by Marinus Jan Marijs
2.Stellar nucleosynthesis; Fred Hoyle
3.Geological fine-tuning; The rare earth hypothesis
4.Chemical fine-tuning; The fitness of the environment: Henderson
5.Biological fine-tuning; The complexity of D.N.A.
6.Sociological fine-tuning; aesthetics, cognition, sociality, morality, spirituality
The Fine Tuning of the Universe, an article by physicist Gerald Schroeder:
According to growing numbers of scientists, the laws and constants of nature are so “finely-tuned,” and so many “coincidences” have occurred to allow for the possibility of life, the universe must have come into existence through intentional planning and intelligence.
In fact, this “fine-tuning” is so pronounced, and the “coincidences” are so numerous, many scientists have come to espouse The Anthropic Principle, which contends that the universe was brought into existence intentionally for the sake of producing mankind. Even those who do not accept The Anthropic Principle admit to the “fine-tuning” and conclude that the universe is “too contrived” to be a chance event.
In a BBC science documentary, “The Anthropic Principle,” some of the greatest scientific minds of our day describe the recent findings which compel this conclusion.
Dr. Dennis Scania, the distinguished head of Cambridge University Observatories:
If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature — like the charge on the electron — then the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop.
Dr. David D. Deutsch, Institute of Mathematics, Oxford University:
If we nudge one of these constants just a few percent in one direction, stars burn out within a million years of their formation, and there is no time for evolution. If we nudge it a few percent in the other direction, then no elements heavier than helium form. No carbon, no life. Not even any chemistry. No complexity at all.
Dr. Paul Davies, noted author and professor of theoretical physics at Adelaide University:
The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly. You see,” Davies adds, “even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life — almost contrived — you might say a ‘put-up job’.
According to the latest scientific thinking, the matter of the universe originated in a huge explosion of energy called “The Big Bang.” At first, the universe was only hydrogen and helium, which congealed into stars. Subsequently, all the other elements were manufactured inside the stars. The four most abundant elements in the universe are: hydrogen, helium, oxygen and carbon.
When Sir Fred Hoyle was researching how carbon came to be, in the “blast-furnaces” of the stars, his calculations indicated that it is very difficult to explain how the stars generated the necessary quantity of carbon upon which life on earth depends. Hoyle found that there were numerous “fortunate” one-time occurrences which seemed to indicate that purposeful “adjustments” had been made in the laws of physics and chemistry in order to produce the necessary carbon.
Hoyle sums up his findings as follows:
A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintendent has monkeyed with the physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars.
Adds Dr. David D. Deutch:
If anyone claims not to be surprised by the special features that the universe has, he is hiding his head in the sand. These special features ARE surprising and unlikely.
Universal Acceptance Of Fine Tuning
Besides the BBC video, the scientific establishment’s most prestigious journals, and its most famous physicists and cosmologists, have all gone on record as recognizing the objective truth of the fine-tuning. The August ’97 issue of “Science” (the most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal in the United States) featured an article entitled “Science and God: A Warming Trend?” Here is an excerpt:
The fact that the universe exhibits many features that foster organic life — such as precisely those physical constants that result in planets and long-lived stars — also has led some scientists to speculate that some divine influence may be present.
In his best-selling book, “A Brief History of Time”, Stephen Hawking (perhaps the world’s most famous cosmologist) refers to the phenomenon as “remarkable.”
The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers (i.e. the constants of physics) seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life”. “For example,” Hawking writes, “if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded. It seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers (for the constants) that would allow for development of any form of intelligent life. Most sets of values would give rise to universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty.
Hawking then goes on to say that he can appreciate taking this as possible evidence of “a divine purpose in Creation and the choice of the laws of science (by God)” (ibid. p. 125).
Dr. Gerald Schroeder, author of “Genesis and the Big Bang” and “The Science of Life” was formerly a member of the M.I.T. physics department. He adds the following examples:
Professor Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in high energy physics (a field of science that deals with the very early universe), writing in the journal “Scientific American”, reflects on: how surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values.
Although Weinberg is a self-described agnostic, he cannot but be astounded by the extent of the fine-tuning. He goes on to describe how a beryllium isotope having the minuscule half-life of 0.0000000000000001 seconds must find and absorb a helium nucleus in that split of time before decaying. This occurs only because of a totally unexpected, exquisitely precise, energy match between the two nuclei. If this did not occur there would be none of the heavier elements. No carbon, no nitrogen, no life. Our universe would be composed of hydrogen and helium. But this is not the end of Professor Weinberg’s wonder at our well-tuned universe. He continues:
One constant does seem to require an incredible fine-tuning — The existence of life of any kind seems to require a cancellation between different contributions to the vacuum energy, accurate to about 120 decimal places.
This means that if the energies of the Big Bang were, in arbitrary units, not: 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
00000000000000000000000000000000000000000, but instead: 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
00000000000000000000000 000000000000000001, there would be no life of any sort in the entire universe because as Weinberg states:
The universe either would go through a complete cycle of expansion and contraction before life could arise, or would expand so rapidly that no galaxies or stars could form.
Michael Turner, the widely quoted astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and Fermilab, describes the fine-tuning of the universe with a simile:
The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bulls eye one millimeter in diameter on the other side.
Roger Penrose, the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, discovers that the likelihood of the universe having usable energy (low entropy) at the creation is even more astounding, namely, an accuracy of one part out of ten to the power of ten to the power of 123. This is an extraordinary figure. One could not possibly even write the number down in full, in our ordinary denary (power of ten) notation: it would be one followed by ten to the power of 123 successive zeros! (That is a million billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion zeros.)
Even if we were to write a zero on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe — and we could throw in all the other particles as well for good measure — we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed. The precision needed to set the universe on its course is to be in no way inferior to all that extraordinary precision that we have already become accustomed to in the superb dynamical equations (Newton’s, Maxwell’s, Einstein’s) which govern the behaviour of things from moment to moment.
Cosmologists debate whether the space-time continuum is finite or infinite, bounded or unbounded. In all scenarios, the fine-tuning remains the same.
It is appropriate to complete this section on “fine tuning” with the eloquent words of Professor John Wheeler:
To my mind, there must be at the bottom of it all, not an utterly simple equation, but an utterly simple IDEA. And to me that idea, when we finally discover it, will be so compelling, and so inevitable, so beautiful, we will all say to each other, “How could it have ever been otherwise?
Astrophysicist Hugh Ross gives the following list (table 14.1: Evidence for the Fine-Tuning of the Universe). More than sixty parameters for the universe must have values falling within narrowly defined ranges for life of any kind to exist.
