Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone? By ERIC METAXAS Dec. 25, 2014 in Wall Street Journal

___________

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?

ENLARGE
CORBIS

In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself.

Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 27 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.

With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon. Scientists listened with a vast radio telescopic network for signals that resembled coded intelligence and were not merely random. But as years passed, the silence from the rest of the universe was deafening. Congress defunded SETI in 1993, but the search continues with private funds. As of 2014, researchers have discovered precisely bubkis—0 followed by nothing.

What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.

Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.”

As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here.

Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.

Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?

There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.

Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.

Mr. Metaxas is the author, most recently, of “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” ( Dutton Adult, 2014).

Correction

An earlier version understated the number of zeroes in an octillion and a septillion.

Related posts:

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Part 10 Dr. Stuart Kauffman, Evolutionary Optimistic Humanism)

This is the fourth post I have done on Stuart Kaufman recently. The first post I did on Stuart Kauffman used the Fine Tuning Argument of Antony Flew against him among other things. In the second post, I put an article by Kauffman on the question Does science make belief in God obsolete?, and his article asserted, […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr. David J. Gross, Nobel Laureate, UC Santa Barbara Physics Department, DOES SCIENCE HAVE RELIGION ON THE RUN, OR DID CHRISTIANITY ENCOURAGE SCIENCE?)

______________ אוכל למחשבה – דיויד גרוס (David Gross) Betting on the cosmos – with David Gross and Robert Laughlin Published on Oct 10, 2012 Working out what happened in the moments after the Big Bang is difficult. Scientists can come up with theories, but in the end they are useful only if they can be […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr. Frank Wilczek, American theoretical physicist, mathematician,Nobel Laureate, MIT, “The ancient texts [of the Bible] … don’t do justice to what we know about the universe now” )

_________ Dr. Wilczek pictured below: ___ On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URLhttp://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto __________________________ There are 3 videos in this […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr.Alexander Vilenkin, Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University, PANTHEISM IS NOT THE ANSWER, BUT IS THERE EVIDENCE FOR A PERSONAL GOD OF THE BIBLE?)

__________________ Dr. Alexander Vilenkin pictured below: ____________ On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto __________________________ There are 3 videos […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr. Roy Glauber, Harvard University, an American theoretical physicist, FINE TUNING ARGUMENT)

אוכל למחשבה – רוי גלאובר (Roy j. Glauber)         ________________ On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr. Roald Hoffmann, Cornell University, American theoretical chemist who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE A DESIRE FOR GOD?)

___________ Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor  of Humane Letters Emeritus _____________ On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URLhttp://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto __________________________ […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr. Rebecca Goldstein, American novelist and philosopher, THE PROBLEM OF EVIL)

Mathematics and Religion Uploaded on Oct 26, 2009 Roundtable discussion with Dominic Balestra, Loren Graham, Edward Nelson, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and Max Tegmark. _______ Dr. Rebbecca Goldstein pictured below: _________________ On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URLhttp://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr. Noam Chomsky, MIT, American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, anarcho-syndicalist activist, NEED EVIDENCE BEFORE BELIEVING)

_________ Noam Chomsky & Howard Zinn “Is There Hope in This Desperate Time?” Published on Dec 10, 2012 This event was a fundraiser for Spare Change street paper and the Homeless Empowerment Project. Recorded on September 27, 2004 Dr. Noam Chomsky pictured below: _______ On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr. Brian Greene, Columbia University, American theoretical physicist and string theorist, IS PANTHEISM THE ANSWER?)

__________________ Dr. Greene pictured below with David Letterman:   __ On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto __________________________ There are 3 […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! (Dr. Marvin Minsky, co-founder of MIT,”…if there are questions science can’t yet answer, why knock yourself out? I regard religion as a wonderful way to save people’s time”)

______________ Dr. Marvin Minsky pictured below: On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto __________________________ There are 3 videos in […]

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: