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A fine-tuned universe

Precise facts and figures at work in the cosmos permit the existence of life


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A fine-tuned universe

You may have heard that the materialist idea of everything arising from time plus chance is about as likely as a hurricane sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747. I like the analogies Hugh Ross provides in The Creator and the Cosmos even better. He writes that the universe’s “fine-tuning is 10 to the 43rd times more exquisite than someone blindfolded, with just one try, randomly picking out a single marked proton from all the protons existing within the entire extent of the observable universe.” Or try this: “a billion pencils all simultaneously positioned upright on their sharpened points on a smooth glass surface with no surface supports.”

Ross’ appendix below, courtesy of Reasons to Believe Press, particularly impressed me. He shows how “more than a hundred different parameters for the universe must have values falling within narrowly defined ranges for physical life of any conceivable kind to exist.” The long list includes gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear forces; electron to proton mass ratios; initial uniformity of cosmic radiation; and on it goes in area after area. Take a look, please.

The Creator and the Cosmos was featured in WORLD Magazine’s 2018 Books of the Year issue. —Marvin Olasky

Evidence for the Fine-Tuning of the Universe

More than a hundred different parameters for the universe must have values falling within narrowly defined ranges for physical life of any conceivable kind to exist. This table includes just a partial list. A more complete list with scientific literature citations is available at reasons.org/finetuning.

1. strong nuclear force constant

if larger: no hydrogen; nuclei essential for life would be unstable

if smaller: no elements other than hydrogen

2. weak nuclear force constant

if larger: too much hydrogen converted to helium in big bang, hence too much heavy-element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars

if smaller: too little helium produced from big bang, hence too little heavy-element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars

3. gravitational force constant

if larger: stars would be too hot and would burn up too quickly and too unevenly

if smaller: stars would remain so cool that nuclear fusion would never ignite, hence no heavy-element production

4. electromagnetic force constant

if larger: insufficient chemical bonding; elements more massive than boron would be too unstable

if smaller: insufficient chemical bonding; inadequate quantities of either carbon or oxygen

5. ratio of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant

if larger: no stars of less than 1.4 solar masses, hence short stellar life spans and uneven stellar luminosities

if smaller: no stars of more than 0.8 solar masses, hence no heavy element production

6. ratio of electron to proton mass

if larger: insufficient chemical bonding for stable molecules to be possible

if smaller: insufficient chemical bonding for stable molecules to be possible

7. ratio of numbers of protons to electrons

if larger: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation

if smaller: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation

8. expansion rate of the universe

if larger: no galaxy formation

if smaller: universe would collapse prior to star formation

9. entropy level of the universe

if larger: no star condensation within the proto-galaxies

if smaller: no proto-galaxy formation

10. baryon or nucleon density of the universe

if larger: too much deuterium from big bang, hence stars burn too rapidly

if smaller: insufficient helium from big bang, hence too few heavy elements forming

11. velocity of light

if faster: stars would be too luminous

if slower: stars would not be luminous enough

12. age of the universe

if older: no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase in the right part of the galaxy

if younger: solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed

13. initial uniformity of cosmic radiation

if smoother: stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed

if coarser: universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space

14. fine structure constant (a number, 0.0073, used to describe the fine structure splitting of spectral lines)

if larger: DNA would be unable to function; no stars more than 0.7 solar masses

if larger than 0.06: matter would be unstable in large magnetic fields

if smaller: DNA would be unable to function; no stars less than 1.8 solar masses

15. average distance between galaxies

if larger: insufficient gas would be infused into our galaxy to sustain star formation over an adequate time span

if smaller: the Sun’s orbit would be too radically disturbed

16. average distance between stars

if larger: heavy element density too thin for rocky planets to form

if smaller: planetary orbits would become destabilized

17. decay rate of the proton

if greater: life would be exterminated by the release of radiation

if smaller: insufficient matter in the universe for life

18. 12Carbon (12C) to 16Oxygen (16O) energy level ratio

if larger: insufficient oxygen

if smaller: insufficient carbon

19. ground state energy level for 4Helium (4He)

if higher: insufficient carbon and oxygen

If lower: insufficient carbon and oxygen

20. decay rate of 8Beryllium (8Be)

if faster: no element production beyond beryllium and, hence, no life chemistry possible

if slower: heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in all the stars

