Proponents of the fine-tuning argument (FTA) note that if the fundamental properties of our universe were slightly different, then life could not have evolved, and this is evidence for a Fine-Tuner of the universe.
I’m asking defenders of the FTA a series of questions. My first question was: Was Our Universe Fine-Tuned for iPads?
Here’s the point. The universe had to be highly fine-tuned merely to produce stars. Would any universe containing stars (but no life) be evidence that that universe was fine-tuned by a Designer who really liked stars?
Moreover, our universe is far more finely-tuned for iPads than it is for life, or for conscious life. There are more ways to produce a universe with intelligent life than there are to produce one with iPads. So should we conclude the universe was fine-tuned for iPads?
Or, perhaps our universe is fine-tuned for the resting mass of an electron, which is 9.11 x 10-31 kg. If this were different by .00000000000000000000000000000001 kg, then the resting mass of an electon would no longer be 9.11 x 10-31!
Yet somehow all this fine-tuning does not seem to concern theists. It is only the apparent fine-tuning of the universe for life (or conscious life, or intelligent life, or something – theists can’t make up their minds) that matters and requires a special explanation.
This curious focus on life has been called life chauvinism. Why is it life that requires fine-tuning? That was the point of my first question to defenders of the fine-tuning argument.
Today I will explore just one of the answers.
“Life has intrinsic value.”
The reason that fine-tuning for life requires explanation, but fine-tuning for stars or iPads or the resting mass of an electron does not require such an explanation, some theists say, is because life has intrinsic value.
Life is special, they say. Stars and iPads and the resting mass of an electron are interesting, but life is intrinsically special, and thus requires a special explanation.
Indeed, philosopher Neil Manson suspects this idea may even be why many physicists think fine-tuning for life needs a special explanation:
[Cosmologists] are committed to an absolutely startling position. They are saying that, before we came on the scene, back before there were stars, back before there were even galaxies, right back to the Planck time, an ethical proposition (‘Life is good’) was true. Whatever else the many-universe research programme entails, it requires that at least one value judgment be true prior to the existence of any human beings.
The problem with this solution to my question is that I see no evidence for it. What evidence is there that life is intrinsically valuable? What evidence is there that even if nobody cared about life, it would still have value, because it has value within itself?
The only evidence I have ever seen presented for this astonishing claim is that it just feels or seems like it does.
But hold on a minute. I thought the whole point of the fine-tuning argument is that it was a way for believers to demonstrate the existence of God on the basis of public evidence, not inner feelings. If we’re going to accept God on the basis of how Christians feel about things, well, we don’t need the fine-tuning argument for that.
So unless evidence for the intrinsic value of life can be presented, I don’t see how this answer to my question gets us anywhere.
Thankfully, there were more compelling answers to my question than this, and I’ll be examining them next.