To those willing to see it that way, the physical universe and the wonders of
life surely cry out that there is a creator. Truly, the words of Romans 1:20 are confirmed
by the virtually every aspect of the physical world. AFor since the creation of the
world God=s invisible qualitiesChis eternal power and divine natureChave been clearly seen, being
understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.@ Without excuse,
that is, for not believing in the God who created all these things. The existence
of life and the existence of the universe itself both loudly proclaim the need
for a creator, as has been described in some detail in this book already. In addition
?to these examples, a study of science reveals a great number of other facts
which would cause one to conclude that there is a designer behind the scenes. Thi
s chapter contains a few examples of scientific knowledge which create a very
strong case for a creator.
One would think that if the atheistic assumption were true, then with the passage
of time, and with the accumulation of scientific knowledge, it would appear
more and more reasonable to assume, given what we know from science, that there
is a naturalistic, rather than a divine answer to why things are the way they are. In fact,
the exact opposite is the case. As physicists look at some of the facts to be described
in this section, many have felt the need to propose what is now known as the an
thropic principle. Those scientists who describe the anthropic principle have come to
the conclusion that the evidence for design is so strong, that it is helpful
to view the laws of nature as being designed with the specific intent of creating
a universe which can support advanced forms of life. In other words, many scientists
find the universe to be so finely tuned to support life that it is easier to
understand and predict the laws which govern nature by simply assuming the reason
the gravity force is as strong as it is, or that the electronic force is as
it is, or the forces which hold nuclei together are what they are because that
is what they needed to be in order to make life possible.
Atheists would scoff at the anthropic principle, of course, but the fact is
that many who hold to the anthropic principle do so only quite reluctantly. Even those
who do not agree that the universe was designed in order to support life often
make statements which appear diametrically opposed to the atheistic assumption.
On a personal note, I was initially quite reluctant to write this chapter. Argumen
ts from design can at times appear to use circular reasoning. Having read a number of
writers on the subject, I have occasionally found myself taking the devil=s advoca
te position when hearing arguments for creation based on evidence of design. One pers
on=s argument for design is another person=s argument for a natural process.
A few years ago, I was listening to a speaker on the subject whose opinion I
very much respect. In this presentation, the speaker used the arctic tern as an argument
for design. At the first hearing, this argument sounds quite convincing. The arctic tern flies
in an annual migration from the arctic to the antarctic regions and back again.
This migration of the arctic tern of about 18,000 miles is truly amazing. The bird
flies from the fringes of the antarctic to the northernmost areas of North Americ
ain a single flight which spans over eight thousand miles. For the entire eight thousand
miles, the tern passes over an environment which contains nothing it is willing
to eat. How, the speaker asked, did the tern learn to fly over these many thousands
of miles? Why would a bird migrate thousands of miles away from any source of food?
How could it by accident just happen to discover an alternative source of food
so far away?
Probably the audience was quite convinced by this argument, and it may very
well be true that in some subtle way, undetectable to science, God did indeed
program to arctic tern to know how to undergo this amazing migration. To he honest, however,
I find this argument unconvincing. To an evolutionary biologist, it is not difficult at
all to imagine a bird which at one time migrated a relatively shorter distance,
say from the central part of North America to the northern fringes of South
?America. This biologist might imagine the bird, for some reason having to do with
ecological factors, gradually adapting to eat types of food available in a colder
environment over a number of years. One could imagine this bird species finding it
easier to obtain the type of food it wants with less competition by flying on
an ever-increasing migratory route. Gradually, the bird might find itself only able
to eat foods available in areas separated by a vast distance, but only available
in the summer months in both the southern and northern hemispheres.
As mentioned, one person=s argument for design, is another person=s argument for the wonders
of the workings of natural systems. It seems, therefore, advisable to be very skeptical
of arguments for design. I have made great effort in this book to present only arguments
which I believe will hold up to a reasonable level of skepticism. All life reflects design,
but using the great migration of the arctic tern as proof of design puts one
on shaky ground.
A good number of the arguments commonly used for design fall into this category: th
ey seem good at first, but they do not hold up to careful scrutiny. This fact is why
I was hesitant to write a chapter specifically on design. However, upon much careful
reflection on the topic, a number of arguments for design based on scientific
evidence still emerge as convincing evidence that the universe was designed
to support life. These inescapable examples are what have spawned the tendency among
scientists to mention the anthropic principle. Some of these are discussed below.
