Come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

earth

I so was fascinated by this opinion piece in yesterday’s paper that I have shared all but a few sentences from the article by Eric Metaxas, Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God:

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…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….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.

Find entire opinion article here: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God


 

Comments

  1. It’s a pretty classical argument from ignorance, in other words, a fallacy. It’s like watching the lottery, not knowing the actual chances of winning, not knowing how many people are playing, not knowing how often it is played, etc. – and then deciding that the winner must have cheated because of a vague feeling that the chances are to slim.

    The sad truth is, that we don’t know. We don’t know what POSSIBLE values are for the constants. We don’t know how many universes are POSSIBLE. We don’t know how many actually EXIST. We don’t know. And that’s totally fine. Perhaps some things we will never know. But trying to make an argument from things we don’t know is like making cookies from stuff you don’t have… Not likely to taste well…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must admit that I somewhat resent the idea that if Science says so, then it must be true.

    Call me a rebel, but rationality can only take us so far. I work with people who will only send out e-blasts on Tuesdays because research shows that’s the best day for the most amount of opens. It’s tiresome to live in a culture that thinks every step we take must be rationalized through research and statistics.

    I love science when it can admit to its own limitations and own up to its history of mistaken truthiness and tone down the materialistic one-sidedness that currently dominates not only acceptable theories, but the application of its financial resources as well.

    Popular scientists are very good at claiming their own expertize while keeping out competing views. I suppose what bothers me the most about the cultural influence of science as the “good guy,” is how easily we forget its dark side that brings us the technology of war, GMOs and pesticides. Just because science thrills us and indeed has brought us many wonderful life-enhancing/saving technologies, must we also give it a free pass as a moral authority?

    In other words, I’m not waiting for science to prove that God exists because outside of the range of their expertize, which is limited to what is measurable, quantifiable and profitable, they don’t have any more access than the rest of us to all that cannot be measured and quantified. The nature of our experience as living conscious beings lies in mystery as long as we are incapable of being outside of our own experience.

    And finally, I can’t answer the question of whether or not God exists without first defining what god is. If God is understood as an infinite source of our being, what definition could we possibly we give that could contain something so vast and unknowable?

    But, even without an absolutely sure way to answer the God question, I think it’s a worthy endeavor to ponder the very nature of existence. To wonder about something that, in spite of tens of thousands of years of wondering, is yet to be understood, levels the playing field between not only scientists and the rest of us, but between all humanity, regardless of time, place, beliefs or the lack there of. It also serves as a reminder that because we live in mystery, thankfully, we don’t know everything.

    Can you tell I like this subject?

    Liked by 1 person

    • If “Science” (let’s assume that’s scientific consensus) says so, then we know, that it’s, for the moment, the best thing we know. Not automatically true, but at least probably tru-ish (as in “not completely wrong”), because it means, that there is a theory behind it (in the scientific sense, not as in “something someone made up from thin air”) that has been tested and not found to be wrong – yet.

      Of course science is limited to the things we can somehow perceive and measure, of course. It does not say something about things that have absolutely no discernible influence on reality. Is that bad? And people may consider something absolutely true, but the scientific principles effectively prevent that – but people will always be people, of course. But if you listen to science, you will only get “true enough – for now” and never “absolutely true”.

      And war, the bogey man for science. Unfortunately for your argument, science does not bring war. People bring war, but I have yet to see the scientific theory that tells us to wage war. But perhaps you wanted to say that science brings us better weapons? Well, in fact, most of the weapons ever invented were more an engineering feat than a scientific (science tells you about that and this exothermic reaction – then it needs an engineer to say “Let’s build a canon” – and then a politician who decides to fire that canon on people instead of using it, for example, to send people to the moon). All that science brings us is knowledge, nothing more. It does not give us wisdom to use it, but HOW we use it is on us an cannot be blamed on science.

      The attack on GMOs tells us much more about yourself than about science, but honestly, I don’t intend to open that can of worms here, neither will I do with pesticides.

      Anyway, no, science is no moral authority. Morality is a human concept, so science may be able to reach your moral goals, by telling you, for example, HOW to make a human being happy – but it cannot tell you, WHY. That is one for philosophers.

      As for god, science does not talk about it. The only thing it can say, is, that is has found no evidence for any god(s) – yet. Nothing more, nothing less. And to conclude from the limitations of science to the existence of a god would be folish, of course, as it would be just another argument from ignorance. But asking some philosophical questions does not level the playing field, if you ask me, as you are not even playing the same game…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Smiling. Yes, I can tell you like this subject. I’ve read and re-read your comments over the last few days and have found it both enlightening and insightful. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Debra.

