March 4, 2024

In this episode, David Montoya speaks with Allen Hainline on the details of the argument from design.

Listen to “Episode 108: The Design Argument” on Spreaker.

David: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. This is not Kurt Jaros sitting in this afternoon. My name is David Montoya. It is a pleasure to be with you to discuss a very important topic on today. If you’d like to have your voice heard, there are a couple of ways you can get in touch with us. All you have to do is text the word VERACITY to 555-888 and you can text me your comments, your questions, or even your show requests to that number. You can also reach out and contact us through Twitter, Facebook, or just search Veracity Hill and you can get into contact with us. For today, we are covering a very important topic. A topic that I personally have used a number of times. It’s my go-to argument for the existence of God when I’m speaking to an atheist or agnostic or in general to a skeptic that is doubting the existence of an all-powerful God. Admittedly, my formation, my background is in math. I have a degree in finance and so that’s where my expertise and my affinity to this argument comes from. I’m horrible at letters. I can’t even spell at the beginning of this show. I was telling you that I couldn’t even spell the word teleological. As it is, numbers are just much much better for me anyway. 

So here we are talking about the teleological argument, that is to say the argument for design. Usually, when we hear this argument being used in the common lay level churchgoer, you will hear something like this. “Well, we know that the universe was created by an all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent being because it shows elements of design, that is to say, we can see that the sun, if it was any further from the Earth, it would be too cold for us to live and if it was any closer to the Earth we’d burn up” or “The oxygen’s level just right that if it wasn’t at the spot that it’s at currently. If it was higher than what it is today there would be spontaneous fires erupting all over the place and we’ve seen the wildfires in California. There’d be more of those. Or if it was less than what it is now we wouldn’t be able to exist at all.” So this is the sort of the common way this is actually presented, but here we have our guest we brought on and Kurt had asked me “Who do you want to interview on the episode this afternoon?” I said, I looked on the website, one of our websites is and I clicked on a link that brought me to our guest YouTube page and I began to devour all the videos and said this is the person I definitely want to interview for today. We present to you none other than Allen Hainline. Pleasure Allen. How are you today?

Allen: Doing great. Thanks for having me on. It should be fun.

David: Excellent. We’re going to go ahead and talk about, we’ll dive right in. The time is short and we want to get as much of your wisdom as possible coming through the show today. Let me ask you a basic question. The teleological argument or the argument for design, what are the basic premises of the fine-tuning argument?

Allen: Okay. Yeah. There’s different ways to characterize it and we should probably point out that within teleological arguments there’s a number of variants. The version that I’m wanting to defend today would be one based on the fine-tuning of the laws, constants, and initial conditions, so it would not be the environmental aspect that you previously alluded to. In this version of it, you basically look at the very most fundamental aspects of physics which is my background, and this line of evidence had a very important impact on me personally as I went through a period of doubt a number of years ago, just saw that there’s a lot more evidence out there than I realized that really does seem to point to purpose which is what the underlying meaning of, teleology is really the study of purpose or design, so this is very important to me and the way I would characterize it is these coincidences that we see in the most foundational physics are either due to design or not. If they’re not due to design it’s some combination of necessity or chance and then there’s really good arguments that it’s not just, these are not necessary aspects. Almost no physicist thinks that all these particle, masses, and four strengths and things like that are due to any underlying necessity. The odds when you look at how coincidental things have to be to for the inverse to be right for life, it just looks like chance is a really lousy explanation.  To the extent that you rely on chance is the extent to which you would assume this is evidence for a designer. Then the fact that this design is at the most foundational level. Whoever the designer was was able to control all these different concepts of nature and the initial conditions, things which would seem to be physically impossible to control, and therefore the most plausible designer at that foundational level is God. I think this is even more clear than other kinds of intelligent design arguments.

