ECCO Seminar - Victor Stenger, Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for life?

Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for life?

 

 

Abstract:

For over a decade now, many theologians and theistic scientists have claimed that they can make a strong scientific argument for the existence of a supernatural creation of the universe and that this universe was created with life, and perhaps even humanity, in mind. This notion, misleadingly called the Anthropic Principle, is based on the fact that has some of the constants of physics been slightly different, life “as we know it” would not exist. The parameters of nature are not fine-tuned at all. Either they have the values they do because of being arbitrary to begin with, being fixed by the laws of physics, or else they still allow for some kind of life when other parameters are varied. A common mistake by the unqualified people making these claims of fine-tuning is to fix all the parameters but one and then vary just that one. Any properly trained scientist knows that all parameters must be varied when studying what happens when the parameters of a system change.
 

About the Speaker

Victor Stenger is adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii (retired). He is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a research fellow of the Center for Inquiry. Stenger has  also held visiting positions on the faculties of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford in England (twice), and has been a visiting researcher at Rutherford Laboratory in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy.
Stenger spent forty years doing research in elementary particle physics and astrophysics during the golden age of those subjects. In his last project before retiring, Stenger collaborated on the underground experiment in Japan that showed for the
first time that the neutrino has mass. The Japanese leader of this experiments shared the 2002 Nobel Prize.

 

Victor Stenger has had a parallel career as an author of critically well-received popular-level books that interface between physics and cosmology and philosophy, religion, and pseudoscience. These include: Not By Design: The Origin of the Universe (1988); Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses 1990); The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (1995); Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes (2000); Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (2003); The Comprehensible Cosmos: Where Do the Laws of Physics Come from? (2006); and God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (2007). The latest book made the New York Times bestseller list in March, 2007. His next book, scheduled for early 2009, is called Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness. Stenger maintains a popular Web site (a thousand hits per month), where much of his writing and the slideshow for this talk can be found, at

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/ .