What if the universe could be explained through purely physical processes just so long as we were allowed to choose a very precise set of initial conditions? It would be somewhat like saying, I can get a coin to land on heads every time, so long as you allow me to set precisely the upward velocity, height, and speed of rotation for every toss. Would it be fair to ask if the necessity of these conditions is evidence that some “chooser” picked out these conditions? If the coin always lands on heads or if you always roll sevens, it is reasonable to assume that the game is rigged. Likewise, we should look at the universe and wonder, to quote Sir Fred Hoyle, who has monkeyed with physics.

The power of this “fine-tuning” argument was recognized when the famous atheist, Antony Flew, cited it as one of the factors that converted him to theism late in life. The argument is also unique in that it is fueled by the acceptance of Big Bang Cosmology. The more committed you are to a 13.8 billion-year-old, expanding universe, the more powerful this argument becomes.1

The argument recognizes the reliance of modern physics models on several precise constants.

Speed of Light: c=299,792,458 m/s

Gravitational Constant: G=6.673 x 10-11 m3/kg s2

Planck’s Constant: 1.05457148 x 10-34m2 kg / s2

Planck Mass-Energy: 1.2209 x 1022MeV

Mass of Electron, Proton, Neutron: 0.511; 938.3; 939.6 MeV

Mass of Up, Down, Strange Quark: 2.4; 4.8; 104 MeV (Approx.)

Ratio of Electron to Proton Mass: (1836.15)-1

Gravitational Coupling Constant: 5.9 x 10-39

Cosmological Constant: (2.3 x 10-3eV)

Hubble Constant: 71 km/s/Mpc (today)

Higgs Vacuum Expectation Value: 246.2 GeV

It's strange that all of these numbers are constant. What is even stranger is that if they were to change even a small amount, the universe would not exist. Let me state that carefully. We are not talking about the existence of life on Earth. We are talking about whether even matter itself can exist.

Gravity, a relatively common and simple example, is regulated by G, the gravitational constant. According to Craig, "If this constant varied by just one in 1060 parts, none of us would exist"

Let me interrupt Craig to explain that absurdly large number. Imagine a dial with evenly spaced numerals 1 through 10. Each is number selection option represents 1 in 10 parts of the whole. Now, subdivide each number into ten more dashes, giving you 1 in 100 (or 10^2) pieces. Now, keep dividing the dial over and over sixty times. The number of infinitesimally small dashes on your dial now equal 10^60. Craig continues,

"To understand how exceedingly narrow this life-permitting range is, imagine a dial divided into 10^60 increments. To get a handle on how many tiny points on the dial this is, compare it to the number of cells in your body (10^14) or the number of seconds that have ticked by since time began (10^20). If the gravitational constant had been out of tune by just one of these infinitesimally small increments, the universe would either have expanded and thinned out so rapidly that no stars could form and life couldn’t exist, or it would have collapsed back on itself with the same result: no stars, no planets, no life."2

The more constants you consider, the stranger the situation becomes. The cosmological constant must be dialed into a precision of 1 part in 10^120 parts. The mass and energy of the early universe must be distributed to an accuracy of 1 part in 10^10^123. It is impossible to represent this kind of number meaningfully by analogy because nothing in the physical universe adds up to anything near 10^10^123.

Given this type of precision, chance seems to be out of the question. The natural conclusion for many has been to see that a powerful and intelligent being selected the only possible values to create the universe of his desire.

Probably the best and most succinct discussion of this argument is provided by a video published by William Lane Craig titled “The Fine-Tuning of the Universe.” It is available for free viewing online. .

Ibid.

Ben Williams is the Preaching Minister at the Glenpool Church of Christ and a regular writer at So We Speak. Check out his new book Why We Stayed or follow him on Twitter, @Benpreachin.

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