Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

This Might Make You Feel Rather Small


Isn’t it utterly awe-inspiring to look at the sheer vastness of the Universe we inhabit? Atheists have often argued that the immense grandeur of the cosmic arena renders mankind unlikely to have a significant role in the grand scheme of things.

But what if the preponderance of evidence told quite a different story?

Astronomer Hugh Ross makes the following interesting observation:

The universe is incredibly massive. Nevertheless, its mass must be spectacularly fine-tuned for life to be possible. Exactly how massive the universe is remained unknown until astronomers focused the Hubble Space Telescope on a patch of sky no bigger than a tenth the Moon’s (angular) diameter, and held it there for some 278 hours. This Ultra Deep Field (see figure) successfully imaged all the galaxies (at least those bigger than dwarfs) that exist in that region.

The field contains roughly 10,000 galaxies. By extrapolation, then, astronomers determine that the entire observable universe contains at least 200 billion galaxies. These galaxies contain an estimated average of 200 billion stars each. The total number of stars in these galaxies, then, is 40 billion trillion. The unobserved dwarf galaxies would contribute an estimated additional 10 billion trillion. Thus, the total number of stars in the observable universe adds up to about 50 billion trillion.

Fifty billion trillion stars-that’s an unimaginably enormous universe. And yet the universe is more massive by far. The stars, both those that are still shining and those that have burned out, account for just one percent of the universe’s total mass!

One reason the universe must be so massive is that life requires it. The density of protons and neutrons determines how much of the universe’s hydrogen fuses into heavier elements. With a slightly lower density (producing fewer than about 50 billion trillion observable stars), nuclear fusion would be less productive and at no time in cosmic history (either in the big bang or in stars) would elements heavier than helium be produced. Or, if the density were slightly higher (producing more than about 50 billion trillion observable stars), nuclear fusion would be so productive that only heavier-than-iron elements would exist. Either way, life-essential elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorous would be too scarce or nonexistent.

Another life-related reason the universe must be so massive is that the cosmic mass critically influences the universe’s expansion rate. If the mass density were smaller, the influence of gravity would be too weak for stars like the Sun and planets like Earth to form. On the other hand, if the mass density were greater, only stars much larger than the Sun would form. Either way, the universe would contain no stars like the Sun or planets like Earth, and life would have no possible home. The required fine-tuning is so extreme (one part in a quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion) that if one were to remove or add a single dime’s worth of mass to this vast cosmos, the balance of the observable universe would be thrown off and physical life would not be possible. Such amazing fine-tuning suggests the involvement of a supernatural, superintelligent Creator.

A thought or two to chew on!

mike1962 The earth is gods too. Saying the heavens are God's is not saying its not like i said. it seems only the answer and makes sense upon reflection. God would not stop us but rather expect colinization surely. Robert Byers
Robert Byers: We are way behind in the plan to colonize space.
Who says humans are responsible for colonizing space? Who says space isn't full of life? If you take the Bible as your cue: Psalm 115: The heavens -- the heavens are Yahweh's, and the earth He has given to sons of men mike1962
The bible says man was meant to live forever.
really? Mung
The bible says man was meant to live forever. Therefore if death never came by this ime the pop of earth would be say 35 billion. what would it be in 1 million years. It seems likely the universe is simply big to simply allow man to fill it with half a trillion people or so. We would have the ability to make planets or shape to our use and we could bring life in a jar with us. Why not? The universe should not be telling us we are small but what the original plan was. Surely we were not meant to live eternity on this little pebble in space. We are way behind in the plan to colonize space. Surely space is meant for man to have lived forever in hugh numbers. Its that big after all for big development. Robert Byers
I didn't like the video at all. It seems like a smug attempt on the creator's part to feel good by denegrating others. Not the center of the universe? Considering that all that hydrogen and empty space isn't observing or contemplating anything you're damn right we are the center of the universe. UrbanMysticDee
Let's Get Small! --Steve Martin mike1962
Grain of sand, dime… tomato, tomahto M. Holcumbrink
Here is the 'grain of sand' calculation: Sand is made up of Silica this has the formula SiO2 silicon weighs 28 atomic units Oxygen weighs 16 atomic units so each SiO2 weighs 60 atomic units there are 6.023 x 10^23 atomic units in a gram. that is 6 with 23 zeros after it. so there would be 6.023 x 10^23 / 60 = 1x 10^22 SiO2s in a gram so 3 x 10^22 atoms in a gram Say a grain of sand is 1mm across it has a volume of 0.001cm3 1cm3 of sand weighs about 2.6g so a grain of sand will weigh 0.0026g so to find the number of atoms in a grain of sand we multiply the number of atoms per gram by the number of grams: 3 x 10^22 x 0.0026g = 7.8 x 10^19 atoms = 1 grain of sand http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=6447 thus 10^79 - atoms in the universe minus 10^60 - fine tuning of mass density equals 10^19 - or one grain of sand Of course Dr. Ross, most likely, was far more rigorous in his calculations, using the most reliable figures available at the time, but then again it would not surprise me in the least that as more accurate figures came in then the fine-tuning for mass density of the universe would be found to be even more extreme than a dime or perhaps even more extreme than a grain of sand! further note; Evidence for Belief in God - Rich Deem Excerpt: Isn't the immense size of the universe evidence that humans are really insignificant, contradicting the idea that a God concerned with humanity created the universe? It turns out that the universe could not have been much smaller than it is in order for nuclear fusion to have occurred during the first 3 minutes after the Big Bang. Without this brief period of nucleosynthesis, the early universe would have consisted entirely of hydrogen. Likewise, the universe could not have been much larger than it is, or life would not have been possible. If the universe were just one part in 10^59 larger, the universe would have collapsed before life was possible. Since there are only 10^80 baryons in the universe, this means that an addition of just 10^21 baryons (about the mass of a grain of sand) would have made life impossible. The universe is exactly the size it must be for life to exist at all. http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/atheismintro2.html Fine Tuning Of Dark Energy and Mass of the Universe - Hugh Ross - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4007682 We Exist At The Right Time In Cosmic History – Hugh Ross – video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5708578/ ============== My Beloved One - Inspirational Christian Song - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200171 Hebrews 11:3 "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." bornagain77
Cool video Jonathan. Reminds me a bit of this video (though not as good as the one you found): Journey Through the Universe - George Smoot- Frank Turek - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3993965/ And a bit of this video: Louie Giglio - How Great Is Our God - Part 2 - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfNiZrt5FjU
'You could fit 262 trillion earths inside (the star of) Betelgeuse. If the Earth were a golfball that would be enough to fill up the Superdome (football stadium) with golfballs,,, 3000 times!!! When I heard that as a teenager that stumped me right there because most of my praying had been advising God, correcting God, suggesting things to God, drawing diagrams for God, reviewing things with God, counseling God.' - Louie Giglio
,,,And as amazing as the fine tuning of the mass density is that you alluded to (1 in 10^60), which is a grain of sand in some other calculations by Rich Deem, there is actually something even more amazing than that. Contrary to what was said in the last part of the video in the OP, 'NO YOU ARE NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE!', there is actually evidence from quantum mechanics that indicates each person is 'center of the universe' from their own unique point of observation! notes: ,,, First I noticed that the earth demonstrates centrality in the universe in this video Dr. Dembski posted a while back; The Known Universe - Dec. 2009 - a very cool video (please note the centrality of the earth in the universe) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U ,,, for a while I tried to see if the 4-D space-time of General Relativity was sufficient to explain centrality we witness for the earth in the universe,,, 4-Dimensional Space-Time Of General Relativity - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3991873/ ,,, yet I kept running into the same problem for establishing the sufficiency of General Relativity to explain our centrality in this universe, in that every time I would perform a 'mental experiment' of trying radically different points of observation in the universe, General Relativity would fail to maintain centrality for the radically different point of observation in the universe. The primary reason for this failure of General Relativity to maintain centrality, for different points of observation in the universe, is due to the fact that there are limited (10^80) material particles to work with. Though this failure of General Relativity was obvious to me, I needed more proof so as to establish it more rigorously, so i dug around a bit and found this; The Cauchy Problem In General Relativity - Igor Rodnianski Excerpt: 2.2 Large Data Problem In General Relativity - While the result of Choquet-Bruhat and its subsequent refinements guarantee the existence and uniqueness of a (maximal) Cauchy development, they provide no information about its geodesic completeness and thus, in the language of partial differential equations, constitutes a local existence. ,,, More generally, there are a number of conditions that will guarantee the space-time will be geodesically incomplete.,,, In the language of partial differential equations this means an impossibility of a large data global existence result for all initial data in General Relativity. http://www.icm2006.org/proceedings/Vol_III/contents/ICM_Vol_3_22.pdf and also 'serendipitously' found this,,, THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS - DAVID P. GOLDMAN - August 2010 Excerpt: Gödel's personal God is under no obligation to behave in a predictable orderly fashion, and Gödel produced what may be the most damaging critique of general relativity. In a Festschrift, (a book honoring Einstein), for Einstein's seventieth birthday in 1949, Gödel demonstrated the possibility of a special case in which, as Palle Yourgrau described the result, "the large-scale geometry of the world is so warped that there exist space-time curves that bend back on themselves so far that they close; that is, they return to their starting point." This means that "a highly accelerated spaceship journey along such a closed path, or world line, could only be described as time travel." In fact, "Gödel worked out the length and time for the journey, as well as the exact speed and fuel requirements." Gödel, of course, did not actually believe in time travel, but he understood his paper to undermine the Einsteinian worldview from within. http://www.faqs.org/periodicals/201008/2080027241.html But if General Relativity is insufficient to explain the centrality we witness for ourselves in the universe, what else is? Universal Quantum wave collapse to each unique point of observation! To prove this point I dug around a bit and found this experiment,,, This following experiment extended the double slit experiment to show that the 'spooky actions', for instantaneous quantum wave collapse, happen regardless of any considerations for time or distance i.e. The following experiment shows that quantum actions are 'universal and instantaneous': Wheeler's Classic Delayed Choice Experiment: Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles "have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy," so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory. http://www.bottomlayer.com/bottom/basic_delayed_choice.htm ,, and to make universal quantum Wave collapse much more 'personal' I found this,,, "It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness." Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays "Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays"; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963. Here is the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries: Eugene Wigner Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another. http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_Course/WignerBio/wb1.htm i.e. In the experiment the 'world' (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a 'privileged center'. This is since the 'matrix', which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is 'observer-centric' in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe: Psalm 33:13-15 The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. bornagain77

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