Home Forums Deep Time Journey Forum Is the universe a "living system"? Reply To: Is the universe a "living system"?

Jon Cleland Host


Ed wrote/clipped:


*****According to this controversial fine-tuning hypothesis, life can only evolve in rare patches of the multiverse where the fundamental constants are fine-tuned to support the existence of life.******


There are many reasons why the physical constants don’t clearly suggest any kind fine-tuner or such.  We simply don’t know what the bounds are on these – if any other values are possible.  For instance, the same explanation used elsewhere is true for me as well – that when I learned multiplication, I saw no reason why 4 X 8 had to be the same as 8 X 4.  It was as if there was some fine tuner who miraculously programmed 8 X 4 to be just exactly equal to 4 X 8, – perhaps to show His benevolence to learners like me.    But of course, many of us now understand that these two numbers are not independently free to be “set” at any values – and the same could be true of other numbers.  


There are other reasons like this one that show that the physical constants do not require, or even suggest, fine tuning.  Perhaps the clearest point here is the fact that the physicists who best understand these constants have not suddenly formed a unified front to argue for theism, nor any similar conclusion from anthropic ideas.

Ed wrote/clipped:

*****The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10 to the 40,000power, an outrageously small probability ……the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court….The enormous information content of even the simplest living systems…cannot in our view be generated by what are often called “natural” processes…For life to have originated on the Earth it would be necessary that quite explicit instruction should have been provided for its assembly…There is no way in which we can expect to avoid the need for information, ….******


I’m not sure where to start here.  This seems to significantly underestimate the ability of natural selection to, well, select.  After all, you don’t need 2,000 enzymes – all you need is replication.  This sounds an awful lot like the standard “God of the gaps” argument – where “since we don’t fully understand it, it must have been by (Jesus), (intelligence), (Aliens), (quantum foam), (Allah), (the FSM), (etc.).  This is the same stuff used by creationists all the time (examples here: (https://answersingenesis.org/evidence-against-evolution/probability/applying-probabilities-to-evolution/  http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/ReferencesandNotes32.html ).  I mean, we could get into all the details that show that we know so many more plausible steps than this 30+ year old quote shows, but that’s really not important when the basic method of the quote is that of the God of the gaps argument.


Ed, I think we can, as a team working to promote the Universe Story, avoid creationist methods.