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Old 06-27-2000, 09:38 PM   #1
wizzywig
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Arrow New God Thread (for Calypso)

Calypso--

In another thread, you asked for any additional info on the scientific case for God. That thread was getting unwieldy, so I started a new thread here. I don't know if there's anything new here or not, but I did tie up all three levels of the argument into a single post. Maybe that will be helpful.

THE COSMIC HAT TRICK, or the Three “Miracles” of Creation

Part 1. The Anthropic Principle

The evidence of the Anthropic Principle compounds dozens of cosmic coincidences regarding the structure of the universe and various quantum and cosmological constants, any one of which is so remotely unlikely that it is vanishingly improbable that it could be the result of random chance. When you factor all of these cosmic coincidences together, it becomes clear that one of two things has happened. Either (1) our universe is an artifact of intelligent design, or (2) our universe is one of a virtually infinite number of universes. To further explain possibility 2, this would mean that out of all those trillions and trillions of universes, at least one had to hit the jackpot and chance upon precisely the right fine-tuned conditions to make life possible, and ours is that one universe that hit the jackpot. If not, we wouldn’t be here to comment on the fact.

I embrace possibility 1 and reject possibility 2, and I will soon explain why.

First, let’s take a closer look at possibility 1, the intelligent design argument. The point of the Anthropic Principle is not merely that the universe we live in is merely unlikely. It is that so many conditions and constants of the universe have been so precisely fine-tuned and carefully balanced that it is utterly inconceivable that those conditions happened by chance. The odds are completely off the charts. The entire array of conditions, many of which are statistically inconceivable when taken alone, factor out to a probability of virtually one part in infinity that our life-giving universe could have arisen by chance. If just one condition or constant of the universe had misfired, the whole universe would have been hostile to life (for example, the universe might consist of featureless hydrogen gas or the Big Bang would have coughed up nothing but black holes, etc.).

Some people ask if God really had a choice in selecting the constants of the universe. Features such as Planck's constant or the velocity of light may simply be immutable laws of all reality, and would be the same in any universe (physicists such as Stephen Hawking, John Wheeler, Paul Davies and many others believe these laws and constants were actually laid down or “selected” at the moment of the Big Bang, but let’s concede the possibility that they are actually immutable, omni-universal constants).

But there are other features of the Big Bang which are clearly not immutable at all. They are highly dependent on the specific shape and force of the Big Bang. These features include the smoothness of the Big Bang, the expansion rate of the universe, the mass density of the universe, the initial uniformity of radiation, initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons, and on and on. So both the facts that may be immutable (but are at least selectable in theory) and the factors that are clearly dependent on the initial conditions of the Big Bang are all very precisely balanced and fine-tuned to make life possible in this universe. If just one of those factors had failed to fall into place, if it were off by just a few percent, or in some cases just the slightest fraction of a percent, our universe could not sustain life.

Physicists and cosmologists are amazed that such a violent event as the Big Bang could have been so delicately, precisely balanced. In God and the New Physics, physicist Paul Davies observes,

Quote:
Had the Big Bang been weaker, the cosmos would have soon fallen back on itself in a big crunch. One the other hand, had it been stronger, the cosmic material would have dispersed so rapidly that galaxies would not have formed. Either way, the observed structure of the universe seems to depend very sensitively on the precise matching of explosive vigour to gravitating power. ...

Had the explosion differed in strength at the outset by only one part in 10^60 [that's the number 1 followed by 60 zeros], the universe we now perceive would not exist. To give some meaning to these numbers, suppose you wanted to fire a bullet at a one-inch target on the other side of the observable universe, twenty billion light years away. Your aim would have to be accurate to that same part in 10^60 . . . .

The gravitational arrangement of the universe is bafflingly regular and uniform. There seems to be no obvious reason why the universe did not go berserk, expanding in a chaotic and uncoordinated way, producing enormous black holes. Channeling the explosive violence into such a regular and organized pattern of motion seems like a miracle. [emphasis added. Source: Paul Davies, God and the New Physics (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983), pp. 179,181.
And Roger Penrose, Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, put it this way in his book The Emperor's New Mind:

Quote:
The Creator's aim [in balancing all of the conditions that produced the universe out of the Big Bang explosion] must have been ... to an accuracy of

one part in 10^10^123 .

