|By: Hugh Ross, Ph.D.; ©2004|
|Summary : Human existence is possible because the constants of physics and the parameters for the universe and for planet Earth lie within certain highly restricted ranges. John Wheeler and others interpret these amazing "coincidences" as proof that human existence somehow determines the design of the universe. - Article courtesy Reasons to Believe: www.reasons.org ©Reasons To Believe|
Human existence is possible because the constants of physics and the parameters for the universe and for planet Earth lie within certain highly restricted ranges. John Wheeler and others interpret these amazing “coincidences” as proof that human existence somehow determines the design of the universe. Drawing an illogical parallel with delayed-choice experiments in quantum mechanics, they say that observations by humans influence the design of the universe, not only now, but back to the beginning. Such versions of what is called the “anthropic principle” reflect current philosophical and religious leanings towards the deification of man. They produce no evidence to support the notion that man’s present acts can influence past events. Furthermore, their analogies with quantum mechanics break down on this point. The “coincidental” values of the constants of physics and the parameters of the universe point, rather, to a designer who transcends the dimensions and limits of the physical universe.
Now that the limits and parameters of the universe can be calculated, and some even directly measured, astronomers and physicists have begun to recognize a connection between these limits and parameters and the existence of life. It is impossible to imagine a universe containing life in which any one of the fundamental constants of physics or any one of the fundamental parameters of the universe is different, even slightly so, in one way or another.
From this recognition arises the anthropic principle—everything about the universe tends toward man, toward making life possible and sustaining it. The first popularizer of the principle American physicist John Wheeler, describes it in this way, “A life-giving factor lies at the centre of the whole machinery and design of the world.” Of course, design in the natural world has been acknowledged since the beginning of recorded history. Divine design is the message of each of the several hundred creation accounts that form the basis of the world’s religions.  The idea that the natural world was designed especially for mankind is the very bedrock of the Greek, as well as of the Judeo-Christian world view. Western philosophers of the post-Roman era went so far as to formalize a discipline called teleology—the study of the evidence for overall design and purpose in nature. Teleology attracted such luminaries as Augustine, Maimonides, Aquinas, Newton and Paley, all of whom gave it much of their life’s work.
One of the first to recognize that design may also apply to the gross features of the universe was American physicist Robert Dicke. In 1961 he noted that life is possible in the universe only because of the special relationships among certain cosmological parameters (relationships researched by British physicist Paul Dirac twenty-four years earlier).
Dirac noted that the number of baryons (protons plus neutrons) in the universe is the square of the gravitational constant as well as the square of the age of the universe (both expressed as dimensionless numbers). Dicke discerned that with a slight change in either of these relationships life could not exist. Stars of the right type for sustaining life supportable planets only can occur during a certain range of ages for the universe. Similarly, stars of the right type only can form for a narrow range of values of the gravitational constant.
In recent years these and other parameters for the universe have been more sharply defined and analyzed. Now, nearly two dozen coincidences evincing design have been acknowledged:
If this force were slightly stronger, not only would hydrogen be rare in the universe, but the supply of the various life-essential elements heavier than iron (elements resulting from the fission of very heavy elements) would be insufficient. Either way, life would be impossible.a
This list of sensitive constants is by no means complete. And yet it demonstrates why a growing number of physicists and astronomers have become convinced that the universe was not only divinely brought into existence but also divinely designed. American astronomer George Greenstein expresses his thoughts:
As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency—or, rather, Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?
It is not just the universe that bears evidence for design. The earth itself reveals such evidence. Frank Drake, Carl Sagan, and Iosef Shklovsky were among the first astronomers to concede this point when they attempted to estimate the number planets in the universe with environments favorable for the support of life. In the early 1960’s they recognized that only a certain kind of star with a planet just the right distance from that star would provide the necessary conditions for life. On this basis they made some rather optimistic estimates for the probability of finding life elsewhere in the universe. Shklovsky and Sagan, for example, claimed that 0.001 percent of all stars could have a planet upon which advanced life resides.
While their analysis was a step in the right direction, it overestimated the range of permissible star types and the range of permissible planetary distances. It also ignored many other significant factors. A sample of parameters sensitive for the support of life on a planet are listed in Table 1.
The following parameters cannot exceed certain limits without disturbing the earth’s capacity to support life. Some of these parameters are more narrowly confining than others. For example, the first parameter would eliminate only half the stars from candidacy for life-supporting Systems, whereas parameters five, seven, and eight would each eliminate more than ninety-nine in a hundred star-planet systems. Not only must the parameters for life support fall within a certain restrictive range, but they must remain relatively constant over time. And we know that several, such as parameters fourteen through nineteen, are subject to potentially catastrophic fluctuation. In addition to the parameters listed here, there are others, such as the eccentricity of a planet’s orbit, that have an upper (or a lower) limit only.
1. number of star companions
2. parent star birth date
3. parent star age
4. parent star distance from center of galaxy
5. parent star mass
6. parent star color
7. surface gravity
8. distance from parent star
9. thickness of crust
10. rotation period
11. gravitational interaction with a moon
12. magnetic field
13. axial tilt
14. albedo (ratio of reflected light to total amount falling on surface)
15. oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere
16. carbon dioxide and water vapor levels in atmosphere
17. ozone level in atmosphere
•if less: surface temperatures would he too high; too much uv radiation at surface
18. atmospheric electric discharge rate
19. seismic activity
About a dozen other parameters, such as atmospheric chemical composition, currently are being researched for their sensitivity in the support of life. However, the nineteen listed in Table 1 in themselves lead safely to the conclusion that much fewer than a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent of all stars will have a planet capable of sustaining life. Considering that the universe contains only about a trillion galaxies, each averaging a hundred billion stars,e we can see that not even one planet would be expected, by natural processes alone, to possess the necessary conditions to sustain life.f No wonder Robert Rood and James Trefil and others have surmised that intelligent physical life exists only on the earth. It seems abundantly clear that the earth, too, in addition to the universe, has experienced divine design.
