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We’re Special After All!

Humanity and the Cosmos



Hey—guess what? There’s something cosmically special about us human beings after all. Even the Washington Post says so.

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Eric Metaxas

One of the cardinal tenets of a worldview shaped by materialism and Neo-Darwinism is a rejection of the idea that human beings are in any way special.

Instead, we’re merely the result of a fortuitous accident. What’s more, many adherents postulate that this accident has occurred, perhaps even often, elsewhere in the Cosmos.

So there’s nothing exceptional or unique about us.

However, Howard A. Smith, an astrophysicist at the Smithsonian-Harvard Center for Astrophysics, begs to differ.

In a recent Washington Post article, Smith told readers that an “objective look at just two of the most dramatic discoveries of astronomy  . . . big bang cosmology and planets around other stars,” suggests that those who have relegated humanity to cosmic insignificance are, in a word, wrong.

He points to the Anthropic Principle, which holds that “the universe, far from being a collection of random accidents, appears to be stupendously perfect and fine-tuned for life.” What’s more, the “life” being referred to here isn’t just algae and the occasional vertebrate.

Citing the work of philosopher Thomas Nagel and astrophysicist John Wheeler, who coined the term “black hole,” Smith raises the possibility that “intelligent beings must somehow be the directed goal of such a curiously fine-tuned cosmos.”

This raises an obvious question: How much intelligent life is out there? The answer, according to Smith, is that life “is probably rarer than previously imagined.” Smith continues, “Life might be common in the very distant universe—or it might not be—and we are unlikely to know. We are probably rare—and it seems likely we will be alone for eons.”

daily_commentary_12_05_16That’s because of what is known as the “misanthropic principle” or, alternatively, the “Rare Earth Hypothesis.” Believe it or not, the fine-tuning required to make life possible was the easy part. Because “it takes vastly more than liquid water and a pleasant environment to give birth even to simple (much less complex) life.” Smith cites the work of Nobel Laureate Jacques Monod and Stephen Jay Gould, who “emphasized the extraordinary circumstances that led to intelligence on Earth.”

The “combined astronomical, biological and evolutionary chances for life to form and evolve to intelligence” are infinitesimally small. Throw in the enormity of the cosmos—for instance, the Milky Way galaxy is said to be 100,000 light years across—and, as Smith says, “we probably have no one to talk to.”

So, it turns out that we are far from ordinary, much less “chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet” as Stephen Hawking so depressingly put it.

Smith concludes that “humanity and our home planet, Earth, are rare and cosmically precious,” and he urges us to “act accordingly.” And all God’s people said “Amen!”

Now, I’m neither an astrophysicist nor have I played one on television. But two years ago I made similar arguments in the Wall Street Journal. While the overall response to the piece I wrote was positive, there were still plenty of critics who took me to task for “masquerading as a scientist,” which of course I was not doing. I simply cited what had been, in Smith’s words, “accepted by physicists for forty-three years,” and asked the obvious questions raised by what we know. Smith asked different, but no-less important questions.

As was the case two years ago, rejection of what he has to say about the astronomical unlikelihood of human existence will have little to do with science. But it will have a lot to do with a fanatical commitment to a sadly materialist and anemic worldview.



Further Reading and Information
We’re Special After All!: Humanity and the Cosmos

As Eric highlights, we are quite the opposite of "cosmically insignificant", and in fact we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by God, as the psalmist wrote. Our planet, as well, is fine-tuned to a high degree of specificity, a hallmark of the Creator's design.  Check out the resources below for further discussion on this fascinating topic.

Resources

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God
Eric Metaxas | Wall Street Journal | December 25, 2014

Humanity is cosmically special. Here’s how we know
Howard A. Smith | Washington Post | November 25, 2016

Available at the online bookstore

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
Stephen C. Meyer | HarperOne | June 2010

The Privileged Planet, DVD
Illustra Media | Wesscott Marketing Inc Publishers | March 2008

The Privileged Planet
Guillermo Gonzales & Jay Richards | Regnery Publishing | February 2004


Comments:

it is not really evidence
Regardless of the probabilities of this happening randomly, anything can happen once. For this to be mathmatically meaningul we need to know how many times it has hapened this way and otherwise

I believe because I KNOW I am a SINNER. There were 11 eyewitnesses that died for testifying to this truth and loving my neighbor and enemies is right and I can only love as God loves through Christ.
The Improbabilities Are Staggering
This article reminds me of a quote from the book "A Matter of Days" by astrophysicist Hugh Ross:

"Even if the universe contains as many as 100 billion trillion planets, probabilities would argue against the existence of even one that by natural processes alone would end up with the just-right surface gravity, surface temperature, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure, crustal iron abundance, tectonics, volcanism, rotation rate, rotation rate decline, stable rotation axis and degree of tilt for the benefit of advanced life."

Some people think that bacterial life may be possible elsewhere in the cosmos, but advanced life does not appear to really be in the cards.

Thanks for the post, Eric!
Staggering Statistical Math Against Life Without A
A few years back, I authored this piece on my web site: http://www.amerechristian.com/the-case-against-evolution/

You should read the full article (we don't do adverts btw), but the bottom line is the chance of DNA ever occuring spontaneous for a simple amoeba with 670,000,000,000 nucleic acid links is one in this many tries::

3.999 × 10 the power of 403,319,988,190. That's this full number according to WolframAlpha:

39 994 967 421 848 910 515 830 891 485 929 873 539 200 859 478 110 890 046 870 902 973 811 397 920 013 154 264 044 806 966 368 766 890 560 334 898 057 354 957 460 991 513 009 979 218 569 129 129 153 483 557 828 349 006 800 907 063 281 876 506 271 581 554 720 007 349 513 619 281 699 834 915 654 215 605 813 999 586 134 578 638 487 562 271 060 398 541 468 204 808 466 449 370 220 154 689 313 785 035 081 434 537 109 678 931 650 139 920 672 226 961 937 056 370 747 827 436 399 579 577 781 894 369 126 135 235 359 981 612 583 174 092 148 572 812 451 396 985 949 322 349 982 431 102 855 445 850 644 170 231 780 263 633 773 563 838 153 350 354 671 412 015 814 688 687 757 112 841 366 058 246 513 133 149 198 310 558 695 664 549 451 809 175 129 782 380 919 010 406 793 851 191 468 769 106 636 250 539 681 518 630 619 043 314 949 500 544 367 822 279 572 636 349 791 238 595 690 784 888 003 137 361 102 179 098 490 441 663 804 960 541 478 602 696 942 715 681 369 118 620 958 194 379 850 952 001 014 269 432 698 697 003 874 158 995 944 986 700 364 628 432 578 820 520 177 129 985 885 387 365 616 434 349 366 446 933 301 873 657 503 190 681 971 557 734 329 146 263 760 242 892 262 023 603 324 535 364 050 902 887 137 448 125 229 547 998 486 942 139 172 417 409 720 398 399 068 282 603 135 163 …

~ followed by 403,319,987,229 more digits ~

Ron Smith, MD




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