Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins

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Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins » Astronomy & Cosmology and God » Douglas Adams Puddle thinking

Douglas Adams Puddle thinking

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1Douglas Adams Puddle thinking Empty Douglas Adams Puddle thinking on Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:12 pm


Douglas Adams Puddle thinking

Douglas Adamas puddle analogy falls short by the fact that the Big Bang was the most precisely finely tuned event in all of history and must have been logically the result of foresight and planning. Amongst many constants, just one, the cosmological constant, had to be adjusted at a precision of one to 10^123, an astronomically unimaginably huge number. There are 10^80 atoms in the universe.

Professor Stephen Hawking:
'If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the Universe would have recollapsed before it ever reached its present state.' -

Douglas Adams:
“This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'

What, though, can we make of the coincidences in the physical constants involved in nucleosynthesis? They cannot be dismissed as readily as other arguments. A complicated biological organism must indeed emerge in tune with its environment; but the basic physical laws are "given," and nothing can react back to modify them. It does seem worthy of note that these laws permit something interesting to have happened in the Universe, where there could so easily have been a "stillborn" universe in which no complexity could evolve.

Isn't it justified to have the subjective expression of surprise that a delicate balance seems to prevail?

Sir Fred Hoyle wrote in Galaxies, Nuclei, and Quasars:
"the laws of physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside stars. We exist only in portions of the universe where the energy levels in carbon and oxygen nuclei happen to be correctly placed."

In response to Hoyle's comment, one might ask if the physical constants could be different in different parts of the Universe, or at different times. Paul Dirac suggested, half a century ago, that the gravitational constant might change as the Universe aged; this is now ruled out by observations, and there is no evidence that any other physical constants have varied— strict constraints are imposed by observations of the spectra of distant objects, from radioactive decay over the geological past.

Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking…” He doesn’t seem to realize that, in order for a puddle to wake up and think its first thought, a vast number of interconnected and incredibly unlikely coincidences have to occur.

The Big Bang had to happen, and the Big Bang had to explode with just the right amount of force to allow matter to disperse  and allow galaxies to form. Had the Big Bang not been precisely fine-tuned, our universe might consist of nothing but tenuous hydrogen gas—or a single supermassive black hole. The laws of nature had to be laid down at the instant of the Big Bang, and had to be fine-tuned to an accuracy of one part in the trillions before the universe itself could exist, much less a contemplative puddle.

The electromagnetic force, the gravitational force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force all had to be perfectly balanced in order for stars to form and begin cooking up the elements needed to make planets—silicon, nickel, iron, oxygen, magnesium, and so forth. Adams’ pensive puddle could not find itself sitting in “an interesting hole” unless the hole was situated on a planet orbiting a star that was part of a galaxy that was created by the incredibly fine-tuned forces and conditions of the Big Bang.

And in order for that puddle to wake up one morning and think at all, it would need to be a lot more complex than a mere puddle of water. A thinking puddle would be a very complex puddle. Even if that puddle were comprised of exotic alien nerve cells suspended in a matrix of liquid ammonia, it would certainly need something like lipid molecules and protein structures and nucleic acids in order to become sufficiently evolved as to wake up and contemplate its own existence.

Such components require the existence of carbon. And if you know anything about where carbon comes from, you know that carbon doesn’t grow on trees. It is formed in an amazingly fine-tuned process involving the precise placement of a nuclear resonance level in a beryllium atom. Any enlightened plashet would have to conclude that a superintellect had monkeyed with physics, chemistry, and the biological composition of pools and puddles.

The rest of Douglas Adams’ scenario, in which “the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and … the puddle gets smaller and smaller” is meaningless in view of the fact that dozens and dozens of events, forces, and conditions have to interact in a fine-tuned way in order for the sun to exist, the air to exist, the sky to exist, and the hole in the ground to exist, so that a puddle can wake up one morning and wonder about its place in the cosmic order.

No analogy is perfect, of course, but The Puddle Analogy is downright misleading. It misrepresents the essence of the fine-tuning argument. An analogy should simplify, but not over-simplify.

Last edited by Admin on Sun May 12, 2019 11:33 am; edited 8 times in total

2Douglas Adams Puddle thinking Empty Re: Douglas Adams Puddle thinking on Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:20 pm


Any configuration of dirt supports water whereas very, very few configurations of physics can support life. Some skeptical scientists who have studied the fine-tuning explicitly state this analogy “doesn’t hold water” – such as David Deutsch.

The fine-tuning deals with how the physics has to be setup before life gets started so without fine-tuning there is no evolutionary way for adapting life to the universe.

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