Why the Universe is the Way it Is

Hugh Ross


p13 "This book is about purpose ..." "The most obvious purpose now recognized by the majority of astronomers for the origin, characteristics, and history of the universe is to provide a suitable home for physical life - humanity in particular."

p 13 "It would be difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us. " from Hawking in Brief History of Time.

p 14 "The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming." Freeman Dyson in "Disturbing the Universe"

p 14 "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible" from Einstein in "Physics and Reality"(1936), in Ideas and Opinions, trans. Sonja Bargmann (New York: Bonanza, 1954), p292.

Ch. 1 Why Ask Why Questions?

p 17 "Self-preservation - it's a powerful drive we humans share with every other creature on the planet. In addition to being highly motivated to do whatever we can to preserve our physical lives and enhance our physical well-being, people express a motivation not seen in any other animal species - a yearning for a sense of purpose."

p 17 "We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?" Hawking, "Brief History of Time" p171.

p 18 "Why have you remained curious? Perhaps it's because you have some measure of confidence that meaningful answers can be found. Somehow that confidence -- or longing-- has been kept alive."

p 18 "human motivation to seek answers to their questions, big or small, may sometimes be even stronger than the powerful drive for self-preservation."

p19 Deut 18:21-22 "And if thou say in thy heart, How shall we know the word which Jehovah hath not spoken? when a prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him.

p 20 "Test everything. Hold onto the good." 1 Th 5:21

p20-24 Projects some of the great "why?" questions

  • Why is the universe so large?
  • ...so old?
  • ...so lonely?
  • ...so dark?
  • ...so evil?
  • Why is God so obscure?
  • Why death?

p25 "Why is the universe so hugely vast, so unimaginably ancient, so predominantly dark, so irreversibly decaying, so empty of life, and so rife with suffering and evil?"

Ch. 2: Why Such a Vast Universe?

p 27 Quotes Stenger

"If God created the universe as a special place for humanity, he seems to have wasted an awfully large amount of space where humanity will never make an appearance." "God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist" (Amherst, NY: Promethius, 2007), p156.

p 27 Hawking "Our Solar System is certainly a prerequisite for our existence, but there does not seem to be any need for all these other galaxies." Brief History of Time

p 28 Notes Stenger's criticism of the "God hypothesis" based on fact that there is only a 0.0007 fraction of carbon in the universe and we are carbon-based beings. Ross replies with a short essay on "Why so little carbon?"

p 29 Discusses the correlation between being habitable and being a good platform for observation of the universe, the kind of correlation made by Gonzalez and Richards in The Privileged Planet.

p 30 Discusses the Hubble Ultra Deep Field to convey the vast size of the universe.

p33 Argues that the vast size is necessary to get the right element mix and to achieve the necessary expansion rate of the universe. This has to do with the critical density required to get the observed nearly-flat universe. Then proceeds to discuss dark matter and dark energy.

p 37 Inventory of constituents of universe including dark matter and dark energy.

Ch. 3: Why Such an Old Universe?

p 44 Argues that the 13.7 billion year age of the universe is the just-right age to support humanity.

  1. Essential heavy elements need to build up through at least three generations of stars.
    • Over twenty elements needed for life.
    • Elements heavier than helium are built up in star furnaces
  2. Long-lived radioactive isotopes need to build up.
    • Uranium and thorium critical to warming Earth and maintaining plate tectonics
    • U and Th made only in supernovae
  3. Dangerous events must subside.
    • Suns flaring subsides at about 4.5 billion yr
    • Bombardment subsides

p 46 Need to further investigate the following:

  • Long lived radioisotopes provides nearly all the energy that drives plate tectonics (Ward & Brownlee p104)
  • Radioisotope energy drives geodynamo to sustain magnetic field (Ward & Brownlee p29,194,212-213)
  • Plate tectonics helps compensate for Sun's luminosity changes (Creation as Science p129-138)

p 46 Peak of radiometric heating corresponds to origin of Earth.

p 47 Graph of cosmic abundance of uranium and thorium, peaks at almost 10 billion years.

p 49 Graph of flaring activity , flat minimum at about 4.5 billion. Gives a paragraph of references, but would like to see a summary ref to support that graph.

p 50 Graph of luminosity history of sun.

p50 Length of day from 2-3 hrs to 24 hours. Says 24hr needed, but doesn't support that assertion. But later on p81 he comments that longer than 24 hr days would give too great a swing between day and night temperatures, and that short days would interfere with the evenness of distribution of rainfall and benign temperatures over the surface of the Earth. More on this on pg 109.

p 51 Graph of oxygenation of Earth - sharply up about 4.5 billion when we arrive. Interesting graph - sharp increase said to be result of filling the oxygen sinks in the crust and mantle. Gives several modern references. Sharp rise in last 205million years.

p 52 Graph of continental land mass.

p 53-56. Interesting discussion in support of the thesis that the 13.7 billion year age of the universe is the just-right age for observing. The discussion involves the spreading out of the bright objects, the calming down of star formation, and the development of a transparent atmosphere for the Earth.

p 54 Says that we can see back to 0.000028 of the present age, or view 99.9972% of cosmic history. It appears that he is basing that on the latest WMAP.

