The Evidence of Modern Physics Points to a Creator by Lee Stronel
The passages below are taken from Lee Strobel’s book, “The case for a Creator,” which was published in 2004 by Zondervan.
It is hard to resist the impression that the present structure of the universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alterations in numbers, has been rather carefully thought out…. The seemingly miraculous concurrence of these numerical values must remain the most compelling evidence for cosmic design.
Physicist Paul Davies1
Would it not be strange if a universe without purpose accidentally created humans who are so obsessed with purpose?
Sir John Templeton.2
He became a spiritual skeptic when he learned about Darwinism as a student. He worked for a while at a major Chicago newspaper and went to graduate school at an Ivy League university. Spurred by his wife’s Christianity, he later began investigating the evidence for a Creator. With his mind opened by the facts, he ended up shedding his atheism and embracing God, eventually writing a book that recounted his intellectual journey to faith.
If that sounds like my story, it is3—but, coincidentally, it’s also the story of Patrick Glynn, a former arms-control negotiator for the Reagan administration and currently the associate director of the George Washington University Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.
Glynn first encountered evolutionary theory while a student in parochial school, immediately recognizing that it was incompatible with the Bible. “I stood up in class and told the poor nun as much,” he recalled.
Convinced that reason was “the only path to truth,” Glynn became a confirmed atheist by the time he received his doctorate from Harvard University in the 1970s. “Darwin had demonstrated that it was not even necessary to posit a God to explain the origin of life,” he said. “Life and the human species itself, was the outcome of essentially random mechanisms operating over the eons.”
After marrying a Christian and finding himself in frequent debate with her over spiritual matters, Glynn said his mind “became sufficiently open” so that he was willing to check out whether there was any rational evidence for the existence of God. He was hardly prepared for what he would lean:
Gradually, I realized that in the twenty years since I opted for philosophical atheism, a vast, systematic literature had emerged that not only cast deep doubt on, but also, from any reasonable perspective, effectively refuted my atheistic outlook…. Today, it seems to me, there is no good reason for an intelligent person to embrace the illusion of atheism or agnosticism, to make the same intellectual mistakes I made.4
What evidence was responsible for this stunning spiritual turnaround? Among the most influential discoveries he encountered in his investigation was the so-called “anthropic principle.” The term derived from the Greek word anthropos for “man,” was coined by a Cambridge physicist Brandon Carter, who delivered a ground-breaking paper called “Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology” at a prestigious scientific conference in 1973.
The principle, as Glynn learned, essentially says that “all the seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common—these are precisely the values you need if you want to have a universe capable of producing life.”5
In his subsequent book God: The Evidence, Glynn credits the absolutely incredible fine-tuning of the cosmos as being among the key reasons why he concluded that the universe must have been the hand work of a master designer.
“As recently as twenty-five years ago, a reasonable person weighing the purely scientific evidence on the issue would likely have come down on the side of skepticism. That is no longer the case,” he said. “Today the concrete data point strongly in the direction of the God hypothesis. It is the simplest and most obvious solution to the anthropic puzzle.”6
THE PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE
Alister McGrath, the erudite theologian who studied molecular biophysics at Oxford and wrote the ambitious three-volume series A Scientific Theology, has a penchant for penetrating to the core of complex issues. In the case of the anthropic principle, he managed to summarize the essential challenge in two succinct questions, which he posed with a dash of British understatement: “Is it a pure coincidence that the laws of nature are such that life is possible? Might this not be an important clue to the nature and destiny of humanity?”7
Those two questions formed my roadmap as I sought fresh answers concerning how and why physics so precariously balances life on a razor’s edge. I already knew that an increasing number of scientists and philosophers have been following the clues to their own conclusions in recent decades, including “some who are innocent of any influence from a conventional religious agenda,” in the words of physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne.8
“It is quite easy to understand why so many scientists have changed their minds in the past thirty years, agreeing that the universe cannot reasonably be explained as a cosmic accident,” said Walter Bradley, coauthor of The Mystery of Life’s Origin. “Evidence for an intelligent designer becomes more compelling the more we understand about our carefully crafted habitat.”9
For instance, the once-skeptical Paul Davies, the former professor of theoretical physics at the University of Adelaide, is now convinced that there must be a purpose behind the universe.
“Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact,” he said in his book The Mind of God. “I cannot believe that our existence in this universe is a mere quirk of fate, an accident of history, an incidental blip in the great cosmic drama.”10
Saying that “many scientists, when they admit their views, incline toward the teleological or design argument,” cosmologist Edward Harrison has come to this conclusion: “The fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design.”11
The eminent astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle put it this way: “I do not believe that any scientists who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside stars.”12
That observation, and others like it from Hoyle, prompted Harvard astronomy professor Owen Gingerich, senior astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, to comment: “Fred Hoyle and I differ on lots of questions, but on this we agree: a common sense and satisfying interpretation of our world suggests the designing hand of a superintelligence.”13
Oxford-educated John Leslie, who catalogues many anthropic examples in his eye-opening 1989 book Universes, said he believes that if ours is the only universe–—and there are no scientific data proving any others exist—then the fine tuning is “genuine evidence. . . that God is real.”14
In their book The New Story of Science, Robert Augros and George Stanciu sum up the inferences of the amazing confluence of “coincidences” that make life possible in the cosmos. “A universe aiming at the production of man implies a mind directing it,” they said. “Though man is not at the physical center of the universe, he appears to be at the center of its purpose.”15
Those conclusions aside, I was looking for my own person answers to the fundamental questions posed by McGrath. I wanted not only to explore the scientific evidence for the universe’s precarious balancing act, but I also wanted to see if the anthropic principle could survive the challenge of a hypothesis which, according to some skeptics, may very well render it obsolete.
While studying the fine-tuning issue, I came across the writing of an articulate, physics-trained philosopher who has done his own original research on the issue. I especially liked his reputation—he was known as being careful and conservative in his calculations, unwilling to make judgments that exceed the bounds of the data. In short, just what I was looking for.
A few phone calls later, I was on a plane for Pennsylvania and a picturesque campus of redbrick buildings situated not far north of the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg.
INTERVIEW #4: ROBIN COLLINS, PHD
As a seventh-grade student, Robin Collins sent away for several free booklets from the Atomic Energy Commission—and a love for physics was born. He went on to earn degrees in physics and mathematics at Washington State University (with a grade point average a scant 0.07 points shy of perfection) and then entered a doctoral program in physics at the University of Texas in Austin.
His other love was philosophy—in fact, it was his third major in college. This expertise came in handy while working on his doctorate in an office he shared with a group of graduate students that included an atheist and an agnostic. As for Collins, he had been a Christian since his last year of high school.
The four of them ended up sparring late into the night about philosophical and theological issues, which Collins found so stimulating that he decided to pursue a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. The legendary Alvin Plantinga, perhaps the best American philosopher of modem times, supervised Collins’s dissertation.
