My thoughts after reading “The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning” …

The book, “The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us”, is a useful reference if one wants to debate with your religious friends about this topic. The author uses a couple tactics often. One of them is pointing out that the fine-tuning proponents often fix one parameter and keep the other parameters unchanged but in reality, the other parameters can also change together. The other one is to say that the allowed range is too big to really call it fine-tuning. Before I read this book, I didn’t realize that there are so many who would so enthusiastically argue/discuss about this subject.

Among other things, I like a couple analogies such as (1) gauge invariance = point-of-view invariance; (2) gravitional force in general relativity being treated as a fictitious force just like the centrifugal force. On p.230, the suggestion (by some theists) of “heaven” being one universe of the multiverse (bound by physical laws) is hilarious to me. I also enjoy the acrimony in asking why the Creator is a small ancient Middle-Eastern tribe. Probably something that the author said very often.

There were a few places I remember that I have reacted the most. Obviously, “genesis” (in 7 days as written in the Bible) is very different from the big bang and there is no compatibility between modern cosmology and the Bible. “Creation” is not unique in Jewish and Christian religions. It’s also discussed that theists attack the idea of infinity. But God is itself is an idea of infinity !

Interestingly, on p.132, I was surprised to find the name of Anthony Kenny who was the Rhodes House Warden when I was in Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar). I didn’t know he wrote a book called “Five Ways: St Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence” and wasn’t aware that he has also been “involved” in proving God’s existence 🙂

This book is not a page-turner like those who-did-it novels and I probably won’t read another book of the same subject. But I’m glad that I’ve read it once. Though the author claims (p.22) that he can only go wherever the data take him, to me, his whole purpose of writing this book is to show that the world was not necessarily fine-tuned by a Creator. The end of “Chapter 14: Probability” stands out as there is the opposite argument that the existence of more fine-tuning actually makes the supernatural creation of the universe less likely ! So the author can have it both ways ! Maybe, I would want to revisit the equation (14.7) again.#

There are also a few typos/errors in the book.

p.87 (line 7) : there should be a period “.” after “space”.

( p.126: the entire quote no. 24 is just the 2nd half of the quote 22. Somehow, the same 4-line quote is repeated/used twice on the same page, as if the author didn’t notice this himself. Somewhat “unnatural” to me but the author said that it’s intentional. )

p.137 (9th line from the bottom): s2 = -(ict)2 + x2 + y2 + z2

I think the “-” sign in front of (ict)2 is a “typo” (as i2 gives you the “-” ). The next equation has s2 = c2 τ2 + …. and τ = it. To be consistent (at least), there shouldn’t be a “-” there.

p.142, on the caption of Fig.6.8, there are two “a > a_0” and I believe the 2nd “a > a_0” should be like “a < a_0”.

p.145 (5th line from the bottom): “its” should be “it is” or “it’s”, before “lower”.

p.184, on the line under equation (10.2), you have “The value in our universe is epsilon = 0.0010.” I believe that 0.0010 should be something like 0.0073. It confuses people as you then talked about 0.006 and 0.008 …

p.185, for Fig.10.3, the scale of epsilon (in the y-axis) changes from 0.006, 0.008 then suddenly to 0.100. Obviously, 0.100 should 0.010.

p.187 (2nd line), the author obviously wanted to have mp in the formula (as he mentioned mp immediately afterwards) but it was only a “space” instead of “p” in the Gm2 / ħ c.

p.220, equation (12.8): … = MPl3 / ( 4π/3 LPl) = …

I believe that the exponent “3” should be on the “LPl” instead of on the “MPl” though the result is the same (due to the line on p.218).

p.249, 9th line (1st line in the middle box), “0.4” in ” …rewrites (0.4)…” should be “14.4” I think.

p.275, the last one for equation (15.8) should have σk outside of the square root.


# The equation (14.7) on p.254 was not immediately obvious to me but I can prove it like the following. It’s not just the simple form of Bayes’ Theorem as stated in the equation (14.1) but an extension. One additional thing needed probably is the definition of conditional probability:

P(A/B) = P(A&B)/P(B).

So, in the equation (14.7),

P(N/F&L) = P(F&N&L)/P(F&L) = [P(F/N&L)P(N&L)]/[P(F/L)P(L)]

                    = [P(F/N&L)/P(F/L)][P(N&L)/P(L)] 

⇒                = [P(F/N&L)/P(F/L)][P(N/L)]

which is the right-handed side of the equation (14.7).

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About kinyip

An experimental particle physicist ...
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2 Responses to My thoughts after reading “The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning” …

  1. kagmi says:

    Interesting…a range of possibly habitable universes. I hadn’t thought of that. Of course it helps that we really have so little idea of how life works in the first place. Just how fine or broad are the requirements? We have a sample size of one.

    I was just reading something that discouraged me a little on the whole “commonality of life” front. We don’t have nearly enough evidence to support this yet, but I realized there’s a possibility that Earth’s sustainably life-friendly atmosphere may be possible due to a wildly unlikely fluke event in our history…Mars and Venus’ geologies are both completely incompatible with life, and our mineral makeup is rather different from theirs because of a collision with a Mars-sized planet early in Earth’s formation that knocked most of our less dense minerals into orbit to form the Moon.

    …well, there’s my random digression for the night. Point being, I’m not sure how likely or unlikely the conditions for intelligent life are, even in our own universe. Wouldn’t it be sad if we were so unique…

  2. Vic Stenger says:

    Thanks for your comments and corrections. Some corrections I already made, and I am in the process of making more from other correspondents. They will be available on my web site shortly.

    Note that the repeat of quote 22 was intentional. Please read again.

    Please also note that I did not make the proposal on p. 230 heaven is another universe. I was quoting others.

    Thanks again.

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