Field of Science

Stenger's physics of atheism

Gotta love Victor Stenger.

As a biologist, I have frequently been irritated to no end with creationists who say that what I believe (yes*) and do for a living - evolution - is a hoax. Though I deal with these people less often nowadays (but in the past...**), it is always somehow in the back of my mind. Geologists, too, have a problem (see, for example, PZ's post on that), though geology claiming that the Earth is million and billions years old vex creationists less than the idea that humans evolved from monkeys (yes***). And physicists even less so, even though one of the hardest arguments to refute is that of fine-tuning. But enter Stenger:
Yet for Stenger, fine-tuning is a fallacy and so there is no case for atheists to answer. They simply do not need to resort to Multiverses or to cyclical universes. His book discusses each of the usual examples of fine-tuning that Christian apologetics raise. He applies well-established physics, seeking to demonstrate that in each case, “the parameters of physics and cosmology are not particularly fine-tuned for life, especially human life.”

For example, Stenger agrees that the ratio of protons and electrons in the universe is sufficiently precise as to enable life to ultimately form. However that does not mean that there was the need for a divine being to intervene to ensure that the ratio was correct. He writes, “The number of electrons in the universe should exactly equal the number of protons because of charge conservation, on the reasonable assumption that the total electric charge of the universe is neutral—as it should be if the universe came from ‘nothing’ and charge is conserved.”

Similarly, it is true that the universe would have collapsed before it reached its present size if its expansion rate at one second after the Big Bang had been lower by as little as one part in many billions. However he explains that the expansion rate was automatically very close to the critical rate due to the energy density of the universe.
You can read the rest on eSkeptic.

* I believe it based on the evidence. 'Believe' does not only mean 'on faith', and I do not care to let creationists (or atheists) dictate how I use the word.

** For some past posts dealing with creationists, also in the comments:
Watching multicellularity evolve before our eyes
The Rzeppa game show
My own pet creationist

*** Surely, given the diversity of animals that we call 'monkeys', the last common ancestor of all primates looked like a monkey (though not necessarily like any extant monkey).

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