I will grant that one of the most compelling arguments supporting theism is that of design. Like many apologetics, these arguments identify a aspect of the world we observe that is awe inspiring and to which no natural explanation is known and it seems impossible that one will emerge and label God as the unknown and unknowable explanation.Take the so-called “fine tuning” arguments. These acknowledge that there are a number of constants in the universe that are so precise that if they were even slightly different, nothing like the present universe could have arisen. Wikipedia provides an example:
for example, the strong nuclear force were 2% stronger than it is (i.e., if the coupling constant representing its strength were 2% larger), while the other constants were left unchanged, diprotons would be stable and hydrogen would fuse into them instead of deuterium and helium. This would drastically alter the physics of stars, and presumably preclude the existence of life similar to what we observe on Earth. The existence of the di-proton would short-circuit the slow fusion of hydrogen into deuterium. Hydrogen would fuse so easily that it is likely that all of the Universe’s hydrogen would be consumed in the first few minutes after the Big Bang. However, some of the fundamental constants describe the properties of the unstable strange, charmed, bottom and top quarks and mu and tau leptons that seem to play little part in the Universe or the structure of matter.
I do not presume to understand the physics of this, or a number of other examples of precise cosmological constants, but I accept that they are extremely precise. One website states that the maximum deviation ratio for the “cosmological constant” is 1:10120. I do not know what this means, but it appears uncontroversial that this is indeed the case. This is really incredibly precise.
The argument is that to be so precise implies that a mind must have decided on these, that they could not have arisen by “mere chance”. This of course simply dismisses the possibility that they are necessarily this precise, either because we are one in an infinite number of universes, or some other physical reason. See the Rationally Speaking podcast and blog for some counter-arguments in this regard.
But the point is that the level of precision itself means they are virtually impossible to be established by any other means than a deity. This is why they are considered “fine tuned”. If we turn on a radio that is perfectly tuned to a station, we acknowledge that it is unlikely that it just happened to be at that frequency by chance. The precision of these cosmological constants is so much more precise, many orders of magnitude more precise, which, we are led to believe implies only a god of such staggering power could have organized.
What I would like to point out is that this is all being considered from the human perspective. The constants are incredibly precise from our perspective, but they would not be precise at all from God’s perspective. A 2% deviation in the strong nuclear force may seem small to us, but it is needlessly vague for a being that has no limits to its power and faculties. This being is designing the laws of nature themselves and it would have no limits on precision. 2% is twice as big as a 1% deviation. In fact, it would have been nothing for the creator of the universe to make the allowable deviation to be 0.000000000000000000000000001% or a trillion times more precise than that, and so on. In other words, given the power of the suggested god, the precision of the constants shows us nothing. It could have made them much more or much less precise.
What is really going on here is that humans have identified some properties of the universe that we find awe-inspiring and we do not understand them. Any time we have such a situation, theists will say the only answer is a god. The reasonable response is that we do not know why they have this level of precision.
This draws out that the idea God is not really an explanation for anything, it is a place-holder for an explanation. It is unfalsifiable. It is a panacea. It can explain anything and everything and any inconsistencies are actually proof of it because only a god can do what seems impossible to us.
Take the following examples of hypothetical discussions:
Theist: The Universe is designed for us! Look at the cosmological constants, they are so precise!
Atheist: But these same constants make the majority of the universe overwhelmingly hostile to life. Interstellar space, black holes, all the other planets in our solar system…
Theist: But only a god would make it so vast as to show us how special we are and to be in awe of his power.
Atheist: But if there were only one planet it was teeming with life, would that be evidence of no god? Isn’t this what theists used to believe and think made us so special?
In other words, a universe with only one planet filled with life suggests a god made it just for us. Or a enormous universe with trillions of stars and empty space shows us how special we are too.
If we were to find out tomorrow that we were completely wrong about the constants and that they are much more fuzzy, this would still be proof of God. In this case, it was not God’s hand in designing the constants so precise that allows life, but ensuring that they were so vague that our universe was sure to support life. And so on.
If we were to find out tomorrow, the top quark is heavier than currently thought, meaning the Universe is much more unstable and likely to annihilate us all in a moment’s notice, would this mean it is less designed for life? Of course not, this would be part of God’s design, likely his final judgment and power to end it all and bring the saved into his timeless, space-less transcendence.
You cannot take a fact and say that it points to God but even if it was completely different it would still point to God. This is why unfalsifiable premises make reasoned arguments pointless.