science has produced something quite unexpected. Even to a scientist such as
myself. It turns out that the observed features of the natural world appear to
be fine-tuned for biological complexity. In other words, everything from the
mass ratios of atomic particles, the number of space dimensions, to the
cosmological parameters that rule the expansion of the universe, and the
formation of galaxies are all exactly what they need to be to create stars,
planets, atoms, and molecules.
where does this apparent fine-tuning come from?
the manifestation of a plan for the universe? An arrangement by a superior will
to prepare the way for complex creatures? Is it God's signature? People of
faith believe it is so. They read purpose in the universe as a painter sees
beauty in a view on the ocean.
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for scientists, final causes don't explain enough. We must go one step further,
and examine alternative explanations to the fine-tuning idea. One such idea is
called the multiverse. It states that we don't live in a universe fine-tuned
for life so much as we happen to live in a universe, one of many, that by a
cosmic accident just happens to be the kind that supports biological life. In
other words, we're not special, we're just lucky.
discoveries in particle physics point to this. Remember, our observable universe
is just a tiny region among a large variety of regions, each with different
properties. And many of these regions in the universe are sterile and
inhospitable and thus lifeless (which makes it especially difficult for them to
be observed!). Thus, say some scientists, there is no fine-tuning. And
likewise, there is no purpose.
don't agree. The fundamental scientific theories that support the multiverse
require complex mathematics. The fact that these fundamental theories are even
accessible to our brains, which, in a purposeless universe would be nothing but
a by-product of our ability to find prey (and avoid being prey), in the
millennia of Homo sapiens' evolution is something I find quite ... puzzling.
reality is that we are able to contemplate such questions. And the bigger the
questions our brains can ponder, the more unlikely that the cosmic drama we are
all participating in is simply a cosmic lottery.
why, at the end of the day, I can't refrain from thinking that there actually
is purpose in the universe.
Bruno Guiderdoni is an astrophysicist and the Director of the Observatory of Lyon, France.