Some people are determined to have faith against incredible odds…far more so than we Christians.
I’ve been intermittently summarizing Dr. Stephen Meyer’s book, “Return of the God Hypothesis” (1), and was beginning to cover his discussion of fine-tuning. I’ve found that besides being a profoundly faith-building study, it’s a vast and nebulous subject (pun intended) and can’t be covered in one humble little blog post written by a non-scientist.
As I’ve noted before, I’m a young-earth believer, but Meyer is currently convinced by secular insistence that the universe is very old. His discussion of fine-tuning is, therefore, observed from this perspective, One of the interesting aspects to the matter is that either way you look at it-whether you are young-earth or old earth in your perspective, the bottom line is that we really wouldn’t be here if the universe were not finely tuned and designed for life.
This, of course, is not the secularist’s confession. At every step of discovery or theory in the past which has shown the incredible nature of our cosmos, and the impossible odds against our being here, the secularist has worked to invent a new path around the fact. PhD creationist Jake Hebert puts it this way:
The design of our universe continually frustrates the efforts of Big Bang proponents who try to explain our existence apart from the Lord…”Naturally, secularists do not like the idea that fine-tuning might have occurred, because that idea suggests a Designer.” (note 2).
And more poignantly PhD astronomer Danny Faulkner, in an article examining problems with big bang theory, points at the implication of the constantly changing nature of big bang cosmology:
Many scientists today think that the big bang model is very successful in that it can explain all sorts of new observations and problems. But it does this by the endless addition of rescuing devices. If a scientific theory can be freely amended to account for any new challenges, then can the theory ever be proved wrong? In science it’s important that an idea be able to be proved wrong, at least hypothetically. A theory that can explain anything and everything, no matter how contradictory, really isn’t science (note 3).
WAS THERE A BIG BANG?
Did God create using the big bang? This event is used by many Christians to somehow blend what they see as proven science with Scripture. But it doesn’t work, without severely compromising what Scripture actually says. You can claim that the early chapters of Genesis are “poetic”, and go against the witness of most Hebrew scholars, but you can’t change the Law-the law given to Moses and believed, jot and tittle, by Jesus Christ (I am not, by the way, an Adventist):
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work… “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:9-11).
I for one cam believe that somehow (I don’t know how) God caused, out of nothing, an expansion of time, space and matter from one single point-that cosmic egg-and then formed all of our universe’s constituent parts within a very short time-equivalent to six of our days-afterwards.
Faulkner has a terrific video presentation on YouTube, in which he discusses this subject in a very engaging way (note 4). He includes a history of cosmology and cosmogeny, and, being an expert on the whole issue of the flat-earth, asserts and shows clearly that people in the Middle-Ages, including Christians and Jews, never did subscribe to the flat-earth idea. The insistence that they did is a lie invented later by secularists. Meyer also discusses this in his book. Famous astronomers such as Galileo believed firmly in a creator, and that they were helping to uncover his handiwork.
As I wrote in my post, “Science and Good Intentions”, “Return of the God Hypothesis” discusses fine tuning and the constants of the universe, in part as it relates to old-earth cosmology. Early stages of the big bang were extremely finely tuned to form a universe which would support life. For example, the initial distribution of matter, dictated by conditions from the very first moment, allowed for just the right distribution of matter and energy. Any degree of difference would have either caused clumping-making a universe dominated by massive black holes-or a diffuse arrangement of matter in which no large-scale structures such as stars, galaxies or planets could form. The rate of expansion had to be just right also.
In relation to present reality, and that existing very shortly after the proposed big bang, the masses of fundamental particles of nature must be finely tuned. “Up quarks” and “down quarks”, the constituent parts of protons and neutrons, must have precise values to allow for the production of elements, in the right abundances, including carbon-essential to life. Meyer states that:
“…the value of the “up-quark” must have a precise mass of between zero and just one billion trillionth of the Planck mass….The mass of the “down-quark” must have a similarly precise fine tuning”.
If the mass of the electron were larger by a factor of just 2.5 the result would be that all protons in all atoms would capture the orbiting electrons and turn them into neutrons: neither atoms, or chemistry, nor life, could exist. In addition, the mass of the electron has to be less than the difference between the masses of the neutron and the proton. That difference represents fine tuning of roughly 1 part in a1000.
