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The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  342 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
A number of authors have noted that if some physical parameters were slightly changed, the universe could no longer support life, as we know it. This implies that life depends sensitively on the physics of our universe. Does this "fine-tuning" of the universe suggest that a creator god intentionally calibrated the initial conditions of the universe such that life on earth ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published April 15th 2011 by Prometheus Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Sep 18, 2013 Manny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New atheists
Shelves: science, australia
I am distressed by the way that atheism, at least for some people, has managed to metamorphose into just another religion. As far as I am concerned, a blind, dogmatic faith that there is no god is no different from any other kind of blind, dogmatic faith. I respect it, the way I respect all faiths (note that lower-cased 'g' on 'god'), but I had always thought of atheism as being somehow better, and linked to the valuable notion of skepticism. No more, apparently; The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning is an ...more
Sep 10, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book; an in-depth, comprehensive review of the anthropic theory. A number of authors have claimed that the fundamental constants are "exactly" tuned to the values needed, in order to produce galaxies, stars, planets, the earth, chemistry, and life. These authors claim that if any of 30 or so fundamental constants were different by even an exceedingly small amount, then life (and perhaps even stars, in some cases) would be impossible.

In this book, step-by-step, Victor Stenger
Sep 21, 2011 Terence rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who took college math/physics
Recommended to Terence by: New book shelf at library
The two stars I’ve given The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning more reflects my inadequacies as a reader than any failure on Stenger’s part. He gives fair warning that anyone reading his book should have at least a basic, college-level familiarity with math and physics.

Alas, that is not me.

As an undergraduate, I attended Washington University in St. Louis, a pretty good, private institution whose graduation requirements (at least in 1985) included taking classes in a variety of disciplines, including math
Sep 05, 2014 Gary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author does make a slam dunk case on the non-sense of fine-tuning. He fills the book with mathematics, physics and statistical equations. That doesn't bother me, what did bother me is he doesn't always give enough explanations to the equations or their derivations if the reader is seeing them for the first time. If you put such complex equations into a book, don't underestimate the reader's desire to understand them, but they often were obviously incomplete.

The writer is not always good at e
Oct 07, 2013 Sally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, religion
An indepth treatment of the subject, including mathematical explanations of the various parameters that some claim show that the universe was designed for life -- usually meaning, for us human beings and by some creator god. The author then shows that these parameters need not be the exact values they are for life to be possible, and many could vary quite widely. Also, he brings out that the parameters are interdependent, so it is unrealistic to argue about varying this one alone, or that one. I ...more
Sep 22, 2011 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I think the author did a good job at trying to address all the fine-tuning points that people try to make, but in the end I wasn't convinced that he was right and "they" were all wrong. Most of his arguments had a lot of assumptions or weren't truly supported by theory or experimentation. I've read books about both sides of this argument and neither side can make a compelling argument, so I'm still up in the air about it.

Oh, and another thing: many parts became very mathematics and phys
Chris Branch
Dec 23, 2011 Chris Branch rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If this is the clearest possible explanation of how the universe is not fine-tuned, it's not surprising that some people think it is. I agree with Stenger's conclusion, and I think there's some good info here to back it up, it's just not presented in a way that the average reader can look at it and say 'Ah, of course!' - which is what's needed in a book like this. Sure, I suppose that's pretty hard to do, just pointing out that Stenger didn't manage to achieve it here. I'm a reader of writers li ...more
Honestly, the math in this book was mostly over my head, and I don't have enough expertise in physics to seriously evaluate most of Stenger's arguments. This book has received some intense criticism from other physicists, but those other physicists seem to all by Christians who already support the fine tuning argument. It was an interesting read, none-the-less.
Jared Davis
Though I thoroughly enjoy Stenger's work, and made it through the primary arguments and summaries/conclusions in this one, the physics and math are simply far too advanced for me to tackle. If only I'd paid more attention in Dr. Freudenrich's class, I would've gotten a lot more out of this one.
Kevin Warzala
Apr 18, 2013 Kevin Warzala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's so hard to rate this book. On the one hand, I always really enjoy Stenger's writing. It is straight-to-the-point and cuts like a knife. On the other hand, the physics in here are definitely not easy, and I don't think he made it any easier.
Erin Duffy
Jun 26, 2011 Erin Duffy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has read fine tuning books.
Thank you, Victor Stenger, for this book. I knew fine tuning was likely false, based on what I know about biology, but I don't know physics, so this was helpful to me. The math was way beyond me, but the explanations and summaries were good. If I were smarter I would give it 5 stars :)
Jul 03, 2011 Deon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The content was quite good, but I thought it suffered from somewhat poor organization.
Sep 30, 2011 Book rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe is not Designed for Us by Victor J. Stenger

