About the Universe

If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, it would have re-collapsed before it reached its present size. On the other hand, if it had been greater by a part in a million, the universe would have expanded too rapidly for stars and planets to form —Stephen Hawking

Preamble The shape of the universe is consistent, scientifically speaking, with its having been shaped or in some sense designed.

First Approximation


ere I focus on a question of more than passing pertinence to my being able to ask it, namely, Do the physical laws of the universe in any way shed light on the ultimate nature of its origin?

big bang

As I think you’ll agree, the answer seems to be, yes they do; and though I was expecting this, what I really wasn’t expecting was that the answer to my inquiry would effectively constitute a science-based argument for the existence of god; but more about that in the next essay.

For now, however, let’s review the facts of the case as they relate to the universe.

  • Neither science nor reasoning offers a convincing explanation of the origin of the universe, and hence the origin of the matter and energy of which we consist.
  • Nonetheless, science continues to supply a wealth of provisional explanations – to be changed by future discoveries and thinking – of how the universe functions at both large and small scales.
  • Science has deduced certain physical and chemical laws that either describe or else determine how matter interacts in invariable ways throughout the observable universe. Without conforming to such laws matter could not have given rise to life.
  • No theory explains how these laws of physics and chemistry arose.
  • In addition to these physical and chemical laws, the values of six cosmological parameters need to be fine-tuned to produce atoms.
  • Moreover, the values of two dimensionless constants – the fine-structure constant and the proton to electron mass ratio – also needed fine-tuning in order for atoms to exist. If the values of two constants were even slightly different, the universe would presumably be empty.
  • Fine-tuning of the values of three stellar nucleosynthesis parameters also needed to be fine-tuned to permit the evolution of organic molecules. Had the values of any one of these been slightly different, life could not exist.
  • No theory currently exists to explain how the critical values of any of the above 11 parameters came to be what they are.
  • The closest thing to an explanation so far educed is the “anthropic principle”: the idea that the cosmos contains an unimaginably large, perhaps infinite number of universes, and that this makes it overwhelmingly probable that at least one of them has the critical values measured in our own.
  • Though logically possible, it must be said that this multiverse conjecture is about as far from Occam’s razor – a cornerstone of scientific interpretation – as it’s possible to be. It seems fair to ask what kind of reception would such speculation would meet in any scientific discipline outside of cosmology.
  • Surely most members of any other human culture but our own would spot a more plausible solution: that those 11 critical values without which there could be no life and/or universe are set the way they are by design.
  • I’ll leave it at that.

Next up: About God