Saturday, May 3, 2014

Precision Creation

Before man developed telescopes able to clearly image galaxies outside our own Milky  Way, some early scientists and philosophers reasoned that our universe appeared far too small to be the work of God. Scripture writers, on the contrary, did not complain that the apparent visible universe was an undersized creation. An example of a devotional and descriptive scriptural exultation of creation is Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2). The Bible is not a science textbook, but these verses presage the startling truth we have acquired in modern times concerning our universe: The vast universe now reveals itself as a system of incredible physical precision. Our cosmic home is alive with discoverable knowledge concerning the degree of its precision. The 19th Psalm was “scientific” in the sense that it made accurate predictions of a future knowledge base.

Some scientists and philosophers of today voice a different complaint as they observe the immensity of the universe. In his volume Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, astronomer and theologian Hugh Ross reviews the skepticism of some agnostics: “The universe as now measured appears absurdly too large to serve as humanity’s home. Skeptics insist that a Creator, especially the biblical Creator, wouldn’t make unnecessary matter and space or waste creative effort.” These statements cast doubt or diminish the reality of God in keeping with the human characteristic of proclaiming God ought to do things a different way—our own way.

Hugh Ross’s introductory chapter states that theologians and a majority of astronomers agree that the “purpose” of the universe’s existence, structure, characteristics, and history is to provide a suitable home for physical life—humanity in particular. Many agnostic scientists acknowledge a purpose for the universe’s existence. Such issues are difficult to ignore, even if God is not explicitly acknowledged. In light of the frequent discussions concerning purpose in the universe, we ask what evidence exists for a divine purpose in providing a suitable home for humanity? The question is many-dimensional as are the answers. One overwhelming consideration is the issue of intelligent design of the characteristics of our cosmic home. The intelligent design proposal is rejected by naturalists as well as some theists who propose objections to the concept of intelligent design with vague statements that “God is the Creator of all things.”

Both agnostics and theists have wondered why the universe is so large in light of increasing evidence that Earth’s humans may be unique residents of this vast universe. Carl Sagan was convinced that countless trillions of other galaxies in the universe possessed planets with the ability to support life. The probability that there exist multiple other civilizations is not unreasonable, except when we consider that the enormous cosmic size and age of the universe is necessary for human life, or any life, to exist on even one planet. Likewise, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, the tendency of energy in the universe to dissipate and become less useful, is just one other characteristic of the universe which enables life to exist. Interlocked with these broad characteristics—size, age and energy dissipation—are thousands of other characteristics which seem to point to divine cosmic authorship of a unique humanity established in only a single location. This universe is created with incomprehensible precision in order that humanity could appear at a given time. We are living in the given time.

Returning to the discussion of the universe being either too small or too large, let’s develop the related idea that our expanding universe expands at just the right rate—not too slow, not too fast. In like manner, the total amount of matter in the universe is fixed with great precision to permit the existence of human life. Too little or too much matter would preclude human existence. The scientific rationale supporting this knowledge is beyond the comprehension of most people.

The precision of “just the right amount” of matter in the universe is acknowledged by astrophysicists. Laypersons may understand the precision without knowing why it is necessary. We close with two quotes from Ross’s Why The Universe Is The Way It Is. “This degree of fine-tuning is so great that it’s as if right after the universe’s beginning someone could have destroyed the possibility of life within it by subtracting a single dime’s mass from the whole of the observable universe or adding a single dime’s mass to it.”

In the late 1990s a startling discovery was made. For the most recent half of the universe’s existence, its expansion rate has been accelerating instead of decelerating. Scientists now believe the acceleration is due to the repulsive force of a mysterious, recently discovered “dark energy.” Approximately 68% of the stuff in the universe is  “dark energy.” Therefore, 68% of total cosmic density is composed of dark energy. It could not even vary a tiny fraction of the mass of an electron lest the universe become unsuitable for the existence of life.

We live in a creation of incredible precision. Take away the precision and we take away the possibility of human existence. Precision speaks of a universe of incredible order. More familiar everyday physical laws and physical constants reflect the order of the universe as a whole. In turn we may grasp the magnitude and glory of God who lovingly provides a home for humanity created In His Image.