David: Sounds good. What we’re trying to say here is that when we speak about the initial conditions what we’re saying is that there is no time for these attributes, these constants that we see in the universe, the physical laws, the ones that we learn in the physics class. They have no time to evolve whatsoever. They are fully existent at the start of the universe. This is what we want to focus on today. If we see that, we see these improbabilities and we begin to stack them one upon each other where if we have an improbable constant and then we see another improbable constant and another improbable constant it stands to reason that someone intelligent created all of it. Usually, the way this is put and the premier example that I would like to present to the audience as opposed to the sun or the oxygen, we’re talking about initial conditions. Full-blown without any evolution time. It’s there at the start of the universe and the one I want to bring to the audience is called the cosmological constant. Allen. What is the cosmological constant?

Allen: This one certainly has grabbed a lot of attention among scientists of all backgrounds and persuasions and this relates to the expansion rate of the universe under general relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity. There is a potential term that could cause the universe to either accelerate or contract and then in quantum field theory there’s also known huge contributions that would seemingly cause the universe to expand at such a rapid rate that it would just be a thin hydrogen soup with no chance of life and it’s only by balancing positive and negative contributions that we end up with this tiny tiny energy level that causes the universe to expand and so had it been much more, we would have had particles rarely even touching each other, much less chemistry or planets or stars or anything of that nature.

David: Essentially, we have gravity that exists in the universe and this cosmological constant, could you say is an anti-gravity force?

Allen: Sure, in the sense that it’s a repulsive force that’s pulling everything apart. It’s acting in the inverse sense that gravity causes everything to attract toward each other.

David: Alright. Say if we go to very basic physics. Third law of Newtonian physics says when a body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body or in layman’s terms that is to say that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We have gravity and on the other side we have a cosmological constant or an anti-gravity force to just put it simply. It’s not that simple.

Allen: Think about gravity for a minute to understand the significance of the cosmological constant. Consider how the universe evolves over time, changes over time. We’ve got all this matter and it was going apart. That’s the Big Bang Theory. You would expect gravity’s going to be gradually causing that to slow down cause there’s an attractive force, but in the late 1990’s they discovered that actually when we look far away at these exploding stars we see the further away we are the faster things are accelerating away from each other and so they discovered that the universe is not just expanding, but it’s actually accelerating in its expansion. In order to cause that you have to have some kind of repulsive force.

David: Correct. In essence, there’s a fine balance between this gravity and this anti-gravity force, the anti-gravity force being this cosmological constant as you alluded to just now, if it were any larger than what it is, what would happen?

Allen: Yeah. There’s a wide range of possible values it could hold because as I said, there’s these enormous contributions that are based on the quantum field theory. We know that there’s these huge contributions, but somehow there’s also ones that almost perfectly cancel out. If they didn’t perfectly cancel out like that you would end up with the universe flying apart in rapid acceleration from basically the very beginning of the universe and that would prevent the matter from aggregating together, collecting together, you would never really have anything beyond proteins, if you even had those, depending on exactly how large the value was, but one common way of discussing the scenario where there’s a larger cosmological constant, is you just have hydrogen, you just have protons, and they’re flying apart from each other and spreading out at an accelerating rate. If it was fine-tuned to about one part in 10 to the 90th power, these protons would only collide with each other on timescales of billions of years so no one thinks that you could have life in such a universe. With hydrogen alone, we wouldn’t have chemistry. You wouldn’t be able to store information such as any form of life would require if it is to replicate and potentially evolve, even if you assume very vigorous assumptions about what evolution could or couldn’t do. The whole thing about fine-tuning is it’s considering what is necessary before any kind of evolution could even start or just what you need right for life. It doesn’t necessarily have to tie in to evolution, but a key part is that even if you grant for the sake of argument biological evolution, you still end up with all these things that are required for fine-tuning for life. There’s a number of these cosmic coincidences to mind-boggling levels of precision, all of which point to the need for some kind of designer set-up. It looks incredibly rigged for life. 

