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Theory of Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins » Astronomy & Cosmology and God » Fine-tuning of the fundamental forces of the universe

Fine-tuning of the fundamental forces of the universe

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Fine-tuning of the  fundamental forces of the universe

Faber, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was referring to the idea that there is something uncannily perfect about our universe. The laws of physics and the values of physical constants seem, as Goldilocks said, “just right.” If even one of a host of physical properties of the universe had been different, stars, planets, and galaxies would never have formed. Life would have been all but impossible.

Take, for instance, the neutron. It is 1.00137841870 times heavier than the proton, which is what allows it to decay into a proton, electron and neutrino—a process that determined the relative abundances of hydrogen and helium after the big bang and gave us a universe dominated by hydrogen. If the neutron-to-proton mass ratio were even slightly different, we would be living in a very different universe: one, perhaps, with far too much helium, in which stars would have burned out too quickly for life to evolve, or one in which protons decayed into neutrons rather than the other way around, leaving the universe without atoms. So, in fact, we wouldn’t be living here at all—we wouldn’t exist.

Examples of such “fine-tuning” abound. Tweak the charge on an electron, for instance, or change the strength of the gravitational force or the strong nuclear force just a smidgen, and the universe would look very different, and likely be lifeless. The challenge for physicists is explaining why such physical parameters are what they are.

This challenge became even tougher in the late 1990s when astronomers discovered dark energy, the little-understood energy thought to be driving the accelerating expansion of our universe. All attempts to use known laws of physics to calculate the expected value of this energy lead to answers that are 10120 times too high, causing some to label it the worst prediction in physics.

“The great mystery is not why there is dark energy. The great mystery is why there is so little of it,” said Leonard Susskind of Stanford University, at a 2007 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “The fact that we are just on the knife edge of existence, [that] if dark energy were very much bigger we wouldn’t be here, that’s the mystery.” Even a slightly larger value of dark energy would have caused spacetime to expand so fast that galaxies wouldn’t have formed.

That night in Hawaii, Faber declared that there were only two possible explanations for fine-tuning. “One is that there is a God and that God made it that way,” she said. But for Faber, an atheist, divine intervention is not the answer.

“The only other approach that makes any sense is to argue that there really is an infinite, or a very big, ensemble of universes out there and we are in one,” she said.

This ensemble would be the multiverse. In a multiverse, the laws of physics and the values of physical parameters like dark energy would be different in each universe, each the outcome of some random pull on the cosmic slot machine. We just happened to luck into a universe that is conducive to life. After all, if our corner of the multiverse were hostile to life, Faber and I wouldn’t be around to ponder these questions under stars.

This “anthropic principle” infuriates many physicists, for it implies that we cannot really explain our universe from first principles. “It’s an argument that sometimes I find distasteful, from a personal perspective,” says Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, author of A Universe From Nothing. “I’d like to be able to understand why the universe is the way it is, without resorting to this randomness.”

And he’s not the only one who feels this way. Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin once told me, “I would, and most physicists would, prefer not to have to rely on anything like the anthropic principle, but actually to be able to calculate things.”

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What about all those positively charged protons in the center of an atom

   ... it is as if someone carefully prepared our world exactly with us in mind. Certain laws of nature rest within very narrowly defined parameters that allow humans to exist here.

   Scientists conservatively estimate there are at least 18 physical laws that work in perfect harmony in order for the universe and Planet Earth to be suitable for complex life. For example, there are the laws of gravity, conservation of energy, thermodynamics, strong nuclear forces, electromagnetic forces, and so on. If any of these laws varied ever so slightly, life would not be possible in our universe.

   Consider the strong nuclear force. This is the force that holds the nuclei—centers—of atoms together. The protons and neutrons of the atom within the nuclei exchange subparticles. The protons are then bound together by the strong force, even though their positive charges would normally repel each other. And the atom stays intact.

