Today we continue with Chapter Seven in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Seven, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!
Chapter Seven: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?
Chapter seven looks at the fine-tuning of the universe for life. From the expansion rate of the universe, to the tuning of the four fundamental forces, to the fine-tuning of the constants, the authors summarize some of the main reasons physicists acknowledge that the universe is delicately balanced for life. They also point out the atheistic objections to pointing to a fine-tuner, such as the weak anthropic principle, “who designed the designer?”, and the multiverse hypothesis.
Jay Richards contributes an essay responding to the objection that the fine-tuning argument doesn’t “go far enough” to point all the way to the Christian God. However, Richards argues that the argument goes just as far as it is supposed to.
What happens when we try to assign a probability to the fine-tuning of all the known constants of nature? Oxford physicist Roger Penrose concluded that such a task would be impossible, since the necessary digits would be greater than the number of elementary particles in the universe.6 This level of precision completely dwarfs human technology and innovation. (p. 97)
Given all the possible variations of the constants, why do we happen to find ourselves in a universe capable of supporting life? Merely claiming that we could not observe ourselves in any other universe offers no explanation for why we are actually in a fine-tuned universe in the first place. (p. 98)
Does this mean that multiple universes, if they were ever discovered, would undermine God? Absolutely not! We would still be left with the question as to what generated our fine-tuned universe, and any system that generates a habitable universe must itself be fine-tuned. The multiverse hypothesis simply moves the fine-tuning problem up one level, asking why multiple universes are able to sustain life. (p. 100)
- How would you respond to the “who designed the designer” objection?
- How would you respond to the weak anthropic principle objection?
- Why does the multiverse hypothesis not defeat the design hypothesis to account for fine-tuning?
- The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzales and Jay Richards
- A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology by Alister McGrath