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A Teleological Argument for God

An argument from fine tuning (or for design)


WLC’s Version of the Argument

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

  3. Therefore, it is due to design.

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Is the Universe Fine Tuned?

  • Fine-tuning refers to how the conditions that allow for a life-permitting universe can only occur when fundamental constants of the physical universe lie within a very narrow range of variables.

  • Constants refer to the unchanging quantities found in the laws of natures, e.g. the force of gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the subatomic 'weak' force. The laws of nature do not determine these constants; there could be universes governed by the same laws with constants of different values.

  • Arbitrary quantities are the initial conditions on which the laws of nature operate, such as the level of entropy or the amount of matter in the universe. These are not determined by the laws either.


Examples of Fine Tuning

  • Altering the 'weak' nuclear force by one part out of 10^100 or the cosmological constant by one part out of 10^120 will prevent life from forming anywhere in the universe, as not even matter or chemistry could exist.

  • By comparison, the number of subatomic particles in the universe is 10^80.


The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

  • This premise simply lists the three plausible options available to explain fine-tuning. While other alternatives are welcome, none have been offered thus far.


It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

  • Physical necessity means that the laws of nature dictate that the constants and quantities must have these values alone and could not be different. We can rule this out since the constants and quantities are not determined by the laws of nature, but the laws of nature operate given these quantities. Even a 'theory of everything' that could unify the four basic forces of nature (gravity, the weak force, the strong force, and electromagnetism) would not imply that life-permitting universes must exist. On the contrary, all the evidence indicates that life-prohibiting universes are far more likely to exist.

  • Chance means that it was just an accident that all the constants and quantities fell into the life-permitting range. However, given the odds of a life-prohibiting universe are astronomically more likely, why did a life-permitting universe emerge? This is not comparable to a lottery where someone must win, since we are not asking why a particular universe exists.


Objection: We can only observe life permitting universes

  • It is not sufficient to claim that no explanation is required since a life-permitting universe is the only kind that we can observe. This does not eliminate the need for an explanation. It is also an unscientific position to take.


What about a multiverse?

  • The Many Worlds hypothesis claims that there could be an infinite number of randomly ordered universes.

  • However, any mechanism for producing the multiverse itself would also require fine-tuning to explain its operations.

  • Furthermore, even a multiverse that is on average expanding must have a finite beginning, as required by the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem.

  • Worst still, it is far more likely to observe an orderly universe of a small scale than the actual universe that we have. We should believe that our brain is all that exists, and everything else is an illusion (known as the Boltzmann brain problem).


Objection: Who designed the designer?

  • Once you understand what God is (by definition) you realize this question is incoherent. Who made the unmade?

  • God exists necessarily.

  • To recognise an explanation as the best, we do not need to have an explanation of the explanation. For example, archaeologists discovering items that resemble arrowheads and pottery shards are justified in inferring that these were produced by people, even if they had no explanation who they were. Demanding an explanation for an explanation would lead to an infinite regress and destroy science.


Objection: God is as complex as the universe

  • Professor Dawkins also objects to intelligent design by arguing that God is just as complex as the universe, so no explanatory advancement is made.

  • Simplicity is not the only criterion nor the most important when assessing an explanation. We also need to examine its explanatory scope and power.

  • Furthermore, God is a remarkably simple entity, because he is a mind (or soul) without a physical body. The ideas of the mind may be complex, but the mind itself is not complex.


An Ancient Greek Perspective

  • “He imagined in this work the impact that the sight of the world would have upon a race of men who had lived underground their entire lives and never beheld the sky and one day managed to escape from their subterranean prison. He writes:

  • “When thus they would suddenly gain sight of the earth, seas, and the sky; when they should come to know the grandeur of the clouds and the might of the winds; when they should behold the sun and should learn its grandeur and beauty as well as its power to cause the day by shedding light over the sky; and again, when the night had darkened the lands and they should behold the whole of the sky spangled and adorned with stars; and when they should see the changing lights of the moon as it waxes and wanes, and the risings and settings of all these celestial bodies, their courses fixed and changeless throughout all eternity—when they should behold all these things, most certainly they would have judged both that there exist gods and that all these marvelous works are the handiwork of the gods. (Plato, On Philosophy)” WLC


The Watchmaker Argument

  • If you found a watch in a field it is more likely it came from a designer then by chance.

  • Similarly the universe has the appearance of design suggesting a designer.

  • Whether this is successful depends on how close one considers the analogy or on whether this is the inference to the best explanation.

  • The Blind Watchmaker


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