DESIGN IN NATURE: THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE
By Donald B. DeYoung, Ph.D.*
William Paley (1743-1805) was a British philosopher and clergyman. In
the book, Natural Theolog_v, he offered a powerful argument for the
truth of the Creator and His work. Paley supposed that in crossing a
field, two different objects are found lying upon the ground, a stone and
a watch. The basic question is then asked, where did these two items
come from? Concerning the stone, nothing is unusual. The stone is a
"natural" object, just one in a trillion similar stones. But what about the
watch? The watch is in a separate category altogether. It displays plan-
ning and craftmanship, beauty and usefulness. In short, a watch clearly
requires a watchmaker. Paley then applied this common-sense conclu-
sion to earth's life forms. The complexity of living creatures far sur-
passes that of any watch ever constructed. Therefore, design seen in
living systems surely requires a Designer.
Paley's recognition of intelligent planning in nature is known as a teleo-
logical argument. Teleology refers to the study of evidences of design in
nature, and is derived from the Greek word for end or purpose. This
teleological argument has been continually challenged by critics since
Paley's day. The philosopher David Hume (1711-76) brought forward the
problem of evil: How could suffering and death possibly reveal a perfect
Designer? The answer, of course, is that nature's design is just one
*Dr. DeYoung received his Ph.D. degree in Astrogeophysics from Iowa
State University in 1972. He is Professor of Physics at Grace College
in Winona Lake, Indiana, and is also Visiting Professor of Geophysics
he ICR Graduate School.
Dimension of theology. Suffering results from the curse occurring subse-
quent to creation. The cure for sin, through redemption alone, shows the
Lord's eternal perfection in the greatest way possible. A second attack
on Paley came from Darwin's 1859 publication, Origin of Species by
Means of Natural Selection. The appeal this time was to a mechanistic
self-ordering process in nature. Mutations provide random changes and
natural selection concentrates the beneficial features. Of course there
are many fatal problems with Darwin's view. However, it is still much
used in the design debate.
Old arguments have an uncanny way of returning at a later time with
increased strength. Thus after two centuries, Paley's reasoning still ap-
plies and is even stronger than before. The chief reason is the discovery
of a new "watch" in nature. In fact, not just one watch has been found,
but a whole showcase full, all beautifully constructed and running
smoothly. This reference is not to literal watches, but instead, to
hundreds of carefully balanced equations, constants, and properties of
matter! It is further realized that if any of these quantities were changed
in the slightest way, the result would be catastrophic. Scientists, in
describing today's universal balance, often refer to "astonishing preci-
sion," "cosmic coincidences," or a "contrived appearance." This per-
spective has been summarized in the Anthropic Principle which states
that the universe appears to be carefully designed for the well-being of
Three examples of design will be presented, representing scores of
others. First, consider the mass of the proton. Such a property of an ele-
mentary particle might at first seem of trivial significance. However,
closer inspection reveals that the proton's mass has been exactly chosen
to provide both its own stability and that of the entire universe. In con-
trast, a free neutron (n), a slightly heavier particle, decays to a proton,
an electron, and an antineutrino with a half-life of just twelve minutes.
Free neutrons simply cannot persist in nature.
However, if the mass of a proton were somehow increased by just
0.2%, then the proton would become the unstable particle. It would
quickly decay to a neutron, positron and neutrino: This second reaction
does not occur, but it would if the proton were just slightly heavier.
The implications are truly universal. Of chief significance, the hydrogen
nucleus is just a single proton. Thus the hypothesized rapid decay of
protons would destroy all hydrogen atoms. Furthermore, hydrogen is a
major component of our bodies, as well as water molecules, the sun, and
all other stars. Hydrogen is, after all, the dominant element of the uni-
verse. It is obvious that the proton's mass has been wisely planned to be
slightly smaller than that of a neutron, to prevent the collapse of the
universe. Also, protons are not subject to the influence of mutation or
natural selection. Their physical properties were chosen from the be-
ginning and have not changed.
A second example of design involves the basic forces of nature. One
of these is the law of universal gravitation. According to this law, all
masses are found to attract each other with a force F which is inversely
proportional to the square of a separation distance, between the
masses. Discovered by Isaac Newton 300 years ago, this fundamental
force holds the universe together. Gravity maintains the moon's orbit
around the earth, the earth's orbit around the sun, and also the rotation
of the entire Milky Way galaxy.