It was a stray comment by Plantinga in class one day that first exposed Collins to the issue of the fine-tuning of the universe. Captivated by the concept, Collins delved deeply into the subject and soon found a perfect wedding between his expertise in physics and philosophy.
Not only did his training in physics equip him to understand the often-complex mathematical equations in the field–—sometimes prompting him to politely correct the errors of more famous scholars—but his experience in philosophy aided him in formulating rigorous arguments from the evidence. Now, after years of research and analysis, he has emerged as one of the most informed and persuasive voices on the anthropic principle.
Collins has written about the topic for numerous books, including God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science; The Rationality of Theism; God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion; Philosophy of Religion: A Reader and Guide; and Reason for the Hope Within. Funded by a grant from the Pew Foundation, he’s currently completing a book titled The Well-Tempered Universe: God, Fine-Tuning, and the Laws of Nature. In addition, he has spoken at numerous symposia and conferences at Yale, Concordia, Baylor, Stanford, and elsewhere, including a plenary address at the 2003 Russian-U.S. conference on God and Physical Cosmology held at Notre Dame.
After serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, Collins has spent the last decade doing research, writing, and teaching at Messiah College, where he is currently an associate professor of philosophy. That’s where I connected with him on a warm Saturday afternoon.
Collins’s office was so utterly dominated by stacks and shelves and piles and boxes and heaps of books that there was nowhere for us to sit, so we commandeered a conference room nearby. The room was awash in the afternoon sun, which streamed through a large window, and created dancing pools of light on the carpet.
Collins removed his green sports coat and tossed it over a chair as we got ready to begin. He has curly, rusty-colored hair and a beard, and the lean physique of a runner (he jogs nearly ninety minutes a day for exercise and meditation). We sat across a plain table from each other, Collins sipping from a mug of his favorite beverage: a concoction of half black and half green tea.
I was anxious to begin. Collins once said that the facts concerning the universe’s remarkable “just-so” conditions are widely regarded as “by far the most persuasive current argument for the existence God”16—a statement that set a high standard. I pulled out my notebook and started by asking him to give me an overview of what the fine-tuning of the cosmos was all about.
THE IMPRESSION OF DESIGN
“When scientists talk about the fine-tuning of the universe,” Collins said, “they’re generally referring to the extraordinary balancing of the fundamental laws and parameters of physics and the initial conditions of the universe. Our minds can’t comprehend the precision of some of them. The result is a universe that has just the right conditions to sustain life. The coincidences are simply too amazing to have been the result of happenstance–—as Paul Davies said, ‘the impression of design is overwhelming.’17
“I like to use the analogy of astronauts landing on Mars and finding an enclosed biosphere, sort of like the domed structure that we built in Arizona a few years ago. At the control panel they find that all the dials for its environment are set just right for life. The oxygen ratio is perfect; the temperature is seventy degrees; the humidity is fifty percent; there’s a system for replenishing the air; there are systems for producing food, generating energy, and disposing of wastes. Each dial has a huge range of possible settings, and you can see if you were to adjust one or more of them just a little bit, the environment would go out of whack and life would be impossible. What conclusion would you draw from that?”
The answer was obvious. “That someone took great care in designing and building it,” I said.
“That’s right,” he replied. “You’d conclude that this biosphere was not there by accident. Volcanoes didn’t erupt and spew out the right compounds that just happened to assemble themselves into the biosphere. Some intelligent being had intentionally and carefully designed and prepared it to support living creatures. And that’s an analogy for our universe.
“Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far too fantastic to attribute this to mere chance or to claim that it needs no explanation. The dials are set too precisely to have been a random accident. Somebody, as Fred Hoyle quipped, has been monkeying with the physics.”18
This has to be among the most fascinating scientific discoveries of the century. “Who first noticed this?” I asked.
“Way back in the late 1950s, Hoyle talked about the precise process by which carbon and oxygen are produced in a certain ratio inside stars. If you tinker with the resonance states of carbon, you won’t get the materials you need for building life. Incidentally, recent studies by the physicist Heinz Oberhummer and his colleagues show that just a one-percent change in the strong nuclear force would have a thirty-to a thousand-fold impact on the production of oxygen and carbon in stars. Since stars provide the carbon and oxygen needed for life on planets, if you throw that off balance, conditions in the universe would be much less optimal for the existence of life.
“Anyway–—back to your question–—most of the research and writing about the fine-tuning has taken place since the early 1980s. There have been hundreds of articles and books written on it from both a technical and popular perspective.”
Physics can get very complicated very quickly. So when I asked Collins to describe one of his favorite examples, I was relieved that he chose one that’s among the easier to envision.
“Let’s talk about gravity,” he said. “Imagine a ruler, or one of those old-fashioned linear radio dials, that goes all the way across the universe. It would be broken down into one-inch increments, which means there would be billions upon billions upon billions of inches.
“The entire dial represents the range of force strengths in nature, with gravity being the weakest force and the strong nuclear force that binds protons and neutrons together in the nuclei being the strongest, a whopping ten thousand billion billion billion billion times strong than gravity.19 The range of possible settings for the force of gravity can plausibly be taken to be at least as large as the total range of force strengths.
“Now, let’s imagine that you want to move the dial from where it’s currently set. Even if you were to move it by only one inch, the impact on life in the universe would be catastrophic.”
“One inch compared to the whole universe?” I asked. “What kind of impact could that have?”
“That small adjustment of the dial would increase gravity by billion-fold,” he said.
“Whoa!” I said. ‘That sounds like a lot.”
“Actually, it’s not,” he replied, “Relative to the entire radio dial—that is, the total range of force strengths in nature—it’s extraordinarily small, just one part in ten thousand billion billion billion.”
“Wow, that puts it into perspective,” I said. “What would happen to life?”
“Animals anywhere near the size of human beings would be crushed,” he said. “As astrophysicist Martin Rees said, ‘In an imaginary strong gravity world, even insects would need thick legs to support them, and no animals could get much larger.’20In fact, a planet with a gravitational pull of a thousand times that of the Earth would have a diameter of only forty feet, which wouldn’t be enough to sustain an ecosystem. Besides which, stars with lifetimes of more than billion years–—compared to ten billion years for our sun–—couldn’t exist if you increase gravity by just three thousand times.
“As you can see, compared to the total range of force strengths in nature, gravity has an incomprehensibly narrow range for life to exist. Of all the possible settings on the dial, from one side of the universe to the other, it happens to he situated in the exact right fraction of an inch to make our universe capable of sustaining life.”
And gravity is just one parameter that scientists have studied. One expert said there are more than thirty separate physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a life-sustaining universe.21
As for Collins, he likes to focus on gravity and a handful of other examples that he has personally investigated and which he believes are sufficient by themselves to establish the case for a designer. I decided to ask Collins about another parameter–—the so-called “cosmological constant”—a phenomenon so bewildering that it even boggles the mind of one of the world’s most skeptical scientists.
