The universe around us points to a Creator. That is, there are various features of the universe that strongly suggest that this universe was created by an intelligent, powerful, good Creator with a purpose. This article lists these features. Discussions of related issues are linked to at the end.
We all love natural surroundings. Because we’re born into a beautiful world, it’s easy to take it for granted. Many people move to cities in search of employment. Despite the efforts of thousands of people involved in maintaining cities, many of them are living hells. What if everything was left to natural selection? Random strokes of a paint brush on a canvas don’t produce a beautiful painting – it’s more reasonable to conclude that an artist was responsible. In the same way, isn’t it strange to say that a universe built by random natural processes is pleasing to our senses? Is it not more sensible to agree with the Bible, which says that God did it all for us?! The beauty of the universe is not proof for creation, but it is not proof for evolution either. The point is, it makes more sense in the light of creation than evolution.
Note the following features of the universe:-
First: We find that the universe follows precise laws - discovering and applying these laws makes up the subject matter of chemistry and physics. If the universe formed by itself, then there is no reason to expect it to follow precise laws - let alone laws that the human mind can grasp. Thus, the existence of the laws of physics is strong evidence that there must be a Law-giver and Law-enforcer who made humans to understand the universe just as the Bible claims (Genesis 1:26-28, Hebrews 1:3).
“The ability of human beings to discover the laws of nature is beyond human understanding” – Erwin Schroedinger, What is Life? The Physical Aspects of the Living Cell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1945), p31
"The enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and…there is no rational explanation for it….it is not at all natural that ‘laws of nature’ exist, much less that man is able to discern them….[Newton’s Law of Gravitation} has proved accurate beyond all reasonable expectations.” – Eugene Wigner, Symmetries and Reflections: Scientific Essays (Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 1970), p223, 227, 231. Eugene Wigner is the 1963 physics Nobel laureate (quantum mechanics)
"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility" - Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years, p. 61.
"You find it surprising that I think of the comprehensibility of the world . . . as a miracle or an eternal mystery. But surely, a priori, one should expect the world to be chaotic, not to be grasped by thought in any way....the success of [Newton's gravitational theory] supposes in the objective world a high degree of order which we are in no way entitled to expect a priori. Therein lies the “miracle” which becomes more and more evident as our knowledge develops. . ." - Albert Einstein, Letters to Maurice Solovine (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1956) pp. 114-115 and cited in Stanley Jaki, The Road of Science and The Ways to God, p. 193.
Second: Expressing the laws of chemistry and physics requires precise and sophisticated mathematics. Now mathematics is based on logic and consistency; in other words, the laws governing the universe are highly logical - suggesting that there is a Person (not a mere Force) with a great, consistent Mind behind them.
"One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulas have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them.” Heinrich Hertz, shortly after verifying Maxwell’s Theory of Electromagnetism, Cited in Bell, Men of Mathematics, p. 16
Third: A lot of mathematics is a construct of the human mind. Mathematicians think of abstract entities (such as complex numbers or matrices) and then develop a consistent structure of operations on these entities, their properties, etc. There is no reason why such constructs of the human mind should have any relevance in describing nature, but they do! A few decades after a branch of math is developed, someone notices that this branch is helpful to study some aspect of nature! Why on earth should a system created by human minds correspond to nature? It makes no sense unless we assume that the same God who created nature also created humans and endowed them with a mind because He wanted them to investigate nature.
"The essential fact is simply that all the pictures which science now draws of nature, and which alone seem capable of according with observational fact, are mathematical pictures . . . Nature seems very conversant with the rules of pure mathematics. . . . In any event it can hardly be disputed that nature and our conscious mathematical minds work according to the same laws." - James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe (New York: Macmillan, 1930) p. 1217
"Finally , a study of mathematics and its contributions to the sciences exposes a deep question. Mathematics is man-made. Yet with this product of his fallible mind man has surveyed spaces too vast for his imagination to encompass; he has predicted and shown how to control radio waves which none of our senses can perceive; and he has discovered particles too small to be seen with the most powerful microscope. Cold symbols and formulas completely at the disposition of man have enabled him to secure a portentous grip on the universe. Some explanation of this marvelous power is called for." - Morris Kline, Mathematics and the Physical World, p. ix.
