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Is There a Creator?
By Nathan Chandler, HowStuffWorks.com
For centuries, philosophers and scientists have marveled at the complexity of our universe and asked a lot of hard questions. Are we the only intelligent life in the universe? Is the entire universe and life on Earth simply the chance result of a combination of physical phenomena? Or did some supreme being somehow plan and then will this universe into existence?
Many physicists and philosophers alike have argued that it's very unlikely that our universe is the product of pure chance. They insist that nature alone could not achieve the precarious balance of forces that resulted in the equilibrium of galaxies and life forms we know. They say that this finely-tuned universe was guided by a great being we have yet to understand.
This theory of fine tuning bases its assertions on the constants of nature. The most commonly referenced constants are gravity, electromagnetic force, and strong and weak nuclear forces. Proponents of the fine-tuning assertion say that if the intensity of any of these constants changed — even in the smallest amount — our universe would be a very different place, and much more inhospitable to life as we know it.
Some quirky and fortunate physics came into play as these constants guided the universeâ€™s formation. For example, take the existence of carbon, which is the foundation of all life. Carbon results from the binding of three helium atoms. Statistically, creating prolific amounts of carbon is very unlikely, because each of the three atoms has slightly different energy levels that preclude the economical formation of carbon.
But the electromagnetic and strong nuclear constants level out the energy levels of the helium atoms — as a result, carbon forms. Even a tiny change in either of these constants would greatly inhibit carbon production, and thus, greatly reduce the potential for life.
Similarly, the special relationship between the weak nuclear force and gravity allowed for the preservation of hydrogen during the Big Bang, which would have otherwise transformed the hydrogen into helium. Without hydrogen, there'd be no water.
Likewise, the narrowly defined initial conditions present at the birth of our universe were critical to ensuring its survival. Most scientists agree that the big bang marked the beginning of our universe, and that the forces involved in this event were calibrated with the same care as the rest of the laws of physics. For example, when the big bang occurred, the force of gravity wasn't so strong that it immediately collapsed the new universe back into itself. Instead, it let matter expand steadily into all directions. Atoms circled and joined together to create stars, planets, solar systems and eventually, life.
There are many arguments against the finely tuned universe. Some opponents claim that the sheer vastness of our universe shows that there could be infinite permutations in the combination of physical laws, and that as mere humans bound by the laws of our own universe, we simply cannot observe other universes. Other doubters say we just can't yet comprehend the physical laws that rule our universe. With more time and insight, they say, we'll disprove the notion of a supernatural creator.
However, we can all agree that the universe is an overwhelmingly complex place. The most intelligent human minds of history have uncovered countless tantalizing clues as to our origins, but complete answers to all of our questions still evade our understanding. Eventually, we may find that the finely tuned universe assertion offered key insights into the existence of a super-intelligent creator. At the very least, the concepts driving these assertions confirm one thing for sure — our universe is, without a doubt, a magnificently calibrated design that won't be unraveled and fully understood anytime soon.
Originally posted by Titen-Sxull
reply to post by Misoir
I'm 2/3rds of the way done with part 1 and they've already committed to the false idea that the Universe is fine tuned for life, they even use the words fine tuning.
The Universe is NOT fine tuned for life, our planet might SEEM that way but most other planets are FAR from fine tuned, most are barren and icy, others are massive Jupiter like gas giants... Until we discover life off of this planet the Universe is very POOR for life. I'm honestly ashamed that this is the first episode on the "Science" channel and most of it is philosophical (at least thus far) though they keep repeating that its scientists saying God exists as if pretending there's a scientific consensus on the supernatural
Edit to add: Part 2 takes us back to the real science, looks like this program might be okay after all.
[edit on 20-6-2010 by Titen-Sxull]
Originally posted by Misoir
For centuries, philosophers and scientists have marveled at the complexity of our universe and asked a lot of hard questions. Are we the only intelligent life in the universe?