This is an extraordinary figure. One could not possibly even write the number down in full, in the ordinary denary notation: it would be '1' followed by 10^123 successive '0's! Even if we were to write a '0' on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe--and we could throw in all the other particles as well for good measure--we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed.
So creation (the Big Bang) was perfectly balanced. It was adjusted and fine-tuned to a tolerance of virtually one part in infinity. It had to be, or we would not exist. Physicist Hugh Ross observes:

Quote:
The degree of fine-tunedness for many of these parameters is utterly amazing. For example, if the strong nuclear force were even two percent stronger or two percent weaker, the universe would never be able to support life. More astounding yet, the ground state energies for ^4Helium, ^8Beryllium, ^12Carbon, and ^16Oxygen cannot be higher or lower with respect to each other by more than four percent without yielding a universe with insufficient oxygen and/or carbon for any kind of life. The expansion rate of the universe is even more sensitive. It must be fine-tuned to an accuracy of one part in 10^55 ...

The discovery of this degree of design in the universe is having a profound theological impact upon astronomers. Fred Hoyle concluded in 1982 that "a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology." Paul Davies moved from promoting atheism in 1983 to conceding in 1984 that "the laws [of physics] ... seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design" to testifying in his 1988 book The Cosmic Blueprint that there "is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all. The impression of design is overwhelming." George Greenstein in 1988 expressed these 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?”
Part 2. The Rare Earth Concept

Now we come to the second level of evidence. It is very important that we understand that the Anthropic Principle does not mean that the universe is friendly to life, that the universe is set up in such a way that life can easily, readily arise in our universe. The fact is, our universe is overwhelmingly hostile to life.

All of those fine-tuned factors, features, laws, and constants of the universe only make life possible. They do not make life likely. We still need many more factors to come together in just the right way, at just the right time, for life to even have a fighting chance in the universe.

In their book Rare Earth, geologist Peter D. Ward and astronomer Donald Brownlee demonstrate convincingly that the planet we inhabit must be the extremely rare result of a convergence of unlikely conditions and improbable events. Just a few of the many examples cited by Ward and Brownlee:

 Our Earth circles a parent star on the outskirts of the Milky Way galaxy, just close enough to the galactic core to provide plenty of heavy elements needed for life, but far enough from the galactic core to reduce the chance of collision or orbital disturbance (due to nearby stars, black holes, or other massive objects) that could destroy all life.

 Our parent star is just the right age, size, and type to support life. It formed late enough in the lifespan of the universe to allow previous generations of stars to cook up heavy elements that make up living beings like you and me. The mass of the sun is just right to make it sufficiently long-lived for life to evolve, and to create a "habitable zone" of the right amount of heat and light to support living beings. The color of the sun is just right to allow photosynthesis, which makes higher forms of life possible on Earth.

 Our Earth is just the right size and has just the right gravity to retain water, but not retain too much harmful ammonia and methane. It is just the right distance from the sun to maintain a stable water cycle. It's orbit is nearly circular, which is important for a stable climate (astronomers have detected planets around many distant stars, and it appears that eccentric, highly elliptical orbits may be far more common than stable, circular orbits). The tilt of the Earth's axis is just right for moderating global temperatures--a few degrees more or less tilt would result in dangerous temperature extremes. The rotation speed of the Earth is just right to moderate temperatures and winds.

 The Earth's metal core produces a magnetic field that is just the right strength to shield land-based lifeforms from dangerous solar radiation (Mars, by contrast, has almost no magnetic field). The Earth's core also provides radioactive heat which drives the process of plate tectonics in the Earth's crust, which, say Ward and Brownlee, "is also necessary for maintaining animal life on the planet."

 The Moon is another factor that strongly regulates climatic stability on the Earth, making life possible. No other planet in the solar system has a Moon as large (in comparison to the planet) as our own. The gravitational tug of this large satellite regulates the rotation of our planet. Other planets (such as Mercury, Venus, and Mars) have no large moons to regulate their rotation, which is part of the reason those planets are uninhabitable. The Moon was probably formed by a glancing collision with a planet-sized body during the Earth's formative stage. If such lucky collisions are as rare as scientists believe, then habitable planets are going to be extremely rare anyplace in the universe.

 You owe your existence to the planet Jupiter. The largest planet in our solar system (the mass equivalent of 300 Earths), Jupiter is strategically located near the outskirts of our solar system, between the orbits of Mars and Saturn. There, the gigantic gas ball patrols for space debris, sweeping away comets and large asteroids before they can reach Earth and destroy all life. We saw Jupiter perform this life-saving function in a spectacular way when Comet Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter in July 1994.

