God and Fine Tuning

Biosphere 2 inferior to Biosphere 1

On September 26, 1991 four men and four women entered a special building named Biosphere 2 in the US state of Arizona. The doors were closed and locked and did not open again until September 26, 1993. The walls and the roof of the 12,700 square meter building were made of glass. The building was completely sealed so that no air from the outside could get in. No expense was spared in this US $200 million building to make it possible for eight people to be completely independent of outside oxygen or food. Inside, the building, there was a 1,900 square meter rainforest, an 850 square meter ocean with a coral reef, a 450 square meter mangrove wetlands, a 1,300 square meter savannah grassland, a 1,400 square meter fog desert, a 2,500 square meter agricultural system, and a living area for the eight people. Sunlight through a glass roof and electricity were the only things that came in from the outside.

Biosphere 2 was built to research whether people could live in a self-contained environment. They grew their own food, recycled water including human wastes, and maintained a healthy atmosphere. They raised crops such as bananas, papayas, sweet potatoes, beets, peanuts, beans, rice, and wheat. They also raised goats, chickens, pigs, and fish.

Maintaining human life and health in this artificial environment was much more difficult than expected. During the two year term mission, the eight person crew was only able raise 83% of their own food. This means that without emergency reserves of food brought in from the outside, they would have eventually died of starvation. Carbon dioxide levels went up and down quickly, and as a result, most of the animals, fish, and birds died. The crew had to constantly monitor carbon dioxide levels, grow more plants, and even used special machines to reduce carbon dioxide levels to a safe level. Oxygen levels dropped from 20.9% the same as in the earth’s atmosphere to a dangerously low 14.5% after 16 months of the 24-months experiment. The crew began to experience health problems and so additional oxygen had to be pumped into the building. Without the addition of oxygen from the outside, all living things would have died.

After the mission ended, they made improvements to the building to deal with the carbon dioxide problems. In another mission that lasted six months, they were able to produce enough food and did not have problems with oxygen or carbon dioxide.

One of the greatest lessons we can learn from the Biosphere 2 project, is that creating and maintaining an environment that can sustain living things, especially human life, requires more intelligence, planning, energy, and money than anyone expected. In biosphere 2, they struggled to manually control the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels but this is done automatically in Biosphere 1, which we know as our earth. We all live in Biosphere 1, the earth. We do not worry about our oxygen and carbon dioxide levels because they are maintained automatically.

Biosphere 2 required a lot of engineers and scientists to build and during the 2-year project, without outside assistance in the form of oxygen boosts, carbon dioxide management, electricity, and emergency food reserves, life in Biosphere 2 would have ceased in less than 2 years.

Some people mistakenly believe the universe and the earth were created by chance. However, the Biosphere 2 project is strong evidence that ecosystems that can sustain life require intelligent minds to create and intelligence to maintain.

Think about these verses:

Gen 1:1 NLT – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Job 5:10 NLT – He gives rain for the earth. He sends water for the fields.

Job 12:15 NLT – If he holds back the rain, the earth becomes a desert. If he releases the waters, they flood the earth.

Mat 6:25 NLT – “So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing?
Mat 6:26 NLT – Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are.
Mat 6:27 NLT – Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.
Mat 6:28 NLT – “And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,
Mat 6:29 NLT – yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
Mat 6:30 NLT – And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!
Mat 6:31 NLT – “So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing.
Mat 6:32 NLT – Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs,
Mat 6:33 NLT – and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.
Mat 6:34 NLT – “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

God not only created the universe He maintains it as well. The Biosphere 2 project demonstrates that complex ecosystems cannot happen by chance but instead, they must be planned and constructed by intelligent beings in such a way to provide an environment that can support life.

The Biosphere 2 experiment also shows us that maintaining the environment also requires intelligent beings to manage it directly or to design automatic control systems that can control it based on some kind of a program. The earth has an automatic management system.

Examples of Fine Tuning

Here are some examples of how God has designed the earth and the universe so that humans and other living things could live.

