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Pastor Glenn McDonald: No Accident

Indianapolis International Airport is situated far enough outside the urban sprawl of the Hoosier capital that incoming jets fly right over local agricultural fields.


Imagine that I am on a late summer flight and look down during our final approach and see nine words written in the standing corn: “Welcome Glenn McDonald, you’re back home again in Indiana.”  


We should note that every now and then there really are such messages, not to mention product advertisements, “written” in corn, soybean, and wheat fields by the strategic removal of rows of crops. Generally these can be read only from the air, and require the consent of farmers who would otherwise be irked at the loss of perfectly good grain.


How could we explain such a message etched in the corn, seemingly directed at me? 


One possibility is that extraterrestrials have graduated from crop circles to “corn texts.” That doesn’t seem very likely. Another possibility is that fierce winds – perhaps a microburst or a tornado – ripped through that field and randomly left behind a complete English sentence. That doesn’t seem very plausible, either – although it would be impressive if a tornado somehow knew that my first name is spelled with two N’s.


The explanation that would immediately come to mind is that somebody – a friend or a family member – did this on purpose.


Somebody knew I was coming. Somebody knew I would be looking out that plane window.


That’s the impression that astronomers and physicists have been wrestling with for about the last 50 years, as evidence continues to emerge that our universe is exceedingly fine-tuned for the existence of human life – let alone the existence of anything at all. 


There are currently more than 200 known parameters that have to be “just right” for the cosmos to exist in its present form. Most are balanced on the razor’s edge. Even slight deviations would create, so to speak, astronomical consequences.


They sure don’t look like accidents.


For example, scientists have confirmed that if, at the beginning of the universe, the ratio between the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction – by even one part in one followed by 17 zeroes (also known as one hundred quadrillion) – then no stars would ever have formed.


But that’s nothing. 


Roger Penrose, the Oxford physicist known for his collaboration with Stephen Hawking, asserts that the original “phase-space volume” of the universe requires fine tuning to a level of accuracy of one part in 10 billion multiplied by itself 123 times.


How big is that number? Penrose notes that you can’t even write it down, since it would require more zeroes that all the particles that are known to exist in the universe. 


As the editors of Discover magazine put it: “The universe is unlikely. Very unlikely. Deeply, shockingly unlikely.”


British astronomer Fred Hoyle admitted that his atheism was “greatly shaken” by such discoveries. He wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology… The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Paul Davies, a skeptical cosmologist who has gradually edged toward faith, writes: “Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.”


Physicist Freeman Dyson adds, “The universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”


These are not Sunday School teachers, but contemporary scientists wrestling with their data. 


Materialistic science clings to the philosophical viewpoint that there is not, nor has there ever been, any meaningful connection between the natural world and anything one might call “supernatural.” If there’s no such thing as a Somebody who knew we was coming, how are we to account for the existence of such an exquisitely fine-tuned universe?


So far, the prevailing assumption is that it just happened, all by itself.


The cosmos somehow popped into existence, and then organized itself magnificently. 


Perhaps the universe was able to create itself – although no one has been able to explain how the cosmos could defy Aristotelian logic and serve as the cause of its own existence. It would then have to exist and not exist at the same time.


Like a personal message that suddenly appears in a cornfield, what are the odds that complex realities can come about by accident?  


Apparently the odds are good enough, say the scientists. After all, we’re here. That’s sufficient proof that something can come from nothing.


In light of the fact that that assertion is impossible to verify empirically, we begin to grasp how far certain scientist-philosophers are willing to go to reject the hypothesis that for centuries undergirded all of Western thinking: that a transcendent God created the cosmos, and fashioned it in such a way that it could sustain life.


As the Bible puts it, rather more poetically: “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it; the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).


Here’s the question that makes materialist scientists uneasy:


Doesn’t it require less faith to believe that some kind of intelligence created the universe and its perfect conditions, than to theorize that random particles somehow overcame inconceivable odds and configured themselves into what we see today?

Or as Sir John Templeton once asked, “Would it not be strange if a universe without purpose accidentally created humans who are so obsessed with purpose?”


It would be strange, indeed. 


Especially since it sure seems as if Somebody knew we were coming.

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