"The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning" is the latest science-driven book by the great author and physicist Victor J. Stenger. In this book, Dr. Stenger tackles the controversial topic of fine-tuning in a thorough and compelling manner. This methodical 345-page book is composed of the following sixteen chapters: 1. Science and God, 2. The Anthropic Principles, 3. The Four Dimensions, 4. Point-of-View Invariance, 5. Cos
Vjekoslav Babic
In "A Brief History of Time", Stephen Hawking said that "each equation included in the book would halve the sales". If this were true, "The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning" by Victor Stenger would never have sold a single copy. The amount of equations in this book is massive, and you better get ready for that.

This book would have been a masterpiece if the author ever asked himself a basic question: who is the target audience of this book?

You can answer this question from two angles: scientific or non-sc
Reksa Vali
Oct 17, 2011 Reksa Vali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dalam bukunya ini, Stenger (dan banyak fisikawan lain) menegaskan bahwa jagat raya kita bukanlah satu-satunya jagat raya, melainkan suatu bagian dari banyak jagat raya yang dalam kosmologi mutakhir disebut multiverse, yang berisi jagat raya individual yang jumlahnya tak terbatas, yang membentang ke segala arah tak terbatas dalam ruang tak terbatas, dan untuk jangka waktu tak terbatas di masa lampau dan di masa depan. Secara kebetulan kita hidup dalam suatu jagat raya yang cocok untuk jenis kehid ...more
Galen Weitkamp
We have seen a proliferation of arguments maintaining that certain physical and cosmological parameters have been “fine tuned” to allow for the existence and evolution of life in our universe.

As an example, Steven Weinberg showed (in 1987) that the cosmological constant can’t be too large, for otherwise the cosmic expansion would have outpaced the gravitational aggregation of matter into stars and galaxies; i.e. there would be no galaxies, stars nor planets and presumably no humans not to obser
Justin Powell
Mar 26, 2013 Justin Powell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In what might be the most exhaustive response to the anthrophic coincidences I've ever read, this book is still very readable, even though it's packed with mathematical equations that not everywhere will understand. Especially those not familiar with quantum mechanics. The two models discussed and used within most of the book are, the standard model of particles and forces and the standard concordance model of cosmology. After a brief overview of the Science and God debate, he quickly skims over ...more
Shawn Brady
Mar 27, 2013 Shawn Brady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful primer concerning physics, cosmology, and the arguments concerning fine-tuning. It is highly technical, and required me to read some passages several times to understand them. But it's treating a very complex array of disciplines, and would lose much of its force by oversimplifying the subject matter.

I began my reading experience trying to follow the math. I quickly realized that the math is well beyond my education level, and began to skip the mathematical portions, which a
Sep 11, 2012 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are people who believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that God created the Earth some four thousand years ago. They are quite stupid. There are some people who stupidity is less profound - they think the universe was designed for humans by God. In evidence, they cite a number of universal constants and ratios which, if changed slightly, would result in a universe impossible for human life. Stenger thinks this is rubbish and sets out to prove it. With equations. Lots of equations. I ...more
Sara Sharick
Jan 24, 2013 Sara Sharick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four stars, primarily because you really should have some college level physics and cosmology. The gist of it is pretty simple: most of what people think is fine tuned either doesn't require tuning at all, falls within a range, or is the result of fine tuning proponents misunderstanding statistics and logic. The boxed equations can be skipped, but much of the text is still technical. I'm glad I read it, as it has been sitting on my shelf for several years, but I think at some point I will seek o ...more
Timothy Finucane
Dec 02, 2012 Timothy Finucane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A solid contribution to the scientific debunking of the fine-tuning claims of many religious apologists. The book is very well researched and extremely thorough in going through the majority of the fine-tuning claims. However, this book may provide some difficulty for the average layman as it does require quite a bit of advanced mathematics to achieve the objective. This is not a bad thing, it may simply require some effort to work through it.

