J. Warner Wallace

Author, Cold-Case Christianity

Is the Apparent Fine-Tuning of the Universe Simply An Observational Phenomenon?

The just so appearance of “fine-tuning” in our universe is rather uncontroversial amongst scientists and cosmologists. Even Paul Davies (who is agnostic when it comes to the notion of a Divine Designer) readily stipulates, “Everyone agrees that the universe looks as if it was designed for life.” Oxford philosopher John Leslie agrees: “it looks as if our universe is spectacularly ‘fine-tuned for life’. By this I mean only that it looks as if small changes in this universe’s basic features would have made life’s evolution impossible.” In my new book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence For A Divinely Created Universe, I describe the foundational, regional and locational conditions of our universe, solar system and planet to show how they are delicately balanced and finely calibrated for life. The slightest modification of these conditions would be disastrous. The delicate requirements for the existence of galaxies, star systems, and planets capable of supporting “intelligent observers” are incredibly fragile.

While scientists may stipulate to the appearance of fine-tuning “in the room,” this does not mean they agree on the existence of an external “Fine-Tuner”. Some scientists believe we observe fine-tuning because, if not for such fine-tuning, we wouldn’t be here to observe the universe in the first place. According to this explanation (sometimes referred to as the “Anthropic Principle” or the “Observer Selection Effect”), any humanly observable universe would display the conditions necessary for human life, so we shouldn’t be surprised to observe such conditions. As theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Lawrence Krauss, says, “Put another way, it is not too surprising to find that we live in a universe in which we can live!” Anyone who exists and inspects their environment will, of course, discover a world encompassing whatever it takes for them to exist. If they didn’t discover a world of this nature, they wouldn’t exist to examine it in the first place. But this explanation of cosmic fine-tuning fails for two reasons:

This Explanation Confuses Observations with Explanations
While an observer who exists in our universe will most certainly find it highly probable to observe fine-tuned conditions, this does not mean it was highly probable such a universe would exist in the first place. In God’s Crime Scene, I describe a murder scene in which a husband sabotaged the heating system of his home to asphyxiate his wife. There were many layers of tampering evident at the scene. Imagine if, as a detective, I had arrived at the scene of this crime and said the following: “We shouldn’t be surprised to find dead bodies in a house with the windows and doors suspiciously closed and the vents and gas lines found as they were. If the conditions weren’t like this, no one would have died and we wouldn’t have been called to the scene!” How long do you think we would have kept our badges as detectives? As investigators, we were dispatched to the scene to find out why the windows, doors, vents, and gas line were in that condition. Either they were manipulated by an intelligent being or they weren’t. Good detectives can’t confuse observations with explanations.

This Explanation Ignores Obvious Inferences
Our investigative team made several observations at death scene I described in God’s Crime Scene. But if the woman had not died in that scene (if she had not been home, for example), the circumstances we observed would have been meaningless. In fact, we wouldn’t have been called to the scene in the first place. But when the dead body was discovered, the obvious inferences from our observations compelled us to look for a better explanation. Physicists and cosmologists studying the appearance of fine-tuning are similarly compelled. Rather than dismiss the evidence as an Observer Selection Effect, they continue to search for a better explanation. In fact, their ongoing dismissal of the Anthropic Principle motivates them to propose additional scientific theories in an effort to explain the obvious inferences.

The fine tuning of the universe cannot be dismissed as an observational phenomenon. It is, instead, one of eight pieces of evidence “inside the room” of the natural universe that is best explained by a cause “outside the room” of the universe. This brief summary of naturalistic explanations just begins to describe the problem with such theories. For a much more robust account of the inadequacy of naturalism in this regard, please refer to God’s Crime Scene, Chapter Two – Tampering With the Evidence: Who Is Responsible?

J.Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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About J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University, Christian case maker and author. J. Warner was a conscientious and vocal atheist through his undergraduate and graduate work in Design and Architecture (CSULB and UCLA); he always considered himself to be an “evidentialist”. His experience in law enforcement only served to strengthen his conviction that truth is tied directly to evidence. But at the age of thirty-five, J. Warner took a serious and expansive look at the evidence for the Christian Worldview and determined that Christianity was demonstrably true. After becoming a Christ follower in 1996, Jim continued to take an evidential approach to truth as he examined the Christian worldview. He eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. J. Warner served as a Youth Pastor for several years, then planted a church in 2006. Along the way, he created and built the Cold-Case Christianity website, blog and podcast as a place to post and talk about what he discovered related to the evidence supporting Christianity. Jim has appeared on television and radio, explaining the role that evidence plays in the Christian definition of “faith” and defending the historicity of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible and the truth of the Christian worldview. Jim also speaks at churches, retreats and camps as he seeks to help people become confident Christian case makers. J. Warner’s first book, Cold-Case Christianity, provides readers with ten principles of cold case investigations and utilizes these principles to examine the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts. In his second book, God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence. J. Warner’s professional investigative work has received national recognition; his cases have been featured more than any other detective on NBC’s Dateline, and his work has also appeared on CourtTV and Fox News. He also appears on television as an investigative consultant and had a role in God’s Not Dead 2, making the case for the historicity of Jesus. J. Warner was awarded the Police and Fire Medal of Valor “Sustained Superiority” Award for his continuing work on cold-case homicides. Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, J. Warner provides his readers and audiences with the tools they will need to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview. You can follow J. Warner Wallace on Twitter @JWarnerWallace

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