THROWING DARTS AT AN ATOM
Nobel-winning physicist Steven Weinberg, an avowed atheist, has expressed amazement at the way the cosmological constant–—the energy density of empty space–—is “remarkably well adjusted in our favor.”22 The constant, which is part of Einstein’s equation for General Relativity, could have had any value, positive or negative, “but from first principles one would guess that this constant should be very large,” Weinberg said.
Fortunately, he added, it isn’t:
If large and positive, the cosmological constant would act as a repulsive force that increases with distance, a force that would prevent matter from clumping together in the early universe, the process that was the first step in forming galaxies and stars and planets and people. If large and negative, the cosmological constant would act as an attractive force increasing with distance, a force that would almost immediately reverse the expansion of the universe and cause it to recollapse.23
Either way, life loses—big time. But astonishingly, that’s not what has happened.
“In fact,” Weinberg said, “astronomical observations show that the cosmological constant is quite small, very much smaller than would have been guessed from first principles.”24
When I asked Collins about this, he told me that the unexpected, counterintuitive, and stunningly precise setting of the cosmological constant “is widely regarded as the single greatest problem facing physics and cosmology today.”
“How precise is it?” I asked.
Collins rolled his eyes. “Well, there’s no way we can really comprehend it,” he said. “The fine-tuning has conservatively been estimated to be at least one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion. That would be a ten followed by fifty-three zeroes. That’s inconceivably precise.”
He was right—I couldn’t imagine a figure like that. “Can you give me an illustration?” I asked.
“Put it this way,” he said. “Let’s say you were way out in space and were going to throw a daft at random toward the Earth. It would be like successfully hitting a bull’s eye that’s one trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter. That’s less than the size of one solitary atom.”
Breathtaking was the word that came into my mind. Staggering. “No wonder scientists have been blown away by this,” I said.
“I’ll tell you what,” Collins said, “in my opinion, if the cosmological constant were the only example of fine-tuning, and if there were no natural explanation for it, then this would be sufficient by itself to strongly establish design.”
I had to agree. The way I saw it, if the universe were put on trial for a charge of having been designed, and the fine-tuning of the cosmological constant were the only evidence introduced by the prosecution, I would have to vote “guilty”–—assuming there was no hidden naturalistic explanation. Statistically, this would be a far stronger case than even the DNA evidence that is used to establish guilt in many criminal trials today.
Collins continued. “Now, think about adding together the evidence for just the two factors I’ve discussed so far–—the cosmological constant and the force of gravity,” he said. “This would create an unimaginably stronger case. When you combine the two, the fine-tuning would be to a precision of one part in a hundred million trillion trillion trilion trillion trillion trillion. That would be the equivalent of one atom in the entire known universe!”
And Collins wasn’t through. “There are other examples of fine tuning,” he said. “For instance, there’s the difference in mass between neutrons and protons. Increase the mass of the neutron by about one part in seven hundred and nuclear fusion in stars would stop. There would be no energy source for life.
“And if the electromagnetic force were slightly stronger or weaker life in the universe would be impossible. Or consider the strong nuclear force. Imagine decreasing it by fifty percent, which is tiny—one part in ten thousand billion billion billion billion, compared to the total range of force strengths.”
“What would happen if you tinkered with it by that amount?”
“Since like charges repel, the strong nuclear force would be too weak to prevent the repulsive force between the positively charged protons in atomic nuclei from tearing apart all atoms except hydrogen,” he said. “And regardless of what they may show on Star Trek, you can’t have intelligent life forms built from hydrogen. It simply doesn’t have enough stable complexity.”
I knew Collins could go on and on, but I needed a way to visualize the implications of these increasingly abstract concepts. “Go back to your Martian biosphere illustration,” I said.
“Okay,” he replied. “Set aside the issue of how the biosphere got there in the first place. Let’s say when you found it, there were twelve dials that controlled the conditions inside the dome. Each dial had an incredibly huge range of possible settings. When you departed, you left the dials at random and as a result no life was possible in the biosphere.
“Then you come back a year later. When you look at the dials, you’re amazed to find that each one of them has been carefully calibrated to just the right setting so that life is flourishing in the dome. Twelve dials, twelve different factors–—all optimally set for life.
“Do you know what the headline would be in the newspaper the next day? It would say: EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE EXISTS. We would take that as proof that an intelligent being had landed and set those dials precisely where they needed to be for life.
“And I’m saying that the dials for the fundamental properties of the universe have been set like that. In fact, the precision is far greater. This would be totally unexpected under the theory that random chance was responsible. However, it’s not unexpected at all under the hypothesis that there is a Grand Designer.”
READY, AIM, FIRE!
Few concepts stretch the mind as much as the fine-tuning of the universe. For example, Oxford physicist Roger Penrose said one parameter, the “original phase-space volume,” required fine-tuning to an accuracy of one part in ten billion multiplied by itself one hundred and twenty three times. Penrose remarked that it would be impossible to even write down that number in full, since it would require more zeroes than the number of elementary particles in the entire universe! This showed, he said, “the precision needed to set the universe on its course.”25
As Discover magazine marveled: “The universe is unlikely. Very unlikefy. Deeply, shockingly unlikely.”26
In light of the infinitesimal odds of getting all the right dial settings for the constants of physics, the forces of nature, and other physical laws and principles necessary for life, it seems fruitless to try to explain away all of this fine-tuning as merely the product of random happenstance.
“As long as we’re talking about probabilities, then theoretically you can’t rule out the possibility–—however remote—that this could occur by chance,” Collins said.
“However, if I bet you a thousand dollars that I could flip a coin and get heads fifty times in a row, and then I proceeded to do it, you wouldn’t accept that. You’d know that the odds against that are so improbable—about one chance in a million billion—that it’s extraordinarily unlikely to happen. The fact that I was able to do it against such monumental odds would be strong evidence to you that the game been rigged. And the same is true for the fine-tuning of the universe—before you’d conclude that random chance was responsible, you’d conclude that there is strong evidence that the universe was rigged. That is, designed.
“I’ll give you another illustration,” he continued. “Let’s say I was hiking in the mountains and came across rocks arranged in a pattern that spelled out, WELCOME TO THE MOUNTAINS ROBIN COLLINS. One hypothesis would be that the rocks just happened to be arranged in that configuration, maybe as the result of an earthquake or rockslide. You can’t totally rule that out. But an alternative hypothesis would b that my brother, who was visiting the mountains before me, arranged the rocks that way.
“Quite naturally, most people would accept the brother theory over the chance theory. Why? Because it strikes us as supremely improbable that the rocks would be arranged that way by chance, but not at all improbable that my brother would place them in that pattern. That’s a quite reasonable assumption.
“In a similar way, it’s supremely improbable that the fine-tuning of the universe could have occurred at random, but it’s not at all improbable if it were the work of an intelligent designer. So it’s quite reasonable to choose the design theory over the chance theory. We reason that way all the time. Were the defendant’s fingerprints on the gun because of a chance formation of chemicals or because he touched the weapon? Jurors don’t hesitate to confidently conclude that he touched the gun if the odds against chance are so astronomical.”
