The Four Great Discoveries of Modern Science That Prove God Exists/Program 3

By: Dr. Stephen Meyer; ©2011
Not only has the universe been designed out of nothing by a designer who created all space and time, but this same designer has also fine-tuned the universe for life—including human life. A complex number of variants have been observed that must all function accurately at the same time for human life to exist. The only explanation is an Intelligent Designer—what we would call God. Dr. Stephen Meyer joins Dr. John Ankerberg.

Contents

Introduction

Announcer: Today what are the four great discoveries of modern science that prove God exists? The first great discovery of modern science is that the universe had a beginning. Where did it come from? Historian of science Fred Burnham has written, “The God Hypothesis is now a more persuasive and respectable hypothesis than at any time in the last 100 years.” The second great scientific discovery is that space and time also had a beginning. This discovery demands an explanation. It calls for a transcendent cause beyond the universe itself. The third great discovery of modern science is that the laws and constants of the universe have been fine tuned for human life to exist. As physicist Fred Hoyle has written, “A commonsense interpretation of the evidence suggests a super intellect has monkeyed with physics and chemistry as well as biology to make life possible.” The fourth great discovery of modern science is the digital code embedded in the DNA molecule in every human cell. The 3 billion characters of precise information in the digital code instruct the cell how build complex molecules to do the work so the cell can stay alive. Where did this specified information come from? It is compelling evidence of an intelligent designer for the origin of human life. My guest today who will explain these four great scientific discoveries is Dr. Stephen Meyer, who received his PhD in the Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He is co-founder of the intelligent design movement in the world and a Senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. We invite you to join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.


Ankerberg: Welcome to our program, we’re talking with Dr. Stephen Meyer, philosopher of science, who got his PhD at Cambridge, in England. He’s written a bestselling book “Signature in the Cell” that we’ve been looking at in past programs, “DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.” And we want to carry on from where we have been talking about the beginning of the universe and the implications that science has given to us because of the beginning of the universe. We’re going to turn the corner and add the evidence on to the evidence. We’re going to talk about the Anthropic Fine-tuning. What does “Anthropic Fine-tuning” mean?
Meyer: Well “anthros” is the Greek for “man,” and the idea is that the universe in its physical laws and constants (which we can talk about in a bit) are finely tuned to allow for the possibility of human life. It’s as if the universe were a set-up job to set the stage for the existence of life and the existence of human life. We have been talking in previous shows about the evidence for intelligent design in Biology, in the digital code that is stored in the DNA molecule and some of the other evidences. But what we have here in Physics is evidence for intelligent design built into the very fabric of the universe. And this is highly significant because if you think about—what the theory of intelligent design says is that some kind of intelligence was involved – it played a role in the origin of life. But from the evidence in Biology alone you can’t decide whether that intelligence was imminent (within the cosmos, some kind of space alien or intelligence within the universe as a whole) or whether the intelligence responsible for the origin of life was transcendent (beyond the universe). What we have in the anthropic fine-tuning is evidence for design built into the very fabric of the universe itself – clearly not something that could be explained by any being within the universe. And so I think it tips the scales in the direction of a theistic design hypothesis and points to the need for a God who is the designer – an intelligent agent who transcends matter, space, time, and energy. So with the evidence from the new cosmology – from the Big Bang and General Relativity – we saw that there was a need for some kind of transcendent cause. One candidate for that might be an agent that has the attributes we associate with God. With the anthropic fine-tuning evidence, we are going to see additional evidence that supports that thesis because it’s also going to point not just to the transcendent nature of the cause, but also to its intelligence. More succinctly, what I think the fine tuning evidence shows is that there is compelling evidence for intelligent design in the entire universe and it comes in the form of this fine tuning of the laws and constants of Physics and also of the initial conditions. And therefore, intelligent design provides the best explanation for this evidence. And I’m going to go further and say that the kind of design that is necessary is a design that transcends the universe as a whole and therefore we are looking at something that is decidedly theistic – a God hypothesis.
Ankerberg: One of those things that backs it up is the expansion of the universe – the rate of the expansion of the universe. Describe what that is.
Meyer: Well, that’s a good place to start because we were talking about the expanding universe in previous programs. And it turns out that the rate of expansion is finely tuned to allow for the possibility of life. If the universe were to expand even a little tiny bit faster, then the universe would dissipate … the heat and energy of the universe would dissipate too quickly and we wouldn’t form stable galaxies. If it had expanded a little tiny bit slower, we would have gotten a big crunch. The gravitational forces would have overcome the rate of expansion and all of the universe – the matter in the universe – would have crunched back on itself. So it turns out that the fine tuning of the expansion rate of the universe is exquisite. It’s fine-tuned to one part in ten to the sixtieth power. That’s about the same as one dollar out of a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion dollars. Of course, with the Federal budget deficit and everything, that may not seem like that much to people today, but this is exquisite fine tuning. If you’re an engineer and you’re familiar with the concept of tolerances, you realize the tolerance here for error is miniscule. And yet, the universe is just right to allow for the possibility of life.
Ankerberg: This is also called the cosmological constant.
Meyer: Well, the expansion rate of the universe is related to a deeper, more fundamental parameter called the cosmological constant. That’s the constant that Einstein was fiddling with to try to restore a static balance in the universe – – fiddling with it in his mind, not in reality. Yeah, that’s a very important fine-tuning parameter.
Ankerberg: The balance between expansion out and the pulling back in.
Meyer: Exactly. And in our universe it is finely tuned so the expansion just barely exceeds the contracting force of gravity. And it turns out you need that finely tuned just the way it is to allow for the possibility of life.
Ankerberg: But that’s not the only anthropic fine-tuning principle that the scientists have found. What are some of the others?
Meyer: Well, there are about 25 to 30 of these separate parameters that are each exquisitely finely tuned to allow for the possibility of life in the universe. And in each case, there is a kind of a “not too hot,” not too cold” aspect of it. Think back to Goldilocks – we’re the Goldilocks universe. For example with the gravitational force –
Ankerberg: It’s just right.
Meyer: It’s just right! It’s just right and it’s right over and over and over again with these many separate parameters. For example, the gravitational force constant. It’s fine-tuned to about one part in to the fortieth, which is again an incredibly small tolerance. And if the gravitational force is larger, then stars would be too hot, they’d burn up too quickly, and too unevenly. If the gravitational force constant is smaller, then stars would remain too cool so that nuclear fusion would never ignite and hence we would have no element production, therefore no planets like our own. So in each case, if you get off by a little bit, then something bad happens that would make the universe impossible. Now, many people aren’t familiar with the idea of constants, because it’s – you’ve got to kind of be a Physics geek to be into this, but basically every equation has a proportion between one variable and another and there’s a quantitative aspect to that proportion that’s expressed by what’s called a “constant of proportionality.” I used to admire the Russian pole-vaulter, Sergey Bubka. Now imagine that Sergey is running down the tarmac. And he’s a man of about 200 pounds, the earth has a given mass, and therefore the proportion between those two masses generates a particular force. Or there’s a force generated between those two masses. But the gravitational force constant tells you how much force is generated, given everything else being equal – Sergey’s weight and the weight of the universe. Now imagine Sergey’s running down the tarmac ready to do his jump and somebody fiddles with the gravitational force constant and makes it pull gravity twice as hard as it would otherwise do. What’s going to happen? Well, he’s going to come crashing to the earth. Imagine somebody twiddles the dial the other way. Now he’s going to sail way above and set a new world record. So what physicists realize is that these constants have precise values that determine, for example, how strong gravity is. And they could be otherwise. As they examine them carefully, they realize, if they were even a tiny bit different in either direction, a little bit stronger or a little bit weaker, life would be impossible in the universe. That’s true not just of gravitation, of the expansion rate of the universe; it’s true of numerous separate factors, whether we’re talking about the speed of light, the ratio of fundamental forces in Physics – all kinds of different things. And that’s what is so striking about this.
Ankerberg: All right, Steve, you’ve got a great illustration of what you’re talking about. Show the folks.
Meyer: Well, it’s really from John Polkinghorne, one of the leading physicists from Cambridge University. I’ve simply made a visual to go with the idea. In order to get across the idea of the anthropic fine-tuning, he asks his readers to imagine a universe-creating machine. Maybe you’re out in space and you land at a space station, and you go inside and there’s a room that says “Universe-Creating Machine.” You go in and each one of the dials… there’s dials for every one of the fundamental forces of Physics. There’s a dial for the expansion rate of the universe, for the gravitational force constant, for the ratio of the different fundamental forces, there’s a little slider for the speed of light. And it turns out that each one of these is set to a very precise value. Since you’re a Physicist, you take out your pencil from behind your ear, and start making some calculations. You realize, “You know, if we changed any one of those values – if we spun the dial a little tiny click this way or a little tiny click that way, moved that slider a little bit one way or the other, life wouldn’t be possible.” Now what do you make of that? Polkinghorne has a charming way of saying it. He says, “Well, I don’t say that the atheists are stupid.” He says, “I think that theism – the theistic design hypothesis – provides a better explanation.” This has been a kind of universal reaction among physicists at a kind of intuitive level. Fred Hoyle, the famous British astro-physicist who spent a lot of his career trying to get around the implications of the Big Bang Theory by posing other models to explain away the beginning of the universe, eventually came to realize that the fine-tuning evidence provided compelling evidence of design.
Hoyle says that, “A common-sense interpretation of the data suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with Physics and Chemistry, as well as Biology, to make life possible.” I always get a kick out of this because the monkeys always seem to make it into the origins debate even when we’re talking about Physics. But I think Hoyle is exactly right here. A common sense interpretation of this fine-tuning suggests that there was a fine-tuner – an intelligence, a super intellect that was responsible. And since the evidence of design that we’re looking at is built into the very fabric of the universe, right from the very beginning, I think what we’re looking at is not something that can be explained by any designing intelligence or agents within the cosmos. Richard Dawkins has thrown out the idea that maybe there might be an alien intelligence that is responsible for what he calls the “signature of intelligence in life.” That kind of intelligence can’t explain this evidence. This evidence points to the need for an intelligence beyond the cosmos that could build the design into the universe as a whole. So I think this is a compelling new development in science that has, again, very positive theistic implications.
Ankerberg: Folks, this is fantastic information. I hope you are catching the drift of all this and what it means. But we’re going to take a break and when we come back, we’re going to talk about there are still objections to this evidence. And we’re going to hear about that when we come right back.

Ankerberg: All right, we’re back. We’re talking with Dr Stephen Meyer, Philosopher of Science. You know when we started this series we talked about Richard Dawkins saying there’s no evidence for a designer. You’ve got a garden and you’ve got no gardener. What we’re seeing here when we look at the universe is, we’ve got a ton of evidence; we’ve got all kinds of evidence, exquisite evidence, okay? – that there is a designer, there is a cause – a creator that’s beyond time and space. Now, you say, “What could be thrown against this?” And they’ve come up with the Multi-universe Theory. What is that? You’ve got a great animation with Jay Richards about this. Folks, I want you to watch.

Video Clip

Narrator: As its name suggests, the theory of multiple universes proposes that our universe is not alone. Instead it is part of a vast ensemble of universes, each with as different set of laws and constants.
Jay Richards: If there’s only one universe then the conclusion that the universe looks fine-tuned because it is fine-tuned is inescapable. But if our universe is just one of a vast set, then you seem to have more resources to play with. Chance gets a new lease on life. I sometimes try to imagine what physicists have in mind that postulate this idea of multiple universes. I mean what would the generator like that creates that? Maybe it’s like a giant monolith that has dozens of different dials, each of which has to be set to the right physical constant.
Robin Collins: If we think of these parameters as dials, each of the dials is different. So if you produce enough universes with enough different dial settings, eventually just by chance, you get one just right. So you might have to produce a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion universes. But eventually if you have a generator just spitting out just an enormous number of them, then it gets the right dial setting, and then by just chance you get conditions right for life. So it’s a huge cosmic lottery. That’s the idea.

Ankerberg: All right, Stephen, as we watched that, that’s a fantastic illustration of what you’re talking about. But what would be the generating machine if there was such a machine to generate all of these universes.
Meyer: Well, right. Physicists have two theories that have been proposed that suggest that there might be other universes. One is called “Inflationary Cosmology.” That was a theory that was posited to explain some of the observable effects of the universe. The idea was that after … a very short time after the Big Bang, there was a rapid expansion in the spatial volume of the universe. And the idea there is that there is something called an “Inflaton Field” that shuts off with a precise energy and as it shuts off, it generates a new universe. Another theory is the idea of “String Theory”, which posits that the fundamental particles in the universe are actually little tiny strings of energy and that they are … they have different ways of turning on themselves and forming little compactifications of space and light.
Ankerberg: You see that on Public Television all the time.
Meyer: Yeah, there’s all kinds of stuff on String Theory. But String Theory implies that you could have a decay in what’s called the “string vacuum,” and that would generate new universes. So these two theories have been proposed as the universe-generating mechanisms.
Ankerberg: What’s wrong with that, now?
Meyer: Well, what’s wrong with it … The theories may have some merit on their own terms, but what’s wrong with them as an attempt to explain the fine-tuning is, they really don’t. Not completely adequately. Inflationary Cosmology accounts, or might account for the fine-tuning of the initial conditions – the initial configuration of matter at the beginning of the universe, but all the new universe it generates has the same laws and constants of Physics that we have. So it doesn’t explain the fine-tuning of the laws and constants of Physics. String Theory has the opposite problem. It explains the fine-tuning of the laws and constants of Physics, but it doesn’t explain the initial condition fine-tuning. So in order to account for the whole fine-tuning problem, you have to conjoin these two theories – both of which have some highly speculative, theoretical postulates. And one of my colleagues [who] is a philosopher of Physics, has actually made a list of what he calls “The Six Impossible Things You have to Believe” …[dithering] … “The 6 Unobservable Things you have to Believe in Before Breakfast” if you’re going to account for the fine-tuning apart from the single simple postulate of a theistic designer. For example, you have to believe in the existence of other universes. You have to believe in the existence of an Inflaton Field. You have to believe that the Inflaton Field is finely tuned in its shut-off energy, which raises an interesting point because each of these models in their attempt to explain fine-tuning, actually pre-supposes other fine tuning. So it really just pushes the problem back. You have to believe in strings. You have to believe in extra dimensions of space – six or seven of them. You have to believe that each compactification of space in String Theory corresponds to a different universe with different laws and constants of Physics. All of these are pure theoretical postulates for which there is no direct evidence. We only would posit them because they might help us explain other things. So you have to somehow merge these two theories and believe the whole suite of postulates rather than the simple hypothesis of theistic design. In that first clip you showed in our previous show, of Richard Dawkins, he was saying that Darwin’s idea of design without a designer provides the most parsimonious explanation of the evidence. Well, “parsimony” refers to simplicity. And what you find when you attempt to explain away the fine-tuning apart from a designer, is you get an incredibly convoluted explanation involving multiple theoretical postulates involving unobservable entities for which we have no direct evidence. So it fails the parsimony test that Dawkins laid out. In addition to that, though, there is this problem of pushing the design back one generation. Both in String Theory and in the Inflationary Cosmology, in order to explain the fine-tuning you have to posit certain processes which are themselves finely tuned to generate universes or a universe like our own. So my colleague, Robin Collins, who was in that video clip, has developed an interesting illustration to get this across. He says, imagine you’ve got a loaf of bread. And you say, “Man, that … whoever cooked that had the right recipe. They put it together! That loaf of bread was designed well by a great cook.” Then you say, “No. That loaf of bread wasn’t intelligently designed. It was produced by a bread-making machine, that did it all by itself.” But, what’s the problem? Well obviously the bread-making machine, with all its components, its ability to harness electricity, and its ability to use the recipe, is itself a designed system. So you really haven’t gotten rid of the evidence for intelligent design, you’ve just pushed it back one generation. And that’s precisely what these physical theories do in their attempt to posit some mechanism that could generate new universes.
Ankerberg: All right, Stephen, summarize all this. What do you want the folks to walk away with?
Meyer: Well, first, that the scientific evidence in Physics for intelligent design is very compelling, and that intelligent design provides a better explanation of the fine-tuning than the competing naturalistic hypotheses like the Multi-worlds Hypothesis. But second, if you put this in a larger perspective, we now have another piece of evidence that I think points in a theistic direction, because what we are looking at here is evidence that cannot be explained by any designing intelligence within the cosmos. Instead what we’re looking at is intelligent design – or evidence of design that is built into the very fabric of the universe. So if you go back to one of my world-view diagrams that we looked at before, and we look at the different competing world-views and we treat them like metaphysical hypotheses, we see that again naturalism can’t account for this because it can’t and it doesn’t posit anything beyond the universe that is intelligent that can explain the fine-tuning. Pantheism has the same problem because the pantheistic god is inherent in the physical universe itself. It’s co-extensive with matter.
So again, you need to posit an entity which transcends the universe and which is also intelligent. And again, the two world-views of theism and deism both posit the existence ofsuch an entity. Therefore I think they provide the only adequate explanations of both the Big Bang Singularity and the fine-tuning of the laws and constants of Physics in the initial conditions of the universe that we have been discussing today
Ankerberg: Alright, if you noticed, we left deism and theism hanging. We’re still talking about who’s in competition and who’s going to win that fight. Where does this scientific evidence lead us? Next week we’re going to talk about this and I hope that you will stick with us.
Folks, next week we are going to carry on and we’re going to change the pitch a little bit. We’re going to talk about something you will not want to miss. That is: What are the morals and ethics that are in the universe? Do we have any? And this is going to be fabulous information. I hope that you will stick with us.

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