Could God have made the world any other way?
An argument one encounters from time-to-time in intellectual religious debate goes something like this:
- There are certain universal constants that govern various laws of physics.
- For some of these constants, if they were but a fraction different, no life could exist
- This indicates intelligent design.
Of course, this argument takes many forms depending on the one postulating it, yet the core remains the same. The universal constants appear to be fine-tuned or at least highly accurate. I personally do not think that this fine-tuning points towards and intelligent creator, but this will not be the discussion for this post. Instead, I wish to operate under the presupposition that God created the universe and ask the question: “Could God have made the world any other way?”
To better explain exactly what I mean by asking this question, I will give an example.
It is the case (in our current universe) that the sum of angles of a tri-angle (I put the dash there to indicate that I speak of merely a shape with three angles, nothing more) is that of two right-angles. Obviously, this truth is synthesized by a mind, though supposedly any mind with an understanding of the relevant concepts (triangles, right-angles and sums) can arrive at the given conclusion.
So, returning to our God-discussion, could God have made the world such that the above proposition does not hold? Certainly, God could have made humans divide circles into 100 degrees rather than 360. Though then still, a tri-angle (50 degrees) equal the sum of two right angles (25+25). There are traditions (primarily Eastern traditions such as Yoga and Buddhism come to mind) where it is claimed that other worlds could have different base-logic. Even more so, in some traditions adhering to radical non-duality (sometimes called the non-duality of non-duality and duality) logical a priori propositions are in fact not infallible. As such, it is very possible for an object to both exist and not-exist simultaneously.
For those who do not hold this view however, an interesting opportunity opens up. If base-logical-principles are per-se invariable, then we might hypothesize that the universal constants derive directly from these principles. If this were so, saying something along the lines of: “If the weak force was weaker or stronger by an order of 10-60, then the universe could not exist.” Would amount to saying: “If tri-angles had four-angles, then the sum of their angles would not be that of two right angles.” The statement is theoretically correct, but a tri-angle cannot have any number of angles other than three and (if this hypothesis is correct) the weak force could not have been any different, not even if God wished it to be.
This hypothesis is attractive in my opinion because it affords us a certain amount of certainty without necessarily invoking either random chance (as some a-theists tend to do) nor a world-shaping deity (as many theists tend to do). Yet one should remember that frameworks such as radical non-duality (complicate as they may be) exist already and leave plenty of space for even our most tautological beliefs to be false.