Our universe is finely tuned to support life. If, for instance, the Big Bang, gravity, or electromagnetic force were just slightly weaker, life would not exist.
And since this did not happen by chance or necessity, that points to the existence of an intelligent designer—God.
Participants explored this argument during the latest session of Everyday Religion in a World of Many Faiths, a free, online class offered by the Ansari Institute.
“Don’t you see how important and invaluable you are? The whole universe is finely tuned for you and for your life.”
Professor Adnan Aslan led students in a conversation on this argument, as articulated by the contemporary philosopher Robin Collins. Although there are counter-arguments—for instance, the many universes hypothesis, which says that there are a multitude of universes, and ours just happens to have the conditions needed to support life—Aslan said Collins’ thinking is compelling.
“This cannot be coincidence,” he said. “The sun, the moon, the earth, the climate—they all support our existence. Don’t you see how important and invaluable you are? The whole universe is finely tuned for you and for your life.”
A sense of awe and wonder
In addition to exploring Collins’ thinking, class participants unpacked its implications. Charly Pine said that for him, it offered “an invitation to a sense of wonder” as he contemplated the beauty and complexity of the universe.
Ferit Akova spoke similarly, reflecting on how science has allowed him to deepen his appreciation of religion, and of God as the intelligent designer.
“The more we discover, the more amazing things come up,” he said. “Look at the depth of the universe. Explaining things doesn’t mean that we don’t need to look behind them at what ultimately caused them.”
Ronnie Ansari noted that although people hold different perspectives on the universe and how it ultimately came to be, Collins’ thinking—and the importance it gives to humanity as God’s creation—resonates deeply.
“I think it depends, for some, on who they think created humankind—did they just happen or were they created by God?” she said. “I believe we were created by God and are very valuable to him.”
Aslan fleshed out this perspective by citing Islam’s Ḥadīth, in which Muhammad, the Prophet, says that Allah told him, “I was a Hidden Treasure (and) I wanted to be known, so I created Creation.”
“You’re building a foundation for the question, ‘does life have purpose or not have purpose?’ For me, I find that a foundational question.”
Pine said exploring the beauty of the universe—and considering its designer—ultimately helped him create a sense of meaning.
“I would say from this fine-tuning argument you’re building a foundation for the question, ‘does life have purpose or not have purpose?’” he said. “For me, I find that a foundational question. We should be deriving a sense of value in our lives from the fact that we were created in a universe.”
How to join the class
A limited number of spaces are still available for this virtual class, which is free and open to the public. The next session will be 6:30 p.m. ET (US) on Thursday, Oct. 8, when the class will welcome special guest Alexander Hsu, adjunct assistant teaching professor for the Ansari Institute.
Hsu, whose research focuses on early Buddhist scriptures in medieval China, will contribute perspectives from some non-theistic religions to the ongoing discussion established by Professor Adnan Aslan and class participants.