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Is The Atom An Example Of Cosmic Design And Fine-Tuning?

When one thinks that the Cosmos is both designed and fine-tuned, they mean that the Cosmos is both designed and fine-tuned for life in general but human life, mind and intelligence in particular. But standard Darwinian Evolution pretty much does away with the need for cosmic design and cosmic fine-tuning. But Darwinian Evolution can't account for any initial pre-life conditions that life would ultimately require. Is there anything in those cosmic pre-life parameters that is suggestive of design and fine-tuning? Well how about the atom itself?

When one thinks of the Anthropic Principle, that the Cosmos is both designed and fine-tuned, they mean that the Cosmos is both designed and fine-tuned for life in general but human life; human mind / intelligence in particular. But standard Darwinian Evolution, Natural Selection, pretty much does away with the need for cosmic design (and a designer) and cosmic fine-tuning (and a tuner). But Natural Selection and Darwinian Evolution can't account for those initial pre-life conditions that life itself would ultimately require. So is there anything in those cosmic pre-life parameters that is suggestive of design and fine-tuning? Well how about the atom itself?

The Cosmos would appear to be both designed and fine-tuned starting with atoms and right on up the line it goes.

Why design? Well the Cosmos appears to be ordered, predictable, deterministic, structured, have emergent complexity, symmetries, and variety. Ultimately it appears to have a mathematical foundation. Now this does NOT of necessity imply planning or a purpose or meaning or that the design was goal-oriented. Still, the word design does of course imply a designer.

We're probably aware of the story of the person who stumbled across a watch in the wilderness. Although this person had never seen a watch before, they realized that it was something complex and manufactured and designed and they reason therefore that there must have been a designer.

Untold millions have taken this tale, replaced the watch with some sort of complex biological structure like a human eye or a human brain, but even an amoeba, flatworm, fish or bird would do. These millions have concluded that such a complex and obviously designed structure / organism had a designer too who obviously was God or some sort of similar deity.

Since biological evolution has eliminated the need for a supernatural designer of biological things, I propose to look elsewhere for a complex but non-biological structure that has nothing to do with biological evolution and ask whether this non-biological thing need have had a designer.

I think it is fairly safe to say that if any one of the fundamental first-generation standard model particles (like say electrons) had not been programmed in to exist, including the two nuclear forces, we wouldn't be here since no atoms, hence molecules would or could exist.

So what I came up with was the atom; yes, the humble atom. Atoms are a marvelous piece of 'natural' engineering.

Consider the ingredients you need: the strong nuclear force particles; the weak nuclear force particles; the electromagnetic force particles; up-quarks and down-quarks in order to form the protons and the neutrons; and of course electrons. And all of these bits and pieces have to mesh like a clock - or even a watch. You can't just assemble these bits and pieces in just any old way and expect things to work out. Further, you can't expect natural selection; Darwinian evolution; survival of the fittest; and selfish genes to play any role here. These processes have nothing to do with the emergence of atoms from the fundamental particles, forces and fields that form the bedrock of the atomic realm. It's all governed by the laws, principles and relationships of quantum mechanics, all of which had to come from somewhere or from someone or from something.

For example, there's the Pauli Exclusion Principle which requires that not more than two electrons can occupy exactly the same 'orbit' and then only if they have differing quantum values, like spin-up and spin-down. This prevents all electrons being together like commuters crowded into a Tokyo subway carriage at rush hour. Then there's the energy levels that electrons are allowed to have while 'orbiting' around the nucleus. That can be in this level or that level or the next level but not at in-between levels. This prevents electrons from spiraling down and impacting the positively charged nucleus which, being negatively charged, electrons would otherwise want to do. Design and fine-tuning by any other name still appears to be design and fine-tuning.

Consider further that the partial (fractional) electrical charges on the up-quarks and the down-quarks had to arrange themselves just-so such that a proton is a unity of positive electric charge and a neutron is a unity of electric charge neutrality. Then, the positive electric charge on the proton has to balance just so (to an infinite number of decimal places, at least as close to infinity as one can actually measure and calculate) the negative electric charge of the electron. How can the electric charge of the electron be EXACTLY equal and opposite to that of the proton when they otherwise share nothing in common?

Atoms by themselves do not in and of themselves form life. Atoms have to have just-so configurations to link together to form molecules. If hydrogen atoms couldn't link up with oxygen atoms there could be no water and no water implies no life could arise. The same applies to dozens of other essential molecules that life, and the human species requires.

On the other hand, why isn't there a universal solvent or acid that disassembles molecules? Everything can be stored in at least one kind of container. That too seems to be essential for life as is the requirement that some things need to be in solution some of the time.

So who was the designer of the atom? The traditional theological answer would yet again be a deity or deities, but that hypothesis suffers from so much other baggage that it can be dismissed. There's of course Mother Nature, but that leaves everything to pure chance.

