By L. Alfred James
Did you know gravity is a mystery? Some would even call it a miracle. Scientists have realized that the force of gravity could have been stronger, or it could have been weaker. But bad things happen if you tweak it, even a little. If gravity had been just a tad bit stronger then the galaxies would never have formed after the big bang. Why? Because (immediately following the big bang) all of the matter of the universe would have just clumped back together. Strangely enough, if gravity were just a tad bit weaker then other problems ensue. With slightly weaker gravity (immediately following the big bang) no planets would have formed! The outward force of the big bang explosion would have been too much for gravity to overcome. Gravity would not have been able to do its work in forming planets, stars, or galaxies. The force of gravity has to be just strong enough to get matter to clump together (to form planets, stars, and galaxies) but not so strong that it makes the universe collapse back in on itself. Astrophysicists have calculated that if you changed the strength of gravity by one part in 1040 then life-sustaining stars like the sun would never be able to form. What are the chances that the precise strength of gravity is just an accident?
There is another mystery that exists in the atoms that surround us. It is called the “strong nuclear force.” This is what holds each atom’s nucleus—made of protons and neutrons-together. If you made this force slightly weaker it would dramatically reduce the amount carbon and oxygen that are produced by stars. And since stars ultimately provide all of the carbon and oxygen we need for life, this would effectively make any form of life in the universe impossible. Moreover, if you were to reduce the strong nuclear force by 50% it would result in a universe that is composed of nothing but hydrogen. That would be a pretty boring universe.
These are just two of the forces that scientists are puzzled by. There are dozens of other forces (and other kinds of parameters), and some of them require an even greater amount of precision (just for fun, look up the cosmological constant). Needless to say, the evidence that the entire universe is finely tuned by an intelligent designer is quite compelling. This is why the Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, Sir Martin Rees, has said, “The laws governing our universe…appear to be finely tuned for our existence.”1 In another article he said, “Everywhere you look, there are yet more examples…Wherever physicists look, they see examples of fine-tuning.”2 Likewise, the highly acclaimed physicist Paul Davies said, “The impression of design is overwhelming.”3
And our own planet is also clear proof of design. Consider Earth’s reflectivity. At first this might sound like a very technical concept. But it really isn’t. All objects possess a measurable amount of reflectivity. For instance, when an object is black it has low reflectivity because it absorbs a great deal of energy from the sun, instead of reflecting it away. (Think of a blacktop parking lot on a sunny day. It often feels like you are walking on hot coals.) Conversely, when an object is lightly colored it reflects more energy and absorbs less; thus it is much cooler.
Planet Earth has a measurable amount of reflectivity. And it is amazingly precise. Here is a shocking fact: If the earth reflected away just a little more light, it would produce a runaway ice age. Why? Because as things on Earth cooled down you would get more snow and ice covering more of the surface of the earth. And as you get more snow and ice you get more reflectivity—because the white snow and ice reflect away more of the sun’s energy. Thus, with less energy being absorbed, things would cool down even more, leading to even more snow and ice, and even more reflectivity. Eventually the whole planet becomes nothing but snow and ice. That is a runaway ice-age.
On the other hand, if you make the reflectivity lower then you get a runaway greenhouse effect. Why? Because more energy is retained, making the planet warmer. And when the planet is warmer that melts more of that snow and ice (lowering the reflectivity even more). Moreover, it would also lead to more water vapor getting trapped in the atmosphere, and that vapor would trap more infra-red radiation, and that would rase the temperature even faster, and that, in turn would produce even more water vapor,…you get the point. The result would be a runaway greenhouse effect.
Along similar lines, if Earth were just a tiny bit further from the Sun our atmosphere would not be warm enough to have the needed moisture content to sustain life. But if Earth were just a little closer, all of the moisture would be trapped in the atmosphere. Here is how astrophysicist Hugh Ross explains it:
As biochemists now concede, for life molecules to operate so that organisms can live requires an environment where water vapor, liquid water, and frozen water are all stable and abundant. This means that a planet cannot be too close to its star or too far away. In the case of planet Earth, given its particular atmosphere, a change in the distance from the Sun as small as 2% would rid the planet of all life.4
These are just four different parameters that show how amazingly fine-tuned our universe and our planet is. There are actually more than 200 such parameters!5 What is the explanation for this? There is only one decent explanation: Our universe and our planet were created by a vastly-intelligent and vastly-powerful God. We are here for a purpose.
1. Martin Rees, Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 1997), 3.
2. Sir Martin Rees, “Anything Goes,” New Scientist, 6 June 1998, 26-30, 28-29.
3. Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988), 203.
4. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God (Kindle Location 3445). RTB Press. Kindle Edition.
5. Ross, Appendix A and Appendix B.