Throwback Thursday: Is the Universe fine-tuned for us? (Synopsis)

“There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
‘I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’” -
Shel Silverstein

It's pretty obvious that the Universe exists in such a way that it admits the possibility of intelligent life arising. After all, we're here, we're intelligent life, and we're in this Universe. So at minimum, the Universe must exist in such a way that it's physically possible for us to have arisen.

Image credit: Chris Cook of Image credit: Chris Cook of

But are there physically interesting things we can learn about the Universe from this line of reasoning alone? As it turns out, the answer is yes, but the things we can learn are extremely limited both in terms of scientific and philosophical significance.

Go get the whole story over at Medium.

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"we already know that we live in this Universe, and that it has the properties we observe."

Yes, but it is an illusion and we cannot peer behind the curtain of the illusion anymore than we can go faster than the speed of light.
Thus philosophy, religion, ect is what we use to bridge the Scientific gap.
"I also ask you my friends not to condemn me entirely to the mill of mathematical calculations, and allow me time for philosophical speculations, my only pleasures."
Johannes Kepler

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 16 Apr 2015 #permalink

Yes, but it is an illusion

But you're imagining that it is an illusion.

and we cannot peer behind the curtain of the illusion

Except you have to have been able to to make your claim it's an illusion and we can't peer behind it.

Something here isn't working. I think it's your claims.

Thus philosophy, religion, ect is what we use to bridge the Scientific gap.

A gap you completely made up.

Thus we don't use philosophy, religion or "etc." to bridge any gap, other than to claim there IS a gap, therefore science must be "completed" by our own imaginings.

Pretty damn arrogant to assume that the universe needs you to exist properly.

Take you're complaint to the programmer NOT the program.

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 16 Apr 2015 #permalink


Another entity you just made up cannot be used to pass on blame, Rag.

Please stop inventing invisible friends who are responsible for all those bad acts that happen when you're around.

Other people either didn't use them or gave them up before hitting puberty. You're still stuck in the toddler stage.

Put DOWN the security blanket and come out with your head UP!


Less what? Less programmed? Hell yes.

For a start, I've not claimed my posts were the result of a program not my own volition.

PS did you read that site?

Crusades!!! LOL!

ISIS aren't the only ones looking to kill "heathens"!

So then you don't hold a deterministic view of the universe?

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 16 Apr 2015 #permalink

No, I just did a quick Google, it was one of the first to pop up.
Do you also hate Bush and Cheney?

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 16 Apr 2015 #permalink

Interesting insert about the Universe. Is the universe infinite?

By Sean seleke (not verified) on 16 Apr 2015 #permalink

Your the real Jer_koff who tries to bait and switch topics too suit your agenda so please be honest and not mislead because your modus operandi is.. well quite obvious.

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 17 Apr 2015 #permalink

Interesting insert about the Universe. Is the universe infinite?

So nothing to add other than hate, Rag. Oh dear. Care to be on topic?

The universe may be full of stuff that happened by chance but a chance that has rewarded many of us because we do have people who are intelligent and the intelligence may be received from birth but it is developed and grown by the universe we live in because it challenges people and intrigues them to want to understand it and do further research and thus creating intelligent people in the process. The universe has given us a platform to grow and expand our boundaries of knowledge in many different ways,but now it is up to us to take on the challenge and use the intelligence we have to our advantage because the universe is fine-tuned and contains many aspects of learning and is waiting for us to discover more about.

By Fortunate (not verified) on 17 Apr 2015 #permalink

One thing I would love to know is that how far will the universe expand and will it ever burst or explode since it has expanded ever since from a small object? And is there a limit to the universes fine-tuning?

The presence of physics and chemistry in the understanding of the universe has offered a great deal of help because it contributes to the number of people who are said to be intelligent and this intelligence had to be fished out by something that is wanting to be discovered and thanks to the universe, this has happened.

By mpho(u11227465) (not verified) on 17 Apr 2015 #permalink

Science can explain some concepts about the universe however some observed phenomena are extremely hard to explain numerically and in language, simply because our language as humans lacks.Despite everything,numbers are the only thing we have close to nature and possibly God. (14165865)

By T.G Tsotetsi (not verified) on 17 Apr 2015 #permalink

The universe is a wonderful and diverse place. People will always have different opinions on how it originated and we will probably never find enough proof to understand where it really comes from. But the mystery keeps us going and drives us to find out as much as we possibly can, making our lives better and easier in the process.


By NR Greyling (not verified) on 17 Apr 2015 #permalink

Science has given us a way to learn more about the universe and interpret what is happening. We as humans discovered science by taking what we have and questioning its properties to come up with our own theories. As a result we are limited in what we can determine about the universe as we do not have access to all that exists in the universe and so new theories cannot be created. This means that we will never fully understand everything about the universe

we do not have access to all that exists in the universe and so new theories cannot be created.