21. mass excess of the neutron over the proton

if greater: neutron decay would leave too few neutrons to form the heavy elements essential for life

if smaller: neutron decay would produce so many neutrons as to cause all stars to collapse rapidly into neutron stars or black holes

22. initial excess of nucleons over antinucleons

if greater: too much radiation for planets to form

if smaller: not enough matter for galaxies or stars to form

23. polarity of the water molecule

if greater: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too great for life to exist

if smaller: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too small for life’s existence; liquid water would become too inferior a solvent for life chemistry to proceed; ice would not float, leading to a runaway freeze-up

24. supernova explosions

if too far away: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets

if too close: radiation would exterminate life on the planet; planet formation would be disrupted

if too frequent: life on the planet would be exterminated

if too infrequent: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets

if too soon: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets

if too late: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation

25. white dwarf binaries

if too many: disruption of planetary orbits from stellar density; life on the planet would be exterminated

if too few: insufficient fluorine produced for life chemistry to proceed

if too soon: not enough heavy elements made for efficient fluorine production

if too late: fluorine made too late for incorporation in proto-planet

26. ratio of exotic to ordinary matter

if larger: universe would collapse before solar-type stars could form

if smaller: galaxies would not form

27. galaxy clusters

if too dense: galaxy collisions and mergers would disrupt star and planet orbits; too much radiation

if too sparse: insufficient infusion of gas into galaxies to sustain star formation for a long enough time

28. number of effective dimensions in the early universe

if larger: quantum mechanics, gravity, and relativity could not coexist and life would be impossible

if smaller: quantum mechanics, gravity, and relativity could not coexist and life would be impossible

29. number of effective dimensions in the present universe

if larger: electron, planet, and star orbits would become unstable

if smaller: electron, planet, and star orbits would become unstable

30. mass values for the active neutrinos

if larger: galaxy clusters and galaxies would be too dense

if smaller: galaxy clusters, galaxies, and stars would not form

31. big bang ripples

if smaller: galaxies would not form; universe expands too rapidly

if larger: galaxy clusters and galaxies would be too dense; black holes would dominate; universe collapses too quickly

32. total mass density

if larger: universe would expand too slowly, resulting in unstable orbits and too much radiation; random velocities between galaxies and galaxy clusters would be too large

if smaller: universe would expand too quickly for solar-type stars to form

33. dark energy density

if larger: universe would expand too quickly for solar-type stars to form

if smaller: universe would expand too slowly, resulting in unstable orbits and too much radiation

34. size of the relativistic dilation factor

if larger: certain life-essential chemical reactions would not function properly

if smaller: certain life-essential chemical reactions would not function properly

35. uncertainty magnitude in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle

if larger: certain life-essential elements would be unstable; certain life-essential chemical reactions would not function properly

if smaller: oxygen transport to body cells would be inadequate; certain life-essential elements would be unstable; certain life-essential chemical reactions would not function properly

36. density of neutrinos

if larger: galaxy clusters and galaxies would be too dense; supernova eruptions would be too violent

if smaller: galaxy clusters, galaxies, and stars would not form; inadequate supernova eruptions resulting in too few heavy elements dispersed into the interstellar medium

37. ratio of proton to electron charge

if larger: inadequate chemical bonding

if smaller: inadequate chemical bonding

38. ratio of cosmic mass density to dark energy density

if larger: galaxies, stars, and planets needed for life would form at the wrong time or the wrong location or both

if smaller: galaxies, stars, and planets needed for life would form at the wrong time or the wrong location or both

39. initial homogeneity of the universe

if greater: no galaxies or stars form

if lesser: black holes form before any stars form; no nuclear-burning stars

40. number of neutrino species

if less than 3: big bang fuses insufficient helium from hydrogen, resulting in inadequate life-essential elements

if more than 4: big bang fuses too much helium from hydrogen, resulting in inadequate life-essential elements

