For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God. Normally that means I got a letter in my ongoing religious discussion with a relative or that it was brought up in some forum I visit, but not this time. I really don’t know why I’ve been thinking about it.
As you probably know, the argument is that certain properties of our universe are exactly the values needed for life and the probability of this is so low that there must be a creator god. In my review of Strobel’s book, I pointed out a big problem: we don’t know the probability of a god creating the universe. This is pointed out in some form here and here. More specifically, if you want to say that the universe is too improbable to have happened naturally, you are implicitly comparing that to the probability of a supernatural cause. However, the mere existence of God seems beyond calculation, not to mention calculating the probability of Him creating this exact universe. God’s pretty complex, isn’t he? Doesn’t that make Him improbable? Here we get into strange territory.
As far as I can tell, Christian theologians for the most part see God as infinitely simple, though he appears infinitely complex to us. I can attest to the second part. If He is that complex, the fine-tuning argument falls apart; it seems obvious that the probability of an infinitely complex (or something close to infinite complexity) being is much less probable than our complex, but finitely so, universe. The idea of divine simplicity doesn’t lend itself to such quantification, though. The laws of probability would seem to go out the window (then again, the same thing may happen in the infinitely complex situation). I haven’t asked, but I don’t think a Christian would believe calculating the probability of God is possible or even coherent. So the fine-tuning argument seems to compare two incomparable things. At best, it compares one reasonably calculated (though, I should point out, often exaggerated) probability with a completely unknown one and decides the unknown one is more probable.
I find this objection very obvious. I’m actually surprised more skeptics don’t use it. The most popular objection is the multiverse. That seems to be a valid objection, but we really don’t know if we’re in a multiverse or not. There are a few decent reasons to think so, but we’re on shaky ground. The objection I outlined above is much better. Maybe the multiverse idea seems more conclusive. It’s hard to say that the probability of God is lower than the probability of the universe, which is more conclusive than saying we don’t know the probability of God so we can’t make the comparison. Plus, the multiverse is an attempt to answer the central problem brought up by the fine-tuning argument: how can our universe be this fine-tuned? If we have these probabilities that border on the absurd, there has to be some explanation, right? The objection I outlined rids us of God as an explantion, but doesn’t give us an actual explanation. It’s a bit unsatisfying.
Objections to my argument are welcome. I can think of one possible one, but it may require its own post.