Last night I went to a lecture by Dr. Collins of Messiah College. The lecture was entitled “The Fine Tuning Design Argument”and it was hosted by the WWU Philosophy Dept. Having done a bit of reading on Intelligent Design, I am somewhat familiar with contours of the argument but I always seem to forget the specifics when it comes to discussions with those who are opposed to I.D.
Dr. Collins simplified it this way, there are 12 to 13 Laws of Nature, a handful of constants of physics and calculations related to the initial distribution of mass and energy that must have been in fine tolerances in order for life to occur. He covered 5 of the Laws of Nature:
- Law of Gravity
- Electro-magnetic Force
- Strong Nuclear force
- Pauli Exclusion principle
Without each of these laws, life, and atoms couldn’t exist. Then the lecture proceeded onto a discussion of the Constants of physics showing that the constants are all related to one another and based on Gravity. So, the Electro-magnetic constant on a relative scale is 10ˆ37 Go while the strong nuclear force is 10ˆ40 Go. If you increase Go by 1 part in 10ˆ34 then single cell organisms are crushed, and only planets with a diameter less than 100 feet could sustain human brain size, similarly if it is decreased then atoms fail to form. The Cosmological constant must be within 1 part in 10ˆ50 and the initial distribution of mass energy is 1 part in 10ˆ10ˆ123, that’s right a really big number. I am still trying to comprehend how large that number is, but it is large.
The analogy used to understand how fine tuned the initial distribution of mass-energy was this. If you blew up a 5 story building and then wanted to place explosives in such a way so that when they were detonated that the building re-erected itself complete with all the furniture, paint, cabling, plumbing, etc and their were no leaks, etc, and it all looked like brand new. That would be trivial compared to how fine tuned the initial distribution of mass-energy was.
I look forward to next year’s lecture with Alvin Plantinga.