   To see one of the results of the strong force, take the sun’s production of nuclear energy, for example. Our sun “burns” and produces energy to sustain Planet Earth by fusing hydrogen atoms together. And when two such atoms fuse, 0.7 percent of their mass is converted into energy. But what if the percentage of matter converted to energy was slightly smaller? If the conversion was just 0.6 percent instead of 0.7 percent, the proton could not bond to the neutron and the universe would consist only of hydrogen. There would be no Planet Earth for us to inhabit, nor would there be a sun to warm it.

   And what if the matter converted to energy was just a bit larger, say 0.8 percent? The fusion would happen so quickly that no hydrogen could survive. And this would also mean that life as we know it could not exist. Our universe is so fine-tuned that the tiny hydrogen atoms, when fusing, must give up exactly between 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent of their mass in the form of energy!

   There are dozens of such examples that demonstrate that our universe is finely tuned to an incredible degree. It is unthinkable that it originated “by chance.” It is as if some Intelligent Agent prepared Planet Earth with a welcome sign that said, “I made this specifically for you.”


More specifically, the values of the various forces of nature appear to be fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life. The world is conditioned principally by the values of the fundamental constants a (the fine structure constant, or electromagnetic interaction), mn/me (proton to electron mass ratio, aG (gravitation), aw (the weak force), and as (the strong force). When one mentally assigns different values to these constants or forces, one discovers that in fact the number of observable universes, that is to say, universes capable of supporting intelligent life, is very small. Just a slight variation in any one of these values would render life impossible.

For example, if as were increased as much as 1%, nuclear resonance levels would be so altered that almost all carbon would be burned into oxygen; an increase of 2% would preclude formation of protons out of quarks, preventing the existence of atoms. Furthermore, weakening as by as much as 5% would unbind deuteron, which is essential to stellar nucleosynthesis, leading to a universe composed only of hydrogen. It has been estimated that as must be within 0.8 and 1.2 its actual strength or all elements of atomic weight greater than four would not have formed. Or again, if aw had been appreciably stronger, then the Big Bang's nuclear burning would have proceeded past helium to iron, making fusion-powered stars impossible. But if it had been much weaker, then we should have had a universe entirely of helium. Or again, if aG had been a little greater, all stars would have been red dwarfs, which are too cold to support life-bearing planets. If it had been a little smaller, the universe would have been composed exclusively of blue giants which burn too briefly for life to develop. According to Davies, changes in either aG or electromagnetism by only one part in 1040 would have spelled disaster for stars like the sun. Moreover, the fact that life can develop on a planet orbiting a star at the right distance depends on the close proximity of the spectral temperature of starlight to the molecular binding energy. Were it greatly to exceed this value, living organisms would be sterilized or destroyed; but were it far below this value, then the photochemical reactions necessary to life would proceed too slowly for life to exist. Or again, atmospheric composition, upon which life depends, is constrained by planetary mass. But planetary mass is the inevitable consequence of electromagnetic and gravitational interactions. And there simply is no physical theory which can explain the numerical values of a and mn/me that determine electromagnetic interaction.

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1. The "Big Bang"

It has been known for about 70 years, that the galaxies of the universe are moving apart and away from each other, in similar fashion to raisins moving apart and away from each other in an expanding lump of dough. In 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble's measurements on more than 40 galaxies established that the galaxies of the universe are indeed receding away from each other at several hundred miles per second, as an explosion would propel exploded pieces from each other. That "explosion"-event is now popularly called the "Big Bang" --- and this event is evidenced by left-over heat (or "background radiation") throughout the universe which (along with much other evidence) leaves little doubt that this hot explosive event occurred.

In addition, recent research, such as data from the "BOOMERANG experiment" (short for "Balloon Observations of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation and Geophysics") have determined that the geometry and ""shape" of the universe," is "flat" (as opposed to having "curved" space). A "flat" universe means that Euclydian geometry applies throughout space, and every "straight" line (as people normally think of straightness) in the universe does not curve with the fabric of space --even over a very long distance. It doesn't matter that gravity causes light to curve --the geometry of space is still flat. This means that there is an approximate "center" to the material universe (since there is a finite number of galaxies).

One of the implications of the universe being "flat" is that it will expand forever --and in fact, there is experimental confirmation that the universe is actually accelerating in its expansion rate. All of this means that the expansion will never reverse and bring the universe back together into a "Big Crunch," because there's not enough gravity in the mass of the universe to stop the expansion. -- Therefore, we know that the universe has not been on an endless cycle of bang, crunch, bang, crunch, etc. And because of this, we know that the universe is not an eternal entity.

In the following video, Dr. William Lane Craig discusses this current cosmological evidence:
The Evidence of Cosmology

Astrophysicists (such as Stephen Hawking) determined that the evident starting point just before the Big Bang involved something called a "singularity," which is: all the cosmos's potential mass (matter), energy, and dimensions --and time-- reduced down to an infinitely small point of zero volume. ---Thus, matter, 3-dimensional space, and time virtually did not exist before the Big Bang.

The expanding universe is an important discovery, because if we "reverse the film" of that expansion, then we arrive back at a starting-point for its beginning ...and if there is a beginning, there must logically be a "beginner" to initiate the Big Bang. The beginner of the Bang precedes and is outside of (transcends) all matter, dimensions and time. In light of this, the thoughts of many people go to the first verse of the Bible, which states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1).

This powerful evidence contradicts worldviews and religions that posit an eternally existing universe (such as older materialism), ... or views which posit the idea of cosmic "reincarnation" with an oscillating universe that eternally expands and contracts (such as Hinduism, Buddhism, & New Age philosophies); ---but instead, --the Big Bang would support the biblical view of a transcendent God; that "the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" - Hebrews 11:3. In addition, ---unlike any other supposedly "holy writings"--- the Bible alone says that there was a "beginning of time" (2Tim. 1:9 & Titus 1:2), ---and God was causing effects before that beginning (John 17:5 & Colos. 1:16-17).

The Balance of the Bang: In order for life to be possible in the universe, the explosive power of the Big Bang needed to be extremely closely matched to the amount of mass and balanced with the force of gravity, so that the expansion-speed is very precise. This very exact expansion-speed of the universe, is called the "Cosmological Constant." If the force of the bang was slightly too weak, the expanding matter would have collapsed back in on itself before any planets suitable for life (or stars) had a chance to form, ---but if the bang was slightly too strong, the resultant matter would have been only hydrogen gas that was so diffuse and expanding so fast, that no stars or planets could have formed at all.

Science writer Gregg Easterbrook explains the required explosive power-balance of the Big Bang, saying that, "Researchers have calculated that, if the ratio of matter and energy to the volume of space ...had not been within about one-quadrillionth of one percent of ideal at the moment of the Big Bang, the incipient universe would have collapsed back on itself or suffered runaway relativity effects" (My emphasis.) (ref. G.Easterbrook, "Science Sees the Light", The New Republic, Oct.12, 1998, p.26).

In terms of the expansion rate of the universe as a result of the Big Bang: "What's even more amazing is how delicately balanced that expansion rate must be for life to exist. It cannot differ by more than one part in 1055 from the actual rate." (My emphasis.) (Ref: H.Ross, 1995, as cited above, p.116). (Note: 1055 is the number 1 with 55 zeros after it ---and 1055 is about the number of atoms that make up planet earth).

THE PROBABILITY: The chances we can conservatively assign to this: It was about one chance out of 1021 that the force of the Big Bang could have randomly been properly balanced with the mass & gravity of the universe, in order for stars and planets to form, so that life could exist here in our cosmos.

Design and Cosmology

In the following video, Dr. William Lane Craig discusses this current cosmological evidence:
The Evidence of Cosmology

Next --- Several of the following items deal with strengths of the four (known) basic forces of physics in the material universe, which hold everything together. Those four basic forces are: the force of gravity, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and the electromagnetic force. The strengths of these four forces are extremely finely tuned and balanced with each other and with the amount of matter in the universe, which makes life possible in the present cosmos. ---What is the chance that such fine-tuning happened by chance? --- (Note: If a scientist can improve the accuracy in the numbers used for probabilities here, such information would be appreciated.)