David: Alright. If it was larger than what it is today, you wouldn’t have any galaxies, any stars, no interactions whatsoever. It’d be a thin uniform hydrogen-helium soup. If it was lower, it would just collapse upon each other. Now that we’ve established what the cosmological constant is, an anti-gravity force, a repulsive force, opposite of gravity, let’s look at what the calculation is. I’m just going to go ahead and look at the camera and tell you what the calculation is. It’s 00000 and I keep doing that for a 123 times and then I put at a 2 at the end. Once again a 00000, do it for 123 times and put a 2 at the end. That’s the number. Allen. What is the probability of that number in our discussion here today?

Allen: Let me mention that a lot of physicists, even atheist physicists and so forth will grant you that it’s fine-tuning to about 1 in 10 to the power of the 120th although the latest research by a friend of mine, Luke Barnes, at Durham University and other places, shows that maybe it’s not quite finely tuned as that, but I like going with, Luke Barnes has a very conservative number that he tosses out, that if you want to be as optimistic as possible about the possibilities for life you could still have fine-tuning at about 1 part in 10 to the 90th power and it just so happens that’s roughly the number of sub-atomic particles in the known universe, the part of the universe for which we can verify its size, so you can think that of the scenario of what are the odds of choosing any subatomic particle anywhere in the whole universe and getting just the right particular particle and that would be equivalent to the odds of getting a life-permitting value for the cosmological constant.

David: Alright. We’re talking about cutting edge research. As we stated earlier, the common number is 1 in 10 to the 120th power. Let me break that down for our audience in layman’s terms. Let’s say we have a concept in finance called spending power. Say I have $10. If I add another 0 to that ten it becomes $100. Obviously a $100 buys much more than $10, but if I add another 0 to this, I go from 100 to 1,000 and if I add another 0 I go from 1,000 to 10,000. You start to see how that exponentially grows the more zeroes I add, the more your spending power, but it goes up exponentially. It’s the same concept with probability. As soon as you start to add what is called orders of magnitude, that is to say powers, increasing of powers of ten, adding the zeroes to it, it becomes outrageous. So in this case, we have a 1, the probability of 1 chance in 1 with 120 zeroes in it. It’s an absolutely astronomical number. You’ve given an analogy here Allen concerning the amount of particles in the entire known universe that if you were to mark one with an X and you had an equal chance of picking one, any one of those particles, that you would choose the right one would be this probability. Is that correct?

Allen: That is correct.

David: Alright. We have this number and the way you could articulate this to your skeptic friend is you have ten fingers. All you have to do is say one chance in a trillion trillion trillion….Just say the word trillion with the amount of fingers you have in your hand that’s the probability. One chance in ten trillions. That’s how you articulate it to a skeptic. You walk them through how improbable it is and then you tell them that’s a crazy number. Is there another constant that’s not dependent on the cosmological constant also that’s full-blown ready to go at the start of the universe?

Allen: Certainly. There’s a number of them. Most of the kind of constants that the average person would have encountered in their science studies have to be finely tuned quite a bit. For example, there’s four fundamental forces. You have to get all four of those in the right proportion. There’s particle masses of things like protons, neutrons, electrons, and even lesser known things like neutrinos, the mass of those turns out to be significant. And then the particles which make up protons and neutrons which are mainly quarks, quarks, in fact, have to be finely tuned to about 1 part in 10 to the 34th power and so there’s just a whole host of these kind of exquisite fine-tunings across the parameter of space.

David: And probability theory, you don’t simply add probabilities together. It becomes exponential in terms. You have to multiply them together in probabilities class. So say if you had a probability of 1 chance in 2 and another probability of 1 chance in 3, you don’t just add those together, you have to multiply. So it would be 1 chance in obviously 6 in this case if we were to do that math.

Allen: That’s right. Yes. When you’re talking about all the trillions on your fingers, you have to make sure the person realizes you’re multiplying those together. Ten times, you’ve got to get 10 to the 12th power right.

