Friday, January 3, 2014

You Can't Tuna Universe, Part 3

In the last post I shot down the first premise of the fine tuning argument (FTA) because it leaves out at least one possible contending choice for the explanation of the physical constants of the universe. This post will deal with the second premise, which eliminates chance and physical necessity from the equation leaving God as the only remaining choice.

In eliminating chance, the theist is solely basing this decision on the insanely low probability (1 in 10^1050) that all the physical constants would fall in a narrow, life-permitting window. However, is that enough information to eliminate chance from contention? The answer is definitely not! Here's why.

Suppose you are gambling in a Las Vegas casino and you start winning money playing blackjack. What information would be needed by the casino operators to prove that you were cheating instead of winning the money by luck (i.e., random chance)? Well, three pieces of information are required:
  • The odds of winning a blackjack hand;
  • The number of hands played;
  • The number of hands won.

So, if the probability of winning a blackjack hand is 48% and you won 8 of the first 10 hands played, well that clearly could have happened by pure luck. However, if you played 10,000 hands and won 8,000 of them, then the casino would have solid evidence that the player and/or dealer was cheating the casino because the odds of winning 8,000 out of 10,000 hands couldn't happen reasonably by luck. Therefore, you need to know more than just the probability of winning in order to eliminate chance from consideration.

Here's another way of looking at it. Suppose I won the lottery in which there were 100 trillion possible number combinations. Does that mean I had to cheat in order to win since I couldn't have possibly overcome those odds? Of course not. If I had played this game 50 trillion times before or I purchased 75 trillion lottery tickets then I could easily win without cheating (or without supernatural intervention from God).

In the case of the FTA, the only information theists have at hand are the fact that we won once (i.e., our universe is life-permitting) and that the odds of a life-permitting universe are very low. Nobody knows how many times a universe tried to form in the past somewhere within the cosmos (i.e., the number of hands played). Nobody knows how many life-permitting universes exist within the cosmos or have existed in the past (i.e., the number of hands won). Without this information, the theist can not eliminate chance from premise 2. Therefore the entire FTA is unsound and must be discarded.

In part 4 of this series I'll list common objections that have been raised in the past by physicists which will really tighten the noose around the neck of the FTA.

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