ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview
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ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview

Otangelo Grasso: This is my library, where I collect information and present arguments developed by myself that lead, in my view, to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the origin of the physical world.

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Fine-tuning of the mass of the universe

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1Fine-tuning of the mass of the universe Empty Fine-tuning of the mass of the universe Sat Nov 27, 2021 6:50 am



Fine-tuning of the mass of the universe.

Eric Metaxas: Is atheism dead? page 68
To get specific about what details of the universe point to design, we can start with the biggest picture of them all: the mass of the universe, which is one of the most startling examples of so-called fine-tuning. Just as we can grasp the concept of Earth’s needing to be exactly the size that it is, we must wrestle with the idea that the universe must be roughly the size that it is, too. But as you will soon see, the fine-tuning of the mass of the universe cannot really be described with the adverb “roughly.” It is a level of exactness that is essentially impossible to comprehend. First of all, the mass of the universe is not something we knew until rather recently, and the very idea of what such a thing even could be is itself difficult to envision. But again, science eventually got to where it can tell us, and with an almost blood-curdling specificity. We may as well cut to the chase and say that the mass of the observable universe, measured in kilograms, is 1.5 times 10 to the 53rd power. That is only the observable universe, and it is a small fraction of the mass comprised of dark matter and dark energy, but we have enough to worry about without getting into that subject. To talk about the mass of the universe another way, we can simply state the number of atoms in the universe, which is about 10 to the 80th power— so a one followed by eighty zeroes. It’s of course amazing that we know that, but we do. Still, these are just numbers. Another way to think of the size of the universe is to say that it contains 2 trillion galaxies, each of which contains 100 billion stars, most of which are comparable to our own sun, whose diameter is 865,000 miles across. But there are not just stars in the universe. There is also a near infinity of other objects such as planets, moons, asteroids, comets, nebulae, and so on. So these are some ways in which we can get some idea of our universe’s mass.

But what is truly hard to comprehend—and this is putting it mildly—is that science has determined that the mass of the universe is fine-tuned to a level that is, as we say, essentially incomprehensible. Nonetheless, according to what the physicists tell us, the mass of the entire universe is exactly what it must be for life to exist on Earth. Before we go into what we mean by “exactly,” we can dilate for a moment on why scientists believe this. For example, scientists say that if the universe’s mass were the tiniest bit smaller, the elements necessary for life—nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon, for starters—would never have come into being. This is related to the second reason, which ends up being much more interesting, and has to do with gravity. We have said that the more mass something has the more gravitational pull it exerts. So we now understand that if there were any more mass in the universe—and we will say what “any” means in a moment—the gravity would be too much and would not have allowed the universe to expand from the Big Bang to where it is now. At some point the gravity—if it were even the tiniest bit greater—would have overtaken that expansion, would have put the brakes on it, so to speak. It would have eventually pulled everything back down into objects much larger than our sun, which would have ended up as black holes and neutron stars, which are so dense that atoms themselves would be crushed. So of course the aforementioned elements necessary for life would never have been created, since life could never exist on neutron stars or in black holes. But on the other side of things, if there were any less mass in the universe, then its expansion would have been too fast. So gravity would not have had the chance to create the stars that exist now, nor the planets, and so the universe would just be an endless scattering of gas and dust. But where this gets interesting to the point of maddening is when we talk about just how fine-tuned the mass of the universe is. In his book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, Caltech astrophysicist Hugh Ross gives us the frightening details:

Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Reasons to Believe) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2008),  
At certain early epochs in cosmic history, [the universe’s] mass density must have been as finely tuned as one part in 10 to the 60th power to allow for the possible existence of physical life at any time or place with the entirety of the universe. This degree of fine-tuning is so great that it’s as if right after the universe beginning someone could have destroyed the possibility of life within it by subtracting a single dime’s mass from the whole of the observable universe or adding a single dime’s mass to it.

A single dime’s mass. Everyone knows that the mass of a dime is almost nothing. Yet Hugh Ross declares that is the amount of mass that would have caused the universe not to come into being. Are we supposed to take this seriously? That the mass of a dime is what could have made the difference between our existence and non-existence? How can we rationally process something so outrageous? And yet science has progressed to the point where it can tell us this as a fact. Still, the notion that the entire mass of the universe could not deviate by the mass of a single dime has to be among the most preposterous statements anyone has ever made in the history of language. But again, there is a monumental difficulty, because this is not the hare-brained conjecture of some madman, but the bloodless scientific consensus. It isn’t something that science can explain, of course, and it makes many scientists deeply uncomfortable. But there it is: an incomprehensibly outrageous scientific fact that stymies any thinking person into silence. What is there to say? But why should we jump into the deep end of the pool so soon? The mass of the universe is only one element of fine-tuning, and yes, it is frightening to any sensitive thinking person. But there are dozens and even now scores and hundreds of variables that are fine-tuned, albeit not quite to that disturbing level. For example, let’s talk for a moment about the four fundamental forces in the universe. 


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