Fine-tuning Argument

“Fine-tuning” names a group of problems in cosmology and theoretical physics that suggest the apparent implausibility of certain physical facts. For example, how do we explain the extreme range of values among fundamental parameters or ratios between them? How to explain the apparent dependence of the actual world on critical values of certain theoretical parameters? The question, however, may not be why the world is unlikely but why we should perceive it so. From that point of view, the challenge is to understand the conditioning in our thought that makes the values of such parameters strike us as improbable. Is fine tuning a false problem, merely a setup? The very fact of defining some theory with “variables” that would allow for the world to be entirely different merely by “tweeking” them is already suspicious. Such variables may be no more than theoretical artifacts, motivated by the theorist’s ambition to create the world from scratch! Religious thinkers have embraced fine-tuning arguments to suggest that the special conditions required for the actual world could not be accidental. Yet, both religion and science ignore the possibility that there might exist processes through which the universe actively tunes itself. A fine-tuning argument is like examining a complex machine and noticing that changing any dimension or detail even slightly would interfere with its proper functioning. Organisms, in contrast, actively strive to maintain their state. While organisms, within limits, are naturally robust, machines are essentially vulnerable to accident and decay. (This is why the mechanist universe conceived by the founding fathers periodically required divine maintenance.) There is but one way for a machine to work properly and an infinite number of ways to fail. Thus, it seems improbable for cosmic order to have come about accidentally or to have persisted through time in the face of the second law of thermodynamics. But this means no more than that we have not been able to imagine a universe that self-organizes and self-maintains.

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