Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Fine Tuning Argument Against God

Omnipotence is a funny characteristic. Logically it seems impossible, so any entity that embodies said property cannot exist. The argument goes like this:
1. Either God can create a stone that he cannot life, or he cannot create a stone he cannot life.
2. If God can create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.
3. If God cannot create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.
4. Therefore, God is not omnipotent. [From V. Stenger - God The Failed Hypothesis]

Many such arguments can be made: Can 2 + 2 equal anything other than 4? Can a triangle have more than 3 sides? And so on... it seems like omnipotence is simply a characteristic muddled with inconsistencies. But to let those be for the moment, I don't want to engage in sophistry. Rather what I wanted to get at was the fine tuning argument in relation to omnipotence.

The fine tuning argument is essentially positing that certain aspects of nature need such delicate precision in order for us to exist that they are best explained by a "fine tuner", i.e. God. Now there are many different things in nature to point to as examples of fine tuning, though in the last ~150 years all things biological have been accounted for by natural selection. That we adapted for the environment, and not the other way around. Still there are many fortunate "accidents" such as the distance from the sun or that the ratio of electromagnetic force to gravity is just right for stars to live long enough for complex life to evolve.

When it is said that God made man in his own image, in light of evolution that has come to change in what it means. Rather than physical form, it is now taken to mean as spiritual. While some allege a separate infusion of a soul with our ancestors, it can be taken to mean that a completely naturalistic explanation is compatible with what was once regarded a supernatural one.

So the fine tuning argument these days is made in regards to the coming about of intelligent life who seek meaning and purpose. And we know under the laws of physics for this to be true, given that we exist. But the question remains, did God have any choice in making the universe the way it is? That is to say could the laws of physics in any other form bring about purpose-driven intelligent agents?

If there are any other incarnations of the laws of physics that can bring about life, then it follows that fine tuning is irrelevant. If there are many potential universes that can hold life, then why should the one we reside in need fine tuning as an explanation? On the other hand, surely an omnipotent entity could come up with an infinite amount of ways to build a reality by which intelligent life could arise.

To argue fine tuning is a bad argument, it's nothing more than "we exist, therefore God" and looking for sufficient qualities of the universe that seem essential to our way of being. This is not to say that a deity didn't create reality in such a way to encompass us, rather it is to say that there's an irreconcilable problem created by positing an omnipotent fine tuner.

3 comments:

Intelligent Designer said...

I think you meant to say "cannot lift" rather than "cannot life".

Also in some of your cases "omniscient" might work better than "omniscient".

Kel said...

Cheers Randy.

aliendreams said...

Again, I think you've hit the spot in your final paragraph. There is not a single argument for omnipotence that can stand on its feet.

I’ll just add that in terms of social context, when you go down the path of omnipotence (and following on some “spiritual man” made in the image of god), an ad hoc "anti-god" of some sort (call it lucifer, satan or even free-will) will inevitably follow, so to explain everything that just doesn’t seem right, according to some initial design. Which in turn, also defeats the argument for omnipotence: does this omnipotent god simply allow free will? Or simply an illusion of free will? And then, is not Descartes’ demon a true possibility, that of a mischievous god who constantly fools our perception?

Sorry for getting somewhat off-topic..