Fine Tuning Parameters for the Universe
Uniqueness of the Galaxy-Sun-Earth-Moon System for Life Support
- galaxy size (9) (p = 0.1)
if too large: infusion of gas and stars would disturb sun’s orbit and ignite deadly galactic eruptions
if too small: infusion of gas would be insufficient to sustain star formation long enough for life to form
- galaxy type (7) (p = 0.1)
if too elliptical: star formation would cease before sufficient heavy elements formed for life chemistry
if too irregular: radiation exposure would be too severe (at times) and life-essential heavy elements would not form
- galaxy location (9) (p = 0.1)
if too close to dense galaxy cluster: galaxy would be gravitationally unstable, hence unsuitable for life
if too close to large galaxy(ies): same result
- supernovae eruptions (8) (p = 0.01)
if too close: radiation would exterminate life
if too far: too little “ash” would be available for rocky planets to form
if too infrequent: same result
if too frequent: radiation would exterminate life
if too soon: too little “ash” would be available for rocky planets to form
if too late: radiation would exterminate life
- white dwarf binaries (8) (p = 0.01)
if too few: insufficient fluorine would exist for life chemistry
if too many: orbits of life-supportable planets would be disrupted; life would be exterminated
if too soon: insufficient fluorine would exist for life chemistry
if too late: fluorine would arrive too late for life chemistry
- proximity of solar nebula to a supernova eruption (9)
if farther: insufficient heavy elements would be attracted for life chemistry
if closer: nebula would be blown apart
- timing of solar nebula formation relative to supernova eruption (9)
if earlier: nebula would be blown apart
if later: nebula would not attract enough heavy elements for life chemistry
- parent star distance from center of galaxy (9) (p = 0.2)
if greater: insufficient heavy elements would be available for rocky planet formation
if lesser: radiation would be too intense for life; stellar density would disturb planetary orbits, making life impossible
- parent star distance from closest spiral arm (9) (p = 0.1)
if too small: radiation from other stars would be too intense and the stellar density would disturb orbits of life-supportable planets
if too great: quantity of heavy elements would be insufficient for formation of life-supportable planets
- z-axis range of star’s orbit (9) (p = 0.1)
if too wide: exposure to harmful radiation from galactic core would be too great
- number of stars in the planetary system (10) (p = 0.2)
if more than one: tidal interactions would make the orbits of life-supportable planets too unstable for life
if fewer than one: no heat source would be available for life chemistry
- parent star birth date (9) (p = 0.2)
if more recent: star burning would still be unstable; stellar system would contain too many heavy elements for life chemistry
if less recent: stellar system would contain insufficient heavy elements for life chemistry
- parent star age (9) (p = 0.4)
if older: star’s luminosity would be too erratic for life support
if younger: same result
- parent star mass (10) (p = 0.001)
if greater: star’s luminosity would be too erratic and star would burn up too quickly to support life
if lesser: life support zone would be too narrow; rotation period of life-supportable planet would be too long; UV radiation would be insufficient for photosynthesis
- parent star metallicity (9) (p = 0.05)
if too little: insufficient heavy elements for life chemistry would exist
if too great: radioactivity would be too intense for life; heavy element concentrations would be poisonous to life
- parent star color (9) (p = 0.4)
if redder: photosynthetic response would be insufficient to sustain life
if bluer: same result
- H3+ production (23) (p = 0.1)
if too little: simple molecules essential to planet formation and life chemistry would never form
if too great: planets would form at the wrong time and place for life
- parent star luminosity (11) (p = 0.0001)
if increases too soon: runaway green house effect would develop
if increases too late: runaway glaciation would develop
- surface gravity (governs escape velocity) (12) (p = 0.001)
if stronger: planet’s atmosphere would retain too much ammonia and methane for life
if weaker: planet’s atmosphere would lose too much water for life
- distance from parent star (13) (p = 0.001)
if greater: planet would be too cool for a stable water cycle
if lesser: planet would be too warm for a stable water cycle
- inclination of orbit (22) (p = 0.5)
if too great: temperature range on the planet’s surface would be too extreme for life
- orbital eccentricity (9) (p = 0.3)
if too great: seasonal temperature range would be too extreme for life
- axial tilt (9) (p = 0.3)
if greater: surface temperature differences would be too great to sustain diverse life-forms
if lesser: same result
- rate of change of axial tilt (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: climatic and temperature changes would be too extreme for life
- rotation period (11) (p = 0.1)
if longer: diurnal temperature differences would be too great for life
if shorter: atmospheric wind velocities would be too great for life
- rate of change in rotation period (14) (p = 0.05)
if more rapid: change in day-to-night temperature variation would be too extreme for sustained life
if less rapid: change in day-to-night temperature variation would be too slow for the development of advanced life
- planet’s age (9) (p = 0.1)
if too young: planet would rotate too rapidly for life
if too old: planet would rotate too slowly for life
- magnetic field (20) (p = 0.01)
if stronger: electromagnetic storms would be too severe
if weaker: planetary surface and ozone layer would be inadequately protected from hard solar and stellar radiation
- thickness of crust (15) (p = 0.01)
if greater: crust would rob atmosphere of oxygen needed for life
if lesser: volcanic and tectonic activity would be destructive to life
- albedo (ratio of reflected light to total amount falling on surface) (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: runaway glaciation would develop
if less: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
- asteroid and comet collision rates (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: ecosystem balances would be destroyed
if less: crust would contain too little of certain life-essential elements
- mass of body colliding with primordial earth (9) (p = 0.002)
if greater: Earth’s orbit and form would be too greatly disturbed for life
if lesser: Earth’s atmosphere would be too thick for life; moon would be too small to fulfill its life-sustaining role
- timing of above collision (9) (p = 0.05)
if earlier: Earth’s atmosphere would be too thick for life; moon would be too small to fulfill its life-sustaining role
if later: Earth’s atmosphere would be too thin for life; sun would be too luminous for subsequent life
- oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere (25) (p = 0.1)
if greater: advanced life functions would proceed too rapidly
if lesser: advanced life functions would proceed too slowly
- carbon dioxide level in atmosphere (21) (p = 0.01)
if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
if less: plants would be unable to maintain efficient photosynthesis
- water vapor quantity in atmosphere (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
if less: rainfall would be too meager for advanced land life
- atmospheric electric discharge rate (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: fires would be too frequent and widespread for life
if less: too little nitrogen would be fixed in the atmosphere
- ozone quantity in atmosphere (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: surface temperatures would be too low for life; insufficient UV radiation for life
if less: surface temperatures would be too high for life; UV radiation would be too intense for life
- oxygen quantity in atmosphere (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: plants and hydrocarbons would burn up too easily, destabilizing Earth’s ecosystem
if less: advanced animals would have too little to breathe
- seismic activity (16) (p = 0.1)
if greater: life would be destroyed; ecosystem would be damaged
if less: nutrients on ocean floors from river runoff would not be recycled to continents through tectonics; not enough carbon dioxide would be released from carbonate buildup
- volcanic activity (26)
if lower: insufficient amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapor would be returned to the atmosphere; soil mineralization would be insufficient for life advanced life support
if higher: advanced life would be destroyed; ecosystem would be damaged
- rate of decline in tectonic activity (26) (p = 0.1)
if slower: crust conditions would be too unstable for advanced life
if faster: crust nutrients would be inadequate for sustained land life
- rate of decline in volcanic activity (9) (p = 0.1)
if slower: crust and surface conditions would be unsuitable for sustained land life
if faster: crust and surface nutrients would be inadequate for sustained land life
- oceans-to-continents ratio (11) (p = 0.2)
if greater: diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited
if smaller: same result
- rate of change in oceans-to-continents ratio (9) (p = 0.1)
if smaller: land area would be insufficient for advanced life
if greater: change would be too radical for advanced life to survive
- distribution of continents (10) (p = 0.3)
if too much in the Southern Hemisphere: sea-salt aerosols would be insufficient to stabilize surface temperature and water cycle; increased seasonal differences would limit the available habitats for advanced land life
- frequency and extent of ice ages (9) (p = 0.1)
if lesser: Earth’s surface would lack fertile valleys essential for advanced life; mineral concentrations would be insufficient for advanced life.
if greater: Earth would experience runaway freezing
- soil mineralization (9) (p = 0.1)
if nutrient poorer: diversity and complexity of lifeforms would be limited
if nutrient richer: same result
- gravitational interaction with a moon (17) (p = 0.1)
if greater: tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe for life
if lesser: orbital obliquity changes would cause climatic instabilities; movement of nutrients and life from the oceans to the continents and vice versa would be insufficient for life; magnetic field would be too weak to protect life from dangerous radiation
- Jupiter distance (18) (p = 0.1)
if greater: Jupiter would be unable to protect Earth from frequent asteroid and comet collisions
if lesser: Jupiter’s gravity would destabilize Earth’s orbit
- Jupiter mass (19) (p = 0.1)
if greater: Jupiter’s gravity would destabilize Earth’s orbit 9
if lesser: Jupiter would be unable to protect Earth from asteroid and comet collisions
- drift in (major) planet distances (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: Earth’s orbit would be destabilized
if less: asteroid and comet collisions would be too frequent for life
- major planet orbital eccentricities (18) (p = 0.05)
if greater: Earth’s orbit would be pulled out of life support zone
- major planet orbital instabilities (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: Earth’s orbit would be pulled out of life support zone
- atmospheric pressure (9) (p = 0.1)
if smaller: liquid water would evaporate too easily and condense too infrequently to support life
if greater: inadequate liquid water evaporation to support life; insufficient sunlight would reach Earth’s surface; insufficient UV radiation would reach Earth’s surface
- atmospheric transparency (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: too broad a range of solar radiation wavelengths would reach Earth’s surface for life support
if lesser: too narrow a range of solar radiation wavelengths would reach Earth’s surface for life support
- chlorine quantity in atmosphere (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: erosion rate and river, lake, and soil acidity would be too high for most life forms; metabolic rates would be too high for most life forms
if lesser: erosion rate and river, lake, and soil acidity would be too low for most life forms; metabolic rates would be too low for most life forms
- iron quantity in oceans and soils (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: iron poisoning would destroy advanced life
if lesser: food to support advanced life would be insufficient
if very small: no life would be possible
- tropospheric ozone quantity (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: advanced animals would experience respiratory failure; crop yields would be inadequate for advanced life; ozone-sensitive species would be unable to survive
if smaller: biochemical smog would hinder or destroy most life
- stratospheric ozone quantity (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: not enough LTV radiation would reach Earth’s surface to produce food and life-essential vitamins
if lesser: too much LTV radiation would reach Earth’s surface, causing skin cancers and reducing plant growth
- mesospheric ozone quantity (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: circulation and chemistry of mesospheric gases would disturb relative abundance of life-essential gases in lower atmosphere
if lesser: same result
- frequency and extent of forest and grass fires (24) (p = 0.01)
if greater: advanced life would be impossible
if lesser: accumulation of growth inhibitors, combined with insufficient nitrification, would make soil unsuitable for food production
- quantity of soil sulfur (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: plants would be destroyed by sulfur toxins, soil acidity, and disturbance of the nitrogen cycle
if lesser: plants would die from protein deficiency
- biomass to comet-infall ratio (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: greenhouse gases would decline, triggering runaway freezing
if lesser: greenhouse gases would accumulate, triggering runaway greenhouse effect
- quantity of sulfur in planet’s core (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: solid inner core would never form, disrupting magnetic field
if smaller: solid inner core formation would begin too soon, causing it to grow too rapidly and extensively, disrupting magnetic field
- quantity of sea-salt aerosols (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: too much and too rapid cloud formation over the oceans would disrupt the climate and atmospheric temperature balances
if smaller: insufficient cloud formation; hence, inadequate water cycle; disrupts atmospheric temperature balances and hence the climate
- dependency factors (estimate 100,000,000,000)
- longevity requirements (estimate .00001)
Total Probability = 1:1099
A more detailed list is to be found at:
Fred Hoyle 24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001
Sir Fred Hoyle was an English astronomer primarily remembered today for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis An early paper of Hoyle’s made an interesting use of the anthropic principle. In trying to work out the routes of stellar nucleosynthesis, he observed that one particular nuclear reaction, the triple-alpha process, which generated carbon, would require the carbon nucleus to have a very specific energy for it to work. The large amount of carbon in the universe, which makes it possible for carbon-based lifeforms (e.g. humans) to exist, demonstrated that this nuclear reaction must work. Based on this notion, he made a prediction of the energy levels in the carbon nucleus that was later borne out by experiment. However, those energy levels, while needed in order to produce carbon in large quantities, were statistically very unlikely. Hoyle later wrote: Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule.” Of course you would . . . A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.
