Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Space Science

Cosmological Constant Not Fine Tuned For Life 536

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the random-is-random dept.
eldavojohn writes "A common argument one might encounter in intelligent design or the arduous process of resolving science with religion is that the physical constants of our world are fine tuned for life by some creator or designer. A University of Alberta theoretical physicist claims quite the opposite when it comes to the cosmological constant. His paper says that our ever expanding universe has a positive cosmological constant and he explains that the optimum cosmological constant for maximizing the chances of life in the universe would be slightly negative: 'any positive value of the constant would tend to decrease the fraction of matter that forms into galaxies, reducing the amount available for life. Therefore the measured value of the cosmological constant, which is positive, is evidence against the idea that the constants have been fine-tuned for life.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Cosmological Constant Not Fine Tuned For Life

Comments Filter:
  • Irrelevant .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @12:50PM (#34917264) Homepage

    The people who want to believe that a creator is pulling the strings in our favor aren't willing to listen to science.

    We don't need to resolve science with religion ... we need to reconcile religion with science. Once your god is outside the big bang where scientists just shrug, or addressing things like an afterlife ... run wild.

    If your religion can't incorporate what science tells us, you're choosing to live in ignorance and take your holy book as literal, factual information.

    I know astrophysicists who are devoutly religious ... first and foremost, they turn to the science to explain the universe as it exists. For them, god answers a completely different set of questions -- and I have no problem with that. If any entity DID create the universe, it's largely going to be beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

    If a god exists, he's such a massively abstract and complex being, that trying to fit him/it/whatever into OUR understanding of the universe is laughable.

  • by cptdondo (59460) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @12:56PM (#34917338) Journal

    Or...

    Since the universe is clearly *not* meant for us, our very existence *requires* divine intervention. Without it we would not be here!

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @12:57PM (#34917350) Homepage

    As one of our fellow apartment-dwellers likes to point out, our scientific view of the universe is directly influenced by:

    1. Our own biological bias (meaning the way we, as humans, perceive things)
    2. The fundamental elements that make up life in this galaxy
    3. The math we use

    Were any of these three things different, our scientific view of reality could be completely changed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @12:58PM (#34917372)

    Yes. I can see the rebuttal now: "How can you say the universe is not fine-tuned for us? We're here, aren't we?"

    Consider that it might actually be the other way around: we evolved in this Universe, therefore we are fined tuned for it.

  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:04PM (#34917474) Journal

    Science. Religion. They are not a competition. Religion answers questions for us that Science cannot. Science answers questions for us that Religion doesn't address. Many famous scientists from bygone ages were devout believers in God, or Allah, or (insert other deity here), and yet made great strides to science. They didn't see the two as mutually exclusive. I blame arrogance and intellectual hubris for thinking that you can live without one or the other. Learn to accept both, and you will be a much happier person.

  • by mibe (1778804) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:05PM (#34917478)
    That's a terrible analogy. Consider instead: There is a lottery to determine whether or not the human race lives or dies. We wouldn't be around to comprehend any losing draws, so we make the (flawed) conclusion that we were always bound to have won.
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:14PM (#34917598)

    And you also forget that gamma ray bursts are only harmful to life as we know it and may in fact be beneficial even required by some other form of life.

    Stop thinking of life as only what you see on planet Earth.

    Its retarded to think that life on Earth has a monopoly on the only possible way life could ever exist, especially when you open your eyes and take into account that we are almost daily discovering life in places that were only yesterday thought to be completely devoid of live since it couldn't possibly form in those conditions based on what we've seen.

    People who talk about these sort of things should be real scientists, not arm chair or pseudo scientists who don't understand that science involves proof, not assumptions. Stop assuming you have any clue what life 'needs' to survive. You don't. At best you have a clue as to what life on Earth that way have discovered already needs to survive.

    You (nor I or anyone else) have note the slightest fucking idea what life else where needs to survive. Even saying 'it needs energy and mass' is dangerous considering how little we actually understand about the universe.

  • Re:Irrelevant .... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:21PM (#34917704) Journal

    I know astrophysicists who are devoutly religious ... first and foremost, they turn to the science to explain the universe as it exists. For them, god answers a completely different set of questions.

    Well exactly. Personally, I think Science answers the how and Religion answers the why.

    The problem is that most people get mixed up in the difference of the two. How something happens and Why something happens are two different questions. Why often implies some motivation by some entity for the action preformed. How did this post come about? I typed keys and clicked submit and the internet had a bunch of traffic etc etc. Why did this post come about? Because I, as a person, decided to type this out to you.

