The Instigator
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4 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

The Fine-Tuning Argument For Design Succeeds

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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/4/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,848 times Debate No: 101683
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (36)
Votes (1)




The fine-tuning of the universe (by fine-tuning I mean that which involves strictly the different parameters and physical constants, not about designed life versus Darwinism) for the existence of intelligent life is often posited as a reason to infer a designer of the initial conditions of the univserse. The argument is as follows:

P1: The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design

P2: The fine-tuning of the universe is not due to physical necessity or chance

C: Therefore, the fine-tuning of the universe is due to design

The argument is valid, so the job of my opponent will be to argue that the premises are true, and my job is to argue for sufficient doubt with regards to the truth of the premises. The first round will be for Pro's opening argument. In order to ensure we both get the same amount of rounds to debate, in the last round, my opponent will only put "...".


On the contrary, I would like to start the debate with "..." and close with a concluding argument.
Debate Round No. 1



My opponent has blatantly ignored the rules I laid out. He didn't make a first argument in the first round, and he insists on having the last word even though that goes against the rules I outlined. If my opponent didn't like the rules he did not have to accept the debate, and that would have been fine. However, knowing the rules of the debate and accepting knowing full well you will violate them, is like accepting a game of chess knowing the rules and insisting you are going to take out your opponent's King with your Knight by moving the piece diagonally. This disregard for the rules is self-evidently a conduct violation so I urge voters to take this into consideration while voting. Thank you.

---Black Hole Generator/ Universe Identity Hypothesis---

Broadly speaking, what I sit on in my living room to watch television is a piece of furniture. However, strictly speaking, it is a couch. Broadly speaking, the place I live is a building. However, strictly speaking, it is a house. Broadly speaking, the item in my right pocket is an electronic device. However, strictly speaking, it is smart phone. We could perhaps get even more strict (the smart phone is an iPhone) but the point is still made. Certain things are broadly speaking A, and strictly speaking B. Perhaps the physical structure we inhabit is broadly speaking, a universe, but strictly speaking, a black hole generator. A black hole generator is that which has a main function of maximizing the the generation of black holes. Perhaps this is what the universe inherently, intrinsically, and fundamentally is. There are good reasons to believe this universe is a black hole generator, as Richard Carrier points out:

"This has been demonstrated by Dr. Lee Smolin, who showed that this universe is the best possible universe you could ever design for maximizing the production of black holes. There's more black holes in this universe you can come up with by mixing up the physical constants or the number of subatomic particles... The number of subatomic particles and their properties are exactly what they would need to be to maximize black hole production." - Richard Carrier

I take it a step further and posit that perhaps what we call the universe is identical with a black hole generator. Which would mean that any time you implied the term "our universe" you could switch out "our universe" with "black hole generator". If this is true, then we have an explanation for why the physical parameters are the way they are without need to invoke a designer. The reason why the universe is life permitting, could be, that the universe is a black hole generator. In order to maximize black hole production there needs to be lots of stars that can perhaps collapse into black holes one day. The more stars we have means the more solar systems which means the higher chance for life.

So, it's possible, that the apparent fine-tuning is due to logical necessity. If the physical parameters were some other way in which stars couldn't form, for example, then that would mean there would be no stars to collapse into black holes meaning we would have a black hole generator which does not generate black holes (which violates the logical Law of Identity). So if we were to conceive of a universe having non-black hole generating features we would actually be conceiving of a different universe.

So the first premise of the fine-tuning argument is false as it doesn't exhaust all the options; it is a false-trichotomy... Logical necessity is a forth option. In order for the logical necessity to be a non-viable option then the proponent of fine-tuning would have to rule out the black hole generator/ universe identity hypothesis without begging the question. If the universe is inherently identical with a black hole generator then clearly the constants physical parameters would have values that allow for life as life is a bi-product of a black hole generator because a black hole generator entails lots of solar systems with the potential for life.

Now, I am not arguing that this hypothesis is true, just that it must be shown false in order for the design explanation to go through and succeed. Thus, until my opponent does this; the fine-tuning argument does not succeed.


I have three things to say.

1) You are correct that I seem to have violated your rules of conduct, but I except the consequences"mainly because I think it is unreasonable for an instigator of an argument to force the opposition to provide the brickwork when the topic is selected and potentially prepared for by the instigator. Additionally, I know that you will take this argument where you have planned it to go, so my opening argument will likely be a waste of time and effort and will allow you to gain the upper-hand with the final concluding statement.

