The Fine-Tuning God Problem

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I take the problems of evil and divine hiddenness to rule out the omni-max God of traditional theism: the universe we observe is not what (we should expect) such a God would create. But that leaves open some weaker form of deism: a creator that set things in motion, but need not be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnibenevolent—and so, in particular, needn’t have any motivation to intervene to make things go better, or to reveal their presence to us.

One major motivation for such a deism would be to explain why it is that the universe seems fine-tuned for life (and, for dualists, why the psycho-physical bridging laws yield “normal” matchups between physical functioning and felt experiences, rather than, say, swapping around all experiences of pleasure and pain so that sobbing behaviour is secretly matched to blissful internal phenomenology).

I’m personally pretty comfortable taking these fundamental matters to just be brute and inexplicable. (In particular, I’m happy to take “normal” worlds like ours to be a priori more probable.) But I grant that many people are temperamentally uncomfortable with this, and instead think that such matters really call out for explanation—an explanation that deism potentially provides.

But does it really? There would seem to be an infinite number of possible creator gods we can conceive of, differing in power, knowledge, and motivation. If picking a mind randomly from the entire expanse of logically possible divine mind-space, what are the chances that it would create a universe like ours? It’s not clear how to answer this question, but “vanishingly low” seems like a reasonable first guess. So deism per se just seems to push the problem back a step. Instead of asking, why is the universe fine-tuned for life? we must now wonder, why is the creator god fine-tuned to create a universe fine-tuned for life?

Without an explanation of why (moderately) life-friendly creator gods are a priori more likely than others, deism doesn’t seem to give us an explanation of fine-tuning after all. We might call this the Fine-Tuning God problem. If you’re willing to take the existence of a fine-tuned-for-life God as brute and inexplicable, why not just skip that step and do the same for a fine-tuned-for-life universe?

Of course, this objection doesn’t apply to traditional theists, if they take there to be principled reasons to expect God to take the omni-max form in particular. But for those who already reject that view, but maybe still find themselves drawn to some weaker notion of a creator God purely to address fine-tuning, I think this objection could prove compelling.

Originally appeared on Good Thoughts Read More

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