While random chance was insufficient to explain away anthropic “coincidences,” perhaps there were other alternatives to the conclusion that the universe was the handiwork of a designer. It was time to put some of those to the test.
“What if there’s some undiscovered principle that makes the universe the way it is?” 1 asked. “Maybe the elusive Theory of Everything that physicists have been seeking for so long will turn out to require the parameters of physics to have exactly the values they do.”
Collins was unperturbed by the idea. “It wouldn’t bother me a bit,” he replied. “It simply moves the improbability of the fine-tuning up one level.”
“What do you mean?”
“It would really be amazing if this Grand Unified Theory–—out of the incredible range of possibilities–—managed to force all the fine-tuning dials to where they just happened to create a life-sustaining universe,” he said. “It would be like some predetermined law at the outset of the universe caused everything to fall into place so that when I came to the mountain, I saw a pattern of rocks spelling out WELCOME TO THE MOUNTAINS ROBIN COLLINS.”
“So,” I said, “this wouldn’t destroy the argument for intelligent design?”
“Quite the opposite,” he replied. “It would amplify it, because it would show that the designer was even more ingenious than we first thought. As difficult as it would be to fine-tune the universe by adjusting all of the individual dials, it would be even more difficult to create an underlying law of nature that then forced all the dials into those specific positions. All that would do would be to make me even more in awe of the Creator.”
Some skeptics have attacked the fine-tuning argument from another direction, raising what has become known as the Weak Anthropic Principle. According to this idea, if the universe were not fine-tuned for life, then human beings wouldn’t be around to observe it. Consequently, they contend that the fine-tuning requires no explanation.
“You have to admit, there’s a certain intuitive appeal to that,” I said to Collins.
“I think John Leslie had the best answer to that,” he replied. “Suppose you were standing before a firing squad of fifty highly trained marksmen who were all aiming directly at your chest from a short distance away. You heard the order, ‘Ready! Aim! Fire!’ But you didn’t feel anything. You remove your blindfold and see you’re still very much alive. Not one bullet hit you.
“Now, you wouldn’t allow the skeptic to simply dismiss the situation by saying, ‘Oh well, if they had shot you, you wouldn’t be here to comment on the situation.’ No–—the circumstances are still surprising and they would still demand an explanation. Did they conspire together to miss you? Was this a mock execution? And the same thing is true for the fine-tuning of the universe. It still demands explanation. My assessment is that the best explanation is a designer.”
Despite Collins’s confidence, however, a more serious threat to the fine-tuning argument has been raised by some scientists in recent years. Many scientists would say that the so-called “many-universe hypothesis” looms as the most formidable challenge to the conclusion that the universe was crafted with artful precision by a transcendent designer. That, I decided, would be my next line of questioning.
THE METAPHYSICAL ESCAPE HATCH
Spiritual skeptic Martin Rees, who became a professor of astronomy at Cambridge when he was in his thirties and was named Astronomer Royal by Queen Elizabeth in 1995, could not ignore how the cosmic parameters are so incredibly choreographed to create life-friendly universe. If the six numbers that underlie the fundamental physical properties of the universe were altered “even to the tiniest degree,” he said, “there would be no stars, no complex elements, no life.”27
Declared Rees: “The expansion speed, the material content of the universe, and the strengths of the basic forces, seem to have been a prerequisite for the emergence of the hospitable cosmic habitat which we live.”28
One author nicely encapsulated this example from Rees:
For the universe to exist as it does requires that hydrogen be converted to helium in a precise but comparatively stately manner–—specifically, in a way that converts seven one- thousandths of its mass to energy. Lower that value very slightly–—from 0.007 percent to 0.006 percent, say–—and no transformation could take place: the universe would consist of hydrogen and nothing else. Raise the value very slightly–—to 0.008 percent–—and bonding would be so wildly prolific that the hydrogen would long since have been exhausted. In either case, with the slightest tweaking of the numbers the universe as we know and need it would not be here.29
When the other five numbers that represent “the deep forces that shape the universe” are taken into consideration, said Rees, the universe’s structure becomes “unlikely to an absurd degree.”30
Still, is Rees surprised by the universe’s exquisitely precarious balancing act? No. Does he believe the fine-tuning points to a designer? Not at all. Why? He answers by using the illustration of a large off-the-rack clothing store.
“If there is a large stack of clothing, you’re not surprised to find a suit that fits,” he said. “If there are many universes, each governed by a different set of numbers, there will be one where there is a particular set of numbers suitable to life. We are in that one.”31
The argument can be summarized this way: “There could have been millions and millions of different universes, each created with different dial settings of the fundamental ratios and constants, so many in fact that the right set was bound to turn up by sheer chance. We just happened to be the lucky ones.”32
In other words, if ours is the only universe in existence, then the fine-tuning is powerful–—many would say, conclusive–—evidence that an intelligence had tinkered with the dials. There seems to be no other reasonable possibility. But that conclusion evaporates if there are many or an infinite number of universes. With enough random dial spinning, the odds are that at least one–—our own–—would win the cosmic lottery and be a livable habitat.
Rees is not the only skeptic to escape the theistic implications of the finely tuned universe by speculating about the existence of other worlds. In fact, that’s exactly the approach Weinberg took after expressing amazement at the unexpected precariousness of the cosmological constant.33
Many physicists subscribe to some sort of multiple universe, or “multiverse,” theory, although others scoff at the idea, charging that it’s little more than a metaphysical escape hatch to avoid the fine-tuning evidence for a designer. Said one writer:
Originally the many-worlds hypothesis was proposed for strictly scientific reasons as a solution to the so-called quantum-measurement problem in physics. Though its efficacy as an explanation within quantum physics remains controversial among physicists, its use there does have an empirical basis. More recently, however, it has been employed to serve as an alternate non-theistic explanation for the fine-tuning of the physical constants. This use of the [hypothesis] does seem to
betray a metaphysical desperation.34
“It’s purely a concept, an idea, without scientific proof,” William Lane Craig, coauthor of Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology told me in an interview. “Look–—this is pure metaphysics.35 There’s no real reason to believe such parallel worlds exist. The very fact that skeptics have to come up with such an outlandish theory is because the fine-tuning of the universe points powerfully toward an intelligent designer–—and some people will hypothesize anything to avoid reaching that conclusion.”36
Similarly, Cambridge’s Polkinghorne, a former professor of mathematical physics, has called the hypothesis “pseudo-science” and “a metaphysical guess.”37 He put it this way in his book Science and Theology: “The many universes account is sometimes presented as if it were purely scientific, but in fact a sufficient portfolio of different universes could only be generated by speculative processes that go well beyond what sober science can honestly endorse.”38
Davies has concluded that “the many-universes theory can at best explain only a limited range of features, and then only if one appends some metaphysical assumptions that seem no less extravagant than design.”39 Observed Clifford Longley: “The sight of scientific atheists clutching at such desperate straws has put new spring in the step theists.”40
Rees conceded the tenuous nature of the multiverse theory in 2000 interview with a science journalist. Rees admitted the calculation are “highly arbitrary” (though he suggests someday they might not be), and that the theory itself “hangs on assumptions,” remains speculative, and is not amenable to direct investigation. “The other universes are unavailable to us, just as the interior of a black hole unavailable,” he said. He added that we cannot even know if the universes are finite or infinite in number. Even so, he said the multiverse theory “genuinely lies within the province of science.”41
All of this was swirling in my mind as I prepared to question Collins on the possibility that a multi-universe scenario could extinguish the evidence for a designer of our universe. I was genuinely curious: Can the hypothesis provide a reasonable refuge for skeptics who balk at the idea of God? Or would the anthropic argument withstand the challenge?
THE COSMIC HOCKEY PUCK
I have to admit that I was taken aback by Collins’s initial response when I asked him about the viability of the many-universes hypothesis.
“Well,” he said, taking a sip of tea and putting the mug on the table, “most of these hypotheses are entirely speculative and have little basis in physics. They’re not worth considering. However, the most popular theory, inflationary cosmology, has more credibility. I have to say that I’m at least sympathetic to it. I’m trying to keep an open mind.”
Collins was referring to the “self-reproducing inflationary universe” model proposed by André Linde of Stanford University, which is based on advanced principles of quantum physics. This was the theory that Weinberg cited when he tried to explain away the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmological constant. In a stunning example of understatement, one science writer said that Linde’s concept “defies easy visualization.”42 However, at the risk of too much simplicity, a basic illustration can be used.
Linde postulates a preexisting superspace that is rapidly expanding. A small part of this superspace is blown up by a theoretical inflaton field, sort of like soap bubbles forming in an infinite ocean full of dish detergent. Each bubble becomes a new universe. In what’s known as “chaotic inflation theory,” a huge number of such universes are randomly birthed, thanks to quantum fluctuations, along various points of superspace. Thus, each universe has a beginning and is finite in size, while the much larger superspace is infinite in size and endures forever.
I mentioned to Collins that in an earlier interview on cosmology, William Lane Craig had little use for this kind of theory. “Granted, it’s highly speculative,” Collins said. “There are an awful lot of loose ends with it. But since it’s by far the most popular theory today–—and I believe it should be taken seriously–—let’s not critique it right now. Let’s just make the assumption that it’s true.”
“All right,” I said, nodding. “That’s fine.”
“Now, here’s my overarching point: even if Linde’s theory could account for the existence of many universes, this would not destroy the case for design. It would just kick the issue up another level. In fact, I believe it would point towarddesign.”
That was an interesting twist! “Why do you believe that?” I asked.
“I’ll use an everyday example,” he said. “My wife and I have a bread-making machine. Actually, it’s defunct now, but we used to use it. To make edible bread, we first needed this well-designed machine that had the right circuitry, the right heating element, the right timer and so forth. Then we had to put in the right ingredients in the right proportions and in the right order–—water, milk, flour, shortening, salt, sugar, yeast. The flour had to have the right amount of a protein substance called gluten, or else it would need to be added.43 Everything has to be just right to produce a loaf of bread–—otherwise, you get what looks like a burnt hockey puck.
“Now, let’s face it: a universe is far more complex than a loaf of bread. My point is that if a bread machine requires certain specific parameters to be set in order to create bread, then there has to be a highly designed mechanism or process to produce functional universes. In other words, regardless of which multiple-universe theory you use, in every case you’d need a ‘many-universes generator’–—and it would require the right structure, the right mechanism, and the right ingredients to chum out new universes.
“Otherwise,” he said, stifling a chuckle, “you’d end up with a cosmic hockey puck!”
THE MANY-UNIVERSE MACHINE
Collins pushed back his chair and walked over to a chalkboard on the wall. “My students get a kick out of it when I draw a ‘many universes generator,’” he said, sketching a whimsical cartoon of a manufacturing machine, complete with a billowing smokestack and a conveyor belt that brought in raw materials and then carried fresh1y minted universes out the other side.
“This machine,” he said, putting the finishing touches on his artwork, “can only produce life-sustaining universes if it has the right components and mechanisms.”
I leaned back and scrutinized his drawing. “What would you need, say, under Linde’s theory?” I asked.
“First,” Collins said as he strolled hack to his chair, “you’d need a mechanism to supply the energy needed for the bubble universes. That would be the inflaton field that he has hypothesized, which effectively acts like a reservoir of unlimited energy. Second, he would need a mechanism to form the bubbles. This would be Einstein’s equation of general relativity. Because of its peculiar form, this would supposedly cause the bubble universes to form and the ocean to keep expanding.
“Third, he would need a mechanism to convert the energy of the inflaton field to the normal mass/energy that we find in our universe. Fourth, he would need a mechanism to allow enough variation in the constants of physics among the various universes. In other words, he would need a way to vary the constants of physics so that by random chance he would produce some universes, like ours, that have the right fine-tuning to sustain life.”
“Is there a candidate for that mechanism?” I asked.
“Well, yes—–superstring theory,” he replied. “This might work, though it’s far too early to tell.”
When I asked why he brought up superstrings, he explained:
“According to superstring theory, the ultimate constituents of matter are strings of energy that undergo quantum vibrations in ten or eleven dimensions of space-time. Six or seven of these dimensions are ‘rolled up’ to an extremely small size. In the jargon of string theory, they are said to be compactified. Their shape determines the modes of vibration of the strings. This, in turn, would determine the types and masses of fundamental particles and the characteristics of the forces between them. So they would have different constants of physics and laws governing the forces.”
“That sounds pretty iffy,” I said.
“Well, both inflationary cosmology and superstring theory are highly speculative. In fact, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said recently that ‘not a shred of experimental evidence’ has been found to confirm superstrings. Physicists are a long way from even working out the equations. Right now it’s just a theory whose main merits are that it’s mathematically elegant and that it holds the promise of unifying quantum mechanics and general relativity, two branches of physics that physicists have struggled to reconcile for over fifty years.”
I summed up what Collins had said so far. “So the many-universes generator would need all these factors if it ever hoped to produce a functioning universe,” I said.
“Right,” he replied. “For example, without Einstein’s equation and the inflaton field working together harmoniously, it wouldn’t work. If the universe obeyed Newton’s theory of gravity instead of Einstein’s, it wouldn’t work. But that’s not all.
“You would also have to have the right background laws in place. For instance, without the so-called principle of quantization, all of the electrons in an atom would be sucked into the atomic nuclei. That would make atoms impossible. Further, as eminent Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson has noted, without the Pauli-exclusion principle, electrons would occupy the lowest orbit around the nucleus, and that would make complex atoms impossible.45 Finally, without a universally attractive force between all masses–—such as gravity–—stars planets couldn’t form. If just one of these components was missing or different, it’s highly improbable that any life-permitting universes could be produced.
