On a Razor’s Edge

Dec 10, 2014 | Ken Williams, WCA Parent

In the last issue we spoke about the scientific evidence for a beginning to the universe and how this pointed to a necessary beginner. In this issue, I want to discuss another piece of scientific evidence that points, not to a beginner, but a designer.

Not only is the evidence of cosmology leading us to see a beginning of the universe but a universe governed by laws of extreme precision. This evidence is sometimes referred to as the Teleologic Argument or Argument From Design. It looks like this in logical form:

  1. Every design has a designer.
  2. The universe is designed.
  3. Therefore the universe has a designer.

Although modern science has made many discoveries over the last 50 years, the idea that the universe is designed has been a continuous strain of thought going back to ancient Greece. This pattern of thought has been part of the scientific discussion since the beginning as well. Isaac Newton (1642-1727) marveled at the design of our solar system. He wrote, “this most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the council and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”

Perhaps the most famous formulation of this Teleological argument comes from William Paley (1743-1805) who famously put it this way: imagine that you are walking along in the forest and you find a gold watch. What do you conclude caused the watch? Was it wind, rain, and erosion mixing over a long period of time…NO, of course not. With all of the complex pieces and gears precisely working together there is no doubt in your mind that some intelligence must have made that watch and accidentally dropped it there in the forest.

Scientists are now finding that the universe is like that watch except much, much, more complex and precise. In fact, many of the laws that govern the universe and create habitable conditions here on earth are so precise we might say that they are balanced on a razor’s edge. A slight change in any one of these factors, and life would not be possible. These (factors) are known as Anthropic Principles…laws governing human existence.

Take for example the anthropic principle of oxygen levels. On earth, oxygen comprises 21% of the atmosphere. If oxygen were 25%, fires would spontaneously break out and everything would be destroyed. If oxygen levels were 15%, human beings would suffocate.

How about carbon dioxide (CO2) levels? If the CO2 levels were higher, we would have a runaway greenhouse effect (we would all burn up). If the level were lower than it is now, plants would not be able to maintain efficient photosynthesis…we’d all suffocate.

More amazingly than this is the precision surrounding the force of gravity and what is called the cosmological constant. First let’s talk about gravity. The gravity that holds us firmly to the earth’s surface couldn’t be any different. If it were altered by 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent, our sun would not exist… neither would we. Let’s put it another way, imagine a ruler that stretches across the entire universe. If we break that ruler down into 1 inch increments (which means billions upon billions upon billions of inches), the entirety of the ruler would represent the range of force at which gravity could have been set. Now, imagine we move the gravity setting 1-inch in either direction. That 1-inch change would cause a billion fold change in the gravitational force. Robin Collins, Ph.D says of this fine-tuning: “Of all the possible settings on the ruler from one side of the universe to the other, gravity happens to be situated in the exact right fraction of an inch to make our universe capable of sustaining life.”

Lastly, let’s discuss the cosmological constant. If you recall from the last issue, we discussed how the universe was expanding. Not only is the universe expanding, but the rate of expansion is calibrated to a stunningly precise level. This expansion rate is what scientists call the cosmological constant. And, if that expansion were to become any faster we would never have been able to form galaxies, stars, and planets in the first place. If it were any slower, the gravitational pull would have caused all of the matter that was forming to collapse back in on itself. Either way life never would have existed.

The fine-tuning of this cosmological constant has been estimated to be at least one part in 100 million, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion. That would be a 10 followed by 53 zeros…this number is inconceivably precise.

Robin Collins, PhD, said, “Put it this way, let’s say you were way out in space and we’re going to throw a dart at random toward the earth. It would be like successfully hitting a bull’s-eye that’s one trillionth of 1 trillionth of an inch in diameter. That’s less than the size of one solitary Atom.”

Watch this explanation of the cosmological constant: Video

So in conclusion, what are the chances that any planet in the universe would have the “just right” conditions necessary to sustain life? Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has calculated the probability that these and other anthropic principles (122 in all) could exist today for any planet in the universe by chance. His answer is shocking. Without divine design, assuming there are 10 to the 22nd power planets in the universe (that’s the one with 22 zeros after it): 1 chance in 10 to the 138th power (that’s one chance in one with 138 zeros after it). There are only 10 to the 70th power Atoms in the entire universe.

It’s clear that there is zero chance that any planet in the universe would have the life supporting conditions we have unless, there was an intelligent designer behind it.

But the most amazing thing about all of this scientific evidence is how it reveals the evidence of God’s love for us. Think of it this way, there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy (our sun is a star) and the average distance between those stars is 30 trillion miles (30,000,000,000,000). How far is 30 trillion miles? When the space shuttle is in orbit it travels at about 17,000 miles per hour… almost 5 miles per second. If you could get in the space shuttle and speed through space at nearly 5 miles per second, it would take you 201,450 years to travel 30 trillion miles! The number of stars in the universe is about equal to the total number of grains of sand on all the beaches on all the earth. Traveling at 5 miles per second it would take you over 200,000 years to go from one grain of sand to another.

The Bible tells us to “look to the heavens” if we want to get an idea of what God is like. Psalm 19 says, “the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

Psalm 103:11 says, “for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who revere Him.” How high are the heavens above the earth? The next time you begin to doubt God’s love for you… consider. Consider that his love is as high as the heavens are above the earth. Consider that there are 30 trillion miles between stars and there are as many stars as there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the world and then consider how great his love is.

Watch this and consider how great is our God! Video

(The content of this article was adapted from the works of Norm Geisler PhD, Frank Turek PhD, Stephen Meyer PhD, and Lee Strobel)