Hoyle, an atheist until that time, said that this suggestion of a guiding hand left him “greatly shaken.” Consequently, he began to believe in a god. Those who advocate the intelligent design hypothesis sometimes cite Hoyle’s work in this area to support the claim that the universe was fine tuned in order to allow intelligent life to be possible. His co-worker William Alfred Fowler eventually won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983 (with Subramanyan Chandrasekhar), but for some reason Hoyles original contribution was overlooked, and many were surprised that such a notable astronomer missed out. Fowler himself in an autobiographical sketch affirmed Hoyles pioneering efforts: The concept of nucleosynthesis in stars was first established by Hoyle in 1946. This provided a way to explain the existence of elements heavier than helium in the universe, basically by showing that critical elements such as carbon could be generated in stars and then incorporated in other stars and planets when that star “dies”. The new stars formed now start off with these heavier elements and even heavier elements are formed from them. Hoyle theorized that other rarer elements could be explained by supernovas, the giant explosions which occasionally occur throughout the universe, whose temperatures and pressures would be required to create such elements. While having no argument with the Lematre theory, (later confirmed by Edwin Hubble’s observations) that the universe was expanding, Hoyle disagreed on its interpretation.
He found the idea that the universe had a beginning to be philosophically troubling, as many argued that a beginning implies a cause, and thus a creator (see kalam cosmological argument). After considering the very remote probability of evolution he concluded: “If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of…”
Published in his 1982/1984 books Evolution from Space (co-authored with Chandra Wickramasinghe), Hoyle calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 1040,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (1080), he argued that even a whole universe full of primordial soup would grant little chance to evolutionary processes. He claimed: The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order. Hoyle compared the random emergence of even the simplest cell to the likelihood that “a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.” Hoyle also compared the chance of obtaining even a single functioning protein by chance combination of amino acids to a solar system full of blind men solving Rubik’s Cube simultaneously. Ian Musgrave argues that Hoyle’s line of reasoning in this case incorporates a number of clear logical mistakes and omissions, such as assuming that the spontaneous creation of life must occur simultaneously, that the life thus created would be as complex as modern life (as opposed to one of its more primitive ancestors), and that the unlikeliness of a single instance of spontaneously-appearing life is not overcome by the large number of simultaneous trials occurring throughout the (very large) universe over its entire existence. As a result, this line of reasoning (which comes up frequently in discussions of Intelligent design vs. Evolution) is often referred to as Hoyle’s Fallacy. Sir Fred Hoyle reached the conclusion that the universe is governed by a greater intelligence. In 1978, Hoyle described Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as wrong and claimed that the belief that the first living cell was created in the “sea of life” was just as erroneous. In his book “Evolution from Space” (1982), he distanced himself completely from Darwinism. He stated that “natural selection” could not explain evolution.
In his book “The Intelligent Universe” (1983): “Life as we know it is, among other things, dependent on at least 2000 different enzymes. How could the blind forces of the primal sea manage to put together the correct chemical elements to build enzymes?” According to his calculations, the likelihood of this happening is only one in 10 to the 40 000 power (1 followed by 40 000 zeros). That is about the same chance as throwing 50 000 sixes in a row with a die. Or as Hoyle describes it: “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein… I am at a loss to understand biologists’ widespread compulsion to deny what seems to me to be obvious.” (“Hoyle on Evolution”, Nature, Vol. 294, 12 November 1981, p. 105)
Hoyle remarked that scientific challenges to evolution have never had a fair hearing because the developing system of popular education [from Darwins day to the present] provided an ideal opportunity…for awkward arguments not to be discussed and for discrepant facts to be suppressed. The most important of Hoyle’s contributions was probably his work on nucleosynthesis: the idea that the chemical elements were synthesized from primordial hydrogen and helium in stars. (Wikipedia)
Rare Earth hypothesis, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
In planetary astronomy and astrobiology, the Rare Earth hypothesis argues that the emergence of complex multicellular life on Earth (and, subsequently, intelligence) required an improbable combination of astrophysical and geological events and circumstances. The term “Rare Earth” originates from “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe (2000)”, a book by Peter Ward, a geologist and paleontologist, and Donald E. Brownlee, an astronomer and astrobiologist.
The rare earth hypothesis is contrary to the principle of mediocrity (also called the Copernican principle), advocated by Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, among others. The principle of mediocrity states that the Earth is a typical rocky planet in a typical planetary system, located in a non-exceptional region of a common barred-spiral galaxy. Hence, it is probable that the universe teems with complex life. Ward and Brownlee argue to the contrary: planets, planetary systems, and galactic regions that are as friendly to complex life as are the Earth, the Solar System, and our region of the Milky Way are very rare.
- 1 Rare Earth’s requirements for complex life
- 1.1 The right location in the right kind of galaxy
- 1.2 Orbiting at the right distance from the right type of star
- 1.3 Enough time elapsed since the big bang for evolution to occur
- 1.4 With the right arrangement of planets
- 1.5 A continuously stable orbit
- 1.6 A terrestrial planet of the right size
- 1.7 With plate tectonics
- 1.8 A large moon
- 1.9 An evolutionary trigger for complex life
- 2 Rare Earth equation
- 3 Advocates
Rare Earth’s requirements for complex life
The Rare Earth hypothesis argues that the emergence of complex life requires a host of fortuitous circumstances. A number of such circumstances are set out below under the following headings: galactic habitable zone, a central star and planetary system having the requisite character, the circumstellar habitable zone, a right sized terrestrial planet, the advantage of a gas giant guardian and large satellite, conditions needed to assure the planet has a magnetosphere and plate tectonics, the chemistry of the lithosphere, atmosphere, and oceans, the role of “evolutionary pumps” such as massive glaciation and rare bolide impacts, and whatever led to the still mysterious Cambrian explosion of animal phyla. The emergence of intelligent life may have required yet other rare events.
In order for a small rocky planet to support complex life, Ward and Brownlee argue, the values of several variables must fall within narrow ranges
The right location in the right kind of galaxy
The dense centre of galaxies such as NGC 7331 (often referred to as a “twin” of the Milky Way])) have high levels of radiation which are dangerous to complex life
Rare Earth suggests that much of the known universe, including large parts of our galaxy, cannot support complex life; Ward and Brownlee refer to such regions as “dead zones.” Those parts of a galaxy where complex life is possible make up the galactic habitable zone. This zone is primarily a function of distance from the galactic center. As that distance increases:
- Star metallicity Metals (which in astronomy means all elements other than hydrogen and helium) are necessary to the formation of terrestrial planets.
- The X-ray and gamma ray radiation from the black hole at the galactic center, and from nearby neutron stars, becomes less intense. Radiation of this nature is considered dangerous to complex life, hence the Rare Earth hypothesis predicts that the early universe, and galactic regions where stellar density is high and supernovae are common, will be unfit for the development of complex life.
- Gravitational perturbation of planets and planetesimals by nearby stars becomes less likely as the density of stars decreases. Hence the further a planet lies from the galactic center or a spiral arm, the less likely it is to be struck by a large bolide. A sufficiently large impact may extinguish all complex life on a planet.
(1) rules out the outer reaches of a galaxy; (2) and (3) rule out galactic inner regions, globular clusters, and the spiral arms of spiral galaxies. (These “arms” are regions of a galaxy characterized by a higher rate of star formation, moving very slowly through the galaxy in a wave-like manner.) As one moves from the center of a galaxy to its furthest extremity, the ability to support life rises then falls. Hence the galactic habitable zone may be ring-shaped, sandwiched between its uninhabitable center and outer reaches.
While a planetary system may enjoy a location favorable to complex life, it must also maintain that location for a span of time sufficiently long for complex life to evolve. Hence a central star with a galactic orbit that steers clear of galactic regions where radiation levels are high, such as the galactic center and the spiral arms, would appear most favorable.
If the central star’s galactic orbit is eccentric (elliptic or hyperbolic), it will pass through some spiral arms, but if the orbit is a near perfect circle and the orbital velocity equals the “rotational” velocity of the spiral arms, the star will drift into a spiral arm region only gradually—if at all.
Therefore Rare Earth proponents conclude that a life-bearing star must have a galactic orbit that is nearly circular about the center of its galaxy. The required synchronization of the orbital velocity of a central star with the wave velocity of the spiral arms can occur only within a fairly narrow range of distances from the galactic center. This region is termed the “galactic habitable zone”. Lineweaver et al. calculate that the galactic habitable zone is a ring 7 to 9 kiloparsecs in diameter, that includes no more than 10% of the stars in the Milky Way. Based on conservative estimates of the total number of stars in the galaxy, this could represent something like 20 to 40 billion stars. Gonzalez, et al. would halve these numbers; he estimates that at most 5% of stars in the Milky Way fall in the galactic habitable zone.