2) You have stated in the summary of the topic that your "job is to argue for sufficient doubt with regards to the truth of the premises." I do not believe that just because there is some potential that the universe is a "black-hole generator" means that there is reasonable evidence for this. If this is your argument then I feel like a lot of evidence will be needed. Furthermore, just because our universe happens to be spectacular conditions to generate black-holes, does not mean this was the purposeful effect. You could say the same thing in another sense" such contains the perfect criteria to produce tulips, so therefore the universe is a tulip-generator. This leads me to my third point.

3) The fact the universe is a black-hole generator or a tulip-generator or an iphone-generator is insignificant. Even if I were to agree that the universe's parameters and constants are perfect for black-hole generation, and that"in fact"the constants and parameters needed to be exactly as they are for the universe to be a black-hole generator, this does not answer the question of how/why. How did the universe gain the perfect fine-tuning to become the ultimate black-hole generator, and why did the universe become a black-hole generator (as well as a tulip-generator and iphone-generator and life-generator)? It still appears as if intelligent design is the only rationale explanation.
Debate Round No. 2



My opponent is well aware of the conduct violation. He argues that the instigator should not get the last word, but even if this is true; he didn't have to accept the debate if he did not like the rules. I disagree with his sentiments however because a person rebutting an argument should always go second, and a person presenting the argument should go first in order to give the opponent something substantial to rebut in the first place. Either way, the rules were clear and were violated without respect for them.

--- Black Hole Generator Revisited---

My opponent says that just because there is a possibility of the universe being a black hole generator doesn't mean there is any evidence of this. This is correct, but of course, it is a straw-man. I argue that this possibility, which doesn't seem intuitively implausible, casts sufficient doubt on the confidence we should have in the design hypothesis as it is another explanation for the values of the physical parameters. This doesn't mean that the design hypothesis is false, but it does mean that until the black hole generator hypothesis is ruled out as implausible; we have no good reason to accept the design hypothesis. So unless my opponent can rule this out as implausible, and show that the the physical parameters cannot be due to chance or physical necessity; the argument for the explanatory superiority of design cannot even get off of the ground showing that I have cast sufficient doubt on the soundness of the argument. That is my burden in the debate which has been fulfilled.

Pro then argues that even if the universe is perfect for black hole generation does not mean this is the purposeful effect. This, once more, is a straw-man. I never said the purpose (which implies teleology) of the universe was black hole generation, just that it could be its main function. Also, the same type of argument can be applied to life; just because the universe allowed life doesn't mean it is the "purpose". Also, tulips can be turned into something else, so it being the main "end game" or function doesn't seem very plausible. Matter, energy, and not even time can escape a black hole, and the parts of a black hole cannot be re-arranged to be something else. So the universe being a black hole generator may not be arbitrary. Even if it is, the point is that the universe may be, strictly speaking, something else. For example, if microorganisms on my arm could think, they would look at there surroundings and not have not have the slightest clue that they are part of a human body; they would just give an name to the strange place they live, like "universe". So, perhaps, because we are so small in comparison to the universe we don't know what the universe actually is, strictly speaking. The black whole generator identity theory is just one hypothesis that we can conceptualize, perhaps it goes deeper than that and we simply cannot comprehend what the universe really is at bottom.

What I am arguing is that unless it can be shown that it is implausible for the universe to inherently be something which forces the constants and physical parameters to the take the values they do due to the necessity of the universe's nature; then we have sufficient doubt that design is the best explanation for why the parameters take the values they do.

---Pro's Third Point---

My opponent is talking about how the universe being a black hole generator is arbitrary. However, I already addressed this by pointing out a crucial difference between black holes and things like tulips and iPhones. My opponent claims that even if the physical parameters are perfect for black hole generation that wouldn't explain why or how they have the values they do. However, it self-evidently does. If the universe is a black hole generator by its very nature then any physical values which didn't allow for black holes to be generated would be logically impossible. This because we would have a situation where that which generates black holes (a black hole generator) doesn't generate black holes; which is a logical contradiction. So if the universe is fundamentally a black hole generator then the explanation as to why the physical parameters and constants have the values they do is logical necessity. This means the first premise of the fine-tuning argument is false even if the hypothesis I mentioned is false because there is a fourth option the proponent of the fine-tuning argument needs to rule out above and beyond physical necessity, chance and design; logical necessity. This makes the first premise of the fine-tuning argument a false-trichotomy.

---Is Design The Best Explanation?---

There is evidence that the universe generates black holes (this doesn't mean the universe is a black hole generator by its very nature, but it is still some evidence at least), but there is no evidence of any designer. Any designer of the cosmos would have to transcend the cosmos, but our instruments can only measure what's inside of the cosmos. So the fact that we have evidence that the universe generates black holes, but no evidence of a designer supports the black hole generator hypothesis more.