David: In essence, the argument is that this is so improbable that obviously a designer had to put this all together. It’s just the more reasonable conclusion without having to jump through so many hoops. The way I put it is simply this. If I walk into a courtroom today and I see a defendant on trial for rape and murder of a woman and they trot out the DNA evidence before the jury, it convinces a jury of 12 beyond a reasonable doubt, 1 chance in 5 billion is DNA evidence probability. 1 chance in 5 billion that this is indeed the culprit, that he belongs in jail, and that he is guilty of the crime that’s been committed because the DNA matches, but now we’re talking about numbers far in excess of that, and yet the skeptic will say that it came about by chance or we’ll hear some of the common objections after the break, but this has been a great discussion here to set up the teleological argument. We’ve talked about the main constant which is the cosmological constant tuned to 1 chance in 10 to the 120th power, that’s a 1 with a 120 zeroes after it. Good luck figuring that out, or accounting for it, which is what I ask the skeptic, how can you account for this number? Let’s go ahead and continue our discussion after this break from our sponsors.

*clip plays*

David: I’m here with Mr. Allen Hainline and today we’re discussing the teleological argument for the existence of God, but before we get back into that, we have a segment on our show Allen, that we like to spring on our guests and that is a time of Rapid Questions. Just some funny silly questions that we like to ask our guests so we can get to know them personally. This is about sixty seconds. You won’t be able to hear the time clock, but our audience will. Are you ready?

Allen: Sure.

David: Let’s go ahead and get started. Go. What is your clothing store of choice?

Allen: Amazon.

David: Taco Bell or KFC?

Allen: Taco Bell.

David: What school did you go to?

Allen: U-T Austin.

David: What song is playing on the radio today?

Allen: I don’t think I’ve heard any today.

David: Alright. Where would you like to live?

Allen: Florida.

David: Favorite sport?

Allen: Basketball.

David: What kind of razor do you use?

Allen: I use one you turn on it vibrates, but it’s a handheld.

David: What fruit would you say your head is shaped like?

Allen: I don’t know. Maybe an apple or something?

David: Most hated sports franchise?

Allen: The Patriots.

David: Do you drink Dr. Pepper?

Allen: No.

David: Would you drink one if it was given to you?

Allen: Probably so. Sure.

David: Sounds good. Thank you for playing Rapid Questions. Excellent. Let’s get back to the teleological argument here. Of course, if we bring up and try out this evidence to a skeptic, an atheist, particularly a militant atheist, there will inevitably come common objections to this argument. We have demonstrated a probability that is astronomical and if we stack upon them more probabilities with other constant, you talk about electron, proton, their ratios, their masses, and those have giant probabilities as well, they begin to have these common objections. They’ll say something like this. “You’re just quoting quack scientists and have manipulated the math to suit your case.” 

Allen: I don’t know where they’ve been studying about it, but you can read, Luke Barnes, for example, wrote a review paper, peer-reviewed, in which he read I think 200 articles and quoted, or listed as references at least 100 of them, and they’re by people like Martin Rees, he was the astronomer royal of the UK for a number of years, Nobel Prize winners like Frank Wilczek and many many top physicists will very much affirm the fine-tuning that life-permitting physics is rare among possibilities. Obviously, if they’re not a believer in God, they’re going to tend to opt for any explanation other than God for that.

David: We’ll get to those. Leonard Susskind, father of string theory, Roger Penrose, all these people affirm fine-tuning.

Allen: It’s hard to find people that really question it in its, some might say maybe it’s a little over-rated or something or give us more time, but those who study it in detail, virtually all of them will acknowledge that there’s at least a certain amount of fine-tuning going on and this calls out for a deeper explanation of some sort. 

David: Another quick objection. It’s just a brute fact that the universe is finely tuned. It is just the way it is. There’s no need for a god. What do you say Allen?

Allen: You could say about anything, but I think that’s really a fair statement on naturalism. On naturalism they’re stuck with saying it’s a brute fact. You’ve got all these possibilities. It just happened to be this certain way. We got incredibly lucky, but as theists or as people that think it’s even possible God exists, you can consider an alternative hypothesis for which it’s not as improbable that the universe would be life-permitting. On theism, you could posit that God would set this up for life. Most atheists like to trot out the problem of evil, which I think is a challenging one, a difficult one, but what’s most motivating them is they think God should favor life. That’s the only assumption you need is the fine-tuning argument. You don’t have to think it’s probable that God would want life. If you just think it’s not that ridiculously unlikely that God would want a universe that permits life then that’s all you need for this to be viewed as evidence for theism over atheism by Bayesian probability theory.

