Evidence for the Fine Tuning of the Universe
by Rich Deem

Introduction

According to Carl Sagan, the universe (cosmos) "is all that is or ever was or ever will be." However, the idea that the universe is all is not a scientific fact, but an assumption based upon materialistic naturalism. Since Carl Sagan's death in 1996, new discoveries in physics and cosmology bring into questions Sagan's assumption about the universe. Evidence shows that the constants of physics have been finely tuned to a degree not possible through human engineering. Five of the more finely tuned numbers are included in the table below. For comments about what scientists think about these numbers, see the page Quotes from Scientists Regarding Design of the Universe.

Fine Tuning of the Physical Constants of the Universe
Parameter Max. Deviation
Ratio of Electrons:Protons 1:1037
Ratio of Electromagnetic Force:Gravity 1:1040
Expansion Rate of Universe 1:1055
Mass Density of Universe1 1:1059
Cosmological Constant 1:10120
These numbers represent the maximum deviation from the accepted values, that would either prevent the universe from existing now, not having matter, or be unsuitable for any form of life.

Degree of fine tuning

Recent Studies have confirmed the fine tuning of the cosmological constant (also known as "dark energy"). This cosmological constant is a force that increases with the increasing size of the universe. First hypothesized by Albert Einstein, the cosmological constant was rejected by him, because of lack of real world data. However, recent supernova 1A data demonstrated the existence of a cosmological constant that probably made up for the lack of light and dark matter in the universe.2 However, the data was tentative, since there was some variability among observations. Recent cosmic microwave background (CMB) measurement not only demonstrate the existence of the cosmological constant, but the value of the constant. It turns out that the value of the cosmological constant exactly makes up for the lack of matter in the universe.3

The degree of fine-tuning is difficult to imagine. Dr. Hugh Ross gives an example of the least fine-tuned of the above four examples in his book, The Creator and the Cosmos, which is reproduced here:

One part in 1037 is such an incredibly sensitive balance that it is hard to visualize. The following analogy might help: Cover the entire North American continent in dimes all the way up to the moon, a height of about 239,000 miles (In comparison, the money to pay for the U.S. federal government debt would cover one square mile less than two feet deep with dimes.). Next, pile dimes from here to the moon on a billion other continents the same size as North America. Paint one dime red and mix it into the billions of piles of dimes. Blindfold a friend and ask him to pick out one dime. The odds that he will pick the red dime are one in 1037. (p. 115)

Journey Toward Creation DVDThe ripples in the universe from the original Big Bang event are detectable at one part in 100,000. If this factor were slightly smaller, the universe would exist only as a collection of gas - no planets, no life. If this factor were slightly larger, the universe would consist only of large black holes. Obviously, no life would be possible in such a universe.

Another finely tuned constant is the strong nuclear force (the force that holds atoms together). The Sun "burns" by fusing hydrogen (and higher elements) together. When the two hydrogen atoms fuse, 0.7% of the mass of the hydrogen is converted into energy. If the amount of matter converted were slightly smaller—0.6% instead of 0.7%— a proton could not bond to a neutron, and the universe would consist only of hydrogen. With no heavy elements, there would be no rocky planets and no life. If the amount of matter converted were slightly larger—0.8%, fusion would happen so readily and rapidly that no hydrogen would have survived from the Big Bang. Again, there would be no solar systems and no life. The number must lie exactly between 0.6% and 0.8% (Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers).


