More than mere coincidence | Adventist Review


Daniel 12:4 tells us, “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” This prophecy is now being demonstrated. As technology advances and our understanding of the complexity of our universe increases, physicists achieve ever more precise measurements and a deeper knowledge of our universe. Science can explain the microscopic world, where our current best theory, called quantum mechanics, explains the behavior of everything from elementary particles to chemical reactions, and the macroscopic world, where our current best theory, called general relativity, explains the dynamics of galaxies and the effects of gravity on a declared large scale. This knowledge has led physicists to two seemingly opposing views.

On the one hand, success in science has led many scientists to believe that there is no need to take God into account when explaining our universe. This view can be illustrated in the famous apocryphal phrase when the renowned scholar Pierre Laplace told Emperor Napoleon why it was not necessary to mention God in his book. He said, “I didn’t need that hypothesis.”

On the other hand, refined observations in the universe have to some extent encouraged scientists to admit that a large number of physical conditions in our universe must coincide for life to exist. This unexpected view opens the door to the possibility that the universe is not just the result of purely random processes, but was carefully designed with the right conditions for life.

Coincidence or divine design?

These coincidences are known as Anthropic coincidences and are the basis of what is called the anthropic principle. This principle is divided into two main versions: the weak anthropic principlewhich claims that the conditions in our universe are compatible with the existence of life, and the strong anthropic principle, which claims that the universe has properties that must make life possible. The first comes from pure logic, while the second is further from logic. To some extent, the anthropic principle suggests that the present conditions in the universe are special or privileged to allow life to exist. But how do we know which conditions are special for life?

Physicists have realized that if certain parameters change slightly, there would be dramatic states in the universe such that it would not be possible to sustain life or exist at all. There is clear evidence that the universe is in a privileged state. The number of coincidences necessary for life to exist is large. As science advances, more and more anthropic coincidences appear. Among them, the best-known anthropogenic coincidences relate to the fundamental forces in our universe.

balancing the numbers

To our knowledge there are only four types of fundamental forces to describe all interactions in our universe. These forces are the strong nuclear powerthe weak nuclear forcethe electromagnetic force and the Gravity. It has been widely discussed that if the strengths and balance between these forces were slightly weaker or stronger than current values, catastrophic consequences in the universe would prevent the existence of life.

For example, if the strong nuclear force were 10 percent weaker,1 it would not be possible to form chemical elements; In particular, it would not be possible to form deuterium because a proton and a neutron could not combine to form it. Without deuterium, nuclear fusion would not be possible in our sun, and without the sun there would be no life. Now if we compare the strong nuclear force with the electromagnetic force, it turns out that the strong nuclear force is about 100 times stronger than the electromagnetic force. This creates a balance between the repulsive electromagnetic force and the attractive strong nuclear force between protons within atoms. This can create more than 100 stable chemical elements, of which about 25 are necessary for biological life. If the electromagnetic force was a little stronger, the number of chemical elements would be reduced. The stronger the electromagnetic force, the less stable chemical elements there would be. So life would not exist.

If we compare the strength of the electromagnetic force with the strength of gravity, there is also a perfect balance. It is known that the electromagnetic force is about 10^40 times2 stronger than the strength of gravity.3 This particular ratio creates a balance between the electromagnetic radiation pressure and the internal gravity in the sun. If gravity were a little different, the sun wouldn’t exist as it is now. It would end up as a different kind of star, like a red dwarf,4 if gravity were a little stronger, or a blue supergiant star if gravity were a little weaker. In all of these examples, these strengths have the right value to make life possible.

In addition, physicists have learned that the range of these possible values ​​is much narrower than expected, and that life can only exist when these values ​​are exact. Also, it is quite surprising that some specific numerical values ​​of essential physical parameters of the universe have the values ​​they have. For example, the parameter that determines the strength of gravity in empty space, called the cosmological constant, has a value less than about 10^-120.5 This value is an extremely small number that physicists don’t know why the universe has to adjust with remarkable precision for life to exist.

A finely tuned universe

Cosmological data show that the cosmological constant is not zero. It’s close to zero, but not zero. Physicists have predicted that if this value were slightly different, the universe would no longer exist. Until now nobody knows why the cosmological constant has this value. What we can learn from this value, however, and from the strengths of the fundamental forces, is that the universe has been carefully attuned with such precision and balance that life can exist. This idea leads us to interpret the anthropic principle as a logical explanation and that the reason the universe is fine tuned is that there is a fine tuner. Isaiah 66:2 says, “‘For my hand made all these things, so were all these things,’ says the Lord” (NASB).

Most physicists have opposed this interpretation, leading to interpretations by others, such as the multiverse or consciousness interpretation. Despite these other interpretations, I have to say that a tuner’s interpretation of the finely tuned universe, such as a personal god, is by far the most compelling. According to Colossians 1:16, 17: “For by him were created all things visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him are all things.”

There is overwhelming cosmological data to support the Tuner interpretation, namely our personal testimonies. Contrary to Laplace, I would conclude that we need this grand hypothesis.

1 Stephen M Barr, Modern physics and ancient beliefs (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003).

2 10^40 indicates that the decimal point in the number 10 would shift 40 places to the right, resulting in an extremely large number.

3 Brandon Carter, “Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology”, in Confrontation of cosmological theories with observational dataed. MS Longair (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 1974), pp. 291–298.

4 Paul Davis, God and the new physics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984).

5 10^-120 indicates that the decimal point in the number 10 would shift 120 places to the left, resulting in an extremely small number and close to zero.


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