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Letters to the Press-Enterprise, Bloomsburg, PA

Written by the primary producer of this Tutorial (Nicholas M. Short), these were published in the local newspaper serving this area.

Letter 1 (Year 2000)

IS GOD COMPATIBLE WITH SCIENCE?

The title question has been posed by philosophers and theologians since ancient Greek times. It has become a prime topic for examination, debate, and reformulation from the Reformation through the Age of Enlightenment to the modern world of Existentialism. It can be rephrased as "Is the idea of God (or more generally, a Being or principle that objectifies what we call "God") essential in explaining the natural (physical) Universe?" and its derivative "Is Humanism and its intimate interdependence on Science sufficient to explain all that there is in a Universe perceived by Man?"

I personally believe the answers to these dual questions are Yes and No respectively. My choice is derived from arbitrarily accepting these three basic theses:

· The fundamental point: There is an intelligence existing within the Universe and perhaps external to it as well that has guided the "creation" of everything that has ever existed in what we now can define as the known Universe. This is tantamount to saying "A Supreme Being (conventionally referred to as 'God' or "Gott" in English/German) created the Universe". However, I have derived my own generalized definition of God: "That which is responsible for all that is knowable ("that" and "which" remove any idea of gender and also implies that this is some sort of "being" but is probably not "anthropomorphic" [manlike] in nature; "responsible" refers to the ultimate source or cause (relates to the much-debated "first cause" [uncaused] concept); "knowable" denotes anything that can be imagined by our minds as existing or existed in any way whatsoever, including pre-Big Bang vacuum states with virtual quantum entities). "By "Creation" I mean 'all that exists since the Big Bang (starting point of the expanding Universe) and all that existed prior to that which comprised the "physics" needed to set and actuate the conditions that caused the observable Universe to begin its existence'.

. God is a Scientist: This is not a superficial or whimsical statement. What it means is that whatever it is that fills the reality of "God" established a functional Universe according to Laws (which can vary with time or circumstances) that the mind of Man has been uncovering in ever improving scientific investigations (especially since about 1750). Thus, all that Science does in its quickening quest for the Truth of the Natural Order is to gain insight into just how everything that is came to be as it was set forth by the ultimate Scientist - the One who designed the modus operandi that governs all Existence (both material things, energy, and the abstractions called ideas)

· The scientific evidence itself – starting with Francis Bacon in the 16th Century (one of the first to set down the rudiments of the modern scientific methodology) and continuing through the remarkable achievements in physics, cosmology, geology, biology, and other fields into the 20th Century – points to the existence of a Creator (or "God" in the theological [metaphysical] sense.

Add this corollary: there need be no conflict between those who believe in some god(s) as the Grand or Intelligent Designer and those who have not factored in a supreme being in their analysis of the Universe from its origin to its production of thinking, conscious organisms such as the species homo sapiens.

Presented as a simple bottom line statement: If one postulates and accepts the idea of some kind of independent, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal being and then accepts that all the scientific knowledge gained by mankind is essentially valid (although not yet absolute or final, but still evolving or modifying), then the modern notion of God is simply that which (who) conceived and used what is now called Science to formulate the rules by which the Universe operates and changes with time. Setting all this into motion is what we imply in the idea of the "creation act". (It is interesting to note that my above "model" for the Universe's inception and development, which I arrived at on my own through years of thought, is very similar in its essence to the metaphysical explanation for the physical world described by Sir Isaac Newton, who remained a believer all his life.)

Paraphrasing the preceding: Let us assume or accept as fact that there is some kind of God and that what we have learned scientifically about the Universe (within and beyond humanity) is also true/valid/correct, then the task that has always challenged thinking Man is just to reconcile the two ideas because they are indeed two ways of approaching the essence of Existence. These thoughts need further elaboration:

Lets start with a simple premise: the scientific method works when applied to ideas that properly belong to the venue of science.

