While I am critical of Roderick Long in the previous post, I thought his critique of “fine tuning” arguments was quite good:
As for the claim that the universe is “fine-tuned” to support life, this claim presupposes that physical laws other than the present ones are possible. But as an Aristotelian, I reject any form of possibility other than “compatibility with the nature of the actual world.” Just as explanations make sense only within the realm of existence, so the distinction between possible and impossible does so too.
I’ve been bothered for a while that “fine tuning” arguments, since without assuming that nature is essentially chaos in need of order, there is simply nothing for God to tune up. Nature taken in this way is essentially chaotic, disordered, and unintelligible, and all that is chaotic, disordered and unintelligible is ugly.
Again, the essential disorder of the universe which is “tuned up” in fine tuning arguments is either purely logical, or it really belongs to nature. Taken the first way, there is no real fine tuning of the universe; taken in the second way it presupposes a sense of nature that no one has ever experienced. I certainly agree that if water did not expand when it froze that life would likely not arise, but I’ve never experienced water as undetermined to this state, and I have no reasons to assume that such water is possible. I agree that if molecule X had different forces, it would not be stable, but all my experiences with the molecule X show it with the forces it has. In fact, without these, it would simply not be what it is. This is also true of its parts, and the parts of those parts all the way down.
Fine tuning arguments play on one of the great blind-spots of modern thinkers- the muddling of logical and real possibility. The arguments can only swiftly reach a conclusion because we think we can go from imagining things happening in a different way to concluding that there is a real possibility that they could have been so. Descartes famously muddles these two when he assumes he must take an evil deceiver as a real possibility (indeed the true original sin of modern thought is not “how do I know that I know?” but the more fundamental error of identifying logical and real possibility). Again, Analytic philosophers – especially the theists – are prone to make the same sort of mistake (Plantinga’s argument for mind-body dualism is a good example; so is the popular Analytic claim that God exists because he is possible; and in general the interest one takes in the ontological argument is proportionate to the degree to which he muddles the diverse kinds of possibility… and talk about “possible worlds” is a category of its own in this confusion…)