Defending the Christian Worldview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design
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Defending the Christian Worldview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

This is my personal virtual library, where i collect information, which leads in my view to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation of the origin of the physical Universe, life, and biodiversity

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Defending the Christian Worldview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design » Astronomy & Cosmology and God » Fine-tuning: Is the universe finely tuned due to physical necessity ?

Fine-tuning: Is the universe finely tuned due to physical necessity ?

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Is the universe finely tuned due to physical necessity ?

A universe where these fundamental constants have different values is just as mathematically and logically consistent as our own. They represent other universes among the set of possible universes. Accordingly, these constants are considered free parameters.

Of the 30 known fundamental physical constants, very few of them can change to any significant degree without leading to a barren universe. For instance, universes of only hydrogen, universes with no aggregations of matter, or universes of only black holes.

Paul Davies: God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science page 148–49, 2003
“There is not a shred of evidence that the Universe is logically necessary. Indeed, as a theoretical physicist I find it rather easy to imagine alternative universes that are logically consistent, and therefore equal contenders of reality”

Arbitrary Quantities
As for the arbitrary quantities, remember those are completely independent of the laws of nature – they are just put in as initial conditions on which the laws of nature then operate. Nothing seems to make these quantities necessary in the values they have. The opponent of design is taking a very radical line that would require some sort of evidence, some sort of proof. But there isn’t any proof that these constants and quantities are physically necessary. This alternative is just put forth as a bare possibility, and possibilities come cheap. What we are looking for is probabilities or plausibilities, and there just isn’t any evidence that the constants and quantities are physically necessary in the way that this alternative imagines.

Paul Davies:  Information, and the Nature of reality , page 86:
Given that the universe could be otherwise, in vastly many different ways, what is it that determines the way the universe actually is? Expressed differently, given the apparently limitless number of entities that can exist, who or what gets to decide what actually exists? The universe contains certain things: stars, planets, atoms, living organisms … Why do those things exist rather than others? Why not pulsating green jelly, or interwoven chains, or fractal hyperspheres? The same issue arises for the laws of physics. Why does gravity obey an inverse square law rather than an inverse cubed law? Why are there two varieties of electric charge rather than four, and three “flavors” of neutrino rather than seven? Even if we had a unified theory that connected all these facts, we would still be left with the puzzle of why that theory is “the chosen one.” "Each new universe is likely to have laws of physics that are completely different from our own."  If there are vast numbers of other universes, all with different properties, by pure odds at least one of them ought to have the right combination of conditions to bring forth stars, planets, and living things. “In some other universe, people there will see different laws of physics,” Linde says. “They will not see our universe. They will see only theirs. In 2000, new theoretical work threatened to unravel string theory. Joe Polchinski at the University of California at Santa Barbara and Raphael Bousso at the University of California at Berkeley calculated that the basic equations of string theory have an astronomical number of different possible solutions, perhaps as many as 10^1,000*.   Each solution represents a unique way to describe the universe. This meant that almost any experimental result would be consistent with string theory. When I ask Linde whether physicists will ever be able to prove that the multiverse is real, he has a simple answer. “Nothing else fits the data,” he tells me. “We don’t have any alternative explanation for the dark energy; we don’t have any alternative explanation for the smallness of the mass of the electron; we don’t have any alternative explanation for many properties of particles.

The Degree of Fine-Tuning in our Universe – and Others
This paper reviews the current constraints on these quantities. The discussion starts with an assessment of the parameters that are allowed to vary.

Even if all constants in this universe were reduced to a single TOE with just one universal constant, there is no reason why another universe should obey the same TOE. Otherwise, one would have to explain the origin of the order given by the TOE. Others have recognized the inadequacy of such explanations and have actually proposed that universes with very different behavior may exist.

If the parameters are allowed to vary, there is no physical necessity.

Steven Weinberg:   Department of Physics, University of Texas
Anthropic Considerations
In several cosmological theories the observed big bang is just one member of an ensemble. The ensemble may consist of different expanding regions at different times and locations in the same spacetime,7 or of different terms in the wave function of the universe.8 If the vacuum energy density ρV varies among the different members of this ensemble, then the value observed by any species of astronomers will be conditioned by the necessity that this value of ρV should be suitable for the evolution of intelligent life. 5

The first option, physical necessity, is the easiest to dismiss. The idea that it was physically impossible for the universe to have been created in any way other than in a manner that would support life is neither logically necessary nor scientifically plausible. As Barr notes, “In the final analysis one cannot escape from two very basic facts: the laws of nature did not have to be as they are; and the laws of nature had to be very special in form if life were to be possible.” Our options, therefore, are between chance (the anthropic coincidences truly are coincidences) or design (the parameters needed for life were purposely arranged). While it cannot be established with absolute certainty, we can, I believe, determine that design is the most probable explanation.

