Saturday, April 24, 2010

Big Bang + fine-tuning = God

One of the arguments often given against the existence of God is called, the "god-of-the-gaps" inference. When the term "god-of-the-gaps" is applied to the theist by the skeptic, what they mean is, the theist will automatically infer the existence of God when science has not yet come up with a sufficient explanation . Philosopher and Mathematician, William Dembski explains god-of-the-gaps this way, "Design substitutes extraordinary explanations where ordinary explanations will do and thereby commits a god-of-the-gaps fallacy."[1] For example, what if you were diagnosed with an incurable disease one week and you started to pray thereafter. The following week you return to the doctor and discover that your disease was completely eradicated. You explain to everyone how God healed your body, but the skeptic would accuse you of a god-of-the-gaps explanation. The skeptic might say, "You were mis-diagnosed" or possibly it was "Just a coincidence."

Today there exists powerful evidence that the universe not only came into existence from nothing (Big Bang), which supports the Genesis 1:1 passage, but that the universe was designed for life to exist or it was fine-tuned for life. These two aspects of the universe (Big Bang and fine-tuning) point directly toward a Divine Being that created the spacial-temporal universe. The fine tuning has been hailed by many leading scientist as powerful evidence for the existence of God. Astrophysicists Paul Davies states, "There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all...It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the Universe...The impression of design is overwhelming." [2]

What is fine-tuning and how does it point to the existence of God? Fine-tuning involves constants of nature that are so delicately balanced that if just one of these constants were slightly off, the universe as we know it could not exist. Each of these constants are crucial to life. Each of these constants was in place from the beginning so that life could surface. The universe is like a car that needed all the parts put together just perfectly (including a filled gas tank) down to the last screw in order for the car to operate properly. If the universe is not fine-tuned from the get go, life has no chance whatsoever.

I will list two constants of the universe that are fine-tuned in order to explain what fine-tuning is all about. First is the expansion rate of the universe. The universe is expanding in size at a specific rate. The number assigned concerning the expansion rate of the universe is 1 in 10 to the 55th power. This is an incredibly large number. Simply put, if the expansion rate of the universe is just a hair slower or faster, life cannot exist anywhere. A second fine-tuned constant is the ratio of protons to electron. The number given here is 1 in 10 to the 37th power. Again, if this ratio of protons to electrons varies ever so slightly, no universe for life can exist. Astronomer, Hugh Ross, has listed some 34 constants that each have to be fine-tuned in order for life to exist. [3] To get an example of how precise the ratio of protons to electrons (1 in 10 to the 37th power) is, consider this analogy. If you piled dimes on one billion North American sized continents from here to the moon and painted one dime red for your friend to pick blindfolded on the first guess, then you have succeeded in just one of the finely-tuned numbers. This is just one constant that would have to be fulfilled and it is not even the most precise (largest constant) number. All 34 constants have to be considered together. If just one of the constants is slightly off, the universe has no chance to produce life. Philosopher, William Lane Craig has stated, "It's as if the universe knew we were coming."

The fine-tuning for the universe gives such powerful evidence for God's existence that the skeptical community has responded in one of two ways, either, they appeal to a science-of-the-gaps explanation or they posit that there are literally millions of universes that exist (Multi-universe hypothesis). Realize that the skeptic in order to deny the existence of God has to defer to either of these two responses. The science-of-of-the-gaps response would go like this, "Someone had to win the lottery, we were just the lucky ones" or they might say, "You can't appeal to God because this is the way it just happened." Many who are skeptical believe that science will one day answer all questions. This view is called scientism (science answers all and only science can give us true knowledge). There is only one problem with this view, "What caused the Big Bang?" Science will never be able to answer this question, because the entirety of matter in the universe came from nothing. Something never comes from nothing according to the laws of science. Similarly, the multi-verse hypothesis has no answers and absolutely no scientific evidence to back it up. It is purely a statement given to try and dodge the fact of fine-tuning. Those who hold to this outlandish explanation do so in order to try and boost the chances of life happening by a random chance process. There is another big problem here and that is, you still have to explain where the first universe (from which all else sprang) or the first part of matter came from. Again, you cannot get something from nothing. Science will never be able to answer this question.

This brings us directly to God and a definition of who He is. If the universe came from nothing, then whatever created the universe must be non-material. Whatever created the universe must be all-powerful. Being that the universe is fine-tuned, whatever created the universe must have planned it that way. All of these attributes or descriptions are what we think of when we think of God. The Big Bang + fine-tuning of the universe gives powerful evidence for the existence of God. The skeptic who appeals to god-of-the-gaps or multi-universe explanations is making a philosophical leap of faith that has absolutely no foundation to stand on. The best explanation for the beginning of the universe and its' fine-tuning is that an all-powerful, transcendent God exists.

[1] Dembski, William, Intelligent Design, p. 238
[2] Scientific quotes for fine-tuning evidence of God's existence
[3] Fine tuning constants

  • A good video explaining what is meant by god-of-the-gaps

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