1. If the earth were 5% closer to the Sun, all the water would evaporate and all living things would die (Malcom Bowden).
2. If the earth were 1% farther away from the Sun, the oceans would freeze (Malcom Bowden)
3. If the Earth’s diameter were just 9% smaller, then nearly all of the Earth, due atmospheric difference, would be constantly covered by snow and ice (Dr. Duane Gish).
4. Gravity is very important to life. Too little gravity and we would fly off of the earth’s surface as it spins, too much and we would all be crushed. The force of gravity in our universe could possibly be extremely different that it is. However if it were different by even a very small amount, “our sun would not exist and therefore neither would we” To give you an idea about how precisely gravity must be balanced in order for the sun to exist we have to have big imaginations.

Imagine if someone could stretch a tape measure between the Sun and beyond the planet Pluto by 25%. This is a huge distance. The earth is 150 million kilometers from the sun. The distance between the Sun and Pluto is nearly 50 times longer than the distance between the Sun and the Earth.

Now imagine if someone could make a tape measure go between the Sun and the 25% beyond Pluto more than 100 trillion times. Somewhere on that tape measure that runs between the Sun and beyond Pluto 100 trillion times is a grain of rice. The grain of rice represents the force of gravity in our universe. The tape measure represents the entire range of the strength of gravity that are possible. If that grain of rice were moved by just 1 millimeter in either direction, the Sun would disappear and so would al living things. That is absolute precision. That is amazing balance.

Hugh Ross, who holds a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Toronto lists 93 examples of fine tuning or factors that must be perfectly balanced for life to exist in our universe.

This question must be answered, what or who is responsible for all of the fine tuning in the universe?

In another program, we discussed how living things are full of examples of technology from DNA that is superior to any man-made software, to microscopic flagellar motors that exceed the performance of any engine made by humans as well as the high technology found in birds, whales, dolphins, and fireflies that are superior to the technologies of the most advanced militaries in the world.

All of these high-tech living things live in a precisely balanced environment called the earth. When humans tried to manage a small-scale self-contained environment during the Biosphere 2 experiments in the 1990’s they found that constructing and maintaining a life-supporting environment was more difficult than they could have imagined.

The fact that the universe is fine-tuned, is confirmed by many scientists, not just Christian scientists.

Dr. Dennis Scania, the head of Cambridge University Observatories, has been quoted as follows:
“If you change a little bit, the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature-like the charge of on the electron-then the way the way life develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop. (Simpletoremember.com)

Dr. Michael Turner, astrophysicist at the University of Chicago is quoted as follows:
“The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bulls eye (of a target) on millimeter in diameter on the other side (of the universe) (Simpletoremember.com)

Physicist Paul Davis is also quoted as follows: “It is hard to resist the impression that the present structure of the universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alterations in numbers has been rather carefully thought out…The seemingly miraculous occurrence of these numerical values must remain the most compelling evidence for cosmic design. (Strobel, Case for the Creator 125).

The fact that so many factors that are critical to life must be precisely balanced, demonstrates that not only is it impossible that the universe was created by chance alone but it could not be maintained by chance alone either. Imagine that we could walk into a room and find a large control panel with 93 knobs on it. So far scientist such as Hugh Ross have listed 93 examples of fine-tuning in the universe that are critical to the existence of living things.

This imaginary control panel, controls the settings for the universe. Now, imagine that if you moved any of the 93 controls more than just a little bit, or at all in some cases, the universe, sun, stars, earth, and/or all living things would cease to exist. I am sure that if we discovered such a control panel, we would ask two questions. 1. Who made the control panel, because it could not happen by chance? 2. What intelligent being set all of the controls on this control panel to the precise levels so that life could exist?

