What Scientific Evidence Proves God Created and Designed the Universe? – Bonus/Program 2

By: Dr. Hugh Ross; ©2009
The Big Bang points toward an outside agent who created all space, time, energy, and matter. Genesis 1:1 states this exact information: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Bonus Material Session 2



Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We have a fantastic program for you today in terms of the fine tuning of planet earth, of our solar system, the galaxy. You won’t believe this stuff. We have as our guest Dr. Hugh Ross. He is an astrophysicist and an astronomer who received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Toronto and did postdoctoral research at Cal Tech on quasars. The presentation I’ve asked Hugh to do today, this is Part 2 of what we did last week. And Part 2 continues the presentation that he has given to skeptical scientists about how the fine tuning of the evidence, the physical laws of the universe that they are dealing with pushes them back to a conclusion that God created everything and did it a fantastic manner. So, Hugh, I’m really glad that you’re here today. Let’s continue.
Ross: Sure. Well, last time we talked about the evidence we see for the origin of the universe and God existing beyond space and time and creating the universe, and how he designed the universe as a whole for the benefit of life, and human beings in particular.
But it’s not just in the largest size scale that we see this evidence for supernatural super intelligent design, we actually see it on all size scales. What we discover is that life’s not possible unless you have a just right galaxy cluster, a just right galaxy. The star has to be just right, not any old star will do. Jupiter has to be just right, and not just Jupiter, but Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune all play a role in making life possible here on planet earth. And then the earth has to be just right, and the moon has to be just right. So everything we look at on all size scales, both large and small speaks, shouts, of this evidence for supernatural super intelligent design. And this is what’s called the Anthropic Principle, that the amazing cosmic fine tuning to make life possible implies that one of the universe’s purposes is to make a home for life, and human life in particular.
Now, this allows us to develop a series of tests. Again, you know the scientific community and the atheists and agnostics in particular, they’re begging us Christians to provide them with some kind of actual tests. And so what we have here is a series of tests. And I’m going to frame it as, let’s say there’s no creator responsible for any of this design that we see, that the design is explained by some natural means. If that is the case, we would anticipate that as we astronomers learn more about the Milky Way galaxy and our solar system, that the design evidences would shrink in number, and would also shrink in their level of significance. And that the evidence that the God of the Bible is the designer would get progressively weaker.
Why? Because the Christian God is a God that’s intimately involved with his creation. Now, if that kind of a God does exist, we would anticipate the exact opposite: that as astronomers learn more about the universe, the evidences for design would increase, not only in number but in the degree of fine tuning that we see for the benefit of human life. And that evidence for the biblical God as a designer would get progressively stronger and stronger as we learn more.
Now, last time I showed you the evidence in the context of the entire universe as a whole. What I have here is a table of our research over the past twelve years. When we look at the Milky Way galaxy and our solar system, and ask the question, “How many features do we see described in the scientific literature that show this evidence for exquisite fine tuning for the benefit of life and human beings?” And back in 1995 when I published my first book, The Creator and the Cosmos, we found 41 such features described in the scientific literature. And the probability that all 41 would be met, taking into account the dependency factors, also taking into account that this universe could easily contain ten billion trillion planets, even then, less than 1 chance in 1031 that you’re going to find one body anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles, and that could sustain life. Well, by the year 2000, that list had grown to 128. In 2002 when I brought out, you know, Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men, it was 202. In 2004, 322, and then at the end of 2006, the list had grown to 676 different known features of the Milky Way galaxy and the solar system that would have to be fine tuned for life to be possible. And instead of the probability being less than one chance in 1031, it’s now less than one chance in 10556.
Ankerberg: Yeah. So the evidence is just mounting for the fact that God designed this thing.
Ross: Well, to give you an idea comparison, there’s only 1078 protons and neutrons in the entire observable universe. And we’re talking, you know, 555 zeros between the decimal point and the one. So this is far more remote than the possibility that blindfolded you could pick out a single marked proton from all the protons that exist in the universe. And again, we have this all documented on our website.
Well, let me show you another test. If there’s no creator, we would anticipate that these design evidences that we have here would be for life in general, not human beings in particular. That’s what’s distinctive about the biblical message about creation: that the focus of attention is the human species, not life in general. And if there is a creator God of the Bible, then we would expect to uncover that these design evidences would be far more pronounced for humans than they would be for life in general.
Well, what we’ve done with the scientific literature is to actually go through it in the context of three different kinds of life. Actually, we’ve done more, but let me just show you the three. And one would be, what does it take to find a body, a moon or a planet, where you can have bacteria existing – that’s the simplest life form that we can see – bacteria existing for ninety days or less? Now you say, why did you pick ninety days? Well, there you don’t have to have any mechanisms to recycle nutrients. The bacteria can exhaust the nutrients and die. And you need much less design for that kind of life. And we contrast that with bacteria that’s able to persist for three billion years or more. Now you need a planet that’s capable of recycling nutrients to keep that bacteria alive throughout that time.
Ankerberg: Yeah, and those bacteria have to be really strong and complex, because they’ve got to survive through different conditions.
Ross: That’s true. And what we discover is that the probability is far more remote for a planet that’s capable of sustaining life for three billion years in its most primitive form as opposed to just three months or less. And last of all we contrast it with human beings. But you can see in the chart here, you go from 500 features up to more than 800 when you go from brief bacteria to human beings. And the probability for even brief bacteria is absurdly remote. So even trying to find a body in the universe that could possibly support bacteria for 90 days or less, that chance is less than one in 10311. But in the case of human beings, the probability is less than one chance in 101050. Now let me give you a different point of comparison here: that’s compared to you, for example, winning the California lottery 150 consecutive times, where you buy one ticket each time. That’s how remote that probability is, without invoking divine miracles, of finding a planet that’s capable of supporting human life. But the whole point is, it’s far more challenging for humans than it is for bacteria.
Ankerberg: Give me an example of a feature in humans that is something that they need that’s complex that makes up one of those design features that humans are complex?
Ross: Well, for example, bacteria are capable of existing on a planet with almost any kind of a mixture of metals in whatever chemical form they are. They can survive that. We can’t. There’s about 22 metals that you need for good health. And if those metals are too abundant in the environment you will die, and if they’re not abundant enough you will die. The bacteria really don’t care, but if you’re a complex, meaning if you’re a bird or a mammal or a reptile, …
Ankerberg: So when God actually placed man on earth, when he created him here, okay, the fact is, he had to have the environment just right or man could not sustain life.
Ross: Right. And like we have to be here at the right time on planet earth too, because…
Ankerberg: What does that mean?
Ross: Well, okay, the sun is in its most stable phase of burning right now. There’s a reason why we humans are here 4.56 billion years after the earth formed. That’s the safe zone. And the safe zone is incredibly narrow; it’s about 100,000 years wide. And if so we were outside that safe zone, then we’d have problems with luminosity variation from the sun and flaring activity from the sun. We have the benefit of being here when the sun is in its most stable phase.
Ankerberg: So that’s what you’re talking about, these features are design features that make it possible for human life to actually be here.
Ross: Right. I mean, you know, we’re very sensitive to radiation. You can zap bacteria with a lot of radiation, they’ll keep going. That’s not the case with us human beings. And so you need a lot of features like a strong magnetic field that’s constant that protects us from cosmic radiation.
Ankerberg: Okay.
Ross: Now, another test. If there’s no creator, then we would expect to see these design evidences on maybe one scale, or no scales, or a few scales. But if we’re talking the creator God of the Bible, what he’s claiming is that he’s designed the whole kit and caboodle for the benefit of human beings, which means we would anticipate that we’re going to find this evidence for divine design not just on one or two size scales, but on all size scales. And so we would anticipate that this design evidence would be seen, for example, at the level of the universe, of course, the galaxy cluster, the galaxy, our planetary system, the planet, the moon, et cetera.
