Saturday, January 31, 2015

#77 God of the Gaps

If you start to share with people some of the recent scientific evidence that points to God or a master designer, you may hear the rebuttal from someone that your evidence is just a “God of the gaps” explanation. It might even be said with some condescension.

There is no need to fear the “God of the gaps” slur and I’ll tell you why. But first, what is “God of the gaps.” The term was actually invented by Christian theologians who were trying to identify a certain strategy for proving that God exists which they assumed is doomed to failure.

If you try to argue for God scientifically by saying that scientists have no answer for something, therefore it must be God behind it, eventually science may discover a materialist process that explains it. If they do, then God is pushed out. Centuries ago, people did not understand thunder and lightning and concluded that it must be the gods fighting in the heavens. Once thunder and lightning were understood, poof, no more gods.

200 years ago, people assumed there must be God because the world was so complex and highly organized that only design could explain it. Then Darwin came along with a materialistic based theory that sounded pretty logical and scientific, and poof, many people who didn’t want a master designer anymore could base their rejection of God on evolution theory and so-called science, developing their faith that it could all happen randomly.

"Because current science can't figure out exactly how life started, it must be God who caused life to start." That makes perfect sense to a believer, but to a God-denier and even your average scientist that is a “God of the gaps” statement. They have faith in a different place. They believe that scientists will eventually discover how life started and additionally of course there will be no need for God.

If you are a believer, you will be happy to hear this news. Over the last 50 years of research you would think that the “gaps” would be disappearing one by one and that scientists are slowly proving the case for the materialists. That’s even the way the materialists might be preaching it.

However, actually the “gaps” are getting bigger and bigger. What once seemed to be a small “gap” in materialistic explanations has often, after newer research, turned out to be an even more complex and complicated problem to explain materialistically. Also new “gaps” are being discovered all the time which scientists cannot explain. The evidence for a master designer is getting stronger, not weaker.

Here is a totally mind blowing fact I heard just today. I’m sure it’s going to be very controversial for years to come. It is totally beyond my understanding of how such a calculation could have been made, so I’m only reporting this new research. Here it is. Astrophysicists at UCLA have calculated that the total density of the mass of all the particles in the whole universe is so absolutely precise that changing the density by a single grain of sand would have caused the whole universe to cease to exist. Read that again, will you. Here is the reference.[1] My mind is blown thinking about it. That’s a pretty big “gap” to explain without a designer. Below is a chart. The density of the universe was so precise at one nanosecond after the Big Bang (447,225,917,218,507,401,284,016 gm/cc) that a variation of 0.2 grams would mean no universe. 0.2 grams more and the universe would have imploded after 15 billion years or 0.2 grams less and there would be no stars or planets, just dust.

“Thus the density 1 ns after the Big Bang was set to an accuracy of better than 1 part in 2235 sextillion (i.e. 10(exp 21)). Even earlier it was set to an accuracy better than 1 part in 10(exp59)!” [2]

Here is a different example in another field. Biologists thought for a long time that most of the DNA was useless, left over mistakes along the evolutionary trail. They called it “Junk DNA”. Maybe you have heard about it. But have you heard the latest? They have found that there is no such thing as “Junk DNA.” In fact, all the DNA seems to be used in the best, most efficient way possible to create living beings. They further discovered that some DNA does even double duty in two different processes. One amazing section does triple duty. A new “gap” was discovered. A really big one for evolutionary biologists! There is no known materialistic explanation for this type of DNA evolving because it performs two essential processes for life.

The “gap” for a materialistic explanation for the formation of a single living cell is growing bigger also. The odds of a single functional protein happening randomly are put at 1 in 10(exp180). Scientists currently estimate that 265 to 350 proteins are the minimum requirement for life [3], but more likely at least 500 to 1,500. Still those estimates are only for parasites that live off other living cells. So the estimate for a self-existing and reproducing cell is probably between 1,500 and 1,900 genes for making proteins. So the odds of producing just the proteins for life by random chance are now something like 1 chance in 10(exp 40,000). [4]

Gaps are not disappearing as predicted. They are getting wider. And new gaps are being discovered all the time. Take another example of astrophysics. My last Proof #76, 200 Parameters for Life, lists a few examples from the 200 known requirements for a planet to be hospitable for life. It was first thought there were only 2. It’s a known fact that 200 number will never decrease. Most likely it will continue to grow. These are not “gaps” anymore. They are proven facts. Calculations against natural forces alone creating a habitable planet like ours have been increasing. Hugh Ross optimistically put the odds at 1 chance in 10(exp215) [5]. Remember there are only 10(exp80) atoms in the universe. [6]

All the evidence in the world will not convince some people who don’t want to be convinced. But when the evidence becomes so overwhelming, what can you say about the person who won’t accept it?