2. The Force of Gravity

Gravity is the least important force at small scales but the most important at large scales. It is only because the minuscule gravitational forces of individual particles add up in large bodies that gravity can overwhelm the other forces. Gravity, like the other forces, must also be fine-tuned for life. Think of its role in stars. A star is in a state of temporary balance between gravity and pressure provided by hot gas (which, in turn, depends on the electromagnetic force). A star forms from a parcel of gas when gravity overcomes the pressure forces and turbulence and causes the gas to coalesce and contract. As the gas becomes more concentrated, it eventually becomes so hot that its nuclei begin to fuse, releasing radiation, which itself heats the gas. What would happen to stars if the force of gravity were a million times stronger? Martin Rees, Britain’s Astronomer Royale, surmises, “The number of atoms needed to make a star (a gravitationally bound fusion reactor) would be a billion times less . . . in this hypothetical strong-gravity world, stellar lifetimes would be a million times shorter. Instead of living for ten billion years, a typical star would live for about ten thousand years. A mini- Sun would burn faster, and would have exhausted its energy before even the first steps in organic evolution had got under way.” Such a star would be about one-thousandth the luminosity, three times the surface temperature, and one-twentieth the density of the Sun. For life, such a mini-Sun is a mere “shooting star,” burning too hot and too quickly.

 A universe in which gravity was weaker would have the opposite problem. Most stars transport the energy generated deep in their interiors to their surfaces by two processes: radiation and convection. In the Sun’s case, radiation transports energy most of the way, but convection mostly takes over for its outer 20 percent. Cosmologist Brandon Carter first noticed the interesting coincidence that mid-range mass stars are near the dividing line between convective and radiative energy transport. This dividing line is another razor’s edge, a teetering balance between gravity and electromagnetism.  If it were shifted one way or the other, main-sequence stars would be either all blue or all red (convection resulting in red stars). Either way, stars in the main sequence with the Sun’s surface temperature and luminosity would be rare or nonexistent. This would surely be a loss for Martha Stewart and other lovers of yellow. But would a universe so well adorned for the Fourth of July be less habitable than ours? Red stars, certainly, would make for less habitable conditions, for some of the reasons we gave in Chapter Seven (such as the slowdown of oxygen buildup in a planet’s atmosphere). Very blue stars would be hostile to life, since they would produce too much harmful ultraviolet radiation, though moderately bluer stars might still support life.

 And we have already shown how much more useful to science the Sun’s spectrum is than are bluer or redder stars. What about planets? A stronger gravity would result in a stronger surface gravity for a planet the mass of Earth, and would also boost the planet’s self-compression, increasing the surface gravity even more. Martin Rees notes that a strong-gravity terrestrial planet would prevent organisms from growing very large. Such a planet would also suffer more frequent and higher-velocity impacts from comets and asteroids. Perhaps such a planet also would retain more heat, possibly leading to too much volcanic activity. Of course, these problems could be avoided by having a smaller planet with a surface gravity comparable to Earth’s. But a smaller planet would lose its internal heat much faster, preventing long-lived plate tectonics. Not only would tinkering with gravity change the stars and planets, it would also alter the cosmos as a whole. For example, the expansion of the universe must be carefully balanced with the deceleration caused by gravity. Too much expansion energy and the atoms would fly apart before stars and galaxies could form; too little, and the universe would collapse before stars and galaxies could form. The density fluctuations of the universe when the cosmic microwave background was formed also must be a certain magnitude for gravity to coalesce them into galaxies later and for us to be able to detect them. Our ability to measure the cosmic microwave background radiation is bound to the habitability of the universe; had these fluctuations been significantly smaller, we wouldn’t be here. 2

It is now known that if the force of gravity were any weaker, stars would not have compacted tight enough together so that nuclear fusion would occur. Fusion is necessary to produce the heavier elements upon which life depends (such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen) ---and without fusion, there would only be hydrogen and helium in all the universe. On the other hand, if gravity were any stronger, stars would burn so hot that they would burn up in about one year or so (ref. G. Easterbrook, cited, p.26). As it is, the gravitational force is so finely tuned, that the average star is capable of burning in a stable fashion for about 80 billion years (ref. H. Ross, cited, p.60).

