Symphony: An Insufficient Metaphor

Did you know that the universe is finely-tuned for the existence of life?

Our universe, galaxy, solar system, and earth itself, like everything in the Goldilocks fairy tale, are “just right.”

1. Finely-tuned constants:

Constants of cosmology, chemistry, and physics such as gravitation, the strong force, the weak force, the ratio of mass between electrons and protons, the speed of light, and many others, are tuned to specific constant values.

If these constants had not been set to unbelievably fine tolerances, life would not be possible in the universe. But the specific values of these constants not only make life possible, they also make many of the familiar characteristics of our universe possible.

For example, if the strong force was not strong enough, chemistry would not be possible because there could be no elements except hydrogen. The strong force holds protons together in atomic nuclei. But protons are positively charged, so they repel each other in a relationship described by the electromagnetic force, another finely-tuned parameter. The strong force must be strong enough to overcome the repulsion of the electromagnetic force between protons. If it were not so, we could have no elements except hydrogen, and there would be no chemistry. Without chemistry, there could be no life.[1]

2. Finely-tuned phenomena:

Processes and phenomena have been set in motion that we can observe in our own Milky Way Galaxy, our solar system, and earth itself. These phenomena appear to be designed so life can exist on our planet. The luminosity and stability of the sun, the rotation rate of the earth, the carbon cycle, the nearness of the moon, the carbonate-silicate cycle, plate tectonics, the water cycle, and many others have all been tuned so that life can exist on earth. Even more remarkably, these processes have contributed in a time-sensitive way to the sustenance of human life on earth.

How can we explain the exquisitely detailed and finely-tuned nature of our world? Isaac Newton, whose work in physics, mathematics, optics, and astronomy provided much of the foundation for modern science, commented,

“This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets, and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”[2]

The metaphor of symphony is apt, yet insufficient: the fact that dozens of independent processes and phenomena have not only been tuned to work together but also coordinated in time raises by an order of magnitude the praise due to our Creator.



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