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Why “The Universe Is Perfectly Fine-Tuned For Life” Is a Terrible Argument for God

This piece was originally published on AlterNet.

Radio control knobs “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.

Orbits 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 that the Universe was created that way on purpose?

No. It absolutely does not.

Yellow_dice Here’s an analogy. I just rolled a die ten 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?

Lottery_winner 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?

Yes, life on Earth is wildly improbable. And if it hadn’t happened, some other weird chemical stew would have arisen on Earth, one that didn’t turn into life. Or life would have developed, but it would have evolved into some form other than humanity. Or the Earth would never have formed around the Sun, but some other unlikely planet would have formed around some other star. (Maybe one with cool rings around it like Saturn, only Day-Glo orange with green stripes.) If life on Earth hadn’t happened, something else equally improbable would have happened instead. We just wouldn’t be here to wonder about it.

Douglas Adams (of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame) put this extremely well in his renowned Puddle Analogy. He said:

Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!”

Puddle Yes, the hole fits us rather neatly. But that doesn’t mean the hole was designed to have us in it. We evolved to fit in the hole that happened to be here. If the hole had been shaped differently, something else would have happened instead.

And how perfect is this hole, anyway?

Bitter Expanses of Cold and Blasting Chaotic Heat — The Perfect Vacation Spot!

Douglas Adams’s puddle analogy doesn’t end there. It continues:

This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.

How perfectly fine-tuned for life is the Universe, really?

Life on Earth has only been around for about 3.7 billion years. Human life has only been around for 200,000 of those years (more or less, depending on how you define “human”).

Sun red giantAnd since the surface temperature of the Sun is rising, in about a billion years the surface of the Earth will be too hot for liquid water to exist — and thus too hot for life to exist.

The universe, on the other hand, is about 14 billion years old. (Post Big Bang, at any rate.)

Therefore, the current life span of humanity is a mere one 7,000th of the current lifespan of the Universe.

And after Earth and all of humanity has boiled away into space forever, the Universe will keep going — for billions and billions of years.

How, exactly, does that qualify as the Universe being fine-tuned for life?

To use Adams’ puddle analogy: The sun is rising. The air is heating up. The puddle isn’t getting smaller yet, but it’s destined to. And yet, many droplets in the puddle are still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright… because this world was supposedly built to have us in it.

Cosmic_Heavyweights_in_Free-For-All-_One_of_the_most_complex_galaxy_clusters,_located_about_5.4_billion_light_years_from_Earth. And that doesn’t even take into account the mind-boggling vastness of space — the mind-boggling majority of which is not hospitable to life in the slightest. The overwhelming majority of the universe consists of unimaginably huge vastnessess of impossibly cold empty space… punctuated at rare intervals by comets, asteroids, meteors (some of which might hit us, by the way, also negating the “perfectly designed for human life” concept), cold rocks, blazingly hot furnaces of incandescent gas, the occasional black hole, and what have you. The overwhelming majority of the universe is, to put it mildly, not fine-tuned for life.

In other words: In the enormous vastness of space and time, one rock orbiting one star developed conditions that allowed the unusual bio-chemical process of intelligent life to come into being for a few hundred thousand years — a billion years at the absolute outset — before being boiled into space forever.

Somehow, I’m having a hard time seeing that as fine-tuning.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the question: If biological life was intentionally designed by a perfect, all-powerful God… why did he do such a piss-poor job of it? Why does the “design” of life include so much clumsiness, half-assedness, inefficiency, “fixed that for you” jury-rigs, pointless superfluities, glaring omissions, laughable failures and appalling, mind-numbing brutality?

Big bang Today, I’m asking a similar question: If the universe was “fine-tuned” for life by a perfect, all-powerful God… why did he do such a piss-poor job of it? Why was the 93- billion- light- years- across universe created 13.73 billion years ago… just so the fragile process of human life in one tiny solar system could blink into existence for a few hundred thousand years, a billion years at the absolute most, and then blink out again? Why could an asteroid or a solar flare or any number of other astronomical incidents wipe out that life at any time? If the universe was “fine-tuned” for life to come into being, why is the ridiculously overwhelming majority of it created to be so inhospitable to life? (Even if there’s life on other planets, which is hypothetically possible, the point still remains: Why is the portion of the Universe that’s hospitable to life so absurdly minuscule?)

Atheists are often accused by religious believers of being arrogant. But it’s hard to look at the fine-tuning argument and see any validity to that at all. Believers are the ones who are arguing that the Universe was created just so humanity could come into existence… and that the immeasurable vastness of stars and galaxies far beyond our reach and even beyond our knowledge was still, somehow, put there for us. Maybe so we could see all the pretty blinky lights in the sky. Atheists are the ones who accept that the Universe was not made for us. Atheists are the ones who accept that we are a lucky roll of the dice; an unusual bio-chemical process that’s happening on one planet orbiting one star that happens, for a brief period, to have conditions that allow for it. (I know this is kind of a buzz-kill; here’s a nice humanist philosophy about it that might cheer you up.)

Red_and_blue_dice_3 Yes, the existence of humanity is unlikely. But so is my personal existence, and the existence of the Messier 87 galaxy, and the roll of a die in the sequence 3241154645. That doesn’t mean these things were designed to happen. We are a puddle that evolved to fit in a convenient hole. There is no reason to think that the hole was created for us. And there is every reason to think that it was not. If “The existence of life in the universe just seems too unlikely” is the only argument you can make for why the universe was designed by God, you’re going to have to find a better argument.

Also in this series:
Why ‘Life Had To Have Been Designed’ Is a Terrible Justification for God’s Existence
Why ‘Everything Has a Cause’ Is a Terrible Justification for God’s Existence

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve had to give the rebuttal to this argument many times, as well. I like to use a hand of cards analogy, too.
    The thing people mix up with probabilities is that people make the mistake of thinking that complex life couldn’t have developed without all those premises falling perfectly into place (the variables that make Earth habitable, variables that influence abiogenesis and evolution). We apply significance to the hand of cards the universe has because we’re in it.
    But it’s not significant. It’s clear by the vastness of the universe. There are presumably hundreds of trillions of stars in the universe, each with their own solar system, each with a habitable zone for life.
    Even if the universe had developed in a very different layout (gotten a different hand of cards, and equally as unlikely), the stars would still be there, and there’d likely be stars elsewhere that had planets orbiting in their habitable zone. It’s plausible that Earth is not the only habitable planet out there.

  2. Rex says

    I have always heard that “Perfect Cradle” argument and laughed.
    Our little area is perfect for our type of life because we evolved to fit this environment.
    When I was very young, I learned that the sun outputs its maximum energy exactly in the center of our visible spectrum. Before I was aware of any of this debate, I thought that there was no way it could be a coincidence. Over time I realized that we evolved under the sun, so of course, we would evolve to get the maximum use out of the maximum output wavelength of the nearest star.
    That is why I sometimes get a bit frustrated by the scientists who are looking for the same conditions that would support our type of life elsewhere. They never seem to consider the possibility that we do not posses a unique model for life. It could take different and possibly almost unrecognizable forms, and we are not even considering that possibility.

  3. says

    It seems like this needs a version of Russell’s Turkey –
    A turkey looks around at the world he lives in. There is daily food, a fence to keep out predators, friends, and all seems well. The turkey concludes that the world must have been designed for turkey life. The turkey is then decapitated and served up for dinner.
    Even if the universe were designed with humans in mind, does that mean that the thought was one we would appreciate?

  4. DSimon says

    Rex, that’s a fair point about scientists looking for Earth-like life elsewhere… except, what else can they look for?
    That is, I’m sure most prospective xenobiologists are aware that extraterrestrial life might not be Earth-like at all… but how can we search for something that has no properties we know about? In the meantime, what they can do is look for a known subset of life-enabling conditions.
    Also: looking for Earth-like planets isn’t just to find life elsewhere. It’s also to find good places that we might be able to live ourselves, on some distant day in the future.

  5. says

    The sentient puddle analogy is arguably Douglas Adams’s greatest gift to civilization. I think its importance ranks right up there with Russell’s Teapot.

