Wednesday, December 4, 2013

[PHI 3000] Stupid Design

According to the argument from fine-tuning, since the fact that our universe is fit for life is so improbable, it must be the work of God (i.e., an all-powerful, all-knowing, and morally perfect creator). One question that came up during class discussion is this: if fine-tuning really is the work of God, would we also expect the universe to be not only fine-tuned for the mere existence of life but also fine-tuned for the preservation of life? After all, being morally perfect, God would want to preserve his creation in existence, and being all-powerful, God would be able to do so.

Apparently, however, this is not what we find. As Neil deGrasse Tyson puts it, most of the universe is not hospitable to life and "so many things in the universe are trying to kill us."

If this is correct, then one could argue as follows:
  1. Fine-tuning is evidence for God only if the universe is fine-tuned not only for the existence of life but also for the preservation of life.
  2. Even if the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life, it is not fine-tuned for the preservation of life.
  3. Therefore, fine-tuning is not evidence for God.
This argument is valid. Is it sound? 


  1. I believe that this argument is valid but not sound. The argument uses premises that guarantee the conclusion but the premises are not necessarily true. In the first premise, fine-tuning for the existence of life but also for the preservation of life does not mean that is evidence for God's existence. There could be other reasons that the universe was finely tuned like the Big Bang Theory. I do agree with the second premise that the universe is finely-tuned for the existence of life, but not for preservation of life. There are flaws in the design that lead to death and other problems with life dying off. A rewording of premise one and taking out the assumption that the universe is finely tuned for both existence and preservation of life, resulting in God's existence, would make the argument sound.

  2. I don't think the argument is sound. It is inherent that to be God means to be benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient and the creator of the universe. But, what if we already have the wrong idea about God and God doesn't have it all figured out either? Would that mean God is not God? Who's to say we aren't test subjects in a long line of experiments to find the perfect world for God's preferred creations (which might not be humans after all)? Also, I do believe that there are organisms in these "inhabitable" places. Just because humans are not able to live in certain environments doesn't mean other creations of God are also unable to live there. Every day new creatures are being discovered by man, many probably in places least expected.
    Lastly, Neil deGrasse Tyson said, "so many things in the universe are trying to kill us." Perhaps these beings are used to strengthen the human race.

  3. Although this argument seems to be valid, I do not think it is sound. First off, although the universe does not provide absolute and complete preservation of life, it does provide some form of preservation of humans and other organisms. Seasonal changes, for example, provide us with provisions that would help us endure those seasons; the earth provides us with resources, like water and oil. In order for this universe to be fine-tuned for the preservation of life, we would be living in a heaven-like area, where no possible contamination, disease, or illness can ever occur. Death would be almost unattainable. This argument mirrors the "If God is present, why doesn't he cast off all evil," in the sense that it requires humans live in a heaven like state, free of harm, malevolence, birth defects, etc. In a way, its like black and white thinking, its either we are angel-like creatures and God exists, or we live in an imperfect world, and God doesn't exist. The fact that evil occurs, or that we can die by coming into contact with harmful bacteria doesn't prove that God doesn't exist, it just proves that we're mortal. God didn't create androids, our bodies can be corrupted, just like any other system. The above argument doesn't support the idea of a non-existing God, it only supports the idea that our world does have hardships.


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