As many of you will have heard and in fact seen, today saw the celestial alignment of the Earth, its moon and the sun, resulting in a solar eclipse. A marvel to witness by anyone’s standards, it demonstrates the immense power of the natural world and the universe. Scientists and astronomers are able to predict when such alignments will happen, how long they will last for and the reasons behind these occurrences, but is there anything from the eclipse that we can infer about God? I aim to demonstrate that perhaps, there is.
We are extremely lucky on Earth; our place in the solar system is so perfectly tuned, that life was able to emerge and evolve to lead us to the millions of different species we see today. Some scientists claim that if the Earth were a few miles either closer or further away from our star, that life could not exist in any way. Not miraculous, but certainly extremely lucky.
Today’s eclipse provides another example of this so called “fine-tuning”. Now, the following numbers aren’t exact as there are from memory. The reason that we can experience full solar eclipses is because the distance of the Moon from Earth is approximately 400,000 km; the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon and so we see the discs of each at roughly the same size! Nowhere else in the solar system will such a phenomenon occur; pure chance or is something else behind it?
Of course as the title of this piece suggests, I am hinting at some involvement from God. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that God is sat somewhere playing with planets, moons and suns like marbles. More, I am hinting at something which astronomers and philosophers call the anthropic principle. Now the anthropic principle is a widely accepted theory that is discussed in almost every academic text that concerns itself with science, the Big Bang, cosmology and its relationship to theology. Stephen Hawking discusses it in A Brief History of Time. The theory is simple: the conditions in the universe that led to the emergence of life (on Earth, although potentially not exclusively) are so perfectly-tuned, that they could not have happened by mere accident.
Many atheists and scientists who do not believe in God will staunchly reject this claim. After all, I share their views that nature is a thing at which to be marveled; nature can produce some spectacular things and I would not want the credit stripped from the natural world and placed with a hypothesised entity. But in order for us to see these anthropic coincidences, these life-giving conditions with having any relation to God, I believe we need to head back in history, to a point before everything existed.
The Big Bang. The most widely accepted theory of how everything in existence came to be. The observations made by the Hubble telescope show that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate; there must’ve been an initial point from which the expansion originated, and there must’ve been some force at work to force an expansion to happen at all. Hence we arrive at the Big Bang. The Big Bang is understood to have been a cosmological singularity; a singularity is found at the centre of black holes and is a place where all the known laws of physics completely break down. Everything scientists know about the universe fails at this point.
The Big Bang is the moment at which time began. On a timeline, point B differed from point C, which differed from point D and so on. If we call point A the time before the Big Bang (point B) occurred, then what we can say is that time did not exist at point A. Point A was a static moment where nothing changed, as nothing existed; no matter how much ‘time’ elapsed so-to-speak, point A always was. The conditions in point A were constant. If the Big Bang were to happen spontaneously and out of nothing, then we must say that something changed during point A to cause point B. There must have been some force that is not constrained by time or the natural order of things in order to change the conditions in point A that caused point B. And of course, theologians and Christian philosophers call this outside force, God.
The above argument is based on an argument put forward by Kant and is, I feel, such a compelling theory that lends itself to supporting the existence of God. Based on this, if God is behind the Big Bang, then it/he/she must have caused the Big Bang in such a way as to ensure the conditions to allow life to emerge were present. If we understand God to be omniscient, then we can say He knew the conditions required in order for life to emerge and so through His omnipotence, made them so. His benevolence kept these conditions from changing, as life was ‘allowed’ to emerge and is still sustained to this day, millions upon millions of years after it first emerged.
This is by no means a concrete argument to prove that God created the universe, just a thoughtful musing I had as I was looking *ahem* at the eclipse this morning. The world is a truly amazing place and we have a lot to be thankful for. Exactly who or what we should be thankful to…well that’s up to you.
**If you are interested in reading more about the Big Bang and God, then I have an essay written recently that may be of interest. Let me know and I would be happy to upload it for you to read.**