Fine Tuning Parameters for the Universe

  1. strong nuclear force constant
    if larger: no hydrogen would form; atomic nuclei for most life-essential elements would be unstable; thus, no life chemistry
    if smaller: no elements heavier than hydrogen would form: again, no life chemistry
  2. weak nuclear force constant
    if larger: too much hydrogen would convert to helium in big bang; hence, stars would convert too much matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
    if smaller: too little helium would be produced from big bang; hence, stars would convert too little matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
  3. gravitational force constant
    if larger: stars would be too hot and would burn too rapidly and too unevenly for life chemistry
    if smaller
    : stars would be too cool to ignite nuclear fusion; thus, many of the elements needed for life chemistry would never form
  4. electromagnetic force constant
    if greater: chemical bonding would be disrupted; elements more massive than boron would be unstable to fission
    if lesser: chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry
  5. ratio of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant
    if larger: all stars would be at least 40% more massive than the sun; hence, stellar burning would be too brief and too uneven for life support
    if smaller
    : all stars would be at least 20% less massive than the sun, thus incapable of producing heavy elements
  6. ratio of electron to proton mass
    if larger: chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry
    if smaller: same as above
  7. ratio of number of protons to number of electrons
    if larger: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
    if smaller: same as above
  8. expansion rate of the universe
    if larger: no galaxies would form
    if smaller
    : universe would collapse, even before stars formed
  9. entropy level of the universe
    if larger: stars would not form within proto-galaxies
    if smaller: no proto-galaxies would form
  10. mass density of the universe
    if larger: overabundance of deuterium from big bang would cause stars to burn rapidly, too rapidly for life to form
    if smaller: insufficient helium from big bang would result in a shortage of heavy elements
  11. velocity of light
    if faster: stars would be too luminous for life support if slower: stars would be insufficiently luminous for life support
  12. age of the universe
    if older: no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would exist in the right (for life) part of the galaxy
    if younger: solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed
  13. initial uniformity of radiation
    if more uniform: stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed
    if less uniform: universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space
  14. average distance between galaxies
    if larger: star formation late enough in the history of the universe would be hampered by lack of material
    if smaller: gravitational tug-of-wars would destabilize the sun's orbit
  15. density of galaxy cluster
    if denser: galaxy collisions and mergers would disrupt the sun's orbit
    if less dense: star formation late enough in the history of the universe would be hampered by lack of material
  16. average distance between stars
    if larger: heavy element density would be too sparse for rocky planets to form
    if smaller
    : planetary orbits would be too unstable for life
  17. fine structure constant (describing the fine-structure splitting of spectral lines) if larger: all stars would be at least 30% less massive than the sun
    if larger than 0.06: matter would be unstable in large magnetic fields
    if smaller: all stars would be at least 80% more massive than the sun
  18. decay rate of protons
    if greater: life would be exterminated by the release of radiation
    if smaller: universe would contain insufficient matter for life
  19. 12C to 16O nuclear energy level ratio
    if larger: universe would contain insufficient oxygen for life
    if smaller: universe would contain insufficient carbon for life
  20. ground state energy level for 4He
    if larger: universe would contain insufficient carbon and oxygen for life
    if smaller
    : same as above
  21. decay rate of 8Be
    if slower: heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in all the stars
    if faster: no element heavier than beryllium would form; thus, no life chemistry
  22. ratio of neutron mass to proton mass
    if higher: neutron decay would yield too few neutrons for the formation of many life-essential elements
    if lower: neutron decay would produce so many neutrons as to collapse all stars into neutron stars or black holes
  23. initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons
    if greater: radiation would prohibit planet formation
    if lesser: matter would be insufficient for galaxy or star formation
  24. polarity of the water molecule
    if greater: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too high for life
    if smaller: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too low for life; liquid water would not work as a solvent for life chemistry; ice would not float, and a runaway freeze-up would result
  25. supernovae eruptions
    if too close, too frequent, or too late: radiation would exterminate life on the planet
    if too distant, too infrequent, or too soon: heavy elements would be too sparse for rocky planets to form
  26. white dwarf binaries
    if too few: insufficient fluorine would exist for life chemistry
    if too many: planetary orbits would be too unstable for life
    if formed too soon: insufficient fluorine production
    if formed too late: fluorine would arrive too late for life chemistry
  27. ratio of exotic matter mass to ordinary matter mass
    if larger: universe would collapse before solar-type stars could form
    if smaller: no galaxies would form
  28. number of effective dimensions in the early universe
    if larger: quantum mechanics, gravity, and relativity could not coexist; thus, life would be impossible
    if smaller: same result
  29. number of effective dimensions in the present universe
    if smaller: electron, planet, and star orbits would become unstable
    if larger
    : same result
  30. mass of the neutrino
    if smaller: galaxy clusters, galaxies, and stars would not form
    if larger: galaxy clusters and galaxies would be too dense
  31. big bang ripples
    if smaller: galaxies would not form; universe would expand too rapidly
    if larger: galaxies/galaxy clusters would be too dense for life; black holes would dominate; universe would collapse before life-site could form
  32. size of the relativistic dilation factor
    if smaller: certain life-essential chemical reactions will not function properly
    if larger
    : same result
  33. uncertainty magnitude in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
    if smaller: oxygen transport to body cells would be too small and certain life-essential elements would be unstable
    if larger: oxygen transport to body cells would be too great and certain life-essential elements would be unstable
  34. cosmological constant
    if larger: universe would expand too quickly to form solar-type stars

Taken from  Big Bang Refined by Fire by Dr. Hugh Ross, 1998. Reasons To Believe, Pasadena, CA.

The Creator and the CosmosThe Creator and the Cosmos by Dr. Hugh Ross

A classic book for modern Christian apologetics and science. Dr. Ross presents the latest scientific evidence for intelligent design of our world and an easy to understand introduction to modern cosmology. This is a great book to give agnostics, who have an interest in cosmology and astronomy.



References Top of page

  1. For further information, visit the website of Dr. Edward Wright, Ph.D., Professor of Astronomy at UCLA
  2. The amount of light and dark matter is only 30% of that necessary for a "flat" universe (one which contains the critical mass - the amount necessary to stop the expansion of the universe).
  3. Sincell, M. 1999. Firming Up the Case for a Flat Cosmos. Science 285: 1831.

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Last Modified May 17, 2011

 

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