One of our Eclectic Orthodoxy readers yesterday brought to my attention this discussion between Hans Halvorson and Sean Carroll. It’s a thoughtful discussion and I commend it to my readers.
I was pleased to see Halvorson raising questions about the Fine-tuning Argument and the existence of God. The argument doesn’t make sense to me.
I’m at the final table of the World Series of Poker—No Limit Texas Holdem. It’s down to just me and Phil Hellmuth. Ten million dollars is at stake. We’re on fourth street.
Me: ♠K ♠Q
Board: ♠J ♠T ♥9 ♣9
Opponent: ♠9 ♦9
I have the stack lead, but only barely. With what he no doubt considers the absolute best hand, Hellmuth checks. He likes to slow-play the nuts, especially against amateurs like myself. With my usual misdiagnosis of the betting, I put him on trip 9s. I go all-in, figuring that he won’t risk his tournament with only three of a kind. After all, I could have a full house. And even if he calls with his trips, I have lots of outs.
Hellmuth calls and turns over his quads.
My heart sinks. The universe hates me. God hates me. Maybe there is no God. Why didn’t I stay home in Roanoke.
Hellmuth grins, stands up and starts to dance around the table. He’s way, way ahead. 98 times out of a hundred his hand will win. In poker and weather reports thats virtually a sure-thing.
I only have one chance. I have to hit my one-outer.
Long, torturous pause … drum roll … and the dealer peals off the ace of spades! A Royal Flush! I win the World Series of Poker! I’m rich! God is good! The universe exists for me!
Phil Hellmuth falls onto the floor and crawls into fetal position.
No matter how improbable the emergence of life might appear, the simple fact is, we are here now. Sometimes one-outers do hit. May I infer from my fantasy-scenario that the universe was fine-tuned for me to win the tournament? May Phil Helmuth legitimately protest that the dealer must have manipulated the deck? Is it even possible for us to raise a question of probability regarding the present universe? compared to what? It’s not as if we can run a zillion simulations on our creatio ex nihilo generator. I can understand probabilities for events within the universe, but I cannot see how we can speak of probabilities when speaking of the universe as a whole. Someone help me out, please.
Now to return to my great suck-out over the Poker Brat …