CARBON, THE MIRACLE ELEMENT
If carbon did not have the properties it has, there would be no life. The propertie
s of carbon show clear evidence of design, and therefore of a creator. Why is that? To
?evaluate this claim, one must consider the unique properties of carbon, and
why it is the only element available which can support the existence of life.
Living things are made up out of molecules. The molecules out of which living things
are made are large and complex. Proteins, the molecules which control everything which
occurs in cells, are made up of tens of thousands of atoms all joined together
to form a complex, three-dimensional shape. The backbone of all these molecules is
composed of carbon atoms. Why carbon? Of the ninety or so naturally occurring elements,
carbon is the only one that has the properties which allow large, complex, three-dimensional
to be synthesized. The properties of carbon allow for strings of dozens of atoms to form.
Carbon can form ringed structures. It can form three-dimensional str
uctures as well. No othe
r element has the property that long strings of the atoms of that element can
form. Carbon can form single and double and triple bonds with itself and with a
number of other atoms. No other element can do this. In the words of Spock, we truly
are Acarbon based units@.
In fact, speaking of Star Trek, one of the original episodes of that series
had Kirk and the gang coming upon a monster whose molecular structure was based
on silicon. Spock said that this was very logical. The reason silicon (rather than carbon)
is a Alogical@ alternative to carbon is that it is the only other element, other
than carbon, which can form a total of four bonds, and which can therefore,
in principle, be used to build three-dimensional structures. Nevertheless, Spock=s claim that
a silicon monster is logical does not work. Silicon-silicon chemical bonds are very
weak. It is impossible to build a large molecule joined together by silicon atoms.
Returning to the subject, if carbon did not have the properties it has, there
would be no life. If you do not believe this point, please find you nearest biochemist
biologist or chemist and ask them if this claim is true. It is indisputable. There is exactly
one element with the properties that allow for life to exist. Not two: one! Not zero,
luckily for us. But is it luck? If some intelligent being were designing the properties
of electrons, protons and neutrons, and therefore the properties of the atoms
to allow for there to be living things, this being would have to create at least
one element capable to making large, complex, flexible molecules. God created carbon. Good going,
WATER. THE MIRACLE SOLVENT
Life requires a solvent. It requires a solvent with just exactly the properties othat
water happens to have. In fact, if it were not for the existence of water and its
unique properties, there would be no life anywhere in the universe. This is a strong
statement, but it will hold up to the strictest scrutiny. The existence of water is
further evidence that there is an intelligent creator behind the scenes intent
on creating life.
So, what is so special about water? I am trained as a chemist. When I teach introductory
chemistry, I spend a great deal of time listing and describing all the ways
in which water is a unique substance. There are so many things which are unique about
water, the thought almost inevitably emerges that this really neat molecule
must have been designed to support life.
One of the special properties of water is that for a molecular substance, it
is very sticky. Individual water molecules are strongly attracted to one another. Water molecu
les consist of two hydrogen atoms bonded to a central carbon atom. The molecule
is bent at an angle of 105o. This bent shape (as opposed to linear, 180o) is essentia
l to the unique properties of water. In fact, if water were a linear molecule, there
would not be life anywhere in the universe. More on this later. The reason water is Asti
cky@ is that the hydrogen-oxygen bond is highly polarized. In other words, the electrons
which are shared between the hydrogen and the oxygen atom in the water molecule
are not shared equally. Oxygen atoms attract electrons strongly, compared to hydrogen,
lending a partial negative charge to the oxygen atom and a partial positive
charge to the hydrogen atom in the water molecule. See the picture below for an illustration
of the polarized structure of water.
Another factor in water=s stickiness is its shape. If water had a linear structure, rather
than bent, its symmetry would make it not be polarized, despite the oxygen-hydrogen
bonds in the molecule. As an example of this principle, the molecule carbon dioxide,
although it has fairly polarized carbon oxygen atoms, is linear and symmetric,
and therefore not polar. This non-polar molecule is therefore not sticky. Even though carbon
dioxide molecules are twice the mass of water, CO2 becomes a gas at over one hundred
degrees below zero Farenheit. Carbon dioxide is definitely not a molecule which could
act as a solvent to support life.
When water molecules approach one another, the positively charged hydrogen atom
on one molecule sticks to the negatively charged oxygen atom on the other. Due to
factors beyond the discussion here, the O-H bond in molecules is the most effective
at creating this stickiness. The reader may be saying to themselves >so what= at this point. T
his unique stickiness of water is what results in its amazing properties as
a life supporting solvent.