Never stopped us before. Nobody has said how it could.

So I call "BS" on the claim.

numbers are the only thing we have close to nature and possibly God.

However, that "God" is no god anyone believes in, so please refrain from using that word unless you're going to explain exactly what you mean by it.

As a result we are limited in what we can determine about the universe as we do not have access to all that exists in the universe ...
Possibly, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying.

and so new theories cannot be created.

Not true at all.

We create theories on logic and reason but as it often happens this could be false and so we cannot definitively say when and how ALL was created unless we observe some representative of this creation.

By Stephan 15033067 (not verified) on 18 Apr 2015 #permalink

unless we observe some representative of this creation.

And until then, we'll do the best to understand the universe WITHOUT throwing our hands in the air and say "GODDIDIT!".

Since we don't NEED a god to describe anything, and putting god at the "prime mover" only makes an infinite regression of "god made that" or the special pleading that "God didn't need to be created", which is just as validly applied to "The universe didn't need to be created" and doing away with one complicating step, until we have some evidence of such a thing, there's no point in supposing that your specific version of the myths happen to have stumbled upon the right one.

I mean, it's incredibly unlikely to have that happen just at this time, isn't it.

You are right. Only problem is that apparently, apart from perhaps space time and energy, everything else is the result of emergent processes. Those processes have the annoying property that, at least as of today, the results of an emergent system cannot be deduced from the originator. That is, chemistry emerges from physics (first atoms, then chemistry), but its laws cannot be deduced from the laws of physics. They, too, are emergent. To set an example, by physics alone one cannot predict the properties of the resulting product of two elements reacting. From chemistry you cannot predict properties of living systems, etc.

That's the field we are just beginning to try to understand today: how to predict emergence, which is what, out of a infinitude of possible results in themselves not even known, will result as an emergent system when a lot of things from the originating system get together with enough time to interact.

All in our current Universe has become through emergence and we have not even a theory of how it works. But at least we have realized emergence is how the Universe evolves.

If that's the final explanation, then it's clear that evolution through emergence has resulted in life and intelligence (and many other emergent systems), and perhaps they could have been different, but this the way things evolved. We are the result of the evolution of the Universe, not only of the evolution of the species.

By Rafael Bernal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2015 #permalink

DNA Methylation, Its Mediators and Genome Integrity

Physics and the chemistry of nutrient-dependent RNA-directed DNA methylation and RNA-mediated cell type differentiation are linked via the light-induced de novo creation of amino acids to the fixation of amino acid substitutions in the context of the physiology of reproduction in all genera.

The alternative involves virus-driven mutations linked somehow to the evolution of increasing organismal complexity in mathematical models that have not addressed re-evolution of the bacterial flagellum "over-the-weekend."

See: Evolutionary resurrection of flagellar motility via rewiring of the nitrogen regulation system

By James V. Kohl (not verified) on 18 Apr 2015 #permalink

An explanation would be, we acquire this intelligence from our guardians but then again who passed it on to them. Might rouse the suspicion that there is a Creator out there.

By KSanyatwe 14341362 (not verified) on 19 Apr 2015 #permalink

Bravo again, Ethan! Another balanced, well-thought out and common-sense discussion of an age-old conundrum.

...Where there is no clear path to an answer, we should not accept 'place holder answers' - however temping - to suffice for real science.


By Charles Brown (not verified) on 20 Apr 2015 #permalink

"tempting" :-)

By Charles Brown (not verified) on 20 Apr 2015 #permalink

The anthropic principle has a bunch of absolutely ridiculous versions, but that weakest version does do one job pretty well. It's a good defense against claims that god must have made it when faced with probability.

Namely, the example you gave is terrible if one is trying to just ignore the problem at hand by waving it away with "eh we're here". But, it's great if someone is trying to argue that the apparent fine tuning can ONLY be explained by divine creation.

For example, if someone says "the odds are so slim that all the conditions would be as perfect as we find them on Earth that you can't just say it was chance", then I can argue "but I can, because we would only be here to ask the question on those planets with those exact right conditions, and there are probably a lot of "chances" to get those conditions out there". I don't see anything wrong with using the anthropic principle like that.

By Dark Jaguar (not verified) on 20 Apr 2015 #permalink

Aye, I feel it's pretty good for that purpose. It's not an *answer* because it doesn't even try to explain. It just asserts the parameters of "explicable".

IOW less "the reason why is..." but more "you need a better excuse"

Yep, pretty much that.

By Dark Jaguar (not verified) on 21 Apr 2015 #permalink