Sunday, September 1, 2019

Does Christianity Hinder Science?

The Synergetic Relationship Between Christianity & Science – Part 3
The Scientific Revolution

Christians see God as a Lawgiver, as a rational mind, and as the Creator. Because of this, the world must be rational, must follow prescribed laws, and must have a reason for its existence. Science is the way we study the world, the laws, and the reasons. Christian theology also teaches that man was created in the image of God, so we also have the ability to comprehend God’s laws and reasons. Therefore, science arose only once: In Christian Western Europe in the 17thcentury.

Christianity depicted God as a rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being and the universe as His personal creation, thus having a rational stable structure, awaiting human comprehension. Christians developed science because they believed it could be done and they thought it should be done.[1]

…the proponents of a mechanical universe were driven by religious concerns, the debate between different forms of the mechanical philosophy was waged on religious grounds, and the success of the mechanical philosophy was hailed as a Christian triumph.[2]

In part 1of this post, I briefly showed with three examples how prominent Christian thinkers from the 5thcentury to the 8thcentury promoted science as a second way to know God’s truth. In part 2, I showed how science was not “held back” during the so-called “Dark Ages,” and instead continued to advance in church sponsored universities even to the point of foreshadowing Newton’s Laws and providing the scaffolding needed for Nicolaus Copernicus to make his contribution to science. In this post, I will show how science continued to advance after Copernicus because of Christianity, not in spite of it.
Since they believed it could be done, the vast majority of initial thinkers in science were Christians who did their investigations becauseof the Christian ideas they had about the universe. Copernicus was a church deacon who did astronomy in his spare time. Robert Boyle, father of modern chemistry, set up Christian apologetics lectures. Isaac Newton, discoverer of the universal laws of gravitation, finishes his Principiawith:

This most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being...This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God.[3]

Johannes Kepler, discoverer of the laws of planetary motion, wrote:

The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order which has been imposed on it by God, and which he revealed to us in the language of mathematics.[4]

Newton, Boyle, Descartes, and Gassendi all subscribed to some version of the mechanical philosophy. They also believed in an all-wise, all-powerful God who had once created and still preserved this universe of matter in motion. None of these natural philosophers saw any conflict between the two beliefs; in fact, one might go so far as to say that they found these two creeds, Christianity and the mechanical philosophy, inseparable and equally necessary.[5]

Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of the cosmic background radiation, says of Kepler’s philosophy: 

That really goes back to the triumph, not of Copernicus, but really the triumph of Kepler. That's because, after all, the notion of epicycles and so forth goes back to days when scientists were swapping opinions. All this went along until we had a true believer and this was Kepler. Kepler, after all, was the Old Testament Christian. Right? He really believed in God the Lawgiver. And so he demanded that the same God who spoke in single words and created the universe is not going to have a universe with 35 epicycles in it. And he said there's got to be something simpler and more powerful. Now he was lucky or maybe there was something deeper, but Kepler's faith was rewarded with his laws of nature. And so from that day on, it's been an awful struggle, but over long centuries, we find that very simple laws of nature actually do apply. And so that expectation is still with scientists. And it comes essentially from Kepler, and Kepler got it out of his belief in the Bible, as far as I can tell. This passionate belief turned out to be right. And he gave us his laws of motion, the first real laws of nature we ever had. And so nature turned out to redeem the expectations he had based on his faith. And scientists have adopted Kepler's faith, without the cause.[6]

One common charge against Christianity is that it “hinders scientific progress.” Any commonly accepted idea could hinder science—not just ones that Christians hold. The best example was the dogmatic adherence to Aristotle that hindered scientific progress for over 2000 years. The first people to openly disagree with Aristotle were either Christians or professors in church sponsored universities; these ideas lead eventually to the revolutionary idea of Nicolaus Copernicus (as discussed in my previous post). 

In the second half of the seventeenth century, a new philosophy of nature came into prominence. Although it was presented in many forms by the likes of Rene Descartes, Pierre Gassendi, and Robert Boyle, in all forms it treated matter as lifeless and inert, without any properties of its own. It also suggested that all natural phenomena could be explained by the mechanical interactions of matter in motion. This "mechanical philosophy" as it came to be called, was in strong contrast to the picture presented by the traditional philosophies, such as Aristotlelianism.[7]

It was another Christian, Galileo, who challenged the prevailing scientific view of the universe in the name of science. Most people at the time, including secular scientists, held the Aristotelian idea that the earth was at the center of the solar system and heavenly bodies moved in perfect circles. It was Kepler who showed planetary orbits to be ellipses. Christians were the ones actually pushing science forward in an age of scientific stagnation.

