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 Implication Astronomer 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.

 The cosmic space energy density. Likewise, physicists have calculated that the value of the cosmological constant (see page 201) must be exact to 1 part in 10120. Shortly before the cosmological constant was discovered, astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss noted that its addition to the big-bang model "would involve the most extreme fine-tuning problem known in physics." The odds that just these two aspects of the big bang randomly happened are 1 in 10180-about the same as winning 23 lotteries in a row with a single ticket for each!

Here are some more amazing factors:

 The speed of light. The constant of the speed of light-299,792,458 kilometers per second-is critical to the existence of life. A faster speed of light would cause energy ("E" in "E=mc2") to increase dramatically, burning up life on planet earth. A lower "E" would cause things to freeze.

 The age of the universe when the earth appeared. The earth had to appear at a certain stage-several generations of giant stars had to have fused enough heavy elements to allow for the proper earth chemistry. Also, the earth had to be located in the right part of the galaxy for life to appear.  Small-mass and large-mass stars. Both are needed in order for life to exist. For this to be possible, the ratio of the electromagnetic force constant to the gravitational force constant must be correct within 1 part in 1040. An increase or decrease in this ratio by only that factor would make life untenable. Considering just the above points, already the big bang suddenly doesn't look nearly so chaotic, disorganized, or unplanned. More Evidence for the Anthropic Principle Once some astrophysicists started discovering the amazing precision of the cosmos, others started seeking additional parameters that might have been preprogrammed into the universe to make an environment suitable for life. Since that time, about 10 to 15 new critical parameters have been discovered each year. A small change in any one of these would make life impossible. To date, more than 152 have been identified.
It's often surprising what factors play a part in earth's suitability for human life. Here's a sampling of some of the critical parameters.  Earth's distance from sun: Too close, too hot for life. Too far, too cold.  Sun's location relative to center of galaxy: Too close to center, too close to meteor storms. Too far away, too unstable.  Sun's mass: Key to energy distribution to earth.  Sun's short-term and long-term luminosity variability:  Must be in proper ranges for photosynthesis.  Tilt of planetary axis: Necessary for seasons. All three forms of water (liquid, ice, and gas) are necessary to maximize life variables.  Number of moons: Must have one moon for tidal forces, but more than one would create unbearable tidal instability.  Ratio of oceans to continents: Must be correct to keep global temperature stable (land and water absorb heat at different rates).  Position and mass of Jupiter relative to Earth: Jupiter's gravity is critical to life on earth.  Atmospheric transparency: Important both for rate of photosynthesis and degree of energy transfer (heat) to earth.  Carbon dioxide level: Important for rate of vegetation stabilization.  Oxygen level: Important for ozone protection and amount of breathable air for animals.  Amount of phosphorus in crust: A critical element for health of bone and muscles.  Chlorine quantity in atmosphere: Critical for developing electrolyte balance.  Selenium quantity in crust: A critical mineral as an anti-oxidant.  Fluorine quantity in crust: A critical mineral for the body.  Quantity of forest and grass fires: Necessary for revitalization of earth nutrients. However, too many would destroy plant-animal balance.

 Volcanic activity: Necessary for spreading of soil nutrients. However, too much could block out critical sun energy.

From just this partial listing, we can start to see that the conditions on this planet are far from random. A variation in one of them of 10 percent-in some cases as little as one-thousandth of a percent-would make life impossible.

The Probability of the Earth's Characteristics

Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has applied probability theory to the 128 parameters listed in appendix A in the back of this book. Here's a summary of his amazing findings:

1. The probability of all 128 factors being found in any one planet is 1 chance in 10166.

2. The maximum number of planets in the universe is 1022. 3. Putting these together, there is only 1 chance in 10144 (10166 - 1022 = 10144) that any other planet like earth exists. How small is this number? It would be like winning 21 lotteries in a row with a single ticket for each. It would be like taking all the subatomic particles from almost two universes the size of ours and randomly picking a preselected particle. Essentially it's impossible. Therefore, again we find a hard-science calculation indicating that there is design in life.

So the big bang was not a chaotic explosion. Actually, it looks like an immense master plan to prepare an environment that precisely fits the needs of human beings and the other living creatures on earth. Though we've seen the bridge of evolution crumble at each point, the bridge of purposeful, intelligent design seems to be able to span the chasm-whether from nonlife to today's 1.7 million species, or from the very moment of the origin of the universe to our present planet, which is exactly equipped to be our home.

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