Does Science Argue for or Against God?

vastness-of-the-universe

If you haven’t viewed this short video below before, please do, you may be surprised….

As scientists learn more and more about the world around us and the universe, they are learning how incredibly synchronized, interconnected, and interdependent every little aspect is.

In fact, some are saying that according to the laws of physics and chemistry, we shouldn’t even be here.

In 1966, astronomer and famous promoter of science, Carl Sagan announced that there were two requirements for life to be possible on a planet. He said you had to have a certain type of star like our Sun and you had to have your planet a certain distance from the star. Given there were 10(exp 27) stars in the universe that would mean there were about 10(exp 24) planets where life could exist. Surely we were not the only life. Our planet was just a “pale blue dot”, tiny, and insignificant. Humans were insignificant in any scheme of things.

But since that time, scientists have kept discovering more and more parameters that are requirements for life to come into existence. The number of parameters required went up to 10, then 20, then 50. One Christian apologist, Dr. Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist, has compiled 200 parameters [1] that must be met by any planet that could possibly support life such as us. That was over 10 years ago. The list link is provided below.

What started out as 10(exp24) possible planets for life, kept shrinking and shrinking and shrinking until it hit zero, zip, nada. Then it kept right on going! In other words, the probability that any planet at all, even ours, could exist and support life became more and more impossible. We shouldn’t even be here!

Check out these two links for long lists of the necessary parameters along with detailed explanations.

Does Life Exist On Any Other Planet In The Universe? Another Look At SETI
http://www.konkyo.org/English/DoesLifeExistOnAnyOtherPlanetInTheUniverseAnotherLookAtSETI

Fine-Tuning For Life On Earth (Updated June 2004). (Lists 154 parameters necessary.)
http://www.reasons.org/articles/fine-tuning-for-life-on-earth-june-2004

Let me give you some examples. It turns out that not any old galaxy could allow life to exist. Actually it will have to be a spiral galaxy. It will have to be a certain size, not too big, and not too small. It will have to be a certain age, not too old and not too young. These facts would eliminate an estimated 90% of galaxies as candidates for a planet that could support life.

Next, some more parameters about the necessary star were discovered for life to be supported. It would have to be situated in the right location in the galaxy. It has to be located in a narrow region between the spiral arms of the spiral galaxy. If it is too close to the center, it will be destroyed because it will travel too fast and run into one of the spiral arms. If it is too far away, it will travel too slow and be destroyed as well. It can’t be in one of the spiral arms either.

There is a nice name given to all these amazing coincidences: the “Goldilocks” parameters, as in “not too hot, and not too cold, just right.”

The star has to be a single star. 75% of the stars in our galaxy are double stars or multiples. So they get eliminated. A planet can’t exist for long unless the star is single due to the irregular gravity. Also, the star has to be the right size, and the right mass, and the right age. It can’t be too hot or too cold. It can’t burn erratically and send off varying amounts of energy. The star has to be formed at just the right time in the history of the galaxy or the right chemicals for life won’t exist.

The planet that can support life must be in a very narrow zone around the star. It can’t be too close or it will get sucked in or burned up. It can’t be too far away or it will be too cold. It also has to be tipped on its axis approximately 23 degrees to allow for seasons and the right climate for life to grow in a large habitable zone.

Since life first began on earth, the sun’s luminosity has increased about 15%. Normally this would destroy all living things, but because life was growing and absorbing CO2and other greenhouse gases, it was perfectly synchronized. Life was able to flourish. A very life supporting temperature has been maintained as life developed and exactly because that life was developing. It never got too cold or too hot. Going too far in either direction would have started a chain reaction leading to destruction of life.

Most stars as they revolve around the center of their galaxy also oscillate up and down. This is bad for life because the center of a galaxy sends off lots of radiation. It is extremely fortunate for us that there are lots of cosmic dust clouds to shield our sun from the radiation coming from the center of the Milky Way and also that our sun does not oscillate up and down too much. If it did, we’d die from radiation.

Obviously we need lots of water for life. If the earth moved just 2% closer or farther from the sun, there would be no more water.

The gravitational pull of the earth is exactly right for keeping water vapor trapped, but also amazingly and precisely right for letting methane and ammonia escape from the earth. These gases would be deadly. A few percentage points change in that and we all die.

The earth rotates on its axis every 24 hours. This is perfect. Any slower and we would be frozen or toasted, depending on which side you were on. Any faster and the winds would blow us away.

The earth is tilted on its axis 23.4 degrees. This is again perfect. More tilt and the climate would go crazy. Less tilt and the amount of livable space would be very small.

And then there’s our Moon. It has many, many significant parameters that are just right. For example, if it was not a an abnormally large size for a moon or the exact distance which it is, we’d all be dead.

Did you know that you owe your life to the planet Jupiter? It is estimated that Earth would be struck by large meteors 1,000 times more often if not for Jupiter, obviously resulting in huge catastrophes and death. Jupiter is just the right size and in the right position to protect the Earth. If it were bigger, it would suck us away from the sun. If it were smaller, it would not shield us as well. Jupiter and Saturn have very nice smooth orbits which is to our benefit. If their orbits were a little more erratic, they’d pull us out of our orbit and you guessed it, we’d die.

All the gases in our atmosphere, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, etc. seem to be in exactly the right proportions to sustain life. A little more oxygen and we could never put out all the fires.

The Earth has so many “Goldilocks” parameters that it is really mind boggling. The tectonic plates are necessary. The molten core is necessary for life. The earthquakes are necessary. The correct ratio between oceans and land masses is necessary.

