With each passing year, science is providing more evidence that the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned to support human life. Change any one of dozens of parameters by even a small amount and life on Planet Earth would never have arisen. These findings provide strong support for the Christian argument that behind this universe lies an all powerful, super-intelligent Designer.
Many atheists try to sidestep this problem. After decades of Darwinism giving them false solace, atheists face a serious worldview problem making sense of these discoveries, which challenge the wisdom of believing in random self assembly as an adequate cause for the specified complexity inherent in nature.
A favorite dodge goes something like this: there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about fine-tuning in the universe because, had it not been so, we would not be here to make any observations. We simply happened to arise because we just happen to be in a universe – probably one of an infinite number – that can support our form of life.
This is a clever argument, but one that won’t survive scrutiny, because it deliberately misses the point of the fine-tuning argument. It assumes that there is no designer, then asks to make sense of this fine-tuning we see all around. It does this by assuming that other universes exist, and with enough such universes, the existence of our particular universe, with its unique characteristics, becomes predictable. But there is no evidence - at present anyway - that we inhabit one of a limitless number of other universes. So, our presence in this universe cannot simply be taken as a given; instead, the question we are trying to answer is whether such fine-tuning can truly be an accident - a true "billion to one shot" - or whether, by contrast, this evidence of design is the result of, well, a Designer?
Because our existence is the result of the coinciding of hundreds of highly improbable events, basic probability theory tells us that to determine the cumulative probability requires that we multiply these probabilities. Increase the number of "just so" parameters and life becomes incredibly unlikely to have arisen by chance. Some examples might help make the point. The Apollo 11 mission successfully landed men on the moon and returned them safely to Earth. Imagine that on his return, someone asked Neil Armstrong to comment on the stunning success of the mission. If he thought like the new atheists, he might have said: “There was nothing amazing about the mission’s success. After all, if something failed, I wouldn’t be here to discuss the effectiveness of the mission.” Such an answer is ludricous; it simply avoids the question of what the odds were that each of hundreds of systems would work as designed. That such novel technology achieved its goals is a tribute to the intelligence and workmanship of its designers. To say that Armstrong just happened to live in the universe in which his mission succeeded is, in reality, to say nothing at all.
To this, the atheist will likely respond: your example is flawed, because we already know that the Apollo mission was designed by an intelligence, and we don't know that about the universe. But this too missses the point. The Apollo mission was fine-tuned for success. If the universe shows signs of similar fine-tuning, then we can logically conclude that it too bears the marks of an intelligent designer.
Which leads me to a different example: a condemned man stands before a firing squad, awaiting the crack of rifles that will precede his demise. The signal is given, he hears the shots and feels the bullets whizzing nearby, but not a single round hits. He has survived the execution and is here to comment on the probability of so unlikely an event. Imagine if he answered: “there was nothing special about this execution. After all, I wouldn’t be here to comment on it if it had been otherwise.” But this too would be so much nonsense. The question is whether we can infer from this result that each of the marksmen just happened to miss, or whether the better inference would be that missing was “designed,” that the marksmen were following a plan to miss.