These are just a few of the many factors that make life possible on Planet Earth. Other factors include the nitrogen-oxygen ratio of the atmosphere; the precise levels of CO2, water vapor, and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; the rate of collisions with asteroids and comets; and many other factors. The "Rare Earth" concept that Ward and Brownlee have demonstrated in their book is like the Anthropic Principle all over again. It is yet another collection of highly improbable coincidences that converge in a statistically impossible way to create the fine-tuned, precariously balanced conditions for life to exist. If you remove just one of those many conditions, then life on Earth becomes improbable, if not impossible.

Astronomer Hugh Ross examined this body of evidence and tabulated the statistical likelihood of some 41 life-giving conditions that are met by Planet Earth, and calculated that the odds of finding all 41 conditions in one planet are one chance in 10^53. By contrast, scientists estimate the maximum number of planets in the universe as 10^22.[Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), p. 144.] That would make the random-chance existence of Planet Earth a statistical impossibility by many orders of magnitude. If Ross's calculations are correct, then the life-giving environment of Planet Earth is a miracle beyond our imagining, and almost certainly the result of intelligent design, not random chance.

It is important to note that no one can claim, as the claim has been made of the Anthropic Principle, that the existence of our rare and miraculous Earth is the result of some multiverse of universes. We are talking about one planetary system that is so perfectly balanced and fine-tuned that the odds of such a system arising by sheer random chance processes VASTLY EXCEEDS the maximum number of planets in the universe by MANY ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE.

Part 3. The Engineering of Life

The third scientific miracle of our cosmic hat trick is life itself.

St. Augustine once wrote, "Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering." Augustine was right. We are walking miracles. In a purely scientific sense, we should not exist.

We've all heard of the famous Miller-Urey experiment of 1952. A University of Chicago grad student, Stanley Miller, and his research advisor, Harold Urey, constructed a sealed glass tank filled with methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water vapor, simulating conditions believed to have existed on the primordial Planet Earth. At regular intervals, an electrical discharge jumped a gap between two electrodes, simulating lightning. Over a week, a yellowish-brown sludge formed in the tank, containing an assortment of compounds, including two of the twenty amino acids used by living cells to form proteins. After the results were announced, the press breathlessly reported that Miller-Urey had created "the building blocks of life."

To this day, high school biology students are taught that Miller-Urey "proves" that the origin of the first living cell was practically inevitable once the first amino acids were formed in the "primordial soup." Not to put too fine a point on it, that is total B.S. As Robert Shapiro, professor of chemistry at New York University and an expert on DNA and genetics, observes in his book Origins:

Quote:
The very best Miller-Urey chemistry ... does not take us very far along the path to a living organism. A mixture of simple chemicals, even one enriched in a few amino acids, no more resembles a bacterium than a small pile of real and nonsense words, each written on an individual scrap of paper, resembles the complete works of Shakespeare. [p. 116.]

The problem is that an absolutely astounding number of interlocking systems have to come together at the same moment in just the right way in order for life to come into existence by chance. For example, life requires a cooperative arrangement between proteins and nucleic acids, and scientists cannot explain how complex, interlocking systems such as the protein-nucleic acid arrangement can be produced in a single spontaeous step. Physicist Paul Davies, in his book The Cosmic Blueprint, observes that unless an incredibly improbable combination of chemicals come together in precisely the right way, it is impossible to spontaneously generate an organism as simple as a virus, which consists of nothing more than a strand of DNA with a protein coat. Davies writes:

Quote:
It is possible to perform rough calculations of the probability that the endless breakup and reforming of the [primordial] soup's complex molecules would lead to a small virus after a billion years. Such are the enormous number of different possible chemical combinations that the odds work out at over 10^2,000,000 to one against. This mind-numbing number is more than the chances against flipping heads on a coin six million times in a row. ... The spontaneous generation of life by random molecular shuffling is a ludicrously improbable event. [Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988), p. 118.]
Cyberneticist David Foster of King's College in London also ran the numbers on the possibilities of a random-chance origin of life and came up with a similar conclusion to Shapiro and Davies. In his book The Philosophical Scientists, he reports that the odds of something as simple as a hemoglobin protein evolving by accident are one chance in 10^650. By comparison, he notes, the universe is only about 10^18 seconds old. [Foster, p. viii.] In statistical science, a probability of one chance in more than 10^50 is considered zero probability, for all practical purposes.

Foster observes that scientists have tended to operate on the assumption that, given enough time, anything could happen, even the spontaneous occurrence of life from nonlife. For example, Foster notes that T.H. Huxley (Darwin's earliest and most impassioned supporter) once tried to illustrate the concept with this analogy: "If six monkeys strummed at random on typewriters for 'millions of millions' of years they would type all the books in the British Museum." Unfortunately, Huxley never actually did the math to see if his statement penciled out--but Foster did.