“And keep in mind,” he added, “you would need to make trillions upon trillions upon trillions upon trillions of universes in order to increase the odds that the cosmological constant would come out right at least once, since it’s finely tuned to an incomprehensible degree. And that’s just one parameter.”
“What’s your conclusion then?” I asked.
“It’s highly unlikely that such a universe-generating system would have all the right components and ingredients in place by random chance, just like random chance can’t account for how a bread-maker produces loaves of edible bread. So if a many-universe-generating system exists, it would be best explained by design.”
“That means,” I said, “that when scientists appeal to the theoretical existence of many universes to avoid the implications of the fine-tuning of our universe, they still can’t escape design.”
“Exactly,” he declared. “Theists have nothing to fear from the ideal that there may be multiple universes. There would still need to be an intelligent designer to make the finely tuned universe-generating process work. To modify a phrase from philosopher Fred Dretske: these are inflationary times, and the cost of atheism has just gone up.”
I thought for a few moments about Collins’s explanation. Certainly it made sense that generating universes would require the right mechanisms, the right ingredients, and the right precision–—all earmarks of intelligent design. But I was still mentally wrestling with something else. To me–—admittedly, not a physicist–—the whole concept of multiple universes seemed absurd.
I found myself agreeing with the iconoclastic Gregg Easterbrook, a contributing editor for the Atlantic Monthly, who researched the discoveries and theories of modern science. He was characteristically blunt in his assessment. “The multiverse idea rests on assumptions that would be laughed out of town if they came from a religious text,” he wrote. “[The theory] requires as much suspension of disbelief as any religion. Join the church that believes in the existence of invisible objects fifty billion galaxies wide!”46
When I mentioned my skepticism to Collins, he listened carefully. “There’s a reason you feel that way,” he said. “You see, everything else being equal, we tend to prefer hypotheses that are natural extrapolations of what we already know.”
I wasn’t sure what he was driving at. “Could you give me an illustration of that?” I asked.
“Sure,” he said. “Let’s say you found some dinosaur bones. You would naturally consider them to be very strong evidence that dinosaurs lived in the past. Why? Because even though nobody has ever seen dinosaurs, we do have the experience of other animals leaving behind fossilized remains. So the dinosaur explanation is a natural extrapolation from our common experience. It makes sense.
“Let’s say there was a dinosaur skeptic, however. He was trying to rationalize away the bones you found. Let’s suppose he claimed he could explain the bones by proposing that a ‘dinosaur-bone-producing field’ simply caused them to materialize out of thin air.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I said.
“And that’s exactly what you would tell the skeptic,” Collins continued. “You’d say: ‘Wait a second–—there are no known laws of physics that would allow that field to conjure up bones out of nothing.’ But the skeptic would be ready for you. He’d reply, ‘Aha—we just haven’t discovered these laws yet. We simply haven’t detected these fields yet. Give us more time, Lee, and I’m sure we will.’
“My guess is that nothing could deter you from inferring that dinosaurs existed, because this would be a natural extrapolation from what you already know,” Collins concluded. “On the other hand, the skeptic needs to invent a whole new set of physical laws and a whole new set of mechanisms that are not a natural extrapolation from anything we know or have experienced. You wouldn’t buy his story. No way.”
“You’re saying, then, that an intelligent designer is a natural extrapolation of what we already know?”
“Yes, I am,” he replied. “Think about it, Lee–—we already know that intelligent minds produce finely tuned devices. Look at the space shuttle. Look at a television set. Look at an internal combustion engine. We see minds producing complex, precision machinery all the time.
“So postulating the existence of a supermind–—or God–—as the explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe makes all the sense in the world. It would simply be a natural extrapolation of what we already know that minds can do. And, what’s more, unlike the hypothesis that there are many universes, we have independent evidence of God’s existence, such as a personal experience of the Creator and the other sort of evidence you’re talking about in your book.”
THE BEAUTY OF PHYSICS
Collins took his last sip of tea at about the same time I finished my glass of water. “Let’s go get some refills,” he said, motioning for me, to follow him down the hall.
Without students or faculty, the building was eerily quiet, our voices echoing slightly as we ambled down the empty corridor. “The day is too beautiful to be spending so much time indoors,” I commented as we arrived at a self-serve kitchen area.
“Yeah, perfect for a run,” Collins said.
I filled my glass with water while he blended his tea. Silence prevailed for a few moments, then Collins remarked: “Talking about beauty reminds me of another line of reasoning that points toward designer,” he said.
“Really?” I asked. “Tell me about it.”
“Think about the extraordinary beauty, elegance, harmony, and ingenuity that we find in the laws of nature,” he replied as we headed back to the conference room.
“Whole books have been written about it. Weinberg once spent an entire chapter explaining how the criteria of beauty and elegance have been used to guide physicists in formulating the right laws.47 The theoretical physicist Alan Guth said that the original construction of the gauge theories of fundamental particle physics ‘was motivated mainly by their mathematical elegance.’48
“One of the most influential scientists of the twentieth century, Paul Dirac, the Nobel Prize winner from Cambridge, even claimed that ‘it is more important to have beauty in one’s equations than to have them fit experiment.”49 One historian said mathematical beauty was ‘an integral part’ of Dirac’s strategy. He said Dirac believed physicists ‘first had to select the most beautiful mathematics–—not necessarily connected to the existing basis of theoretical physics–—and then interpret them in physical terms.”50
“And you see beauty in the laws and principles of nature?” I
“Oh, absolutely,” he declared. “They’re beautiful, and they’re also elegant in their simplicity. Surprisingly so. When scientists are trying to construct a new law of nature, they routinely look for the simplest law that adequately accounts for the data.”
I interrupted with an objection. “Isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?” I asked. “What’s beautiful seems so subjective.”
“Subjectivity can’t explain the success of the criterion of beauty in science,” he replied. “We wouldn’t expect purely subjective patterns to serve as the basis of theories that make highly accurate predictions, such as the success of quantum electrodynamics to predict the quantum correction to the g-factor of the electron.
“Besides, not all beauty is subjective; there are also objective aspects of it, at least in the classical sense. In his book The Analysis of Beauty, written in the mid-1700s, William Hogarth said the defining feature of beauty or elegance is ‘simplicity with variety.’ And that’s what scientists have found–—a world where fundamental simplicity gives rise to the enormous complexity needed for life.”
I ventured another alternative. “Maybe the concept of beauty is merely the product of evolution,” I said. “Perhaps it has survival value, and so our sense of what’s beautiful has been shaped by natural selection.”
“That would only apply to things we can see, touch, or hear–— things in our everyday world that are necessary for survival. But evolution can’t explain the beauty that exists in the underlying world of physical laws and mathematics,” he said.
“In physics, we see an uncanny degree of harmony, symmetry, and proportionality. And we see something that I call ‘discoverability.’ By that, I mean that the laws of nature seem to have been carefully arranged so that they can be discovered by beings with our level of intelligence. That not only fits the idea of design, but it also suggests a providential purpose for humankind–—that is, to learn about our habitat and to develop science and technology.”
