Monday, November 15, 2010

Supernatural Universe Design

A humorous irony concerning physics and astronomy is revealed by the different terms sometimes used to describe these branches of science. Physics, with its applications related to such fields as cosmology and space science, is known as “hard science”--perceived as more rigorous and quantitatively precise than “soft science” disciplines such as psychology or sociology. At the same time, physics is sometimes called a “simple science,” while behavior sciences are dubbed “complex sciences.”

When astrophysicist Hugh Ross addressed a Vibrant Dance Symposium plenary session in Austin, TX on October 26, 2010, someone joked that he had the advantage of speaking on “simple science.” Of course, most people would not consider astrophysics simple. Nevertheless, Ross helped his audience focus on the simplicity of the general concept that the universe manifests plentiful instances of design. He claimed evidence for design and fine tuning in our universe is growing as our knowledge base expands.

Ross declared the universe manifests unmistakable evidence of a transcendent beginning. This implies the existence of a transcendent Beginner--the God of Judeo-Christian scripture. The creation event language described in Genesis 1:1 uses Hebrew bara to denote the production of something “brand new,” preceded by nothing. Secular scientists grudgingly acknowledge a singularity beginning and a universe where multiple instances of design are ubiquitous. The debate does not concern the indisputable presence of design, but rather, “Where did the design come from?”

In acknowledging a detectable origin event which is not naturalistic, the door is open for other non-natural interventions such as the enigmatic, sudden appearance of life with its fully developed protein coding DNA molecule some ten billion years after the creation event. Fazale Rana and Stephen Meyer addressed these issues in detail later in their own sessions.

More than a dozen scriptures explicitly address the observed “stretching out” of the universe. This expansion is referenced far more frequently than the creation event of Genesis 1:1. The book of Genesis is silent on this topic, but many references in Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and other books speak of ongoing, continual expansion.

Gravity is not the dominant force impacting the current expansion according to Ross. Rather, it is the recently discovered dark energy, an anti-gravity force which acts to increase the rate of expansion. The discovery of this acceleration disturbs some secular scientists because its precision points to an agent controlling the rate. Carbon-based life is made possible by this precise degree of expansion, enabling complex, stable organic molecules to exist. These factors are only several of the hundreds of exquisitely fine-tuned design features of our universe.

Supernatural design occurs at all size scales, from our Milky Way Galaxy, to the Sun, Jupiter, Earth, and our moon. With respect to how many of the Universe’s billions of planets possess all of the requirements for supporting life, Ross gave statistics supporting the vanishingly small likelihood that even one other satellite in the entire universe could support life. Our earth is unique beyond imagination. The cheerful optimism in some quarters that another Earth-like planet exists is unwarranted.

As knowledge of our home in this universe increases, the uniqueness of Earth and its life is revealed more stunningly. Hugh Ross effectively linked God’s infinite love for humanity with the seemingly limitless degree of fine-tuning and careful preparation of our created cosmos and Planet Earth.