The main lesson to be drawn is that it was Galileo, a believer in the biblical worldview, who was advancing a better scientificunderstanding of the universe, not only, as we have seen, in opposition to some churchmen but against the resistance and the obscurantism of the secular philosophers of his time who, like the churchmen, were also convinced disciples of Aristotle.[8]

Another example of this was Louis Pasteur, a devout Christian credited with the discovery of germ theory. The prevailing view in Pasteur’s time was that microbes could spontaneously appear from chemicals and this was the cause of illness. Spontaneous generation disagrees with the Christian Doctrine of Creation, so Pasteur set out, with obvious success, to show that life appearing from non-life could not be correct. Based on his Christian beliefs, Pasteur was motivated to test a prevailing scientific theory to the benefit of mankind.
A current example of a theory holding back science is the belief that our DNA contains a vast amount of “junk” that has no function. Scientists held to this belief because it was one of the evidences for evolutionary theory and this “held back” science for 30 years. We are now discovering all kinds of function in “junk DNA” that we never bothered to look for earlier because of a dogmatic adherence to evolutionary theory. For example, these previously thought “non-coding” regions are showing a possible ability to “turn off” cancer cells; some promise for a possible cancer cure that was ignored because of the scientific dogma of junk DNA. Christianity is no more guilty of “holding back science” than any other commonly held idea that society sees as correct.
Christianity and science are not at odds, nor should they be at war. Because humans make mistakes, it is the interpretation of nature (science) and the interpretation of scripture (theology) that can be in conflict. As history has shown, both domains can work together, support each other, and learn from each other. When interpreted correctly, Christian scripture and nature should be in harmony; God created the universe and inspired the Bible, so both should agree. As it did with the early scientists, Christianity can provide inspiration and provide a reason and a rationale for why we should investigate nature. Discovering how the universe began or deciphering the ultimate nature of matter is a much richer activity when you can pair it with the knowledge of the One who created it all. 


[1]Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God, Princeton University Press, 2003, page 147
[2]William B. Ashworth Jr., When Science & Christianity Meet, Lindberg & Numbers, editors, University of Chicago Press, 2003, page 61
[3]Isaac Newton, Principia, 1687
[4]Johannes Kepler, Astronomia nova, 1609
[5]William B. Ashworth Jr., When Science & Christianity Meet, Lindberg & Numbers, editors, University of Chicago Press, 2003, page 84
[6]Michael Bumbulis, Christianity and the Birth of Sciencehttp://www.ldolphin.org/bumbulis/
[7]William B. Ashworth Jr., When Science & Christianity Meet, Lindberg & Numbers, editors, University of Chicago Press, 2003, page 61
[8]John Lennox, in Just Thinking, RZIM, Volume 27.1, page 17

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Did Christianity Suppress Science in the "Dark Ages?" - Part 2

The Synergetic Relationship Between Science & Christianity - Part 2
The "Dark Ages"

Science and Christianity have traditionally complemented each other – even in the so called “Dark Ages” - and have been intimately connected throughout history. In part 1of this post, I briefly showed with three examples how prominent Christian thinkers from the 5th century to the 8th century promoted science as a second way to know God’s truth. Augustine was confident that we could use our reason and experience to read the book of nature because it was created by God. He wanted the interpretation of scripture to stay consistent with the cosmology and physics of the classical tradition and used the natural sciences in his role as a theologian and Bible interpreter. The Roman Senator Boethius and the English Monk Bede both had Christian worldviews that were not at all in conflict with a mechanistic universe governed by natural cause and effect.[1]In part 2, I will continue to look at how the Christian view of God as a lawgiver, a rational mind, and as the Creator gave rise to modern science.
Beginning with the University of Bologna in 1088, followed by Paris and Oxford before 1200, the invention of the church supported university had much – if not everything – to do with the “Scientific Revolution.” These universities, and the Christians who supported and ran them, provided the stimulus to translate Greek and Arabic texts – many of which concerned the knowledge of nature - into Latin. “If European Christians had been closed-minded to the earlier work of pagans, as the [“Dark Ages”] myth alleges, then what explains this ferocious appetite for translations?”[2]

