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Monday, March 17 2014

John 1:1-5; Genesis 1:1 – 2:3

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  

    This is the second in our sermon series that is taking a look at WHY we as Christians believe what it is that we believe.  So today – as we continue to examine the evidence for creation – the question I want to deal with is – “How did we get here?”

    If you recall from last week, we learned that science and Christianity are not opposed to each other – that in fact they are in agreement in many areas – especially when it comes to the beginning of things.  That all of space, time, matter and energy came into being all at once – in one singularity – in what the Bible calls creation – and what science calls the Big Bang.  Where science and Christianity disagree is how and why the Big Bang came about.  For Christians – the simple answer – and the only answer that makes sense – is God.  Science can only shrug its shoulders and say, “We don’t have a clue.  It cannot be explained using the laws of physics and nature.”   

    We can summarize what is called the cosmological evidence into the following series of statements:
    1. Whatever begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause for its existence.
    4. The attributes of the cause of the universe (being timeless, existing outside of space and time) are the attributes of God.
    5. Therefore, the cause of the universe must be God.

    And isn’t this exactly what Christians have always believed?  The opening line of the first book in the Bible – Genesis – tells us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  So what I hope to show you today – the evidence I want to show you today – actually is based on both science and statistics and probabilities.  I‘ve always been a numbers kind of guy – so I really like this stuff.  And I think you’ll agree that this is going to be unlike any kind of sermon you’ve ever heard me deliver.  So let’s look at the evidence for God’s existence.

    When you look at the world around you – have you ever been amazed?  I mean – have you ever just stood in awe – just look up to the stars – examine the veins on a leaf on a tree – ever been in wonder about how and why it is that a seed planted in the ground produces another tree, or a bush or a flower?  

    I find all of this absolutely amazing.  Just the very complexity of what it takes for life to exist on planet earth just blows my mind!  That all of the hundreds of conditions that need to exist for life – for human life – to be possible is virtually impossible to have happened by chance or by natural selection alone.

    Here’s what science is telling us.  There are certain laws and physical constants that make up the building blocks of our world.  These laws and physical constants that govern all matter in the universe – have the appearance to be precisely balanced and fine tuned for life not only to occur – but to flourish – here on planet earth.

    What this suggests is that not only did the universe have a definite and intentional beginning – but that the universe also has both a designer and a builder.  The universe is so finely tuned – what some call a Goldilocks – or “just so” condition – that it could not have happened by blind chance – that you cannot get a universe with this level of precision and order out of chaos and undirected blind chance.  And I hope today if not to show you why – at least to get you thinking about it.

    A popular way of illustrating this is to take a watch.  I like this watch.  It’s amazing!  It tells time.  I can use it as a stop watch.  I can use it as an alarm.  I can set it so that it beeps on the hour.  All for – I think it was – $18 at Walmart.  Now – someone designed this watch – wouldn’t you agree?  Someone made this watch – put all of its components together which also were made somewhere by someone in the process.  Now – if we waited long enough billions and billions of years – maybe even trillions – what do you think is the probability that a watch that looks like this and does everything that this watch does could come together through a series of random processes that are due to undirected, blind chance?  I think the answer is virtually zero, right?  Wouldn’t you agree?

    What’s more complex – the universe or this watch?  

    SO – please stay with me because I’m going to get a little technical.  I’m going to be throwing some numbers and statistical information at you.  Not only am I a numbers guy, I’m a visual guy – I’m a visual learner.  So I like to have these kinds of things sitting in front of me and I hope you’ll find these helpful.  I’ve put together some power point slides as visual aids.    When it comes to the fine tuning of the universe – let me present the following pieces of evidence.

    By the way – this is called the “Anthropic Principle” – write it down – there will be a test.  That’s simply a fancy word used to give a label to the highly precise, fine-tuned, and interdependent environmental conditions that are necessary in order for life to exist on earth.

    We’ve already talked about the Big Bang both last week and today.  Science tells us that the Big Bang expanded at precisely – precisely the exact speed needed to produce the universe.  If the universe had expanded at one millionth more slowly than it did – expansion would have stopped.  If it had expanded any faster, no galaxies would have formed.  

    Let’s take a look at the effects of gravity.  The force of gravity is precisely what it needs to be for life to exist on earth.  If the gravitational force were different by even a sliver of a percent – the way I read it was 37 zeros followed by a 1 to the right of the decimal point.  If the force of gravity varied by even this tiny percentage, our sun would not exist – and neither would we.  

    Then there is centrifugal force.  If the centrifugal force of planetary movements did not precisely balance the gravitational forces – nothing could be held in orbit around the sun.  