        Like

      • Dear Twisted Inspiration, your handle may include “Twisted” but I would re-coin it as Thoughtful. You operate at a (much) deeper mental playing field than I do and could aspire to. I’ve re-read your comments 5x or so in the last few days and you have enlightened me. Thank you for taking the time to share your comments. (I keep wanting to use the word Brilliant, so here it is: Brilliant.)

        Like

  3. We saw “The Theory of Everything” last night – and my head is still in the thoughts of the universe and time, hope and the presence of God..this was so timely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How it all came about and works together is mind blogging, but the thought that there is no higher being…”God” that is a tough one to for me to believe. Thanks for posting this David.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Still stuck on “feel free to gulp.” God, no God, random accident, carefully orchestrated plan. People can (and will) argue both sides of the equation for millennia. All I know is that I am repeatedly startled by the things I encounter in my time on this great orb, and ever so grateful for the time and experiences I’ve been granted…..

    Liked by 3 people

  6. having faith is the hardest thing in the world except for not having faith (My opinion only)–science has limitations as we are the ones who “practice” it

    Liked by 1 person

  7. something beyond oneself. the key to life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This article brought to my mind the quote: “As Above, So Below” – Hermes Trismegistus
    The closest that we will ever come to understand what the Universe is, or what Life is, is when we “look within”, beyond our conceptual framework of our false identity or ego.
    The movement of Life, and the workings of the Universe is best understood by understanding our True Self, the very essence of Everything.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is more than a fallacy. If scientific researches would continue this way, then the universe has all the reasons to limit science classes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on The Think Tank and commented:
    The mind is such a valuable asset we each have. It ability to grasp the true nature of life, not to be swayed by someones individual agenda to prove the unprovable, lies within each of us. While some will choose to accept a given theory as proof based on a need for personal comfort and desires, some will challenge man’s desire to discredit creation when all odds point in the direction of creation. What is it that makes man take a positions that in the end has all the odds stacked against it? Why do our sciences try so hard to prove there is no God, no Creator, that this universe just happened? When instead they could use the idea of God and that all was created to set the foundation for science. To have a desire to understand how it works is the same in either case. If we were created, we have meaning. If we just happened then maybe we don’t. Thoughts to ponder don’t you think!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. David – great post. I had to reblog this. The mind and how we choose to control it is left to each of us as individuals. To allow oneself to leave the comfort zone, to challenge what we hear, to approach the topic of creation and evolution with a desire to learn and not to allow anyone’s personal agenda to sway us one way or the other is how a true foundation is built. It takes faith to believe either way you choose. The question is where will one place their faith. Do we place it in something that has meaning or something that trys to prove we have no meaning? Other questions could be asked that continue to cloud the subject, but when you really peal the layers back, you will make a decision that our life counts for something or it doesn’t. We were either created for a reason or we just happened and live and die with no real purpose. One builds a home with plans live in it and bring a family together with love. It doesn’t just happen. Great mind jolting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Bill. I always look forward to your insights. And thanks for re-blogging.

      I have read your comment several times and marinated in “to approach the topic of creation and evolution with the desire to learn” without being swayed….and “it takes faith to believe in either way you choose.” Your thoughts remind me of:

      The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

      ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

      Thanks again Bill for forcing me to sit back and digest…

      Like

      • Thanks David for you for your words of wisdom. Sometimes I think we fear we will lose our direction if we allow ourselves the liberity to openly investigate both sides of an argument, when just the opposite is the result. We reinforce our convictions or alter our course in the right direction. In either case we can begin to understand opposing points of view and why they are opposite of your own.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I have never really known what to think, always flip flopping back and forth, but then I watched the show Naked and Afraid, and to think that humans survived in this very harsh environment (yet the only one that can sustain life!) without someone else, something more than “luck” and “evolution” is a bit ridiculous. Great share, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dave,
    I just signed up to follow your blog. The post that most drew me in was this one. I invite you to my blog, http://www.amlifcar41.wordpress.com, “Crossroads-Right Choices,” and ask that you read my posts titled “Food For Thought.” I think you will find the topic interesting and that it adds empirical proof-(that has been kept quite the secret)- to the information in this fine post.
    -Alan

    Like

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