September 9, 2016 at 3:43 PM #4664
William Lane Craig does a great job explaining the Teleological argument, including counterpoints that an atheist might bring up. Given that this might be one of the harder aspects of Apologetics to understand, wanted to try to explain part 1 of the argument a little more simply.
I don’t want anyone to feel like this is more than they can handle. One of the reasons I might grasp this a little more quickly is that I have a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology, and have worked in the government and commercial satellite industry since 1995 which provided exposure to orbital mechanics. Don’t get discouraged if you are having trouble with it, we all have different gifts – there are many areas that I’m not as strong and feel that I have a long way to go.
The Teleological Argument is only one of many others. Some of the other arguments include the Argument from Contingency, Cosmological, Moral, Ontological, and Christian Evidences such as the resurrection, miracles, radical claims, and fulfilled prophecy. Each argument is meant to stand alone without relying on the other arguments. When combined together, it’s a powerful statement that the only rational explanation for the universe and life is that we were created by God through His son Jesus.
Colossians 1:16-17 NKJV
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
The Teleological argument states that because of the level of fine-tuning required for life to exist, there must be an Intelligent Designer (God).
The audio file for the Teleological argument part 1 only deals with what is needed for the universe to exist (cosmological fine-tuning), and doesn’t really get into the fine tuning that is required for life to exist on Earth (terrestrial fine-tuning). I imagine that part will be coming later.
Cosmological fine-tuning looks into what is needed for the universe as a whole to exist. William Lane Craig breaks it down into Constants of Nature, and Arbitrary Quantities as the initial conditions that allowed the universe to form.
I’ll try to explain initial conditions by using the example of baking a cake. You can think of the Initial Conditions as the heat transfer coefficient between the oven and the cake as one of the Constants, with Arbitrary Quantities of 325 degrees F oven temperature, 3 cups of flour, 4 eggs, and 2 cups of sugar, etc. Mix, bake, and you have a cake! If I try to vary the initial conditions…I won’t get a cake that is good to eat. Too much heat, and I have a burnt offering. Cut back on the sugar, and you can guess what that result would be!
So..The Constants of Nature are numbers that we can plug into equations and calculate positions, energy, temperatures, force, and mass of objects in the universe. For example, there are computers on spacecraft that calculate where the sun is expected to be at any given moment so that the solar panels can point directly at the Sun so the satellite can keep the batteries charged. Other calculations figure out exactly how much propellant (force) to release to keep the satellite in the orbit it needs to be in.
Many of those equations are related to each other. If I know the energy, I can calculate temperature https://scied.ucar.edu/planetary-energy-balance-temperature-calculate. Or, if I know the mass and acceleration, I can calculate the force on an object.
We’re probably more familiar with the Acceleration of gravity on Earth (g) from High School Physics. That’s not the same as the Newtonian gravitational constant (G) that William Lane Craig mentions. However, you can calculate what the acceleration of gravity on Earth (g) is from G.
If you’re interested, here’s how to do it (you can skip this paragraph if you want): The first equation is F=G*(m1/m2)/(r*r), Newton’s law of universal gravitation, that we can calculate the attractive force between a man standing at sea level at the equator and the Earth. G is the gravitational constant of 6.6674×10-11 N*(m/kg)squared. m1 is the mass of the Earth, 5.9723×10+24 kg. r is the radius of the Earth at the equator from the center of the Earth to sea level, 6378.137 meters, from http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/earthfact.html. Lastly, m2 is the mass of a human in kilograms, 80 kg or 176 lbs. Don’t worry too much about the mass of the human – it can vary for what we’re doing because the second equation will take it out. Plug those numbers into the equation and you get the attractive force between the Earth and the Human as 7.35×10+8 Newtons. To get the acceleration of gravity on Earth at the equator, we can use Newton’s second law F=ma, where F is the Force in Newtons, m is the mass in kilograms, and a is acceleration in meters per second squared. Using F=7.35×10+8 Newtons and the same human mass m=80 kg, the acceleration (gravity) felt by a man at sea level at the Earth’s equator is 9.8 meters per second squared, same as the number you learned in high school physics.
The point of the previous paragraph is to say that many of the constants we know about boil down to a list of fundamental constants. One of those is the Newtonian Gravitational Constant. One list of fundamental constants can be found at http://www.physics.nist.gov/cuu/Constants/introduction.html.
These fundamental constants are the foundations of physics as we currently know it. What William Lane Craig alludes to in the audio file part 2 is that string theory/M-theory is attempting to dive deeper into explaining the makeup of subatomic particles (smaller than protons, neutrons, and electrons). It may be found that the Newtonian Gravitational Constant can be calculated from new constants in equations that describe how subatomic particles are attracted to each other.
The point is, that even if these new constants are discovered, even they have to be so finely-tuned that it begs for an Intelligent Designer.
Another way to describe it is that if I modify G, because of Newton’s 2nd law and law of universal gravitation that g (acceleration of gravity on Earth) MUST also change because of their relationships in those equations. Likewise, if I change a new constant that G is discovered to be dependent upon, G would also change.
New discoveries don’t discount fine-tuning, they only highlight new fundamental constants that also have to be fine-tuned.
Here’s a practical application of changing G. If I increase the Newtonian Gravitational Constant, there is more force attracting objects to each other. For the Earth to stay in the same orbit around the Sun, it now has to rotate faster around the Sun (less days in a year), or be farther away from the sun to balance the gravitational force of the Sun and the centrifugal force of the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. If we’re farther away, all water on Earth freezes. If we rotate faster, crops don’t have as much time to grow or be harvested before they freeze in winter. However, that’s more of a terrestrial application of a changing G. For the effect on the universe, or cosmological, it means that there would be less galaxies, suns, and planets because of a greater attraction to each other. If G increases enough, the universe would collapse back into the center. If G is decreased enough, there wouldn’t be enough attraction between stars and planets for there to be solar systems.
Next, there’s the Arbitrary Quantities. For the universe, those might be the total quantity of subatomic particles and the amount of energy added to initiate the Big Bang. There needed to be enough stuff at the Big Bang to form all the stars and planets, and there needed to be enough energy to catapult that stuff out from the center fast enough that they could form the stars and planets without gravity causing them to smash into each other.
The Teleological Argument deals with fine-tuning – constants and quantities that must have been set precisely for the universe to be what it is today and support life on Earth. The Cosmological argument deals with origins – those quantities must have come from somewhere – it couldn’t come from nothing.
Hope this helps!
Colossians 2:6-10 NKJV
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
- This topic was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by Kevin Modglin. Reason: Grammar
September 9, 2016 at 4:18 PM #4666
Slight typo – the Newtonian gravitational constant is 6.674×10-11 N*(m/kg)squared. There was an extra 6.
September 9, 2016 at 4:57 PM #4667
October 27, 2016 at 12:57 PM #5034
Thought this was interesting!
The Higgs boson makes the universe stable – just. Coincidence?
from The New Scientist, October 26 2016
If the mass-giving particle were much lighter, the cosmos would quickly collapse in on itself. It’s hard to explain how we’re all still here
November 3, 2016 at 11:55 AM #5044
Good points Kevin
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