Monday, July 6, 2015

Fine-Tuning: The Normalization Problem

If you aren't familiar with the Fine-Tuning argument, check out this list of posts:

The basic argument is this: Out of the set up possible physics, the subset that allows for abiogenesis (life arising from non-life) is very small.

Multiple physical parameters, such as the strength of gravity and the cosmological constant are "fine-tuned". If they were slightly larger or smaller, during the inflationary phase of the universe, we would have ended up with either the entire universe being a black hole, or a gargantuan fizz of hydrogen and helium (not enough attractive force for these elements to condense into stars, and stars allow for heavy elements, and without heavy elements you can't have abiogenesis).

There are certainly other forms of life than our own, but that doesn't effect the argument--there are more ways for life to not exist than there are ways for life to exist.

It appears as though we won multiple lotteries all in a row (and only bought one ticket for each lottery), therefore it is reasonable to conclude that there was an intelligent agent influencing physics.

I have addressed all of the common objections to the Fine-Tuning Argument--multiverse theory, the anthropic principle, pointing out that most of our universe won't support life--in my Honors Thesis:

While each of those common counter-arguments completely fails to address (and sometimes even understand) Fine-Tuning, there is one objection that may be a home-run counter: The Normalization Problem.

For the Fine-Tuning argument to work, we need to be able to set up some sort of probability--how likely or unlikely is it that we have the physics that we have?

We assume that physics could be something other than what it is, and then adjust gravity or other parameters slightly. We see what effect those slight changes would have on our universe. But what would happen if gravity were infinity? Or negative infinity?

There aren't bounds on how big or small each parameter could be--because we allow them to change from the get-go, there isn't some "invisible wall" that lets us stop somewhere.

Because of this, we can't generate a probability. There isn't a mathematical way to describe our situation, and it certainly isn't reasonable to punt to our intuitions--how could we possibly have accurate intuitions about such an abstract topic?

I will pursue this issue further, but it may be a home-run against the Fine-Tuning argument.

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