This method, of course, follows these steps: formulation of the "problem" or the topic(s) to be studied; accumulation of known facts; observations seeking new data; experimentation where appropriate; development of hypotheses; prediction and testing; refinement to narrow to a specific hypothesis with strong supporting results; publication after peer review; and continued survival, improvement, and probation of the hypothesis until it is accepted as a valid theory or even a law of nature. This is the core of how science operates and yields hard facts.

It is near impossible to deny that the modern world has most of its foundation built on the ideas and achievements developed by scientists from Copernicus and Newton through Einstein and his fellow titans in thought (as well as the hundreds of thousands of less famed scientists who’ve contributed over the past 500 years). In countless instances, the tenets of the various sciences - physics, chemistry, biology, math, others - have been proven repeatedly to work, that is, they have survived the tests and have led to useful applications: the production of energy; convenient means of transportation; diverse varieties of communication; the power of computers; the many pharmaceutical and instrumental products available to doctors; the management of the environment, to name a few. So, science is a reality of great significance to those who practice science and those who reap its benefits.

Does it not make sense that, if there is a Creator, then Science is one of his/her (I prefer "its") essential creations? As science unravels the mysteries of the Universe, one result should be the awareness that all creation follows a scientific pattern, namely every manifestation of matter and energy is describable by laws subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny.

Looking at the Genesis stories, what God has made was once described in allegories, myths, and parables, together with historical facts, as in the Bible, the Koran, the Hindu teachings. At the time they were written, they had to be of that simplistic style since the people of those times had no understanding of the scientific principles since developed and now widely accepted. The need for such records to be presented in the context of what was then so imperfectly known does not discredit the wisdom and validity of their content, irrespective of the later advances in knowledge now that Man has matured sufficiently to examine alternatively te world from the perspective of the sciences.

So, what do I mean by the phrase "God is a Scientist"? First, let me note that the God of biblical times, of early Christian times, of the Islamics, Hindus, Buddhists, and other, often primitive, faiths might better be referred to as "God is a Magician". Working through miracles, revelations, and rituals, God in those times proclaimed insights and truths about its (his) nature and about what is expected of Man to live in a godly manner in ways that clearly are not the purview of modern science.

Yet, after the thousands of years during which the traditional beliefs about creation were initiated and changed, there has emerged in parallel the knowledge acquired by science that the fundamental workings of the Universe can also be described in purely natural terms.

Still, the crux is this: the fact that we now know reasonably well so many things about the world of our planet and the Universe beyond in those terms can nevertheless be taken as an independent truth that the creator set up the Universe to run according to the scientific laws simultaneously designed and applied when it all started.

It is ridiculous to promote the arrogant idea that just because we have uncovered and verified those laws, it is no longer necessary to assume that they must have had some external source (verily, an eternal source at that). That source, the originator of the Universe, set into motion the "modus operandi" by which all of existence has functioned over time according to rules and laws once thought to be "magical" but now identified as "scientific".

In the Middle Ages, theologians and philosophers, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, devised various proofs (many built upon ancient Greek philosophy) of the existence of a Creator using metaphysical logic, drawing upon procedures as ancient as the ideas put forth by Plato, Aristotle, and others, that depended heavily on causality, tempered by revelation.

I contend, as have others of our Age, that modern science, in particular Cosmology, has uncovered still another proof that is elegant in its scientific basis. I refer to the prevailing doctrine that the Universe had a finite origin in the Big Bang, a cataclysmic "explosion" some 12 to 15 billion years ago from a point (a singularity that has no discrete location) of incredible energy, density, and temperature. Limitations of space in this letter preclude me from elaborating on the mechanisms and outcomes of this extraordinary event, whose general characteristics, while still imperfectly known, are now embraced by nearly all specialists in astrophysics and cosmology.

Granting its efficacy, I want to extract a single axiom that in itself goes a long way to support the advocacy of the "Grand Designer" (also known as the "Intelligent Designer") model, that is, the postulate of an independent Creator who conceived the notion of the Universe, established its laws of operation, and (indirectly?) triggered the Big Bang.

