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### God by the Numbers

Coincidence and random mutation are not the most likely explanations for some things.

Math and theology have had a long and checkered relationship. The Babylonians and Mayans both associated numbers with God. In fact, both societies named their gods with numbers. The Mayans used 13 and the Babylonians used 60. In the Greek world, followers of Pythagoras prayed to the first 4 numbers and thought they were the creator. On the other hand, in the 18th century, the French mathematician Laplace told Napoleon he had no need of God even as a hypothesis, and in 1744, John Wesley confessed: "I am convinced, from many experiments, I could not study either mathematics, arithmetic, or algebra … without being a deist, if not an atheist."

No one knows what Wesley saw in 18th-century mathematics that he feared would lead him away from the God of the Bible, but today, many Christian mathematicians think that numbers point to God. Three numbers in particular suggest evidence for God's existence. They are 1/1010123, 10162, and eπi.

##### Fine-tuning the universe

The first recent number that points to God is 1 in 10 to the 10 to the 123. This number comes from astronomy. Oxford professor Roger Penrose discusses it in his book The Large, the Small, and the Human Mind. It derives from a formula by Jacob Beckenstein and Stephen Hawking and describes the chances of our universe being created at random. Penrose spoofs this view by picturing God throwing a dart at all the possible space-time continua and hitting the universe we inhabit. The Beckenstein-Hawking formula is too complicated to discuss here, but another approach to the same problem involves the fine-tuning of the universe and the existence of habitable planets.

The fine-tuning of the universe is shown in the precise strengths of four basic forces. Gravity is the best known of these forces and is the weakest, with a relative strength of 1. Next comes the weak nuclear force that holds the neutron together. It is 1034 times stronger than gravity but works only at subatomic distances. Electromagnetism is 1,000 times stronger than the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force, which keeps protons together in the nucleus of an atom, is 100 times stronger yet. If even one of these forces had a slightly different strength, the life-sustaining universe we know would be impossible.

If gravity were slightly stronger, all stars would be large, like the ones that produce iron and other heavier elements, but they would burn out too rapidly for the development of life. On the other hand, if gravity were weaker, the stars would endure, but none would produce the heavier elements necessary to form planets.

The weak nuclear force controls the decay of neutrons. If it were stronger, neutrons would decay more rapidly, and there would be nothing in the universe but hydrogen. However, if this force were weaker, all the hydrogen would turn into helium and other elements.

The electromagnetic force binds atoms to one another to form molecules. If it were either weaker or stronger, no chemical bonds would form, so no life could exist.

Finally, the strong nuclear force overcomes the electromagnetic force and allows the atomic nucleus to exist. Like the weak nuclear force, changing it would produce a universe with only hydrogen or with no hydrogen.

In sum, without planets, hydrogen, and chemical bonds, there would be no life as we know it.

Besides these 4 factors, there are at least 25 others that require pinpoint precision to produce a universe that contains life. Getting each of them exactly right suggests the presence of an Intelligent Designer.

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From Issue:
March 2006, Vol. 50, No. 3

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Former sponsored children like Moses Pulei pay it forward in their hometowns.

#### Sidelining the Stigma of Mental Illness

Amy Simpson challenges the church to step up its ministry to a vulnerable population.

#### Starting a Dialogue with Hip-Hop

Daniel White Hodge finds signs of the gospel in the beats of hip-hop.
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