So you can decide for yourself of course what you are going to believe, is this all really random chance? But you certainly have to admit that the odds of all these factors occurring so that life could emerge are almost infinitesimally small. Dr. Hugh Ross put the odds at 1 in 10(exp 42). There are an estimated 10(exp 27) stars in the whole universe. Let me write those odds out for you; 1 chance in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. He also said that was an optimistic estimate because he was generous when assigning the odds to each parameter.

Could we really be that lucky? There are many scientific scholars who think not. Are they in the minority, yes they are but the list is growing.

Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago.

The question that ID poses is not “might there be an intelligent designer?” so much as “is there evidence of intelligent design?” Yet the first thing ID opponents always bring up is that design implies a designer. For atheists, such a designer could only be God. (Or as Richard Dawkins said in Expelled, since God almost certainly does not exist, the designer must be an alien from outer space who was himself naturalistically evolved. Obviously, Dawkins brought up that alternative to dismiss it.)

Why are scientists, who supposedly only care about the physical world, up in arms about the religious implications of their work?

The problem is the ideological refusal to separate science from ideology.  Supposedly, pure science just explores what is and does its best to explain observed facts with theories. Physical science uses natural law for its explanations, and it has down spectacularly well, especially in the last 400 years. Pasteur’s germ theory of disease is an outstanding example of a very useful discovery which has saved countless lives.

But when it comes to the question of human origins, there is no escape from the implications of any theory. It is generally agreed that there are only two possibilities:

  1. that life “evolved” entirely because of physical causes; or,
  2. that some other cause is responsible for life’s existence

In the physical sciences, methodological naturalism is the favoured approach. Scientists choose to consider only physical forces and principles. Natural selection is one such principle, and all biologists accept it. But even here we have a distinction that defines what is accepted and what is rejected by biologists who adhere to ID. Does intelligent design completely reject Darwinian evolution? Two answers – short and long.

Short answerNo. Some biological structures may have resulted from a combination of both design and evolution. Most intelligent design proponents accept microevolution but question if macroevolutionary changes are possible. Intelligent design theory questions if evolution can produce irreducibly complex structures. Thus, intelligent design holds that evolution is not capable of producing all aspects of life.

Long answer: There are two fundamentally different possible causes for how humans have come to exist: blind natural processes (chance-law) or purposeful intelligent design.

The two mechanisms are not wholly mutually exclusive over time, for some entities in the natural world may have come to their present forms due to some combination of chance-law and design. However, the two views stand in stark contrast to one-another as fundamentally different mechanisms for human origins. Some aspects of biology changes may very well be the result of Darwinan evolution (i.e. the mutation-natural selection mechanism), but some aspects of life may be due to design. Thus, in general, an organism life could be a combination of both forces at work on a species.

In particular, many proponents of intelligent design believe that microevolution is a strong force shaping life, but question if many macroevolutionary changes can be explained through the Darwinian mechanism. The term “evolution” simply means “change through time,” but there are two types of evolution: macroevolution and microevolution. Microevolution is “slight, short-term evolutionary changes within species.” (Futuyma, D., Evolutionary Biology, glossary, 1998) For example, within humans, there are different eye colors, hair colors, and skin colors. These are the result of microevolution. Macroevolution is “the origin and diversification of higher taxa” (Futuyma, D., Evolutionary Biology, pg. 447, 1998) or, “evolutionary change on a grand scale, encompassing [among other things] the origin of novel designs…” (Campbell, N. A., Reece, J. B., Mitchell, L. G., Biology 4th ed., pg. G-13, 1999). There is thus a fundamental difference in kind between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution involves minor changes within a specific species whereas macroevolution involves the evolution of one species into another different species.

What we see with evolution, of course, is an array of distinct “kinds” of plants and animals with many varieties within each kind, but with very clear and — apparently — unbridgeable gaps between the kinds. That is, for example, there are many varieties of dogs and many varieties of cats, but no “dats” or “cogs.” Such variation is often called microevolution, and these minor horizontal (or downward) changes occur fairly often, but such changes are not true “vertical” evolution.

Evolutionary geneticists have often experimented on fruit flies and other rapidly reproducing species to induce mutational changes hoping they would lead to new and better species, but these have all failed to accomplish their goal. No truly new species has ever been produced, let alone a new “basic kind.”

What intelligent design does reject is that the notion that mutation and natural selection (combined with any other natural mechanism) is sufficient to produce or explain all aspects of life. Rather than stifling scientific progress, intelligent design frees scientific explanations to being bound to purely naturalistic causes, which in many cases are proving impotent. In recognizing that intelligent design is a sufficient and acceptable cause for the origin of biological complexity, intelligent design adds a new valid dimension to potential explanatory causes for life.

It should be noted that although ID and evolution are compatible on the general level (i.e. life could be the result of both evolution AND Intelligent Design), on the specific case-by-case level, intelligent design is NOT compatible by evolution. A given nucleotide sequence either is the product of design or natural selection. That which is the product of design cannot be the product of natural selection, and visa versa. Thus, on the specific level, ID is not compatible with evolution. As William Dembski said during a talk at UCSD in 2001, “as far as the Darwinian mechanism goes, blessings to it.” Dembski thinks its blessings stop at a certain point, and the information content at that point is so high, Dembski thinks it points to design.

Here is a link that provides some Intelligent Design websites to get you started if you are interested in looking into this further: intelligent_design_websites

 

 

 

 

 

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About

Follower of Jesus, married with 5 grown up children, 6 grand children, ex-military and residing in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. a.k.a. "Papa"

Posted in Apologetics, Christian, Intelligent Design, Religion, Science and the Bible

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