“If you were designing a universe for life, I suspect you might design it differently. There is no evidence of designer purpose to our universe.” Lawrence Krauss. Are we really just insignificant specks in an accidental universe? Do we really just suck? Those are some dramatic claims but not everyone thinks that way. In fact, some very distinguished scientists disagree. Freeman Dyson, world renowned physicist and mathematician, says “The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.” So maybe it’s not an accident that the Earth is habitable.
We caught up with physicist Bijan Nemati, who was a senior engineer at NASA’s jet propulsion lab for over 16 years. What we discovered in the last few decades is that the properties of the universe in general and our planet in particular are fine-tuned, not just for our survival but for our thriving, our benefit. Earth is not just habitable, it’s better than that, it’s hospitable. Imagine you are a space explorer and you land on a distant planet. There’s no water, no oxygen and it’s 300 degrees below zero. You’re screwed but then off in the distance, you see a structure. The closer you get, the more it looks like a house. When you open the door, you find it has been filled with warm, breathable air. You take off your spacesuit and find a faucet with drinkable water and a refrigerator stocked with healthy and delicious food. What’s your first thought? The house and everything in it was the product of a mindless, natural process or that it was designed to take care of you to meet your needs and someone prepared it as a home for human beings like you. Our planet Earth is that home. Our planet is a terrestrial planet. It has water and carbon, both necessary for life. It has an oxygen, nitrogen atmosphere in just the right proportion for life to thrive. We have plate tectonics to circulate minerals. We have a magnetosphere that protects us from harmful radiation. Our moon stabilizers our axial tilt, giving us a stable climate. We have gas giant planets, particularly Jupiter, cleaning up the solar system from comets and asteroids that can harm us. We are located in the habitable zone of a very stable energetic star, which itself is located in the habitable zone of a metal-rich mature Galaxy. So the Earth is apparently exceedingly rare.
“There is no designer purpose to our universe.” Lawrence Krauss. Still stuck on that even though the Earth meets exactly the conditions needed to sustain life? What about our universe and the precise settings of its physical laws that keep things in order – what they call “fine-tuning”. Cosmological physicist Frank Tipler explains. Fine tuning in physics refers to the observed fact that were we to modify the constants of nature just slightly, life would never appear in this universe. Imagine you have a universe app where you can mess with the universal laws of physics from the beginning of time. Starting with gravity – too strong and the Stars would be unstable, too weak and the Stars would struggle to create carbon and oxygen. Again no life.
We got Stephen Meyer, who holds a PhD from Cambridge, to break it down. The force of gravity is not too strong, not too weak. The speed of light is not too fast, too slow. The ratios of these fundamental forces are delicately balanced. It’s the just-right universe that makes life possible. It’s got to be exact but materialists say we just got lucky with gravity. Let’s that our universe app at random and tap the button. What are the chances that the App would lock onto a gravity setting that just happened to allow life to emerge? Scientists have crunched the numbers and the answer is not good. Worse than one chance in a billion times a trillion times a trillion. It’s not just gravity, there are many other physical laws that also have to be just so for life to emerge in the universe. Some of them are even more fine-tuned, even more unlikely than gravity. Without fine-tuning, our universe would be a horror story even Stephen King couldn’t imagine. “The very construction of the world and the fact that we seem to be the only blue-populated planet in the universe makes you have to believe that if we happened by accident, it would make winning the lottery look like flipping a coin. So I have a tendency to believe in intelligent design.” Stephen King.
Nobel prize-winning physicist Charles Townes seem to agree by stating “Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe. It’s remarkable that it came out just this way.” Materialist scientists claim they have a better answer. “There’s an obvious and easy naturalistic explanation in the form of the cosmological multiverse.” The Multiverse acknowledges that the conditions necessary to make life in this universe are incredibly improbable but it posits the existence of multiple billions of other universes and we just happen to be in that lucky universe. Keep in mind that there’s no evidence that these other universes actually exist. There are no experimentally-tested laws of physics telling us that these other universes exist. No evidence for the leprechauns, no evidence for unicorns, no evidence for the existence of other universes with different values of these fundamental constants.
There’s still another problem with the multiverse explanation. The new mechanisms that have been proposed as possible ways of generating new universes themselves require fine-tuning. So in order to explain the fine-tuning, you have to posit prior universe-generating mechanisms that themselves require fine-tuning. In the end you’re left right where you started. The many aspects of nature that have been fine-tuned for life are overwhelming. All of this evidence shows you are not insignificant, you are not an accident and you don’t suck.