An Objection to the Fine-Tuning Argument

The fine-tuning argument is as follows:

  1. The fine-tuning data are the result of either (a) chance, (b) natural law, (c) the combination of chance and natural law, or (d) design.
  2. They are not the result of chance or natural law, or the combination of both, since the data are contingent, complex, and specified.
  3. Therefore, (a) the data are the result of design.
  4. Therefore, (b) there is a Designer.

The fine-tuning argument seeks to serve as a theistic proof by pointing out the “staggering numbers of contingencies that must come together to make earth habitable, as well as an ideal place to observe the rest of the universe.”

The objection I found most interesting was the one concerning pantheism. The fine-tuning argument is severely weakened if pantheism is true. Within pantheistic thought, not only is God not different, but God is creation. There is no difference between the Creator and his creation. He is the all-pervasive and impersonal substance that is also usually thought to be ineffable. Douglas Goothuis in his Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith responds and asserts that the argument for fine-tuning rules out a pantheistic god for three reasons. The first reason is the argument for fine-tuning rules out pantheism because a Designer trades on the commonsense notion of the subject-object relationship; that is, we are subjects who evaluate the cosmos’s nature. There is a difference between the knower and the known. Because pantheism is nondualistic, it makes the cosmos/God/self into a necessary being. The author rejects the idea that the world is a necessary being for two reasons: the universe came into existence a finite time ago and its contingent features take values that are not logically necessary.

The second reason the fine-tuning argument rules out pantheism is the inference to a Designer contradicts the idea of an impersonal being, since design requires intelligence. Such intelligence requires the profile of a person and not one or something that is impersonal. The third reason is that if pantheists claim that God is ineffable, and “known” only through nonrational mystical experiences, then no rational argument can support this god’s existence. Discussion and debate becomes futile under such a viewpoint.

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