Cosmologist Luke Barnes answers 11 objections to the fine-tuning argument

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

This is from the blog Common Sense Atheism.

Atheist Luke Muehlhauser interviews well-respect cosmologist Luke Barnes about the fine-tuning argument, and the naturalistic response to it.

Luke M. did a good job explaining what was in the podcast. (I wish more people who put out podcasts would do that).


In one of my funniest and most useful episodes yet, I interview astronomer Luke Barnes about the plausibility of 11 responses to the fine-tuning of the universe. Frankly, once you listen to this episode you will be better equipped to discuss fine-tuning than 90% of the people who discuss it on the internet. This episode will help clarify the thinking of anyone – including and perhaps especially professional philosophers – about the fine-tuning of the universe.

The 11 responses to fine-tuning we discuss are:

  1. “It’s just a coincidence.”
  2. “We’ve only observed one universe, and it’s got life. So as far as we know, the probability that a universe will support life is one out of one!”
  3. “However the universe was configured, evolution would have eventually found a way.”
  4. “There could be other forms of life.”
  5. “It’s impossible for life to observe a universe not fine-tuned for life.”
  6. “Maybe there are deeper laws; the universe must be this way, even though it looks like it could be other ways.”
  7. “Maybe there are bajillions of universes, and we happen to be in one of the few that supports life.”
  8. “Maybe a physics student in another universe created our universe in an attempt to design a universe that would evolve intelligent life.”
  9. “This universe with intelligent life is just as unlikely as any other universe, so what’s the big deal?”
  10. “The universe doesn’t look like it was designed for life, but rather for empty space or maybe black holes.”
  11. “Fine-tuning shows there must be an intelligent designer beyond physical reality that tuned the universe so it would produce intelligent life.”

Download CPBD episode 040 with Luke Barnes. Total time is 1:16:31.

There is a very good explanation of some of the cases of fine-tuning that I talk about most on this blog – the force of gravity, the strong force, etc. as well as many other examples. Dr. Barnes is an expert, but he is also very very easy to listen to even when talking about difficult issues. Luke M. is very likeable as the interviewer.

5 thoughts on “Cosmologist Luke Barnes answers 11 objections to the fine-tuning argument”

  1. Unfortunately, the so-called fine-tuning argument, if it demonstrates anything, demonstrates too much. If only these conditions support life, then this is a constraint on what God can do and/or how He can go about doing whatever (in terms of bringing-forth life, etc.). That is the necessity that a Cosmos must be ‘fine-tuned’ is an independent, objective constraint on God’s will and capabilities. It’s not, however, a logical constraint. Nor, arguably (anyway), is it even a metaphysical constraint. If anything, it seems to be a physical (cosmological) constraint on HOW God can go about bringing about life, mind, etc. (One could argue, I suppose, that this lies at the borderline of physics and metaphysical, of physical cosmology and metaphysical (philosophical) cosmology.) But traditional conceptions of omnipotence require (entail) that God is limited in power and ability (if at all, then) only by purely _logical_ considerations. So the fine-tuning argument implies that God is actually severely constrained as to HOW He may go-about doing his cosmological thing, as it were. Which entails He’s NOT omnipotent.


    1. I think this comment is very helpful for people who want to assess the force of the design argument. If you have to believe that designers are “constrained” by the things they designed, e.g. – writers are constrained by what they write, programmers are constrained by what they code, engineers are constrained by what they build, Scrabble players are constrained when they play Scrabble, then I think atheists should just forego any kind of intellectual assessment of reality. God creates the entire physical universe and the laws of physics out of nothing. He literally had no constraints. The purpose of creating a universe in which we would be able to do science and by doing so understand the improbability of our existence was to communicate to us that we were created by design. When you create out of nothing, there are no constraints. You create the laws of physics based on the material objects you create.

      If you just want to play games to evade the evidence for a Creator and Designer, then just say that you’re anti-science and be done with it.


  2. There is so much misunderstanding out there over the meaning of the word “omnipotence”. God operates within the constraints He has placed upon HIMSELF.


  3. Should be an interesting read.

    I just recently saw reviews of J.Warner Wallace’s book, God’s Crime Scene, where the commentor lamented that there was yet another Christian pushing the “debunked” idea of fine tuning.


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