Scientists have always wondered about the factor 2 in this equation.
As Science News put it, this relation "has always seemed a little too
neat. Is the exponent some fraction near two, which would be messy but
might seem more empirical?"3 In an evolved universe, one would not
expect such a simple relationship. Why is the factor so exact; why not
1.99 or 2.001? The gravity force has been repeatedly tested with sensitive
torsion balances, showing that the factor is indeed precisely 2, at least
to five decimal places, 2.00000. As with the proton's mass, any value
other than 2 would lead to an eventual catastrophic decay of orbits and
of the entire universe. The gravity force clearly displays elegant and
Another basic force of nature measures the attraction or repulsion
between electrical charges. The strength of the electric force can be seen
in a lightning stroke, when electrons surge between charged objects.This
Coulomb force also is found to vary as the inverse square of the dis-
tance between the charges. Since the electric force is much stronger
than gravity, the factor 2 can be measured to a much greater precision
than that of gravity. Thus far the electric force distance dependence has
been measured as exactly 2, to 16 decimal places: 2.0000000000000000!4
In other words, the factor in the force equation once again remains
exactly 2, to the best limits of scientific testing. These "natural" laws
such as gravity and electricity might better be called God's laws. They
surely reflect His purposeful planning.
Consider the testimony of Max Planck (1858-1947), Nobel Prize winner
and founder of modern physics:
"According to everything taught by the exact sciences about the
immense realm of nature, a certain order prevails-one independent
of the human mind ... this order can be formulated in terms of pur-
poseful activity. There is evidence of an intelligent order of the uni-
verse to which both man and nature are subservient."
The knife-edged balance of protons and forces is indeed a strong
testimony to the Creation. These are not artificial relationships resulting
merely from human measurements and constructs. Instead, the intricate
physical values have forced themselves upon our senses. Other similar
"coincidences" involve such quantities as the fine structure constant,
nuclear forces, and the total number of particles in the universe. All
seem carefully chosen. Evolutionary change is entirely unable to deal
with such permanent properties of nature.
What then has the opposition done with such data? Great imagination
has been exercised! It has been postulated that an infinite number of
universes actually exist, all beyond our detection. In this grand super-
space there are assumed to be universes of every conceivable type, both
harmful and beneficial to life. Thus it is inevitable (that word again!) that
there will be at least one universe where all properties are ideal, and we
happen to be in it! These many universes are thought to exist indepen-
dently, like soap bubbles. They spontaneously arise from quantum
mechanical fluctuations from nothing.6Eventually, after expansion, they
evaporate back to nothing.
The creation of the real universe was indeed ex nihilo, from nothing,
but by the direct infinite power of the Creator instead of random fluc-
tuations. This more credible view was presented by the Apostle Paul
long ago. He declared that the power and planning of the Creator could
be understood by the obvious design of the creation. This design should
then lead us to the Scriptures, through which the Creator may be
personally known. Paul further warned that those who reject such
physical evidence are vfithout excuse (Romans 1:20).
The reader is challenged to give serious and open-minded considera-
tion to the timeless design argument, valid for the Apostle Paul and
William Paley, as well as for Max Planck and thousands of present-day
I , Carr, B.J. and M.J. Rees, "The Anthropic Principle and the Structure of the Physical
World," Nature 278 (April 12, 1979) pp. 605-612.
2. Gale, G., "The Anthropic Principle," Scientific American 245 (December 1981)
5. "Gravity Very Precisely," Science News 118 (July 5, 1980) p. 13.
Halliday, D. and R. Resnick, 1978. Physics, Part 2. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., p. 609.
Barth, A., The Creation In the Light of Modem Science, (1966) Jerusalem Post Press,
Jerusalem, p. 144.
6. Thomsen, D.E., "The Quantum Universe: A Zero-Point Fluctuation. 2 'Science News 128
Index - Evolution or Creation1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160 | 161 | 162 | 163 | 164 | 165 | 166 | 168 | 169 | 170 | 171 | 172 | 173 | 174 | 175 | 176 | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | 196 | 197 | 198 | 199 | 200 | 201 | 202 | 203 | 204 | 205 | 206 | 207 | 208 | 209 | 210 | 211 | 212 | 213 | 214 | 215 | 216 | 217 | 218 | 219 | 220 | 221 | 222 | 223 | 224 | 225 | 226 | 227 | 228 | 229 | 230 | 231