And so what we’ve done is we’ve gone through the scientific literature, taken these evidences for design and broken them down into the different size scales to see if we could see any significant difference on these size scales. And what this table shows you is no matter what size scale you look at, you find a convincing case on that size scale alone that the God of the Bible is responsible for shaping and fashioning that particular size element for the benefit of life and human beings in particular. So it’s not just that we live in a special galaxy. We also live in a special galaxy cluster. And our galaxy cluster is in a special position within the universe that makes life possible.
You know, as this graph shows you, 99 different features of our galaxy cluster have to be fine tuned to make our existence possible. And the probability you’re going to find a just right galaxy cluster is less than one chance in 1062. And you know, there are not that many galaxy clusters in the universe, far fewer than that. There are not that many stars in the universe; there’s only 1023 stars in the universe.
So, then the galaxy. When we look at our Milky Way galaxy we see it’s a very special galaxy that uniquely makes possible the existence of advanced life. Two hundred different features have to be fine tuned. And now the probability is less than one chance in 10146 that you’re going to be able to find a galaxy that’s capable of having advanced life existing in it.
And what’s been uncovered recently is that it’s the planet system. You know, it’s not just that we need an earth. A lot of people thought, well, if you’ve got the right star, and we’ve got the right earth, that’s enough. We now recognize that all eight of the planets in our solar system play a critical role in making advanced life possible.
Ankerberg: How so?
Ross: Well, for example, the gas giant planets protect us from taking too many hits from asteroids and comets. You know, there’s this Oort cloud out there, a huge cloud of comets that exists in the outer part of the solar system. A little closer in, just beyond Neptune is the Kuiper Belt. And then there’s a bunch of asteroids that are between Jupiter and Mars. Well, because of these gas giant planets, they act as gravitational shields. They’re much bigger than the earth, much more massive. And so typically when a comet comes in, say from the Kuiper Belt or the Oort cloud, it will be deflected by one of the gas giants or absorbed as a collision in one of the gas giants, and thereby protects from taking too many hits. On the other hand, if you made the mass of these gas giants a little bit bigger or brought them a little bit closer to the earth, then the gravity of the gas giants would disturb the orbit of the earth. These gas giants are far enough away that that doesn’t happen, they’re small enough that doesn’t happen, yet their big enough and close enough that they act as effect shields, protecting us.
Ankerberg: Yeah, protection for the earth.
Ross: And then even planets like Venus and Mars, they play a role in breaking up the resonances that are generated by the gas giants. Even our moon plays a role in breaking up these resonances. So the entire solar system has been amazingly designed to make possible the existence of advanced life here on planet earth.
Ankerberg: So much so that you as astronomers actually think that you’re probably not going to find any place else in the universe…
Ross: Well, a lot of colleagues right now are discovering planets outside of our solar system. And they’ve found well over 300 at this date. And within a year or two they’ll have maybe more than 1000, even several thousand, maybe even a million. But when they first started doing this research, their anticipation was that they would find lots of analogs of our gas giant planets. The truth is, we don’t find any. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are still alone in having the characteristics that would make advanced life possible here on planet earth.
Ankerberg: So ours is unique.
Ross: Ours is unique. And we’re also discovering our solar system formed in a very unique way. The other planetary systems we’re observing have a very different formation history than what we see in our own solar system in a way we didn’t even know. See, this is an example where you have new technology that allows you to see things you couldn’t see before, and now that you can see more, we see greater evidence for design than what we were able to see in the past. Because I remember as a graduate student, we weren’t thinking that there was anything special at all about our solar system. We thought it was kind of a run of the mill, ordinary, planetary system. We now know that’s not true, thanks to these discoveries.