Taking the entire lifespan of the universe as the timeframe, Foster determined "that those monkeys would only type out one half-line of sense" which might or might not happen to match "any line in all those 700,000 books in the British museum." [Foster, p. ix.] Foster provides his own calculations to show how he arrived at that conclusion, then takes the argument a step further, performing another calculation even more generous to Huxley's position. The results are still hopelessly dismal for Huxley's side. Foster concludes:

Quote:
Allowing Huxley all the monkeys there have ever been, typing for all the time there has ever been, there would be a shortfall ratio of more than one hundred million millions, and that only relates to the chance of typing one line of one book in the British Museum. [p. 56.]
So the notion that anything is possible as long as we have enough time runs up against a serious roadblock: There simply isn't enough time in all the universe for life to spontaneously generate by random chance. Physicist Paul Davies puts it this way:

Quote:
Betting-odds calculations for the spontaneous generation of life by chance have elicited a number of different responses from scientists. Some have simply shrugged and proclaimed that the origin of life was clearly a unique event. This is, of course, not a very satisfactory position, because where a unique event is concerned the distinction between a natural and a miraculous process evaporates [emphasis added]. [Davies, p. 118.]
Sir Fred Hoyle and his partner, N. C. Wickramasinghe, once supported the idea of spontaneous generation of life in the Miller-Urey primordial soup of Earth's distant past--then they abruptly changed their minds. Why? Because, like Shapiro, Davies, and Foster, they did the math and discovered the hopeless improbability of such an occurrence. They found that the odds of randomly assembling all the chemical components in just the right way to make even the most rudimentary living cell would be one in 10^40,000. Hoyle concluded that the likelihood of such an spontaneous event was roughly comparable to the probability that "a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein."

Francis Crick, the Nobel-winning co-discoverer of the molecular structure of DNA, also did the math and concluded that life could not have arisen by chance on the Earth. He wrote a book called Life Itself (Simon & Schuster, 1981), in which he proposed an idea called directed panspermia-- the theory that life was seeded on Earth billions of years ago by a spaceship from an advanced civilization. But removing the question of life's origin to another planet does not solve the problem. When the odds of evolving a simple virus by chance are one in 10^2,000,000, there is not enough time in the entire history of the universe, and not enough prebiotic soup on all the planets of the universe, to get the job done.

The first living cell could not have been assembled by chance. It was intelligently assembled by the Cosmic Designer--the same Cosmic Designer who fine-tuned the Big Bang. In fact, the miraculous creation of the first living cell was the "Big Bang" of biology, the genesis of all life, the act of conception from which all living things are descended. The reason evolution gives the appearance of being purposeful is that it was purposeful. Life arose by deliberate, intelligent design.

Once again, it is important to note that Parts 2 and 3 of the Cosmic Hat Trick cannot be explained away by a multiverse of universes. Nor can we claim ignorance as a defense, saying that we don’t know enough about the universe to accurately compute the odds. Here we are talking about biological factors that are very well understood and quantified. We know what it takes to make a strand of DNA. We know that a simple virus is nothing but a DNA strand with a protein coat. We know what factors need to converge at the same moment in order for the most simple and rudimentary living structure to come into existence by random chance. Those odds have been computed by scientists, including the Nobel-winning co-discoverer of the DNA structure, at one in 10^2,000,000.

The odds against our fine-tuned universe must be multiplied times the odds against our fine-tuned Earth and solar system, which must be multiplied once more by the odds against the simplest lifeform arising by random chance. Those odds completely rule out any random-chance processes. Those odds give us a scientific verification of the existence of an intelligent Cosmic Designer or God.

There is clearly and indisputably INTELLIGENT CREATIVE DESIGN at work in the creation of life, the universe, and everything.

Calypso, don't know if that's helpful or if it's just repetitious of my previous posts. Hope it helps.

--jd


------------------

"It's a shame," said Mary. "We'd have so much to learn. They know so much more than we. Their concept of religion, for example."

"I don't know," said Enoch, "whether it's actually a religion. It seems to have few of the trappings we associate with religion. And it is not based on faith. It doesn't have to be. It is based on knowledge."

CLIFFORD D. SIMAK, WAY STATION


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Old 06-28-2000, 01:06 AM   #2
Jedi Calypso
 
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oh, wow, wizz, thanx a whole bunch for keeping me in mind! Many kudos go out to you!!

Lets just hope that this thread gets a bit more action than the other one currently does.

GOD bless you all!

-Calypso
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