World News in The Australian, Monday, Dec 29, 2014
Eric Metaxas in Wall Street Journal, Dec. 25, 2014
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 24 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 21 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, researches 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). With 2600 comments at 11:00am approx this morning in the WSJ - see last few below. CHARLES CROWDER 21 minutes ago Do you think an ant understands what humans do and why? Extrapolate that to humans and an omnipotent God. We have no potential for understanding what God does or why. Intelligent Design is the only statistically rational explanation of how we got here or how we obtained the advanced life forms we have. It also doesn’t mean God didn’t create life elsewhere as well. Terry P. Carriker 19 minutes ago Science fails to detect signs of supernatural influence Science has advanced to a highly sophisticated level, but to date has found nothing that requires any kind of supernatural intelligence to explain. This did not have to happen. We could have determined the age of the earth to be 10,000 years, in which case evolutionary theory would have been impossible. We could have found the universe to be so precisely designed as to beg the question of how it could have happened on its own. What this implies is that if there is an all-powerful god as proposed by Christianity, that god must be choosing not to manipulate anything beyond the natural order, or, in other words, to completely conceal his presence. However, this concept does not square with Christianity, with its idea of a personal, hands-on, and prayer-answering god. It seems almost beyond belief that by now science would not have found some footprint or subtle effect of this god somewhere on earth or in the universe. Instead, all that we have observed indicates that there is no god anywhere, no god doing anything, no god designing anything, just plain no god. The failure of science to detect any kind of a supernatural activity is strong evidence that the god of Christianity does not exist. Terry P. Carriker 12 minutes ago @CHARLES CROWDER / Ant's kill few humans, but your god kills millions, just 10 years ago in Asia a tidal wave of 20 feet killed 230,000 in hours. Why? Do you worship this Evil? Who created your god? Created from nothing? CHARLES CROWDER 10 minutes ago @Terry P. Carriker Foolishness, if God revealed his presence there would be no Faith or no free choice, everyone would do good because they know God would be judging. How would your children behave if you were always watching them and they knew it. You would never know if they had developed a responsible character of their own. CHARLES CROWDER 1 minute ago @Terry P. Carriker @CHARLES CROWDER I do not know, nor can I ever understand why things happen, and neither do you. It may be that if your spirit lives forever, could it be that a crisis in one short span on earth, help your spirit to develop or mature? It could be that a crisis helps others develop selflessness or a need to help others. If nothing bad ever happened what would life be like? I do know that happen stance did not create the level of life we have on this planet. Jason Vance just now So, Terry, it is impossible for something to exist eternally?