Physical Necessity
First, let’s talk about physical necessity. As I just explained, according to this alternative the universe has to be life-permitting. The constants and the quantities had to have the values that they do. It is literally physically impossible for the universe to be life-prohibiting. It is physically necessary that the universe be a life-permitting universe. 1

String theory, the current best candidate for a "theory of everything," predicts an enormous ensemble, numbering 10 to the power 500 by one accounting, of parallel universes. Thus in such a large or even infinite ensemble, we should not be surprised to find ourselves in an exceedingly fine-tuned universe. [url=]3[/url]

On the very face of it, this is an extraordinarily implausible explanation of the fine tuning. It would require us to say that a life-prohibiting universe is physically impossible – such a thing could not exist. And that is an extremely radical view. Why take such a radical position? The constants, as we have seen, are not determined by the laws of nature. Nature’s laws could hold, and the constants could take any of a wide range of values, so there is nothing about the laws of nature that require the constants to have the values that they do.

What About God?
For many physicists, the multiverse remains a desperate measure, ruled out by the impossibility of confirmation. Critics see the anthropic principle as a step backward, a return to a human-centered way of looking at the universe that Copernicus discredited five centuries ago. They complain that using the anthropic principle to explain the properties of the universe is like saying that ships were created so that barnacles could stick to them.

“If you allow yourself to hypothesize an almost unlimited portfolio of different worlds, you can explain anything,” says John Polkinghorne, formerly a theoretical particle physicist at Cambridge University and, for the past 26 years, an ordained Anglican priest. If a theory allows anything to be possible, it explains nothing; a theory of anything is not the same as a theory of everything, he adds.

If the life-friendly fine-tuning of our universe is just a chance occurrence, something that inevitably arises in an endless array of universes, is there any need for a fine-tuner—for a god?

“I don’t think that the multiverse idea destroys the possibility of an intelligent, benevolent creator,” Weinberg says. “What it does is remove one of the arguments for it, just as Darwin’s theory of evolution made it unnecessary to appeal to a benevolent designer to understand how life developed with such remarkable abilities to survive and breed.”

” Carr says, “you might have to have a fine-tuner. If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.”

Cosmic Coincidences
If these cosmic traits were just slightly altered, life as we know it would be impossible. A few examples:

• Stars like the sun produce energy by fusing two hydrogen atoms into a single helium atom. During that reaction, 0.007 percent of the mass of the hydrogen atoms is converted into energy, via Einstein’s famous e = mc2 equation. But if that percentage were, say, 0.006 or 0.008, the universe would be far more hostile to life. The lower number would result in a universe filled only with hydrogen; the higher number would leave a universe with no hydrogen (and therefore no water) and no stars like the sun.

• The early universe was delicately poised between runaway expansion and terminal collapse. Had the universe contained much more matter, additional gravity would have made it implode. If it contained less, the universe would have expanded too quickly for galaxies to form.

• Had matter in the universe been more evenly distributed, it would not have clumped together to form galaxies. Had matter been clumpier, it would have condensed into black holes.

• Atomic nuclei are bound together by the so-called strong force. If that force were slightly more powerful, all the protons in the early universe would have paired off and there would be no hydrogen, which fuels long-lived stars. Water would not exist, nor would any known form of life. 2

John D. Barrow: Inconstant Constants Do the inner workings of nature change with time? February 1, 2006  6
Some things never change. Physicists call them the constants of nature. Such quantities as the velocity of light, c, Newton's constant of gravitation, G, and the mass of the electron, me, are assumed to be the same at all places and times in the universe. They form the scaffolding around which the theories of physics are erected, and they define the fabric of our universe. Physics has progressed by making ever more accurate measurements of their values.

And yet, remarkably, no one has ever successfully predicted or explained any of the constants. Physicists have no idea why constants take the special numerical values that they do (given the choice of units). In SI units, c is 299,792,458; G is 6.673 1011; and me is 9.10938188 1031--numbers that follow no discernible pattern. The only thread running through the values is that if many of them were even slightly different, complex atomic structures such as living beings would not be possible. The desire to explain the constants has been one of the driving forces behind efforts to develop a complete unified description of nature, or theory of everything. Physicists have hoped that such a theory would show that each of the constants of nature could have only one logically possible value. It would reveal an underlying order to the seeming arbitrariness of nature.

In recent years, however, the status of the constants has grown more muddled, not less. Researchers have found that the best candidate for a theory of everything, the variant of string theory called M-theory, is self-consistent only if the universe has more than four dimensions of space and time--as many as seven more. One implication is that the constants we observe may not, in fact, be the truly fundamental ones. Those live in the full higher-dimensional space, and we see only their three-dimensional shadows.