Collins mentioned that Davies had also commented about the beauty of nature in his book Superforce. Later I found the passage:
A common reaction among physicists to remarkable discoveries. . . is a mixture of delight at the subtlety and elegance of nature, and of stupefaction: “I would never have thought of doing it that way.” If nature is so “clever” it can exploit mechanisms that amaze us with their ingenuity, is that not persuasive evidence for the existence of intelligent design behind the physical universe? If the world’s finest minds can unravel only with difficulty the deeper workings of nature, how could it be supposed that those workings are merely a mindless accident, a product of blind chance?… Uncovering the laws of physics resembles completing a crossword [puzzle] in a number of ways…. In the case of the crossword, it would never occur to us to suppose that the words just happened to fall into a consistent interlocking pattern by accident.’51
“Under an atheistic viewpoint,” Collins continued, “there’s no reason to expect that the fundamental laws would be beautiful or elegant, because they easily could have been otherwise. Even Weinberg, who’s an atheist, conceded that ‘sometimes nature seems more beautiful than strictly necessary.’52
“However, the fine-tuning for simplicity, beauty, and elegance does make sense under the God hypothesis. Think of the classical conception of God–—he is the greatest possible being, and therefore being with perfect aesthetic sensibility. It wouldn’t be surprising at all for God to want to create a world of great subtlety and beauty at it most fundamental level.”
“ALL OTHER THEORIES FALL SHORT”
We walked back into the conference room, knowing that we were getting close to finishing. Collins leaned against the wall, a mug in one hand, the other arm casualty folded across his chest, while I perched atop the back of a chair, my feet resting on its seat.
The intersection of faith and physics was a fascinating crossroad to me, and I was curious about the impact of Collins’s research on his personal life.
“What has your study of the fine-tuning of the universe done to your faith?” I asked.
Collins put down his tea. “Oh, it has strengthened it, absolutely,’ he replied. “Like everybody, I’ve gone through some hard times in life, and all of the scientific evidence for God has been an important anchor for me.”
That sounded like science displacing faith. “Isn’t that what faith is supposed to do?” I asked.
“I am taking about faith,” he insisted. “God doesn’t usually appear supernaturally somewhere and say, ‘Here I am.’ He uses preachers to bring people his message of redemption through Christ. And sometimes he uses natural means. Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s eternal power and divine nature can be seen and understood through things that are made, and that this is the reason humanity is without excuse. I see physics as uncovering the evidence of God’s fingerprint at a deeper and more subtle level than the ancients could have dreamed of. He has used physics to enable me to see the evidence of his presence and creative ability. The heavens really do declare the glory of God, even more so for someone trained with physics and with eyes to see. That has been a tremendous encouragement to me.
“Of course,” he continued, “the fine-tuning by itself can’t tell us whether God is personal or not. We have to find out in other ways. But it does help us conclude that he exists, that he created the world, and that therefore the universe has a purpose. He made it very carefully and quite precisely as a habitat for intelligent life.”
“How do you assess the persuasiveness of the anthropic evidence?” I asked.
“It’s not conclusive in the sense that mathematics tells us two plus two equals four,” he said. “Instead, it’s a cumulative argument. The extraordinary fine-tuning of the laws and constants of nature, their beauty, their discoverability, their intelligibility–—all of this combines to make the God hypothesis the most reasonable choice we have. All other theories fall short.”
I picked up a newspaper clipping from the conference table, then said to Collins: “The New York Times recently published that famous quote by physicist Freeman Dyson, who looked at the evidence for fine-tuning and said: ‘The universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.’ But then the author added: ‘This notion horrifies some physicists, who feel it is their mission to find a mathematical explanation of nature that leaves nothing to chance or the whim of the Creator.’ Obviously, that’s not how you see the mission of physics, is it?”53
“No, not at all,” he said. “That attitude reflects an antitheistic bias. I don’t mind scientists trying to find naturalistic explanations, but I wouldn’t say it’s the mission of physics to explain everything naturalistically. The mission of physics is to pursue a naturalistic explanation as far as we can; but since physics can only explain one set of laws by invoking a more fundamental set of laws, it can never itself explain the most fundamental laws. Explaining these laws is where one moves from physics to metaphysics. Though invoking God may not be strictly part of science, it is in the spirit of science to follow the evidence and its implications wherever they lead us. We shouldn’t shrink back from the God hypothesis if that’s what the facts fit.”
He wasn’t alone in that perspective. Said Harvard’s Gingerich: “I believe that … the Book of Nature, with its astounding details–—the blade of grass, the Conus cedonulli, or the resonance levels of the carbon atom–—suggests a God of purpose and a God of design. And I think my belief makes me no less of a scientist.”54
With that, one last question came to mind. “As you dig deeper and deeper into physics,” I said to Collins, “do you have a sense of wonder and awe at what you find?”
“I really do,” he said, a grin breaking on his face. “Not just with the fine-tuning but in lots of areas, like quantum mechanics and the ability of our minds to understand the world. The deeper we dig, we see that God is more subtle and more ingenious and more creative than we ever thought possible. And I think that’s the way God created the universe for us–—to be full of surprises.”
HEADS OR TAILS
Whichever way I looked, the inference of design seemed inescapable. If ours is the only universe in existence, which is a logical conclusion based on the evidence, then its highly sophisticated fine-tuning cries out for a designer. On the other hand, if the esoteric theories of physicists turn out to be true and our universe is one of many others, then the need for a universe-generating mechanism a1so would demand a designer.
Heads or tails, the Creator wins.
As Vera Kistiakowski, professor of physics emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former president of the Association of Women in Science, summarized the implications of the evidence: “The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine.”55
That was also the conclusion that dissolved Patrick Glynn’s atheism. The anthropic evidence, he said. . .
. . . does offer as strong an indication as reason and science alone could be expected to provide that God exists. .. . Ironically, the picture of the universe bequeathed to us by the most advanced twentieth-century science is closer in spirit to the vision presented in the Book of Genesis than anything offered by science since Copernicus.56
So far, after the one-two punch of my interviews with Craig and Collins, the evidence was clearly pointing in that direction. In fact, my imagination was captivated by one particular implication.
In The Case for Christ, I described the historical evidence for the miracles of Jesus of Nazareth, especially his resurrection from the dead. The ability to supernaturally intervene in the normal affairs of the world, to momentarily suspend the natural functioning of the universe, is certainly powerful affirmation that he is the Son of God.
However, having heard about the meticulous fine-tuning of the laws of nature, I now realized that the everyday functioning of the universe is, in itself, a kind of ongoing miracle. The “coincidences” that allow the fundamental properties of matter to yield a habitable environment are so improbable, so far-fetched, so elegantly orchestrated, that they require a divine explanation.
In other words, the momentary abrogation of the laws 0f nature in a sudden, visible, and direct way–—what we usually call a “miracle”–—obviously points toward an all-powerful deity. Yet even if God doesn’t supernaturally intervene, the otherwise inexplicable fine-tuning of physics, operating day in and day out ever since creation, also seems to warrant the term “miraculous.”
