Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Dialogue on Armed Drone Attacks and Other Moral Questions.

By Juan Bernal

The characters of the dialogue:  I use Spanish terms for the frog, “El Sapo”  and the snake, “La Culebra.”  But don’t take for granted that la Culebra is the bad guy.  Actually I’m using the term “culebra” similar to the character in Old Testament mythology:  the serpent represents the wisdom of Satan, which all too often gets a bad rap.  My snake is not a villain in this short dialogue, and the frog’s moral intelligence has its limits.


El Sapo :  Someone sitting at a computer console in Nevada presses a few buttons to guide a military drone aircraft and fire deadly missile strikes in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and people are blown to bits.

La Culebra:  Yah, so what’s your point?

El Sapo:  Is this a justifiable act in a justifiable war?

La Culebra:  Sure, why not?

El Sapo:  But it is neither a justifiable war nor a justifiable act!

La Culebra:  From a military point of view it is certainly justifiable.  It’s effective and does not jeopardize lives of US soldiers. Inasmuch as they allow strikes on terrorists and insurrectionists with minimal jeopardy to our soldiers and airmen, drone air strikes are morally justifiable acts.  However, I won’t argue the merits of the original decision for military intervention in those countries.

El Sapo :  Leaving aside for now the question(s)  regarding the effectiveness of this action (tactic),  doesn’t the use of armed drone aircraft raise questions about the morality of such action (and the policy that leads to such action)?  Furthermore, what does it say about the moral values of people who allow such action?

La Culebra:  Our policy makers and military officials see drone strikes as effective and good tactics in killing more of the enemy and protecting our military persons on the battlefield.  Why shouldn’t citizens approve of such policy?  Surely it does not reflect badly on their moral values.

El Sapo :  But isn’t this just another indication that our military tactics and actions have become increasingly automated and impersonal?  Isn’t it an additional logical extension of war policies which call for obliteration of cities by air bombs initiated from bomber aircraft at thirty thousand feet altitude or missile strikes from ships or bases hundreds of miles away?

La Culebra:  So now you want to ponder the morality of aerial bombing and missile defense?

El Sapo:   But surely even you are bothered by some of this.  Do you rest easy at night (when do snakes sleep?) knowing that your country is ready to kill thousands of people who have nothing to do with the decisions of their leaders.  Can you say that abstract, computerized annihilation of human beings has become an acceptable way of doing war?

La Culebra:  I would put it differently:  the use of computer technology in military action against the enemy is surely an acceptable way of doing war.  War, after all, is not a picnic to make human beings feel good about them selves.

El Sapo:  The killing by remote control is apparently hardly worth more than passing reference by our leaders, news media, religious and academic spokes people.  They should be infuriated by it; but they hardly seem to notice anymore.

La Culebra:  Fighting a war by remote control is just part of what must be done to fight terrorism in distant parts of the world.  Surely, as a nation we don’t have to apologize to anyone for it.

El Sapo:  Maybe not.  However, imagine this scenario:  You and your family are camping in the Mojave Desert. (Your species likes the desert, right?)  At dawn, without warning and for no obvious reason, a drone flies over the ridge toward your camp ground, releases it’s deadly missile, and your family is obliterated.  Would this be worth more than a passing reference by our attractive, friendly news anchor on Channel Seven?

La Culebra:  Well, I surely would not approve of such a use of armed drones; and surely our society would not let such an atrocity pass without proper action.   But my family and I are not at war with anyone; and have a right to expect not be attacked by a remote-controlled drone.

El Sapo:  Well, I imagine that many victims of our remote controlled drone attacks feel the same way about the atrocities committed on them.  But let me turn to another implication of this computerized, remote control way of fighting a war. It is likely that the use of remote controlled armed drone aircraft and other automated, computerized weaponry will redefine what we understand by the ‘battlefield,’ and ‘combat.’ The concepts of agent and act become somewhat nebulous and ambiguous.  What is done takes place thousands of miles away and it is not obvious that the agent performing the act is the technician pushing the button on a computer console.  But in one sense, the fighter-bomber ‘pilot’ becomes a person sitting at a computer console thousands of miles away from the action, which is a missile strike destroying humans and property.

La Culebra:   Yes, I suppose the whole theater of battle begins to have a very different look.

El Sapo:  Combat by remote control implies that many of our combat ‘soldiers’ are more like teenagers playing a computer game than they are like the infantry soldier of past wars.

La Culebra:   Interesting point, but surely you’re not claiming that we should return to the violence and misery of infantry, trench warfare?

El Sapo:  No, that’s not my point.  My point relates to the morality and legality of our military ‘evolution.’  The moral and legal problems that arose with use of technology as a deadly weapon were recognized internationally around the time of World War I when gas warfare was outlawed.  Strangely enough the use of deadly machine guns and early tank attacks were considered fair play in the game of war.  Even more strangely, as we progressed to the war technology of World War II, the massive bombing of civilian centers (cities) was considered a morally acceptable way of doing war.  Finally, the use of atomic bombs and preparation for use of thermo-nuclear warheads, from aircraft and ICBMs were considered morally acceptable.

La Culebra:  War is deadly business; but we live in a dangerous world.  Surely you don’t think that our enemies will be deterred by moral qualms about their use of modern weapons?

