Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Fine Tuned?

Francis Collins was the head of the Human Genome Project, which successfully mapped the human genome under budget and ahead of time. Barack Obama later made him head of the National Institute of Health, with a budget of billions and the responsibility of ensuring that wise choices are made concerning US healthcare. A brilliant, charming man, a devout Christian whom is a staunch advocate of teaching evolution rather than pandering to Creationist idiocy. I like him.
This got me thinking about a number of issues however, not least his belief that the universe is fine tuned for life, and also that evolution is completely compatible with the teachings of the Bible. There is a school of thought amongst believers that the cosmos is fine tuned; I.E if the cosmological constants were just a bit different the Universe would either collapse in on itself, or go on expanding at a rate rendering life impossible. It does neither of these things, and we're proof of this because we're here talking about it. Thing is, has it escaped his notice that the vast majority of the observable cosmos is actually hostile to life? If you doubt this try taking a breath on Mars, or a skinny dip on Mercury. What I mean to say, is that when compared with the vast scale of the cosmos life would appear to be rare, so I'm not persuaded by the fine tuning argument one bit. To be sure, our existence is improbable. Actually it's insanely improbable. That doesn't mean we have to accept that it was created by a God that chose to reveal itself to a bunch of bronze age nomads during a time when we barely knew enough to understand that we should wash our hands after taking a poo.
And then we have evolution. You have to study it to fully appreciate what a brutal, merciless, indifferent process it is. Cruelty rules supreme throughout the animal kingdom, with only the higher order primates appearing capable of occasionally bucking this trend. Why, I wonder, would any God choose the one method of creation which from every angle makes him appear surplus to requirements? And why would he offer a completely different, wholly ludicrous alternate story in Genesis? Why would he appear so utterly indifferent to the pain and the suffering of every living creature caught up in this fearful struggle? Perhaps one day, should God exist, an explanation will be forthcoming. One is not automatically obvious to me.

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