And miracles are the province of God.
I was pondering this thought as Collins and I emerged from the building, taking deep breaths of the fragrant autumn air and basking in the sunshine. Looking up, I could see the blazing sun on one side of the blue sky and the faint moon on the other. My mind turned from the abstract world of physics to the planets and moons and stars and galaxies that populate the universe.
What other evidence of fine-tuning, I wondered, might be waiting in the cosmos? Could our very existence on a life-sustaining rock on the outskirts of the Milky Way tell us anything about the Creator who has thus far been so highly suggested by cosmology and physics?
1. Paul Davies, God and the New Physics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), 189.
2. John Templeton, The Humble Approach: Scientists Discover God (Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation, 1998), 19.
3. For a description of the dynamics between Christian and non-Christian spouses, based on the experiences that Leslie and I had during the era when she was a Christian and I was an atheist, see Lee and Leslie Strobel, Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002).
4. See: Patrick Glynn, “The Making and Unmaking of an Atheist,” in: God: The Evidence (Rocklin, Calif.: Forum, 1997), 1—20.
S. Ibid., 22.
6. Ibid., 55, 53.
7. Alister McGrath, Glimpsing the Face of God (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002), 19.
8. John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 10.
9. Walter L. Bradley, ‘The ‘Just So’ Universe,” in William A. Dembski and James M. Kushiner, Signs of Intelligence, 170.
10. Paul Davies, The Mind of God (New York: Touchstone, 1992), 16, 232.
11. Edward Harrison, Masks of the Universe (New York: Collier, 1985), 263, 252.
12. Quoted in John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 22.
13. Owen Gingerich, “Dare a Scientist Believe in Design?” in John M. Templeton, editor, Evidence of Purpose (New York: Continuum, 1994), 25.
14. John Leslie, Universes (New York: Routledge, 1989), 198.
15. Robert M. Augros and George N. Stanciu, The New Story of Science, 70.
16. Robin Collins, “A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God: The Fine-Tuning Design Argument.” in Michael J. Murray, editor, Reason for the Hope Within (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1999), 48.
17. Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature’s Creative Ability to Order the Universe (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), 203.
18. Collins (and Gingerich in his earlier quote) was referring to a well-known comment by Sir Fred Hoyle: “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Engineering & Science (November 1981).
19. The relative strength of the four forces in nature–—gravity, electromagnetism, the weak force, and the strong nuclear force–—is typically specified by a widely used dimensionless measure, which can roughly be thought of as the relative strengths of the respective forces between two protons in a nucleus. See: John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 293—95.
20. Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe (New York: Basic, 2000), 30.
21. Stephen C. Meyer, “Evidence for Design in Physics and Biology” in Michael J. Behe, William A. Dembski, and Stephen C. Meyer, editors, Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2000), 60.
22. Steven Weinberg,-”A Designer Universe?” New York Review of Books (October 21, 1999).
25. Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind (New York: Oxford, 1989), 344, quoted in Stephen C. Meyer, “Evidence for Design in Physics and Biology” in Michael J. Behe, William A. Dembski, and Stephen C. Meyer, editors, Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe, 61.
26. Brad Lemley, “Why Is There Life?” Discover (November 2002) emphasis added.
27. Ibid. Also see Martin Roes, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe.
28. Quoted in Larry Witham, By Design (San Francisco: Encounter, 2003),
29. Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, 16.
30. Brad Lemley, “Why Is There Life?”
32. Clifford Longley, “Focusing on Theism,” London Times (January 21, 1989).
33. Steven Weinberg. “A Designer Universe?”
34. Michael J. Behe, William A. Dembski, and Stephen C. Meyer, Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe, 104, referencing Chfford Lengley, “Focusing on Theism.”
35. Paul Davies offers this definition of metaphysics: “In Greek philosophy, the term ‘metaphysics’ originally meant ‘that which comes after physics.’ It refers to the fact that Aristotle’s metaphysics was found, untitled, placed after his treatise on physics. But metaphysics soon came to mean those topics that lie beyond physics (we would today say beyond science) and yet may have a bearing on the nature of scientific inquiry. So metaphysics means the study of topics about physics (or science generally), as opposed to the scientific subject itself. Traditional metaphysical problems have included the origin, nature, and purpose of the universe, how the world of appearances presented to our senses relates to its underlying ‘reality’ and order, the relationship between mind and matter, and the existence of freewill. Clearly science is deeply involved in such issues, but empirical science alone may not be able to answer them, or any ‘meaning-of-life’ questions.” (Paul Davies, The Mind of God, 31.)
36. Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith, 78, 79.
37. John Polkinghorne, Serious Talk: Science and Religion in Dialogue (London: Trinity Press International, 1995), 6.
38. John Polkinghorne, Science and Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), 38.
39. Paul Davies, The Mind of God, 220.
40. Clifford Langley, “Focusing on Theism.”
41. Brad Lemley, “Why Is There Life?” In a subsequent interview, Rees said it’s helpful for physicists to contemplate the possibility of other universes. He added: “I don’t believe, but I think it’s part of science to find out.” See Dennis Overbye, “A New View of Our Universe: Only One of Many,” New York Times (October 29, 2002).
43. According to The Bread Factory Book, produced by Sanyo: “Bread flour made from hard wheat is high in the protein substance called gluten. When mixed and kneaded, the gluten stretches and incorporates air bubbles to produce a light, fine textured loaf.” In making whole-wheat bread, up to four tablespoons of gluten needs to be added to increase the height of the loaves.
44. Michio Kaku, Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory (New York: Springer-Verlag, second edition, 1999), 17.
45. Freeman Dyson, Disturbing the Universe (New York: Harper and Row. 1979), 251.
46. Gregg Easterbrook, “The New Convergence,” Wired (December 2002) emphasis added.
47. See: “Chapter Six: Beautiful Theories,” in Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory (New York, Vintage Books, 1992).
48. Alan Guth, The Inflationary Universe (New York: Helix, 1997), 124.
49. Paul Dirac, “The Evolution of the Physicist’s Picture of Nature,” Scientific American (May 1963).
50. Oliver Darrigol, From c-Numbers to q-Numbers: The Classical Analogy in the History of Quantum Theory (Las Angeles: University of California Press, 1992), 304.
51. Paul Davies, Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), 235—36.
52. Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, 250.
53. Dennis Overbye, “A New View of Our Universe: Only One of Many.”
54. Owen Gingerich, “Dare a Scientist Believe in Design?” in John M. Templeton, editor, Evidence of Purpose (New York: Continuum, 1994), 32.
55. Vera Kistiakowsky, “The Exquisite Order of the Physical World Calls for the Divine,” in Henry Margenau and Roy Abraham Varghese, Cosmos, Bios, Theos (Chicago: Open Court, 1992), 52.
56. Patrick Glynn, God: The Evidence, 55, 26.