The Franciscan cleric and university scholar Roger Bacon read much of the newly translated work … By evaluating this past work and introducing some controlled observations – what we now call experiments – Bacon brought the science of light to its most sophisticated stage of medieval development.[3]

Roger Bacon’s work from the 13th century, Opus Majus, is evidence enough that medieval Christians did not “hold back science!” If you need more evidence, consider that thirty percent of the medieval university liberal arts curriculum addressed what we would call science.[4]
Most “histories” about the “rise of science” begin with Copernicus and how his work brought about a drastic change in how people thought about the universe. This fiction ignores the fact that Copernicus received an excellent education at some of the best Christian universities of the time (Cracow, Bologna, Padua).  It also assumes that the idea of the Earth orbiting the sun came to him out of the blue, instead of simply adding the next implicit step to what the Scholastic scientists had formulated and taught for the past two centuries.[5]
To the Greeks, continuous motion required continuous force; this thought about the heavenly bodies continued through Aquinas in the 13th century. Because of his belief that space was a vacuum, William of Ockham broke from this tradition in the 14th century by arguing that a body in motion may not require continuous pushing and once a body had been set in motion by God, it would remain in motion.[6]Jean Buridan, rector at the University of Paris, extended on this idea, anticipating Newton’s First Law of Motion.

[When moving the celestial orbs, God] impressed upon them impetuses which moved them without His having to move them any more … And these impetuses which He impressed in the celestial bodies were not decreased nor corrupted afterwards because there was no inclination of the celestial bodies for other movements. Nor was there resistance which could be corruptive or repressive of that impetus.[7]

Buridan then proposed that the Earth turns on its axis. Objections to the Earth moving, such as why there is not a constant wind and why arrows do not land far away from their origin, were addressed in the 14th century by both Nicole d’Oresme and Albert of Saxony with explanations that sound a lot like Newton’s inertia.[8]Christian university professors began to teach that sunrise and sunset could be caused by the rotation of the earth; in the 14th century it was no longer necessary to assume that the sun circled the Earth![9]
Nicholas of Cusa took the next step in the 15th century:

[Nicholas] noted that, “as we see from its shadow in eclipses, … the earth is smaller than the sun” but larger than the moon or Mercury, Nicholas went on to observe (as had Buridan and d’Oresme) that “whether a man is on the earth, or the sun, or some other star, it will always seem to him that the position he occupies is the motionless centre, and that all other things are in motion.” It followed that humans need not trust their perception that the earth is stationary, perhaps it isn’t.[10]

All of the theorizing of Ockham, Buridan, d’Oresme, Albert, and Nicholas was known prior to Copernicus and taught at the Christian centered universities!  The scientific revolution did not begin with Copernicus, he simply took the logical next step.[11]
Science and Christianity have traditionally complemented each other and have been intimately connected throughout history. Science was not “held back” during the so-called “Dark Ages.” In fact, scientific thought continued to move forward, even foreshadowing Newton’s Laws and providing the scaffolding needed for Copernicus, a canon in the Catholic Church, to make his contribution to science.

If the medieval church had intended to discourage or suppress science, it certainly made a colossal mistake in tolerating – to say nothing of supporting – the university. In this new institution, Greco-Arabic science and medicine for the first time found a permanent home, one that – with various ups and downs – science has retained to this day. Dozens of universities introduced large numbers of students to Euclidean geometry, optics, the problems of generation and reproduction, the rudiments of astronomy, and the arguments for the sphericity of the earth.[12]





[1]Michael Newton Keas, Unbelievable, ISI Books, 2019, page 35
[2]Ibid, page 37
[3]Ibid
[4]Ibid
[5]Rodney Stark, For The Glory of God, Princeton University Press, 2003, page 135
[6]Ibid, page 136
[7]Ibid
[8]Ibid, page 137
[9]Ibid
[10]Ibid, page 138
[11]Ibid
[12]Michael Shank, as quoted by Michael Newton Keas, Unbelievable, ISI Books, 2019, page 37

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Did Christianity Suppress Science in the "Dark Ages?"

