July 28, 2014

In Their Own Words XI: The Universe Knew We Were Coming

[More in an ongoing series about the profoundly ironic theological 
or philosophical quotes scientists or those in academia make. ]

Freeman Dyson is a theoretical physicist and mathematician. It is apparent he is a rather clever man that is good with words too. He is known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson stated in 2000 that he is a (non-denominational) Christian, and he has disagreed on numerous occasion with militant atheist Richard Dawkins criticizing Dawkins' understanding of evolution. Considering Dyson made the statement below 21 years before announcing he was Christian, it is not surprising be became one recently. It appears his mindset was already being swayed towards God in the 1970’s.
"…the universe is an unexpectedly hospitable place for living creatures to make their home in. Being a scientist, trained in the habits of thought and language of the twentieth century rather than the eighteenth, I do not claim that the architecture of the universe proves the existence of God. I claim only that the architecture of the universe is consistent with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its functioning.... The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming” ~ Freeman Dyson- Disturbing the Universe, 1979, pp. 250-251.
Dyson states, “The Universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.” What is Dyson saying here? Simple. He is (ironically) making an anthropomorphism about the Universe. An anthropomorphism is the designation of human characteristics or behavior to an object. By doing this Dyson is saying there has to have been sentience or thought (i.e.: design) behind the complexity and balance of the Universe / Creation. By making this anthropomorphism Dyson is inadvertently (or purposely) referring to the common argument for the existence of God called the Anthropic Cosmological Principle here. 

In Greek the word ἄνθρωπος  / anthropos means man or human. Therefore this principles says that, based on the observations of the known physical universe, the very nature of the universe itself is compatible with human life or specifically suited to support mankind. The universe did not have to become the way it did to cater to human life but it seemingly in a supernatural way...has done exactly that. It is tailored to support conscious life in the form of man (anthropos)

In other words it is remarkable that that the universe's fundamental constants happen to fall within a mathematically improbable and impossibly narrow range thought to be compatible with life, our livesFrank Tipler a mathematical physicist / cosmologist and John Barrow a Reformed Christian and English cosmologist / theoretical physicist / mathematician affirmed a similar belief in their 1986 book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.

According to the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, the Universe appears “fine-tuned”. It is “dialed in” in such a way that it is nearly impossible that the order that now exists in the universe couldn’t have possibly arose out of the chaos of the Big Bang. How suited is the universe for the existence of mankind?

The universe operates in accordance to exact physical laws. These physical laws allow man to calculate exact planetary orbits and exact properties of metals. These exact laws also allow us to predict when the moon will cause a solar eclipse. Strangely though science will concede that the universe has order but will not concede that it is design because design will require an intelligence that could design something as massive as the universe. It requires that they concede that there is a God.

It is a universe that is about 20 billion light-years in diameter. There are approximately 100-200 billion galaxies in the Universe (Lawton, 1981), and an estimated 25 sextillion stars or a 25 followed by 25 zeroes (25,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). The Milky Way galaxy alone contains over 100 billion stars. Traveling at the speed of light it would take 100,000 years to cross its diameter. Again, what is amazing is that all the matter in the universe this vast behaves in accordance to the same physical laws.

Our Sun gives off more energy in a single second than mankind has produced since the Creation. It also produces radiation, which can be deadly. Ironically, the Earth is located at exactly the correct distance from the Sun to receive the proper amount of heat and radiation to permit life on Earth. Conversely, if we were any closer to the Sun, human life could not survive because of the horrible heat and too much radiation. If the Earth were only 10 million miles closer, too much radiation and heat would kill life. If the Earth were only 10 million miles farther away too little heat would be hitting us and life would also die by freezing to death.

We are protect from 99% of the deadly radiation from the Sun due to our distance from it and also because of our atmosphere. In particular, the Mesosphere that is about 12 miles above the earth contains ozone which filters out nearly all of the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Other particles also bombard the Earth from outer space at an extremely high speed, but most of these protons and electrons are reflected back into space because the Earth acts as a giant magnet that pushes the particles away allowing life.

The Earth is rotating on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour at the equator, and moving around the Sun at 70,000 miles per hour (approximately 19 miles per second). This rotation provides periods of light and darkness called night and day…just as described in the Bible. It is also necessary for sustaining life. If the Earth rotated much faster, cyclones would consume the Earth. If the Earth turned slower, the days and nights would be insanely hot or cold. 