  6. says

    Well, actually a D&D freak – like many other gamers – would almost certainly call it a d6:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dice#Notation
    The idea of dice with other than six sides is very ancient. For example the ancient Romans had different ones – both six-sided and four sided (talus) examples are common, and we have an example of a Roman 20-sided die marked with greek numerals – roman numerals presumably being too cumbersome for the tiny faces:
    e.g.
    http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=4205385
    I saw a picture of an old 8-sided die a year or two back (but I can’t locate it now unfortunately), and 14-sided examples exist:
    http://romanantiques.net/lot-of-2-roman-bone-14-sided-dice
    It’s not just D&D players that use non-six-sided dice.

  7. says

    I wonder if any philosophical argument can ever suffice to reach the desired conclusion.
    Consider what is meant by “God”, a minimal sort of definition.
    One classic argument for the existence of God was the “first cause” argument of Aquinas. Every event/thing has a cause, and that cause in turn must have a prior cause, but an infinite regress is just unimaginable, so there must have been a First Cause, which we call God. The Marquis deSade replied in one of his books that if we toss a match into a basket of waste paper, and the flames leap up, we could say the match is the cause of the fire, could we not? Is the match Ommniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent? So… there may be a First Cause, but why does the First Cause have to be God? (There are other problems with the First Cause argument besides this.) My point is that to call something God, it must at least be intelligent, a “person” in the usual sense of the word.
    Other arguments I’ve heard are similar to this. The Universe of time and space seems not to have existed eternally; it looks like it had a beginning, and by some arguments must have had a beginning. (Insert verbal hocus-pocus here.) Therefore there must have been an eternal Creator outside of time, who was capable of creating this Universe of time and space. Modern physicists (e.g. Stephen Hawking) have done mathematical hocus-pocus to conclude the Universe may have begun from the collapse of an unstable vacuum, or the collision of two Branes, or whatever. A pregnant vacuum, full of energy, capable of spawning virtual particles and other “real” things, may be the sort of thing that might exist eternally outside of time, but like the match, it may not be intelligent or a “person”.
    Another requirement: to be a “God” for a human religion, an intelligent creator must have US in mind. For the sake of argument, let us suppose that there is a grand, cosmic intelligence, a GOD, and this God created the Universe with a plan in mind. He carefully tuned the physical constants of this Universe so that it would develop stars with systems of planets, and planets hospitable for life; he then guided the evolution of life to produce intelligent, social creatures capable of awareness and choice. He watches the drama of their lives, sometimes intervening to move the story along a better path, favoring some individuals, peoples, and nations above others so as to carry out the drama and the story he wishes to see.
    All of this is happening in a star cluster in the Andromeda Galaxy. That is where the central drama of the Universe is being played out, that is where God’s attention is focused. Life on Earth is an accidental byproduct of the Universe being the kind of Universe where God’s Plan can be enacted. He needed stars with planets hospitable for life, and made a Universe finely tuned to create them; he got enough for his purpose, and a few more scattered about in the hinterlands. We arose accidentally; God hasn’t even noticed that we are here, and would not care about us if He did.
    SO: There IS a meaning and a purpose for the Universe, but it’s not about US.
    Would that satisfy the folks who want to believe in a God? I think not. It just HAS to be all about US.
    A “God” useful for a human religion must also, for some reason, choose to deliver messages to humankind by whispering to a selected few mortal men, and take action in response to obedience or disobedience, belief or nonbelief, or SOMETHING. It has to be an interventionist and a speaker to “prophets”, unable or unwilling to speak to us all directly. (“If a god wishes me to do something, they should tell me, not you.”) A Deist god who created the Universe and then let it run unhindered thereafter would not satisfy; it would make no sense to pray to such a god, or hope for an afterlife or any cosmic Justice. No priests or preachers could exhort their flocks to do this or that to please this god, if this god has given no indication that he/she/it wants our obedience or our worship. Some kind of “revelation”, some promise of Divine response to human action, delivered through some specially-anointed human mouthpiece, is essential for any effective or satisfying theistic religion.
    So, I ask you, could any philosophical argument, of any kind, ever hope to show the likelihood of an intelligent, interventionist God, who has human beings in mind?