41. ratio of ordinary matter to exotic matter

if larger: rotation curves of spiral galaxies would not be flat enough; galaxy clusters would not be in virial equilibrium

if smaller: insufficient star formation

42. density of giant galaxies during early cosmic history

if larger: galaxy cluster suitable for advanced life will never form

if smaller: galaxy cluster suitable for advanced life will never form

43. epoch for peak of hypernova eruptions events

if earlier: density of heavy elements will be too high at best epoch for life

if later: density of heavy elements will be too low at best epoch for life

44. epoch for peak of supernova eruptions events

if earlier: density of heavy elements will be too high at best epoch for life

if later: density of heavy elements will be too low at best epoch for life

45. number of different kinds of supernovae

if lower: some of the elements essential for life will be missing

46. number of supernova eruption events

if too many: too much heavy element production for life to exist

if too few: inadequate production of heavy elements for life to exist

47. decay rate of an isolated neutron

if faster: big bang would fuse too little hydrogen into helium, resulting in inadequate life-essential elements

if slower: big bang would fuse too much hydrogen into helium, resulting in inadequate life-essential elements

48. density of metal-free population III stars in early universe

if higher: cosmic metallicity at optimal time for life will be too high; too much gas will be blown out of primordial galaxies

if lower: cosmic metallicity at optimal time for life will be too low; too little gas will be blown out of primordial galaxies

49. average mass of metal-free population III stars

if larger: these stars will not scatter any of their heavy elements into interstellar space

if smaller: these stars will scatter an insufficient quantity of heavy elements into interstellar space

50. water’s heat of vaporization

if larger: liquid water would evaporate too slowly

if smaller: liquid water would evaporate too rapidly

51. hypernova eruptions

if too many: relative abundances of heavy elements on rocky planets would be inappropriate for life; too many collision events in planetary systems

if too few: not enough heavy element ashes present for the formation of rocky planets

if too soon: leads to a galaxy evolution history that would disturb the possibility of advanced life; not enough heavy element ashes present for the formation of rocky planets

if too late: leads to a galaxy evolution history that would disturb the possibility of advanced life; relative abundances of heavy elements on rocky planets would be inappropriate for life; too many collision events in planetary systems

52. H3+ production amount

if too large: planets will form at wrong time and place for life

if too small: simple molecules essential to planet formation and life chemistry will not form

53. density of quasars

if larger: too much cosmic dust forms; too many stars form too late, disrupting the formation of a solar-type star at right time and right conditions for life

if smaller: insufficient production and ejection of cosmic dust into the intergalactic medium; ongoing star formation impeded; deadly radiation unblocked

54. density of giant galaxies in the early universe

if larger: too large a quantity of metals ejected into the intergalactic medium, providing future stars with too high of a metallicity for a life-support planet at the right time in cosmic history

if smaller: insufficient metals ejected into the intergalactic medium, depriving future generations of stars of the metal abundances necessary for a life-support planet at the right time in cosmic history

55. masses of stars that become hypernovae

if too massive: all the metals produced by the hypernova eruptions collapse into black holes resulting from the eruptions, leaving none of the metals available for future generations of stars

if not massive enough: insufficient metals are ejected into the interstellar medium for future star generations to make stars and planets suitable for the support of life

56. density of gamma-ray burst events

if larger: frequency and intensity of mass extinction events will be too high

if smaller: not enough production of copper, scandium, titanium, and zinc

57. intensity of primordial cosmic superwinds

if too low: inadequate star formation late in cosmic history

if too great: inadequate star formation early in cosmic history

58. smoking quasars

if too many: early star formation will be too vigorous, resulting in too few stars and planets being able to form late in cosmic history

if too few: inadequate primordial dust production for stimulating future star formation

59. level of supersonic turbulence in the infant universe

if too low: first stars will be the wrong type and quantity to produce the necessary mix of elements, gas, and dust so that a future star and planetary system capable of supporting life will appear at the right time in cosmic history

if too high: first stars will be the wrong type and quantity to produce the necessary mix of elements, gas, and dust so that a future star and planetary system capable of supporting life will appear at the right time in cosmic history

60. rate at which the triple-alpha process (combining of three helium nuclei to make one carbon nucleus) runs inside the nuclear furnaces of stars

if too high: stars would manufacture too much carbon and other heavy elements; stars may be too bright

if too low: stars would not manufacture enough carbon and other heavy elements to make advanced life possible before cosmic conditions would rule out the possibility of advanced life; stars may be too dim

From The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God by Hugh Ross, Ph.D. © 2018 by Reasons to Believe, fourth edition. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of Reasons to Believe, reasons.org.

Reasons to Believe Press

Hugh Ross Reasons to Believe Press


Hugh Ross Hugh is the president and founder of Reasons to Believe.

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