How finely tuned is gravity? -- Well, the strength of gravity could be at any one of 14 billion billion billion settings, but there is only one setting which is adequate (and optimal) for a universe with intelligent life to exist.

-- To illustrate: This is as if you had a measuring tape with one-inch sections stretched across the known universe, it would be 14 billion billion billion inches long, and only one or two of those inches in the middle is the optimal strength setting for gravity. If you moved the strength setting to the right or left just a couple of inches, then intelligent life could not exist (though bacterial life might survive with gravity stronger or weaker by one setting up or down).

THE PROBABILITY: Although the force of gravity could obviously have attained a large number of wrong magnitude-ranges, the chance of it being correct for intelligent life to exist, is one chance out of 14 billion billion billion. --Thus, we can conservatively say that it was about one chance out of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 1 out of 10^21, or 1 out of a billion trillion) that the force of gravity might have randomly attained such an advantageous strength for the making of life-necessary elements in the stars.

Imagine stretching a measuring tape across the entire known universe. Now imagine one particular mark on the tape represents the correct degree of gravitational force required to create the universe we have. If this mark were moved more than an inch from its location (on a measuring tape spanning the entire universe), the altered gravitational force would prevent our universe from coming into existence

3. The Strong Nuclear Force

The strong nuclear force (often called just the nuclear force) is responsible for holding protons and neutrons together in the nuclei of atoms. In such close quarters, it is strong enough to overcome the electromagnetic force and bind the otherwise repulsive, positively charged protons together. It is as short-range as it is strong, extending no farther than atomic nuclei. But despite its short range, changing the strong nuclear force would have many wide-ranging consequences, most of them detrimental to life. A good example is its role in forming the periodical table of the elements, that friend of seventh-graders everywhere. Like carbon and oxygen synthesis in stars, the abundance of the heavier elements turns on the details of the nuclear and electromagnetic forces. Stars build the heavier elements with carbon and oxygen ashes. Irrespective of the carbon bottleneck, the periodic table of the elements would look different with a changed strong nuclear force. If it were weaker, there would be fewer stable chemical elements. The more complex organisms require about twenty-seven chemical elements, iodine being the heaviest (with an atomic number of 53). Instead of ninety-two naturally occurring elements, a universe with a strong force weaker by 50 percent would have contained only about twenty to thirty. This would eliminate the life-essential elements iron and molybdenum. If this were the only consequence of a weaker strong nuclear force, then we might conclude that our universe has two to three times more heavy stable chemical elements than complex life requires. But in a universe with a shorter periodic table, one or more of the isotopes of the light elements would probably be radioactive. The most abundant elements in Earthly life are hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. If any of their main isotopes were even slightly unstable (with half-lives measured in billions or tens of billions of years), the radiation produced from their decay would pose a serious threat to organisms. In our universe, potassium-40 is probably the most dangerous light radioactive isotope, yet the one most essential to life. Its abundance must be balanced on a razor’s edge. It must be high enough to help drive plate tectonics but low enough not to irradiate life. Further, in a universe with a weaker strong nuclear force, each element would have fewer stable isotopes. The rich variety of chemical elements and stable isotopes significantly helps researchers measure Earthly and Cosmic phenomena. So a large periodic table isn’t simply a dirty trick for seventh-grade science students. It makes life possible while greatly enhancing the measurability of the universe. 2

This is the force which binds the protons and neutrons together in atomic nuclei.

If the strong nuclear force were very slightly weaker by just one part in 10,000 billion billion billion billion, then protons and neutrons would not stick together, and the only element possible in the universe, would be hydrogen only. There would be no stars and no planets or life in the universe. (Ref., Dr. Robin Collins of Messiah College).

However, if the strong nuclear force were slightly too strong by the same fraction amount, the protons and neutrons would tend to stick together so much that there would basically only be heavy elements, but no hydrogen at all --If this were the case, then life would also not be possible, because hydrogen is a key element in water and in all life-chemistry.

THE PROBABILITY: If the strong nuclear force were slightly weaker or stronger than it in fact is, then life would be impossible. Therefore, we can very conservatively say that it was about one chance out of 1,000,000,000,000 (1 out of a trillion) that the strong nuclear force might have randomly possessed the correct strength to make life possible in our cosmos.

What would happen if the strong nuclear force were a bit weaker?
Barrow, J D and Tipler, F J, ‘The Anthropic Cosmological Principle’ Oxford University Press 1986, p. 327
If the strong force were a bit weaker, it would not be able to hold atomic nuclei together against the repulsion of the electromagnetic force. According to Barrow and Tipler:
‘A 50% decrease in the strength of the nuclear force… would adversely affect the stability of all the elements essential to living organisms and biological systems.’2
A bit more of a decrease, and there wouldn’t be any stable elements except hydrogen.

4. The Weak Nuclear Force

Several key processes relating indirectly to life are particularly sensitive to the weak-force strength. For instance, the weak force governs the conversion of protons to neutrons and vice versa, and the interaction of neutrinos with other particles. The weak force comes into play when a massive star explodes as a supernova—via the energy deposited by neutrinos on the expanding shock front—and when protons and electrons combine in a star’s core. This process precipitates the initial collapse, which allows such stars to return their metal-enriched outer layers to the galaxy. Without it, there would not be enough essential elements available for life. The weak force is also critical in producing primordial helium-4 soon after the Big Bang, in a cosmic cauldron hot and dense enough for brief nuclear reactions. Slight tweaks in the cosmological expansion or in nuclear physics would lead to a quite different end. In our universe the early Big Bang produced about 25 percent helium-4 by mass. Changes in the weak force would produce a universe with a different fraction of helium. Although stars have been cycling the interstellar gas, the fraction of helium in the universe has only increased by a few percent. So all stars that have ever formed in our universe have started with similar amounts of helium. This variable determines a star’s luminosity, its lifetime on the main sequence, and the so-called stellar mass-luminosity relation—all important for a planet’s habitability. Boiled down to basics, the only property of a star that affects a planet’s orbit is its mass, while the only property of a star that affects a planet’s surface heating is its luminosity. These two properties are linked through the mass-luminosity relation, which, in turn, depends on the composition of a star’s core. Helium stars, like flashbulbs, burn brightly and quickly. Hydrogen stars, in contrast, are more like wax candles. Our hydrogen-burning Sun consumes its nuclear fuel more than one hundred times more slowly than a pure helium star of comparable mass. A helium star of an appropriate mass wouldn’t last nearly long enough for life to develop. Not that life would ever develop around such a star anyway: it would contain no water or organic compounds, making the formation of life on any timescale impossible. It’s not even clear that stars could form from contracting clouds of gas in a universe of pure helium. Unlike hydrogen, helium does not form molecules, which are the primary means by which dense interstellar clouds cool, and thereby contract to form stars. 2

The weak nuclear force is what controls the rates at which radioactive elements decay. If this force were slightly stronger, the matter would decay into the heavy elements in a relatively short time. However, if it were significantly weaker, all matter would almost totally exist in the form of the lightest elements, especially hydrogen and helium ---there would be (for example) virtually no oxygen, carbon or nitrogen, which are essential for life.

In addition, although heavier elements necessary for life are formed inside giant stars, those elements can only escape the cores of those stars when they explode in supernova explosions, however, such supernova explosions can only occur because the weak nuclear force is exactly the right value. As Professor of astronomy, Paul Davies, describes this situation: "If the weak interaction were slightly weaker, the neutrinos would not be able to exert enough pressure on the outer envelope of the star to cause the supernova explosion. On the other hand, if it were slightly stronger, the neutrinos would be trapped inside the core, and rendered impotent" (My emphasis.) (ref. P.C.W. Davies, The Accidental Universe, London, 1982, p.68.)

THE PROBABILITY: Considering the fine-tuning of the weak nuclear force for both the rate of radioactive decay as well as the precise value required to allow supernova explosions, it is probably conservative to say that it was one chance out of 1000 that the weak nuclear force was at the right strength to permit these processes so that life would be possible.

5. The Electromagnetic Force

Electrons are bound by the electromagnetic force to atomic nuclei, and their orbital shapes and their influence on nearby atoms with their electrons is described by quantum mechanics. The electromagnetic force governs the processes involved in chemistry, which arise from interactions between the electrons of neighboring atoms. 1

If the electromagnetic force (exerted by electrons) were somewhat stronger, electrons would adhere to atoms so tightly that atoms would not share their electrons with each other ---and the sharing of electrons between atoms is what makes chemical bonding possible so that atoms can combine into molecules (e.g., water) so that life can exist. However, if the electromagnetic force were somewhat weaker, then atoms would not hang onto electrons enough to cause any bonding between atoms, and thus, compounds would never hold together. In addition, this fine-tuning of the electromagnetic force must be even more stringent if more and more elements are to be able to bond together into many different types of molecules.

THE PROBABILITY: Considering the range of electromagnetic force that might have occurred, it is reasonable to say that the probability of the electromagnetic force being balanced at the right level for many thousands of compounds to function for the making of chemical compounds necessary for life, is one chance out of 1000.

2. THE PRIVILEGED PLANET Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards, page 202

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A team of Austrian, German, and Hungarian astrophysicists has recently added evidence to the case for divine design, sweeping aside a recent challenge to the design argument I present in The Creator and the Cosmos.1 Their research focused on two of the four fundamental forces of physics: 1) electromagnetism, which governs the degree to which atomic nuclei hold on to their electrons, and 2) the strong nuclear force, which governs the degree to which protons and neutrons stick together in the nuclei of atoms.

The teams strategy was to construct mathematical models of red giant stars, altering (slightly) the values for the strong nuclear force and electromagnetic force constants. They discovered that even tiny increases or decreases cause problems. The adjusted red giants would produce too little carbon, too little oxygen, or too little of both oxygen and carbon for any kind of physical life to be possible anywhere in the universe. Specifically, they determined that if the value of the coupling constant for electromagnetism were four percent smaller or larger than what we observe, life would be impossible. In the case of the coupling constant for the strong nuclear force, if it were 0.5 percent smaller or larger, life would be impossible.

The teams achievement helps relieve a criticism of the design argument set forth in my book2 and used by others. Two years ago, (atheistic) physicist Victor Stenger commented in Skeptic magazine that not much fine-tuning at all was necessary to make long-lived stars.3 He implied that my fine-tuning claims were invalid and, thus, left me with no case for a cosmic Designer.

The new achievement discussed here establishes that rather than my design conclusion being too optimistic, it is too conservative. I might add, too, that the case for divine design never rested on just one or two features of the cosmos.

This research demonstrates how cosmic creation can be subjected to ongoing testing. If the atheists are right and Christians are wrong, the more we learn about the universe, the weaker the cosmic design evidence should become. However, if we are right and the atheists are wrong, learning about the universe should reveal more and stronger cosmic design evidence. The latter describes the trend we observe and document.4, 5.

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the weak force

Several key processes relating indirectly to life are particularly sensitive to the weak force strength. For instance, the weak force governs the conversion of protons to neutrons and vice-versa, and the interaction of neutrinos with other particles. The weak force comes into play when a massive star explodes as a supernova, via the energy deposited by neutrinos on the expanding shock front, and when protons and electrons combine in a stars core. This process precipitates the initial collapse, which allows such stars to return their metal-enriched outer layers to the galaxy. Without it, there would not be enough essential elements available for life. The weak force s also critical in producing primordial helium4 soon after the big bang, in a cosmic cauldron hot and dense enough for brief nuclear reactions. Slight tweaks in the cosmological expansion or in nuclear physics would lead to a quite different end. In our universe the early Big Bang produced about 25% helium4 by mass. Changes in the weak force would produce a universe with a different fraction of helium. Although stars have been cycling the interstellar gas for about 13 bio years, the fraction of helium in the universe has only increased by a few percent. So all stars that have ever formed in our universe have started with similar amounts of helium. This variable determines star’s luminosity, its lifetime on the main sequence, and the so-called stellar mass-luminosity relation – all important for a planets habitability. Boiled down to basics, the only property of a star that affects a planets surface heating is its luminosity.

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