These are just a few examples of the many which could be given.
IN OUR TIME
The apparent production of carbon inside stars, incredible in its own right, led Sir Fred Hoyle from atheism to the belief in Design, as I shared last time. Hoyle was stunned to discover so many of what he called “cosmic coincidences”. This is a phenomenon recognized by all physicists. An “In Our Time” podcast produced by the BBC (which I like to review) broaches the subject, and a panel of highly credentialled evolutionists including astronomer-royal Professor Sir Martin Reece, admit to its reality (note 5). They express their hope (and faith) that string theory will solve the problem (to them it’s a problem) of fine-tuning, and the many problems with big-bang theory. Brian Greene, professor of mathematics and physics at Columbia University, says:
“….there are a bunch of numbers that people have measured fastidiously over many years…the mass of the electron, the mass of quarks and the strengths of the forces and so forth, but nobody can explain the numbers the experimenters get. And it’s not just a question of idle philosophizing, because it turns out, if those numbers had been even a little bit different-a few percent different-the universe as we know it would not exist-it would go away… “If we change those numbers, nuclear processes go away, stars don’t light up, and without stars the universe is just a very different place. So I think, perhaps the deepest question that science faces is, Why is it that those numbers have just the right values to allow stars to exist and planets to form and at least on one planet, life to actually exist? We hope that string theory will come to a unique answer but we don’t know as yet…”
One parallel theory concocted by some to help solve the problem of fine-tuning is the “multiverse”. This is a concept I will summarize in future posts, but I want here to share a comment by Jake Hebert from the same article as already noted:
Secularists like the multiverse idea, since they think it provides an answer to the design argument. However, there is no evidence to suggest that these other universes actually exist, and even if they did exist, this argument is fatally flawed (reference given here). Even when the observations are interpreted through the filter of the Big Bang model, obtaining a universe that matches these observations requires a great deal of fine-tuning (2).
Meyer (along with others) also addresses the notion of the multiverse in his book and in a number of online articles and videos.
THE FINE TUNING OF THE LAWS AND CONSTANTS OF PHYSICS
Innate to the amazing issue of fine tuning is how the properties of physics relate to one another. Variable properties are inversely proportional to one another: they are inextricably linked. Change one and you change them all. The curious thing about the constants of nature, says Meyer, is that constants are set at the rare values that make life in the universe possible: they are exquisitely finely tuned within extremely fine tolerances. Meyer quotes British physicist Paul Davies:
“The really amazing thing is not that life on earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of these natural constants were off even slightly”.
Of the many examples shared by Meyer in his book, here’s one. The ratio of the weak nuclear force constant to the strong nuclear force constant had to have been set within a precision of one part in 10,000. If the weak force had been weaker or stronger by that tiny fraction, stars powered by hydrogen fusion-such as our own sun-would not have existed.
Here’s another. The ratio of the electromagnetic force to gravity must be accurate to 1 part in 10 to the fortieth power. Were this ratio a little higher, the gravitational attraction would be too strong in comparison to the contravening force of electromagnetism pushing nuclei apart.
Indeed, says Meyer, differences in the strength of any of these constants or their ratios would preclude the possibility of life.
The matter of fine-tuning applies to all aspects of nature, and it’s a huge, incredible subject which I have barely scratched the surface of. One online article on an Intelligent Design centered site, refers to a study done by Scandinavian scientists published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, and shares this:
“Fine-tuning,” the authors say, “is a clear feature of biological systems. Indeed, fine-tuning is even more extreme in biological systems than in inorganic systems.” And, in a shot the over establishment’s bow, they say bluntly: “It is detectable within the realm of scientific methodology.”
They justify this by saying, “Biology is inherently more complicated than the large-scale universe and so fine-tuning is even more a feature.” (6).
How can I not include in this article of mine, a relevant reference from Scripture?
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
1/ “RETURN OF THE GOD HYPOTHESIS” by Stephen C. Meyer, published by Harper One.
2/ Big Bang Explanations Fall Flat, by Jake Hebert, PH.D.
3/ Big Bang-The Evolution of a Theory, by Dr. Danny Faulkner.
4/ YouTube video: BIG PROBLEMS WITH THE BIG BANG, Answers in Genesis.
5/ IN OUR TIME: “GRAND UNIFIED THEORY”, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, and published by the BBC.