The popular Fine-Tuning argument for the existence of God is a pretty airtight argument if one accepts science as any kind of authority. It seems to me that all responses to this form of the Teleological argument have been exposed as spectacular failures (for example, the appeal to the anthropic principle, the appeal to the multiverse, the appeal to chance and the appeal to physical necessity have all failed). What objection, then, is there left to this argument?
There is one objection I can think of which hasn’t been appealed to; namely, a denial of the Copernican principle applied to the cosmic level. The Copernican principle stipulates that we occupy no a-typical point in space, and it is only on this assumption that we can project predictions about gravitational force and the speed of light elsewhere in the universe (i.e., from points at which we do not have the means to make any observations).
The Fine-Tuning argument works by assuming that the same physical laws are constitutive of any universe about which we can speak, and that given these laws the range of constants and quantities provided by the initial conditions of the universe, which are such as to be arbitrary as far as Physics is concerned, which are permissive of the existence of life, are so narrow as to make it incredulous to appeal to chance as the best explanation for why our universes’ initial conditions fall within that range. Chance isn’t even on the table as a viable explanation, since the province of life permitting universes is so infinitesimally small that an appeal to chance would be to appeal to something which is beyond the range of what the scientific community (with few exceptions) consider so improbable as to be practically impossible or ‘impossibly improbable’ (i.e., less than 1 in 1050 according to Émil Borel). Of course, we needn’t take the scientific community as an authority in matters of probability theory, but at least it means that the appeal to chance will have no traction in the scientific community – it will be consigned to pseudo-science. It is thus ‘scientifically illegitimate’ to appeal to chance.
However, the argument only works if we assume that all universes are constituted by the same physics – that is, that the laws of physics are the same across all universes (either which are possible or which exist in the multiverse, etc.). Thus, we have applied the Copernican principle to our universe in the field of the multiverse (or in the field of possible universes). Perhaps, then, the objector to this argument could simply deny this application of the Copernican principle – they would deny that other physically possible universes would need to operate with the same physical laws at all. Perhaps some universes have entirely different laws, and perhaps some of those ensembles of physical laws would allow for less narrow life-permissive ranges. One would have to say that given that our physical laws are themselves also arbitrary, and the range of possible alternative laws is simply inscrutable, the probability overall that our universe would have both the physical laws, and the physical constants and quantities set in the initial conditions, which it does in fact have, is actually inscrutable, such that even if we cannot legitimately appeal to chance as the best explanation for the fine-tuning, neither can we appeal to design – the probability of either of those possible explanations is inscrutable.
There are two problems with this objection. The first is that even if this were the case, it doesn’t guarantee a way to dodge the power of this argument. Even if the probability of our universe having both the physical laws and the physical constants and quantities set in the initial conditions of our universe were inscrutable, that probability could not possibly be any better than the probability that we have only the physical constants and quantities set in the initial conditions of our universe. In other words, even if one could, by rejecting the Copernican principle, greatly increase (albeit inscrutably) the number of life permissive universes, it would not help increase the range of life permitting universes which share our physical laws. Thus, given that we were dealt the physical laws we were dealt with, it is ‘definitely’ (as opposed to indefinitely) incomprehensibly unlikely that our universe should permit life. The multiplication of life-permissive universes by the rejection of the Copernican principle applied to the cosmic level simply introduces a new problem, which is analogous to the Boltzmann brain objection to the multiverse as a response to the Fine-Tuning argument. In other words, it is, even if the probability is itself inscrutable, bound to be impossibly improbable that if our universe were life-permissive it would have the physical laws that it does. In essence, then, the objector is faced with the problem of our universe having the physical laws we think it to have – they would be reduced to skepticism with respect to modern physics. Thus, a rejection of the Copernican Principle leads directly to an argument against the accuracy of the physics we have. But, the objector could have rejected physics to begin with: the argument from Fine-Tuning only has any force for those who take modern science as some kind of authority.
The second problem is perhaps even worse. While it may not be logically impossible for some kosmoi to employ different physical laws altogether, we may not be able to speak intelligibly about them in the context of either science or metaphysics. In metaphysics, we could certainly stipulate that such worlds are possible, but we may not even be able to tell any stories about them (i.e., we may not be able to construct even hypothetical models of them – though perhaps we could manage this with a great deal of effort). Into science, however, we cannot allow their intrusion. Science, after all, is the human project of constructing the best models we can to explain empirical datum, along with accurately predicting empirical observations in the future. Science-talk, therefore, is simply constrained by those models which are candidates for being accepted as the best models given the purposes of the scientific project. One can, for instance, legitimately say that it is scientifically impossible for life to exist in the absence of carbon. Construed as a metaphysical claim, that would obviously be quite silly, but construed as a scientific claim it is a verified bonafide empirical claim.
In other words, it is a semantic mistake to claim that such universes (which do not share our physical laws) are ‘physically’ possible. They are not. They are logically possible, but they are not physically possible given what we mean by ‘physically’ which is directly informed by our Physics. Thus, the person who rejects the Copernican principle and thus thinks that they thereby have licensed themselves to speak about other ‘physically possible’ universes with entirely different physics, are simply linguistically confused. We have to respond that there are no such physically possible universes – to say their are is to speak unintelligibly.
Thus, this one objection to the Fine-Tuning argument which rejects the Copernican Principle applied to the Cosmic level admits of at least two ready-made defeaters: the first is that it invites if not impels scientific skepticism, and the second is that it is literally linguistically confused.