This touches upon the argument of "fine tuning", related to but distinct from the Anthropic Principle (the Universe is meaningful and knowable because Man exists as a conscious being capable of deciphering this meaning). At the time of the Big Bang and thereafter, certain constants and parameters (those fundamental to Physics) involved in the process, and the mathematical equations that delineate the initiating process and all that follows in the natural order, had to have very specific (precise) values. Otherwise, if these numbers deviated notably from their actual values, and sometimes by just a little, the organization and evolution of the Universe we observe would not have been possible, or, if it could exist, would be so different that it might never have fostered the conditions that led to organic life, here on Earth and probably elsewhere in the Cosmos.

My fellow debaters have alluded to these parameters and factors without spelling them out. I now offer a partial list of those whose importance in the Big Bang and its consequences are not in dispute: the rate of expansion; the homogeneity and isotropy of the Universe at broad levels; the value of the Gravitational Constant (and just recently the recognition that a variant of Einstein’s once discredited Cosmological Constant must actually exist); particle/antiparticle interactions; neutron/proton ratios; the hydrogen/helium and hydrogen/deuterium ratios; the temperature and density variations in the first minute; the balance between nuclear and electron forces; the decay history of certain particles in the first moments; primordial black hole distributions; the total number and density of neutrinos; mechanisms of star and galaxy formtion; element synthesis. The list goes on. (See bottom of this page for a list prepared by Hugh Ross, taken off the Internet, and not included in this letter.)

But the point remains – these are sensitive and finely tuned parameters in that if their values and functions were different by much from what they actually are, the Universe would either never have gotten started, or would have collapsed before life could evolved, or would be expanding too slowly to have reached a stage that can foster life. This in essence is the Intelligent Designer concept.

It is the (aforementioned) Goldilocks dictum: not too hot, not too cold, just right. If chance alone were the governing determinant, the odds are enormously against all the above parameters/factors, and others, being just right. Some intelligence, be it God or any other analogous name or concept, had to play the pivotal role in establishing and structuring a scientifically developed Universe.

Those who promote quantum mechanics (or in its larger domain, quantum cosmology) as both a necessary and sufficient means to explain how a material Universe could originate ex nihilo miss a key point. In their model, quantum fluctuations occur in a total material vacuum during which "virtual" particles develop fleetingly and are nearly always annihilated by virtual antiparticles. But, occasionally one particle would survive and under certain conditions become a singularity that then undergoes a Big Bang. Quantum cosmology admits to the possibility of many Universes being thusly created but most are destroyed and fail; still, one or perhaps many might just "make it".

Even multiple Universes – not in contact with each other and thus unknowable (to us) by any current scientific detection methodology – are potential occurrences. The flaw in the argument, from a metaphysical standpoint, is that virtual particles that are the necessary seeds are something, not nothing. A conceptualizing "operator" had to produce them. We are back to some kind of Creator, who presumably invented quantum cosmology which inherently contains the mechanisms that permit a process culminating in the Big Bang and subsequent expansion of the Universe. The ideas in this paragraph make up the quintessential point to comprehend and remember from this letter.

A word about Evolution. The term connotes "change" – change in something in response to changing conditions, with the thing evolved becoming better adapted to new conditions or circumstances. The astronomical evidence is revealing a systematically evolving Universe.

It is just common sense then to expect that one variant of evolution applies, at a much smaller scale, to the organisms that appeared and changed in an orderly manner on Earth. There is no logical reason why Man - the thinking organsim - should be the exception, by being created "magically"instead of participating in the "scientific"scheme. The only ineluctable question becomes: does Man have a soul (and what are the properties of "soul" aside from intrinsic consciousness and [apparently] immateriality)? If we indeed have souls, and if they are immortal, then at some stage in human evolution, at some point between simian ancestry and the time when the genus Homo can be said to have "crossed over", then a special spiritual act of God to infuse that soul into all subsequent individuals must be assumed. This would seem an exceptiont to the scientific rule but certainly within a Creator’s power. The probability that there are many inhabited planets in the Universe means simply that when certain life form(s) on each such planet reach a certain stage or degree of development, they qualify for "souls" as gifts from God. Why and how, who knows? Suffice, in our present ignorance, to believe in and ascribe this to a benevolent Creator who retains personal interest in the things and beings created.