There are some objections to this argument. One common objection is that there may be more than one universe and if there is more than one universe then, the living things in this universe were just lucky. Earth just happened to win the lottery. One way we can respond to this objection is to point out that there is absolutely no evidence that more than one universe exists. The only reason why people want to believe that there are multiple universes is because they do not want to follow the evidence of fine-tuning to its logical conclusion, that there is an Intelligent Designer, a God who made and manages the universe. While there is no evidence for multiple universes, there is a lot of evidence for the existence of God besides fine tuning. There is strong evidence for the Bible and there is strong evidence for Jesus Christ. There is also the evidence from many people from all over the globe from all times that have personally experienced God’s power in one way or another. The multi-universe objection to fine tuning is similar to the student who did not do his homework but told his teacher, “I did my homework, but the dog ate it.”

Another objection to the fine tuning evidence is that living things on earth adapted to the universe through chance, evolution, and natural selection. The universe was not adapted to the living things but the living things were adapted to the universe. For example, a tailor adjusts the clothes to fit the body but does not adjust the body to fit the clothes. Living things are the clothes that are adjusted to fit the universe’s body and not the other way around. One way to respond to this challenge is to point out that cloth will not form itself into a perfectly fitted shirt or pants, or even a poorly fitted shirt or pants by chance. If you see a shirt, you know that it did not happen by chance, someone, whether it was a tailor or a garment factory worker made it. The fact that living things are adapted to the universe does not disprove the evidence of fine-tuning of the universe but it actually shows us that God created a universe that things could live in, and then created living things that could live in the universe. A person can make a cabinet for plates and then make plates that will fit in the cabinet. The evidence that the dishes were made to fit in the cabinet does not mean that the cabinet was not made a specific size and shape so that a certain number of dishes that were made later, could fit in it perfectly.

A third objection to the fine-tuning argument is that there may be different kinds of life that are not carbon based life, as we have on earth. If so, these life forms may not need the same levels of gravity and 92 other factors that carbon-based life on earth needs. One way to respond to this objection is to point out that all living things on earth are based on carbon and that no other life forms have ever been discovered that were based on any other element such a silicone have ever been discovered anywhere. This idea is not constructed from the evidence but is merely a way to avoid the inescapable conclusion of the evidence.

If there are 93 factors such as gravity, liquid water, and correct distance from the sun that must be balanced. Let’s assume that each one of these factors had a 10% probability of coming about by chance. If we remember the fine tuning of gravity at 1 millimeter in more than 100 trillion times the distance between the Sun and Pluto, 10% is too high but for mathematical simplicity we will accept it. Therefore, the probability of all 93 factors that are necessary for life to happen by random chance alone at a single place and time in order to make life possible on the earth is 1 chance in a number so large we cannot even give it a name, we can only imagine a 1 with 93 zeros behind it.

These small odds of life being able to exist by chance let alone to have been brings Dr. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek’s book entitled, “I don’t have enough faith to be an athiest,” to mind.

Romans 1:20 says it best, “From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.”

Location of Earth

“Location, Location, Location” is the mantra of the real estate industry. The price and value of a particular house, building, or property is greatly influenced by its location. A small apartment in the right location in certain cities can have a higher value than a huge house in a bad location.

The same is true for astronomy and cosmology, the science-fields that study, planets, starts, galaxies, and ultimately the universe. The location of the earth is very important to those fields. If the earth were located in a different place in the Milky Way Galaxy, the sky could be too hazy to be able to see the sun, or the stars. Scientific research would be impossible. Scientists have also recently discovered that the same factors that make life possible on earth also make earth the best place in the galaxy if not the universe to make scientific observations. Is it only a coincidence that humans, who are capable of making intelligent observations about the universe, are living on a planet that is not only fine-tuned for life but also for scientific observation? Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, co-authors of the book entitled Privileged Planet do not think so. They argue that, “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best overall setting for making scientific discoveries.” They suspect that this is not an accident but an evidence of an Intelligent Designer, God.

According to Charles Beichman, Project Scientist for NASA’s (United States-National Air and Space Administration) Terrestrial Planet Finder Program and Bijan Nemati, a Physicist at Jet Propulsion Laboratories, the same laws of physics and chemistry that apply on earth to making life possible also apply on any other planet anywhere in the universe just as they do on earth. Therefore, the factors that are necessary for complex on earth would be the same factors necessary for complex life on any other planet.