The Synergetic Relationship Between Science & Christianity - Part 1
The "Dark Ages"

In the Middle Ages, as most people believe, it is correct that some of the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, & Galen (the “Classical tradition”) caused suspicion, hostility, and condemnation from the church.  But more often, critical reflection about the nature of the world was tolerated and even encouraged by medieval religious leaders. Many of the church fathers had been educated in the classical tradition before converting to Christianity and had acquired habits of rational inquiry. They used these tools to help develop Christian doctrine and to help defend the faith against detractors.[2]For example, Aristotle’s philosophy could be used to rationally argue the existence of God.

Consequently, many of the church fathers expressed at least limited approval of the classical tradition.  For example, the second and third century writers Athenagoras, Clement, and Origen all found Greek philosophy a useful tool in the defense of Christianity.  Athenagoras marshaled the authority of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics in favor of monotheism.  Clement attacked the earliest Greek philosophers for their atheism. But he [Clement] also acknowledged that certain philosophers and poets bore testimony to the truth, and that within the philosophical tradition there is a “slender spark, capable of being fanned into flame, a trace of wisdom and an impulse from God.” Tertullian himself viewed Christian religion as the fulfillment of Greek rationality, and he both advocated and engaged in philosophical activity.[3]

Medieval Scholastics deeply valued Aristotle and his writings and believed that his teachings on reason could be incorporated into church theology.  Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine), one of the most important Christian church fathers during the 4thand 5thcentury, wrote at length about the connection between the Genesis account in the Bible and the natural sciences contained in the classical tradition. Augustine had no problem using natural science to help interpret scripture.  Roger Bacon agreed with Augustine.  

His goal was to demonstrate that the pagan learning of the classical tradition was a vital resource, capable of offering essential services to theology and the church; and moreover that it posed no insuperable religious threat, that suitably disciplined and purged of error, it would serve as a faithful handmaiden of religion and the church.[4]

Augustine was confident that we could use our reason and experience to read the book of nature because it was created by God. He wanted the interpretation of scripture to stay consistent with the cosmology and physics of the classical tradition and used the natural sciences in his role as a theologian and bible interpreter. Christians should think of Scripture and Creation as two “books” that should be read together for understanding of the fullness of God’s self-revelation; science is a God-given tool for discerning the handiwork of God in Creation and is fully compatible with God’s Word revealed in Scripture. In terms of actual science, Augustine argued in Confessionsthat time itself is part of the created order and that the universe was created out of nothing;[5]two ideas that modern science didn’t agree with for over 1500 years.
Another Christian in the late 5thand early 6thcentury, the Roman senator Boethius established a foundational scientific concept that we now call “natural laws” by expressing how inanimate nature obeys God’s rules.[6]Work done by the English monk Bede in the late 7thand early 8thcentury “became a model for a purely physical description of the results of the divine creation, devoid of allegorical interpretation, and using the accumulated teachings of the past, both Christian and pagan.”[7]Both Boethius’ and Bede’s Christian worldview was not at all in conflict with a mechanistic universe governed by natural cause and effect.[8]
Science and Christianity have complemented each other – even in the so called “Dark Ages” - and have been intimately connected throughout history. In part 2 I will continue to look at how the Christian view of God as a lawgiver, a rational mind, and as the Creator gave rise to modern science.

[2]David C. Linderg, When Science and Christianity Meet, University of Chicago Press, 2003
[3]David C. Linderg, When Science and Christianity Meet, University of Chicago Press, 2003, page 12
[4]ibid, page 24
[5]Kenneth Richard Samples, Classic Christian Thinkers, Reasons to Believe, 2019
[6]Michael Newton Keas, Unbelievable, ISI Books, 2019, page 35
[7]Bruce S. Eastwood, “Early-Medieval Cosmology, Astronomy, and Mathematics,” in Cambridge History of Science: Volume 2, 307
[8]Michael Newton Keas, Unbelievable, ISI Books, 2019, page 35

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Has Science Pierced the Truth of Christianity?

“Hillsong Worship Leader [Marty Sampson] Announces He Wants No Part in Christianity Anymore.”[1]Marty says in the interview, “I am not in any more. I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth.  Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion.”[2]

Is that true? Has science poked holes in Christianity? 

The year is 1953. Watson and Crick have just discovered the structure of DNA. Contrary to what the Bible had taught for thousands of years, almost every scientist still thought the universe to be static and eternal. We had only discovered – at most – five characteristics of the universe that have to be fine-tuned for life. The Oparin-Haldane idea of life originating from a warm little pond was alive and well with the recently complete Miller-Urey experiment. 

What has happened since 1953?  Have the last 65 years seen a flood of evidence from nature making Christianity less reasonable; “piercing the truth” of the essential tenets of the faith?

To answer this, I will focus on three basic beliefs of the Christian faith that can addressed by science:
1.    The universe was created by God. Does current cosmology agree?
2.    The universe was designed for us.  Does current physics agree?
3.    God created life.  Does current biology – specifically origin of life research - agree?

The universe was created by God. Does current cosmology agree?
The creation of the universe is supported by the most tested and confirmed scientific theory – General Relativity.  The discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation in 1964 provided the last piece of evidence to convince the scientific community that the universe had a beginning; the data since has continued to point to a creation event. The current standard model for the universe includes an absolute beginning to time, space, and matter – which of course supports the first tenet that the universe was created. Alexander Vilenkin, physics professor at Tufts University, said in 2012 that “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”[3]This, of course, agrees very well with the first verse in Genesis.

The universe was designed for us.  Does current physics agree?
The design of the universe is becoming so accepted that the question is no longer if the universe is fine-tuned for life, but instead has become, “who or what is responsible for the fine-tuning?” The second tenet is support by current science.  Paul Davies, physics professor at Arizona State University wrote an entire book in 2006 addressing the question, “Why Is The Universe Just Right For Life?”[4]He starts chapter eight with this quote, “Scientists have long been aware that the universe seems strangely suited to life, but, they mostly chose to ignore it. It was an embarrassment – it looked too much like the work of a Cosmic Designer.”[5]Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe has been keeping track of the number of characteristics of the universe, galaxy, solar system, and earth that must be fine-tuned for us to exist.  His number has climbed from around five in the 1960’s to over 1000 today – in every area of scientific study.[6]  We continue to find increasingevidence that we are part of the purpose of the universe; this design supports what is taught in the Bible.

God created life. Does current biology – specifically origin of life research - agree?
Origin of life research since 1953 has made the creation of life on earth more reasonable and a materialistic explanation of life less reasonable.  Since 1953 we have determined that there was no pre-biotic chemical soup (no warm little pond).  As we do more research, organic synthesis under the conditions of the early earth of the large molecules needed for life has become more and more difficult.[7]  Also, chemists having to intervene to do these synthesis reactions in the lab actually provides evidence for an intelligent mind needing to be involved in the creation of life. The organic synthesis reactions required for life to begin all require a researcher to control some aspect of the experiment to get the needed result. Evolutionary biologist Simon Conway Morris has pointed out, “Many of the experiments designed to explain one or other step in origin of life are either of tenuous relevance to any believable prebiotic setting or involve an experimental rig in which the hand of the researcher becomes for all intents and purposes the hand of God.”[8]An intelligence is necessary every time we duplicate origin of life chemistry; materialism predicts that these reactions should occur on their own.  The more origin of life research we do, the more evidence we find for a creator!

Since the discovery of DNA in 1953, we continued to uncover how amazing the chemical code for life actual is.  DNA is information.  It has been said to be a language and a super advanced computer code; the more we investigate, the more complex it shows itself to be! Since the only source of information is a mind, the evidence we find as we research DNA increasinglysupports that life was created.

Instead of science piercing the truth of Christianity, virtually every discovery and major advance in science over the last 65 years has supported Christianity and made the existence of God more reasonable!
1.    The universe was created by God.  Supported by current cosmology!
2.    The universe was designed for us.  Supported by physics and almost every area of science!
3.    God created life. Supported by origin of life research and the discovery that DNA is information!



[1]Charisma News, Jenny Rose Spaudo, 8/12/2019
[2]ibid
[3]https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/vilenkins-verdict-all-the-evidence-we-have-says-that-the-universe-had-a-beginning/
[4]Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma, First Mariner Books, 2006
[5]Ibid, page 151
[6]https://www.reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2004/06/07/fine-tuning-for-life-on-earth-updated-june-2004
[7]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU7Lww-sBPg
[8]Fazale Rana, Creating Life In The Lab, Baker Books, 2011, page 195

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Responding To The Fine-Tuning

A person can be a God-fearing Christian on Sunday and a working scientist come Monday morning, without ever having to account for the partition that seems to have erected itself in his head while he slept.[1]

This quote described me perfectly for most of my life. My great-grandfather started the first Lutheran church in the town where I grew up and my grandmother made sure that we all grew up going to church. I never doubted the truth of Christianity, even when I was a science major in college and later when I taught science. I just did as Sam Harris said, “created a partition in my head.”

