When Mere Coincidence Fails to Explain

By Bob Davis

What are the odds that we are alive by chance? Is the universe fine-tuned?

My wife, Pattie, likes to experiment with recipes. Sometimes she will tinker with the quantity of cooking oil, substitute honey for sugar, or add a variety of nuts or fruit to a dish. Invariably, it’s healthier—or so I am told—and sometimes it’s even just as tasty.

Imagine, however, a recipe that came with this warning: “Do not vary ingredients, quantities, temperatures, or cooking time by even the slightest amount, or it will result in immediate death!” To take this example a step further, what if our survival required we eat only one particular food? We might say that food is “fine-tuned for human life.”

Well, scientists are discovering—almost daily it seems—that the recipe for making and maintaining advanced life is nothing short of this. It seems as if the universe were made to support human life. The term philosophers and scientists use for this phenomenon is the “anthropic principle.”1

A Fine-Tuned World

One scientist has identified several hundred conditions within our world that, if varied in the slightest, would result in the impossibility of human life.2 For many of these conditions, the sheer degree of precision is hard to fathom. It would be equivalent to a recipe requiring us to count individual grains of sugar, measure molecules of milk, and calculate to the thousandths of a degree the temperature of the oven and the correct fraction of a second for it to shut off.

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Fine-tuning appears everywhere. Scientists see it in everything from the structure of the entire universe to subatomic particles. From the presence of fine-tuning emerges an argument for the existence of a Creator outside of time itself. Often this Creator is believed to possess supernatural knowledge, power, and even love for the human species.

The Laws of Physics

The universe has unfolded following unchanging laws of physics. Scientists and biblical scholars agree that the laws of physics existed prior to the beginning of the universe. In fact, you might be surprised to know that in Jeremiah 33:25–26, the prophet mentions this principle, almost in passing, to compare God’s unchanging love for his people to his unchanging laws that govern our world.3

What science has revealed since the time of Jeremiah is that these laws are exquisitely fine-tuned to permit the universe to exist. Astronomer Hugh Ross has identified hundreds of fine-tuning parameters necessary for human life, which point toward intelligent design. Let’s consider those that have to do with the laws of physics themselves (as compared to the scores of other fine-tuning parameters that have to do with the design of the universe, our galaxy, the solar system, our planet, and biology.) The three most common forces that must be “just right” are gravity, the strong nuclear force, and the electromagnetic force…

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