The orbit of the Sun around the center of the Milky Way is indeed almost perfectly circular, with a period of 226 Ma (1 Ma = 1 million years), one closely matching the rotational period of the galaxy.
While the Rare Earth hypothesis predicts that the Sun should rarely, if ever, have passed through a spiral arm since its formation, astronomer Karen Masters has calculated that the orbit of the Sun takes it through a major spiral arm approximately every 100 million years. Some researchers have suggested that several mass extinctions do correspond with previous crossings of the spiral arms.
Andromeda and the Milky Way have a similar mass, but whereas Andromeda is a typical spiral galaxy the Milky Way is unusually quiet and dim. It appears to have suffered fewer collisions with other galaxies over the last 10 billion years, and its peaceful history may have made it more hospitable to complex life than galaxies which have suffered more collisions, and consequently more supernovae and other disturbances. The level of activity of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way may also be important: too much or too little and the conditions for life may be rare. The Milky Way black hole appears to be just right.
Orbiting at the right distance from the right type of star
The terrestrial example suggests that complex life requires water in the liquid state, and a central star’s planet must therefore be at an appropriate distance. This is the core of the notion of the habitable zone or Goldilocks Principle The habitable zone forms a ring around the central star. If a planet orbits its sun too closely or too far away, the surface temperature is incompatible with water being liquid.
The habitable zone varies with the type and age of the central star. The habitable zone for a main sequence star very gradually moves out over time until the star becomes a white dwarf, at which time the habitable zone vanishes.
The habitable zone is closely connected to the greenhouse warming afforded by atmospheric water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and/or other greenhouse gases. Even though the Earth’s atmosphere contains a water vapor concentration from 0% (in arid regions) to 4% (in rain forest and ocean regions) and -as of June 2013- only 400 parts per million of CO2, these small amounts suffice to raise the average surface temperature of the Earth by about 40 °C from what it would otherwise be, with the dominant contribution being due to water vapor, which together with clouds makes up between 66% and 85% of Earth’s greenhouse effect, with CO2 contributing between 9% and 26% of the effect.
Rocky planets must orbit within the habitable zone for life to form. Although the habitable zone of such hot stars as Sirius or Vega is wide:
- Rocky planets that form too close to the star to lie within the habitable zone cannot sustain life; however, life could arise on a moon of a gas giant. Hot stars also emit much more ultraviolet radiation that ionizes any planetary atmosphere.
- Hot stars, as mentioned above, may become red giants before advanced life evolves on their planets.
These considerations rule out the massive and powerful stars of type F6 to O (see stellar classification) as homes to evolved metazoan life.
Small red dwarf stars conversely have small habitable zones wherein planets are in tidal lock—one side always faces the star and becomes very hot and the other always faces away and becomes very cold—and are also at increased risk of solar flares (see Aurelia) that would tend to ionize the atmosphere and be otherwise inimical to complex life. Rare Earth proponents argue that life therefore cannot arise in such systems and that only central stars that range from F7 to K1 stars are hospitable. Such stars are rare: G type stars such as the Sun (between the hotter F and cooler K) comprise only 9% of the hydrogen-burning stars in the Milky Way. However, some exobiologists have suggested that stars outside this range may give rise to life under the right circumstances; this possibility is a central point of contention to the theory because these late-K and M category stars make up about 82% of all hydrogen-burning stars.
According to Rare Earth, globular clusters are unlikely to support life. Such aged stars as red giants and white dwarfs are also unlikely to support life. Red giants are common in globular clusters and elliptical galaxies. White dwarfs are mostly dying stars that have already completed their red giant phase. Stars that become red giants expand into or overheat the habitable zones of their youth and middle age (though theoretically planets at a much greater distance may become habitable).
An energy output that varies with the lifetime of the star will very likely prevent life (e.g., as Cepheid variables). A sudden decrease, even if brief, may freeze the water of orbiting planets, and a significant increase may evaporate them and cause a greenhouse effect that may prevent the oceans from reforming.
Life without complex chemistry is unknown. Such chemistry requires metals, namely elements other than hydrogen or helium and thereby suggests that a planetary system rich in metals is a necessity for life.
The only known mechanism for creating and dispersing metals is a supernova explosion. The absorption spectrum of a star reveals the presence of metals within, and studies of stellar spectra reveal that many, perhaps most, stars are poor in metals. Low metallicity characterizes the early universe: globular clusters and other stars that formed when the universe was young, stars in most galaxies other than large spirals, and stars in the outer regions of all galaxies. Metal-rich central stars capable of supporting complex life are therefore believed to be most common in the quiet suburbs of the larger spiral galaxies—where radiation also happens to be weak.
The original Drake equation for guesstimating the number of civilizations in our galaxy may be wrong, as we conclude that intelligent life like us has just begun appearing in our universe. The Drake equation is a steady state model, and we may be at the beginning of a pulse of civilization.
Emergence of civilizations is a non-ergodic process, and some parameters of the equation are therefore time-dependent. Because the cosmic transport of life is most likely limited to prokaryotes, young planets have not had enough time to develop intelligent life. Another time-dependent process is the probability of interstellar transfer of bacteria, which we expect to have become more frequent as the total pool of bacteria in the galaxy increased with time.
There are many modifications of the Drake equation, but if civilizations have just begun to appear, any version is of limited use. The answer to the Fermi paradox may be that we are amongst the first, if not the only so far, civilization to emerge in our galaxy.
The “Rare Earth” hypothesis need not be invoked. The linking of civilization to the lifetime of a particular star, such as our Sun , is also not necessary.
With the right arrangement of planets
According to Rare Earth, without the presence of the massive gas giant Jupiter (fifth planet from the Sun and the largest) complex life on Earth would not have arisen.
Rare Earth proponents argue that a planetary system capable of sustaining complex life must be structured more or less like the Solar System, with small and rocky inner planets and outer gas giants.
In addition, Rare Earth proponents have argued that the arrangement of the Solar System is not only rare but optimal as the large mass and gravitational attraction of the gas giants provide protection for the inner rocky planets from Small Solar System body impacts and asteroid bombardment.
A continuously stable orbit
Rare Earth argues that a gas giant must not be too close to a body upon which life is developing, unless that body is one of its moons. Close placement of gas giant(s) could disrupt the orbit of a potential life-bearing planet, either directly or by drifting into the habitable zone.
Newtonian dynamics can produce chaotic planetary orbits, especially in a system having large planets at high orbital eccentricity.
The need for stable orbits rules out stars with systems of planets that contain large planets with orbits close to the host star (called “hot Jupiters”). It is believed that hot Jupiters formed much further from their parent stars than they are now, and have migrated inwards to their current orbits. In the process, they would have catastrophically disrupted the orbits of any planets in the habitable zone.
A terrestrial planet of the right size
It is argued that life requires terrestrial planets like Earth and as gas giants lack such a surface, that complex life cannot arise there.
A planet that is too small cannot hold much of an atmosphere. Hence the surface temperature becomes more variable and the average temperature drops. Substantial and long-lasting oceans become impossible. A small planet will also tend to have a rough surface, with large mountains and deep canyons. The core will cool faster, and plate tectonics will either not last as long as they would on a larger planet or may not occur at all.
With plate tectonics
Rare Earth proponents argue that plate tectonics is essential for the emergence and sustenance of complex life. Ward & Brownlee assert that biodiversity, global temperature regulation, carbon cycle and the magnetic field of the Earth that make it habitable for complex terrestrial life all depend on plate tectonics.
Ward & Brownlee contend that the lack of mountain chains elsewhere in the Solar System is direct evidence that Earth is the only body with plate tectonics and as such the only body capable of supporting life.
Plate tectonics is dependent on chemical composition and a long-lasting source of heat in the form of radioactive decay occurring deep in the planet’s interior. Continents must also be made up of less dense felsic rocks that “float” on underlying denser mafic rock. Taylor emphasizes that subduction zones (an essential part of plate tectonics) require the lubricating action of ample water; on Earth, such zones exist only at the bottom of oceans.
Ward & Brownlee and others such as Tilman Spohn of the German Space Research Centre Institute of Planetary Research argue that plate tectonics provides a means of biochemical cycling which promotes complex life on Earth and that water is required to lubricate planetary plates.
A large moon
The Moon is unusual because the other rocky planets in the Solar System either have no satellites (Mercury and Venus), or have tiny satellites that are probably captured asteroids (Mars).
The giant impact theory hypothesizes that the Moon resulted from the impact of a Mars-sized body, Theia, with the very young Earth. This giant impact also gave the Earth its axis tilt and velocity of rotation. Rapid rotation reduces the daily variation in temperature and makes photosynthesis viable. The Rare Earth hypothesis further argues that the axis tilt cannot be too large or too small (relative to the orbital plane). A planet with a large tilt will experience extreme seasonal variations in climate, unfriendly to complex life. A planet with little or no tilt will lack the stimulus to evolution that climate variation provides. In this view, the Earth’s tilt is “just right”. The gravity of a large satellite also stabilizes the planet’s tilt; without this effect the variation in tilt would be chaotic, probably making complex life forms on land impossible.
If the Earth had no Moon, the ocean tides resulting solely from the Sun’s gravity would be only half that of the lunar tides. A large satellite gives rise to tidal pools, which may be essential for the formation of complex life, though this is far from certain.
