Our Amazing World

Critical Numbers

Popular suggestion for make up of an atom.

by Joe Selzler

When I get up in the morning and look at the world around me I am not much aware of the numbers that are critical to my existence and survival. I realize that with each breath I take I draw in a certain amount of air, but I could not say exactly how much. I do not think of the formula that gives me the numerical capacity of my lungs or the rate of exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide in my red blood cells. I just take it for granted that everything is being done in my lungs to just the right amount and I will be able to stay alive as long as I keep breathing in and out as normal. Likewise, when I look up at the sun I don’t think about the distance it is from the earth and calculate how that distance affects the amount of heat or light it gives and worry if I will one day be frozen to death. I figure as long as it keeps coming up every day and doesn’t explode in a blaze of glory I will go on living.

Likewise, as I go about my daily life I never think about the forces that hold the atoms of my body together. I don’t recall ever thinking, “I hope there is enough energy holding my atoms together today. It could be a real downer if it was too weak and little pieces of me flew everywhere.” I do think about the various parts of my body that creak as I get older or that give me trouble at times. I do think how wonderful it is to see with my eyes and hear with my ears. And people may ask me how my cholesterol is doing, or about my weight, or about my general health. But no one ever says to me, “How are your atoms hanging together today? Have you tested the strength of the forces that hold them together to be sure it is strong enough?” We just do not think on that level every day.

The Importance of Numbers

No, numbers are not the subject of our thoughts and conversations on a daily basis. Instead, we think in terms of concepts and ideas. However, there are numbers behind most of the concepts and ideas we are familiar with. If you think that in almost every field of science a good knowledge of math is essential, it’s obvious that to really know the world around us we need to understand the numbers behind it. Of course, not all of us can work in the field of research, so we depend on researchers to inform us about the stuff that is really critical. If an important number gets out of whack, we want the “Scientists” to know about it and tell us what to do about it. Otherwise, we just take the critical numbers for granted and get on with the daily routines in our lives.

But let’s take a few moments to consider those critical numbers now. I think we may all be surprised at just how many numbers are critical to our existence and survival. I touched on a few above, but there are many numbers that appear to be in such a balance that if any one of them were changed by the slightest amount our world would be vastly different, or may not exist at all. Dr Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal in Great Britain, talks about six of them in a book entitled “Six Critical Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe”.

These Six Fundamental Numbers Are:

Numbers of Chance?

Dr Rees is so impressed with the importance of these numbers that he makes the following statement: “These six numbers constitute a recipe for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’ (sic), there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign Creator? I take the view that it is neither. An infinity of other universes may well exist where the numbers are different.”2

I think the reason Dr Rees rejects the first cause – coincidence – is because the chances of all six being at just the right balance at the same time is virtually impossible. However, Dr Rees’ alternative to coincidence or a Creator – multiple universes – leaves us with many more difficult questions. Such as: 1. Why does something keep trying to make a successful universe? 2. What is that something? 3. Where and when did that something come from? 4. How did that something get the power to keep trying to make universes? (I am sure you can think of many more questions to put to Dr Rees.) In reality, Dr Rees is simply moving the problem of the existence of this universe to another level.

Numbers of Intelligence

I take the view that it is the second possible cause that is the correct one.
That cause – a benign Creator – solves all of the problems of these critical numbers. Our universe is in perfect balance because a benign Creator planned it the way it is. He put it here to work as it does to provide us with an environment that can sustain our lives. Indeed, he even meticulously planned us to live and work in the environment of this universe.3 Everything in our world works in harmony because it was designed by an intelligent being. The first book of the Bible – Genesis – may not agree with everything our modern scientists tell us about our world, but if it is the words of the Creator of the world 4, then perhaps Genesis deserves more of a hearing in our modern world. Especially now, when we are having to face a population that is quickly using up our natural resources and when the two most populated nations on earth are beginning to move into the industrial age. Maybe if we understand how our world really got here it will help us meet this challenge.

1. Six Critical Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe.
Martin Rees, Basic Books, Copyright( 2000, pg 2-3
2. Six Critical Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe. Martin Rees, Basic Books, Copyright( 2000, pg 4
3. “… my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:13-16 (Revised Standard Version of the Bible)
4. Is The Bible History of Myth? Ernest O’Neill http://worldinvisible.com/apologet/bible.htm
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