Multiverse Musings: Not Fine-Tuned Enough?
A recent paper entitled “Evidence against Fine Tuning for Life” appears to falsify a major component of RTB’s creation model—namely that the universe is fine-tuned for life on many scales. However, a closer inspection of the research shows how this result fits comfortably within RTB’s model and highlights an apologetic pitfall.
Every physicist knows about the incredible balance reflected in the laws of physics that allows this universe to support life. Small changes in any of the constants that govern the strength of the forces appear to make life impossible. So, what can explain the fine-tuning of these laws? One prominent researcher, Don Page from the University of Alberta, argues that an omnipotent being is not the answer based on the measured value of the cosmological constant (or dark energy). Page tests the following premise: “The fraction of baryons that develops into living organisms is maximized by the observed constants of physics.”
According to Page, life represents some (small) fraction of the baryons that condense to form structures (galaxies, clusters of galaxies, stars, planets, etc.). The number of baryons in such structures cannot be maximized by a positive value of the cosmological constant; thus, the observed positive value for the cosmological constant falsifies the premise tested by Page.1
RTB never argues that the universe is designed to optimize the quantity of life in the universe. Rather, we maintain that God designed this universe in order to display His glory, provide humanity a home, allow humanity to play a critical role in the conquest of evil, and for other purposes that He may not have revealed yet. Given this position, we find it unlikely that other life exists in the universe. In fact, our position might even imply only enough fine-tuning to ensure humanity’s existence. (Even if God chose to create life in other places, it would not mean that the amount of life in the universe is maximized.) So, rather than falsify RTB’s model, this research adds to the body of evidence to support it.
The research article’s title conjures an image that initially suggests a strictly naturalist view, rather than a creationist view, of the universe. As an apologist, one must push past this initial impression to ascertain the true implications of the research. Aside from the “optimization of quantity” issue discussed above, the article focuses on one piece (the cosmological constant) of a complex issue (how the laws of physics impact the habitability of the universe). It is difficult enough to assess how much life’s existence depends on the cosmological constant, but how the various constants and forces depend on one another complicates the problem even more. At this point, scientists don’t have a deep enough understanding of these interactions to determine an optimum value for any of life’s parameters. The apologist must evaluate the strength of the author’s argument, namely the “evidence against fine tuning for life” in light of these issues.
In all fairness to Page, his revised version of the paper addresses these optimization issues in more detail and the title was changed to a more modest statement.2 Additionally, Page expresses his preference for using the multiverse to explain the life-friendly values of the laws and constants of physics.
Along with digging deeper to understand the true implications of research articles, the Christian apologist needs to avoid one more trap—carrying unnecessary apologetic baggage. One could simply dismiss Page’s argument for the multiverse on the grounds that it doesn’t accord with the Bible. However, I maintain that the multiverse fits comfortably within a Christian worldview. Additionally, multiverse research strengthens both the cosmological argument and teleological argument for God’s existence.
If you would like to see a question about the multiverse addressed in this forum, send it to [email protected].
- Don N. Page, “Evidence against Fine Tuning for Life,” https://arxiv.org/abs/1101.2444v1.
- Page, “Preliminary Inconclusive Hint of Evidence Against Optimal Fine Tuning of the Cosmological Constant for Maximizing the Fraction of Baryons Becoming Life,” https://arxiv.org/abs/1101.2444v2.