The argument from fine-tuning moves from the idea that the universe is well suited to our needs to the idea that it was designed with us in mind. One criticism of this argument is that it is out of date. Evolution theory, it is argued, can now explain the appearance of design in nature, and it can do so without invoking God; there is no longer a need to postulate an intelligent designer to explain the harmony between us and our environment.

Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhikers‘ Guide to the Galaxy, captured this critique with an analogy:

“Early man is thinking, ‘This world fits me very well. Here are all these things that support me and feed me and look after me; yes, this world fits me nicely‘ and he reaches the inescapable conclusion that whoever made it, made it for him. This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in—an interesting hole I find myself in—fits me rather neatly, doesn‘t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!‘”

A puddle, of course, changes shape to fit its hole; the hole was not designed to fit the puddle. Similarly, according to evolutionary theory, man evolved to fit this environment; the environment was not designed to fit him. Whatever the environment in which life emerged, the life that emerged would suit that environment very well. We should not marvel at the appearance of design; it was inevitable that things would be this way.

The evolutionary critique is fine as far as it goes. It does not, however, go very far.

Yes, evolution can provide at least a partial explanation of the appearance of design in biology: biological organisms evolved to fit their environment.

It cannot, however, explain the appearance of design in the circumstances of the Big Bang, or in the laws of physics. These, unlike biological organisms, have not evolved. Modern design arguments, which tend to focus on physics rather than biology, can therefore resist the evolutionary critique.