How Much of the Universe Has Been Fine-tuned?

Much has been said of the fine balance inherent in many of the forces, objects, and properties of the universe. Those who believe the universe was intentionally ordered and arranged, point to the many parameters of the physical properties of these entities as evidence. A curious argument against this view is presented by Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion. In this, the author describes a machine, with “eight knobs” that are manipulated by the Creator to obtain the universe as we know it. The machine is described disparagingly and is reduced to a state of simplicity that serves to enhance the perceived force of Dawkins’ argument.

Why does the author choose just eight knobs for his machine? Is that all it takes to describe the interaction between the many particles, atoms, and molecules in the universe, plus the forces that control them?

Fine-tuned Multi-layered Dependencies

The fact that there is a great deal of fine-tuning inherent in the forces and objects in the universe is not in dispute, either by proponents of evolution or of creation. One example is the force of gravity. Its behaviour affects small objects to an incredibly tiny degree; but it affects large objects such as stars and galaxies to a very considerable degree.

If gravity just happened to be altered by an infinitesimally small amount, the entire universe would be subjected to destructive forces that would either crush, obliterate, or shatter every object in existence. But the balance is perfect, and it remains so without help from any outside influence.

Other fine-tuned entities include the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, along with many chemical and biological forces that support life.

But each of these ‘forces and objects’ does not exist in isolation. The ‘balance’ that each maintains so carefully impacts on the other ‘forces and objects’ in the universe. Thus, each is dependent on the other for the maintenance of this balance. In this discussion, these entities are separated into three categories, depending on their importance: 1=Critical, 2=Major, 3=Minor.

The following is a list of 39 of the Category 1 items that fall under the heading of ‘Fine-tuned multi-layered dependencies.’ The variations chosen are not subtle; many more items fall under Categories 2 and 3 which by degrees are more subtle in their effects on life as we know it today (see explanations below). But the list contains items which would manifest a devastating effect if their power, size, density, or other properties just happened to have been greater or lesser.

The Categories 1-3, only the first of which is dealt with in the list, are explained thus:

  • Category 1: Failures that mean either the universe cannot exist at all, or conditions are inadequate to support life.
  • Category 2: A “wobble” that prevents a key component from existing, that is, something that reduces the quality of human life to a significant degree.
  • Category 3: Refers to conditions, forces, or objects of lesser importance that nevertheless enhance the quality of life and that possess special intrinsic properties that are exceptionally difficult to attribute to the Darwinian model.

In each case, the entity is listed, followed by both a + and a –

+ represents larger, or faster, or more dense, or older properties

– represents smaller, or slower, or less dense, or younger properties

So, what would happen to the universe if any of the following were + or – their actual values? …

Strong nuclear force
+          no hydrogen would form; atomic nuclei for life-essential elements would be unstable; life would not be possible
–          no elements heavier than hydrogen would exist: life would not be possible

Weak nuclear force constant
+          too much hydrogen would convert to helium; stars would convert too much matter into heavy elements; life would not be possible
–          too little helium would be produced; stars would convert too little matter into heavy elements; life would not be possible

Strength of force of gravity at all time stages of universe
+          stars would be too hot and would burn too rapidly and too unevenly
–          stars would be too cool for nuclear fusion; elements needed for life would never exist

Strength of force of gravity at all size stages of universe
+          gravity would overwhelm universal expansion and fatal contraction would occur
–          gaseous nebula would never succeed in forming stars

Electromagnetic force
+          chemical bonding would not occur; essential elements would be unstable
–          chemical bonding would mean life would not be possible

Ratio of electromagnetic force to gravitational force
+          all stars would be at least 1.4 times mass of the sun; life-cycle of star would be too brief to support life
–          all stars would be at least 0.8 times mass of the sun, making them incapable of producing heavy elements

Mass of the neutrino
+          If neutrinos have even a small amount of mass, their high density throughout the universe would increase the Omega value (the mass in the universe) causing its eventual collapse
–          If Omega (the mass in the universe) is infinitesimally less than 1, it cannot prevent the universe from expanding forever


+          galaxy clusters and galaxies would be too dense
–          galaxy clusters, galaxies, and stars would not form

The lambda particle
+            If lambda (“vacuum energy” or “quintessence”) is non-zero, universal expansion may actually be accelerating
–            If lambda is zero, the universe may collapse

Ratio of electron to proton mass
+          chemical bonding would mean life would not be possible
–          [as above]

Ratio of number of protons to number of electrons
+          electromagnetic force would be too great for gravity, preventing formation of galaxies, stars, planets
–          [as above]

Expansion rate of the universe
+          no galaxies would exist
–          universe would collapse

Entropy level of the universe
+          stars would not exist within proto-galaxies
–          proto-galaxies would not exist

Mass density of the universe
+          excess of deuterium would mean stars would burn-out too rapidly for life to exist
–          insufficient helium would mean shortage of heavier elements

Velocity of light
+          stars would be too bright
–          stars would be too dark

Age of the universe
+          no stars sufficiently stable would exist in required locations of the galaxy
–          stable stars would not have formed

Initial uniformity of radiation
+          if more uniform: stars, star clusters, galaxies and galactic clusters would not exist
–          if less uniform: universe would quickly have become black holes and be predominantly empty

Distance of moon from the earth
+          If much closer, tidal waves would be 1,000 times greater than they are today
–          If much further away, earth’s day would be only 8 hours long; winds and hurricanes would be considerably greater; oceans would not be chemical-rich and therefore inadequate for life to begin

Distance of earth from the sun
+          Freezing temperatures would not permit life to survive, or to begin to develop
–          Heat would scorch the atmosphere, as well as land; oceans would be evaporated, and therefore no chemicals required for life-synthesis would exist

Size of moon
+          Sun’s gravitational effect on moon (currently 2x that of the earth) would be greater, causing severe irregularities in moon’s orbit with consequences similar to those explained for ‘Distance of moon from the earth
–          The moon would have less mass and would therefore draw rapidly closer and closer to the earth; day would be only about 15 hours long. Less scattered sunlight; greater seasonal fluctuations

Average distance between stars
+          heavy element density would be too sparse for rocky planets to form
–          planetary orbits would be too unstable for life

Average distance between galaxies
+          lack of material for star formation
–          gravitational effects would destabilize the sun’s orbit

Density of galactic cluster
+          galaxy collisions and mergers would destabilize the sun’s orbit
–          lack of material for star formation

Fine structure constant
+          stars would have significantly less mass than the sun; matter would be unstable in large magnetic fields
–          all stars would have significantly greater mass than the sun

Decay rate of protons
+          radiation would prevent the existence of life
–          universe would contain insufficient matter for life

Ratio of neutron mass to proton mass
+          neutron decay would yield too few neutrons for the formation of many life-essential elements
–          neutron decay would produce so many neutrons that all stars would collapse into neutron stars or black holes

Initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons
+          radiation would prohibit planet formation
–          available of matter would be insufficient for galaxy or star formation

Supernovae eruptions
+          if too distant, too infrequent, or too soon: heavy elements would be too sparse for rocky planets to form
–          if too close, too frequent, or too late: radiation would exterminate life on the planet

White dwarf binaries
–          if too few: insufficient fluorine would exist for life chemistry
+          if too many: planetary orbits would be too unstable for life

–          if formed too soon: insufficient fluorine production
+          if formed too late: fluorine would arrive too late for life chemistry

Ratio of exotic matter mass to ordinary matter mass
+          universe would collapse before solar-type stars could form
–          no galaxies would form

Number of dimensions in early universe
+          quantum mechanics, gravity, and relativity could not coexist; thus, life would be impossible
–          same result

Number of dimensions in present universe
+          electron, planet, and star orbits would be unstable
–          same result

Big bang ripples (faint spiral patterns from the polarization of microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang)
+          galaxies/galaxy clusters would be too dense for life; black holes would dominate; universe would collapse before life-site could form
–          galaxies would not form; universe would expand too rapidly

Cosmological constant (a value in the field equations of general relativity)
+          universe would expand too quickly to form solar-type stars
–          inadequate inflation in early stages of universe


Polarity of the water molecule
+          heat of fusion and vaporization would be too high for life
–          heat of fusion and vaporization would be too low for life; liquid water would not work as a solvent for life chemistry; ice would not float, runaway freeze-up would occur