(As an aside: Amazingly, our bodies participate in the gross evolution of the Universe. Most of the hydrogen within us was created in the first minute of the Big Bang and has passed on unchanged through countless generations of galactic events. Our oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and other elements were later generated inside stars that exploded and disperse these elements essential to life. In one sense we are already eternal!)

OF COURSE, THERE REMAINS ONE ULTIMATE QUESTION - WHAT I CALL THE "GOD CONUNDRUM". THAT IS, WHAT CAUSED GOD? THE ANSWER, SO FAR, REMAINS TOTALLY UNKNOWN, AND LIKELY WILL STAY UNKNOWABLE, REGARDLESS OF HOW FAR SCIENCE PROGRESSES IN THE FUTURE. IT MAY, IN FACT, LIE BEYOND THE CAPABILITIES AND REALM OF THE INTELLIGENT PRODUCTS OF CREATION TO EVER ANSWER WITH CERTAINTY OR EVEN UNDERSTAND ADEQUATELY. THIS IS WHERE FAITH, AIDED BY AND BUILT ON, REVELATION MAY FOREVER PROVIDE THE ONLY BELIEVABLE ANSWER: GOD EXISTS BECAUSE CREATION EXISTS - AND, IN SPITE OF THE COMPELLING LOGIC OF CAUSALITY, IN SOME UTTERLY ARCANE WAY, WE MUST POSTULATE AND ACCEPT THE EXTRAORDINARY NOTION OF (AN UNCAUSED) FIRST CAUSE.


Since this was written, I have tried to rephrase this last statement in a more fundamental way, expressed by the title "The Ultimate Question", extracting from a text of a talk that I gave in 2003. Although somewhat repetitive of ideas stated in the above letter, these statements may lead some to new insight. The argument goes this way: All our rational experience with the concept of cause or causality leads to one irreducibly simple idea - we cannot logically explain or even conceive of a "cause", that is something that exists and therefore is also an "effect", as itself being also "uncaused". We are forced to conclude (at least until some new profound insight gives us a believable and provable explanation) that every effect is preceded by a cause which in turn is also an effect that requires a prior cause. This can be carried back into some kind of infinity - retreating backwards through time there is a constant procession of causes/effects. To break out of this endless a priori chain, we must invent the necessity for some oldest cause being uncaused. But this defies both the deepest penetration of reason into this idea and our common sense. How can anything be truly uncaused!!!???. (Note: these ideas on causality go back to the ancient Greeks.)

Now the natural philosophers (read: Scientists) are proposing quantum explanations for the existence of virtual particles or other entities that can come out of the "void". This could be true for a single Universe or Multiverses. But these "things" that emerge from the void are something - they have existence and may have persisted back in time (which may or may not be infinite in regards to the "past" - the "jury is still out" on this). Yet, as far as we now seem to know, they must have causes that account for their very being as well as their potential to convert into matter and energy by one of the processes we've considered in this Section (or one yet to be thought of). They have an uncaused cause problem that has yet to be addressed with the goal of a plausible solution. Now, theological philosophers (people of religious persuasions) have followed a similar route back to whatever it is that has "created" the Universe(s); they apply descriptive names to this concept, such as God, Allah, Yahwey (Jehovah), what have you, and assigned this being as uncaused. Same problem!! If one accepts the God idea by agreeing that the uncaused cause stumbling block is yet to be solved and may forever be unknowable, then equivocally the same willingness to shift from God to virtual particles as the ultimate explanation, despite the uncaused cause enigma, has to be in fairness given the same degree of acceptance (currently without proof or full explanation). These two (there may be more) notions of how it all came to be use the same final or ultimate argument - that an uncaused cause is some way is real and is responsible for all that is knowable. Both individuals of faith and those called atheists at this point are valid in their beliefs. To get through one's life, either you can be a child of the Enlightenment and exitentialistic and consider the scientific proposals to explain it all as sufficient or you must rely on the Intelligent Designer approach and place God in your basic belief. Either choice requires some measure of FAITH (in the sense of 'acceptance without proof or complete understanding') to accommodate the uncaused problem. Those of scientific bent believe that in the future all existence will be understood from the knowledge that Science seems to be bringing to mankind. Those of religious bent can get around the faith (i.e., uncaused cause) conundrum by relying on (and thus believing) through revelation.

