Optimal Purpose

By: Jim Virkler; ©2014

In the United States, especially in northern latitudes, winter somnolescence retreats in springtime. During the harshly cold, snowy winter just past, pessimists could speculate most life had perished. A few brave winter non-migrant birds dispel these impressions with their ingenious ability to manage nutritional needs and quench their thirst for liquid water by consuming snow. Finally the non-migrants are joined by dozens of species of migrants, other animals have reappeared, and the plants have sprung back to vibrant life. Green plants, sensitive to precise optimums of temperature and changing moisture and light conditions, commence producing unique leaf shapes, flowers, and fruit with the marvelous physiological processes we may recall from our study of plant biology. Animals set about reproducing their kind. Our neighborhood living things anticipate the optimization of full-blown springtime.
We transition to another example of optimization. Just as temperate climate life depends on arrival of springtime conditions for annual rejuvenation of life, we are reminded that thriving earth life is dependent on the onset of hundreds of time dependent optimizations. During the billions of years of time before life suddenly appeared on this planet, the precise expansion rate of matter in this universe was being divinely fine-tuned. The exact provision of ordinary dark matter and dark energy was also fine-tuned and later enabled the periodic sudden creation of new life forms. Much later, within the last few tens of thousands of years, man in the Image of God also quickly appeared on Earth. His appearance was neither too early nor too late on our planet. The optimum time window for the rapid appearance of humanity had arrived.

This finely tuned universe—just the right expansion rate, just the right amount of matter, and just the right size—produces many other just right conditions for man to thrive in a brief window of existence on our earthly sphere. For example, earth’s rotation rate has slowed from two to three hours to the current 24 hours since the earth was formed as a solid body. Faster or slower rotation would preclude successful human existence. Earth’s fossil fuel deposits were formed at around the time of the Cambrian Explosion and now provide for modern humanity’s exploitation. Earlier or later arrival of man or earlier or later readiness of these resources would preclude the use of currently plentiful fossil fuels by our society. Different solar stability and solar luminosity in the past would be harmful to current earth life. We occupy an ideal window of solar conditions.

Original proponents of the anthropic principle (the idea that the earth seems to have been engineered for the specific benefit of the human species) have voiced the non-theological proposal that mankind’s existence on earth could occur only in a narrow geological time window. One estimate puts this time window at “less than a few million years,” in reality a mere geological blink of an eye. Another anthropic principle spokesman puts sophisticated global civilizations in an even narrower time window. The Creator of heaven and earth and its unique life forms has devoted huge divine investments of time, power, and resources for the optimal development of our unique home for humanity.

Man is a special creation of God within this universe. Unlike many secular views which assign no special importance to man with respect to their concept of the evolutionary continuum of life, our view is that of Psalm 8:4: “What is man that you are mindful of him?” According to verse 5, God “crowns (man) with glory and honor.” The chapter voices a theological “anthropic principle:” Man existed in the divine mind long before the creation of the universe. Hugh Ross expresses the special divine importance assigned to man in Why The Universe Is The Way It Is: “Rather than seeing ourselves as insignificant specks in the immensity of the cosmos, we can consider that immensity an indicator of our worth. It seems the Creator invested a great deal—a universe of 50 billion trillion stars, plus a hundred times more matter, all fine-tuned to mind-boggling precision—for us.”

Secular anthropic principle proponents may not be far off in their belief that the window of human existence may be narrow and closing. Scripture tells of eschatological truths that God will install a new creation at some future time (Revelation 21). Physical laws governing our current sphere of creation will be replaced by entirely new laws governing existence in the new creation.

While we await the new creation, we revel in knowledge of many mundane optimizations we experience on this planet. The temperature and light increases we experience in late winter create optimal conditions for the “bursting forth” of plant and animal life in springtime. Spring is followed by summer and autumn. Then we begin another descent into seasonal somnolescence. God is the author of these cycles. They may be annual seasonal cycles, extensive climate cycles of warming and cooling, or exceedingly long term geological cycles bringing optimal conditions for the benefit of man. We recognize the signature of God’s omniscience in all changes.


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