So, moving on. If there’s no creator, we would anticipate, in light of what we just said, that astronomers would find many systems capable of sustaining advanced life, like the Milky Way galaxy, our Local Group of galaxies, the sun, the moon, the earth and the planetary partners. In other words, if there’s nothing really special or divinely designed about the Milky Way galaxy and the solar system, we should see lots of twins or clones of the sun, the moon, the planets that accompany planet earth, the earth, our galaxy.
On the other hand, if we’re really looking at the God of the Bible having this, and recognizing the God of the Bible probably only needs one planet to achieve his ultimate purpose—to bring about the end of suffering and evil, Hebrews kind of gives us an insight that Christ, for example, died one time, one place, for all—that would suggest at least that he has put life, or at least advanced life here only on planet earth. And in that context we would anticipate that the Milky Way galaxy, the sun, the earth, earth’s planetary partners, even the galaxy cluster we live in, would prove uniquely capable of sustaining advanced life.
And as I was saying before, that’s where a lot of our research is going. Is the Milky Way indeed unique? And, you know, as we look at other galaxies, many of them are spirals, but we’re seeing none that have the spiral structure, for example, that would permit the existence of advanced life. The Milky Way appears to be unique, as does the sun. Astronomers have been searching for 50 years to find a twin of the sun. They’ve not been able to find a twin of the sun. Likewise now we’re looking for twins of Jupiter and Saturn, and we’re not finding any twins of Jupiter and Saturn. So this is easy for astronomers to put to the test: is the universe supernaturally designed, or is it simply natural process that’s giving us apparent features?
Now, whenever I talk about this to scientists, they will say, “Well, what about the God of the gaps?” And they say, “Christians are always sticking God in gaps where we don’t know anything.” Well, I think I’m doing the opposite here. What I’m trying to do is show you God where we see things, not where we don’t see anything.
Ankerberg: Strong point. Strong point.
Ross: Let’s look where we see, and I think that’s really how you need to put to the test these different models of creation/evolution. Let’s argue based on what we see, not on what we don’t see.
But the God of gaps actually cuts both ways. Gaps exist on both sides of the creation/evolution debate. And that’s simply because we scientists don’t know everything, we’ll never know everything. I think gaps are good. It tells us where we’re ignorant and where we need to learn more. So it’s important that we scientists look at the gaps. That tells us where we need to do future research.
But there are gaps on the naturalistic side, there are gaps on the theistic side. And gaps give us a wonderful opportunity to test different creation/evolution models in this sense: that if your model is correct, as you learn more about that gap, your explanation for that gap will get better and better, if you’ve got the correct model. On the other hand, if you’ve got the wrong model, your explanation is going to become more and more problematic.
And so the question is, do the gaps for your model get smaller and less problematic? Or do they get bigger and more problematic? And so I’ve coined this term, the nature of the gaps. And my question is this, do naturalistic explanatory gaps get bigger or smaller, more or less problematic, as scientists learn more and more about the record of nature? And the context of the origins of the universe, the earth, life, the human species, and the cosmic fine tuning we’ve been talking about, the gaps are clearly getting bigger and bigger. I mean, we could talk about the origin of life or the origin of humanity. The last 50 years is a testimony about the naturalistic model has gotten far more problematic and the creation model much tighter.
Now, as you know, I had a chance to debate the issue of the existence of God in front of an audience of scientists and skeptics, most of whom were atheists, at Cal Tech a few weeks back. And the person I was debating was a particle physicist, Victor Stenger. And for about 30 years…
Ankerberg: Well known, well known.
Ross: Well, he’s the one who wrote the book, God: the Failed Hypothesis. It hit the New York Times bestseller list, and in my opinion, it’s the best book put out by an atheist scientist promoting atheism. In fact, there’s much within the book that I agree with. I think he does an excellent job of critiquing all the things that we Christians shouldn’t be doing. Straw man arguments, in my opinion, but he’s done a very good job at giving a critique. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed. It’s a critique we Christians should have developed. But thank God that God raised up this atheist to point out where we need to be really cleaning up our own house.
