The founder of a Christian ministry for skeptics, Ralph O. Muncaster believes that factors like the sun's mass and Earth's distance from it mean our planet was intentionally equipped to support human life.

Excerpted from Dismantling Evolution: Building the Case for Intelligent Design with permission of Harvest House Publishers.

Most cosmologists and astrophysicists today agree that the big-bang model of the origin of the universe is accurate. Ever since Einstein published his theory of general relativity, more and more of those scientists have also acknowledged, however reluctantly, that a universe with a beginning is very strong evidence for the existence of a "beginner." After all, a beginning demands a cause. And a cause demands a being that can create the cause-perhaps an infinite being, but certainly a being beyond time and space.

Einstein recognized that his theory implied a creator of some type. After Hubble demonstrated in 1929 that some 40 galaxies were indeed receding from one another as the theory predicted, Einstein begrudgingly accepted the "necessity of a beginning" and "the presence of a superior power." And as we noted in the last chapter, upon receiving the first data about the edges of the universe from the COBE space probe in 1992, project leader George Smoot remarked, "It's like looking at God." Resisting the ImplicationAstronomer Geoffrey Burbidge, an atheist, was so dismayed by the 1992 findings of the COBE spacecraft and confirming experiments, he complained that "his peers were rushing off to join the 'First Church of the Big Bang.' Other atheists, recognizing the theological implications, started coming to the fore. In early 1993, the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism ran an article in their magazine Free Inquiry entitled, "Does the Big Bang Prove the Existence of God?" Even the prestigious British journal Nature enlisted its physics editor, John Maddox, to write an editorial entitled "Down with the Big Bang." There was no doubt in the minds of all those people about the theistic implications of general relativity and the big bang.For centuries, Christians have been criticized for relying on a "God of the gaps"-that is, using God to explain what they couldn't figure out otherwise. Often such criticism was deserved. But since the twentieth century the situation has been reversed. Now there is very strong evidence for an intelligent designer, and some evolutionists are attempting to explain it away.

Evidence that we Live in a Finely-Tuned Universe

Before we look more closely at some evidence for the perfect design of the universe, let's build a basic framework. The big-bang model indicates that the stars, galaxies, gas clouds, planets-all the components of the universe-developed in a certain sequence. Here are some key points:

1. We can't account for the very first 10-43 seconds. This is, of course, an instantaneously short period of time. Researchers are attempting to use quantum physics and string theory to determine what might have happened. Perhaps this is when the laws of physics, as we observe them today, were created.

2. The expansion of the universe might be likened to a balloon being blown up. Every point on the balloon would be expanding away from every other point. The original expansion would have been an incredible release of energy, neutrons, and protons within the very first second.3. As the universe expanded and its temperature fell, light elements would start to form, including deuterium, helium-3, and helium-4.4. At about 10,000 years after the big bang, the temperature would have fallen enough that the universe would have been dominated by massive particles, along with the radiation that had been generated earlier. Gravitational forces could begin to take effect between these particles.

5. Background radiation (as discussed in the previous chapter) originated on the surface of last scattering, when the temperature of the universe had dropped adequately so that the radiation would no longer interact with the back-ground gas. This occurred about 100,000 years after the origin. The background radiation has propagated itself ever since.

Though the big bang appears to be a completely chaotic event, is there any evidence of a guiding supernatural intelligence who actually planned the specific events right down to the arrangement of stars, galaxies, supernovas, and even planets?

The Anthropic Principle

Almost by accident, astrophysicists started realizing amazing things about the physics of the big bang and how it seemed to set up a perfect environment for life on planet earth. A term for this was coined: the anthropic principle. It points to the concept that the development of the universe seems to be aimed at providing an environment suitable for human life.

One of the first things that was noticed was the rate of the expansion of the universe. It was just right for the formation of stars and galaxies. If the rate had been greater, matter would have dispersed too efficiently to form galaxies. No galaxies-then no stars, no sun, and no earth. On the other hand, had the rate been slower, matter would have clumped together so efficiently that it would have collapsed into a high-density "lump" before any stars could form. Again, no stars and no sun-no earth.Even more significantly, just after the origin event the expansion velocity was modified by two factors: The cosmic mass density. Physicists have calculated that for physical life to ever be possible at any time in the universe, the overall cosmic mass density must be fine-tuned to a mere 1 part in 1060