Here is a challenge to the curious!! Access your search engine (I used Google) and type in "Uncaused Cause". There will be a large number of responses. The first 50 I checked out proved quite interesting - views ranged from those who use the argument to prove God to those who use these ideas as support for atheism. Work through a few of these - I found several worth printing out and reading carefully, followed by study and meditation on the substance and implications of the viewpoints presented.

(I am reminded of a motto on the wall of a class room at Colorado School of Mines when I attended summer school there in 1949: "It was all so simple until the Professor loused it up". I ask your indulgence if I have just added confusion.)


Letter 2 (Year 2001)

CREATION VERSUS SCIENTISM REVISITED

The debate between Creationists vs Scientists being waged in America, and right here in our town, today continues unabated and unresolved. These two terms describing antithetical groups can be further expanded thusly: Creationists are held by their opponents to be quasi- or even pseudo-scientists; Scientists are often synonymous with atheists, or if professing some religious faith, are said to be deists (impersonal God) rather than theists (God is actively involved with intelligent beings).

Some Scientists have put forth arguments that appear to tie the Intelligent Design (ID) group solidly to the Creationist camp. Since traditional Creationism is not seriously considered as having any supportable validity by the vast majority of world thinkers in theology, philosophy, and science, by associating Intelligent Design with raw Creationism, ID is made to seem as suspect and foolish as the latter, i.e., it is discredited. From my readings of both positions, I conclude (as would most who take the time to investigate each) that ID does not share in the principal arguments of the Creationists that the world (the Earth plus the Universe) was created much like it is today over a sharply compressed time scale by the wave of the hand of the Almighty.

Intelligent Design can (and apparently does) accept the majority of premises by the scientific community about the Universe’s history and the physical laws governing it either as already proven, or as still being refined. It requires mainly that the Universe as now being formulated by Science have a prime (and evidently external) mover other than itself. Still, even if any Universe follows all the laws of Cosmophysics from its inception to the Present, and originated through some predecessor quantum process, the possibility that this quantum state has no origin (it just is) seems totally alien to the human mind. Causality must have affected virtual quantum states prior to the Big Bang: Inasmuch as the Universe(s), once established, is/are observed to be subject to causality, similitude suggests this condition of potentiality for energy/matter to exist before the Bang must itself derive from some "cause". Intelligent Design has an immanent teleological mandate to seek out such a "cause".

ID is not a Creationist plot to subvert the realities uncovered by the scientific method through forcing them into a set of ludicrous interpretations that attempt to reconcile these modern ideas with the words of Scripture. The spiritual truths of the Bible, the Koran, etc. - many extracted from allegories - would not have been intelligible if framed in the language of the 21st -century scientific school. These documents are appropriate for the eras before Science gained a foothold in late medieval times and could not have been appreciated in ancient times if cast in terms of any World Model clothed in the modern concepts of Science. Nevertheless they first disclose and then retain truths extending beyond our physical/temporal existence that are recognized as independent of the mode of expression or the stage of Man’s understanding of the natural Universe.

