The earth is amazingly fitted to sustain human life. There are a narrow range of values in a variety of different categories that permit life to exist on planet earth. The probability that these perfect conditions appeared by chance is astronomical. For that reason, the finely tuned nature and situation of the earth is evidence of design.
Premise A: The fine-tuning of the earth for the existence of all life is due to either chance,
necessity or design.
Premise B: The fine-tuning of the earth is not due to chance or necessity.
Premise C: Therefore, the fine-tuning of the earth is due to design.
Premise D: If there is design, there must be a designer.
Conclusion: Therefore, a designer exists. This designer is God.
Scientists have discovered more than seventy-five different finely tuned details in our world that are each essential for life to exist. If even one of these conditions were slightly “out of tune,” life on the planet would be rendered impossible. Mathematicians have calculated the probability of all seventy-five of these details happening perfectly by chance is less than 1 in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. Here are some of those conditions that make life possible:
1. The distance between earth and the sun. This planet is set at precisely the right distance from the sun. If the earth was a million miles closer to the sun, we would all burn up. If the earth was a million miles further away from the sun, we would all freeze.
2. The composition of the atmosphere–oxygen. The atmosphere is 21% oxygen. If oxygen was 25% of the atmosphere, fires would spontaneously combust. If oxygen was only 15% humans would suffocate.
3. The composition of the atmosphere—carbon dioxide. If there was more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect would quickly overrun humans and there would not be enough oxygen to breath. If there was less carbon dioxide, plants would not be able to handle photosynthesis.
4. Gravity. The gravitational force acting on the earth is so finely tuned that if it was changed by 1 part in 1040 (10 followed by forty zeros), the sun would run out of fuel and be unable to sustain life and the moon would either crash into the earth of escape into space.
5. Centrifugal force of our Solar system. If the centrifugal force of the solar system did not exactly match the gravitational pull of the sun, no planets would be able to maintain their orbits.
6. The placement of the Solar system in our galaxy. If our solar system was farther from the middle of the galaxy, solid planets would not be able to form. If we were closer to the center of the galaxy, stellar density would make our orbit impossible.
7. The situation and size of Jupiter. The planet Jupiter is in the perfect orbit to act as a gravitational field that protects earth from asteroids and comets.
8. The size of the moon and its distance from earth. If the moon was larger or closer to the earth, tides would be much stronger and would wash away our coast lines. If the moon was smaller, or farther away, the plants along the coastline would be unable to survive the lack of nutrient movement.
9. The surface gravity of the earth. If the surface gravity of the earth was stronger, too much ammonia and methane would be retained. If the earth’s gravity was weaker, the atmosphere would lose too much water and would soon be unable to sustain life.
10. The thickness of the earth’s crust. If the crust was thicker, it would absorb too much oxygen for life to be supported. If the crust was thinner, there would be so much volcanic activity and movement of the tectonic plates that life would be rendered impossible.
11. The precise tilt of the earth’s axis. The tilt of the axis is perfect for maintaining earth’s temperature and gives us the seasons of the year. If the earth was tilted a few degrees more in either direction, life on earth would become impossible.
12. The rotation of the earth. If it took more than twenty-four hours for the earth to rotate, it would cause huge temperature swings between day and night. If the rotation of the earth was accelerated, it would cause substantial atmospheric wind velocities.
13. The planetary ecosystem. The rain falls, waters the plants, runs down rivers to the ocean, evaporates, and falls again. This water cycle is just one of many cycles including the nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon cycles. There are cycles of summer and winter, and cycles of birth and death. The consistency of these cycles is necessary to make life possible.
14. Proton decay. If a proton decayed any faster, humans would die from radiation. If protons decayed any slower, there would not be enough matter in the universe for life to exist.
15. The polarity of water molecules. If a water molecule had any greater polarity, life could not exist. If a water molecule had less polarity, ice would not float, and it would continue to build up until the whole planet was frozen over.
And that is just fifteen of seventy-five necessary conditions for life to exist. How did such precision come about? There are only two possible explanations: random chance or intentional design. The mathematical probability of life’s conditions arising by random chance are so astronomically small as to approach impossibility. So great is the improbability that it takes more faith to believe in random chance than it does to believe in an intelligent Creator.
Atheists respond to the evidence of the finely tuned universe by pointing to the anthropic principle. This principle proposes that the appearance of fine-tuning is only an idea that humans have who can observe their universe. If no humans existed to observe the fine-tuning, the fine-tuning would effectively not exist. Therefore, life exists in the universe, not because of design, but because the universe had the capacity to eventually support life in one of its solar systems (or where multiverse theory is brought in, in one of any possible universes). Richard Dawkins referred to this principle when he wrote, “However improbable the origin of life might be, we know it happened [without God’s help] on Earth because we are here.”
An early response to the argument of design was written by Voltaire (1694-1778) in his short novel, Candide. Leibniz (1646-1716), a contemporary philosopher and mathematician, optimistically argued that the universe was the best possible world that God could have created. In rebuttal, Voltaire penned his satire in which the protagonist air-headedly asserts, “Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” One character, the naive professor, Pangloss, points out that the existence of noses proves there is a creator because noses are perfectly designed to fit glasses. With similar irony, Douglass Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, mocks the argument from design when he tells the story of a puddle of water that wakes up one day and is pleased to find that his hole is perfectly designed to fit him.
But such responses, rather than dealing with the facts of fine-tuning, simply avoid them. Imagine standing in front of a ten-gun firing squad. the command rings out: “Ready!—Set!—Fire!” All ten guns report, but you are not hit by any bullets. Undoubtedly, you would be surprised to find yourself still alive. Now, if the ten soldiers reloaded and fired again, with the same result—that you were still standing and in good health–you might start to feel that the odds were on your side. If this happened ten times over and over again, surely you would start to ask yourself why no bullets were hitting you and how it could be possible that you were still alive.
The truth is that the chances of this world accidentally evolving into a perfect home for the human species is so astronomically small that it would be equivalent to surviving a firing squad of ten thousand rifles, not just once, but over and over again, for many years. In the face of such odds, surely, we have to start wondering why this world is so perfectly situated for human life.
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About the Author: Dr. Daniel King is a missionary evangelist who has traveled to over seventy nations in his quest for souls. His goal is to lead 1,000,000 people to Jesus every year through massive Gospel Festivals, distribution of literature, and leadership training. Because of his experience and research on evangelism, he is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in mass evangelism. As an evangelist, he has a deep interest in using apologetics to convince skeptics that God is real.