Yesterday I noted some solar system coincidences that seem to be fortuitously timed for scientific discovery. The fine-tuning of the universe’s laws and constants has been discussed at length in these pages and in books like The Privileged Planet, Michael Denton’s Privileged Species series, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Rare Earth, and A Fortunate Universe.
Not as often considered is the fact that many of these vital parameters are dynamic; they change over time. One simple example is the expansion rate of the universe. Given the consensus Big Bang view, the Earth-sun-moon system had to form after several generations of stars formed sufficient heavy elements, but before the availability of elements became too sparse. At a point in the distant future, after the galaxies vanish beyond the observable horizon, sentient beings would never know a night sky filled with stars. It would be a lonely, dark existence. On page 180 of The Privileged Planet, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards point out that the “best time to discover the geometry of the universe” amounts to a tiny fraction of the time between the Big Bang and the end of all opportunity, when the last black holes evaporate. Additionally, if the expansion is accelerating as the “dark energy” advocates tell us, the Goldilocks period during which sentient beings can both live and do science may be much narrower than thought. Consequently, there is a “Cosmic Habitable Age” to consider in addition to fine-tuning of constants and laws (Gonzalez, pp. 181-193).
The Cosmic Habitable Age
In combination, the factors mentioned here and in my last two posts constrain the “cosmic habitable age” to narrower dimensions. Without listing all the dynamical requirements for life, this brief consideration could prompt design advocates to investigate and refine the fine-tuning parameters that depend on timing.
As we look out among the stars, and breathe clean air, and ingest nutrients in our food that keep our molecular motors running, our awe should increase at not only the fine-tuning that makes it all possible, but also the fine timing that suggests our purpose on Earth was intended. To extend the late Freeman Dyson’s famous remark: “As we look out into the Universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the Universe must in some sense have known not only that we were coming, but when we were coming.”