David: I like canned response. As trained apologists we like to use canned responses when we start to engage with atheists. It’s a brute fact that it is the way it is. I like to respond, “Let me see if this convinces you. God exists is just the way it is. Does that convince you?” Of course, it doesn’t. You and I both know, Allen, that the laws of physics could have been different. Gravity could be stronger and I would have to be on a perpetual diet all the time. That’s just the way it would work if it wasn’t exactly what it is today. Another common objection, it’s just a happy accident. If there’s a chance, just a chance, it’s going to happen. Let me go ahead and play a video real quick on this.

*clip plays*

David: Dumb and Dumber.

Allen: I wondered if it was going to be Dumb and Dumber yeah.

David: There’s a chance and that’s what a skeptic might say. If there’s a chance, there’s a chance.

Allen: And he was latching on to a one in a million whereas we’re talking about much less likely chances.

David: For example, if I were playing a poker game and I get four aces four hands in a row, I could just turn to the skeptic and say “There was a chance and I’m taking your money each time. I’m raking it right in. There was a chance.” I’m sure there would be quite a bit of incredulity at that point. Let’s go ahead and go on to another objection. This one’s very common. I was recently at a atheistic conference up in Milwaukee, the mythicist conference. Of course, I had the t-shirt that I have right on. It’s Keep Calm and Have Faith, and I was getting engaged by these atheists constantly and I would, of course, bring up this teleological argument to them and in the three discussions that I had with two individuals each time, so six individuals overall, they brought up this very common objection. Douglas Adams puddle, could you tell us what Douglas Adams Puddle argument or counter-argument objection is.

Allen: Sure. I’ve encountered it quite often as well and that motivated me to do a video on my YouTube channel on just that one objection because I noticed a lot of the prominent or the most popular anti-fine tuning videos out there would reference this, almost all of them, just as you say, so this basically, I first of all would say Douglas Adams, he’s a good author, and even his point about this puddle analogy may be a valid one in some context.

David: So what is this puddle analogy? What is this objection?

Allen: What he says, in fact, I’ve got the quote right here, he says, “This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking “This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly doesn’t it? In fact, it fits me staggering well. Must have been made to have me in it.” There may be a lesson there, but it’s totally different than the case of fine-tuning. If we had actually discovered in doing fundamental physics that virtually any set of parameter values and initial conditions would have produced  life, then it would be like any hole being able to hold water, but it’s just the opposite. We found that very few, almost none of them among possibilities would support life and so it’s very disanalogous. In fact, there was an interesting interview awhile back by a guy named David Deutsch, I think he’s an atheist, he’s not at all a believer in God, but he said that analogy specifically as fine-tuning doesn’t hold water. I think, it’s just there’s no way to make that kind of a connection in that analogy and the fine-tuning. As far as I know, I’m not sure Douglas Adams himself did, but Richard Dawkins, a whole bunch of other people have tried to apply that to fine-tuning.

David: It’s unfortunate really. They’re making a category error and they’re basically saying that a little crevice out in the parking lot with a drop in it and the largest lake on planet Earth, if that puddle were to become conscious, look around, and say “Yeah. This was made for me. What a surprise. How amazing is that?” is sort of the mocking tone that the atheist will have, but as you said…..

Allen: I didn’t mean to interrupt you there. I thought you were finished saying that thought. I was just going to say that the fine-tuning itself was discovered originally not by theists that were looking for it but by non-theist physicists who were looking at these various coincidences and the more they studied them, the more they realized how you need to have a large number of these coincidences for there to be life.

David: Yes. Any configuration of dirt can produce a hole that you can fill with water, but the fine-tuning is stating the exact opposite, therefore it’s a category error. What I do is I attack them presuppositionally. I’m saying to them that the fine-tuning, particularly with the cosmological constant, that the hole wouldn’t even exist were it not for the fine-tuning and usually that got around it.

