Today I want to write about the ratio of electrons to protons in the universe and the expansion rate of the universe. The ratio of protons to electrons is a value that creationist/apologist (oddly an actual PhD in astronomy) Hugh Ross says that if it were smaller there would be to little chemical binding and if it were larger, electromagnetism would dominate gravity preventing star and galaxy formation (which he claims is impossible since electromagnetism is stronger than gravity by a factor of 1037 which I showed to be false in my last article which you can read here). The expansion rate of the universe is a favorite of both William Lane Craig and Dinesh D’Souza. Hugh Ross claims there could be no galaxy formation if this value were larger and if it were smaller the universe would collapse. Craig and D’Souza both used a quote from Stephen Hawking out of context and then they intentionally ignored his own explanation which appeared a mere seven pages later. The misused quote from A Brief History Of Time was
If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed before it ever reached its present size.
and the explanation they ignored that was written in the same book a mere seven pages later
The rate of expansion of the universe would automatically become very close to the critical rate determined the energy density of the universe. This could then explain why the rate of expansion is so very close to the critical rate, without having to assume that the initial rate of expansion was very carefully chosen.
It is clear neither value was fine tuned and I will attempt to explain after a little digression.
This morning I was sitting in the Starbucks inside Barnes And Nobles (in Bethlehem of all places) and was having a conversation with a friend of mine about atheism when a lady overheard us and remarked that her god is so obvious and she couldn’t understand how anyone could not see. I wasn’t in the mood to argue and my friend is somewhere between a nihilist and an ignostic so we both sat there sort of ignoring what was said. Finally I asked her if she minded answering a few questions. She didn’t mind so being the nice atheist I am, I pulled up a chair for her (even offered to buy her a coffee). I asked her if the god she meant was so obvious is the Christian god (in hindsight seeing the cross hanging from her neck made this a dumb question). Guess she read my mind cause she fingered the cross and said “of course.” I told her there are about 2.1 billion Christians in the world and most if not all would agree with her but there are something like 1.5 billion Muslims that think Allah is obvious not to mention the 900 million Hindus and the 375 million Buddhists. Then I said considering there are about 6.7 billion people on Earth, how is the obvious god of 2.1 billion (about 32% of the population) really obvious when the remaining 4.6 billion people don’t see him as god? Needless to say she moved the goalposts and said god is obvious to those who want to see he is god. I did say a few questions but I really meant two and after hearing her redefinition I wasn’t much interested in talking anymore so my friend and I got up and went to Best Buy where he brought a 1 TB external harddrive and I got jealous.
Now that the digression is done I can get to the fun fine tuning foolishness. First up the ratio of protons to electrons. At first glance I really can’t understand why anyone would claim this needed to be fine tuned in any sense. At second glance, most scientists seem to agree with my first impression. The number of electrons equals the number of protons in the universe as predicted by conservation of charge. This is exactly what would be expected if the universe were not miraculously created. No fine tuning here, my first impression and that of the vast majority of scientists is not swayed by this fine tuning claim.
Now to address the expansion rate of the universe. This is a little harder to show (without using maths), but once the maths is done the non-fine tuning should be readily apparent or obvious in the sense that my Christian friend from Starbucks used (before moving the goalposts). The rate of expansion of the universe is called the Hubble parameter for the obvious reason that is was named after the astronomer that discovered it who was named, get ready for it, better sit down for it, Edwin Hubble. The measurements he made indicated that galaxies were receding from one another at a rate that was proportional to their distance from each other (paradoxically Andromeda seems to be nearing us instead of receding in it’s gravitational dance of death with our Milky Way). Call the rate v and the distance r so v = Hr where H is the Hubble constant. This makes some sense intuitively even though the big bang wasn’t exactly an explosion (since it has no center), like in an explosion it makes perfect sense that the farthest chunks are moving away faster than those close to the center. Getting back to the fun formulas, The age of the universe can be calculated from Hubble’s law. The expansion of the universe has been going on for some time (doesn’t matter how long) which we call t. We can write this as v = r/t or t = r/v = H-1 since the Hubble constant is the slope of a line of v vs. r. I apologize but the maths are done and we need no more formulas (just a big number or two). The current calculated value for the age of the universe is 13.7 billion years. Going by Craig and D’Souza’s misquote and further ignoring of Hawking the universe would have an age of plus or minus 1 billion years if the rate were changed by the value they cite. Last time anyone checked, the Earth was formed well before 12.7 billion years ago and life would have had plenty of time to evolve through natural means. A universe older by 1 billion years wouldn’t change that in any way. Now this should make it obvious to anyone that this value was not fine tuned by any meaning of the term. It also should make it perfectly obvious that William Lane Craig and Dinesh D’Souza are nothing but liars intent on promoting their agenda.
In the last two articles we have looked at three values claimed by fine tuning advocates that prove the fine tuning of the universe for human life. Not surprisingly those three values have all been shown to not agree with fine tuning. If anyone reading this believes in fine tuning, I seriously recommend you reexamine that belief.
Some further reading you might enjoy
- Fine Tuning Foolishness
- Hubble views the star that changed the universe
- Why the universe wasn’t fine-tuned for life
- The Hubble Space Telescope: Photographing the Final Frontier
- The God Delusion on the Anthropic Principle
- The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: A Review
Filed under: Atheism, Christianity, Cosmology, Evolution, Religious Absurdity, Science Tagged: | Astronomy, Cosmology, Dinesh D'Souza, Edwin Hubble, Hubble Space Telescope, Hugh Ross, Milky Way, William Lane Craig