Here is an example that I’m borrowing from Richard Swinburne.[7] There was a man who was kidnapped by a terrorist who was intent on killing him. The terrorist rigged up ten machines from a casino that are used for shuffling cards and dealing out one at a time. Each machine had a regular deck of 52 playing cards to shuffle. The terrorist set explosives all around the man and he calibrated each machine so that it would send a signal to set off the bombs if any card were drawn except the ace of hearts. Only one card from out of 52 in each machine would save his life, the ace of hearts. And all 10 machines had to produce an ace of hearts. If any machine dealt a different card, he would die. The terrorist goes a long way away and activates the shuffling machines. No explosion. He comes back to the room and there is the man safely alive and each machine has dealt an ace of hearts. The man totally cannot believe his good fortune. He is alive. How could it have happened? Was it an act of God? The odds of his survival were impossible. He had one chance in 52x52x52x52x52x52x52x52x52x52 = approx. one chance in 144,555,000,000,000,000. He states to the terrorist that surely there is a God or this could not have happened. The kidnapper says that there is nothing remarkable or surprising about this at all. It happened. He would not be alive to observe it if it hadn’t. No big deal. Any other result and he would be dead and not able to see it.

The mathematical calculation of the odds of our being alive in this universe is far, far less likely than the man surviving the bombs above. To those denying a God, our existence is no big deal. The only reality to consider is physical matter. They have decided that science must be limited to material processes only and they have faith it will eventually find all the answers there.

Whether they realize it or not, their beliefs and assumptions are based on faith. Faith in miracles unexplainable by current science and often violating the well known laws of nature identified so far. As each new “gap” in materialistic explanations is discovered, it makes the odds of us being here by accident less and less likely.

There must be God.

[1] Fine tuned density of Universe at time of Big Bang,

[2] Fine tuned density of Universe at time of Big Bang,

[3] Science Daily, Scientists Find Smallest Number Of Genes Needed For Organism's Survival,

[4] Williams, Peter S., The Big Bad Wolf, Theism and the Foundations of Intelligent Design,

[5] Boyle, Tim, Does Life Exist On Any Other Planet In The Universe? Another Look At SETI,

[6] Villanueva, John Carl, How Many Atoms Are There in the Universe?,

[7] Swinburne, Richard, "The Argument from Design",

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#76 - 200 Parameters for Life

As scientists learn more and more about the world around us and the universe, they are learning how incredibly synchronized, interconnected, and interdependent every little aspect is.

In fact, some are saying that according to the laws of physics and chemistry, we shouldn’t even be here.

In 1966, astronomer and famous promoter of science, Carl Sagan announced that there were two requirements for life to be possible on a planet. He said you had to have a certain type of star like our Sun and you had to have your planet a certain distance from the star. Given there were 10(exp 27) stars in the universe that would mean there were about 10(exp 24) planets where life could exist. Surely we were not the only life. Our planet was just a “pale blue dot”, tiny, and insignificant. Humans were insignificant in any scheme of things.

But since that time, scientists have kept discovering more and more parameters that are requirements for life to come into existence. The number of parameters required went up to 10, then 20, then 50. One Christian apologist, Dr. Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist, has compiled 200 parameters [1] that must be met by any planet that could possibly support life such as us. That was over 10 years ago.

What started out as 10(exp24) possible planets for life, kept shrinking and shrinking and shrinking until it hit zero, zip, nada. Then it kept right on going! In other words, the probability that any planet at all, even ours, could exist and support life became more and more impossible. We shouldn’t even be here!

Check out these two links for long lists of the necessary parameters along with detailed explanations.

Does Life Exist On Any Other Planet In The Universe? Another Look At SETI

Fine-Tuning For Life On Earth (Updated June 2004). (Lists 154 parameters necessary.)

Let me give you some examples. It turns out that not any old galaxy could allow life to exist. Actually it will have to be a spiral galaxy. It will have to be a certain size, not too big, and not too small. It will have to be a certain age, not too old and not too young. These facts would eliminate an estimated 90% of galaxies as candidates for a planet that could support life.

