While pointing out the fallacies of Sean Carroll’s arguments against the fine tuning of the universe, Vincent Torley makes an interesting point: that God wants us to infer His existence (and benevolence, I would add) by the nature of the fine-tuning of the universe.
1. Mis-statement of the fine-tuning hypothesis
In his fifth point, Dr. Carroll remarks: “[I]f you played the game honestly, what you would say is, ‘Here is the universe that I expect to exist under theism. I will compare it to the data and see if it fits.’” Evidently Carroll thinks we should take two hypotheses – theism and naturalism – and compare their scientific predictions about the universe we observe. If theism makes superior predictions, it warrants acceptance; otherwise, it fails.
But the fine-tuning hypothesis doesn’t merely state that God exists: it states that the universe He made was fine-tuned for life, and especially intelligent life. Now, why would that be? After all, as Dr. Carroll points out in his video, God could have easily produced intelligent life in a universe that wasn’t fine-tuned. If fine-tuning is not required in order to generate the desired product (intelligent life), and if it is no easier for the producer (God) to make the product in that way, then the only possible reason for fine-tuning must have to do with God wanting to be known by us. In other words, God fine-tuned the universe because He wants us to discover His existence through the fine-tuning of the cosmos.
The fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life is the evidence E for the fine-tuning hypothesis. The reason why I mention these points is that in many “standard” formulations of the fine-tuning argument, fine-tuning is treated as part of our background knowledge – which makes no sense at all, because the discovery of fine-tuning a few decades ago came as a surprise to scientists – while the existence of life is treated as part of the evidence for theism, despite the fact that it is old evidence, which we knew about all along. I find Roberts’ new presentation of the argument highly persuasive.
The reader will also note that my formulation of the fine-tuning hypothesis (FH) above does not make any explicit reference to fine-tuning – otherwise, it would commit the fallacy of assuming the very evidence it is supposed to explain. However, the occurrence of fine-tuning would certainly be a very natural corollary of the fine-tuning hypothesis: if there is a Creator Who wants to make His existence known to us scientifically, then the fine-tuning of the cosmos would be about as clear a signal as you could possibly get, from a scientific standpoint. (I’ll say more about miracles and signs in the heavens below: as we’ll see, they’re more ambiguous than fine-tuning.)
Jesus did argue against merely looking for signs and wonders…
Stated in this way, the fine-tuning hypothesis is opposed not only to atheism (which denies the existence of a cosmic Creator), but also various versions of theism in which the Creator either does not wish His existence to be discovered by us (i.e. a Deity Who wishes to remain hidden), or does not wish His existence to be discovered by us through fine-tuning, but in some other way (i.e. a Deity Who refuses to provide scientific evidence for His existence, preferring us to rely on philosophical arguments or evidence from miraculous signs, instead). If confirmed, the fine-tuning hypothesis does not confirm theism as such, but a particular version of theism.
So, it isn’t miraculous signs, nor philosophy, that is the best pointer to Christ: but His word and the very nature of the universe’s infrastructure.
Finally, I should point out that the fine-tuning hypothesis does not require that the Creator of the cosmos be identical with the God of classical theism: a God Who is being Itself, and Who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. The God of the fine-tuning argument is an extra-cosmic Intelligence Who, having created its laws, is not bound by any of them. As such, this Deity is transcendent – but that’s about all we can say about Him/Her/It. (If I use the pronoun “He” in this post, it is purely for the sake of convenience.)
Intelligent Design isn’t the same thing as Christianity: it merely is a good fit. It is certainly possible to be a believing Muslim, or a Hindu, or a simple Deist and also uphold Intelligent Design. Buddhism may have a problem though, as they have no place for a God Who reveals His existence in nature: materialistic Atheism is simply false.
(Odd thing about Buddhism: they insist on a law that governs the universe – Karma – but this law is quite impersonal, and has no place for either mercy or communication between the Divine and the Mortal.)
I should add that if Dr. Carroll wishes to deny the reality of fine-tuning, he really should rebut the (very detailed) scientific arguments contained in cosmologist Luke Barnes’ Arxiv paper, The Fine Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life (December 21, 2011). Dr. Barnes makes a very powerful case.
But if our universe was intelligently designed, instead of being just one of countless universes in an infinite multiverse, this agreement with “naive predictions” is precisely what we might expect to find. What it tells us is that the universe was designed to be beautiful.
God values beauty, as well as truth, as well as justice, as well as the protection of the innocent. Secular society places no value on any of this: in addition to being surprisingly ugly, power and pleasure are the only gods it will kneel to.
And that’s why it is doomed.
It is incumbent for Christians to create a different society, a better civilization.
(Surprisingly, secular societies are ugly even in comparison to Islamic cultures. Brutal, unjust and oppressive they may be, but Islamic societies can produce great poetry, beautiful calligraphy, and graceful architecture. But then again, Islam does claim to recognize something above the will of powerful men & black-robed bureaucrats as the Source of the Law; and they do value children.
Murderous and cruel as the Islamic State is, it simply is not as murderous or as arbitrary as the run-of-the-mill abortionist Western state.)