Also, the design explanation just pushes the question up a level; who designed the designer? So it posits more problems that it solves. The design explanation violates Occam's Razor as well. The black hole generator hypothesis can explain the values of the physical parameters by positing:

(i) The universe

However, the design hypothesis requires:

(i) The universe

(ii) A transcendent designer of the universe

Since the design hypothesis makes an unneeded assumption by adding an entity above and behind the universe; Occam's Razor favours the black hole generator hypothesis.

--- Has Pro Met His Burden?---

Pro has not ruled out logical necessity, physical necessity, or chance as plausible options; he just bare-asserted that the design explanation was better without even a shred of argumentation. I showed that the fine-tuning argument presented does not succeed, as the first premise is a false-trichotomy; logical necessity needs to be ruled out. Thus, I have met my burden of proof in this debate.

The resolution has been negated.


I now realize that I slightly misinterpreted the debate. At first I incorrectly inferred that my opponent was trying to disprove intelligent design, and to do this, he would find a flaw in the fine-tuning argument. However, now I realize that the debate is about proving whether the displayed fine-tuning argument's premises are true"disproving intelligent design (although perhaps a secondary goal of theirs) is actually not what the debate is about. I apologize for my misunderstanding, which probably caused me to waste words on matters that weren't important in regards to this specific debate. In either case, I do believe my opponent is flawed in his reasoning on why they think the premises of the argument are untrue, and therefore, I will continue the debate on the corrected path.

Now, Con argues that the argument, although valid, has an untrue first premies. Con states that although it is true that the fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design, there is also a forth option that is missing"namely that there is a logical necessity. Let's take a look at this issue further.

First, I would like to define "fine-tuning", which means: make small adjustments to something in order to achieve the best or a desired performance. Therefore, Con's fourth premise can be written as such: Since an already existing black-hole generator has to have the conditions for a black-hole generator (or else it would not be one), thus the universe had to have been adjusted to achieve the desired performance of a black-hole generator by logical necessity.

Here is the problem. To fine-tune the universe into a black-hole generator, that means something was changed (by definition of fine-tuning) to make it have the function of a black-hole generator. As we can see, prior to the fine-tuning (and during the fine-tuning process), there existed something that was not the optimal black-hole generator. Therefore, logical necessity would not come into play until AFTER the fine-tuning completed. Therefore, the fine-tuning could not possibly be a RESULT of logical necessity, but the fine-tuning would CREATE the logical necessity once and only once the black-hole generator was completed. Another way to look at this is to say that either chance, physical necessity, or design required the fine-tuning of the universe to create a black-hole generator, which once created, obviously logically required the parameters and constants of a black-hole generator since it finally WAS one.

If it is still unclear, here is an analogy. Consider a piece of pottery. Obviously, it is logically required to have the characteristics of a pot, since it was one! However, the logical requirement was not installed until once it was a pot. It had no part in the fine-tuning (creating) process. The artist could have sculpted a malleable piece of clay into anything he would like (design), or he could have left it there and allowed gravity to press it slightly (chance/physical necessity). In either case, the result did not logically need the characteristics of a pot until after it was created into one. Therefore, the logical need of a completed pot to have the characteristics of a pot does not fine-tune/shape the clay from a lump to a pot.
Debate Round No. 3


---Fine-Tuning Definition, Begging The Question, and Equivocation---

Pro defines fine-tuning as:

"Make small adjustments to something in order to achieve the best or a desired performance."

However, it should be clear that this definition with regards to the fine-tuning argument cannot be used if the fine-tuning argument is going to be sound and succeed. This is because this definition of fine-tuning presupposes a designer from the get go (as it involves "desire", or someone to give the value judgement of "best"). However the argument for fine-tuning is supposed to concluded that there is a designer; not presuppose it from the very first premise. Therefore, if we go with my opponent's definition, the fine-tuning argument is unsound due to question begging.

Begging The Question Fallacy:

"Any form of argument where the conclusion is assumed in one of the premises." (

Because the first premise would assume a designer based on my opponent's definition, it follows that this definition cannot be used because it would make the argument unsound due to circular reasoning.

