If certain chemical and physical reactions within the atom were any different, life as we know it would not be possible. The main energy source in stars is the fusion of hydrogen into helium, so the helium nucleus is described as “highly stable”. If beryllium did not fuse with helium there would be no carbon. Without helium bonding with carbon, there would be no oxygen.
Because we are nothing much more than carbon and water, the argument goes that this, so-called, “fine tuning” is evidence of design, or God’s “intention” that the universe be conductive to life.
Of course those on this side of the argument will also insist that God is capable of anything He likes—which immediately begs the question, why there should need to be fixed constants at all. Why couldn’t He simply make it so that life is capable of forming no matter what the conditions under which the building blocks of RNA and DNA form might happen to be?
The anthropic principal, as the fine tuning argument is rather more grandly described, can be turned on its head like this with relative ease. In logical analysis, according to the scientific philosopher Karl Popper, this is a very important thing to be able to do, if you want to deduce certain things are “true” until proven otherwise. This is where the scientific definition of the word theory comes from, as opposed to something which is hypothetical, which is the source of so much misunderstanding among those who advocate unfalsifiable supernaturalism as alternatives to falsifiable hypothesise, such as natural selection and the big bang.
Furthermore and regardless of this, we now know that carbon production within stars does not actually balance upon such finite constants, as astronomer and anthropic advocate Fred Hoyle once argued. Carbon production actually hinges upon the radioactive state of three helium nuclei, within a 20 percent range of Hoyle’s fixed figure of 7.65 million electron-volts, which Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg called “not such a close call, after all.”
This means that whenever the more sophisticated argument from theists goes along the lines of asserting that life is so improbable that we must be the only planet in the universe upon which it exists (which even if this were true is not evidence of God), at least in complex arrangements, they are actually relying upon the strongest argument against another of their insistences, that God is was and always will be capable of whatever He sees fit.
This paradox is no-doubt catered for in some branch or another of Christian apologetics and high minded theology. But it is so much more sophisticated an argument than articles of specific faiths, such as miracle myths and biblical prophecy, it would be hard to imagine a better example of special pleading—least of all one which His believers have such an in-built aversion to, despite that it is one which they themselves originally argued would stand as sufficient evidence against a fine tuning God in the first place.
I have seen the practical effect this kind of circular reasoning has upon the debate, quite innocently made by a Christian, whose principal stumbling block was not that he wilfully refused to understand what was being said, but that concessions of this kind are staved off by anything which can’t be shoe-horned into a pre-existing world-view as preached by his cult of choice—which is doubly bullet proofed against evidence of this kind by an absolute unshakeable certainty that anything which proves arguments in favour of a God hypothesis are logically flawed, therefore, couldn’t possibly be true, since the double-edged, non sequitur credo is that God not only exists, no matter what contradictory evidence happens to come along, but that he is actively hiding evidence of his existence in order to test our faith.
This self-healing, feedback loop of internal dialogue, which will drown out even the most obvious of logical conclusions upon which many others might be made, is analogous to the active agents in drug addiction, which work by overwhelming neurone receptors with dopamine, producing a high which the brain becomes dependant upon greater and greater doses, for even minimal ordinary function to continue.
Happily, detoxification is a relatively straightforward procedure, once the victim accepts they have a problem and is ready to seek help.