The growing evidence of design would seem to provide further convincing support for the belief that the Creator-God of the Bible formed the universe and the earth. Even Paul Davies concedes that “the impression of design is overwhelming.” There must exist a designer. Yet, for whatever reasons, a few astrophysicists still battle the conclusion. Perhaps the designer is not God. But, if the designer is not God, who is? The alternative, some suggest, is man himself.
The evidence proffered for man as the creator comes from an analogy to delayed choice experiments in quantum mechanics. In such experiments it appears that the observer can influence the outcome of quantum mechanical events. With every quantum particle there is an associated wave. This wave represents the probability of finding the particle at a particular point in space. Before the particle is detected there is no specific knowledge of its location—only a probability of where it might be. But, once the particle has been detected, its exact location is known. in this sense, the act of observation is said by some to give reality to the particle. What is true for a quantum particle, they continue, may be true for the universe at large.
American physicist John Wheeler sees the universe as a gigantic feed-back loop.
The Universe [capitalized in the original] starts small at the big bang, grows in size, gives rise to life and observers and observing equipment. The observing equipment, in turn, through the elementary quantum processes that terminate on it, takes part in giving tangible “reality” to events that occurred long before there was any life anywhere.
In other words, the universe creates man, but man through his observations of the universe brings the universe into real existence. George Greenstein is more direct in positing that “the universe brought forth life in order to exist ... that the very cosmos does not exist unless observed.” Here we find a reflection of the question debated in freshmen philosophy classes across the land:
If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to see it or hear it, does it really fall?
Quantum mechanics merely shows us that in the micro world of particle physics man is limited in his ability to measure quantum effects. Since quantum entities at any moment have the potential or possibility of behaving either as particles or waves, it is impossible, for example, to accurately measure both the position and the momentum of a quantum entity (the Heisenberg uncertainty principle). By choosing to determine the position of the entity the human observer has thereby lost information about its momentum.
It is not that the observer gives “reality” to the entity, but rather the observer chooses what aspect of the reality of the entity he wishes to discern. It is not that the Heisenberg uncertainty principle disproves the principle of causality, but simply that the causality is hidden from human investigation. The cause of the quantum effect is not lacking, nor is it mysteriously linked to the human observation of the effect after the fact.g
This misapplication of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is but one defect in but one version of the new “observer-as-creator” propositions derived from quantum physics. Some other flaws are summarized here:
Both relativity and the gauge theory of quantum mechanics, now established beyond reasonable question by experimental evidence, state that the correct description of nature is that in which the human observer is irrelevant.
Science has yet to produce a shred of evidence to support the notion that man created his universe.
In The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, British astronomer John Barrow and American mathematical physicist Frank Tipler, begin by reviewing evidences for design of the universe, then go on to address several radical versions of the anthropic principle, including Wheeler’s feed-back loop connection between mankind and the universe. Referring to such theories as PAP (participatory anthropic principle), they propose, instead, FAP (final anthropic principle).
In their FAP, the life that is now in the universe (and, according to PAP, created the universe) will continue to evolve until it reaches a state of totality that they call the Omega Point. At the Omega Point Life will have gained control of all matter and forces not only in a single universe, but in all universes whose existence is logically possible; life will have spread into all spatial regions in all universes which could logically exist, and will have stored an infinite amount of information including all bits of knowledge which it is logically possible to know.
In a footnote they declare that “the totality of life at the Omega Point is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient!” Let me translate: the universe created man, man created the universe, and together the universe and man in the end will become the Almighty transcendent Creator. Martin Gardner gives this evaluation of their idea:
In their persistent rejection of an eternal transcendent Creator, cosmologists seem to be resorting to more and more absurd alternatives. An exhortation from the Bible is appropriate, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.”
It is clear that man is too limited to have created the universe. But, it is also evident that the universe is too limited to have created man. The universe contains no more than 1080 baryonsh and has been in existence for no more than 1018 seconds.
Compared to the inorganic systems comprising the universe, biological systems are enormously complex. The genome (complete set of chromosomes necessary for reproduction) of an E. coli bacterium has the equivalent of about two million nucleotides. A single human cell contains the equivalent of about six billion nucleotides. Moreover, unlike inorganic systems, the sequence in which the individual components are assembled is critical for the survival of biological systems. Also, only amino acids with left handed configurations can be used in protein synthesis, the amino acids can be joined only by peptide bonds, each amino acid first must be activated by a specific enzyme, and multiple special enzymes (enzymes themselves are enormously complex sequence-critical molecules) are required to bind messenger RNA to ribosomes before protein synthesis can begin or end.
The bottom line is that the universe is at least ten billion orders of magnitude (a factor of 1010,000,000,000 times) too small or too young for life to have assembled itself by natural processes.i These kinds of calculations have been done by researchers, both non-theists and theists, in a variety of disciplines. 
Invoking other universes cannot solve the problem. All such models require that the additional universes remain totally out of contact with one another, that is, their space-time manifolds cannot overlap. The only explanation left to us to tell how living organisms received their highly complex and ordered configurations is that an intelligent, transcendent Creator personally infused this information.
An intelligent, transcendent Creator must have brought the universe into existence. An intelligent, transcendent Creator must have designed the universe. An intelligent, transcendent Creator must have designed planet Earth. An intelligent, transcendent Creator must have designed life.