is a Terrible Justification for God's Existence
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"But the Universe is so perfectly fine-tuned for life. What are the chances that this happened by accident? Doesn't it seem like the Universe had to have been created this way on purpose?"
As I've written before: Many arguments for religion and against atheism are so bad, they can't even be considered arguments. They're not serious attempts to offer evidence or reason supporting the existence of God. They're simply attempts to deflect legitimate questions, or ad-hominem insults of atheists, or the baffling notion that "I want to believe" is a good argument, or attempts to just make the questions go away. Or similar nonsense.
But some arguments for religion do sincerely offer evidence and reason for the existence of God. They're still not very good arguments, and the evidence and reason being offered still don't hold water...but they're sincere arguments, so I'm doing them the honor of addressing them.
Today's argument: the argument from fine-tuning.
The argument from fine-tuning goes roughly like this: The Universe is perfectly fine-tuned to allow life to come into being. The distance of the Earth from the Sun, the substance and depth of the atmosphere, the orbit of the Moon, the nature of matter and energy, the very laws of physics themselves... all are perfectly tuned to let life happen. If any of them had been different by even a small amount, there could not have been life on Earth. And the odds against this fine-tuning are astronomical. Therefore, the Universe, and all these details about it, must have been created this way on purpose. And the only imaginable being that could have created the universe and fine-tuned it for life is God.
Okay. We have some serious misunderstandings here.
The Perfectly Fine-Tuned Puddle Hole
Let's assume, for the moment, that the Universe really is perfectly set up for life, and human life at that. I don't think that for a second -- I'll get to that in a bit -- but for the sake of argument, let's assume that it's true.
Does that imply the Universe was created that way on purpose?
No. It absolutely does not.
Here's an analogy. I just rolled a die 10 times (that's a six-sided die, all you D&D freaks), and got the sequence 3241154645. The odds against that particular sequence coming up are astronomical. Over 60 million to one.
Does that mean that this sequence was designed to come up?
Or think of it this way. The odds against me, personally being born? They're beyond astronomical. The chances that, of my mom's hundreds of eggs and my dad's hundreds of millions of sperm, this particular sperm and egg happened to combine to make me? Ridiculously unlikely. Especially when you factor in the odds against my parents being born...and against their parents being born...and their parents, and theirs, and so on and so on and so on. The chances against me, personally, having been born are so vast, it's almost unimaginable.
But does that mean I was destined to be born?
Does that mean we need to concoct an entire philosophy and theology to explain The Improbability of Greta-ness?
Or does it simply mean that I won the cosmic lottery? Does it simply mean that my existence is one of many wildly improbable outcomes of the universe... and if it hadn't happened, something else would have? Does it simply mean that some other kid would have been born to my parents instead... a kid whose existence would have been every bit as unlikely as mine?