Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How Sharp the Razor?

The popular catch phrase of creationists the past few decades is “fine tuning.” Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents sometimes use the term to strengthen belief in the Creator/Designer’s ability to produce our fine-tuned universe. Unless the term is defined and clarified with examples, it is no more effective than evolutionists fortifying their paradigm merely by the frequent mention of “evolution” in their literature and textbooks.

In the category of examples, we resurrect a term from several decades ago which may focus our thought. Before the days of fuel injection, most automobiles needed frequent “tune-ups” in order to adjust the carburetor to produce the air/fuel vapor for optimum ignition and proper functioning of our vehicles. Automobile fine tuning is now handled mostly by automatic, computer-controlled processes, but our technicians still program the necessary “fine tuning.” Fine tuning is defined as making small changes in a system to make its functioning exactly right. While this object lesson from the world of automobiles helps our understanding, its lesson about the meaning of exactly right falls woefully short.

Athletes also strive for “finely tuned” performance levels. Even In championship athletics, fine-tuned sports performances fall woefully short of examples for the fine tuning of our universe. Do we think Peyton Manning’s many touchdown passes comes close to an exact precision performance? What about 2013 major league home run champion Chris Davis’s blasts off the bat or Michael Jordan’s ten NBA scoring titles? In each case, these finely tuned athletic performers are at the top of their game. For our home universe to function, however, we need a degree of fine tuned precision exponentially exceeding human performance levels.

Scientists have grasped the necessary degree of cosmic precision only in the last few decades. With respect to our human experience we cannot relate to such a degree of precision. For any sort of life to exist anywhere in our universe, such precision is necessary. The needed precision may be described as unimaginable. Even the numbers quantifying our national debt may be more understandable! Even though many scientists are not theists, they acknowledge that scientifically speaking, it’s far more probable for a life-prohibiting universe to exist than a life-sustaining one. “Life is balanced on a razor’s edge,” most scientists say.

Stephen Hawking has calculated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion in its earliest moments had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have collapsed into a fireball. Even now the balance between attraction and repulsion forces in our presently expanding universe must be tuned to a miniscule mass. Hugh Ross states if one were to remove or add a single dime’s worth of mass to this vast cosmos the balance of this observable universe would be thrown off and physical life would not be possible.

British physicist P. C. W. Davies has estimated that if the strength of gravity or of the weak force were changed by only one part in ten followed by a hundred zeroes, life could never have developed. Davies states there are at least fifty physical constants and quantities--for example, the amount of usable energy in the universe, the difference in mass between protons and neutrons, the ratios of the fundamental forces of nature, and the proportion of matter to antimatter--that must be balanced to an infinitesimal degree for any life to be possible.

For the people in the pews, these statistics may seem incomprehensible beyond imagination. Our prayer is that informed pastors could make a study of some of the more esoteric concepts and translate them to provoke wonder for their people in the pews. For example, the statistical wonders of athletics and the wonders of everyday existence are important, but the wonder of required precision necessary for the dozens of physical constants governing our universe (we have called them “rules of the game” in past posts) outdistances human athletic feats by multiples of powers of ten.

In particular, our athletically talented young people may be impacted by the sports imagery in this archived post: