Is there evidence of God’s existence inherent in the universe, solar system, earth and the human body? Are there marks of intelligent design all around us?
Let’s look at the incredible complexity and precision that exists and see if it demonstrates the work of blind chance (evolution) or intelligent design.
What is intelligent design?
Intelligent design (ID) is “the theory that life, or the universe, cannot have arisen by chance and was designed and created by some intelligent entity” (intelligentdesign.org).
The idea behind intelligent design is simple. Look at all the evidence available and see whether that evidence leads to the conclusion that blind, random chance was the organizing principle of life and the universe, or whether the precision, complexity and intricate balance we see is really evidence of planned, genuine design. ID says the high degree of probability is that it simply could not have happened by blind chance.
Evolutionary view on “apparent design”
Evolutionists have a different view. Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology at Oxford University, explains his viewpoint toward human origins: “Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, nor foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker” (The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, 1986, p. 5).
In other words, while admitting there appears to be evidence for design (“apparently purposeful form”), Professor Dawkins dismisses the idea. “The blind watchmaker” is, in his view, the process of evolution through natural selection. It is an attempt to explain how there might be a fully functioning, finely tuned precision watch, but no actual watchmaker.
Now, if it were reasonable to believe that a watch could simply come about naturally, then many thieves convicted of stealing a Rolex should be released. They’d have the perfect alibi: “I don’t know how I got that watch! I was just standing there, fumbling with the lint in my pocket, and it naturally grew there!”
What judge or jury would buy that line? Would you at least have “reasonable doubt”?
The universe, galaxy, solar system and earth all demonstrate evidence of intelligent design. Is it all just an illusion? The probability that each of them came into existence by random chance is so infinitesimally small that it would be considered impossible.
Let’s look at a few of the incredibly unique parameters that demonstrate design in our universe, galaxy, solar system and the earth.
Fine-tuning the physics of the universe
Research on many of the basic forces in the universe shows that those forces must be in precise balance, fine-tuned to an incredible degree, or else the universe would literally fall apart.
- The strong force (also called strong nuclear force), which binds particles in atomic nuclei, has to be balanced with the weak nuclear force to about one part in 1060. Otherwise, most essential elements would be unstable and life could not be sustained.
- The force of gravity has to be balanced with electromagnetic forces to one part in 1040. Otherwise, stars capable of supporting life cannot exist.
- The number of electrons has to be matched to the number of protons to one part in 1037. Otherwise, electromagnetic interactions would dominate gravity, resulting in the universe consisting of scattered particles that would not allow the formation of stars and planets.
These are just a few cosmological constants that are precisely fine-tuned. Cosmology is producing more and more evidence that our universe is based upon numerous parameters that must be perfectly fine-tuned in order for life to exist. If just one were off, it wouldn’t matter if the other forces were perfectly balanced or not. (A site that lists those parameters is godandscience.org/apologetics/designun.html.)
The degree of fine-tuning represented by these numbers is hard for most to grasp, but astrophysicist Hugh Ross, in his book The Creator and the Cosmos, gives a helpful illustration of what the smallest of these numbers represents:
“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 billion 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” (2001, p. 150).
Our solar system’s location within the Milky Way galaxy
Being outside the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy puts our solar system in the safest place in the galaxy. This position suffers few stellar interactions that can lead to the disruption of planetary orbits.
“The stability of our position is possible because the sun is one of the rare stars that lies within the ‘galactic co-rotation radius.’ Typically, the stars in our galaxy orbit the center of the galaxy at a rate that differs from the rate of the trailing spiral arms. Thus, most stars located between spiral arms do not remain there for long, but would eventually be swept inside a spiral arm. Only at a certain precise distance from the galaxy’s center, the ‘co-rotation radius,’ can a star remain in its place between two spiral arms, orbiting at precisely the same rate as the galaxy arms rotate around the core” (Rich Deem, “The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System,” with reference to Mishurov, Y.N. and L.A. Zenina, “Yes, the Sun Is Located Near the Corotation Circle,” Astronomy and Astrophysics, 1999, 341:81-85).
