Our Universe:
Fine-Tuned for Life?

Since the discovery of anthropic coincidences in the 1970s that continue regularly, many skeptics of a distinctly designed universe have taken a second look. Anthropic coincidences are astoundingly minuscule factors of probability concerning everything from neutrons and electrons to supernova eruptions in space, outside of which carbon-based life would be impossible. Yet others have countered that no supernatural or outside-the-universe intellect is required to explain these phenomena. Indeed, some hold that our observance of life in a universe seemingly balanced on a razor's edge is no cause for surprise whatsoever.

For perspective, described below is just one of the 26 known anthropic coincidences (or, necessary conditions for life as we know it), listed in Hugh Ross' The Creator and the Cosmos:

"Unless the number of electrons is equivalent to the number of protons to an accuracy of one part in 1037, or better, electromagnetic forces in the universe would have so overcome gravitational forces that galaxies, stars, and planets never would have formed.

One part in 1037 is such an incredibly sensitive balance that it is hard to visualize. The following analogy might help: Cover the entire North American continent in dimes all the way up to the moon, a height of about 239,000 miles. (In comparison, the money to pay for the U.S. federal government debt would cover one square mile less than two feet deep with dimes.) Next, pile dimes from here to the moon on a billion other continents the same size as North America. Paint one dime red and mix it into the billion piles of dimes. Blindfold a friend and ask him to pick out one dime. The odds that he will pick the red dime are one in 1037. And this is only one of the parameters that is so delicately balanced to allow life to form."*

Why would the cosmological constants of the universe, like the one above, be so fine-tuned for life? What can explain the number of such so-called coincidences? Are such questions a valid pursuit, or are there, for example, an infinite number of universes, rendering one just like ours inevitable? Many scientists have long resisted the possibility of a supernatural explanation for both the universe's beginning and its incredible accommodation of life. Yet, most scientists now concede that the Big Bang Theory is all but certainly correct in pointing to a starting point and time for the universe--a discovery certainly compatible with the Bible. In our Special Focus, several scientists and philosophers likewise argue for the theistic explanation for anthropic coincidences--or as theists often state it, the fine-tuned universe--that our universe looks exquisitely tailored-for-life because it, in fact, is.

Note: Some of the material found below contains somewhat advanced logic and physics notations. We encourage you to work through or, if necessary, skip over that which confuses you to catch the main ideas. Think it over for yourself and let us know your questions or comments.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Feature Articles:

The Origin of the Universe
Rich Milne
What is the newest evidence for the Big Bang? The cosmic background radiation is exactly what was expected if the universe began as an immensely hot event 10-20 billion years ago. But the universe that was created is "just-right" for life. Dozens of factors are exquisitely fine-tuned for life to be able to exist, at least on our planet.

The Designed 'Just So' Universe
Walter L. Bradley, Ph.D.
This article provides a clear indication of what is meant by design and then summarizes the factual basis from cosmology that our universe is indeed uniquely designed as a habitat for life in general and humans in particular.
[Spanish Version: El universo diseņado 'justo a punto']

A "Just Right" Universe
Dr. Hugh Ross
Chapter Fourteen of The Creator and the Cosmos. From his book published by NavPress, astrophysicist, author and radio host Hugh Ross highlights the problems associated with the existence of a universe suited to life, lists 26 fantastically narrow parameters for factors that allow life and answers objections to the biblical theist viewpoint on the above.
[Spanish Version: Un universo "justo a punto"]

Do Anthropic Coincidences Require Explanation? (Lecture 11 and 12)
Dr. Robert C. Koons
Western Theism Lecture Notes (Phl 356): Spring 1998, University of Texas. This lecture explores "anthropic coincidences," as Koons would improve upon the term, "carbotic or biotic principle," and major objections.

The Teleological Argument And The Anthropic Principle
William Lane Craig
The discovery during our generation of the so-called anthropic coincidences in the initial conditions of the universe has breathed new life into the teleological argument. Use of the Anthropic Principle to nullify our wonder at these coincidences is logically fallacious unless conjoined with the metaphysical hypothesis of a World Ensemble. There are no reasons to believe that such an Ensemble exists nor that, if it does, it has the properties necessary for the Anthropic Principle to function. Typical objections to the alternative hypothesis of divine design are not probative.

The Prerequisites of Life in Our Universe
John Leslie
One of the foremost authorities on (and critics of) the popular Anthropic Principle, which explains away the need for divine intervention, Leslie theorizes the possibility of "a Mind or by a more abstract Creative Principle which can reasonably be called 'God'." Certainly no mainstream theist, Leslie argues for outside intervention in the creation of the universe, writing, "My argument...will be that Newton's blending of science with theism is something glorious. I shall not, indeed, defend him against Leibniz and Darwin since the notion that God constantly intervenes in the world's workings seems unfortunate... But the forms taken by the laws of physics, and perhaps also the distribution of material early in the Big Bang, do suggest God's creative activity."

Related Video and Articles:

Stephen Hawking, the Big Bang, and God
Henry F. Schaefer III
Dr. "Fritz" Schaeffer, the Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and the director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia, makes comments on Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Although Dr. Schaefer notes some areas in which he disagrees with Hawking, he concludes, ". . . the reason for Hawking's success as a popularizer of science, is that he addresses the problems of meaning and purpose that concern all thinking people."

Video Clips
Dr. Fritz Schaefer
Distinguished research chemist and professor Dr. Henry F. "Fritz" Schaefer, III, comments briefly on cosmological evidence of design and the fine-tuned universe, as well as science and Christianity, biology and the origin of life.

Is There a Role for Natural Theology Today?
Dr. Owen Gingerich
The author briefly sketches the modern scientific scenario of the creation of the universe and the origin of the elements.

*Copyright Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 3d ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001). Used by permission.

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