Furthermore, the Earth’s orbital speed and tilt are “just right.” The Earth tilted on its axis allows for seasons. The Earth’s orbit is actually elliptical. This means that sometimes the Earth is closer to the Sun than at other times. In January, the Earth is closest to the Sun; in July, it is farthest away. When it is closer, the Earth “speeds up” to avoid being pulled into the Sun; when it is farther away, it “slows down,” so that it remains in a position in space that is “just right.”

What is even more remarkable is that, as the Earth moves in its orbit around the Sun, it departs from a straight line by only one-ninth of an inch every eighteen miles. If it departed by one-eighth of an inch, we would come so close to the Sun that we would be incinerated; if it departed by one-tenth of an inch, we would find ourselves so far from the Sun that we would all freeze to death (Science Digest, 1981, p. 89,124).

As I said before the Earth tilts on its axis at 23.5 degrees. If it were not tilted as it is, but instead sat straight up in its orbit around the Sun, there would be no change of seasons. The tropics would be vastly hotter perhaps uninhabitable, and the deserts would get bigger. That would happen because the equatorial portion of the Earth would be perpetually close to the Sun. In turn the Polar Regions would be farther way and colder permanently.

Then we have the Moon which is 240,000 miles away. The Moon's largest effect on us is on the movement of the oceans tides and currents not to mention weather too because of its effects on the oceans. Stationary bodies of water stagnate so the moon prevents this. Stagnant water would inevitably kill life. This therefore maintains the balance in the food chain of the world’s bodies of water. If the moon were moved only 40,000 miles the tidal changes would be monstrous. There were either be constant deadly tidal waves or not enough water movement. In addition about 75% of the Earth surface is water. This of course makes the hydrological cycle work properly.

Water worldwide is constantly evaporating and condensing. This therefore causes rain to fall on the Earth and perpetuates the weather we see all over the Earth. Cloud cover regulates temperature by reflecting (or not) radiation (heat) back into space. This is why deserts are so hot (no reflection) and rainy climates tend to be a little bit cooler. Without cloud cover our world would quickly become uninhabitable like Mars. If there were too much cloud cover the greenhouse effect would go exponential and we would be like Venus. It is ironic that the extreme examples of what we might become are our closest neighbors in space. One too close to the sun with too much cloud cover and one too far away with no clouds to speak of.

The atmosphere on Earth is perfectly maintained in its dilution and mixture of gases too. How? By the plant and animal kingdoms. Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Animals depend upon the plants and trees for our oxygen supply. The balance of plants and animals is critical or both die. It in essence is a symbiotic relationship necessary for all life on Earth except for perhaps bacteria.

I could go on because the startling balance for life still has finer points to elaborate about, but you get the picture. I guess it’s all one big accident or one big case of luck that all this stuff would balance precariously on the thin edge of a razor so it works properly...so that it works perfectly. Is it statistically possible that it could’ve been possible without a Designer? Yes, I suppose it could but the odds of it happening and the amount of time it would’ve taken for all of this to happen by chance are statistically….impossible

Hugh Ross once calculate that there were 122 known constants necessarily for life. The chances that even two or three of these would align to work together, well, the odds of those happening boggle the mind of this rational man. The chance of all these constants accidentally popping up out of the chaos of the universe is 1 in 10 to the 138 power. That's a 1 with 138 zeroes behind it. 

Like I said, impossible.

So let us re-ask the question with one additional caveat. Is it possible? Yes. Is it plausible or probable? No. When we throw in the possibility that life could’ve actually arisen on our planet in the complexity that it has to produce self-conscious life that can even pose these questions of self-existence stretches the meaning of credible belief. Sometimes its easier to believe in God over the godless alternatives.

Well, you do the math, I’m not going to bother. It seems rather pointless. Pointless, just as radical atheist science claims the existence of life is. In reality they are claiming we are all one big pointless statistical accident. The numbers alone tell me otherwise, never mind common sense.

Dyson, Freeman, Disturbing the Universe, 1979, pp. 250-251.

Science Digest, p.89 [1]: Issue 124, January/February (1981)

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