Intelligent design in the earth and our solar system
The earth may be the only planet in the universe that has conditions necessary to support human life. Admittedly, there are those who dispute this, stating that the possibility of another earthlike planet existing reaches the level of probability given the unlimited expanse of the universe. But no such planet has yet been discovered. Even if such a planet were to be discovered, the likelihood of life independently evolving on such a planet is a whole different level of (im)probability.
Consider some of the factors needed for life to exist on our planet:
- The size of the earth and its resultant gravity is finely tuned. If the earth were only slightly larger, hydrogen would be unable to escape earth’s gravity and would collect in our atmosphere, making earth inhospitable to life. If the earth were only slightly smaller, oxygen would escape and water would evaporate. Small changes in either direction would make human life impossible.
- Our moon is a large moon compared to the size of the earth. This results in a strong gravitational pull on the earth. This benefits life on earth by cleansing coastal seawaters and replenishing nutrients.
- The planets in the solar system have elliptical, not circular orbits. The eccentricity of our planet’s orbit is mild; the points at which it is nearest to and farthest from the sun differ from the mean sun-earth distance by less than 2 percent. This is necessary for a relatively stable, narrow temperature range for the planet. The earth’s seasonal weather patterns are primarily due to the 23.5 degree tilt of the earth, not the eccentricity of its orbit.
- Jupiter rotates every 10 hours; Venus, every 243 days. If earth rotated every 10 hours like Jupiter, wind velocities would be extreme. Jupiter has wind velocities of a thousand miles per hour. If earth took 243 days to rotate like Venus, life could not exist because the days and nights would be too long, creating extremes of heat and cold.
- The ozone layer around the earth is protective. Although the concentration of the ozone is small, 2 to 8 parts per million, it is vitally important to life because it absorbs biologically harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
- Oxygen comprises 21 percent of earth’s atmosphere. That precise figure makes life on earth possible. If oxygen were 25 percent, fires would erupt spontaneously; if it were 15 percent, human beings would suffocate. Nitrogen makes up 78 percent of the atmosphere, diluting the oxygen, and serves a vital role as a fertilizer for plants. Argon is 0.93 percent, and carbon dioxide makes up about 0.04 percent of the atmosphere. Without it, plant life would be impossible; and without plants taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen, humans could not exist.
- Life on earth depends upon liquid water, so earth cannot be too close or too far from the sun. Astronomers estimate that if the earth were 2 percent closer or farther from the sun, water across the planet would either all evaporate or freeze. Water is one of the few substances that expands when frozen. It expands by 10 percent when frozen, so that ice will float on top of liquid water instead of sinking. Rivers and lakes freeze in winter from the top down. If ice did not float, rivers and lakes would freeze from the bottom up and all the bodies of water would become solid ice, and life as we know it would not exist.
- Earth has the highest density of any planet in our solar system, with a large nickel-iron core that is responsible for our large magnetic field. This magnetic field holds in place what is known as the Van Allen radiation belt, which protects the earth from radiation bombardment. Life would not be possible on the earth without the shielding provided by the Van Allen belt.
Other factors contribute to earth’s unique ability to support life. For example, in July 1994, the world watched as the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet collided with Jupiter. It was a demonstration of the protection afforded to planet earth by Jupiter. Jupiter’s mass and location in the solar system is a factor in either collecting or deflecting a large proportion of the comets that enter into orbit around the sun. Without Jupiter in its present position, life on earth would be difficult or impossible due to the larger number of comets that would be colliding with earth. It is estimated that there would be 1,000 to 10,000 times more collisions with comets and comet debris without Jupiter’s protective location.
Scripture tells us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). In the same way that a finely made precision timepiece shows the skill, care, planning and fine craftsmanship of its maker, the incredibly fine precision, balance and wisdom evident in the design of the universe declares the greatness of its Maker.
The Creator God confronted the wise man Job and challenged him. “Now prepare yourself like a man,” God said. “I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? … Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! … Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this” (Job 38:3-5, 18).
Who established the laws of the universe? The laws of physics that must be precisely tuned, lest everything fall apart? Who designed the earth, placed it in a protected orbit in our solar system, then further placed it in the protective embrace of the spiral arms of our galaxy?
The more we learn from science, the more we see how complex and amazing life and the universe is, and how improbable it is that life and the universe came into existence apart from a great, intelligent Designer.
“Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).