I really didn’t see a problem with this division; I just accepted the prevailing cultural mindset that Christianity and science are in conflict. But the Bible clearly proclaims that we can trust nature to teach us about God. We are told to do science in order to learn about God’s character and attributes! If science conflicts with what the Bible teaches, why are we told to look at nature and then trust what we find?

The heavens declare the glory of God,
   and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
   and night to night reveals knowledge.[2]

I didn’t realize the problem I had until around 15 years ago when I began teaching a canned apologetics program in a Sunday School class and discovered how inadequate the science portion of the class was. I came to the realization that if God was responsible for both the Bible and the universe then what we discover in nature should agree with what the Bible teaches! There should be no need for a “partition”, and we should be able to do science unafraid that anything we discover will conflict with scripture. So why does the Bible tell us to do science?

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him.[3]

One of the reasons is so we can know how much God cares for us! Atheists like Richard Dawkins try to tell us that we have no purpose, and that there is no meaning. Bill Nye says the same thing a little less intelligently when he says that we are just a speck on a speck on a speck and we suck. Contrary to what Dawkins and Nye try to tell us, if we do science, we will uncover purpose and meaning when we discover how much care God has taken just so we can exist. 

I think it is safe to assume that everyone desires purpose and meaning in their lives.
We all want to be loved, we all want to be affirmed, we all want someone to care for us. In our society today, most people seek justice. We can know all of this by doing science! As we do more science, the evidence will increase in support of a super intelligent mind that took exceptional care to plan and create this universe for us.  I remember a Keith Green song from the 70’s that began with Keith talking about how amazing heaven will be because Jesus has spent 2000 years preparing it for us.  Science shows us that God has spent the entire history of the universe preparing for us to be here right now! Water and carbon provide us with an excellent example of this preparation.

I am sure all of you know that water is necessary for life. It is the only substance that has these five life-essential properties: it’s a liquid under the conditions on earth, it is extremely polar for its size, its solid is less dense than its liquid, it dissolves a vast array of other substances, it has a high specific heat capacity. The only reason water has these properties is because of the physical laws - mainly the laws of quantum mechanics - that were set up at the very beginning of the universe.

You probably also know that carbon is necessary for life. It is the only element that can make large, complex, information-rich molecules and still remain what’s called “meta-stable” – which means that these large complex molecules are still able to undergo reactions. Carbon also “coincidently” reacts the best under the same set of conditions that will make water a liquid!
Both carbon’s chemistry and water’s properties depend on the exact right set of physical laws, again set at the very beginning of the universe. If the laws of quantum mechanics would have been set differently, then carbon and water wouldn’t have the perfect properties for life; which means that most likely we wouldn’t be here! But there is another layer to this fine-tuning of carbon and water; that they even exist at all is a “miracle.”

For carbon and water to even exist, all six of the following physical laws, forces, and constants had to be perfectly fine tuned at the start of the universe: cosmic mass density, cosmological constant, strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, electromagnetic force, laws of quantum mechanics. God has been planning for our existence for 13.8 billion years! So, both the properties and the existence of carbon and water have to be exquisitely fine-tuned; but there is still another layer of fine-tuning with carbon and water.

You can’t just have any amount of carbon and water on a planet for life to exist. Even too much carbon and too much water is bad for life. Getting the perfect amounts of carbon and wateron earth so that we can be here right now took a perfectly designed moon formation event.