Size of the relativistic dilation factor (time slows as velocity increases)
+          certain life-essential chemical reactions would not function properly
–          same result

Uncertainty magnitude in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
+          oxygen transport to body cells would be too great and life-essential elements would be unstable
–          oxygen transport to body cells would be too small and life-essential elements would be unstable

12C to 16O nuclear energy level ratio
+          insufficient oxygen for life
–          insufficient carbon for life

Ground state energy level for 4He
+          insufficient carbon and oxygen for life
–          same as above

Decay rate of 8Be
+          no element heavier than beryllium would form; no life chemistry
–          heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in stars

The above items are just a sample of the full list. An example of a Category 2 item is the traffic control of the human cell. The multitude of “two-way doors” that each cell possesses controls the objects that are permitted or denied access to the cell. This control is achieved by identifying either the shape, the electrical charge or the size of the object. If the charge/shape/size of a nutritional element just didn’t happen to fit or match, then perpetual health problems would be the curse of humankind.

Category 3 items are the most plentiful of all. And it is quite amazing that no supporter of Darwinian Evolution seems to have given much thought to them. For example, the shape of the human ear, i.e. the outer fleshy part known as the pinna:

The outer ear, courtesy of

Darwinian Evolution is based on the principle of survival of the fittest. Therefore, the toughest serendipitous growth of some limb or organ resulted in the creature surviving better than those without such a growth. But does this explain the reason for the organ’s many sound-capturing features? After all, could we not hear quite well without this outer part of the ear? Many animals do. Some have remarkable hearing without this external sound-enhancing organ. Try an experiment: hold back with the palm of your hand as much of the outer ear as you can, without covering the ear canal. Can you still hear? Sound is a little less crisp, but quite adequate.

Design features in the human body — and in other aspects of our world — are replete. Are Darwinian supporters really saying that every one of these features arrived by natural selection? Note the following questions:

Why do we possess a bladder? We don’t need one. Urine is gradually, drop by drop, deposited into the bladder, enabling us to get on with our lives and urinate less frequently. But we would still live entirely successfully.

Why do we possess a rectum? We don’t need one. A creature so adept at survival, defecating frequently, doesn’t need one to live.

Why do we happen to have five digits on each hand? (And how did these accidental growths come to be a complete mirror image, as are the feet, etc?)

Why do we possess a gall bladder? We don’t need one (actually I get along quite well without mine). The liver takes up most of the gall bladder’s functions in its absence.

Why do we possess a stomach? We don’t need one. All we would need to do is eat small amounts of food every half hour or so. We would still live entirely successfully.

Why do we have two eyes? We only need one. A creature so adept at survival only requires one eye to live. The same applies to so many other organs of the body. But this is not the main problem with the Darwinian argument: Possessing two eyes, two ears, two arms and hands, two feet, etc., is more effective than having just one; however, how would any survival and selection mechanism cause the development of a second organ? If through the course of the considerable time allowed for evolution, the requirement for superior configurations of organs and limbs became apparent, how would they subsequently develop? Where is the evidence for the mechanism that produces an organ on demand?

And the questions go on seemingly ad infinitum. Our entire bodies — from the neat outline of the hair on our head, to the hardened nails that garnish our toes — contain an innumerable plethora of design features. Are Darwinians really saying that every single one of these is a serendipitous accident? We just happen to own these multitudinous features that enhance the quality of our lives.

One more example: Have you ever considered that the sensory receptors in your body are fine tuned? Take the example of the nutrition cycle. Within our mouths are amazingly sensitive receptors that enable us to enjoy our food to a considerable degree. But when the food is swallowed, suddenly these receptors are turned off. Otherwise the very actions of swallowing and digesting would probably make us feel nauseous. When our bodies are in need of expelling waste, suddenly the sensory receptors wake up again: but only to tell us when the waste is sufficiently plentiful to merit being expelled … fine-tuned indeed!

Is this a “lucky” series of chance events? Is it not one of innumerable features that enhance the quality of our lives? This is why Category 3 items are the most plentiful.

And finally, tie the above argumentation in with the discussion of DNA in The Fundamentals section. The above “design features” are part of the 3.2 billion “bits of information” that produce a complete human being. They were mapped out before being constructed … a process also accomplished by DNA.

Pretty good planning!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s