Meanwhile, physicists have also come to appreciate that the values of many of the constants may be the result of mere happenstance, acquired during random events and elementary particle processes early in the history of the universe. In fact, string theory allows for a vast number--10^500--of possible worlds with different self-consistent sets of laws and constants [see The String Theory Landscape, by Raphael Bousso and Joseph Polchinski; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, September 2004]. So far researchers have no idea why our combination was selected. Continued study may reduce the number of logically possible worlds to one, but we have to remain open to the unnerving possibility that our known universe is but one of many--a part of a multiverse--and that different parts of the multiverse exhibit different solutions to the theory, our observed laws of nature being merely one edition of many systems of local bylaws [see Parallel Universes, by Max Tegmark; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, May 2003].

No further explanation would then be possible for many of our numerical constants other than that they constitute a rare combination that permits consciousness to evolve. Our observable universe could be one of many isolated oases surrounded by an infinity of lifeless space--a surreal place where different forces of nature hold sway and particles such as electrons or structures such as carbon atoms and DNA molecules could be impossibilities. If you tried to venture into that outside world, you would cease to be.

Thus, string theory gives with the right hand and takes with the left. It was devised in part to explain the seemingly arbitrary values of the physical constants, and the basic equations of the theory contain few arbitrary parameters. Yet so far string theory offers no explanation for the observed values of the constants.

Uzan (2011), chapter 7: "Why Are The Constants Just So?":
"The numerical values of the fundamental constants are not determined by the laws of nature in which they appear. One can wonder why they have the values we observe. In particular, as pointed out by many authors, the constants of nature seem to be fine-tuned [Leslie (1989)]. Many physicists take this fine-tuning to be an explanandum that cries for an explanans, hence following Hoyle [(1965)] who wrote that 'one must at least have a modicum of curiosity about the strange dimensionless numbers that appear in physics.'"

Hamish Johnston: Changes spotted in fundamental constant 02 Sep 2010
Billions of years ago the strength of the electromagnetic interaction was different at opposite ends of universe. That’s the surprising conclusion of a group of physicists in Australia, who have studied light from ancient quasars. The researchers found that the fine-structure constant, known as α, has changed in both space and time since the Big Bang.

The fine-structure constant, about 1/137, is a measure of the strength of the electromagnetic interaction and quantifies how electrons bind within atoms and molecules. It is a dimensionless number, which makes it even more fundamental than other constants such as the strength of gravity, the speed of light or the charge on the electron.

J. K. Webb: Indications of a spatial variation of the fine structure constant 23 Aug 2010

Recent research also introduced the possibility that the constant has actually increased over the last six billion years, even though slightly.

The big baffling number at the heart of a cosmic coincidence
Alpha is one of the fundamental constants in physics. If it had not the precise value that it has, there would be no life in the universe.

One of these fundamental constants is the fine-structure constant, or alpha, which is the coupling constant for the electromagnetic force and equal to about 1/137.0359. If alpha were just 4% bigger or smaller than it is, stars wouldn't be able to make carbon and oxygen, which would have made it impossible for life as we know it to exist.

The reason 137 has obsessed so many thinkers to try and find the math behind it is clear. Einstein wrote, “In a reasonable theory there are no numbers whose values are only empirically determinable.”

“It is impossible for human minds to construct something as infinitely rich as mathematics, that so successfully describes our universe down to the finest detail. Given that it is impossible for anything else to describe our world so accurately, it is also impossible to conclude that the universe is not mathematical.


Last edited by Otangelo on Sat Nov 27, 2021 7:11 am; edited 11 times in total



Martin J. Rees: Fine-Tuning, Complexity, and Life in the Multiverse 2018
The physical processes that determine the properties of our everyday world, and of the wider cosmos, are determined by some key numbers: the ‘constants’ of micro-physics and the parameters that describe the expanding universe in which we have emerged. We identify various steps in the emergence of stars, planets and life that are dependent on these fundamental numbers, and explore how these steps might have been completely prevented — if the numbers were different.

What actually determines the values of those parameters is an open question.  But growing numbers of researchers are beginning to suspect that at least some parameters are in fact random variables, possibly taking different values in different members of a huge ensemble of universes — a multiverse.   At least a few of those constants of nature must be fine-tuned if life is to emerge. That is, relatively small changes in their values would have resulted in a universe in which there would be a blockage in one of the stages in emergent complexity that lead from a ‘big bang’ to atoms, stars, planets, biospheres, and eventually intelligent life. We can easily imagine laws that weren’t all that different from the ones that actually prevail, but which would have led to a rather boring universe — laws which led to a universe containing dark matter and no atoms; laws where you perhaps had hydrogen atoms but nothing more complicated, and therefore no chemistry (and no nuclear energy to keep the stars shining); laws where there was no gravity, or a universe where gravity was so strong that it crushed everything; or the cosmic lifetime was so short that there was no time for evolution; or the expansion was too fast to allow gravity to pull stars and galaxies together.

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