Professional philosophical defenders of the fine-tuning argument are aware of this issue, such as Robin Collins and William Lane Craig. By fine-tuning, Collins means that if the universe didn't have the physical values it has, life would not exist ( Since this conception of fine-thing doesn't beg the question then my opponent must accept it (or another definition similar to it) if he wants any hope of the argument not being logically fallacious. Famous Christian apologist William Lane Craig, who rigorously defends the fine-tuning argument, explains why my opponent does not properly understand the meaning of fine-tuning:

"Properly understood, the term 'fine-tuning' is a neutral term and is therefore used in cosmological discussion, even by those who do not think that the universe is a product of design...'Fine-tuning' with respect to nature's fundamental constants and quantities means that small deviations from the actual values of the constants and qualities in question would render the universe life-prohibiting... Now I agree with you that 'fine-tuning' has connotations of design. But you need to appreciate that scientists often use terms that have connotations that are contrary to the technical meaning of such expressions and are therefore grossly misleading to the laymen... Taking such terms literally is a mistake." - William Lane Craig (

So the term 'fine-tuning' that my opponent is using, is not the valid meaning of the term 'fine-tuning' used by cosmologists and by proponents of the fine-tuning argument. It is simply false that the average every day notion of the term 'fine-tuning' can be used in the same way that 'fine-tuning' is used in the context of the debate. Therefore my opponent, unfortunately, is guilty also of an equivocation fallacy:

Equivocation Fallacy:

"Equivocation is a fallacy by which a key word or phrase in an argument is used with more than one meaning." (

In conclusion, no serious advocate of the fine-tuning argument would ever accept my opponent's definition of fine-tuning. This is because it would blatantly make the fine-tuning argument question begging and would entail an equivocation. However, if my opponent doesn't use his flawed definition, then this whole argument in his last round is rendered useless (as it presupposes his flawed definition). Either way, my opponent's arguments are not successful.

---After The Fine-Tuning---

My opponent agrees that if the universe was a black whole generator then it having any other non-black hole generating properties would be a contradiction. However, Pro argues that this is only after the fact that the physical parameters were adjusted to make the universe a black whole generator in the first place. The problem with this argument, as I have already proved, is that it assumes a false definition of fine-tuning that no professional proponent of the fine-tuning argument would ever adopt. The fine-tuning my opponent is talking about is the literal definition, but this is not the definition of fine-tuning relevant to this debate (if it was, it would render the fine-tuning argument invalid and therefore unsound and unsuccessful). I will repeat what William Lane Craig said:

"Taking such terms literally would be a mistake." - William Lane Craig

We need an explanation for the fine-tuning, which means that we need an explanation as to why the physical constants and quantities are life-permitting instead of not. That's all fine-tuning means with regards to the fine-tuning argument; any definition about change entailing value judgements like "best", or change caused by "desire" is invalid as it would render the fine-tuning argument logically fallacious. I have laid out a sketch of a plausible scenario which would explain why the constants and qualities have the values they do. The universe could be a black hole generator by its very nature, but I mean from start to finish; meaning there would be no "after the fine-tuning" as my opponent puts it. This would mean that the universe couldn't have had any physical values that didn't allow for the generation of black holes (and life as a necessary bi-product) as that would be a contradiction. So logical necessity is still a valid explanation. It would only not be a valid explanation if there is an "outside" the universe (like there is an "outside" a piece of pottery, like in my opponent's example), and something "outside" the universe which could have produced another universe instead of the universe we actually exist in. However, this notion would imply a cosmological argument is needed in order to make design argument work. However, that just seems like it would amount to using one argument for God to justify a premise in another argument for God; which would be question begging. Thus, the fine-tuning argument would still not succeed; it must stand on its own two feet.

---Final Conclusion---

My opponent's argument against logical necessity fails miserably for the multiple reasons I mentioned. It would not matter anyway, because even if it succeeded all that would prove is that logical necessity needed to be ruled out. If it needed to be ruled out then clearly it needed to belong to the list of physical necessity, chance, or design. This means that no matter what, the first premise is still a false-trichotomy; meaning the fine-tuning argument is necessarily non-successful. Pro hasn't even begun to rule out physical necessity or chance, so my opponent hasn't even come close to meeting his burden of proof; while I have proven my case beyond reasonable doubt.

The resolution is still negated. I thank my opponent for the interesting discussion.


Here's the problem that I'm seeing"and con has picked up on this as well. There is a clear discrepancy between what exactly "fine-tuning" refers to. In my viewpoint, fine-tuning is a verb that simply means "to change to specific exact parameters" (in other words, to tune with fine precision). I do not presuppose a designer. For example, water running through a rock-bed would eventually, over many many years, cause erosion"resulting in a "finely-tuned" (aka specifically shaped) gorge"no intelligent design needed.

With that being said, I do see that con has used a slightly different definition, and this is where I think his folly lies. Instead of the verb"fine-tuning" which is used in the original argument, he has actually used it as a noun, interpreting it as"finely-tuned." In other words, the argument would be rewritten as such:

P1: The universe IS FINElY-TUNED (or has reached a state with the given parameters) because of either physical necessity, chance, or design.

