Who doesn’t enjoy watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a beautiful landscape, or a field of wildflowers in full bloom? Or how about majestic mountains, or the power of the oceans crashing against a rocky shore? Have you ever gotten away from the city lights to go out in the countryside and just look up and gaze at the stars on a clear night? And there’s nothing like watching a distant thunderstorm slowly roll toward you across Lake Michigan and the spectacular lightning show that accompanies it. Then there’s the tranquility of a quiet walk in the woods as you revel in the beauty all around you. It’s all just so spectacular and amazing. How did it get there?
In the previous two articles I wrote about the existence of the universe as an argument for the existence of God. This is also known as the cosmological argument. I asked a number of questions, but two of them in particular are: first, does the cosmological argument provide us with evidence that God exists? And second, is God the most reasonable explanation for how the universe began? I concluded that there is powerful circumstantial evidence which points us in the direction of God’s existence.
Dr. Stephen Hawking
In fact, world renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Hawking once wrote:
“The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.” (Bold emphasis mine)
Although not a believer in God, elsewhere Hawking said,
“It would be very difficult to explain why the universe would have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.” (Bold emphasis mine)
Indeed, as we previously learned, the circumstantial evidence for the existence for cosmological argument strongly points us to the existence of a creator. It is the most reasonable inference as to how the universe began.
The Fine-Tuning Argument
When I was growing up, before everything was digital, if you wanted to listen to radio you had to finely adjust the tuning knob to your station of choice before it would come clear. If you just got close to your station, there was static. But once you finely tuned the dial, your station came in loud and crystal clear. The fine-tuning argument says that everything in the universe was precisely and finely tuned in order to permit life.
In this article I’m going to be looking at the fine-tuning argument. What is the fine-tuning argument? The fine-tuning argument refers to the surprising precision of nature’s physical constants and the early conditions of the universe. To explain how a habitable planet like Earth could even exist, these fundamental constants have to be set to just the right values. Nearly two thousand years ago the apostle Paul wrote:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
And then there are all the complexities of the human body. The psalmist wrote:
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance… (Psalm 139:13-16)
Just consider for a moment the complexities of your own hand. Look at the back, the palm, move your fingers around, make a fist, point. The nerves, muscles, tendons, arteries, the flexor sheath, etc., and consider how they all function together.
Think about the intricacies of the human eye, the parts of the ear, or the human heart. Look how complex a single human cell is. The next time you’re in your doctor’s office, there’s usually an anatomical chart of the human body. Just study it some time. Reflect on how all the various body parts and systems function together and how complex it is.
Consider the incredibly complex DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule, which contains the instructions needed for an organism to develop, survive and reproduce. To carry out these functions, DNA sequences must be converted into messages that can be used to produce proteins, which are the complex molecules that do most of the work in our bodies. DNA contains a sort of language.
Dr. Stephen Meyer
With a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge, a former geophysicist and college professor, Meyer now directs Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He has authored most recently the New York Times best seller Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2013), as well as Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2009), which was named Book of the Year by the prestigious Times of London Literary Supplement in 2009. Dr. Meyer writes,
“One of the most extraordinary discoveries of the twentieth century was that DNA actually stores information—the detailed instructions for assembling proteins—in the form of a four-character digital code.“
“The coding regions of DNA have exactly the same relevant properties as a computer code or language.”
This code, or language, is extremely complex. The obvious implication is that a computer code requires a programmer. But who or what is the programmer? It would have to be someone or something that is all-powerful, all-knowing, intelligent and wise, and someone who can make decisions and choices on universal scale. The most reasonable inference is a divine creator.
Dr. Francis Crick
An agnostic, and one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA, after decades of work deciphering it, Dr. Crick admitted that,
“an honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” (Life Itself, 1981, p.88)
But DNA is only one small, but important part, of fine-tuning. The universe, in fact, all life itself appears to have been designed and finely tuned in order to permit life to exist and thrive. What modern science is now telling us is that the laws and physical constants necessary to regulate and control all matter in the universe, appear to be finely tuned for life to exist, survive and succeed.
Dr. Francis Collins
Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Collins wrote:
“For organic life to exist, the fundamental regularities and constants of physics—the speed of light, the gravitational constant, the strength of the weak and strong nuclear forces—must all have values that together fall into an extremely narrow range. The probability of this perfect calibration happening by chance is so tiny as to be statistically negligible.”
In other words, when we take into consideration all of the constants that had to be in place for life to exist on earth, and given the fact that those constants had to be so precise that if any of them were off by an infinitesimal amount, life would not exist on earth, and the chance, or the odds, of all those things happening “just so” are so small that they are virtually insignificant.
Collins went on to say:
“When you look from the perspective of a scientist at the universe, it looks as if it knew we were coming. There are 15 constants—the gravitational constant, various constants about the strong and weak nuclear force, etc.—that have precise values. If any one of those constants was off by even one part in a million, or in some cases, by one part in a million million, the universe could not have actually come to the point where we see it. Matter would not have been able to coalesce, there would have been no galaxy, stars, planets or people. Some have said that it is as if there were a large number of dials that all had to be tuned to within extremely narrow limits—and they were. It seems extremely unlikely that this would happen by chance.”
There’s much more to the fine-tuning argument than what I have covered so far in this article. For example, there remains the 122 constants that are required for life to exist in the universe. Next time, I will conclude my discussion of the fine-tuning argument for the existence of a divine designer by looking at just twelve of those constants, which will include oxygen level, Earth-moon gravitational interaction, the tilt of Earth’s axis, gravity, the speed of light and the Earth’s speed of rotation, just to name a few, as well as how they are necessary for life to exist.
So, until then, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15)