“An event of zero probability”

“An event of zero probability” October 14, 2020


Messier51 and NGC 5195
The classic spiral Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), with the smaller yellowish galaxy NGC 5195 drifting behind it in the upper right of this Hubble satellite image.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


Another passage from Thomas Dubay, The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999):


Cosmologists who study the origins of our universe via this micromoment tell us that the specificities of this present cosmos and not some other one — that is, with its precise distribution of galaxies and stars with their particular movements — “would not have arisen if the recessional velocity of the matter formed in the hig bang were not equal to the escape velocity of the matter (the speed it needs to counteract its gravitational attraction)”.  Writing in Scientific American, George Gale states that C. B. Snow and Steven W. Hawking have further indicated that “from an ensemble of infinitely many universes having all possible ratios of recessional velocity to escape velocity, the only universe in which life could emerge is the actual universe, where the velocities are equal.” . . .  R. P. McCabe hit the nail on the head when he remarked that our universe “is an event of zero probability.”

This implies, he comments, “that the conditions at zero time plus one milli-second were what they were precisely because they led to human life.  There is, scientifically speaking, an imperative connection between the first seconds of the observable physical universe and man.”  This means that all the fundamental particles and their constraints had to be present, namely, “the velocity of light, the mass of the proton, Planck’s constant, the charge of the electron, universal gravity, etc. . . .  It is not a question of saying: if the charge on the electron had been 10% different, life would have taken on somewhat different forms, etc.  All life, as we know it, would have been impossible.”  As you read these reflections it is compelling to note that the trillions of hydrogen atoms in your body at this moment were initiated billions of years ago when the original matter of the universe was hydrogen and helium.  What is the relevance of this fact?  “If the charge in the electron had been slightly different; if the reaction between two protons had been different; if the force of gravity had been different then this universe, as we know it, would certainly not exist.  Hydrogen would have turned into inert helium — no water, no life.”  Surely a reason to fall on our knees.  (215-217)



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