“How can the manipulation of symbols which we have invented, according to rules which we alone make, reveal that which lies beyond our senses?... , [this question] is one which is unlikely to receive a satisfactory answer. . . .” - Sutton, Oliver G. Mathematics in Action. New York: Dover Publications, 1948. p. 3, 4
"How a mathematical structure can correspond to nature is a mystery. One way out is just to say that the language in which nature speaks is the language of mathematics. This begs the question. Often we are both shocked and surprised by the correspondence between nature and mathematics, especially when the experiment confirms that our mathematical model describes nature perfectly." - Remo J. Ruffini, “The Princeton Galaxy,” interview by Florence Heltizer, Intellectual Digest, 3 (1973), 27. Remo Ruffini was a physicist at Princeton University. He was reacting to men landing on the moon.
“From all of this I am forced to conclude both that mathematics is unreasonably effective and that all of the explanations I have given when added together simply are not enough to explain what I set out to account for.” Richard Hamming, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics, American Mathematical Monthly, 87 (1980), 90
The scientists quoted above express surprise and disbelief because what they're finding does not fit with their worldview (atheism). However, the connection between math and nature is only to be expected from a Biblical theistic viewpoint, and thus constitutes strong evidence for the existence of a personal God who created human beings with the intention that they should investigate the universe.
The Anthropic Principle refers to the observation that (to borrow from Patrick Glynn) "the seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common - these are precisely the values you need if you want to have a universe capable of producing life".
In a BBC science documentary, "The Anthropic Principle," some of the greatest scientific minds of our day describe the recent findings which compel this conclusion.
Dr. Dennis Scania, the distinguished head of Cambridge University Observatories:
"If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature -- like the charge on the electron -- then the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop."
Dr. David D. Deutsch, Institute of Mathematics, Oxford University:
"If we nudge one of these constants just a few percent in one direction, stars burn out within a million years of their formation, and there is no time for evolution. If we nudge it a few percent in the other direction, then no elements heavier than helium form. No carbon, no life. Not even any chemistry. No complexity at all."
Dr. Paul Davies, noted author and professor of theoretical physics at Adelaide University:
"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 the natural 'constants' were off even slightly. You see," Davies adds, "even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life -- almost contrived -- you might say a 'put-up job.'"
"A COMMON SENSE INTERPRETATION OF THE FACTS SUGGESTS THAT A SUPERINTENDENT HAS MONKEYED WITH THE PHYSICS, AS WELL AS CHEMISTRY AND BIOLOGY, AND THAT THERE ARE NO BLIND FORCES WORTH SPEAKING ABOUT IN NATURE. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ANY PHYSICIST WHO EXAMINED THE EVIDENCE COULD FAIL TO DRAW THE INFERENCE THAT THE LAWS OF NUCLEAR PHYSICS HAVE BEEN DELIBERATELY DESIGNED WITH REGARD TO THE CONSEQUENCES THEY PRODUCE WITHIN STARS."
Time Magazine has also approached the subject:
"There is more to this universe than meets the eye, something authentically divine about how it all fits together. One intriguing observation…is that the universe seems calibrated for life's existence…If, at the Big Bang, some basic numbers - the "initial conditions" had been jiggled, matter and energy would never have coagulated to form galaxies, stars, planets or any other platforms stable enough for life as we know it." – Dr. Robert Wright, Time Magazine, Dec 28, 1992
The August '97 issue of "Science" (the most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal in the United States) featured an article entitled "Science and God: A Warming Trend?" Here is an excerpt:
"The fact that the universe exhibits many features that foster organic life -- such as precisely those physical constants that result in planets and long-lived stars -- also has led some scientists to speculate that some divine influence may be present."
In his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking (perhaps the world's most famous cosmologist) refers to the phenomenon as "remarkable."
"The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers (i.e. the constants of physics) seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded... It seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers (for the constants) that would allow for development of any form of intelligent life. Most sets of values would give rise to universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty." (p.125)
Hawking then goes on to say that he can appreciate taking this as possible evidence of "a divine purpose in Creation and the choice of the laws of science (by God)" (ibid. p. 125).
Gerald Schroeder, former professor of physics at MIT, writes to The 2001 Principle:-
1. Nobel laureate, high energy physicist (a field of science that deals with the very early universe), Professor Steven Weinberg, in the journal Scientific American, reflects on "how surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values." Although Weinberg is a self described agnostic, he cannot but be astounded by the extent of the fine-tuning. He goes on to describe how a beryllium isotope having the minuscule half life of 0.0000000000000001 seconds must find and absorb a helium nucleus in that split of time before decaying. This occurs only because of a totally unexpected, exquisitely precise, energy match between the two nuclei. If this did not occur there would be none of the heavier elements. No carbon, no nitrogen, no life. Our universe would be composed of hydrogen and helium. But this is not the end of Professor Weinberg's wonder at our well tuned universe. He continues: "One constant does seem to require an incredible fine-tuning... The existence of life of any kind seems to require a cancellation between different contributions to the vacuum energy, accurate to about 120 decimal places."