Ch. 4: Why Such a Lonely Universe?

p 57 Interesting story of Fermi's paradox, coming from a conversation between Fermi, Teller, Konopinski and York .

p 58 Statement of Fermi's paradox, ending with "So where is everybody?"

p 59 Sets out arguments that we won't get any ufos - can't travel more than 0.01c because of collision hazards, so 25000 years in transit, Biosphere couldn't manage 2 yrs,

p 62 Discussion of SETI ongoing for 50 years now,

p 63 >280 planets around more than 230 stars, but 256 are Saturn mass or greater.

p 66 Solar system near co-rotation axis of Milky Way galaxy. There stars orbit the galaxy at the same rate as its spiral arm structure does.

p 68 Co-rotation distance not in habitable zone of most galaxies

p 69 gallery of galaxies

p 70 Coma cluster

p 71 Local group of galaxies

p 72 comments on the graduate course he took from Carl Sagan - who thought the primordial soup was sufficient and that life evolved over billions of years -- both shown to be badly wrong. (Summer course at Univ of Toronto).

p 73 Discusses the early arrival of life, C13/C12 studies, oxygen-uv paradox, homochirality, -- the things that are discussed more thoroughly in Origins of Life.

p 75 proposes as the one reasonable option "Something or Someone from beyond the physics and dimensions of the universe, who is not subject to them, placed life and humanity in the only location in the universe at the only time in cosmic history where and when such creatures could survive and thrive."

Ch. 5: Why Such a Dark Universe?

p 79 "because of Earth's dark cosmic location, the lights of the universe don't blind us or limit our view. Astronomers can see virtually all of the heavens' wonders, including the entirety of cosmic history.

p 79 "solar system resides in the darkest part of the Milky Way Galaxy's life-habitable zone. ... Milky Way resides in the darkest life-habitable region of its galaxy cluster, which occupies the darkest life-habitable region of its supercluster of galaxies."

Continues on that theme with dark moon, dark planetary companions, distant star clusters, dark nebulae, dark galaxy clusters, and finally a reprise on dark matter and dark energy.

Ch. 6: Why a Decaying Universe?

p96 Kelvin's heat death of the universe.

p98 Krauss & Starkman's heat death scenario

  1. Decreasing observability
  2. Cessation of star burning
  3. Decreasing knowledge
  4. Cessation of protein folding and metabolism
  5. End of consciousness
  6. End of meaning

Ch. 7: Why a Realm Beyond This One?

p 108 Temporal and spatial coincidences - right time at 13.7 billion

p 109 Catalog of providential time windows

  1. Earth's rotation rate
  2. Fossil fuels
  3. Solar stability
  4. Solar luminosity
  5. Perfect eclipses (like Gonzalez & Richards)
  6. Plate tectonics (some Rare Earth type info)

p 113 Brandon Carter and the "anthropic principle inequality" and Barrow & Tipler cited. "it took a long time to prepare the universe to sustain humans for a relatively short time."

p 114 Barrow & Tipler make a more extreme model, cataloging the influences that make an advanced technological society very brief in comparison to the time it took to develop the conditions necessary for that life to exist.

p 114 "costs the material resources of the entire universe and the investment of 13.73 billion years of time to support humanity and its civilization for only a few tens of thousands of years, the human species indeed must have immense worth and purpose."

p "That scientists still can't assemble even the simplest life-form from scratch (from nonorganic compounds), let alone make it live, preserve its life, and sustain life for billions of years, testifies to the level of the Creator's investment - and involvement." cites Fuz's "The Cell's Design" here.

Ch. 8: Why This Particular Planet, Star, Galaxy and Universe?

p 119 This chapter is a five page recap of the fine-tuning arguments for each of the items in the chapter title.

p 122 Tables of the number of fine-tuned parameters

p 124 Essay "Must the design be supernatural?

Ch. 9 Why Believe the Bible?

I kind of blew through this chapter the first time, seeing it as just a listing of the scriptures for certain correlations with the Bible and nature. But the second time I appreciated more the picture he is trying to draw. His opening example is quite astute, I think. He tells of buying a used car without a manual, and ordering a manual that had no label or identification of the car - so how could he have confidence that it was a valid manual? As he went through it and found details that accurately portrayed what he actually found in the car, his confidence grew. And at some point, he achieved a confidence that it was an accurate manual for that car, even without exhaustively going through each page of the manual. This works well for his purpose, I think. When you find that the Bible asserts a beginning of time and the universe, thousands of years before science found out that this was true, it certainly begins to build a case that the Bible is not just a random collection of ancient myths. He continues in the vein, and seen in that light, I have come to regard it as an outstanding chapter.

p 126 Bible references for "the creation had a beginning".

p 127 Essay on time.

p 128 Bible references for God's acts before the beginning of time.

p 128 Cites binary neutron stars as the most sensitive test of general relativity, leading Penrose to say "This makes Einstein's general relativity, in this particular sense, the most accurately tested theory known to science!" from "Shadows of the Mind" 1994 p230.

p 131 Bible references for expanding universe.

p 132 Essay "Where did the cosmic causal agent come from?" It is quite good, making the case that the causal agent had to be outside of time and pointing out that only the Bible of all the holy books suggests such a thing.

p 136 Start of a series of short articles pointing out that the Bible explains things about the Earth and life:
The Bible explains

  • Earths features
  • Life and its History
  • the Role of Advanced Animals
  • What Makes People Different

The Bible reveals the Creator
The Bible Describes a Realm Beyond the Cosmos

p 144 A Trustworthy Testament
Reacts to the use of the Galileo statement "the Bible's primary purpose is to tell us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go" by reiterating that the Bible does give trustworthy information about the world and the universe.

Ch. 10: Why Not a Perfect Universe - Now?

p147 This chapter tries to deal with the problem of pain and suffering, but starts off reiterating how marvelous and abundant God's provision is in the world.

p151 The New Creation - Better Than Paradise

p152 False assumptions in judging that a good and wise God would have made a better world.

p153 Misperceptions

  • God created the world only to provide a comfortable environment
  • Nothing exists beyond the universe

p154 Perfection defined by purpose.

God made this universe to:

  1. make it possible for humans to exist.
  2. Serve as a classroom for humans
  3. Demonstrate His divine nature
  4. Show us our own human nature
  5. Provide for rapid development of global civilization and technology
  6. Display his glory and goodness
  7. Conquer evil
  8. Instruction of His angels
  9. Personally initiate our rescue
  10. Amaze us with His grace.
  11. Prepare and train us for what lies ahead.

Ch. 11: Why These Physical Laws and Dimensions?

p 166 Human capacity for morality and evil unique among all creations. The nature of the universe limits the evil in time and space.

p 167 Physical laws, Murphy's law --- nature of the universe designed for character modification via the law of sowing and reaping.

p 168 Jeremiah 33:25-26. The laws of the universe are fixed, and those laws didn't change with the fall.

p 170 Natural consequences train us
  1. Rusty tools
  2. Picking cherries
  3. Clear cutting
  4. Abusing workers
Natural consequences are a strong deterrent to evil, and provide the arena for divine rescue.

p 178 Very good section on Job
"Job ... concluded that unless there were someone to intercede between God and himself, someone to make amends for his moral failings, he had no hope, no destiny."Job 9:2,14,33;10:14
"Job ... concluded through his careful examination of the record of nature that the Creator is certainly powerful, wise, and loving enough to provide the means of redemption."Job 9:4,10;10:12; 12:10
"Job trusted in the divine Redeemer to make amends for him and to conquer the evil that resided in his heart." Job 17:3 "Give me O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me?"
Job 14:7 "My offenses will be sealed up in a big; you will cover my sin."
"Therefore Job was able to declare with confidence:" Job 19:25-27 "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in t he end he will stand upon the earth."

Ch. 12: Why Two Creations?

p 183 This universe prepares us for the next. Christianity vastly different from other religions in this arena.

p 184 "paradise lost" kind of story common to many early cultures and ethnic groups.

p 184 In Christianity God is for us rather than having to be appeased.

p 185 two realms, temporal vs eternal, very good vs perfect,

p 186 15 step chronology of the steps leading from this creation to the next.

p 188 Free will and the fall

p 189 The arduous task of resisting temptation compared to a PhD thesis project.

p 190 The will is transformed in this creation.

Ch. 13: Why Is the New Creation Better?

p 194 Eccles 3:11 has set eternity in the hearts of men. Collection of other scriptures about heaven.

p 195 Heaven "time-full" rather than timeless in the sense of static.

Discussion of characteristics of heaven.

Appendix A: Biblical Basis for an Ancient Universe and Earth

Refers to website and to Ross's "A Matter of Days".

Appendix B: Where is the Cosmic Density Fine-Tuning? Written with Jeff Zweerink, this appendix deals with the flatness paradox, dicusses inflation as giving flatness early on and the dark energy as contributing to flatness later, but only if that dark energy is itself finely tuned.

Appendix C: Designed for Life Refers to web reference for the following fine-tuning data.

  • Fine-tuning for life in the universe, 140 features of cosmos as a whole.
  • Fine-tuning for intelligent physical life, 402 features of planetary system and its galaxy
  • Probability estimates for 824 characteristics of galaxy and planet that make physical life possible.
  • Probability estimates for 824 characteristics of the environment.

Appendix D: Creation Accounts in the Bible

p 215 List of 27 scripture passages that speak of creation.

Appendix E: Entrance to the New Creation.

p217 Plan of salvation.

Reading Reference
Software ReferenceR Nave
Go Back