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Universe on Edge

Belief in God is not based on blind faith.  We are surrounded by the work of God’s creative genius.   The artistic splendor and engineering precision of the universe continues to be uncovered by the advance of science.  One area where this can be seen is in the exact balance of various forces in nature. Stated simply, the universe appears to be balancing on the blade of a knife.  We simply could not exist by mere chance.  As scientific instruments become more precise, our awe continues to increase. 

The math behind the “fine-tuning” argument for God is easy to understand.  Imagine that you are going to eat lunch in a cafeteria.  After grabbing a plate, you walk over to a row of food that contains four entrees.  When the staff behind the counter asks what you want to eat, you just shrug and tell her to pick for you.  All things being equal, you have a ¼ chance of getting your favorite dish.  If there are four options for sides and four beverages as well, you would randomly have a ¼ chance of getting your favorite from each of the servers.  However, you only have a 1/64 chance of getting the right combination (multiply ¼*¼*¼). That means you have a 1.5% chance of getting your favorite combination every time you go through the line.  Any time you add a factor, your chance of a specific outcome diminishes dramatically.

This same principle functions in physics.  The universe can exist because several basic physical laws and properties are “pre-set” to exact levels. These constants include the strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, electromagnetic force, and gravity.  The precise nature of these forces defies all explanation.  The strength of these forces ranges over about 40 orders of magnitude.  If gravity were stronger by a fraction of a percent, the universe would be dominated by black holes.  If it were weaker by the same amount, stars would not have enough degeneracy pressure to burn as they do now. Astro-physicist Lawrence Krause famously estimated that if the force of gravity were changed by 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent, neither the earth nor our sun could exist (McFarland and Strobel, 2007).  Those who believe that the universe began with a Big Bang don’t have it any easier.  If the strength of the weak nuclear force or gravity were changed as little as on part in 1040, the expansion of the universe would have been impossible (McGrath, 2012, p. 98).
Every aspect of our universe is exactly what it would need to be for life to exist.  This seems incredibly apparent, since for life to exist that would need to be the case.  Yet many of those characteristics have only recently been uncovered.  One survey of scientific literature found a total of 676 separate aspects where fine-tuning is required for simple life to exist.  According to this study, the chance that our planet could exist is a mere 1 in 10556 (Ross, 2009, p. 243).  This unfathomable number is put into perspective when one realizes that there are only 1022 planets in the observable universe! These kinds of phenomena have caused scientists like Freeman Dyson to conclude, “The more I examine the universe, and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the Universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”

McFarland, A., & Strobel, L. (2007). 10 most common objections to Christianity, the. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker. 
McGrath, A. E. (2012). Mere apologetics: How to help seekers and skeptics find faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Ross, H. (2009). More than a Theory: Revealing a testable model for creation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.


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