I remember seeing this video, Powers of Ten (see below), when I was a kid in high school. The music could use some updating, but man — this puts the size and scope of the universe into perspective.
The video shows a couple having a picnic. It starts by zooming out from the couple to show you what things look like from farther and farther away — finally, you’re looking at the Earth from 100,000,000 light-years away. Then it zooms back in on the couple and gets closer and closer so all you can see is what’s inside a single proton in the nucleus of an atom.
Now consider a quote from The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God by Lee Strobel. Strobel interviewed Robin Collins on something called the “cosmological constant.” This constant governs whether matter tends to attract or repel other matter. It’s very important to get this number right…
- If this constant were just a little bit larger, everything in the universe would spread out and push all other matter away — so you would never see anything like galaxies or stars or planets or people.
- If this constant were just a little bit smaller, everything in the universe would get sucked in — kind of like a black hole from which nothing could ever escape.
The big question is: how precise do you have to be with this number? What does “a little bit larger” or “a little bit smaller” mean? This is the question Strobel asked Collins:
Collins rolled his eyes. “Well, there’s no way we can really comprehend it,” he said. “The fine-tuning has conservatively been estimated to be at least one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion. That would be a ten followed by fifty-three zeroes. That’s inconceivably precise.”
He was right—I couldn’t imagine a figure like that. “Can you give me an illustration?” I asked.
“Put it this way,” he said. “Let’s say you were way out in space and were going to throw a dart at random toward the Earth. It would be like successfully hitting a bull’s eye that’s one trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter. That’s less than the size of one solitary atom.” (pp. 133-134)
Let’s use the video to illustrate this in even more graphic detail. When it zooms all the way out, imagine throwing a dart at the center. When it zooms all the way in, you’re looking at the interior of an atom. Your dart has to hit that atom. If it hits an atom to the left, everything in the universe will explode; if it hits an atom to the right, everything in the universe will implode.
I like Strobel’s conclusion: “If the universe were put on trial for a charge of having been designed, and the fine-tuning of the cosmological constant were the only evidence introduced by the prosecution, I would have to vote ‘guilty.'”