Dr Luke Barnes is a cosmologist attached to Sydney University. He is supported by the pro-Christian think tank, the Templeton Foundation.
In "A Fortunate Universe", a book* written in collaboration with Prof Geraint Lewis (Sydney University), he has put forward a case - involving credible evidence - that the Universe is "fine tuned" for life.
Unfortunately, he attributes this "fine tuning" to a creator:
I've never felt the need to call myself a "naturalist", although I do sometimes describe myself as an "anti-supernaturalist". Much the same thing I suppose.
Showing that the Universe appears (to scientists) to be "fine tuned" for life does not provide any evidence for the existence of a god.
You will never observe me criticising Luke's impeccable credentials in science. Nor will I disrespect my friends for their personal beliefs but public statements like this - whether in a book or at a lecture - which utilise the credibility of science to prop up dodgy religious arguments will usually grab my attention.
In a nutshell, "fine tuning" means that if the values of the principle physical constants - such as the intrinsic values of the four fundamental forces - were varied slightly, then it would not take much to render the Universe unable to evolve so that galaxies can form and stars can recycle hydrogen into all the other elements. So no life.
"Fine tuning" is a plausible concept but it is observationally biased for Christians to conclude that "fine tuning" was engineered. It's a giant leap which implies that the Universe was made for us to exist in.
Nope. We are here because favourable conditions arose accidentally on this tiny planet.
People can make their own decisions about god and I respect that. My position is that such an extraordinary claim requires evidence. As there is no evidence, I conclude that god doesn't exist. Using the guise of science, Luke is saying that there is no evidence of a cause for the Big Bang, therefore god was the cause!
I find that not only incomprehensible but also morally corrupt. The fact is that we don't know.
acknowledgents to unknown source.
Even if it were true, it only infers that a supreme supernatural being created the Universe. It does not relate to the god that most religious people believe in - one who meddles in the affairs of a particular race of mammals on a remote planet who evolved into consciousness 13.7 billion years later, demands their worship and grants their wishes etc.
One very common basis for god is the 'argument from beauty':
"Look at that exquisite flower, listen to that music of Mozart, go watch Shakespeare. These are so beautiful they prove god's existence!"
What a shallow argument! It may not be used by theologians but it is still used to stir the masses.
The argument that "fine tuning" implies a creator, (according to some of its adherents) is just as dubious - but just imagine for a moment that it is true. What would it prove?
- It does not argue in favour of the type of god which three quarters of the world believe in.
- It does not argue for a personal god who listens to hymns of praise every Sunday.
- It does not argue for a god who listens to thought prayers and answers them.
- It does not argue for any of the 3000+ gods invented by mankind, including the three major religions.
- It does not argue for Jesus and all his miracles, it does not argue for a god who yearns to be adored and worshiped and it does not argue for a god who is three in one!
It simply argues that a supernatural being set the whole process into motion. Nothing more, nothing less - and that is no different to the counter-postulation by Luke's collaborator, Prof Geraint Lewis, that we may all be participants in a giant computer simulation, initiated by some future super-geek on his home super-duper-computer!
acknowledgents to unknown source
Is god a prime mover, a phantom of the Universe or a personal god? People can have their beliefs about all that but it is highly significant that there are so many different versions. They can't get their story straight!
* I highly recommend the first six chapters. The seventh chapter is a disappointment.