A large satellite also increases the likelihood of plate tectonics through the effect of tidal forces on the planet’s crust. The impact that formed the Moon may also have initiated plate tectonics, without which the continental crust would cover the entire planet, leaving no room for oceanic crust. It is possible that the large scale mantle convection needed to drive plate tectonics could not have emerged in the absence of crustal inhomogeneity.
If a giant impact is the only way for a rocky inner planet to acquire a large satellite, any planet in the circumstellar habitable zone will need to form as a double planet in order that there be an impacting object sufficiently massive to give rise in due course to a large satellite. An impacting object of this nature is not necessarily improbable.
An evolutionary trigger for complex life
Regardless of whether planets with similar physical attributes to the Earth are rare or not, some argue that life usually remains as simple bacteria. Biochemist Nick Lane argues that simple cells (prokaryotes) emerged soon after earth’s formation, but almost half the planet’s life had passed before they evolved into complex ones (eukaryotes) and as all complex life has a common origin this event can only have happened once. In his view, prokaryotes lack the cellular architecture to evolve into eukaryotes because a bacterium expanded up to eukaryotic proportions would have tens of thousands of times less energy available; two billion years ago, one simple cell incorporated itself into another, multiplied, and evolved into mitochondria that supplied the vast increase in available energy that enabled the evolution of complex life. If this incorporation occurred only once in four billion years or is otherwise unlikely, then life on most planets remains simple.
Rare Earth equation
The following discussion is adapted from Cramer. The Rare Earth equation is Ward and Brownlee’s riposte to the Drake equation. It calculates , the number of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way having complex life forms, as:
- N* is the number of stars in the Milky Way. This number is not well-estimated, because the Milky Way’s mass is not well estimated. Moreover, there is little information about the number of very small stars. N* is at least 100 billion, and may be as high as 500 billion, if there are many low visibility stars.
- is the average number of planets in a star’s habitable zone. This zone is fairly narrow, because constrained by the requirement that the average planetary temperature be consistent with water remaining liquid throughout the time required for complex life to evolve. Thus = 1 is a likely upper bound.
We assume the Rare Earth hypothesis can then be viewed as asserting that the product of the other nine Rare Earth equation factors listed below, which are all fractions, is no greater than 10−10 and could plausibly be as small as 10−12. In the latter case, could be as small as 0 or 1. Ward and Brownlee do not actually calculate the value of , because the numerical values of quite a few of the factors below can only be conjectured. They cannot be estimated simply because we have but one data point: the Earth, a rocky planet orbiting a G2 star in a quiet suburb of a large barred spiral galaxy, and the home of the only intelligent species we know, namely ourselves.
- is the fraction of stars in the galactic habitable zone (Ward, Brownlee, and Gonzalez estimate this factor as 0.1).
- is the fraction of stars in the Milky Way with planets.
- is the fraction of planets that are rocky (“metallic”) rather than gaseous.
- is the fraction of habitable planets where microbial life arises. Ward and Brownlee believe this fraction is unlikely to be small.
- is the fraction of planets where complex life evolves. For 80% of the time since microbial life first appeared on the Earth, there was only bacterial life. Hence Ward and Brownlee argue that this fraction may be very small.
- is the fraction of the total lifespan of a planet during which complex life is present. Complex life cannot endure indefinitely, because the energy put out by the sort of star that allows complex life to emerge gradually rises, and the central star eventually becomes a red giant, engulfing all planets in the planetary habitable zone. Also, given enough time, a catastrophic extinction of all complex life becomes ever more likely.
- is the fraction of habitable planets with a large moon. If the giant impact theory of the Moon’s origin is correct, this fraction is small.
- is the fraction of planetary systems with large Jovian planets. This fraction could be large.
- is the fraction of planets with a sufficiently low number of extinction events. Ward and Brownlee argue that the low number of such events the Earth has experienced since the Cambrian explosion may be unusual, in which case this fraction would be small.
The Rare Earth equation, unlike the Drake equation, does not factor the probability that complex life evolves into intelligent life that discovers technology (Ward and Brownlee are not evolutionary biologists). Barrow and Tipler review the consensus among such biologists that the evolutionary path from primitive Cambrian chordates, e.g. Pikaia to Homo sapiens, was a highly improbable event. For example, the large brains of humans have marked adaptive disadvantages, requiring as they do an expensive metabolism, a long gestation period, and a childhood lasting more than 25% of the average total life span. Other improbable features of humans include:
- Being the only extant bipedal land (non-avian) vertebrate. Combined with an unusual eye–hand coordination, this permits dextrous manipulations of the physical environment with the hands;
- A vocal apparatus far more expressive than that of any other mammal, enabling speech. Speech makes it possible for humans to interact cooperatively, to share knowledge, and to acquire a culture;
- The capability of formulating abstractions to a degree permitting the invention of mathematics, and the discovery of science and technology. Only recently did humans acquire anything like their current scientific and technological sophistication.
Authors that advocate the Rare Earth hypothesis:
- Stuart Ross Taylor, a specialist on the solar system, firmly believes in the hypothesis, but its truth is not central to his purpose, which is to write a short introductory book on the solar system and its formation. Taylor concludes that the solar system is probably very unusual, because it resulted from so many chance factors and events.
- Stephen Webb, a physicist, mainly presents and rejects candidate solutions for the Fermi paradox. The Rare Earth hypothesis emerges as one of the few solutions left standing by the end of the book.
- Simon Conway Morris, a paleontologist, endorses the Rare Earth hypothesis in chapter 5 of his Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, and cites Ward and Brownlee’s book with approval. His main purpose, however, is to argue that if a planet does harbor life, intelligent beings something like humans are inevitable.
- John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler (1986. 3.2, 8.7, 9), cosmologists, vigorously defend the hypothesis that humans are likely to be the only intelligent life in the Milky Way, and perhaps the entire universe. But this hypothesis is not central to their book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, a very thorough study of the anthropic principle, and of how the laws of physics are peculiarly suited to enable the emergence of complexity in nature.
- Ray Kurzweil, a computer pioneer and self-proclaimed Singularitarian, argues in The Singularity Is Near that the coming Singularity requires that Earth be the first planet on which sentient, technology-using life evolved. Although other Earth-like planets could exist, Earth must be the most evolutionarily advanced, because otherwise we would have seen evidence that another culture had experienced the Singularity and expanded to harness the full computational capacity of the physical universe.
- John Gribbin, a prolific science writer, defends the hypothesis in a book de voted to it called Alone in the Universe: Why our planet is unique.
- Guillermo Gonzalez, astrophysicist who coined the term Galactic Habitable Zone uses the hypothesis in his book The Privileged Planet to promote the concept of intelligent design.
- Michael H. Hart, astrophysicist who proposed a very narrow habitable zone based on climate studies edited the influential book “Extraterrestrials: Where are They” and authored “Atmospheric Evolution, the Drake Equation and DNA: Sparse Life in an Infinite Universe”
Lawrence Henderson in 1913, Henderson wrote “The Fitness of the Environment”, one of the first books to explore concepts of fine tuning in the Universe. Henderson discusses the importance of water and the environment with respect to living things, pointing out that life depends entirely on the very specific environmental conditions on Earth, especially with regard to the prevalence and properties of water. In the book The Fitness of the Environment (1913) he wrote we find “an inquiry into the biological significance of the properties of matter” (Henderson). He saw the properties of matter and the course of cosmic evolution intimately related to the structure of the living being and to its activities. He concluded: “the whole evolutionary process, both cosmic and organic, is one, and the biologist may now rightly regard the universe in its very essence as biocentric”.(Wikipedia)
In the: “National academy of sciences of the United states of America biographical memoirs Volume XXIII second memoir biographical memoir of Lawrence Joseph Henderson 1878-1942 By Walter B. Cannon presented to the academy at the autumn meeting, 1943” we find:
The Fitness of the Environment” and “The Order of Nature.” These two volumes devoted to discussions of large general problems, global and even cosmic in scope , maybe said to have had their origin in the deep impression made on Henderson by the remarkable properties of carbonic acid and water , already referred to as an introduction to his study of the equilibria in blood . In the first of the volumes Henderson pointed out that Darwinian fitness implies a mutual relationship between the organism and the environment—the latter quite as essential as the fitness developed in the course of organic evolution. And the argument which he supported was that in fundamental characteristics the actual environment is the fittest possible abode for living beings. The argument ran as follows. Living beings as mechanisms are complex and physico-chemically well regulated systems, in an environment which is also physico-chemically well regulated. Between organisms and their environment there is a continuous interchange of matter and energy . The primary constituents of the natural environment, water and carbonic acid, are necessarily and automatically formed in vast amounts by the cosmic process. Water and carbonic acid (and their constituent elements) display an extraordinary fitness for their biological role. Thus water, because of its remarkable heat capacity, heat conductivity, its expansion on cooling near the freezing point, its reduced density as ice, its heat of fusion, heat of vaporization, its vapour tension and freezing point, its unique solvent properties, its dielectric constant and ionizing power, and its surface tension, render it in certain respects maximally fit for living beings. Thereby it assures conditions for constancy of temperature, richness of the organism in chemical constituents, variety of chemical processes, electrical phenomena and the functions of colloids. Carbon dioxide, also, possesses very unusual properties. Its wide distributing and high absorption coefficient render its association with water well-nigh universal; its property of preserving a neutral reaction when in solution with its salts maintains the neutrality or slight alkalinity of the ocean and also the chemical inactivity of circulating water much as it does in circulating blood. Furthermore, chemical compounds containing the elements found in water and carbon dioxide—carbon, hydrogen and oxygen—display unique properties, in that they are formed In vast numbers and varieties and complexities, with many kinds of relations and reactions, heats of reaction and instability, so that they become sources of matter and energy for bodily metabolism, sources of complex bodily structure, and means of performing complex functions. “From the materialistic and the energetic standpoint alike, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, each by itself and all taken together, possess unique and preeminent chemical fitness for the organic mechanism. They alone are best fitted to form it and to set it in motion; and their stable compounds, water and carbonic acid, which make up the changeless environment, protect and renew it, forever drawing fresh energy from the sunshine. “The physical and chemical properties, thus considered, include nearly all known to be of biological importance or apparently related to the complexity, regulation and metabolism of living beings. No other compounds show more than a few of the qualities of fitness of water and carbonic acid; no other elements show those of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. And none of the characteristics of these substances is known to be unfit or considerably inferior to the same characteristics in any other substance. The fitness of the environment is therefore both real and unique—It is “the best of all possible environments for life. “That this conclusion raises questions regarding the significance of fitness, both in biology and in cosmology, Henderson clearly recognized. His discussion of teleology will be deferred, however, until the second of the two books has been surveyed. “The Order of Nature” is an extension of the thinking, the evidence and the ideas which were expounded in “The Fitness of the Environment. “The discussion, however, centers about the importance of the three elements, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, for the process of cosmic evolution, i.e., with biological considerations omitted and emphasis laid on a foundation of physical science. The argument to be presented had philosophical as well as scientific bearings. As an introduction Henderson sketched philosophical theories regarding the problems of natural organization and teleology, tracing the views of Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Leibnitz, Hume, Kant, Goethe, Bernard, Roux, down to Driesch, Haldane and Bosanquet.