    As a thought experiment, I would ask you why grass is green. You can go and explain that the chlorophyll is green and a major component. And you can explain that the chemical make up of chlorophyll typically has an Electromagnetic absorption to certain colours and that green is the visible colour it reflects. And you can explain that it's a certain frequency in the EM spectrum that is green and how exactly the absorption of other light works, and you could go on forever explaining the process. All you would be doing is explaining how the grass is green. And you can ask "How" an infinite number of times, and I think that often drives scientific progress.

    But you only need to ask "Why" once, and ultimately you know, that you just don't know. You don't know if there is some omni-potent being who decided exactly how the universe would operate. You don't know if there is anything after all this. Personally I like to think there is, as I find it a bit comforting to know that there'd be something at the end, or else why bother at all. At least, that's my philosophy.

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:32PM (#34917858)

    As one of our fellow apartment-dwellers likes to point out, our scientific view of the universe is directly influenced by:

    1. Our own biological bias (meaning the way we, as humans, perceive things)
    2. The fundamental elements that make up life in this galaxy
    3. The math we use

    Were any of these three things different, our scientific view of reality could be completely changed.

    Unlikely beyond the level of mere triviality. The bio basis seems to make no sense, kind of a long delayed hangover of the vital humor approach to organic chemistry, "life force theory". The fundamental elements seems to make no sense, in that the fundamental elements seem to reliably and predictably follow our scientific view of reality (that's kind of the whole point of chemistry). The math we use seems irrelevant, binary, hex, octal, decimal, it all comes out equivalent and the "dependency tree" of mathematical knowledge seems to have remarkably little room for variation compared to practically all other sciences, so it's an especially poor example.

    At the most trivial level, sure, if we had 12 fingers we would probably use a base-12 numbering system, but that has very little effect on the fundamental limit theory of calculus, or pretty much all of geometry, or the concept of a standard deviation.

  • Re:bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:54PM (#34918188)

    Why do you associate faith with lunacy?

    Because if one person believes he has an invisible friend that dictates what he can and what he can't do and will punish him if he doesn't follow that invisible guy's arbitrary rules, he will be sent to a psychiatrist.

    If a group of people does it, it suddenly turns into a religion.

  • Re:Irrelevant .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DriedClexler (814907) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:58PM (#34918238)

    Exactly. If God were a man, we'd actually be able to understand him -- and he'd communicate pretty directly with us about what he wants. But since god is a woman, she expects us to "just know" what she wants, and gets all pissy and vindictive when we don't. Go fig.

  • Re:Irrelevant .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shadow_slicer (607649) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @02:24PM (#34918540)

    The grass is green because that pigment (chlorophyll) made the grass's ancestors marginally more likely to reproduce and/or have more surviving offspring.

    Now who says science can't answer "why" questions?

  • Re:Irrelevant .... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by radtea (464814) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @02:58PM (#34918910)

    But you only need to ask "Why" once, and ultimately you know, that you just don't know. You don't know if there is some omni-potent being who decided exactly how the universe would operate. You don't know if there is anything after all this. Personally I like to think there is, as I find it a bit comforting to know that there'd be something at the end, or else why bother at all. At least, that's my philosophy.

    I don't even know what "why" means in this context, nor why your inability to answer what appears to me to be an incoherent question suggests that anything interesting is beyond the scope of science, which is the disipline of publicly testing ideas by systematic observation and controlled experiment.

    As to the question, "else why bother at all?" there are so many answers is beggars the imagination. Life is incredible. Finite, but incredible, full of wonder, beauty, tragedy, pathos, adventure and fun. If you don't find that enough for going on with, you're doing it wrong.

    If there's something more when that's all done, I'm for it. But I certainly don't need it to make this amazing ride worthwhile.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @02:59PM (#34918912)

    lets try a thought experiment.... lets say we have a person.
    Upon seeing a child bleeding to death in the street he walks off to have a coffee leaving the child to die over the course of long painful hours despite having an entire backpack full of bandages, lots of medical training and copious free time.
    Is this man a good person?
    No.

    Lets say he was walking down that same street and saw a child being raped to death by someone else and despite and entire backpack full of guns, training in martial arts and a team of bodyguards with him he walks past and lets it happen.
    Is this man a good person?
    No.

    This god we're talking about.
    He know's everything that's happening and can do absolutely anything.
    He he literally knows about children being raped to death and does nothing, nothing to stop it despite supposedly having both the knowledge and the means.
    That's one damned evil god you've got there.

    supposedly he will punish the people who did it....later.... as long as they don't say that they're really really sorry in the mean time and really mean it.... and if he does punish them they go to the same place as any of their victims who committed suicide to escape the torture and rapes. .... ok the more I dig into this the more horrible the concept of such a god existing is.

  • Re:Irrelevant .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:51PM (#34919560) Journal

    There is no why, only how. "Why" is an invention of human minds. "Why" presupposes intentionality that does not exist outside of conscious beings.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson

Working...