Who fine-tuned the atomic parameters? Why fine-tuning? Well fine-tuning implies that something(s) exist against all the odds. The unstated assumption being that fine-tuning requires a tuner. Regarding that fine-tuning, noted physicist Freeman Dyson once said that "it's almost as though the universe knew we were coming". Of course in the Simulation Hypothesis (see below), the cosmos really did 'know' we were preprogrammed and coming into existence and it all started with the design and fine-tuned engineering of the humble atom.

Who is the designer; who is the tuner? IMHO we exist in a "what if" cast-your-fate-to-the-wind scenario cast by a highly technologically advanced computer / software programmer. They fit the designer / fine-tuner bill of goods. In other words, the atom is well enough designed and fine-tuned to suggest that the Simulation Hypothesis, that is we 'exist' in a landscape of pure virtual reality, has quite some considerable merit.

One other point needs to be considered at this juncture. Why are all of the individual fundamentals the same? Why are all spin-up electrons or up-quarks or first generation neutrinos or even photons identical to all other spin-up electrons or up-quarks or first generation neutrinos or even photons? Perhaps the answer lies in the plausibility that each type of fundamental has been assigned their own unique computer / software coding.

Finally, consider that, or so it's claimed and I suspect with very good experimental reasoning, that an atom is literally 99.99% empty space. Yet we have the illusion that there is no empty space. That 99.99% emptiness suggests our computer / software programmer is being very economic with the bits and bytes while also being able to program in the illusion that there is no empty space.

By johnprytz
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You're using theories to suit facts rather than facts to prove theories.

chucklesIII Level 7 Jan 11, 2019

I am proposing a theory to explain facts. Nothing wrong with that.



maturin1919 Level 8 Jan 11, 2019

That's hardly a coherent counterargument!

@johnprytz You asked about the atom, I gave you the answer.

Furthermore, we are not puddles which had custom potholes made for themselves. The universe is the pothole and we conformed to its shape, not the other way 'round.


I'm referring specifically to the apparent design behind an atom, not to "we". You have yet to explain that apparent atomic design. And the puddles example is just plain silly since it would be a very rare occasion that the water exactly (fine-tuned that is) fit the pothole. Not too little water; not to much water but a finely-tuned Goldilocks amount of water that exactly fit. That would be an example of Goldilocks fine-tuning.

@johnprytz There is no 'apparent design'. And the puddle/pothole analogy is perfect, thanks.

Really? You don't think that the architecture of the atom has no apparent design to it? I have no idea what the odds of that architecture happening by pure chance is, but I'd wager you'd have a greater likelihood of being dealt a dozen Royal Flushes in a row.

Would your pothole / puddle analogy work with ice cubes instead of water or steam? In order for your pothole to be filled - just so - requires an amount of water that EXACTLY matches the volume of the pothole. One drop of water hardly qualifies. Too little. The Atlantic Ocean hardly qualifies. Too much. It's a stupid analogy, but if the pothole is full - exactly Goldilocks full - it would seem as is if someone designed the volume of the pothole and then poured the exact amount of water to fill it in order for that Goldilocks scenario to play out.

@johnprytz Potholes are typically filled by an excess of rain, most of which never sees the pothole. The pothole was hardly custom made for the puddle.

No, I don't. I think in this particular universe the laws of physics lend themselves to atom building blocks, and I think in other universes (successful or failed) where things are/were different, things turned out differently.

"...the puddle/pothole analogy is perfect..."

Isn't it just amazing that the beer in by beer can just exactly happens to match the shape and volume of the can! Isn't Mother Nature wonderful! Or was it all the result of an intelligent design?

"I think in this particular universe the laws of physics lend themselves to atom building blocks, and I think in other universes (successful or failed) where things are/were different, things turned out differently."

Obviously the laws of physics lend themselves to atom building blocks, but where did the physical laws come from? Perhaps just computer software programming? And just how do you know that there are other universes and why would you think that the laws of physics are different there? What's your evidence?

Okay, down to brass tacks.

Without any prior knowledge, assemble an atom by selecting from the following ingredients: up quarks, down quarks, electrons, strong nuclear force particles, weak nuclear force particles, positive and/or negative electric charges in units of 1/3rd, gravitons (gravity), and photons (electromagnetic forces). Place them in a mixer - shaken, not stirred - and see what happens. Probably not a heck of a lot. That's pure chance. Now apply your prior knowledge of how an atom is constructed and assemble one. That's intelligent design.

Analogy: You take all of the parts that make up a car and put them in a super-mixer. Mix well. However, you're not going to come up with a functional automobile. Even though the laws of physics allow for a fully functional automobile, that's not the way to make one. An automobile, like an atom, is the product of intelligent design - IMHO - just not supernatural intelligent design.

Okay, now you really need to explain where the laws of physics came from - from or by pure chance?


I think you need to cut back on the amount of that killer weed your smoking.

creative51 Level 8 Jan 11, 2019

Even if I did that it wouldn't change the content of what I posted. Any other constructive comments you care to make?



jlynn37 Level 8 Jan 11, 2019

Also not a coherent counterargument that one can base a discussion on.