Allen: It’s also not anthropocentric in the sense that it’s not just people saying “The universe is so special just for humans.” That’s a separate thing to evaluate, but really the fine-tuning is saying that without fine-tuning you wouldn’t even have complex structures. You wouldn’t have life of any kind.

David: Leading into that actually, there’s another objection. It states we are adapted to the universe. Not the universe being adapted to us. A very common objection.

Allen: Yeah. That totally misses the point of the fine-tuning as well. They’re looking at what is necessary before evolution can start is one way to kind of characterize it. Before you can get the first lifeform so if you think a universe that lasts a few seconds, never cools below a million degrees, is it plausible to think life could adapt? It’s got to get started before it can adapt and before life can get started you’ve got to have some way to replicate information and store it and those things wouldn’t even be possible without some level of fine-tuning.

David: Excellent. The more common objection, you referenced a book by Luke Barnes, and he takes the theist position. Is that correct?

Allen: Yeah. It’s really, I think the best book out there on fine-tuning.

David: What’s the title of it?

Allen: It’s called the Fortunate Universe and it’s written by Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis, they’re two PhD educated physicists. They got PhDs from Cambridge University and Cambridge University Press published the book. They both reside now in Australia and they’re both really good physicists and it’s the interesting thing is Barnes does make a case for theism as the best explanation for fine-tuning in the book. Most of the book is actually just about the fine-tuning about all the ways the universe could go wrong. Both authors agree, with the exception of one footnote, they agree on every possible thing and how this is something significant, it requires a deeper explanation and then the last chapter, Barnes says, “I think God is the best explanation” and Lewis says, “I think I’m going to hold out for this multiverse. Maybe if we had enough other universes with varying laws we could get lucky eventually.” That’s what his explanation would be for it. It’s a great book I think to recommend cause you get both kind of viewpoints represented. You get a lot of good information about physics in a very understandable and entertaining way.

David: So Lewis opts for this very common assertion and we can say that skeptical cosmologists, those that are studying the fine-tuning of the universe and the development of the universe will opt for this multiverse objection. You’ve explained it a little bit. Can you elaborate more on what the multiverse is?

Allen: Sure. It is sort of a suite of different theories. Normally in the past when you heard the word universe you would think that’s everything physical. Now there’s this thought that maybe the universe started by our Big Bang is somehow causally disconnected from other regions in space-time where they might be other similar universes that maybe started from their own version of the Big Bang. That would be one version of the multiverse theory. If that’s true and if you get different laws and constants in these different universes and obviously you get different initial conditions, you have enough of them and you’d need a vast number then maybe it could serve as a explanation of fine-tuning.

David: Yeah. So in other words, we have our universe, uni meaning one and one universe and we can see conceivably to the very boundary of this universe. We really don’t know what’s beyond it and so out there, beyond the observable universe, there may be other universes birthing each other and birthing and birthing and they have a number now of 10 to the 500 because the probability that we spoke of in the beginning first half of the show was the cosmological constant being one chance in 10 to the 120th power, that’s 1 with a 120 zeroes after it, but we need more probabilities, more chances, so we need to have this theory called the multiverse that gives us 1 chance in 10 to the 500th opportunities to luck out on this fine-tuning.