Just as life on earth needs dry land, liquid water, and an oxygen rich atmosphere to survive, life on any other planet would need those things as well. In order to have these things, a planet needs to be within a specific range of distance from a star. If it is too close there will be no water, if it is too far away the water will freeze. However, liquid water is not the only factor that is necessary for life to survive, there are many other factors as well that need to all come together on a single planet all at the same time for complex living things to be able to survive.

According to Donald Brownlee, the Principal Investigator of NASA’s (National Air and Space Administration of the US Government) Stardust Mission and author of the book entitled Rare Earth, simple microscopic life could exist on other planets, but planets that could possibly host complex life such as humans, animals, and plants are very rare. Brownlee says, “If you compare all of the known places in the universe, none of them compare to earth. We live in a very special environment, which provides what we need, it provides air, it provides food, it provides stable conditions. So the earth is almost like a giant organism where systems are interacting in a way that allows animals to survive….If you look at thousands of planets, only a small fraction, a very small fraction will be earthlike.”

Complete solar eclipses occur when the moon comes between the earth and the sun at specific time and place. This rarely happens but when it does happen it has provided key information that have made it possible for scientists to make important discoveries about light, discovered elements such as helium, and has provided the basis for calculating distance in space. Perfect solar eclipses are rare but possible between the sun, moon, and earth but they are impossible from most other planets. In order, to have a perfect solar eclipse, the moon must be able to completely block the light of the sun. The sun is 400 times larger than the moon but the moon is 400 times closer to the earth than the sun so they appear to be the same size from the surface of the earth.

The size of earth’s moon and the earth’s distance between the earth and the sun are both critical to the survival of life on earth. The moon regulates earth’s climate and the earth is just the right distance from the sun to have liquid water. Therefore, the factors that make earth able to support intelligent life also make it possible for intelligent beings on earth to observe the universe. This relationship between earth’s special ability to support life and its ability to provide the perfect platform for scientific observation can also be seen in the precise location of the earth between the arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. The atmosphere of the earth, which is precisely tuned for both life and scientific discovery, is also extremely rare. The fact that the atmosphere allows in visible light while blocking the other kinds of radiation from spaces such as ultraviolet radiation is important for both life to exist and for scientists to be able to observe the universe.

When detectives investigate crimes to find out who committed the crime, they look for clues and evidence. A single fiber from a carpet can link a person to a specific vehicle or building, a single hair or drop of blood can provide DNA evidence that can prove beyond all reasonable doubt that a certain suspect was at the crime scene, even if the suspect denies it. A fingerprint in one place or another can be very powerful evidence for the guilt or innocence of a suspect. Eyewitnesses are another important part of the body of evidence that go together to make a strong case for a suspects guilt or innocence. Expert testimony and scientific research also comes into play.

During this program and other programs in this series, we have seen a lot of evidence from science that all point to one fact, the universe, the earth, and the living things on the earth, including humans, were not created by chance or accident. Instead, the evidence points to an intelligent creator, a being that is infinitely more intelligent and powerful than humans. The only being that fits that description is God. The case is even stronger because God, the only one that has the power and intelligence to create the universe and all that is in it has said that He was responsible for the creation of the universe. God clearly states that He alone created the universe in the Bible.

Some may mistakenly think that God is just one of many creators of the universe and that there are many gods. However, God denies this claim in the Bible. God is sufficiently powerful to have created the universe. The uniformity of the laws of chemistry and physics through-out the universe indicate that the entire universe came from a single mind, and that there is only one Creator God.

The words of the Psalmist reflect the evidence from the scientists:

Psa 19:1 NLT – The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.
Psa 19:2 NLT – Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
Psa 19:3 NLT – They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies;
Psa 19:4 NLT – yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it.

Strobel, Lee Case for the Creator, Zondervan,2004
Privileged Planet: Illustra Media