The problem was that of reconciling mechanism in natural phenomena with the indications of purpose. “The teleological appearance of the world” ‘is “something that is real”; the solar system, the meteorological cycle and the organic cycle give an “impression of harmony which corresponds to an order in nature.” Here is a challenge to scientific research—”What is the mechanistic origin of the present order of nature?” The answer to that question, Henderson declared, “maybe approximately solved by discovering, step by step, how the general laws of physical science work together upon the properties of matter and energy so as to produce that order.” At this point the contributions of Willard Gibbs, rigorously defined and mathematically analysed, are invoked. The world Is a world of systems, each system with its phases—solid, liquid or gaseous—and with its stable chemical components.
More recently Michael Denton a British-Australian biochemist updated Henderson’s research, see:
The Fitness of Nature for Mankind featuring Biologist Michael Denton
Michael Denton Remarkable Coincidences in Photosynthesis
Michael Denton: The Miracle of the Cell
Privileged Species featuring Dr. Michael Denton
Water, Ultimate Giver of Life, Points to Intelligent Design
Fire-Maker: How Humans Were Designed to Harness Fire & Transform Our Planet
Michael Denton: The Biology of the Baroque
Alfred Russel Wallace, (8 January 1823 – 7 November 1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection. His formulation of the theory of evolution by natural selection, predated Charles Darwin’s published contributions.
In: Alfred Russel Wallace and Intelligent Evolution, Michael A. Flannery: gives a enumeration of Wallace views regarding intelligent design:
….Wallace had always formulated his theory of natural selection differently from Darwin. Most importantly, Wallace came to see Darwin’s own principle of utility (i.e., that no morphological [structural] feature of a natural species can exist or come into being unless it is useful to that species’ survival) as a significant limiting factor to natural selection. Moving beyond those limits Wallace developed a teleological theory of descent best called intelligent evolution. Yes, he suggested, common decent happens but not in a wholly random way; it is directed and guided.
Signs indicate that this idea had been brewing for some time. Although Wallace’s early years were largely agnostic, he had not been imbued with Darwin’s radical materialism. As early as 1856, while still exploring the Malay Archipelago, he noted that certain plant and animal features appear to offer little or no survival advantage and can exist quite apart from any immediate utilitarian function. “Naturalists are too apt to imagine,” he chided his colleagues, “when they cannot discover, a use for everything in nature: they are not even content to let ‘beauty’ be a sufficient use, but hunt after some purpose to which even that can be applied by the animal itself, as if one of the noblest and most refining parts of man’s nature, the love of beauty for its own sake, would not be perceptible also in the works of a Supreme Creator.”
Finally, in an 1869 issue of the Quarterly Review of a work on geology by Charles Lyell, Wallace announced that the special attributes of humans simply couldn’t be explained through wholly naturalistic means. Yes, certain laws both known and unknown to man were at play, but those laws were guided and designed to bring about a higher purpose. Wallace concluded
…that in the development of the human race, a Higher Intelligence has guided the same laws for nobler ends… . Let us fearlessly admit that the mind of man (itself the living proof of a supreme mind) is able to trace, and to a considerable extent has traced, the laws by means of which the organic no less than the inorganic world has been developed. But let us not shut our eyes to the evidence that an Overruling Intelligence has watched over the action of those laws, so directing variations and so determining their accumulation, as finally to produce an organization sufficiently perfect to admit of, and even to aid in, the indefinite advancement of our mental and moral nature.
By whatever label, Wallace continued to elaborate and expand upon his theory of evolution. He disagreed with Darwin’s suggestion in The Descent of Man (1871) that human moral, spiritual, and intellectual characteristics were derived from the lower animals, a conclusion he felt wholly unwarranted by “many well-ascertained facts.” Wallace countered that the origin of life, sentience in animals, and humanity’s special intellectual, moral, and spiritual attributes could not be explained by natural selection; this could only come from “the unseen universe of Spirit.”
Wallace was a prescient figure in this regard. Readers of this site will be familiar with the fine-tuning of the universe so thoroughly set out by Hugh Ross in The Creator and the Cosmos (1993). Wallace anticipated Ross by ninety years. Writing in 1903, Wallace noted that the exacting tolerances of light, gravity, temperature, chemical composition, and many other factors were all organized and concatenated precisely for life on earth.
Wallace further suggested that Homo sapiens is indeed alone in the universe and dismissed the notion that this was merely a “fortunate coincidence,” insisting instead that “the universe was actually brought into existence for this very purpose.”
But this was just a long preface for his grand synthesis, The World of Life, written three years before his death on November 7, 1913. Here Wallace argued for intelligent design in particular features of nature.
Deriding atheistic German philosopher Ernst Haeckel’s notion of a vague, mechanistic “cell-soul” as ridiculous, he anticipated Fazale Rana’s The Cell’s Design (2008) by explaining that the intricacies of the cell could only have come about through an intelligently designed—engineered—process. He applied similar arguments to insect metamorphosis and the bird’s wing.
Of course writing nearly a century ago, Wallace could not possibly apply the sophisticated analyses of Ross’s astrophysics or Rana’s cytochemistry, but he remains an important historical figure who in many ways served as intelligent design’s prophet.
For Wallace, life in all its varied abundance could only be explained by the actions of higher beings—”Call them spirits, angels, gods, or what you will; the name is of no importance,” he once said—who used laws known and yet unknown to man for humanity’s ultimate betterment. Vastly expanding his original limited theistic evolution, Wallace concluded, I now uphold the doctrine that not man alone, but the whole World of Life, in almost all its varied manifestations, leads us to the same conclusion—that to afford any rational explanation of its phenomena, we require to postulate the continuous action and guidance of higher intelligences; and further, that these have probably been working towards a single end, the development of intellectual, moral, and spiritual beings…
Alfred Russel Wallace was clearly a bold and uncompromising thinker working within the highest of Victorian science circles. Though no creationist and with more than twice the field experience of his more famous colleague, he came to profoundly disagree over the extent and power of natural selection to explain the most important features of biological phenomena.
Wallace came to his metaphysic by his science. Today critics ask, is intelligent design science? Wallace proves it always was. (Michael A. Flannery)
Defence of The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life
May 2, 2012 by Luke Barnes:
I recently posted on Arxiv a paper titled “The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life”. A slightly shortened version has been accepted for publication in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. The paper is primarily a review of the scientific literature, but uses as a foil Victor Stenger’s recent book “The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us” (FoFT). Stenger has since replied to my criticisms. The following is my reply to his reply to my article criticising his book which criticises fine-tuning. Everybody got that?
…….Our respective philosophies of science are irrelevant. I argue in Section 4.9 that fine-tuning claims can be understood and affirmed by realist, instrumentalist and every philosophy in between. Fine-tuning starts by asking: “what if the universe were different?” If the universe were different, we would (ex hypothesi) make different observations and propose different laws to account for them. Changing the laws and constants of nature on paper can be thought of as a convenient way of specifying which other universe (or set of observations) we are talking about. No commitment on the ontological status of the mathematical form of the laws of nature is required. I don’t have firm views on the philosophy of science. There is nothing in my article that defends Platonic realism.
In any case, if you’d rather decide this issue by a show of hands rather than good arguments, then let’s play pick the odd one out of these non-theist scientists.
Wilczek: life appears to depend upon delicate coincidences that we have not been able to explain. The broad outlines of that situation have been apparent for many decades. When less was known, it seemed reasonable to hope that better understanding of symmetry and dynamics would clear things up. Now that hope seems much less reasonable. The happy coincidences between life’s requirements and nature’s choices of parameter values might be just a series of flukes, but one could be forgiven for beginning to suspect that something deeper is at work.
