Recently we looked at the Teleological Argument in biology in DNA. As we continue the discussion on the Teleological Argument, I wanted to look at design in the universe. No matter if you are looking at the solar system or the entire universe you can see design and intelligence.
When you are looking for signs of intelligent design there are 3 key factors that you will need: Contingency, Complexity, and Specification. If something were designed we would expect to see evidence of contingency. (Meaning it did not result from a meaningless unintelligent process.) If something were designed , we would expect to see evidence of complexity. (With many working parts) And if something were designed, we would expect to see evidence of specificity. (A detailed, precise pattern commonly associated with intelligent causes.) Just as we can see those 3 factors in DNA, we can also see them within the universe.
There are two levels at which you can look at intelligent design in the universe. First it seems that earth is fine-tuned for life within the realm of our solar system. There are many razor-thin factors that make life on earth possible. Here are a few examples of what I am referring to.
1. Temperature – The earth is the perfect distance from sun. If the earth was any closer or further away to the sun, life on earth would be out of the temperature range and not contingent for life.
2. Size – The earth size, rotational speed, atmosphere, and tilt are just right for life to exist on the earth. If it were slightly different we would not be able to sustain life on earth.
3. The moon – Without a moon that causes tides aerating oceans and oxygen for fish & plankton sea life would not be able to exist. The tides also clean the oceans of trash and contaminates. During the months following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico scientists watched carefully the raw crude oil that was in the water. After about a year had gone by the ocean had self cleaned itself and life was returning back to normal. The moon also acts as a shield protecting the earth from various space debris that come close to the earth in the solar system.
4. Water – Without water life would not exist. When NASA sends spacecraft to other places within our solar system they look for the presence of water or ice. Water covers about 70% of the surface of the earth. In connection with the temperature and atmosphere the water cycle would not be possible and would not make plant and animal life possible on the land.
5. Oxygen – Oxygen is the most plentiful element on the earth. It makes up about 90% of the earths total weight. (In water and the atmosphere) Oxygen is not only needed for animal life to breathe but in the upper atmosphere paired with a 3rd Oxygen molecule we have Ozone. The Ozone layer helps protect the earth from harmful radiation from the sun. You are probably familiar with oxygen and carbon-dioxide cycle, where plant life breathes in CO2 and give off O2. Animal life breathes in O2 and breathes out CO2. The earth had to be perfectly balanced between plant and animal life in order for both to survive. This principle is called the Anthropic Principal.
6. Gravity – Gravity is the unexplained force in nature. It is present all over the universe. It controls the rotation of the planets around the sun and the rotation of the moons around the planets. On a larger scale, it controls the movement of all the galaxies in the universe. If Gravity was slightly different the sun would burn to fast and we not have a sun to heat the earth.
7. Lighting – Lightning happens on average about 100,000 times a day around the planet. All plants need nitrogen as food to grow and when lightning strikes the earth it takes nitrogen from the air and deposits it in the soil.
8. Jupiter – Jupiter is the earth’s shield. Because it is the largest planet in our solar system it acts similar to the moon as a shield protecting us from comets, space debris, asteroids that may come in a path with the earth. The large gravity of Jupiter acts like a magnet and pulls these things towards Jupiter.
9. Galaxies – In order for life to be possible we must be in the right type of galaxy with the appropriate types of stars and heavenly bodies. No only the right type of galaxy, but also the right place within the galaxy.
What happens when you try to assign a probability to all these factors. Roger Penrose, professor at Oxford, says it is an impossibility because the number of digits would be greater than the total number of elementary particles in the know universe. The level of precision dwarfs our human comprehension.
One objection to the idea that the solar system is fine-tuned and intelligently designed is that it only appears to be at the surface, but that evolution can explain for the illusion of design. In other words, it only looks intelligently design, but in reality it is only how things have come to be. Darwinian evolutionist say that just because we exist in the universe doesn’t mean that we are special and valued.They contend that if the tape of evolution were rewound through time that it is possible that something else may have evolved differently and they two would question there existence. Too bad we don’t have access to that evolutionary tape.
Think about this example from apologist, Sean McDowell. Imagine you purchase tickets to a football game. Upon arrival at the stadium you find your seat and sit down to watch the game. After talking for a while with your neighbors you slowly discover that everyone in your seat section is sitting in alphabetic order, and greater still after more investigation you learn that everyone in the whole stadium is seated alphabetically. The uniqueness of this grand scheme demands an explanation. Who did this? Someone was playing with the computer perhaps? Philosopher John Leslie uses a firing squad illustration. Imagine you were standing before a firing squad of 50 gunmen. The order is given to fire, but for some reason you are still alive and not shot. Your survival demands an explanation and so does fine-tuning.
Another objection by atheist, Richard Dawkins who admits that there is no present natural explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe, but claims that hardly accounts for God. Dawkins argues that accepting the design argument leads to “Who designed the designer?” The problem with this argument is this, can science only accept things if they can explain them? Or if they have explanations? Science must come to a point that they accept what evidence they do have and deny the request for further proof. For example; an archaeologist who finds a ancient object that looks like a arrow head or a tool for digging. Even if she/he cannot explain the origin or the identity of the designer. If the evidence for design is compelling she could not dismiss the design hypothesis.
Critics also argue that if the laws of physics were different then some other non-carbon based life form could have existed. Besides being entirely speculative, many of the fine-tuning instances and arguments are not based or rely on being carbon-based.
This brings us to the second level at which you can look at intelligent design in the universe. Why are the laws of physics defined as what they are? Why is the expansion rate of the universe (the cosmological constant) what it is? What about the 4 fundamental forces of nature? (Gravity, Electromagnetic force, The strong and weak nuclear force) Just as we see in DNA in life that there had to be a programmer to put in the code for life, where did the code for the laws of physics come from?
Darwinian evolutionists are trying to answer the intelligent design argument with the idea of the Multiverse or the Grand Design, which has been popularized by Stephen Hawking in his latest book entitled The Grand Design. Using the standard model in physics and other theories, like string theory, they are attempting to take our universes laws of physics and show that it is basically nothing special in a realm where multiple universes exist. Is your head hurting yet? I will spend more time explaining this in a upcoming post.
As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.