Where Science and Faith Converge

Fundamental Forces Show Greater Fine-Tuning

By Hugh Ross - October 1, 2000

A team of Austrian, German, and Hungarian astrophysicists has recently added evidence to the case for divine design, sweeping aside a recent challenge to the design argument I present in The Creator and the Cosmos.1 Their research focused on two of the four fundamental forces of physics: 1) electromagnetism, which governs the degree to which atomic nuclei hold on to their electrons, and 2) the strong nuclear force, which governs the degree to which protons and neutrons stick together in the nuclei of atoms.

The teams strategy was to construct mathematical models of red giant stars, altering (slightly) the values for the strong nuclear force and electromagnetic force constants. They discovered that even tiny increases or decreases cause problems. The adjusted red giants would produce too little carbon, too little oxygen, or too little of both oxygen and carbon for any kind of physical life to be possible anywhere in the universe. Specifically, they determined that if the value of the coupling constant for electromagnetism were four percent smaller or larger than what we observe, life would be impossible. In the case of the coupling constant for the strong nuclear force, if it were 0.5 percent smaller or larger, life would be impossible.

The teams achievement helps relieve a criticism of the design argument set forth in my book2 and used by others. Two years ago, (atheistic) physicist Victor Stenger commented in Skeptic magazine that not much fine-tuning at all was necessary to make long-lived stars.3 He implied that my fine-tuning claims were invalid and, thus, left me with no case for a cosmic Designer.

The new achievement discussed here establishes that rather than my design conclusion being too optimistic, it is too conservative. I might add, too, that the case for divine design never rested on just one or two features of the cosmos.

This research demonstrates how cosmic creation can be subjected to ongoing testing. If the atheists are right and Christians are wrong, the more we learn about the universe, the weaker the cosmic design evidence should become. However, if we are right and the atheists are wrong, learning about the universe should reveal more and stronger cosmic design evidence. The latter describes the trend we observe and document.4, 5.

  1. H. Oberhummer, A. Cst, and H. Schlattl, Stellar Production Rates of Carbon and Its Abundance in the Universe, Science 289 (2000): 88-90.
  2. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 2d ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1995), 111-30.
  3. Victor J. Stenger, The Functional Equivalent of God: Looking at the Cosmos and Seeing God, Skeptic 6, no. 3 (1998): 91.
  4. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, 1st ed. (Orange, CA: Promise Publishing, 1989), 119-38. 5. Hugh Ross, Big Bang Refined By Fire (Pasadena, CA: Reasons To Believe, 1999), 11-30.

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