Intelligent Design Icon Intelligent Design
Life Sciences Icon Life Sciences

A “Lush” World Defies Materialist Explanations, as Behe and Denton Confirm

Granville Sewell
Photo credit: Matt Lamers, via Unsplash.

It is well known, and accepted in scientific circles, that the conditions on our planet are extremely fine-tuned for life: the Earth is just the right size, it is just the right distance from its sun, our sun is the right type of star, our atmosphere has many rare and lucky features — the list goes on and on.  A few of these fine-tuned features are documented in Episode 4 of Science Uprising. Of course materialists have an explanation for it all: there are many planets in the universe, only a very few are suitable for life, but we are here because our Earth is one of these rare planets. 

It is also well known, and documented in the same Science Uprising episode, that not only is our Earth an ideal planet for life to thrive, but our whole universe is finely tuned for life. The smallest changes in most of the basic constants (the gravitational constant, the charge and mass of the electron, etc.) or in the initial conditions at the Big Bang, would have led to a universe where life, and therefore humans, could not have arisen. Stephen Hawking wrote in A Brief History of Time (1988): “The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”

Conditions — Just Right!

According to materialists, there must be many universes, with many different laws and constants and initial conditions, and we are here because our universe is one of those rare universes where the conditions are just right for us to be here. A.J. Leggett lists some of the fine-tuned properties of our universe in The Problems of Physics (1987). He concludes:

The list could be multiplied endlessly, and it is easy to draw the conclusion that for any kind of conscious beings to exist at all, the basic constants of Nature have to be exactly what they are, or at least extremely close to it. The anthropic principle then turns this statement around and says, in effect, that the reason the fundamental constants have the values that they do is because otherwise we would not be here to wonder about them.

Paul Davies, in Other Worlds (1980), wrote

If we believe there are countless other universes, either in space or time, or in superspace, there is no longer anything astounding about the enormous degree of cosmic organization that we observe.  We have selected it by our very existence…. The many universes theory does provide an explanation for why many things around us are the way they are. Just as we can explain why we are living on a planet near a stable star by pointing out that only in such locations can life form, so we can perhaps explain many of the more general features of the universe by this anthropic selection process.

If Their Assumptions Were True

Well, there no doubt are many planets in our universe, so the materialists’ explanation, that our planet is “just right” because otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it, seems plausible enough. At least it would be plausible, if their assumptions were true that once you have a planet where conditions are just right, and a universe where the laws are cleverly designed for life, then there is a reasonable chance that life would spontaneously arise, and intelligent beings would spontaneously evolve over time.

To see how flawed the first assumption is, you only have to realize that with all our advanced technology we are still not close to designing any type of self-replicating machine. That is still pure science fiction. So how could we believe that such a machine could arise by pure chance, even given ideal conditions and clever laws of physics? World-renowned Rice University chemist James Tour, in Science Uprising Episode 5, explains why we are nowhere close to explaining how life arose.  To see how flawed the second assumption is you only have to realize that what materialists believe is that the four fundamental, unintelligent, forces of physics alone could have rearranged the basic particles of physics into computers, encyclopedias, airplanes, and iPhones, as my new video, “Why Evolution Is Different,” brings out. (The video also points out how similar the fossil record is to the development of human technology, with large gaps where major new features appeared — for the same reasons.)  The laws of physics are very cleverly designed, and probably can explain everything that has happened on Jupiter, but I do not believe that they are clever enough to explain everything that has happened on Earth.

A Desperate, Last-Ditch Effort

On the other hand, there is no evidence — there can be no evidence — that there are other universes out there, with the same laws of physics but random values for the basic constants (or perhaps random laws of physics also?), so the explanation that our universe is just right because otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it is completely unscientific.  That this argument is just a desperate, last-ditch effort to avoid the obvious conclusion of design is evident from the fact that materialists do not use it to explain the evolution of life also.  If it is reasonable to explain astronomically improbable fine-tuning of the constants of physics by inventing enough other universes, why not invent a few more and claim that in one of these many universes intelligent beings arose by pure chance?

In a section of The Edge of Evolution (2007) critiquing the multiverse explanation for fine-tuning, Michael Behe wrote,

On the finite random multiverse view, we should very likely live in a bare-bones world, with little or nothing in life beyond what’s absolutely required to produce intelligent observers.  So if we find ourselves in a world lavished with extras — with much more than the minimum — we should bet heavily against our world being the result of a finite multiverse scenario…. It is difficult to make a rigorous argument on such a question. Yet it seems that our world is quite lush and contains much more than what’s absolutely needed for intelligence.

So Michael Denton’s current series at Evolution News is particularly interesting because he is confirming, in a more “rigorous” way, what Behe and many others of us have suspected: that the conditions on Earth, and the laws of physics, are not only fine-tuned for the survival of intelligent beings, they are also fine-tuned for the development of technology. Denton is not the only scientist who has noticed this more general fine-tuning. Astronomer Guillermo Gonzales, for example, discusses in this video some of the lucky coincidences that make Earth an ideal place for discovery of the rest of the universe. 

A Lush Life

These fine-tunings for the development of technology, and for scientific discovery, are interesting because they cannot be explained by “The conditions were just right because otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it” arguments. We would still be here to wonder if the conditions on Earth, and the properties of fire, water, and metals, were not so fine-tuned to make the development of advanced technology possible. We would still be here to wonder, if our Earth were not so ideally situated for discovery of the universe. Technology and scientific discovery are just “extras,” which result in a more “lush” world. 

But not to worry, materialists will never run out of ways to avoid the obvious conclusion of design. It is only a question of time until we hear, “Of course conditions on our planet and universe are fine-tuned for the development of technology. Otherwise you would not be reading Internet posts like this on your computer!”