For example, because water molecules are so sticky, water has a very high boiling
point for such a small molecule. If it were not for the stickiness of the molecules,
water would boil at something like B200oF, way too low to support life. Besides
, the stickiness of water allows it to be a liquid over an unusually large temperature
range, an important factor in water=s ability to control climate.
Because water is so Apolar@ or sticky, it has another unique property. Water=s polari
ty allows it to dissolve many minerals. There is no other molecular compound besides
water which is both liquid at the proper temperature range and able to dissolve
the ions such as sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, iron and so
forth which are essential to life. Water is unique in that it can dissolve both
a great variety of molecular compounds and ions. It is known to chemists as the Aun
The stickiness of water has an interesting effect on its solid phase (commonly
known as ice) as well. The structure of ice is unusually loosely packed, with a
lot of space between the atoms. For this reason, water is one of only a very small
fraction of all substances which has the property that its solid floats in its
liquid. For virtually all substances, the solid sinks in the liquid. Why is this important? If ice
did not float on water, there would be an extreme effect on the environment
of the earth. In cold weather, the ice, which floats on the liquid water, provides
an insulation to the unfrozen water below. If ice sank, whenever sufficiently cold
weather struck, lakes would freeze right to the bottom, killing most life. This
?in itself would not be so bad, perhaps, but one function of water is to act
as buffer to limit the swings of global temperature. If ice did not float on water, the
temperature of the earth would swing wildly, allowing for the possibility that
during ice ages, the entire earth could become frozen, killing off all advanced
forms of life.
Water is truly a great temperature buffer. Because it is so sticky, water is unique
in that it takes a large amount of heat to change its temperature. It takes an especially
large amount of heat to vaporize or freeze water. Most people are aware that the
weather is much milder near the ocean than farther inland.
This is because good old
sticky water is a great climate/heat buffer. In fact, if there were no oceans of water
to act as a giant buffer, there would be no complex life forms on earth at all,
because the surface temperature would swing by hundreds of degrees annually.
There is no other compound in existence that comes even remotely close to having
the properties needed to be the solvent suited to support life. Just as with carbon,
the only element capable of supporting life, there is exactly one molecule capable
of being the solvent for living things. Not two: one! And luckily for us, not zero either.
But is it luck? If an extremely intelligent being were trying to design the properties
of matter just exactly right to allow for life to exist, surely they would be
forced to design a special molecule with properties pretty much exactly like
those of water. Good job, God!
THE SIZE OF THE BIG BANG
Startling evidence for design is found when one looks at the big bang. The outline
of the big bang theory has already been describe. Some of the details of the physics
of the big bang reveal that the creation was fine tuned for life. To quote from
the well known cosmologist, Steven Weinberg, ALife as we know it would be impossible
if any of several physical quantities had slightly different values.@ He goes on to
relate that AOne constant does seem to require incredible fine tuning.@ These are
the words of an avowed non-believer in creation. Weinberg is referring to the total
energy of the Big Bang. According to the theoretical models for the big bang, if
the total energy had been either bigger or smaller than it was by just one part
in 1×10120, life would never have formed. That is if the total amount of energy in the
big bang had been different by one part in a thousand, billion, billion, billion,
billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, b
illion, then no life would have ever formed. This is not just the word of one noted
physicist. The most respected cosmologist of our generation, Stephen Hawking has described
in detail this amazing coincidence which allowed the universe to produce galaxies,
stars, planets, and eventually life. Another noted astrophysicist from the University
of Chicago, Michael Turner, has used the analogy to describe the amazing accuracy
of how well tuned the universe is to producing life by saying AThe precision@ of the
creation of energy in the big bang Ais as if one could throw a dart across the
entire universe and hit a bullseye one millimeter in diameter on the other side.
@ As Hawking has described, if there was even infinitesimally more energy in
the big bang, matter would have never condensed in a way which eventually allowed
for the formation of galaxies, stars and so forth. On the other hand, if the energy
of the big bang had been infinitesimally smaller than it was, the entire universe
would have crashed in on itself in a relatively very short time, never expanding
out to a sufficient size to allow for the formation of galaxies, stars, planets,
and, of course, life.
This coincidence is so astounding that those who choose to hold to an atheistic,
naturalistic view have been forced to make an incredible proposal.
Mention that this may seem like circular reasoning but look what the atheists
have had to do, they propose an infinite number of universes: each one with
different properties, allowing for at least one to have the right natural law
 Steven Weinberg, ALife in the Universe@, Scientific American, October, 1994