by Allen Hainline and Dr. Luke Barnes
Modern science has been on a relentless and highly successful quest to describe natural phenomena in terms of universal mathematical laws. The foundational laws of nature, and the constants that they contain, a surprising feature: a high degree of precision would be needed to set up a life-permitting universe. Barnes and Hainline discuss examples of these cosmic coincidences, which conspire to make the universe inhabitable. For example, quantum mechanics is required for the existence of stable atoms, and the strength of the gravity must be fine-tuned in order life-powering stars to be long-lived. As agnostic physicist Paul Davies summarizes: “The entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly.” These conclusions continue to be investigated by the scientific community; for example, Barnes describes his latest simulations regarding the cosmological constant, which requires fine-tuning to at least 1 part in 10^90 for life to exist anywhere in the universe. The life-permitting character of our universe thus cries out for a deeper explanation. If the natural world is all there is, with no Creator, then the most fundamental laws of nature are just brute facts with no deeper explanation. By contrast, theism now offers an explanation that lies beyond the deepest laws of nature, explaining why they are – despite seemingly very long odds – life permitting. This chapter discusses alternative explanations of fine-tuning, including the appeal to a vast ensemble of other universes with differing constants (the multiverse). This foundational level of science reveals purpose and design in deep and multi-faceted ways. The fine-tuning of the cosmos comports well with the Judeo-Christian view as expressed in Proverbs, where the author speaks poetically of the wisdom that God employed in creation: “The Lord possessed me [wisdom] at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old… When he established the heavens, I was there… Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight.”
Allen Hainline holds a bachelor’s in physics from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin and a Master’s equivalent degree in Software and Systems Engineering from UT’s Continuing Engineering Studies where he also later taught. He has also taught many courses at Raytheon and one recently at the College at Southwestern. He is a former E-Fellow at Raytheon, where he led the team responsible for image processing for the world’s first high-resolution commercial imaging satellite. Allen is currently self-employed developing AI algorithms on imagery. He has led a Reasonable Faith chapter at UT Dallas since 2010 and regularly speaks on fine-tuning and other science-oriented topics at conferences and in university settings. You find some of Allen’s blogs here (where here is a hyperlink to https://crossexamined.org/author/allen-hainline/)
Dr. Luke Barnes is a John Templeton Foundation Fellow at Western Sydney University. He earned a scholarship to complete a PhD in astronomy at the University of Cambridge. He has published papers in the field of galaxy formation and on the fine-tuning of the universe for life. He recently authored a Cambridge University Press book with Geraint Lewis entitled A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos.” You can find Luke at his blog: https://letterstonature.wordpress.com/category/fine-tuning/.