Continuing on with another excerpt from my new book What Your Atheist Professor Doesn’t Know (But Should);
The Teleological (Design) Argument, resuming following a list of 247 parameters in the universe which are finely-tuned, given in the previous two articles:
Keep in mind that this list is always growing as new improbabilities are being discovered. According to Dr.’s Ross and Rana, the improbability increases by about a million times each month! There are really three possibilities that could have resulted in this incredible fine-tuning; law, chance or design. Scientists have puzzled over it for years and have found no natural laws that can account for it. The odds against such a theory ever being discovered seem insurmountable. Even Stephen Hawking, who was originally a believer in a “Theory of Everything” that could possibly explain the fine-tuning as necessary by law, after considering Gödel’s Theorem concluded that one was not obtainable. He states:
Some people will be very disappointed if there is not an ultimate theory which can be formulated as a finite number of principles. I used to belong to that camp, but I have changed my mind. (3)
Since the threshold of mathematical impossibility is 1 in 10 to the 50th power (ie: given a 13.78 billion year universe, there is not enough time for anything with this or smaller odds to occur by chance), and the odds of this fine-tuning coming into existence by chance are far, far beyond that, we can rule out chance. Only a transcendent Creator makes sense of this unbelievably complex order in the universe.
During the last 35 years or so, scientists have discovered that the existence of intelligent life absolutely depends upon this very delicate and complex balance of initial conditions. It appears that “the deck was stacked” in the substances, constants and quantities of the Big Bang itself, to provide a life-permitting universe. We now know through modern science that life-prohibiting universes are vastly more probable than any life-permitting universe like ours. How much more probable?
Well, the answer is that the chances that the universe should be life-permitting are so infinitesimally small as to be incomprehensible and incalculable. For example, Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed into a hot fireball due to gravitational attraction. (4)
Physicist P.C.W. Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one followed by at least a thousand billion billion zeroes! (5)
Davies also calculates that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by merely one part in 10 raised to the 100th power (!) would have prevented a life-permitting universe. (6)
As we saw in the previous lists, there are dozens and dozens of such constants and quantities present in the Big Bang which must be exquisitely fine-tuned in this way if the universe is to permit life. Moreover, it’s not only each individual quantity or constant which must be finely tuned; their ratios to each other must also be exquisitely finely tuned. Therefore, vast improbability is multiplied by vast improbability, and yet again by vast improbability repeatedly until our minds are simply reeling in vanishingly small odds.
There is no plausible physical reason why these constants and quantities should have the values that they do. Reflecting on this, the once-agnostic physicist P.C.W. Davies comments, “Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.” (7)
Likewise, British Astrophysicist Sir Frederick Hoyle remarks, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics.” (8)
Robert Jastrow, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, refers to this as “the most powerful evidence for the existence of God ever to come out of science.” (9)
So, again, the view that Christian theists have historically held, that there is an intelligent Designer of the universe, seems to make so much more sense than the atheistic alternative: that the universe, when it popped into being, without cause, out of nothing, just happened to be, by chance, fine-tuned for intelligent life with a mind-numbingly unlikely precision and delicacy. To call the odds against this fine-tuning occurring by chance “astronomical” would be a wild understatement. One might reduce it to a propositional argument as follows:
1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either law, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to law or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.