Last week, in Nice, France, I was privileged to participate, along with 30 scholars, mostly scientists and mathematicians, in a conference on the question of whether the universe was designed, or at least fine-tuned, to make life, especially intelligent life. Participants -- from Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Berkeley and Columbia among other American and European universities -- included believers in God, agonistics and atheists.
But it was clear that the scientific consensus was that, at the very least, the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned to allow for the possibility of life. It appears that we live in a "Goldilocks Universe," in which both the arrangement of matter at the cosmic beginning and the values of various physical parameters -- such as the speed of light, the strength of gravitational attraction and the expansion rate of the universe - are just right. And unless one is frightened of the term, it also appears the universe is designed for biogenesis and human life.
Regarding fine-tuning, one could write a book just citing the arguments for it made by some of the most distinguished scientists in the world. Here is just a tiny sample found on the website of physicist Gerald Schroeder, holder of bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he later taught physics.
Michael Turner, astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and Fermilab: "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."
Paul Davies, 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."
Roger Penrose, the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, writes that the likelihood of the universe having usable energy (low entropy) at its creation is "one part out of ten to the power of ten to the power of 123." That is "a million billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion zeros."
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