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Fallacy of Fine-Tuning [Hardcover]

Victor J. Stenger
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Jun 2011
In recent years a number of authors have noted that if some physical parameters were slightly changed, the universe could no longer support life as we know it. This implies that life depends sensitively on the physics of our universe. Does this fine-tuning also suggest that a creator god intentionally calibrated the initial conditions of the universe so life would eventually evolve? Some influential scientist think so, others have even gone so far as to claim science has found God. In this in-depth and lucid discussion of this fascinating and controversial topic, noted physicist and author Victor J. Stenger looks at the same evidence - but comes to the opposite conclusion. He argues that many of the claims made by theists are based on their misunderstanding of science. He then goes on to examine the specific parameters and shows that plausible explanations can be found for the values they have in the standard models of physics and cosmology. The models are introduced in detail so that the reader has the knowledge needed to understand the role of the parameters claimed to be fine-tuned and judge the veracity of the arguments for themselves.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus (15 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616144432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616144432
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16.1 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 311,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
By Sphex
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is unarguable that life depends sensitively on the physical parameters of our universe. This much Victor Stenger admits, but are these parameters so delicately balanced "that any infinitesimal changes would make life as we know it impossible"? Is the universe fine-tuned for life? In this important and thorough treatment of the subject, Stenger shows that the volume of life-friendly phase space is much bigger than is often claimed, and that fine-tuning is a "dubious conclusion" to draw from the available evidence. To theists, of course, and others disposed to think in teleological terms, the question - "What could possibly be doing the fine-tuning?" - has an obvious answer, one that will often conveniently fit into the believer's particular religious tradition. If they are up for a challenge, and prepared to consider the arguments fairly and squarely, Stenger may well convince some theists "that fine-tuning is a fallacy based on our knowledge of this universe alone" and "that the universe looks just like it should if it were not fine-tuned for humanity". For some atheists, reading about fine-tuning will be a case of move along, nothing to see here, as we file past the latest car-crash folly of religious belief. For others, interested in cosmology and quantum physics, this will be a fascinating guided tour by someone who loves physics and enjoyed a long career as a physicist. For still others, connoisseurs of the machinations of religious apologists, this will provide yet more evidence of the disingenuousness and mendacity of believers.

There is a lucrative and burgeoning market for the kind of book that wallows in this new corner of natural theology.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive textbook on "fine tuning" 14 Aug 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For many years now, Victor Stenger has been investigating claims that the universe is fine tuned for life. In this book he systematically examines each of them, analysing the maths, and finds all of them wanting. He has several main approaches.

He begins by pointing out that the values of most physical constants are completely arbitrary and serve only to define the units of measurement. Only dimensionless measures can truly be compared. There is no such dimensionless parameter for gravity and so it cannot be objectively compared to the other forces. This renders meaningless claims about it being fine tuned.

Stenger repeatedly points out that he does not have to disprove claims of fine tuning. The burden of proof is on those who claim that the universe has been miraculously fine tuned. All he has to do is present plausible scientific explanations. He does this in the case of both cosmological parameters and parameters from particle physics, using well established physics and without the need to resort to fanciful speculation.

His main approach is to recognise that many of the parameters of nature are inter-related. By altering two or more simultaneously, it is possible to model a wide variety of universes capable of supporting long lived stars and the heavy element synthesis required for complex chemistry. Indeed, he varies many parameters over many orders of magnitudes and still manages to simulate surprisingly high numbers of universes with the claimed necessary conditions for life.

Finally, the book includes a Bayesian argument that points out that a universe friendly to life is evidence for a naturally occurring universe, not for a deity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you can follow all of the mathematics behind the arguments, you probably know enough not to be blown away by them, but if, like me, it's a bit of a struggle for you to keep up, there's a massive temptation to either take the author's word, or to write it off as misdirection, depending your stance at the beginning of the book. On the other hand, if you bear with it, you just might see the substance behind a very strong case for a universe that need not explain itself.
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