Q&A: Is the Universe a Waste? and The Facts Behind Jonah’s Story

Q&A #1: Can We Remove a Star or Galaxy and Still Have a Fine-Tuned Universe?

From Liam in Bunbury, Western Australia:

Some skeptics say that it is a waste to create such a massive and complex universe only to place in it a little speck called Earth. But as knowledge has increased we’ve learned about fine-tuning and the importance of time and the structure of not only our solar system but also our galaxy and beyond. This huge structure makes our existence possible. So how finely tuned is it? Would removing a galaxy billions of light years away be akin to removing a small and seemingly insignificant gear cog from a watch? How about just one star in that galaxy? Where’s the tipping point? Or is there another consideration, i.e. time. When answering this question must we not only define what we take out of the universe but when?

****

Pebbles-balance-keystoneLiam, you’re correct to conclude that when is an important consideration. Adding or subtracting a star or even a whole galaxy to the universe today––given that the galaxy or star was far enough away––would do nothing to disturb the survivability of life on Earth. However, the mass, or more technically correct, the mass density, of the universe must be exquisitely fine-tuned when the universe is very young for any possibility of life later.

The mass density fine-tuning shows up in two ways. First, between two and four minutes after the cosmic creation event the universe underwent an era of cosmic fusion. If the mass of the universe were even slightly greater than it is, too much helium would have been fused from hydrogen during those early minutes and future stars would fuse all ordinary matter too quickly into elements heavier than iron. If the mass of the universe were slightly less, future stars would never make elements heavier than helium. Either way, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen would be lacking and life would be impossible.

Second, too little mass in the universe would allow the universe to expand so fast that stars would never form. Too much mass would have the universe expand so slowly that only neutron stars and black holes would form. Again, either way life is impossible.

How fine-tuned must the cosmic mass density be? In the absence of dark energy it would need to be fine-tuned to one part in 1060 (that’s sixty zeroes after the one)! With dark energy, the fine-tuning, though still impressive, would be substantially less. However, the dark energy fine-tuning would be one part in 10122! For more on this subject see my book, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, pages 27–41 and 209–11.

****

Q&A #2: Jonah Story Sounds Fishy

From Amanda, PhD candidate, microbiology and immunology:

Maybe you get this question a lot, but the guy I carpool with (an agnostic) wants to know how the story of Jonah in the fish is possible. He views most biblical stories as metaphor, but neither of us can determine where one draws the line between metaphor and fact. 

Thanks for all you do! Your work has broken down my barriers against apologetics.

****

In Matthew 12 and Luke 11 Jesus refers to the story of Jonah and the “huge fish” as a literal event. Therefore, I don’t think the account in Jonah can be treated as just a metaphor or figure of speech. That said, it is not clear from the Old Testament text what kind of animal swallowed Jonah, what happened when Jonah was swallowed, or where in the animal Jonah resided. The animal could have been a large fish, a whale, a dolphin, etc. Jonah could have been held in the animal’s mouth, throat, or stomach.

One interpretation that requires no suspension of the laws of physics or anatomical functionality, for example, would be a very large sea mammal or fish grasping Jonah into its mouth and remaining on the sea surface for three days and three nights, subsequently spitting Jonah out onto the beach. Such a story would be akin to God sending ravens to feed Elijah while he hid in the Kerith Ravine (see 1 Kings 17). The Bible repeatedly declares that animals are subject to God’s control and that God created the “soulish” animals to serve and please humans.

Be wary of stories claiming that modern-day sailors have been swallowed by whales and survived for several days in their stomachs. As Dr. Edward B. Davis has documented in an article on our website, “A Modern Jonah,” such accounts are unsubstantiated rumors. Another resource we make available that addresses the story of Jonah is the DVD, Mysteries Examined.

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job

    Arguably the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job has a surprising amount to say about some of the newest scientific discoveries and controversies. With careful consideration and exegesis, Hugh Ross shows that the Bible is an accurate predictor of scientific discoveries, and that both the book of Scripture and the book of nature are consistent both internally and externally.
  • Creating Life in the Lab

    Representing the best of RTB's efforts to anticipate scientific breakthroughs and explain their contribution to the case for Christian faith, biochemist Fuz Rana shows how recent advances in synthetic biology actually undermine the evolutionary explanation for the origin of life. Creating Life in the Lab addresses the scientific, theological, and philosophical aspects on both the dangers and promises of synthetic biology.
  • If God Made the Universe…Why Is It the Way It Is?

    Drawing from his popular book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, Dr. Hugh Ross shares Scripture, stunning satellite photos, and the most recent scientific findings to explain the great love story that is our universe. This DVD series invites you to be a part of Dr. Ross’ small group. Each session includes a brief presentation (about 20 minutes), followed by Q&A.
  • Impact Events: The Earth

    In this unique student devotional, astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink and seasoned small-group leader Ken Hultgren connect little-known facts about our planet with faith-building insights about the Creator. The booklet includes practical, yet thought-provoking questions to help students apply each lesson’s principles to their lives. This Impact Events series is designed to transform your life and faith with truth from God’s Word and evidence from God’s world. God wants to impact your life. Will you let Him?
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 147 other followers

%d bloggers like this: