A fine-tuned Universe: The extreme improbability of an anthropic universe.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

Psalm 19:1

The discovery of the Big Bang to be the beginning of our universe not only provides evidence to a point of creation, but also to the extreme improbability of an anthropic universe. That is a universe capable of sustaining life arising out of mere chance. The argument is based on at least two empirical findings: the probability of having a low entropy universe and the values of universal constants. Fairly recently physicists have empirically determined the value of a set of universal constants which govern all interactions in our universe. The range of the value of these universal constants that disallow for an anthropic universe is basically infinite, whereas the values that allow for an anthropic universe is very limited. This points to a fine-tuned universe that emerged out of the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago. These findings lead to the question how our universe was fine-tuned?

Low Entropy Universe

penrose

Entropy is the measurement of disorder of a system. The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system increases or remains constant. It is highly improbable for a system to spontaneously organize itself, just like a teenagers room it naturally tends towards disorganization. Our universe is fairly ordered with low entropy. Sir Roger Penrose, English physicist, estimated that the probability of a low entropy universe arising out of the Big Bang by chance is:

 1 in 10^10123

 That is 10 billion to the power of 123! This is an incredibly infinitesimally small probability that our universe emerged by chance with low entropy. Many apologists make the famous junkyard analogy that it is more reasonable to believe that a tornado assembled a 757 from a plane junkyard than to believe that a low entropy universe emerged out of chance.

Universal constants

Universal constants are fixed values that govern the law of physics in our universe. They are empirically determined. If any of their value were slightly different our universe would be a very different universe. The following are just three examples of universal constants that illustrate this point: 

1. The gravitational force constant (G= 6.67 x 10^-11)

If G the gravitational constant would differ from its actual value, (by even one part in 1050), the precise balance against A bare would be upset, and the structure of the universe would be drastically altered.

Davies 1982, as quoted from New Proof for the existence of God.

That is

1/100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

If G were greater than just 1/1050 of its value, then the universe would collapse into a single black hole.

If G were less than just 1/1050 of its value, then the universe would have expanded without the possibility of forming galaxies, solar systems or planets.

2. Strong Force Constant   gs = 15 (SI units)

The strong force is one of the four fundamental forces, it basically holds an atom together.

A 2% reduction from its current value will make the formation of elements heavier than Hydrogen impossible, i.e. no carbon.

That is if gs < 14.7 there would be no element heavier than hydrogen.

A 2% increase from its current value Hydrogen will be never be able to exist, making it impossible for water to exist and stars will have no long term fuel.

That is if the gs > 15.3 only elements heavier than Hydrogen could form.

Both of these deviations would have precluded life in our universe. Moreover, it’s far more likely to have values outside the range between 14.7 and 15.3 than fall between these values.

3. Weak Force Coupling Constant gw = 1.43 x 10-62 (SI units)

The weak force is responsible for both the radioactive decay and nuclear fusion of subatomic particle. If it deviates from its current value Carbon would not have been able to form bonds with each other making it impossible for the basic building block for life to occur.

Alternative explanations

The range of values that disallow an anthropic universe is far greater than the very narrow range of values that allows it. This strongly argues for a creator that fine-tuned our universe in order to allow life to develop. In order to avoid such conclusion, it is necessary to present alternative explanations/theories that invoke a practically infinite number of universes popping into existence. If the number of trials has now been infinite, then it is just a matter of time before one universe emerges with the right set of conditions that allows for life, independently how infinitesimally small those chances are.

As Fr. Spitzer points in his book “New Proof for the Existence of God”, the problem with these theories is threefold. First, they remain in the theoretical sphere of physics. At best they do not have any empirical data to support them or the ability to obtain empirical data in the near future is highly unlikely and at worst some are incongruent with the observable cosmology of our universe (Linde Chaotic Inflationary multiverse and the string theory landscape). Second, they violate the principle of parsimony that is they invoke borderline ridiculous number of universes in order to explain ours. Third, they failed to avoid the issue of fine-tuning (multiverse resembling those proposed by Linde and Susskind).

hoyle

Fred Hoyle, which moved out of atheism observed:

“… A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Hoyle 1981, as quoted from New Proof for the existence of God.

Concluding thoughts

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Remains an inescapable question that any serious thinker should not avoid. For Christian and Jews the answer resides in the great I AM from the Exodus 3:14…however, it is understandable for many other people to inquire and explore such an exhilarating mystery that is to be alive. The point of these series of posts was to provide evidence that it is more reasonable to believe that there is a Creator rather than to think that the universe and life are the result of a great cosmic dance of chance. That reason can point towards a creator and thereby that Christian faith is reasonable. I hope that my amateurish efforts sparked your curiosity to explore this subject in far greater depth that my poor abilities allowed me to do on this page.

I cannot help but to quote St. Augustine, the great Catholic theologian of the fourth century and father of the Church, when looking at creation asked the question: who made you?

“And what is this? I asked the earth, and it answered me, “I am not He;” and whatsoever are in it confessed the same. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the living creeping things, and they answered, “We are not Thy God, seek above us.” I asked the moving air; and the whole air with his inhabitants answered, “Anaximenes was deceived, I am not God.” I asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, “Nor (say they) are we the God whom thou seek.” And I replied unto all the things, which encompass the door of my flesh: “Ye have told me of my God, that ye are not He; tell me something of Him.” And they cried out with a loud voice, “He made us.”

St. Augustine of Hippo
Confessions Book X

He made us.

God Bless!

 Note: I owed the inspiration for this post to Fr. Benedict Groechel talk, God the Father, which until recently could be found at EWTN for free download. The scientific and philosophical arguments were mostly taken from Fr. Robert Spitzer book: New Proof for the Existence of God.

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4 thoughts on “A fine-tuned Universe: The extreme improbability of an anthropic universe.”

  1. Thanks Caleb for both Posts , which I enjoyed immensely, Anne said I would and gave me the links. I loved what you said ,’ science demonstrates the infinitesimal possibility ,that the universe was created by random chance.’ And I appreciated the information on Anthropic Universe. as you go on to say ,’ the chances of Low Entropy arising out of the Big Bang -10billion to the power of 123, this gives us more reason to believe in a creator, than , ‘all happen just by chance.’

    Very enlightening
    Thanks again
    Ron

  2. I thought I should mention Caleb that I post Ron’s comments for him, as he doesn’t Blog anymore, he hasn’t much time left with his Church and family responsibilities but he still comments on our Blog, advises and supports me.

    If I feel Ron would find someones Message interesting on their Blog, and after being Married to him for over 32 years I know what interests him, I give him the link like I did with yours but we use the same picture for the Like button and the same e-mail address and sometimes Ron has used my Computer to add comments too, it just depends where he is when he writes them, with me or with his family.

    Blessings – Anne

  3. thanks for following my blog! I thought I’d take a look at some of your posts, and this one I found particularly interesting (hence the comment).

    When I think about things like this, I am of the opinion that the universe is always more vast, complicated and unexpected than we first imagined. A good way of looking at it is to think about horizons: they are ever expanding.

    When we were all still living in caves, no-one would have thought much about what was beyond, and they certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of a world of deserts, glaciers, rain-forests, mountains, volcanoes etc.

    The greeks worked out the boundaries of the world we live in, but could only guess as to whether the ‘planets’ were entire new worlds, full of things that you could never experience on earth.

    Our horizons expanded again to find that every star in the night sky was an entire new star system of planets, moons and potentially life.

    They were only to expand further when we found that our galaxy was one of hundreds of billions, scattered throughout our universe.

    To suggest that this universe is one of many is not quite as fantastical as you make out. Maybe the ‘multiverse’ is truly infinite, as it is not bounded by the laws of our universe. The only certainty is that to find the truth, we must search for it…

    1. Hey, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I really appreciate it. In fact comments are one of the reasons why I love blogging. It allows me to share and interact with people from all walks of life and views!

      As I was reading your comment I could not help but to think of what Pascal said:

      There are three types of people:

      1. Those who seek the truth and find it. These people are reasonable because they seek truth and happy because they found it.

      2. Those who seek the truth and haven’t found it. These are reasonable people because they seek and yet to be happy because they haven’t found it.

      3. Those who neither seek nor find. There are not reasonable because they don’t seek and are not happy because you can’t find what you aren’t looking for.

      The passion and level of thought in your comment tells me that you are not only seeking for truth but open to it. My friend, keep this passion close to heart, because truth always shed a light to our deepest desire.

      Since immemorial times our ancestors have look up to the skies and wonder what does it all means? What are does distant bright spots in the sky…understandably many mythologies emerged in different parts of the world. However, one creation myth that arouse from the Jewish people was not only different, but also unique amongst ancient civilizations. All the way until that point all creation myths presupposed that the universe was eternal. That is that it was created out of pre-existing things. The Jews in the story of creation came up with something different. They argue that the universe had a beginning and that it was created by something that is outside and independent from it. The general point in my post was to make the argument that the Christian view of creation is compatible with our current understanding of the universe. That is the cosmological evidence that our observable universe had a beginning about 13.7 billion years ago, in the Big Bang is indisputable.

      I agree with you that our understanding of the universe is ever increasing. It is amazing to think that all the way till 1930’s the current scientific understanding of the universe was that it has always existed in a steady state. This platonic view permeated scientific and philosophical view of the universe for millennia. Although some of the solutions to the equation of Einstein theory of General Relativity implied other wise, it was until Hubble made the discovery of the red shift of distant galaxies that confirm that the universe was not in a steady state but that it was expanding. This is an amazing scientific progress that occurred in the lifetime of our grandparents!

      Theories that propose multiverse are fascinating. However, it is important to keep a solid footing on evidence when discussing and interpreting the natural universe. So far as I can tell, there is not a scintilla of evidence that point towards a multiverse. It only exists in some advance mathematical theory. Mathematical models can be powerful and promising but only time will tell if they hold up. On the one hand I am open to such mathematical theories but on the other hand it is important to keep in perspective that in some cases these are just mathematical argumentation that can be wrong.

      Thank you for checking out my blog. I have been trying to start blogging more frequently but free time can be so elusive. Also, I will try to keep up with your blog, which I really like, and perhaps that will motivate me to write more about science.

      Cheers,

      Caleb

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