David; That 10 to the 500, that came about by string theory. It’s not as though every string theorist would go with that. They haven’t even written down the equations for string theory so at least put a little bit of an asterisk for that, but that might be a reasonable guess of the number of different possible constants you could have if string theory is true, but string theory by itself doesn’t even give you the multiplicity of universes. For that you need to appeal to something independent such as eternal inflation is kind of the leading theory,but one of the challenges with the multiverse is you have all these independent things that have to be true for which we have no evidence whatsoever before it can even be a candidate explanation of the fine-tuning and each one of them seems to have certain obstacles. There’s certain significant challenges to the multiverse as an explanation of fine-tuning now. God could have made a multiverse. I have no particular opinion about whether there is a multiverse or not. I think it’s very difficult to have any evidence for or against. That’s part of the problem with it, but there’s actually one thing worth mentioning, is that there’s some recent research done by Luke Barnes and a team at Durham University and some others in which they did simulations of the evolution of the universe with different values of the cosmological constant and saw that, mentioned this earlier, but again, the actual value of the cosmological constant could be 50 or 60 times greater and not mess things up for life and the interesting thing about this is that previously Steven Weinberg had made a prediction that a lot of multiverse advocates really jumped on and said, “Look. Somebody’s predicted the value of the cosmological constant based on a multiverse scenario. he got fairly close to estimating the value of the cosmological constant with a theory that if we just got lucky it would have to still be this very small value just for us to exist, but it turns out that that prediction even has been to some degree anyway falsified by later research. It really is not, it’s not a very good prediction because it turns out that the universe could have been, the cosmological constant could have been much bigger and still produce a life-permitting universe. That’s an example of one of the ways in which people try to evaluate whether the multiverse exists or not is look at predictions of underlying physics and then look at our universe, that’s the only sample we have, and then look at how close is it to what values we would expect among life-permitting universes. Ours should be typical among life-permitting universes if these multiverse theories are true and in many ways they’re not. That one is not a real clear cut one, but it’s at least a slight problem for the multiverse. A bigger one I think is, and this was put out by Oxford physicist Roger Penrose who documented an even more finely tuned criteria than the cosmological constant. He said that the initial conditions of our universe had to be incredibly finely tuned to produce an ordered universe that would permit life and he put the fine-tuning to 1 10 to the 10 to the power of 123. So the exponent on that number is bigger than the fine-tuning of the cosmological constant. You couldn’t even write out the number, it’s so big. So anyway, he says that the multiverse is worse than useless for explaining that fine-tuning because at most, it’s predicted on these multiverse theories that it’d be more probable to produce smaller universes which are exponentially easier to fine-tune than it is that we should have such a huge large universe which requires an incredible amount of fine-tuning. It becomes much more difficult to fine-tune it the larger it is. Even Sean Carroll admits the multiverse is not a good explanation for that fine-tuning and so those kinds of things are part of the challenge that there really hasn’t been a multiverse theory yet that’s been able to overcome those challenges, but if you’re an atheist or a naturalist, I can see why there’d be a tendency to keep assuming there might be one. If you’re so convinced God doesn’t exist, you’re assuming there’s something out there that’s going to make this look like a more natural explanation. 

David: We just need more chances. That’s simply what it comes down to because this fine-tuning is so exquisite and as you stated, Roger Penrose’s 1 chance in 10 raised to the 10 raised to the 123rd power. You can start scribbling that on a sheet of paper and I can assure you, you’ll die before you get a chance to write it out.

Allen: The way the chances work is simply like this, the way the multiverse, another analogy if you’re trying to explain this to someone. We’ll take a deck of cards. We used a Poker analogy earlier. 52 cards and if I were to rearrange them in multiple combinations that would be in math terms, 52 factorial, that is to say 52 times 51 times 50 all the way down to the end and that would give me this number of combinations, but as you spoke about with these universes burping each other or birthing each other, what it does is it produces more decks so you now have not just 52 cards but 104 cards and then you keep going another and then you can rearrange that and it will equal 104 factorial, that is 104 times 103 times 102, but there’s more decks produced and so you get more chances and that is this sort of internal inflation so skeptics have gone all the way from just the universe to infinite universes out there as a possibility just to explain this fine-tuning.

