Why God Exists Part 1: The Solar Eclipse, the Fine-Tuned Universe and Intelligent Design

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

In the past few decades, one of the most amazing discoveries about our universe has caused many prominent scientists to announce that our world could not be the result of an unguided series of events that happened naturally, but rather it must have been designed by a supernatural intelligence. This discovery is labeled as “fine-tuning”, and has breathed new life into arguments for the existence of the God of the Bible.

Dr. William Philips, Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland and the 1997 Nobel Prize winner, puts it this way: “I believe in a personal God who acts in and interacts with the creation. I believe the observations about the orderliness of the physical universe, and the apparently exceptional fine-tuning of the conditions of the universe for the development of life suggests that an intelligent Creator is responsible. I believe in God because of a personal faith, consistent with what I know about science.”

Dr. Paul Davies, Professor of Physics at Arizona State University, says this about fine-tuning in the universe: “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming. 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. 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’.”

What do scientists mean by “fine-tuning”? It’s not just about accuracy plus precision, but also the precision observed around a set standard, or “bull’s-eye”. For example, if three different targets have arrows shot at them, and the first target has its arrows scattered all over it, with none of them hitting the bull’s-eye, we’d say the result lacks accuracy (missed the bull’s-eye) and precision (the arrows are randomly scattered across the target). If the second target has all its arrows closely grouped in one location, but not close to the bull’s-eye, the arrows hit the target with precision, but not accuracy (they missed the bull’s-eye). But if the third target has all its arrows grouped very tightly within the bull’s-eye, we not only have accuracy (hit the intended bull’s-eye) but precision (hit that bull’s-eye every time). No one, looking at the third target, thinks the arrows ended up like that by dumb luck. The most rational explanation is intentional design.

Scientists have documented over 100 examples of fine-tuning in our universe. Here I’ll share three. The first is gravity. The strength of gravity determines how hot a star’s nuclear furnace burns. A planet that sustains life must be supported by a star that is stable and long-burning. If gravity was slightly stronger, stars would be so hot they’d burn up too quickly for life. If gravity was slightly weaker, stars would never get hot enough to ignite nuclear fusion. Either way, life would be impossible.

The second is our finely-tuned Moon. It’s just the right size to produce Earth’s “just-right” 23.5 tilt angle as it “pulls” on the Earth by gravity. Tides are caused by gravity interacting between Earth and Moon. The Moon’s pull makes oceans bulge out toward it. Another bulge occurs on the opposite side, since the Earth is also being pulled toward Moon (and away from the water on the far side). Since Earth is rotating while this happens, two tides (“low” and “high”) occur each day. Tides mix nutrients from the land with the oceans. One-third of tidal energy occurs on the ocean floor, which drives the ocean’s currents. These strong currents regulate Earth’s climate by circulating heat (like a big regulator). If the Earth and Moon did not interact so perfectly to produce Earth’s tides, nutrients would not get mixed and circulated but would be stagnated. Life would be impossible (we’d have a stagnated pool of slime).

And the third example is what we just witnessed this past week – the solar eclipse. A planet’s moon has to be just the right size, with that planet just the right distance from its host star. In our solar system, even though our sun (the host star) is 400 times bigger than the moon, it’s also precisely 400 times further from the earth, meaning that the two objects appear roughly the same size in the sky. This allows the moon to block the sun in precisely the right way for scientists to study the solar atmosphere.

Our verse this week is the opening to Psalm 19, where God tells us the heavens are declaring His glory and the work of His hands to us, the intelligent life on earth that observes His creation. Just as the finely-tuned arrows in the target’s bull’s-eye point to a skilled marksman who has placed them there, the universe all around us has been finely-tuned by an Intelligent Mind who has left His fingerprints for us to observe.

“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #258

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