Let me now cut to the heart of the controversy, using appropriate syllogisms to try to pin down some form of objective reality. Start with this: Either the Universe exists or it does not. We think we can prove (accept) the existence outcome because we are here, alive, able to think and talk about what strikes us as self-evident. This is a variation of the Cartesian (Descartes) argument for any reality: "Cogito, ergo sum." (‘I think, therefore I am"). Lets just agree that the Universe (which in today’s sense can mean anything whatsoever that has acquired existence) is a reality. Most intellectuals - be they scientists or metaphysicians - now accept the current view that what has been determined and learned about this Universe by advanced scientific inquiries is for the most part correct (conforms to objective reality). This conclusion is valid to the extent that today’s knowledge base has been verified (in the future, this body of scientific wisdom is likely to be refined and extended, while some aspects may be discarded for alternate "truths"). The idea just affirms that the minds of thinking creatures on this Earth are unravelling the "modus operandi" that governs the Universe’s components and operations.

The next syllogism is about as basic as it gets: Either God (the Intelligent Designer or First Cause) exists or it doesn’t. No one in the history of mankind has offered a definitive, uncompromising, absolutely certain solution to this statement, one way or another. People of faith choose the first condition - God exists. Those who have convinced themselves that there is no God have erected plausible explanations for the observed Universe. They will continue to pursue their knowledge quests from within the frames of reference that work in the scientific world. Where they encounter some barriers or ambiguities will seemingly lie in those kinds of realities - such as the qualities of the human mind and the values and purposes (the transcendentals) we place on those things we euphemistically ascribe to the "heart and spirit" - that are not directly and quantitatively measurable by the tried and true scientific methodologies. In time, the methods may be able to handle even these. If there is no God, as the human race extends into the future the scientists will almost certainly have the last word about the "meaning of it all".

But, to "cover all bases" let us arbitrarily posit the following: There really is a God, and that creator-being has at least once interacted with our human race by setting into motion a dynamic Universe that (in some locales) fosters an environment conducive to life in which intelligence or consciousness has evolved here (and, I believe, in many other places within the Cosmos). Or, the ID may indeed by a personal God who ordains that it (He, if scriptures properly divulge gender) deliberately stays in touch and influences (by revelation or by direct appearance) knowing animate creatures. In either scheme, lifeforms that attain some level of Conscious eventually become embued with the property of spirit and the sense of the abstract that conceives of the need and reality of that Creator. As I stated in my earlier "Is God compatible with Science" letter, I find that nothing has yet been discovered and certified by scientists, as their perception of the material Universe moves ever closer to unlocking the realities of existence, that automatically, compellingly and irreversibly negates the need for a personage responsible for the very notions of "Being" and "Becoming". I strongly reiterate: If the Universe is a reality, the data bank of Science is real, and if an extra-material God is real, then spirit-bearing Man on Earth today can co-exist with the explanations Science puts forth. Thus human existence is not necessarily incompatible with a Creator that is the Fountainhead of Science.

The Ultimate Challenge I toss out to my fellow scientists and to disbelievers in general (especially those with atheistic leanings) is, in its primal essence: Suspend your prejudices and build a working hypothesis (or even a paradigm) that God Exists. Then make Science fit into that universal truth. It can be done. When thus accomplished, a harmony of disparate Worldviews will bring sense and direction to it all.

What is the summation to all I’ve set forth: Both Science and Religion are essentially correct in their respective acquisitions and interpretations of the knowledge that falls in each’s proper sphere.

I can summarize the essence of these two letters in this way: 1) Assume for the sake of argument that something (called the Ultimate Reality by Christian de Duve), that I call the Intelligent Designer (syn: God), existed prior to the first (either the only or an 'infinite' number) Universe; 2) Assume that what we are learning scientifically and rationally about all that exists (physically, or naturally) is in large part "correct" (valid) so far, and will expand and improve (become more "true") in the future; then 3) What is needed is for scientists, philosophers, and theologians to work together to reconcile, integrate and fully explain these two (1 and 2 in this sentence) fundamental aspects of existence (thus existentialism becomes modifiied to require the key causative role by a Creator), namely, the duality of the physical and spiritual nature of Being.