  8. says

    When considering the question of whether the anthropic coincidences might not be something more than brute fluke I recall Einstein’s similar thoughts regarding the identity of gravitational and inertial mass. Wondering if this identity might not be something deeper than mere accident led him on to the theory of general relativity.
    A more interesting take on the extravagant unlikeliness of the “anthropic” constants fortuitously having just the right values for the formation of stuff sufficiently stable to form our universe (with or without life) is to interpret them as indirect evidence of the existence of a multiverse!
    Spinoza and Einstein might perhaps have construed an infinity of universes to be as good a concept of God as any.

  9. says

    Minor correction, which actually makes your point stronger:
    “Therefore, the current life span of humanity is a mere one 7,000th of the current lifespan of the Universe.”
    Should read “one 70,000th”.
    I noticed the mistake because I have created a set of atheist pamphlets, one of which deals with deep time compared to humanity’s duration (see Cyberguy’s Atheist Resources – http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~edmin/Pamphlets/)

  10. Wayne Dunlap says

    Greta,
    You bring up the argument of the puddle getting smaller with the sun. I submit to you that neither the puddle, sun nor life could exist if a number of constants were not within an extremely narrow range. For instance, if the gravitational constant were too weak, everything would have imploded shortly after the big bang. If it were too weak, everything would have spread apart not allowing the development of planets. Another constant, the Nuclear Force. Too strong and the atom would not be able to form compounds. Too weak, and the atom would fly apart. And there are a couple of other constants. This tends to indicate the strong possibility that the universe was indeed created for the existence of life. Still not convinced? How about this? Before the big bang, there was NOTHING, yet matter appeared and exploded. In order for this to happen you need to have a CAUSE, however, when there is NOTHING, there cannot be a CAUSE. Someone argued for quantum physics as this cause, but when you have nothing you cannot have quantum physics either. OK, now we have a problem. My suggestion is that, in order to have a cause when there is nothing, you would have to have a super natural force outside of space and time. Yeah, it could be possible that the universe came about with all the constants within the required ranges, but the odds are extremely against it which certainly makes a good argument for a creator.

  11. Wayne Dunlap says

    Greta,
    I neglected to add that without a CAUSE, matter could not have appeared to explode,so whether or not all the constants came about by chance would be mute anyway.

  12. Spencer says

    Wayne-
    I thought I’d respond to you here, since conducting our debate on Hemant’s post seemed off-topic.
    Are you sure you’ve read Greta’s post thoroughly, though? For instance, you wrote this:

    I submit to you that neither the puddle, sun nor life could exist if a number of constants were not within an extremely narrow range.

    But Greta addressed that in her post, saying:

    Yes, the hole fits us rather neatly. But that doesn’t mean the hole was designed to have us in it. We evolved to fit in the hole that happened to be here. If the hole had been shaped differently, something else would have happened instead.

    You wrote:

    This tends to indicate the strong possibility that the universe was indeed created for the existence of life.

    But Greta addressed that, too, in the section entitled “Bitter Expanses of Cold and Blasting Chaotic Heat — The Perfect Vacation Spot!”
    And, of course, you wrote:

    …but the odds are extremely against it which certainly makes a good argument for a creator….

    But as I said on Friendly Atheist before taking the comment down (I intend to put it up in the forums once my account registration is verified), and as Greta has also said, astronomical odds do not necessitate cosmological forces.

  13. says

    Wayne, I followed you here from Hemant’s blog, since this would have been off-topic there.
    You read the puddle analogy but you failed to see what it represents. The universe and all of its constants might as well be designed for that puddle as for life. It’s a myopic view that overinflates our own value in the universe.
    I also often wonder, if this universe is improbably designed for life, then whatever the creator proved by this argument is, it isn’t alive, for that would completely negate your premise. By touting the improbability of life without a fine-tuner, you’ve left no place for him.

