Mosaic of Deep Space >>
As discussed in the article entitled 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 are most reasonably explained by the existence of an intelligent, transcendent Designer (like the God described in the Bible), not chance as proposed by Naturalists.
One of the most spectacular design features scientists have discovered in the universe is the exquisitely precise rate at which the universe has expanded from its beginning (aka the “singularity”). As discussed in this article, if the universe had expanded either more slowly or more quickly, no life would be possible anywhere in the universe.
Two factors control how fast the universe has been expanding: 1) its mass density (which has the effect of braking expansion) and 2) its energy density (which has the effect of accelerating expansion). Unless these two factors are precisely fine-tuned so the universe expands at a very precise rate, no life would be possible anywhere in the universe.
If the universe had expanded even slightly faster than it did, gravity would not have been strong enough to permit galaxies to form. And, without galaxies (and specifically the just-right type of galaxy ) no life would be possible. more>> On the other hand, if the universe had expanded even slightly slower than it did, the universe would have collapsed under the effects of gravity before any stars could have formed. Without a just-right star in a just-right solar system (more>>) located in a just-right galaxy (more>>), no life in the universe would be possible. [See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 53-54, 150-151 (2001)]
In order for the universe to expand at the precise rate needed to permit life to exist in the universe, the mass density of the universe had to be just-right. If the total mass density of the universe (i.e., the total amount of matter in the universe in relation to the size of the universe) was even slightly less than it is, the universe would have expanded too quickly to allow stars to form, burn and produce the heat needed to support life. However, if the total mass density of the universe was slightly greater than it is, the universe would have expanded too slowly for planets to remain in stable orbits. Indeed, if the mass density of the universe varied by more than even one part in 1060, no life would be possible anywhere in the universe. [See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 53-54 (2001); see also, William Lane Craig, On Guard, pg, 109 (2010)].
The preciseness of one part out of 1060 is like firing a bullet toward the other side of the observable universe, twenty billion light years away, and nailing a one-inch target! — William Lane Craig [On Guard, pg. 109 (2010)]
Dark energy plays a very significant role in determining the rate that the universe expands. It has now been calculated that the level of dark energy density had to be fine-tuned to one part in 10120 for life to be possible anywhere in the expanding universe. “[I]f the universe expands either too rapidly or too slowly at different epochs throughout cosmic history, the stars and planets essential for life either will never form or will form at the wrong times.” [Hugh Ross, Accumulating Evidence for Dark Energy and Supernatural Design, (2011) (www.reasons.org)]
Illustration of the Expansion of the the Universe >>
In sum, without the expansion rate of the universe (which is governed by its mass density and space-energy density) being very precisely fine-tuned, no life would be possible at any time or any place in the universe. [See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 53-54, 150-151 (2001)]
As referenced in this article and other articles on this website, the exquisite precision and chance calculations involved with the numerous finely-tuned design features necessary for a life-permitting universe are astronomical — numbers like 1060 (the mass density of the universe >>), 10100 (the weak nuclear force >>), 10120 (the energy density of the universe >>).
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. So, fine-tuning in the order of 1060 would be something like saying that not a single grain of sand could be added to or removed from even one beach on Planet Earth without causing the earth to be unable to support life. Actually, the illustration is a tremendous understatement 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 that 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 that are essential for life has been calculated as only one chance in 1040,000 >>.
In the aggregate, Donald Page of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Science has calculated that when all of the fine-tuned features that must exist in a life-permitting universe are taken into consideration, the odds of the universe developing by blind, random chance into a form suitable for life as only one chance in 10,000,000,000124>> — a number so large that it exceeds all imagination. [Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 35 (2008)]
As stated by world renown physicist Stephen Hawking,
“The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous…. I think clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the universe“ — Stephen Hawking [Stephen Hawking, quoted in Fred Hereen, Show Me God: What the Message from Space is Telling Us about God, Wonders that Witness, vol. 1, pg. 186 (Wheeling, Ill.: Searchlight Publications, 1995)]
Consequently, Christian apologists maintain there is no compelling reason why belief in an intelligent designer (rather than random chance) is not a rational, if not the most rational, explanation for the existence of the universe and life in the universe, especially 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”) >>
- God’s existence best explains the cause of the universe coming into existence (the Kalam Cosmological Argument) >>
- 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) >>
- 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
Published: July 18, 2012 / Last Updated: July 24, 2017
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
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)
IMAGE CREDITS & LICENSING
Slideshow Photo: A 1998 mosaic photo of deep space taken and composed by NASA/ESA. The mosaic depicts the deepest visible/ultraviolet light image of the universe that has ever been captured and shows galaxies down to the 30th magnitude. The bright light in the mosaic is a beacon of a distant quasar. back>>
Illustration of the Expansion of the Universe: The original illustration was made by Gnixon at the Wikimedia project and was later modified by Papa at Wikimedia. This illustration was released into the public domain by its author. back>>