End of Letters; Added Information

The following summary of suggested lines of evidence supporting some type of independent Design(er) responsible for establishing the Universe as we know it was taken from this Internet site.

Evidence For Design In The Universe

From Limits for the Universe by Hugh Ross, Ph.D.

1. Gravitational coupling constant. If larger: No stars less than 1.4 solar masses, hence short stellar lifespans. If smaller: No stars more than 0.8 solar masses, hence no heavy element production

2. Strong nuclear force coupling constant. If larger: No hydrogen; nuclei essential for life are unstable. If smaller: No elements other than hydrogen.

3. Weak nuclear force coupling constant. If larger: All hydrogen is converted to helium in the big bang, hence too much heavy elements. If smaller: No helium produced from big bang, hence not enough heavy elements.

4. Electromagnetic coupling constant. If larger: No chemical bonding; elements more massive than boron are unstable to fission. If smaller: No chemical bonding.

5. Ratio of protons to electrons formation If larger: electromagnetism dominates gravity preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation. If smaller: Electromagnetism dominates gravity preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation.

6. Ratio of electron to proton mass. If larger: No chemical bonding. If smaller: No chemical bonding.

7. Expansion rate of the universe. If larger: No galaxy formation. If smaller: Universe collapses prior to star formation.

8. Entropy level of universe. If larger: No star condensation within the proto-galaxies If smaller: No proto-galaxy formation

9. Mass density of the universe. If larger: Too much deuterium from big bang, hence stars burn too rapidly If smaller: No helium from big bang, hence not enough heavy elements

10. Age of the universe. If older: No solar-type stars in a stable burning phase in the right part of the galaxy. If younger: Solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed.

11. Initial uniformity of radiation. If smoother: Stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed. If coarser: Universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space.

12. Average distance between stars. If larger: Heavy element density too thin for rocky planet production, If smaller: Planetary orbits become destabilized.

13. Solar luminosity. If increases too soon: Runaway green house effect. If increases too late: Frozen oceans.

14. Fine structure constant*. If larger: No stars more than 0.7 solar masses. If smaller: No stars less then 1.8 solar masses.

15. Decay rate of the proton. If greater: Life would be exterminated by the release of radiation. If smaller: Insufficient matter in the universe for life.

16. C12 to O16 energy level ratio. If larger: Insufficient oxygen If smaller: Insufficient carbon.

17. Decay rate of Be8. If slower: Heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in all the stars. If faster: No element production beyond beryllium and, hence, no life chemistry possible.

18. Mass difference between the neutron and the proton. If greater: Protons would decay before stable nuclei could form If smaller: Protons would decay before stable nuclei could form.

19. Initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons. If greater: Too much radiation for planets to form. If smaller: Not enough matter for galaxies or stars to form.

20. Galaxy type. If too elliptical: Star formation ceases before sufficient heavy element buildup for life chemistry. If too irregular: Radiation exposure on occasion is too severe and/or heavy elements for life chemistry are not available.

21. Parent star distance from center of galaxy. If farther: Quantity of heavy elements would be insufficient to make rocky planets If closer: Stellar density and radiation would be too great.

22. Number of stars in the planetary system. If more than one: Tidal interactions would disrupt planetary orbits. If less than one: Heat produced would be insufficient for life.

23. Parent star birth date. If more recent: Star wuld not yet have reached stable burning phase. If less recent: Stellar system would not yet contain enough heavy elements.

24. Parent star mass. If greater: Luminosity would change too fast; star would burn too rapidly. If less: Range of distances appropriate for life would be too narrow; tidal forces would disrupt the rotational period for a planet of the right distance; UV radiation would be inadequate for plants to make sugars and oxygen.

25. Parent star age. If older: Luminosity of star would change too quickly. If younger: Luminosity of star would change too quickly.

26. Parent star color. If redder: Photosynthetic response would be insufficient. If bluer: Photosynthetic response would be insufficient.