  14. says

    I suppose the only real rebuttal to the “vacation spot” point is that no possible universe can be life-friendlier than ours. But that feels like a tall claim.
    In any case, even if certain constants do indeed need to fall in narrow ranges for life to occur, and scientists are at a loss to explain why they are what they are, “God” doesn’t explain it better than anything else.
    Remember, the whole point of the argument is to provide evidence for God’s existence, not evidence that the known scientific phenomenon called “God” is responsible for this state of affairs.
    The difference is subtle but important; the first line of argument is like using the extinction of the dinosaurs to argue that “meteors” exist.
    Well, what are meteors?
    “A meteor is a physical entity capable of intentionally causing mass extinction.”
    See the problem? You have to be able to do at least a little better than that. (One example of doing a little better would be “dark matter”, which is largely a speculated phenomenon, but nonetheless one with more predictive, and hence explanatory, value than the God hypothesis.)
    Anyway, just as with the simpler version of the First Cause argument, you have to ask the next question. In this case, it is this: Out of all the possible gods, why were we lucky enough to get one who just so happened to desire the formation of life, and happened to have a capability of knowing and setting the correct constants? Is there some principle whereby the majority of possible gods (but not the majority of possible universes) are life-friendly?
    I can already guess the theist’s answer: Theirs is the only possible god, because their god is a necessary being. (It’s directly equivalent to the response to “Who created God?” — God just happens to be something with no beginning and therefore no cause.)

  15. John Conolley says

    This “improbability of the constants” argument bugs me. Before you can talk about probability–or improbability– you have to have some idea what the possible range of outcomes is. For instance, I know that the probability of flipping heads with an honest coin is 1/2, because the coin has two sides. I know that the probability of shooting 7 with a pair of (d6) dice is 1/6, because 6 of the 36 possible combinations are 7s.
    Before you can tell me the fine tuning constants are improbable, you have to be able to tell me what other sets of constants are possible. And you can’t tell me, because you don’t know. You don’t know what forces created the constants we have, or what other ways the forces could have acted.
    Indeed, I submit that, since the constants are within, not outside of the universe, and this is the universe with that set of constants, no other constants are possible. Improbability doesn’t apply.

  16. Maxx says

    Good evening;
    If I may? this whole argument sounds like fish in an aquarium arguing and debating whether or not an aquarium keeper exists.
    Ever tried keeping an aquarium up and running? Try it. The fine tuning involved to keep those little guys alive is not easy and yet must be very precise.
    Thank you.

  17. aquaman says

    I have been conversing with atheists across many boards and considering your arguments and the thing it always comes back to.. which no one can give me a sufficient answer for.. composes the fundamental substance of our debate and that is our consciousness..or ability to think and reason. No matter how many fancy astronomical numbers you throw out about the chances of a particular form of matter being developed in whatever obscure corner of the universe you still cannot tell me where consciousness originated and if you suggest that it is merely advanced brain function then I say to you that you are naive to suggest that when your brain as an organ dies there is no ability to know or exist beyond that and in addition I feel sorry for you as you’re existence can be summed as bleak, nihilistic and depressingly temporal… 80 years if you’re lucky, the last 20 with your body deteriorating rapidly then darkness..nothingness..game over forever….Really? This is what you argue and advocate passionately for? Call me a dreamer or fool if you wish but even if God were not real ..and He most certainly is real..I would go out fighting to exist in the great beyond even after my brain is “dead” through the preservation and extension of my consciousness but according to your philosophy that possibility doesn’t even exist. If you suggest that consciousness does exist beyond this dimension then what is your idea about how it may work if you care to speculate at all and what makes it any less preposterous than the idea of an all knowing diety?

  18. Jim Jones says

    “But the Universe is so perfectly fine-tuned for life.”

    Say what? This planet isn’t “fine-tuned for life.” We, and other life forms, survive on it because of some very odd circumstances such as the magnetic core. It would take very little to wipe out life on earth and it’s entirely possible it could happen. It’s like building your house at a bend in the railroad line and hoping there is never a runaway. Also, as humans, we can only survive in a narrow range of places on earth and outside of those only to the limits of our tools, something NOT provided by a ‘god’.

    And as for the actual cosmological fine-tuning argument, I suspect it will turn out that we are using the wrong mathematical or physical system. As has happened so often before someone will make sense of it and then everyone (except the incurious theists) will say, “Of course! I should have seen it myself”.

  19. Will says

    The funny thing is that even if you assume all of this was intentionally and directly created by a God, if both this miniscule pinprick planet and the infinite sea of near-instant inhospitable death that completely surrounds it were put here for us to live in, then God didnt create a cradle, he created a PRISON. A single, near inescapable island surrounded on all sides by frigid uncrossable waters. Earth is Alcatraz.