The existence of life of any kind seems to require a cancellation between different contributions to the vacuum energy, accurate to about 120 decimal places. This means that if the energies of the big bang were, in arbitrary units, not:
there would be no life of any sort in the entire universe because as Weinberg states: "the universe either would go through a complete cycle of expansion and contraction before life could arise or would expand so rapidly that no galaxies or stars could form."
2. Michael Turner, the widely quoted astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and Fermilab, describes the fine-tuning of the universe with a simile: "The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bullseye one millimeter in diameter on the other side."
3. Roger Penrose, the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, discovers that the likelihood of the universe having usable energy (low entropy) at the creation is even more astounding, "namely, an accuracy of one part out of ten to the power of ten to the power of 123. This is an extraordinary figure. One could not possibly even write the number down in full, in our ordinary denary (power of ten) notation: it would be one followed by ten to the power of 123 successive zeros!" That is a million billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion zeros. Penrose continues, "Even if we were to write a zero on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe -- and we could throw in all the other particles as well for good measure -- we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed. The precision needed to set the universe on its course is to be in no way inferior to all that extraordinary precision that we have already become accustomed to in the superb dynamical equations (Newton's, Maxwell's, Einstein's) which govern the behavior of things from moment to moment."
Saturn's position and orbital inclination is just right for our survival. Details
The following are some atheist responses to the fine tuning argument and my counter-responses
"It is not the environment of earth that conforms to the needs of life, rather it is the function of life to conform to the features of the available environment."
Pontificating about "the function of life" does not make life exist in any kind of environment. As far as observations (not speculations) go, life only exists in a highly specialized, fine tuned, environment.
Perhaps there are infinitely many universes, and ours just happens to have the right parameters for life! Well, perhaps ours has the feature that all thought in it is deception! Would you buy that? Don't you see a hint of desperation here? The die-hard atheist would rather invoke multiple universes (for which there is no basis) than a single Creator [in violation of Occam's Razor]!
If we didn't exist, we wouldn't be here to notice the fine tuning, so the fine tuning is just an artifact associated with our existence, not anything remarkable. This is just playing with words. If you faced a firing squad and they fired, and you found yourself alive and well, the fact that you are still alive does not mean that you shouldn't be surprised! In the same way, the fact that we exist and observe the universe does not mean that the universe is not remarkable.
There are so many possible states of affairs, and so any given possibility is improbable, and thus, a "miracle". The fallacy in this line of thinking is that it does not group and count possibilities appropriately. The number of meaningful possibilities (possible universes fitted for life) is vanishingly small. The number of meaningless possibilities (that would lead to a 'dead' universe) is extremely large. And yet, the meaningful possibility has actually occurred. This is remarkable. Something like: a chimp is made to type on a computer. If the output is gibberish, no explanation is called for. But if the outcome is "I love human beings", it would be considered strange. Also see Cheating with chance
Face it: The extreme fine tuning of our universe doesn't just point to a Creator; it points to Someone extremely wise and powerful, worthy of our highest regard.
Atheistic scientists believe that the nature and positions of the earth and nearby objects are not special. But there are several things about the earth's position and nature that make it special. Some of these have to do with how the earth is a convenient vantage point for making scientific observations:
"I...am still at a loss to understand why it is of selective advantage for the eels of Comacchio to travel perilously close to the Sargasso sea, or why Ascaris has to migrate all around the host's body instead of comfortably settling in the intestine where it belongs; or what was the survival value of a multiple stomach for a cow when a hose, also vegetarian and of comparable size, does very well with a simple stomach or why certain insects had to develop those admirable mimicries and protective colorations when the common cabbage butterfly is far more abundant with its conspicuous white wings." [Bertlanffy, L. (1969) "Chance or Law", in Beyond Reductionism, ed A Koestler, Hutchinson Publishing Co, London, pp 55-84, see p65]
For those willing to accept it, nature shouts out that God exists. The idea that God exists may or may not be "scientific" depending on how one defines scientific, but that is not our concern. Our point is that theism fits the observed facts in nature better than atheism. Be a rational person and come where the facts point - toward God.
When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.” – Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics) Tipler, F.J. 1994. The Physics Of Immortality. New York, Doubleday, Preface.
“When I went to the moon I was a pragmatic test pilot. But when I saw the planet Earth floating in the vastness of space the presence of divinity became almost palpable and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident.” – Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14 Astronaut)