Next, some more parameters about the necessary star were discovered for life to be supported. It would have to be situated in the right location in the galaxy. It has to be located in a narrow region between the spiral arms of the spiral galaxy. If it is too close to the center, it will be destroyed because it will travel too fast and run into one of the spiral arms. If it is too far away, it will travel too slow and be destroyed as well. It can’t be in one of the spiral arms either.

There is a nice name given to all these amazing coincidences: the “Goldilocks” parameters, as in “not too hot, and not too cold, just right.”

The star has to be a single star. 75% of the stars in our galaxy are double stars or multiples. So they get eliminated. A planet can’t exist for long unless the star is single due to the irregular gravity. Also, the star has to be the right size, and the right mass, and the right age. It can’t be too hot or too cold. It can’t burn erratically and send off varying amounts of energy. The star has to be formed at just the right time in the history of the galaxy or the right chemicals for life won’t exist.

The planet that can support life must be in a very narrow zone around the star. It can’t be too close or it will get sucked in or burned up. It can’t be too far away or it will be too cold. It also has to be tipped on its axis approximately 23 degrees to allow for seasons and the right climate for life to grow in a large habitable zone.

Since life first began on earth, the sun’s luminosity has increased about 15%. Normally this would destroy all living things, but because life was growing and absorbing CO2 and other greenhouse gases, it was perfectly synchronized. Life was able to flourish. A very life supporting temperature has been maintained as life developed and exactly because that life was developing. It never got too cold or too hot. Going too far in either direction would have started a chain reaction leading to destruction of life.

Most stars as they revolve around the center of their galaxy also oscillate up and down. This is bad for life because the center of a galaxy sends off lots of radiation. It is extremely fortunate for us that there are lots of cosmic dust clouds to shield our sun from the radiation coming from the center of the Milky Way and also that our sun does not oscillate up and down too much. If it did, we’d die from radiation.

Obviously we need lots of water for life. If the earth moved just 2% closer or farther from the sun, there would be no more water.

The gravitational pull of the earth is exactly right for keeping water vapor trapped, but also amazingly and precisely right for letting methane and ammonia escape from the earth. These gases would be deadly. A few percentage points change in that and we all die.

The earth rotates on its axis every 24 hours. This is perfect. Any slower and we would be frozen or toasted, depending on which side you were on. Any faster and the winds would blow us away.

The earth is tilted on its axis 23.4 degrees. This is again perfect. More tilt and the climate would go crazy. Less tilt and the amount of livable space would be very small.

I wrote a whole proof for God on the unique qualities of our Moon. [2] It has many, many significant parameters that are just right. For example, if it was not a an abnormally large size for a moon or the exact distance which it is, we’d all be dead.

Did you know that you owe your life to the planet Jupiter? It is estimated that Earth would be struck by large meteors 1,000 times more often if not for Jupiter, obviously resulting in huge catastrophes and death. Jupiter is just the right size and in the right position to protect the Earth. If it were bigger, it would suck us away from the sun. If it were smaller, it would not shield us as well. Jupiter and Saturn have very nice smooth orbits which is to our benefit. If their orbits were a little more erratic, they’d pull us out of our orbit and you guessed it, we’d die.

All the gases in our atmosphere, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, etc. seem to be in exactly the right proportions to sustain life. A little more oxygen and we could never put out all the fires.

The Earth has so many “Goldilocks” parameters that it is really mind boggling. The tectonic plates are necessary. The molten core is necessary for life. The earthquakes are necessary. The correct ratio between oceans and land masses is necessary.

This goes on and on and on. Up to 200 parameters have been identified already and that was 10 years ago. I’d be willing to bet that in the future even more parameters are going to be discovered, thus making it more impossible that we are alive by accident. If you want to get into more of the details, I highly encourage you to go to the two webpages I have referenced above or other resources that exist. Here is a third from the Wall Street Journal in December, 2014: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God. [3]

So you can decide for yourself of course what you are going to believe, but you certainly have to admit that the odds of all these factors occurring so that life could emerge are almost infinitesimally small. Dr. Hugh Ross put the odds at 1 in 10(exp 42). There are an estimated 10(exp 27) stars in the whole universe. Let me write those odds out for you; 1 chance in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. He also said that was an optimistic estimate because he was generous when assigning the odds to each parameter.

Could we really be that lucky? Here’s my conclusion.

There must be God.

[1] Hugh Ross, PhD., Fine-Tuning For Life On Earth (Updated June 2004), 

[2] Jim Stephens, Proof for God #49, The Moon.

[3] Eric Metaxas, Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God, Wall Street Journal,