  20. says

    I love this post! I couldn’t agree more! Here is a small post from a blog post I wrote a few months ago about called Good vs Evil vs God vs Me, I think it goes along with this article well:
    ” Everything we have today is because of how this Universe has developed at random. For me life is a gift but not a gift given by someone or something. A gift of happening, a side effect of our Universe.”

  21. says

    You know how YOU feel when some evangelist totally screws up a description of evolution? To suit their own bias?

    That’s exactly how I feel right now.

    This is an utterly STUPID argument, and totally shows how much you don’t get this.

    Look–for one planet ANYWHERE to have intelligent life, you have to have a universe THIS vast and this old. You would think that one galaxy of a hundred billion stars would be enough.

    BUT.

    A universe that only had the mass of a hundred billion stars would expand for a month–and then recollapse. (THE ANTHROPIC COSMOLOGICAL PRINCIPLE, Barrow and Tipler, section 6.3, pages 384-385 in the hardcover.)

    There would be no time for the production of higher elements (which happen in supernovae) than hydrogen or helium, much less the evolution of life.

    Similarly, we live in an early third-generation star. The Big Bang only produced first-generation stars composed of hydrogen and helium. Higher elements are only produced in supernovae. Unless you think hydrogen and helium only are chemically complex for observers to evolve, you have to have second and third generation stars, for the cosmic environment to have the remains of supernovae, for higher elements. (There’s an interesting coincidence of two separate resonances that allows those higher elements to form,BTW.) So you have to have a universe sufficiently mature and massive, and thanks to the expanding univese, sufficiently large, for ANY observers to evolve…anywhere.

    There’s nothing special about Earth, per se. Given a hundred billion stars in one galaxy, and a hundred billion galaxies, life and intelligence would evolve somewhere, and we can hope in many places.

    But first the universe must be so old, and so big, for even one world to produce observers.

    As for your dice and odds of you particularly being born–strawman. Millions of dicethrows. Billions of births.

    The dice only rolled once for the combination of constants and boundary conditions that resulted in the universe we see, that we can demonstrate.

    If–and note I say if–there is a large ensemble of other existences with differing constants, then your analogy might have some merit. But there is no proof of that. It is, at best, a metaphysical speculation. One that requires billions of unproven and unverifiable entities. At least a theist only needs ONE of those to explain the world we observe.

    Yes, we observers wouldn’t be able to question our existence–because we wouldn’t be here– if the laws were different. That still doesn’t invalidate the question.

    The same way someone aimed at by a firing squad —by thirty different rifles–can question how they can ALL misfire at the same time, allowing him or her to live. Yes, if they didn’t misfire, he or she wouldn’t be there to question it. Yes, it is (remotely) possible that all those guns misfired at once–by sheer chance.

    Me, I’d be looking for whoever gimmicked the rifles.

  22. says

    Quick guilts after a morning walk and a partial apology.

    Although the argument is—ill-informed?–it’s probably wrong to characterize it as stupid. Or, rather, YOU’RE not stupid, and nobody knows everything.

    It is unworthy of someone who is usually clear-thinking and shows a lack of research in the subject.

    It’s like a quick dismissive reference from Michelle Bachmann that evolution is just “one among many” theories. It shows a lack of understanding of the full breadth of what has been found out.

    I don’t hold any hope for Bachmann’s willful misunderstanding.

    You I hold to a higher standard in that I feel you are an honest seeker after truth, but it’s unfair to blame you for not having knowledge you didn’t have.

    Withdrawing the “stupid” above. Apologies.

  23. harsini says

    Hi
    Your comparison between human creature and Earth creature is completely wrong.If there were only one egg and one sperm and a human was being created by them then we would compare that with the creature of Earth and it’s special features.While there are and there were billions of billions people and there are much more of that sperms and eggs then this comparison make no sense because the probability of a human creature after having sex is high and the subject that which egg and sperm are combined together is not important.If this probability wasn’t so high there weren’t this much people in the world.But there is only one planet like earth in all the the universe known to human being until now and if the probability of Earth creature was so high that you said we should see much more planets similar to Earth.

    Excuse me for my poor English. I’m not an English native speaker.

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