27. Supernovae eruptions. If too close: Life on the planet would be exterminated. If too far: Not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets. If too infrequent: Not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets. If too frequent: Life on the planet would be exterminated.

28. White/dwarf binaries. If too few: Insufficient fluorine produced for life chemistry to proceed. If too many: Disruption of planetary orbits from stellar density; life on the planet would be exterminated.

29. Surface gravity (escape velocity). If stronger: Atmosphere would retain too much ammonia and methane. If weaker: Planet's atmosphere would lose too much water.

30. Distance from parent star. If farther: Planet would be too cool for a stable water cycle. If closer: Planet would be too warm for a stable water cycle.

31. Inclination of orbit. If too great: Temperature differences on the planet would be too extreme.

32. Orbital eccentricity. If too great: Seasonal temperature differences would be too extreme.

33. Axial tilt. If greater: Surface temperature differences would be too great. If less: Surface temperature differences would be too great.

34. Rotation period. If longer: Diurnal temperature differences would be too great. If shorter: Atmospheric wind velocities would be too great.

35. Gravitational interaction with a moon. If greater: Tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe. If less: Orbital obliquity changes would cause climatic instabilities.

36. Magnetic field. If stronger: Electromagnetic storms would be too severe. If weaker: Inadequate protection from hard steller radiation.

37. Thickness of crust. If thicker: Too much oxygen would be transferred from the atmosphere to the crust. If thinner: Volcanic and tectonic activity would be too great.

38. Albedo (ratio of reflected light to total amount falling on surface). If greater: Runaway ice age would develop. If less: Runaway green house effect would develop.

39. Oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere. If larger: Advanced life functions would proceed too quickly. If smaller: Advanced life functions would proceed too slowly.

40. Carbon dioxide level in atmosphere. If greater: Runaway greenhouse effect would develop. If less: Plants would not be able to maintain efficient photosynthesis.

4.1 Water vapor level in atmosphere. If greater: Runaway greenhouse effect would develop. If less: Rainfall would be too meager for advanced life on the land.

42. Ozone level in atmosphere. If greater: Surface temperatures would be too low. If less Surface temperatures would be too high; there would be too much uv radiation at the surface.

43. Atmospheric electric discharge rate. If greater: Too much fire destruction would occur. If less: Too little nitrogen would be fixed in the atmosphere.

44. Oxygen quantity in atmosphere. If greater: Plants and hydrocarbons would burn up too easily. If less: Advanced animals would have too little to breathe.

45. Oceans to continents ratio. If greater: Diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited. If smaller: diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited.

46. Soil mineralization. If too nutrient poor: diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited. If too nutrient rich: Diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited.

47. Seismic activity. If greater: Too many life-forms would be destroyed. If less: Nutrients on ocean floors (from river runoff) would not be recycled to the continents through tectonic uplift.


Writer's (NMS)Comments: Although not stated on the Internet site, the use of "greater" or "less" (or equivalents) is judged by the writer to imply not slight amounts but significant changes for at least some of the 47 items. For example, if oxygen varies by, say, 2%, life forms probably could have evolved; continental/ocean ratios have varied considerably in the past without derailing the advance of lfe. Also, many scientists disagree, play down, and debate the validity of some (perhaps many) of the above items in the list. Certain ones have not yet been proved adequately. Some items are redundant or cross-correlated. Many seem to be valid, with acceptable certainty, only for Earth (so far) where observations and experience are based on scientific studies. Finally, although no one has supported this satisfactorily, it may be that some of the above values could vary by large amounts if certain other values also change in a compensatory way that permits development of planets with different parameters while still allowing for appearance and evolution of life.


In July of 2003 the writer found and here adds this provocative Web site article by Paul Jacobsen that explores ideas by Paul Jacobsen on The Cosmological Argument: Does the Big Bang prove God exists. Read it for an alternative view based on his analysis of writings by J.P. Moreland.