Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Keep in mind the blogs are posted in reverse chronological order.

The Anthropic Principle and General Revelation

With fear and trembling here is my first post related to science.

General Revelation is the concept that nobody has an excuse for not believing in God – all they have to do is look around at the wonders of nature (with a small ‘n’). A slightly stronger version is that, due to the miracle of God’s creation, everybody, at some level, believes albeit, for the most part, without a saving faith. The verse that speaks most directly to this:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Rom 1:20, NASB)

You can see how this might work with most people – they look at the Grand Canyon with awe. A scientist, however, might look at the same thing and say: “A river did that.” He admires Nature with a big ‘N’.

Anthropic Principle

Well, it turns out that science has its own more esoteric form of General Revelation, the so called Anthropic Principle. There are weak and strong versions of this – an unimportant distinction. For our purposes I will define it as follows:

Anthropic Principle: The principle that the universe seems to be tailor made to support life on earth; the idea that necessary and highly restrictive relations among unrelated scientific parameters suggests an intelligent design.

As an example, take the radius of the earth’s orbit. A few percent change in either direction and there is no stable water cycle and consequently no possibility of human life.

Think the planet Jupiter serves no practical purpose? Wrong – without the large outer planets serving as shields and asteroid catchers the earth would be under frequent, catastrophic bombardment.

No big deal that ice floats? Well for most substances the solid form has higher density than the liquid. If water were not a rare exception, ice would sink. In the winter, ice would form on the surface of (for example) a lake. It would sink to the bottom. More ice would form and sink – lakes, rivers and seas would freeze solid from the bottom up, killing everything within. Instead, a relatively thin layer forms on the surface, insulating and protecting marine life.

The list of “happy coincidences” goes on and on. This topic is too big to discuss here. A Google search will produce many hits – a good place to start is on Hugh Ross’s site

To be sure, some (but not all) of the more amazing (in terms of how “tight” the constraints are) examples are for old earth proponents only. Element production inside stars requires an unbelievable balance of parameters and energy levels for the production of the ingredients needed to sustain life (e.g., Carbon) – an infinitesimal tweak here or there with any of a number of physical constants renders the universe uninhabitable. Furthermore, a balancing act among the fundamental forces is required to sufficiently spread the elements after a star explodes. Of course If you believe the universe was created six thousand years ago with all the elements in situ, and that stars have not (yet) exploded, then there is no need to appreciate a finely tuned stellar cycle.

Scientific Response

I would like to report that scientists everywhere are bowing down to worship the True Creator, but alas it is not so. Sometimes that is the response (praise God) – but more often it is one of these:
  1. Deism. The scientist acknowledges that there is intelligent design, but concludes after God set up the “initial conditions” he left the universe to its own devices. Deists want God’s “intrusion” to be minimal.
  2. Quantum Religion: Parallel Universes. There are an infinite number of parallel (and conveniently, mutually inaccessible) universes most of which are uninhabitable. The fact that we are here talking about this means, ipso facto, we are one of the lucky ones. No big deal.
  3. Cosmic Measurement Theory Another idea is – in a nutshell – that our present observations of the universe influence its creation -- so that it can be in a state that will support life – so that we can be here to observe it …

The fact that believing these ideas requires a faith that is indistinguishable from a religious faith is apparently lost. At any rate, God’s creation is evident, and so they have no excuse for not believing. General Revelation is inescapable.

No comments:

Post a Comment