In this case, I would completely agree with Con that the universe must logically be in this state or else it wouldn't be in this state but it is in this state (Logical Necessity). However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the verb "fine-tuning" when applied to the universe and has nothing to do with physical necessity, chance, or design.

In conclusion, most of this debate was a waste of time since Con did not realize that "fine-tuning" is different than "is finely-tuned." This also explains why con considers the "Fine-tuning" argument to be obviously false when in fact it is as sound as thunder.
Debate Round No. 4
36 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
>Reported vote: 3RU7AL// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: The presumption that the universe has any particular primary function is spurious based on the evidence presented here. Both arguments are quite technically weak but it is hard to say it was a tie because PRO offers no discernible attempt to defend "design" against the alternatives.

[*Reason for removal*] The voter is required to specifically assess arguments made by both debaters. Merely stating that one side didn"t provide a certain argument is not an assessment of the given points.
Posted by canis 2 years ago
Well. I do not care about ignorance or not ignorance. I can not know..I care about what people can think.
Posted by stemaclean 2 years ago

When it comes down to it, it all seems to come down to people inferring purpose/ intent, when there is no real reason to reach that conclusion, other than our flawed perspective that when we do things, other things happen, they do not happen on their own. Meanwhile, we have far more examples of naturalistic processes across the universe that seem to be cause and effect all in one, that seem to be happening with no driving purpose or intent. In all reality, life, purpose, intent, etc. seem to be the exception as opposed to the rule.

Not sure why this is so complicated. They can believe in a cause/ designer/ fine tuner, but they can't make it a rational, logical argument without some sort of actual evidence of a designer. Their interpretation of the word design seems synonymous with complexity, which distills the entire thing down to an argument from ignorance.

It musta been so!
Posted by canis 2 years ago
Posted by canis 2 years ago
P1.The universe is due to physical necessity. 1.What can not happen will not happen. 2.What can happen will happen..The rest is imagination..
Or not ?
Posted by stemaclean 2 years ago

On your statement that the universal constant is 'determined' by something implies an agent that determined it, which ignores the possibility that it simply is, as an emergent property of a system. You are looking for a reason for it to be that way, in terms of a causal force. THAT is a false assumption that would need substantiation.

It is evident in statements like 'oh, if it were different than it is, then it would be different'. It is an overly simplistic tautology with no explanatory value, and no implications other than your continued inference of 'it must have been'.

As for the arguments and their falsifiability, you oversimplify the issue to the point where it no longer has any real meaning. First of all, the falsifiability of multiverse theories is based on our current ability to view the universe, implying the need for more study, which specifically states that we can not yet conclude anything. Second of all, by saying that the only argument for fine tuning scientifically is multiverse theory, you are ignoring all other possibilities, and implying thereby as well that the universe IS fine tuned, presupposing your assumption, as well as presupposing a tuner, rather than making the case for why one would be likely as well as necessary.

As an example, it is possible that the system is simply larger than we can view at our current level, and that the real answer is something as straightforward as successive big bangs as the universe expands and contracts based on long term operation of gravity, which is substantiated by the fact that we can see the effect of gravity, as well as the other forces. While all options require further study, more information to draw a conclusion, none of them point even in a loose logical sense to fine tuning or a fine tuner.

Again, you simply look at how complex it is, and say 'there must have been something that did it' when we have no evidence of such a being or phenomenon.
Posted by canis 2 years ago
Posted by canis 2 years ago
Your/my reason does not matter..You will have no reason fore "what is..Is not"..
Posted by Furyan5 2 years ago
You are implying that the universal constants could have no other value. That they are somehow determined by nature. This is a false assumption. There is no reason the gravitational constant should be precisely that value. Yet slightly stronger or weaker and the universe would not exist.
Posted by canis 2 years ago
So the debate is realy.."how can anything exist outside the argument of my creation"..
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by SolonKR 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro broke the structure rules Con gave in R1, so conduct to C. C. args. that fine-tuning (f.t.) can be due to logical necessity (l.n.) (ie in a black hole generator), so P1 is false. P. says that doesn't answer how it became a black hole generator in the first place (implying it's still due to design), and C. responds that we don't need a why/how b/c we can accept that the universe just is this way w/o requiring more. P. misdefines "fine-tuning", and args that l.n. still needs design to be fine-tuned. This might have made a good argument if P. arg'd for ID, but they didn't, and C. shows it doesn't work on its own in the context of f.t. C. also clearly shows P's defn. of f.t. doesn't work b/c it begs the question "is there an intelligent designer?". C's l.n. point stands, negating P1 and thus the resolutions, so args to C.

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