Hawking: “Most of the fundamental constants in our theories appear fine-tuned in the sense that if they were altered by only modest amounts, the universe would be qualitatively different, and in many cases unsuitable for the development of life. … The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned, and very little in physical law can be altered without destroying the possibility of the development of life as we know it.”
Rees: Any universe hospitable to life – what we might call a biophilic universe – has to be ‘adjusted’ in a particular way. The prerequisites for any life of the kind we know about — long-lived stable stars, stable atoms such as carbon, oxygen and silicon, able to combine into complex molecules, etc — are sensitive to the physical laws and to the size, expansion rate and contents of the universe. Indeed, even for the most open-minded science ﬁction writer, ‘life’ or ‘intelligence’ requires the emergence of some generic complex structures: it can’t exist in a homogeneous universe, not in a universe containing only a few dozen particles. Many recipes would lead to stillborn universes with no atoms, no chemistry, and no planets; or to universes too short-lived or too empty to allow anything to evolve beyond sterile uniformity.
Linde: the existence of an amazingly strong correlation between our own properties and the values of many parameters of our world, such as the masses and charges of electron and proton, the value of the gravitational constant, the amplitude of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the electroweak theory, the value of the vacuum energy, and the dimensionality of our world, is an experimental fact requiring an explanation.
Susskind: The Laws of Physics … are almost always deadly. In a sense the laws of nature are like East Coast weather: tremendously variable, almost always awful, but on rare occasions, perfectly lovely. … [O]ur own universe is an extraordinary place that appears to be fantastically well designed for our own existence. This specialness is not something that we can attribute to lucky accidents, which is far too unlikely. The apparent coincidences cry out for an explanation.
Guth: in the multiverse, life will evolve only in very rare regions where the local laws of physics just happen to have the properties needed for life, giving a simple explanation for why the observed universe appears to have just the right properties for the evolution of life. The incredibly small value of the cosmological constant is a telling example of a feature that seems to be needed for life, but for which an explanation from fundamental physics is painfully lacking.
A bacterium is far more complex than any inanimate system known to man. There is not a laboratory in the world which can compete with the biochemical activity of the smallest living organism.—Sir James Gray, chapter in Science Today (1961), p. 21 [professor of Zoology, Cambridge University].
Now we know that the cell itself is far more complex than we had imagined. It includes thousands of functioning enzymes, each one of them a complex machine itself. Furthermore, each enzyme comes into being in response to a gene, a strand of DNA. The information content of the gene—its complexity—must be as great as that of the enzyme it controls.—*Frank B. Salisbury, “Doubts about the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution,” in American Biology Teacher, September 1971, pp. 336-338.
A living cell is a marvel of detailed and complex architecture. Seen through a microscope there is an appearance of almost frantic activity. On a deeper level it is known that molecules are being synthesized at an enormous rate. Almost any enzyme catalyses the synthesis of more than 100 other molecules per second. In ten minutes, a sizeable fraction of total mass of a metabolizing bacterial cell has been synthesized. The information content of a simple cell had been estimated as around 1012 bits, comparable to about a hundred million pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica.—*Carl Sagan, “Life” in Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropaedia (1974 ed.), pp. 893-894.
Each of those 100 trillion cells functions like a walled city. Power plants generate the cell’s energy. Factories produce proteins, vital units of chemical commerce. Complex transportation systems guide specific chemicals from point to point within the cell and beyond. Sentries at the barricades control the export and import markets, and monitor the outside world for signs of danger. Disciplined biological armies stand ready to grapple with invaders. A centralized genetic government maintains order.—Peter Gwynne, *Sharon Begley, and *Mary Hager, “The Secrets of the Human Cell,” in Newsweek, August 20, 1979, p. 48.
The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.—*Fred Hoyle, “The Big Bang in Astronomy,” in New Scientist (1981) Vol. 9, pp. 521, 527.
I think it is fair to say that all the facile speculations and discussions published during the last 10-15 years explaining the mode of origin of life have been shown to be far too simple-minded and to bear very little weight. The problem in fact seems as far from solution as it ever was. he origin of even the simplest cell poses a problem hardly less difficult. The most elementary type of cell constitutes a `mechanism’ unimaginably more complex than any machine yet thought up, let alone constructed, by man. There is no real clue as to the way in which any of these riddles were solved, so it is open to anyone to espouse any theory which he finds helpful.—*W. Thorpe, “Reductionism in Biology,” in Studies in the Philosophy of Biology (1974), pp. 116-117.
To grasp in detail the physio-chemical organization of the simplest cell is far beyond our capacity.—*Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey (1957), p. 206 [Quoting German biologist *Von Bertalanffy].
Evolution: Rationality vs. Randomness, an article by physicist Gerald Schroeder
At the basis of the theory of neo-Darwinian evolution we find the following two basic assumptions: that changes in morphologies are induced by random mutations on the genome; and, that these changes in the morphology of plant or animal make the life form either more or less successful in the competition to survive. It is by the aspect of nature’s selection that evolutionists claim to remove the theory of evolution from that of a random process. The selection is in no way random. It is a function of the environment. That is true. The randomness however remains as the basic driving force that produces the varied morphologies behind the selection.
Can random mutations produce the evolution of life? That is the question addressed herein.
Because evolution is primarily a study of the history of life, statistical analyses of evolution are plagued by having to assume the many conditions that were extant during those long gone eras. Rates of mutations, the contents of the “original DNA, ” the environmental conditions, all effect the rate and direction of the changes in morphology and are all unknowns. One must never ask what the likelihood is that a specific set of mutations will occur to produce a specific animal. This would imply a direction to evolution and basic to all Darwinian theories of evolution is the assumption that evolution has no direction. The induced changes, and hence the new morphologies, are totally random, regardless of the challenges presented by the environment. With this background, let’s look at the process of evolution. Life is in essence a symbiotic combination of proteins (and other structures, but here I’ll discuss only the proteins). The history of life teaches us that not all combinations of proteins are viable. At the Cambrian explosion of animal life, 530 million years ago, some 50 phyla (basic body plans) appeared suddenly in the fossil record. Only 30 to 34 survived. The rest perished. Since then no new phyla have evolved. It is no wonder that Scientific American asked whether the mechanism of evolution has changed in a way that prohibits all other body phyla. It is not that the mechanism of evolution has changed. It is our understanding of how evolution functions that must change, change to fit the data presented by the fossil record. To use the word of Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould, of blessed memory, it appears that the flow of life is “channeled” along these 34 basic directions.
Let’s look at this channeling and decide whether or not it can be the result of random processes. Humans and all mammals have some 50,000 genes. (Some say 30,000 genes.) That implies we have, as an order of magnitude estimate, some 50,000 proteins. It is estimated that there are some 30 million species of animal life on Earth. If the genomes of all animals produced 50,000 proteins, and no proteins were common among any of the species (a fact we know to be false, but an assumption that makes our calculations favor the random evolutionary assumption), there would be (30 million x 50,000) 1.5 trillion (1.5 x10 to power of 12) proteins in all life. (The actual number is vastly lower). Now let’s consider the likelihood of these viable combinations of proteins forming by chance, recalling that, as the events following the Cambrian explosion taught us, not all combinations of proteins are viable.
Proteins are coils of several hundred amino acids. Take a typical protein to be a chain of 300 amino acids. There are 20 commonly occurring amino acids in life. This means that the number of possible combinations of the amino acids in our model protein is 20 to the power of 300 (that is 20 multiplied by itself 300 times) or in the more usual ten-based system of numbers, 10 to the power of 390 ( Ten multiplied by itself 390 times or more simply said a one with 390 zeroes after it!!!!!) . Nature has the option of choosing among the possible 10 to the power of 390 proteins, the 1.5 x (10 to power of 12) proteins of which all viable life is composed. Can this have happened by random mutations of the genome? Not if our understanding of statistics is correct. It would be as if nature reached into a grab bag containing a billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion proteins and pulled out the one that worked and then repeated this trick a million million times. But this impossibility of randomness producing order is not different from the attempt to produce Shakespeare or any meaningful string of letters more than a few words in length by a random letter generator. Gibberish is always the result. This is simply because the number of meaningless letter combinations vastly exceeds the number of meaningful combinations. With life it was and is lethal gibberish.
Nature, molecular biology and the Cambrian explosion of animal life have given us the opportunity to study rigorously the potential for randomness as a source of development in evolution. If the fossil record is an accurate description of the flow of life, then the 34 basic body plans that burst into being at the Cambrian, 530 million years ago, comprise all of animal life till today. The tree of life which envisioned a gradual progression of phyla from simple forms such as sponges, on to more complex life such as worms and then on to shelled creatures such as mollusks has been replaced by the bush of life in which sponges and worms and mollusks and all the other of the 34 phyla appeared simultaneously. Each of these bush lines then developed (evolved) a myriad of variations, but the variations always remained within the basic body plan.
Among the structures that appeared in the Cambrian were limbs, claws, eyes with optically perfect lenses, intestines. These exploded into being with no underlying hint in the fossil record that they were coming. Below them in the rock strata (i.e., older than them) are fossils of one-celled bacteria, algae, protozoans, and clumps known as the essentially structureless Ediacaran fossils of uncertain identity. How such complexities could form suddenly by random processes is an unanswered question. It is no wonder that Darwin himself, at seven locations in The Origin of Species, urged the reader to ignore the fossil record if he or she wanted to believe his theory. Abrupt morphological changes are contrary to Darwin’s oft repeated statement that nature does not make jumps. Darwin based his theory on animal husbandry rather than fossils. If in a few generations of selective breeding a farmer could produce a robust sheep from a skinny one, then, Darwin reasoned, in a few million or billion generations a sponge might evolve into an ape. The fossil record did not then nor does it now support this theory. That life developed from the simple to the complex is, in my opinion true. What drove that development is the debate: random mutations or teleology?
The abrupt appearance in the fossil record of new species is so common that the journal Science, the bastion of pure scientific thinking, featured the title, “Did Darwin get it all right?” And answered the question: no. The appearance of wings is a classic example. There is no hint in the fossil record that wings are about to come into existence. And they do, fully formed. We may have to change our concept of evolution to accommodate a reality that the development of life has within it something exotic at work, some process totally unexpected that produces these sudden developments. The change in paradigm would be similar to the era in physics when classical logical Newtonian physics was modified by the totally illogical (illogical by human standards of logic) phenomena observed in quantum physics, including the quantized, stepwise changes in the emission of radiation by a body even as the temperature of the body increases smoothly. With the advent of molecular biology’s ability to discern the structure of proteins and genes, statistical comparison of the similarity of these structures among animals has become possible. The gene that controls the development of the eye is the same in all mammals. That is not surprising. The fossil record implies a common branch for all mammals. But what is surprising, even astounding, is the similarity of the mammal gene the gene that controls the development of eyes in mollusks and in insects. The same can be said for the gene that controls the expression of limbs in insects and in humans. In fact so similar is this gene, that pieces of the mammalian gene, when spliced into a fruit fly cell, will cause a fruit fly eye to appear at the site of the ‘splice’ . This would make sense if life’s development were described as a tree. But the bush of life means that just above the level of one-celled life, insects and mammals and worms and mollusks separated.
The eye gene has 130 sites. That means there are 20 to the power of 130 possible combinations of amino acids along those 130 sites. Somehow nature has selected the same combination of amino acids for all visual systems in all animals. That fidelity could not have happened by chance. It must have been pre-programmed in lower forms of life. But those lower forms of life, one-celled, did not have eyes. These data have confounded the classic theory of random, independent evolution producing these convergent structures. So totally unsuspected by classical theories of evolution is this similarity that the most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal in the United States, Science, reported:
The hypothesis that the eye of the cephalopod [mollusk] has evolved by convergence with vertebrate [human] eye is challenged by our recent findings of the Pax-6 [gene] … The concept that the eyes of invertebrates have evolved completely independently from the vertebrate eye has to be re-examined
The significance of this statement must not be lost. We are being asked to re-examine the idea that evolution is a free agent. The convergence, the similarity of these genes, is so great that it could not, it did not, happen by chance random reactions.
The British Natural History Museum in London had an entire wing devoted to the evolution of species. And what evolution do they demonstrate? Pink daisies evolving into blue daisies; small dogs evolving into big dogs; a few species of cichlid fish evolving in a mere few thousand years into a dozen species of cichlid fish. Very impressive. Until you realize that the daisies remained daisies, the dogs remained dogs and the cichlid fish remained cichlid. It is called micro-evolution. This magnificent museum, with all its resources, could not produce a single example of one phylum evolving into another. It is the mechanisms of macro-evolution, the change of one phylum or class of animal into another that has been called into question by these data.
The reality of this explosion of life was discovered long before it was revealed. In 1909, Charles D. Walcott, while searching for fossils in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, came upon a strata of shale near the Burgess Pass, rich in that for which he had been seeking, fossils from the era known as the Cambrian. Over the following four years Walcott collected between 60,000 and 80,000 fossils from the Burgess Shale. These fossils contained representatives from every phylum except one of the phyla that exist today. Walcott recorded his findings meticulously in his notebooks. No new phyla ever evolved after the Cambrian explosion. These fossils could have changed the entire concept of evolution from a tree of life to a bush of life. And they did, but not in 1909.
Walcott knew he had discovered something very important. That is why he collected the vast number of samples. But he could not believe that evolution could have occurred in such a burst of life forms, “simultaneously” to use the words of Scientific American. This was totally against the theory of Darwin in which he and his colleagues were steeped. And so Walcott reburied the fossils, all 60,000 of them, this time in the drawers of his laboratory. Walcott was the director of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., the largest array of museums in the world. It was not until 1985 that they were rediscovered (in the draws of the Smithsonian).
Had Walcott wanted, he could have hired a phalanx of graduate students to work on the fossils. But he chose not to rock the boat of evolution. Today fossil representatives of the Cambrian era have been found in China, Africa, the British Isles, Sweden, Greenland. The explosion was worldwide. But before it became proper to discuss the extraordinary nature of the explosion, the data were simply not reported. It is a classic example of cognitive dissonance, but an example for which we have all paid a severe price.
At this point we must ask the question, what has produced the wonders of life that surround us? The answer may be implied by those very surroundings. In that case the medium would be the message! http://www.geraldschroeder.com/Evolution.aspx
Gerald Schroeder received his BSc in 1959, his MSc in 1961, and his PhD in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences in 1965, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He worked five years on the staff of the MIT physics department.He also was a member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission.
The fine-tuning on a sociological level is an ontological fine-tuning in which different sequential developmental phases are activated. This involves a development in several distinct groups of development each with a number of developmental lines. These are represented in more than a hundred individual developmental lines and more than a hundred collective developmental lines, both are depicted, represented graphically on this website. Each of these developmental lines have a number of very distinct developmental levels which are activated one by one in a sequential manner. These are psychological, sociological, cultural, economic, technological etc. developmental sequences.
Within theoretical physics one finds a description of the different levels of existence from theoretical physicist David Bohm who developed an ontological interpretation of quantum mechanics. Bohm put forward a theory of an explicate order (the physical mater) and a series of implicate orders (each consisting of a different subtle non-physical matter). The sociological fine-tuning is a participatory fine-tuning which develops in time through several distinct stages. Many aspects such as serendipity, intuitive insights, inspiration, revelation, teleological forces, retro causal working attractors, archetypical influences, morphogenetic fields and Bohm’s holomovement could be a part of this fine-tuning.
Explanations for fine tuning:
- There is no fine tuning: Supported by Victor Stenger, it is a position which is difficult to defend if one takes into consideration: “That fine-tuning claims can be understood and affirmed by realist, instrumentalist and every philosophy in between”.(Luke Barnes), and furthermore the concept of fine-tuning is supported by theists, deists, agnostics, atheists and anti-theists.
- Multiverse: Supported by Stephen Hawking, and 20th century Atheist scientists. This theory was mainly developed to exclude transcendent principles. This is not a scientific theory because it is not testable or falsifiable. It is not a philosophical sound theory because it is in conflict with the parsimony principle.
However, a problem with use of the multiverse explanation to avoid the fine-tuning, is that the new mechanisms that have been proposed as possible ways of generating new universes themselves require fine-tuning.
So in order to explain the fine-tuning you have to posit prior universe generating mechanisms that themselves require fine-tuning. So in the end you’re left right there where you started.
- Young earth creationism: Supported by Isaac Newton, 17th century scientists, fundamentalists believers. The idea that the earth is less than 10.000 years old (or 6000 Years) is in conflict with the modern data of cosmology, astronomy, geology, palaeontology, archaeology and so on. Basically young earth creationism rejects the scientific method. This interpretation is mostly connected with an anthropomorphic image of God, and much primitive magical thinking (the 6000 Years is the historical period).
- Old earth creationism, Theism, a personal God, supported by Hugh Ross and religious people. The concept of a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind was on logical and ethical grounds difficult to defend because of the theodicy problem. The theodicy, which basically asks the question why God doesn’t interfere, was extremely difficult to answer. In the second half of the twentieth century the data relating to fine tuning became available, and can be used to solve the theodicy.
- Intelligent design by a prime mover, deism, a non-personal God: Supported by Albert Einstein, Paul Davies, pantheists.
Einstein: “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists” and “This firm belief, a belief bound up with a deep feeling, in a superior mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God”. Einstein said: “ In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views. (Wikipedia)
(A survey of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in May and June 2009, finds that members of this group according to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power).
- Intelligent design by secondary movers: Supported by Leibniz, Alfred Russel Wallace, Kurt Gödel, Brian Josephson. This would imply the existence of higher ontological levels of existence and “rational beings of a different and higher kind”( Kurt Gödel) who interact with the physical world.
- Darwinist evolution/ Natural selection: Supported by the great majority of the scientific community. While there are many gaps in the overall structure (the biology of the gaps), the support of modern data for Darwinian principles is very strong. But there are several areas that are difficult to explain by Darwinism alone: one is the cosmological fine tuning which cannot be there by a biological mechanism simply because it started 13,79 billion years ago, and biological evolution about 3,8 billion years ago. Another is the complexity of D.N.A. which so astonishing, that from a mathematical point of view Darwinism needs to be supplemented by other principles.
- Retro causal working attractors: Supported by John Archibald Wheeler, can be placed in an atheistic world view, or relating to an developing, evolving God. Retro causal working attractors could form a teleological force. (Wheeler wasn’t an atheist, he was a founding member of the Unitarian Church of Princeton).