David: It is interesting that in the past, skeptics would give theists a hard time for you guys are positing this unseen entity out there and then now they’re turning to these other universes which by definition, if it interacts with our universe it’s generally considered part of our universe. It’s not just that we haven’t detected these other universes yet. It’s that in principle it would be impossible for them to be causally connected at least by the general definition of the multiverse so that’s really even worse than theism in terms of, in theism we said God is interacting, we can evaluate evidence, whereas here you really just have to look at theoretical physics and I’d be the first to grant that even though maybe it’s arguable whether it’s science or science of some type, that we shouldn’t dismiss the multiverse as a possibility just because it’s harder to confirm. It’s going to be more indirect. Any confirmation we do get, they’re trying to do it by just looking at the predictions of theoretical physics, if that predicts multiverses, and then if we can confirm other predictions that it also predicts, then maybe we can have some level of confidence that the multiverse exists, but so far, I don’t see that as really being there at this point, especially when you look at also the fact that in order for a multiverse scenario to produce these vast numbers of universes with varying laws, you end up needing to fine-tune the multiverse generator. That’s been a real problem for getting away from fine-tuning is you really…not just any universe generating mechanism could be so productive as to produce that many other universes with varying laws so there’s a lot of challenges to the multiverse as an explanation of fine-tuning. Just simply put, the way I say this to a skeptic when they bring the multiverse up, I say to them, “Listen. You’re actually stepping into my world now. You’re looking for an explanation outside the universe, a naturalistic explanation outside the universe to explain the existence of this universe. Welcome to my world. I’m telling you that it is God that created it.” Let us go ahead and wrap this up. The final thing I say to people, the main question for the fine-tuning is I’m asking the skeptic, “How do I account for this improbability?” The skeptic will say, sometimes I’ve had them say, “Well, I don’t know.” The response from me is, “You’re engaging in what’s called atheism of the gaps.” That is to say that this is so improbable, I have no idea how it came about but one thing I do know for sure, God couldn’t have done it.

Allen: I’ve definitely heard that as well. It does seem to be a bit of a naturalism of the gaps.

David: Indeed. Thank you very much. Plug your YouTube channel, any other forthcoming projects you have coming in the near future please?

Allen: Yeah. Thanks. I do have a YouTube channel which is called Finely-Tuned Universe so you can find that at YouTube and I hope that you would want to survive, check out some of the videos there. I’m planning to put some more out there actually on the multiverse in the near future. Also, I do have a series of blogs you can find at If you just google Allen Hainline fine-tuning blog you’ll find those easily enough and then Luke Barnes and I kind of feel honored, humbled to be able to co-author a chapter of a Harvest House book that’s upcoming with Luke Barnes and there’s other prominent authors of the book of their own chapters like William Lane Craig and so forth. It’s my first forae into being an author. It’s a great opportunity. We’re just trying to bring these down to a real laylevel. That’s probably the only reason I’m included there to be honest, but just try to make it understandable, some of these interesting things from science that I think do point to God. 

David: Thank you, Allen. It was a pleasure definitely speaking with you and learning more about your wisdom and your contribution to the cosmological argument as an argument for the existence of God.

Allen: Thanks a lot, David. Glad to hear that you’re using the argument a lot and finding it interesting. Keep up the good work.

David: Thank you. Take care and have a nice weekend.

Allen: Okay. You too. Buh-bye.

David: To the audience out there. I want to play one last video. This is from the late Christopher Hitchens and he makes a shocking confession. That’s what the title of it is called on YouTube. Let’s go ahead and play that to show you one of the preeminent atheists in the entire world at the time and his thoughts on the teleological argument, the argument for fine-tuning.

*clip plays*

David: So there you have it. One of the preeminent atheists in the entire world at the time admitting the best argument from the theistic side is the fine-tuning argument. Before we leave I want to mention that our Defenders Conference is coming up on September 28-29. Tickets are still available and you can find those at the website, Next week, Kurt Jaros will be back in the saddle and will be speaking about this very title here, Survival Guide for the Soul on soul renewal with Ken Shigematsu and we’ll have the pleasure of listening to that interview next week. That does it for the show today. I am grateful for the continued support of our patrons and partnerships with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Fox Restoration, and Non-Profit Megaphone. Thank you for Robb for filling in here, for Chris this week. Thanks to our guest Allen Hainline and thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. 

Not at this time
Not at this time

Seth Baker

View all posts

Never Miss an Episode!