Finely Tuned; Universally Applicable

This article is a bit old, but I’d like to have a look at it because the author has written a recent piece that I’d like to look at tomorrow.

Greg Cootsona says of the fine-tuning argument:

It does, nonetheless, offer evidences of God’s design. Fine tuning is consistent what we would expect from a Designer, and it supports theism better than materialism.

His use of a decreasing specificity in who or what this argument supports – first his God, then a nonspecific Designer, and finally theism – says a lot about how useful this is for Christians as support for their particular beliefs. Cootsona is mistaken to think the fine-tuning argument supports theism better than materialism; unfortunately for him it supports it to the same extent. But worse for Cootsona, it supports any other theistic version just as much.

Next, Cootsona thinks he’s addressing one of the major flaws in the fine-tuning argument. He describes this flaw thus:

Simply put, the only reason we can have this conversation is that we are already here in this type of universe, however improbable it might be.

To which he gives an analogy of two wedding anniversary celebrations, one in which he makes little effort, the other in which makes a lot of effort. He asks the reader to imagine which one looks planned. The problem for Cootsona is that he’s just rephrasing the problem, and rather poorly at that. He leaves it for us to assume that the universe is the highly planned celebration, but we certainly don’t have to. Both celebrations exist, just as our universe exists. He offers no evidence that the Designer (we may as well take the denominational-free version), wasn’t slumming when he created this universe. The reasons for his own awe at this universe:

Physicists have identified over thirty discrete, precisely calibrated parameters that produced the universe we know.

even support this other assumption in that if any of these discrete, precisely calibrated parameters were to be altered, someone else could well be standing here in something else. And that something else could be the highly-planned wedding anniversary!

Cootsona does what theists often do when they try to apply science to their beliefs. They latch on to the one point that seems to support their view, and begin and end with that. He doesn’t think of what the counter to that argument is, if the argument applies to any other cases, if there are other cases that give the same outcomes, or what happens if it is extrapolated. He just hears that the universe has a finely-tuned order, and sits his god on top of it.

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