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This article examines the fine-tuning scientists have discovered in the laws of physics which govern the universe. Indeed, the laws of physics are so amazingly fine-tuned that even a well-respected secular scientist has commented the evidence “suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics.”
As discussed in An Introduction and Summary of the Evidence for the Existence of God from Design >>, Christian apologists maintain that the hundreds of finely-tuned features scientists have discovered in the universe (all of which are necessary for life to exist) are most reasonably explained by the existence of an intelligent, transcendent Designer (like the God described in the Bible) rather than mere chance as proposed by Naturalists.
This article discusses the fine-tuning which scientists have discovered in the four fundamental forces of physics in the universe: 1) gravity, 2) electromagnetism, 3) the strong nuclear force and 4) the weak nuclear force.
Not only must all of the fundamental forces operate individually within just-right parameters, but all four forces of physics must work perfectly together for life to be possible anywhere in the universe.
Gravity causes the moon to orbit the earth, the planets to orbit the sun, the sun to orbit the center of the Milky Way galaxy and the Milky Way to orbit the Local Group of galaxies, and so on. Gravity also keeps the earth tilted at 23.5° and keeps the earth from rotating too quickly. The gravitational force that the moon exerts on Earth produces the ocean tides which keep Earth’s oceans from becoming stagnant and polluted.
If the force of gravity was slightly stronger than it is, stars would burn their nuclear fuel too quickly and too unevenly to support life. If the force of gravity was slightly weaker than it is, matter would not clump together to form larger structures (e.g., moons and planets) and stars would not form or burn nuclear fuel.
The electromagnetic force is what causes certain life essential chemicals to form.
If the electromagnetic force was stronger than it is, some of the chemicals essential for life (e.g., carbon and oxygen) would not bond together and other life-essential elements would be too unstable for fission to occur. If the electromagnetic force were weaker than it is, chemicals could not bond properly and there would be insufficient carbon and oxygen to support life.
The strong nuclear force keeps protons and neutrons inside the nuclei of an atom.
If the strong nuclear force was stronger than it is, hydrogen would not form and nuclei essential for life would be unstable. If the strong nuclear force was weaker than it is, no elements other than hydrogen could exist. There would be no carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sodium, potassium, iron or any of the other life essential elements. [See, Lee Strobel, Case for a Creator, pgs. 130-131 (2004) citing to discussions with Robin Collins, Ph.D.]
If the weak nuclear force was stronger than it is, too much hydrogen would convert to helium which would cause stars, like the sun, to produce too much heavy element material. If the weak nuclear force were any weaker than it is, too little helium would be produced and star burning would not produce enough heavy element material. It has been calculated that a change in the weak nuclear force by even one part in 10100 would have prevented the universe from being able to support life. [William Lane Craig, On Guard, pg. 109 (2010)]
All four fundamental forces of physics must not only exist and exert the just-right amount of force, but all four (4) forces must work perfectly together for life to be possible anywhere in the universe. Even Stephen Hawking (one of the world’s most renown physicists) has recognized the extreme fine-tuning that exists in the system of physical laws that govern the universe:
“The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned, and very little in physical law can be altered without destroying the possibility of the development of life as we know it. Were it not for a series of startling coincidences in the precise details of physical law, it seems, humans and similar life-forms would never have come into being.” [Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, pgs. 160-161 (2012)]
Only because the four fundamental forces operate within just-right parameters and work perfectly together is life possible in the universe.
As referenced in this article and other articles on this website, the exquisite precision and chance calculations involved with all of the numerous finely-tuned design features necessary for life to exist in the universe are astronomical — numbers like 1060 (the mass density of the universe here >>), 10100 (the weak nuclear force here >>), and 10120 (the energy density of the universe here >>).
The incomprehensibility of this kind of fine-tuning is more fully appreciated when one considers that there are only about 1025 grains of sand on all the beaches on Planet Earth. This means that fine-tuning in the order of 1060 is like saying not a single grain of sand could be added to or removed from one beach on Planet Earth without causing the entire planet to be incapable of supporting life. Indeed, this illustration is tremendously understated because it assumes a change in one part in about 1025 (the estimated number of grains of sand on Earth) whereas the total mass density of the universe must be fined-tuned to within one part in 1060 and dark energy must be fined tuned to 10120, which are substantially greater numbers than 1025.
When one looks at the probability calculations for life to have developed by chance, the numbers are even more incomprehensible. For example, just the chance of amino acids randomly coming together to form the 2,000 enzymes which are essential for life to exist has been calculated as only one chance in 1040,000 here >>.
Taking all of the fine-tuned features that must exist in a life-permitting universe into consideration, Donald Page of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Science has calculated that the odds of the universe developing by blind, random chance into a form suitable for life as one chance in 10,000,000,000124 here >>, which is a number so large that it exceeds all imagination. [Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 35 (2008)]
“A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” (Emphasis added). [Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 20, pg. 16 (1982)]
Consequently, Christian apologists maintain there simply is no compelling reason why belief in an intelligent designer (rather than random chance) is not a rational explanation, if not the most rational explanation, for the existence of the universe and life in the universe. This is especially true when one considers the multiple independent lines of argumentation for God’s existence including:
- God’s existence best explains why anything exists rather than nothing (an argument for the existence of a “first uncaused cause”) here >>
- God’s existence best explains the cause of the universe coming into existence (the Kalam Cosmological Argument) here >>
- God’s existence best explains all the mind-boggling, just-right design features scientists have discovered throughout the universe which make it possible for life to exist in the universe (the Intelligent Design aka Teleological Argument) here >>
- God’s existence best explains the existence of objective morality
- God’s existence best explains man’s search for, and innate belief in, meaning, purpose and significance
© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson
Published: July 7, 2012 / Last Updated: October 9, 2013
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman, 20 Compelling Evidences That God Exists: Discover Why Believing In God Makes so Much Sense(River Oak Publishing, 2002)
William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision(Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook; New Edition, 2010)
Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God(Navpress; 2 edition, 1995)
R.C. Sproul, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology(Baker Books, 1999)
IMAGE CREDITS & LICENSING
Slideshow Photo: This photograph was cropped from a photograph depicting lightning striking over Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The photo was provided to NASA courtesy of Justin Denieve / EPA. It was downloaded from www.nasa.org. (Back to article >>)
Gravity Probe B Satellite: Photograph of the Gravity Probe B satellite containing four gyroscopes used to measure how space and time are warped by the presence of Planet Earth. Downloaded from www.wikikmedia.org which states the image is in the public domain because it was solely created by NASA. (Back to article >>)
Photo of Electrons in Magnetic Field: Photograph taken by Marcin Bialek shows a beam of electrons moving in a circle in a magnetic field. Downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. (Back to article >>)