But one thing he said, and he also put this in writing in a paper he wrote on “Is the Universe Fine-tuned for Us?”, he said, “I do not dispute that life as we know it, namely carbon-based life, would not exist if any one of the several of the constants of physics were slightly different. Additionally, I cannot prove that some other form of life is feasible with a different set of constants.”
And what I had an opportunity to do, I actually showed this slide in my debate because, you know, he brought the point up, and I knew he had written about this, and so my response was, “Victor, I completely agree with you that we both agree it takes someone much smarter and more powerful than us to create a realm where our life or alternate intelligent life forms—say angels, because the Bible talks about God creating a different kind of creation for a different kind of intelligent life—could thrive.” And so Victor’s whole point is, you know, if we can show that it’s possible of an alternate universe, it proves there is no God. That simply proves there is no God who has only one option. But clearly the God of the Bible has other options.
I appreciate, too, his concession that no scientists can design an alternate world in which life is possible. And when we look at this world we do recognize that it’s extraordinarily fine tuned for the benefit of life. So in that sense I think we ended the debate at least on a point where we could agree and on amiable terms. But the one thing I did say in that debate is, we can continue to put this to the test. The debate is not over. Every day we’re making new discoveries on the frontiers of science. And we can use those emerging discoveries not only to test say our biblical creation model we’ve developed at Reasons to Believe, or the atheistic model of Victor Stenger, but any variety of creation/evolution models.
And one thing I’ve done in my book, Creation as Science, is to lay out 90 predictions, in other words, put in the book 90 predictions of what I think scientists will discover in the future. These discoveries haven’t been made yet, but 90 predictions and contrast those predictions with predictions in the same context of science that would come out of, say, an atheistic worldview model, a young earth creationist model that we see within the church, or another model we see within the church, theistic evolution, where God uses a natural process to bring about everything he wants without miraculous interventions. Those are the four predominant models; I can think of a dozen others. But the whole point is, we can use these predictions to test who’s right and who’s wrong. There’s no need for people in the church or outside of the church to get into a hostile debate or fight over this issue. Make your predictions, and if your predictions come true, then you’re on the pathway to truth, but if they fail to come true, then you need to abandon your model.
Ankerberg: In about one minute, tell the folks, you were not always a Christian, you were not raised in a Christian home. How did you come to be a Christian?
Ross: Well, it’s my astronomy that brought me to faith in Christ. When I was seven years old, I got interested in astronomy. By the time I was eight I knew that would be my future career. I was passionate about studying astronomy. And when I was 15 and 16, I decided to really focus on this subject we’ve been talking about today, cosmology, the origin and structure of the universe. And even in that time, there was accumulating evidence that indicated the steady state model was wrong, the hesitating universe model was wrong, the oscillating universe model was wrong. The evidence was supporting the Big Bang model. And I knew if it was Big Bang, the universe had a beginning and therefore a beginner. I was also aware that this continuous expansion would have to be fine tuned to make life possible. And the idea that there was this beginner motivated me to look at the different religions of the world. And as I went through the holy books of the religions of the world, I was amazed to discover how faulty they were, with the exception of the Bible; and how the Bible had accurately predicted all of this astronomy that I’d been studying since I was seven years of age. And that’s what motivated me at age 19 to sign my name in the back of the Gideon Bible. Eight years after that I met my first Christian.
Ankerberg: It’s an amazing story. And what I love about this is that you are giving Christians a model to take on campus, to talk to their friends. It’s a scientific model that goes along with our scriptural model. In fact, it’s actually based in the verses of Scripture. And yet you have backed it up with all of this science, and you’re making predictions of what you’re going to find in the future. It’s absolutely astonishing.
Ross: Well, John, God’s given us two book: the book of nature and the book of Scripture. He wants us to study and enjoy both.
Ankerberg: Yep. Thank you, Hugh, for this presentation. Folks, the book Creation as Science is where you can find the model, you can find these 90 predictions. I would say that this is a fantastic book for you to read and to give to your friends. Thanks for being with us. Join us next week.


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