It seems that over the past week or so I’ve been hit by the Curse of the Interminably Bad Book. Everything was going very nicely, some thought-provoking non-fiction under my belt (because I’ve had a tiff with fiction and we aren’t speaking) and, I thought, more of the same ahead — and then I opened Paul Davies’ The Goldilocks Enigma.
Now, for those unfamiliar with Mr. Davies, he is a very clever man. A very, very clever man. A scientist, no less, who can explain the most complex of idea so clearly that even a science thicko like me can (more or less) understand it. His book deals with the question of how “conditions” got to be “just right” on Earth for life to develop and evolve.
So far so good.
Very early on, however, he starts on the subject of the precision of the numbers involved — how if just one was ever so slightly different we just wouldn’t have happened. “Fine-tuning” is mentioned. The word “coincidences” is used repeatedly, just as I have used it, here, in inverted commas — suggesting that he thinks it’s anything but coincidental. And, sentence by sentence, I feel the dread realisation sink in; he’s one of those scientists. One who flirts with the idea (hell, I’d even go so far as to say that he sticks his hand up the skirt of the idea) of a knob-twiddling god.
Now, I do realise that I’ve been wearing my atheism on my blog-sleeve a little more than usual of late. But I won’t apologise for that. My thoughts on the whole subject haven’t been arrived at without a great deal of thought. You might not agree with my conclusions, but I trust my regular readers enough to believe that they will at least know I’m methodical in how I arrived at them.
So, back to Mr. Davies. I have an especial issue with his theism because he is such a good scientist (in every other respect.) And, yet, I’ve since seen him in a documentary (thanks to Virgin Media’s On Demand service) in which he states that he didn’t like the idea of god existing before the Big Bang. It didn’t make good theological sense! Better to have a god that came along with the Universe rather than before it.
My thoughts/questions regarding this:
1) So God didn’t create the Universe? He was born with it?
2) We can recreate the birth of the Universe in a particle accelerator… can we also recreate the birth of God?
3) Is God present in the Cosmic Microwave Background?
4) If God came along with the Universe rather than before, how could he be responsible for the fine-tuning?
5) If a god wasn’t needed (as I believe Mr. Davies accepts) to create the Universe, why on earth would one be needed to fine-tune it?
You’re a scientist, Mr. Davies. Show me your evidence, or at least some impressively suggestive equations, and I’ll hold my hands up in surrender. Until then, go polish your Templeton Prize.
Oh, and can I have a refund on the book? It’s annoying.