Interview of the Week

Forum

Links.gif (1097 bytes)

     

INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK

Marc Davis, Ph.D., Principle Investigator, Large Scale Structure of the Universe (former, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics); Astronomer, U.C. Berkeley.


QuickTime Video Clip
QuickTime Video Clip (2.6 mb download)

DAVIS:

The expansion rate was enormously high in the early universe. And the energy in the expansion had to be in perfect balance with the gravitational energy in the attraction. The, the kinetic and the potential energies were finely balanced to amazing precision, like, for example, one part in 10 to the 60, that is a one with 60 zeros. So that is a level of precision that is crazy.


QuickTime Video Clip
QuickTime Video Clip (1.3 mb download)

DAVIS:

So the universe, is [an] amazingly fine tuned environment, and physicists are very keen to understand how it came to be this way.

For this interview, Day Star’s president, Fred Heeren, visited astronomer Marc Davis on the campus of U.C. Berkeley.

Note from Fred Heeren:

George Smoot once told me: “There are so many things about [the universe] that fit together so beautifully and so spectacularly, ... and you see no fundamental reason why it has to be that way.... And so it’s very tempting to think that somebody designed it and had a plan, ... but you just have to wait and see how things develop, till you know whether you should believe in the supernatural.”

While the scientists are waiting to see how things develop on whether to believe in the supernatural, I've developed my own simple test that we can run—you can try this yourself at home—to see if God is really there.

If there is no God, then our new discoveries about the origin of the universe should show that the universe developed according to random laws and processes. To find evidence for God, on the other hand, we would need to find clear evidence of care and precision, in the way the universe is set up, for our benefit, fine-tuning to a degree that makes the odds too great to be explained by chance.

Now if the odds are one in two, or even one in ten, that the universe could have developed this way by chance, then you could say that it was an accident that turned out to be fortunate for us. But what if scientists tell us the chances are one in thousands, or millions, or more?

DAVIS: The fine-tuning is a remarkable statement. That the universe is on a knife-edge. It has been around for a long enough time to make us wonder how one could set up initial conditions to be so finely tuned....The expansion rate was enormously high in the early universe. And the, the energy in the expansion had to be in perfect balance with the gravitational energy in the attraction. The kinetic and the potential energies were finely balanced to amazing precision, like, for example, one part in 10 to the 60, that is a one with 60 zeros. So that is a level of precision that is crazy.

HEEREN: Now you're talking about, if it had been faster or slower, the expansion rate, by that one part in 10 to the 60th power, what would have happened?

DAVIS: The universe would be completely different. The universe today—the universe would have either ended, many billions of years ago, or—

HEEREN: Because it would have collapsed back in on itself?

DAVIS: It would have collapsed back in on itself.

HEEREN: Yeah?

DAVIS: Or instead the universe would be in free expansion today, and the balance between, uh, the mass of the universe vs. the critical values of the mass in the universe would be off by factors of, of billions.

HEEREN: So on the one side, galaxies never could have formed, because they would have been— the whole universe was dispersing too quickly, and on the other side, galaxies could have never formed because it would have crunched in on itself before it got to that stage.

DAVIS: Well certainly life would never form. Everything would happen so quickly that it would be all over in an incredibly short time. So the universe, is an amazingly fine-tuned environment, and physicists are very keen to understand how it came to be this way.

You'll find the whole history of these twentieth century cosmological discoveries, and the bigger implications for everyday life, in Day Star's new book, Show Me God.



DAY STAR’S DISCUSSION KICKER OF THE WEEK:

If today’s physicists are “very keen to understand” how the universe came to provide such “an amazingly fine-tuned environment,” why does science go out of its way to avoid the intelligent design hypothesis? Obviously, there are plenty of religious extremists today who assume that God cannot use natural processes; but aren’t many scientists just as biased when they assume that the fine-tuning they observe cannot be the result of a purposeful Designer?

Go to the Discussion Forum

Home PageInterviewForumResourcesInfo

List of interviews



Copyright 2001 Day Star