Evidence for the Existence of God – Design of the Universe

1 02 2009

Evidence for the Existence of God – Design of the Universe

This week I will continue the series that I began last week in providing arguments for the existence of God. Last week, we discussed the origin of the universe, which, if you missed, can be found here. This week, as the title suggests, we will discuss the teleology or design of the universe. The word teleology means design or purpose, so we will look at those aspects of the universe that show this design or purpose.

So, here is how the Teleological Argument is stated by William Lane Craig:

1. The fine tuning of the universe is due to either to physical necessity, chance, or design.

2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

3. Therefore, it is due to design.

What is meant by premise one is that the universe either has to exist in the condition that it is in, there is no other possible condition in which it could have existed, or it is order purely by chance, or it was designed. Premise one is not the disputed premise of this argument as it would require an alternative explanation to those given, and no one really provides such an alternative; therefore, we will focus on premise two.

Since some do dispute whether the universe is truly fine tuned, we will spend some time examining that question. Physicist Paul Davies quotes Fred Hoyle as saying that the universe gave the appearance as if a “superintellect had been ‘monkeying’ with the laws of physics.” Davies concludes, “He might be right in his impression. On the face of it, the universe does look as if it had been designed by an intelligent creator expressly for the purpose of spawning sentient beings.”[1]

Davies goes on to look at various laws of physics and asks why the laws work the way that they do. Whether it is gravity, the magnetic force, Boyle’s, Kepler’s, Newton’s or a host of other laws, the question is how we can find these consistent behaviors in the universe. In fact, Davies explains that these laws do not just work independently, but they are also often linked to one another.[2]

Another interesting “coincidence” of the universe is the fact that the positive and negative mass of the universe is nearly equal, “to within 2 percent accuracy of the measurement.” Davies tells us that the “observable universe contains 10^50 tons of visible matter in the form of stars, gas, and dust, all of which combine to create a powerful gravitational field.”[3] How they measure this, I am not sure, but the measurement is not disputed. We are then told that a “simple estimate of the gravitational energy binding all the galaxies to one another gives an effective mass for the gravitational field (using E=mc2) of about minus 10^50 tons, which is roughly equal (and opposite) to the mass of all the stars and other stuff.” Davies goes on to explain that this is “yet another one of those “coincidences” that is needed for a life-permitting universe.”[4]

Craig adds other data to the mix in quoting Davies he writes that “changes in either a(g) [gravitation] or a(w) [the weak force] of only one part in 10^100 would have prevented a life-permitting universe.” He goes on to say, “Stephen Hawking estimates that a decrease in the expansion rate of even one part in a hundred thousand million million one second after the Big Bang would have resulted in the universe’s recollapse long ago; a similar increase would have precluded galaxies’ condensing out of the expansion matter.”[5] Most fantastic of all the precision of the universe is found in two factors: the cosmological constant, which is fine tuned to one part in 10^120; and, Roger Penrose has calculated the “odds of the special low entropy condition having arisen sheerly by chance in the absence of any constraining principle” being “at least as small as about one part in 10^10^123 in order for the universe to exist.” That is one part in ten to the ten to the 123 power.

Just these two last parameters alone would be enough to negate chance as an explanation, yet considering the fact that there are many of these parameters that are highly fine-tuned and that many are not dependent upon the others, makes chance not a viable explanation.

Some physicists are trying to develop a theory of everything (TOE) to explain the fine-tuning of the four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, and the electromagnetic force. String theory or super string theory are the leading candidates; however, Craig explains that string theory “allows 10^500 different possible universes governed by the present laws of nature,” which negates the possibility of the current set of fine tuning parameters being necessary. Craig continues, “given the multiplicity of constants that require fine-tuning, it is far from clear that even 10^500 possible universes would be enough to guarantee that even one life-permitting universe would appear by chance in the landscape.”[6] Craig concludes that “there is no reason to think that showing every constant and quantity to be physically necessary is anything more than a pipedream,”[7]

Let me restate the fine tuning argument:

1. The fine tuning of the universe is due to either to physical necessity, chance, or design.

2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

3. Therefore, it is due to design.

We have eliminated chance and necessity as possible explanations and given no other valid alternatives; we can conclude that the fine tuning of the universe is due to design with intelligence and the purpose of creating conditions necessary for intelligent life to exist within the universe. This, combined with the Kalam Cosmological Argument, give us sufficient and plausible reasons to believe that the cause is God.

[1] Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, vol. 20 (1982), 16, as found in Davies, Cosmic Jackpot, 3.

[2] Davies, Cosmic Jackpot, 7-11.

[3] ibid., 37.

[4] ibid., 43.

[5] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 158.

[6] ibid., 163.

[7] Ibid., 164.




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