    The earth is on average 93 million miles from the sun.  The earth’s orbit is not circular, but elliptical.  At its closest, earth is about 91 million miles – and at its farthest, 94 million miles for the sun.  The earth’s orbit exists in this Goldilocks range – or the just right range – in its distance from the sun.    

    If the rotation of the earth took longer than 24 hours, temperature differences would be too great between night and day.  If the rotation period were shorter – atmospheric wind velocities would be too great.

    The earth tilts on its axis at 23.5 degrees.  This is exactly the precision needed to sustain human life.   If the earth did not tilt it would become what is called tidally locked.  One side would get stuck facing the sun all the time, the other side would never face the sun.  One side would be too hot to sustain life; the other side too cold.

    And why does the earth tilt at all?  It tilts because 40% of the gravitational pull that comes from the sun pulls it over.  The other 60% of that tilt comes from the gravitational pull of the moon.  The moon in this pull is what allows earth to sustain life.  

    So where did the moon come from?  No one knows.  It could have been a meteor or asteroid that got stuck in earth’s gravitational pull.  Another theory states that a rogue planet slammed into planet earth when our solar system was still forming – and the moon came together from the debris field left over from that collision.  If that theory is true – scientists also say that the collision had to have happened at a very precise angle of incidence.  Regardless – no moon – no life on planet earth.  

    The earth is the right size to support life.  The earth’s crust is the precise thickness it needs to be to support life.  The earth’s iron core produces the magnetic field necessary to protect us from cosmic rays that would otherwise strip away the upper atmosphere, including the ozone layer that protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

    Our atmosphere is 21% oxygen.  Rising to 23% oxygen, no life on planet earth.  Decreasing to 19% oxygen, no life on planet earth.
    Hydrogen must convert .007 of its mass into helium on an ongoing basis on earth in order to sustain human life.  .006 no life.  .008 no life.  

    If water vapor levels in the atmosphere were greater than they are now, a runaway greenhouse effect would cause temperatures to rise too high for human life.  Any less, and an insufficient greenhouse effect would make earth too cold.

    The Oceans are 3.4% salt.  This happens to equal the exact percentage of salt in the human blood stream.   At 2% or 4% in either there is no life on planet earth.

    If planet Jupiter were not in its current orbit – without Jupiter’s gravitational pull – the earth would be bombarded with damaging material from space.  

    What I have presented to you today – and if you were one of those who slept through science class in high school – you probably slept through this as well – but what I have presented is called the science of fine tuning.  There are some 122 of these kinds of precise constants that need to be present for life as we know it to exist.   These constants are all interdependent – in other words – a small change in one might affect others, and could prevent or destroy the conditions necessary for life.  

    Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has calculated the probability that life on any planet in the universe might have happened by chance.  Even assuming that there are 1022 power number of planets in the universe – that’s 10 with 22 zeros behind it – really big number! – for life to exist on any one of these planets is 10138 power.  That’s one chance in 1 with 138 zeros behind it.  And you thought the odds of winning the lottery were stacked against you!  In other words – statistically speaking – there is zero chance that any planet in the universe could have the life-supporting conditions that we have as the result of a random act of nature.

    There’s so much more that we could have talked about today.  I didn’t even mention for instance, DNA – the building block of all of life.  One of the books I read is by Francis Collins – a scientist – and head of the Human Genome Project.  He calls DNA the language of God.   DNA is so very complex in its design and utility – quite frankly, I don’t understand how DNA could possibly have come into being by chance, or natural selection or evolution for that matter.  

    Anyway – you have in your mission minutes a list of the books I have been reading over the past few years.  I really encourage you to do more research on your own.  This is a starting point.

    So how did we get here?  What do you think?  Creation by divine design – or blind chance?  Today – just like I did last week – I have presented the evidence.  So where does the evidence lead you?  When you examine the universe – the world – and how these came into being – and all of the finely tuned constants that need to be in place for life to exist – for any of us to be here – from a purely statistical – mathematical probability of pure blind chance – it seems to me that we can arrive at only one conclusion.  

    The universe was created in such a way that looks like it must have known we were coming.  That’s what it looks like.  The only conclusion that we have left – and the only one that makes any sense is that the universe – and life as we know it on planet earth – had to have been the result of a super intelligent – super natural – designer and creator.  And that designer and creator and sustainer is what we have come to know – as God.              

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Zion Lutheran Church
9535 Clarence Center Road

PO Box 235
Clarence Center, NY 14032
Phone: 716-741-2656

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