Maybe you’ve seen a room like this in the movies: it’s deep inside a building, there are lots of dials and gauges, and engineers sit in the room in silence to monitor the controls and adjust them when necessary.
Then the slow, scary music beings to play. You know what’s going to happen next, right?
Sirens! Flashing lights! Engineers running around like crazy, adjusting dials, frantically trying to solve the problem.
That kind of job is boring 99 percent of the time, but terrifying for the other 1 percent. Especially at a place like a nuclear reactor. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people could die if there is a meltdown.
Now imagine that you are an engineer in a similar room with hundreds of dials and gauges. This time, though, if things go wrong there’s much more at stake than a nuclear meltdown. You’re in charge of making sure the universe continues to exist in such a way that it will support life on earth!
1. Gravity and Glue
In this control room, right in front of you is a dial as big as a steering wheel. It’s one of the sun dials. (Like that pun?) You have to make sure that not even a housefly lands on this dial, because the weight of the fly will move it the tiniest fraction of an inch. If that happens, life in any form on earth disappears.
You see, this dial represents the force of gravity that holds stars like our sun together. Tinker with gravity in the slightest, and stars form differently. They become too big or too small. If that happens, no life.
Stars are among the largest objects in the universe, but you, the engineer, are also responsible for the smallest objects: molecules, atoms, and all the pieces of those atoms.
So among the hundreds of dials on your control panel is one that controls the strength of the “glue” that holds atoms and molecules together.
If you accidentally sneeze on the dial, the force of the air from your lungs will move the dial microscopically. Oops! Should have covered your mouth. Now all life will vanish.
Science tells us that if the force at the center of an atom is the slightest bit weaker or stronger, not only is life gone, but so is nearly every kind of molecule and atom in the universe.
And that’s not even the scariest part of your job as the engineer. You have to make sure that HUNDREDS of dials are each set precisely in one spot and remain there, otherwise we won’t exist.
2. Balancing Act
In taking care of the universe, you have to pay special attention to the dials of our solar system and our planet.
We need our solar system to remain adjusted exactly as it is. The bubble of atmosphere around the earth not only provides us with oxygen, it also protects us from damaging sun rays and coddles us in a narrow temperature range.
Here are some details you’ll need to keep in mind for your imaginary dials:
If the earth rotates slower or faster, no life.
If the earth wasn’t tilted on its axis, no life.
Smaller or larger earth, no life.
Smaller or larger moon, no life.
Closer or farther moon, no life.
Thinner or thicker crust on the earth,
Closer or farther from the sun, no life.
Different type of orbit, no life.
If you spend too much time thinking about how easily life could cease to exist, it can become a little scary.
But you can find a lot of comfort in the complexity of it all too.
Put it this way. For life to exist by accident, the chance that one dial is set perfectly is like winning the lottery. We could accept that as a lucky accident when someone wins it once. Even though it’s a 1 in 10 million chance, it’s possible. After all, someone has to win.
But if you heard of someone winning 200 weeks in a row, would you still call that an accident? Or would you decide that someone in control of the lottery was cheating to make this happen on purpose?
If you think 1 in 10 million is a long shot for just one dial to be set perfectly, then you’ll be amazed to know that a famous mathematician once estimated the chances of all the dials being set in a position to support life to be 1 in 1023, That number is so big, it’s a one followed by 23 zeros! It would take you years to count that high.
It’s like a million blind monkeys each pounding on a computer keyboard, all finishing an entire Shakespeare play at the exact same time—with no words spelled wrong and all the words in perfect order!
In short, it’s mathematically impossible that all these amazing coincidences happened by accident.
4. Who’s in Charge
Many scientists have come to believe in God because of the universe’s many amazing “coincidences.”
They believe the evidence of such a finely-tuned universe suggests it was created to make life possible for humans. They call this the “Anthropic Principle.” They’ve concluded what the beginning of the book of Genesis tells us: This universe was designed and created. For us.
Genesis also tells us that God continues to actively govern the universe he created. God is the engineer in charge of all those imaginary dials! (They don’t seem so scary now, do they?)
Most important, while Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created a universe that, against all odds, is just perfect for humans to exist on earth, Genesis does tell us why.
We are designed to live in a relationship with God—our Creator and our Protector.