@johnprytz There is a good reason.

Which is what exactly? If you actually knew you'd probably actually state that "good reason" - if you actually knew that reason of course.


We do not live a virtual reality , have someone cut off your arm and just see how virtual that is !! Or get hit by a car or contract the plague or the Hanta virus !! You still do not have a clue !! SCIENCE is TRUTH and FACTS !!

Riki64 Level 4 Jan 11, 2019

Virtual reality could easily account for your various scenarios. Those examples could easily be part of a video game or simulation. Now, can you actually name anything that reality (as in Mother Nature) can explain that virtual reality cannot explain? I very much doubt it.


It sounds like you know absolutely nothing about science , the bible is JUST A FAIRY TALE ! SCIENCE is the only real answer to everything and the only thing that has truly improved the human race , not your false gods or theology !! Your god and bible are about as real as my UNICORN RANCH please come by and visit we are located just 53 miles West of Venus , Elvis and I will be standing by to give you a tour and Bigfoot will be piloting the UFO for the fly over portion of the tour !! Have a happy 3.1416 day bible thumper !!!

Riki64 Level 4 Jan 11, 2019

Might I suggest you go back and actually READ what I said about the supernatural explanation! I may be many things, but a Bible thumper isn't one of them! Your comprehension of what I posted is an absolute joke.


Are we here because of fine tunning? That's the question

IamNobody Level 8 Jan 11, 2019

If the fundamental particles couldn't mesh into atoms, hence molecules, hence compounds and so on up the chain then there's no life. However, once you have a bio-genesis, then evolution is all the 'fine-tuning' you need from that point on.

Fine tuning allows us to be here. No one "tuned" it for us.

@johnprytz I know and they did, here we are aren't we? The question is why?

Why is the $64,000 question. We're here - that's reality. Now it's back to the question of which version of reality best explains the "why" question. On the grounds that one needs to explain the apparent Goldilocks architecture of the atom - how all of the component parts mesh together to ensure that we could be here (no guarantees) - one needs to examine all possible realities in order to select what one is the best reality. Of course millions and millions, even billions and billions of people attribute that to a supernatural deity. I reject that and so I have to look elsewhere.

@johnprytz Agree, no deity...and here we are


Not reading that whole thing, but I (think I) get the gist of it.

'The universe seems to have a mathematical basis.' Well, that's because we apply math to it. Math is ultimately a human invention, it's a system of logic to help describe nature. The universe just so happens to 'seem to be based on math' because math was invented to describe it.

As far as 'the unverse happens to have the exact parameters for life to happen.' Think of it this way, if the universe had any different type of parameters, we wouldn't be here (probably some of form of 'life' would be instead, asking the same questions). It's called the anthropic principle.there is the 'strong anthropic principle' and a weak one.

Xenocat Level 5 Jan 11, 2019

As far as the universe having 'the exact parameters for life to exist', I'd have to ask why there seems to be so darn little of it then. Puddles thinking the potholes were made specifically for them l, amirite?

My typical response to things like that is if things were different, things would be different.

'damned little of it' from our perspective. The universe is pretty darn big. The Drake Equation is an equation that establishes the likelihood of finding communicating civilizations (ie, extra terrestrial intelligence) in the universe...and the result is more than you think--and that's just for intelligence. Life in general is going to be even more; the fact that it's too far out there for us to detect doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Plus, if the universe did not have the 'parameters for life', there would be none at all.


@Xenocat We don't need to question why there's so little of it in the universe. We can start with why there's so little of it in our own galaxy.

Seems pretty clear that life is the exception rather than the rule.


No, just no.

Bendog Level 7 Jan 11, 2019

Why? Just saying "no" explains nothing!


I got a little lost on page 3751.

CallMeDave Level 7 Jan 11, 2019

Just be thankful I didn't add another several thousand pages to what I posted. I could have easily done so!

I gather you've never read an entire book, for if you have, then you could easily cope with what I've posted here.

@johnprytz Do picture books count?

Only if they have "Playboy" or "Penthouse" on the cover!


The notion of "pre-life parameters" is nonsense. There were certain conditions in nature, and whatever life/intelligence that formed in and evolved from whatever those conditions were. If those conditions had happened not to be favorable to life, then we wouldn't be here wondering about it.

godef Level 7 Jan 11, 2019

That was my first thought regarding this post. I guess when you dismantled the foundation of his argument, the rest naturally crumbles.

My other thought was just because it appears to be designed does not mean it is actually designed. Designed-ness can evolve through trial and error.

@Chris0615 I agree and given an infinite amount of time. I prefer the weak anthropic principle; the earth is ideally suited to the life that adapted to it.

If the universe were so perfectly designed for us; why is that we can only survive in an infinitesimal percentage of it?

I said nothing about life. I specifically addressed why an atom (that's non-life by the way) appears fine-tuned.

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