Overall, I highly recommend this book and it is well

difficult for non specialists, the main ideas could be understood and appreciated , but the details and the equations are tiresome and hard to follow, I think this one is not intended for the layperson, but for his fellow physicists and students.
By the way it was a relieve to read all these comments about the difficulty of the math and equations in the book, for I began to believe that I'm retarded not to understand them well.
Laura Stewart
I was honestly disappointed in this book. It missed a lot of relevant points, the well-written parts were largely well-tread ground, and some things I understood only because of having a mathematics background and found the prose description extremely cloudy. It has its moment, including the opening which USA beautiful illustration of the misleading ways we talk about already-past events being "likely".
John Strubhart
May 14, 2012 John Strubhart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christian apologists
Recommended to John by: point of Inquiry
No Fine Tuning Needed

In this book, Stenger takes each argument set forth by Christian apologists for the fine tuning of the Universe and handily knocks them down or shows that they are not needed to give the Universe that we observe. His refutation of these arguments is somewhat technical so that the mathematically shy reader may have difficulty following them. However, if one accepts that he gets the math right, his conclusions are easy enough to follow.
Peter Stanbridge
I think this book probably achieves what it sets out to achieve but it is very heavy in modern physical mathematics and as a consequence I found it very difficult to trace the arguments and match the narrative with all the technical asides.
I should give more stars; my understanding of terms and theorems used was very close to zero! I am sure that this book is worth 5 stars, but I have to agree with my limitations and stay clear of arguing if it is 4 or never mind 5 stars! Stars! Billions!? And we measure books in stars? Cool!
Jaco Steyn
I'm afraid that you would need a solid background in physics before reading this book...
This may have been a good book if I had some knowledge of basic physics (the author recommend basic college level physics.)
Daniel Malcor
Jun 25, 2011 Daniel Malcor is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Just started reading using the Kindle App on the iPad/iPhone. Might be the best way to follow footnotes. Many of the links are already broken, and the book just isn't that old.
Iso Cambia
Recommended in Peter Boghossian's "A Manual for Creating Atheists" (p. 169, 170).
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Victor John Stenger is an American particle physicist, outspoken atheist and author, now active in philosophy and popular religious skepticism.

As of June 2010, he has published nine books for general audiences on physics, quantum mechanics, cosmology, philosophy, religion, atheism, and pseudoscience, the latest of which include The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, which was rele
More about Victor J. Stenger...

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“A common refrain among theoretical physicists is that the fields of quantum field theory are the “real” entities while the particles they represent are images like the shadows in Plato's cave. As one who did experimental particle physics for forty years before retiring in 2000, I say, “Wait a minute!” No one has ever measured a quantum field, or even a classical electric, magnetic, or gravitational field. No one has ever measured a wavicle, the term used to describe the so-called wavelike properties of a particle. You always measure localized particles. The interference patterns you observe in sending light through slits are not seen in the measurements of individual photons, just in the statistical distributions of an ensemble of many photons. To me, it is the particle that comes closest to reality. But then, I cannot prove it is real either.” 1 likes
“However, it wouldn't matter much whether the universe is 13.7 billion years old, or 12.7 or 14.7, so it is hardly fine-tuned. If the universe were only 1.37 billion years old, then life on Earth or elsewhere would not yet have formed; but it might eventually. If the universe were 137 billion years old, life may have long ago died away; but it still could have happened. Once again, the apologists' blinkered perspective causes them to look at our current universe and assume that this is the only universe that could have life, and that carbon-based life is the only possible form of life.” 0 likes
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