The moon formed when another planet collided with earth 4.5 billion years ago. This collision left us with the perfect moon and earth; both with the exact conditions for advanced life to exist. It also set the stage for the perfect amount of carbon and the perfect amount of water to remain on the earth. Not only did the collision have to take place at the exact right angle and speed, but prior to the collision there had to be the perfect amount of water already on the earth! Computer models show that the oceans had to be the exact right depth for the collision to result in the perfect conditions for life.[4]

“the sequence of conditions that currently seems necessary in these revised versions of lunar formation have led to philosophical disquiet.”[5]

Think about all the “coincidences” that had to take place just to get the right amount of carbon and water on earth so that we could exist, and you can understand why this might create some “philosophical disquiet.” We needed the perfect set of initial conditions at the start of the universe for carbon and water to even exist. We needed the perfect set of physical laws for carbon and water to have perfect set of life-permitting properties and life-permitting chemistry. We needed the perfect moon forming collision to get the right amount of carbon and water on the earth. We needed the perfect amount of water on the earth prior to the collision for the results to be what we needed for us to be able to exist here, right now. God has been working to prepare the earth for us for the entire history of the universe, and carbon and water are only two of the characteristics needed for us to exist here on earth.

Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe has kept track of the number of characteristics of the universe that need to be fine-tuned for advanced life to exist. The number of has gone from only two in 1961 to over 180 today. These numbers show that as we do more science, we get increasing evidence of how fine-tuned the initial conditions of the universe, the laws of nature and the physical constants are just for us to exist. The more we study nature, the more we see evidence of God’s handiwork! 

We also see fine-tuning evidence increasing at the scale of our galaxy; the Milky Way is the perfect spiral galaxy. We see fine-tuning at the level of our solar system; we have the perfect G-type main sequence star as our sun, and we have the perfect planetary neighbors. And, as with carbon and water, we see fine-tuning on our planet. According to Dr. Ross, the number of fine-tuned characteristics of our galaxy, solar system, and planet needed for advanced life has grown from three in the 1960’s to over 1000 today. God has not only been working at every time since the beginning of the universe, but also at every location!

Every field of science - astronomy, geology, chemistry, biology – is increasingly showing us how amazing our existence is!  Just to get the correct amount of carbon and water on earth took several amazing, intertwined “coincidences.” The fact that there are now over 1000 “fortunate accidents” that make our existence possible provides exceptional evidence for a designer who planned the whole thing for our benefit.

The fine-tuning of the universe is so well established that the question is not if the universe is fine-tuned, but instead has become who or what is responsible for the fine tuning. Even atheist scientists see the design when they look at nature. Paul Davies, physicist at Arizona State University, asks the question, “Why Is The Universe Just Right For Life?” Most scientists recognize that the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for life to exist, almost like the universe knew we were coming! But some scientists take this one step further and recognize that an intelligence had to be responsible.

A few theories have been proposed by actual, serious, working physicists which show a recognition that a mind is required to explain the fine-tuning. One involves time travel: “Humans evolve to be God-like beings and then reach back in time and create the universe for themselves.” A second proposal uses the weirdness of quantum mechanics: “The universe engineers its own awareness through quantum backward causation.” A third explanation that is becoming more and more popular is that we are living in a simulation of a super-intelligent race. These proposals show how unreasonable a purely materialistic explanation is for the extreme fine-tuning needed for life to exist on earth.

To decide which intelligence is responsible, we will need to look at all the other evidence available to us. If a mind has designed the universe for us, it is reasonable to conclude this mind has left us hints about who they are! If we take into account all the other evidence we have from history, archaeology, and from the biblical writings, it becomes clear that the designer has indeed left clues about who they are and this same intelligence has actually told us to look at nature to discover their attributes and character! The intelligence that we detect when we are doing science is the God of the Bible.

The Bible tells us to look at creation for evidence that God cares for us. Not only do we find it, but that evidence grows every day. Science shows us that we must be incredibly significant and loved for God to take such extreme care since the very beginning of the universe to make sure we exist. God has been working at every time and at every location so that each one of uscan be here right now.  It is easy to see yourself as having purpose and meaning if the creator of the universe cares that much for you. The Bible also tells us that God, the creator, has provided a solution to evil and suffering through Jesus, giving us ultimate justice. Most importantly, Jesus has also provided a way for us – including you - to have a relationship with God, who wants you to have this relationship with him for eternity.



[1]Sam Harris, The End of Faith, Norton, New York, 2004, page 15
[2]Psalm 19: 1-2 ESV
[3]Psalm 8:3 ESV
[4]Robin M. Canup, “Lunar Conspiracies.” Nature 504 (Dec. 5, 2013), 27.
[5]Tim Elliot, “A Chip Off the Old Block.” Nature 504 (Dec. 5, 2013), 90