El Sapo:  Did any international commission, sanctioned by the big powers or by the UN, ever take up the question of the morality of wholesale killing of people (non-combatant civilians) by dropping of atomic bombs or the use of thermo-nuclear warheads?  Besides the non-official declarations by anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons people, it seems that the answer is “no, they did not.”  No such commission of respectable diplomats and governmental officials ever seriously took up the question of the morality of policies which call for the use of deadly technology of war.  Citizens in most countries in general continued with their business and did not bother themselves with such questions.

La Culebra:  Yes, we have to be about our business of living and earning a living.  But we do to see ourselves as decent, moral people.  Why shouldn’t we?  We often act on humanitarian grounds and condemn violence, cruelty, and injustice inflicted on innocent humans throughout the world.  For the most part, we are morally decent people.

El Sapo:  Oh the grand myth that humans are noble, admirable, morally conscientious beings does have its application  in many cases.   But, when the subject is that of the nation’s war policy, the normal values of humanitarianism and compassion no longer seem to apply.

La Culebra:  Don’t you think that this is mostly an academic problem for moral philosophy, which does not even clearly see the nature of human reality?  Maybe you’re not recognizing that the actions of societies and human beings are not generally guided by moral thought and principles.  Isn’t this rather obvious in war, politics, economics and business?   Doesn’t this also hold true in many other aspects of human behavior?

El Sapo:   A good part of what bothers me is the hypocrisy.  We talk as if we were morally conscientious and ethically grounded beings; but often our actions belie our talk.  The teachings of moralists, ethicists, and philosophers, along the preaching of our church people, are attempts to bring attention to the moral questions.  But ultimately everyone is co-opted by the weight of institutional, political, and economic will.  Hence, there is little or no debate about the morality of our government’s policies and military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Libya (in 2011).

La Culebra:  But let us not go overboard on this charge of hypocrisy.  Instead, let’s recognize that our society (in the US and other Western nations) is a ‘mixed bag,’ neither fully described as moral, immoral, or amoral.    For example, our people would recoil if they learned that our military carried out arbitrary, mass killing of civilians.  Americans would not accept a government program of genocide and the killing of innocents (children, women, old men), even if it was seen as required by “national security” interests.

El Sapo:  You’re right on that!  But I’m still very much bothered by the extent to which our people acquiesce in the killing of civilians and non-combatants (“collateral damage”) that results from US and NATO air-strikes on the territory of other countries, and the fact that they don’t demand the strictest safeguards against such ‘accidents.’

La Culebra:   What can I say?   Surely this is not the most perfect world, regardless of what Leibniz argued.

AIDS, Homophobia & the Religious Right

Charles L. Rulon

Emeritus, Life & Health Sciences

Long Beach City College

 Medieval religious beliefs intensified the persecution of AIDS victims

Scientists have been working around the clock for decades to con­quer AIDS, a tragic dis­ease spread by a deadly virus that has already killed tens of millions of people.  Like most crises, AIDS has brought out the best and the worst in human nature. Thousands of pro­fes­sional and voluntary care-givers have gen­­er­ously come forth to care for the sick.  Fund raisers have generated millions to fight this dis­ease.  These are expres­­sions of human compas­sion at its best.

But AIDS has also aroused mean-spirited responses due to the fact that the disease first struck already stigma­tized popu­la­tions: gay men, IV drug users and prosti­tutes. Attacks against gay men began to rise sharply in the late 70s, shortly after the epidemic hit.  In 1986, the presi­dent of the South­ern Baptist Convention announced that AIDS was God’s way of indi­cating His dis­plea­sure with the homosexual life­style.  His view was widely suppor­t­ed across our nation in thou­s­ands of Christ­ian churches and on hun­dreds of Chris­t­ian tele­vision and radio stations to tens of millions of follow­ers.

Over three decades later millions upon millions of Christians in the U.S. continue to believe that homo­­­­­sexual behavior is hated by God, that AIDS was brought by God as a punishment, and that those with AIDS must have deserv­ed it for their “wick­ed lifestyle.”  This is in spite of the fact that:

a. Mono­ga­mous gay men rarely got AIDS, unless they shot drugs.

b. Almost no lesbians were infected with the AIDS virus.

c. In Africa, Asia and South America, hetero­sexual popu­la­tions were the hardest hit with AIDS.

d. Many heterosexuals in the U.S. acquired AIDS via blood transfu­sions from contaminated blood.

e. Tens of thousands of newborn ba­bies got AIDS from their in­fected mothers.

This religious “wrath of God” explanation for AIDS has been used to explain deadly epidemics throughout history.  Yet, would the elimination of any disease have been possible if this disease really were caused by an angry god?  Kill the rats and fleas and the plague disappears.  Eliminate the mosquito and malaria disappears.  Sterilize the drinking water and cholera disappears.  Vaccinate enough people and small pox is eradicated.  If history is any guide, AIDS will also be eventu­ally conquered.  But it won’t be by Christians persecuting homosexuals, or by Muslims burying them alive.

In the meanwhile, those who believe that AIDS is God’s way of punishing homosexuals will not be donating money to fight this disease.  Nor will they be helping those who are dying alone in some hospital, or on some street corner, shunned even by their “God fear­ing” relatives.  Instead, their “wrath of God” beliefs and propaganda will actually help to spread AIDS.  This is because young males who want sex from women will rare­ly reveal any past homo­sexual or IV drug usage.  Neither will married gay men who are still in the closet to their wives.   So the virus spreads to women and then to their fetuses during pregnancy.

In addition, the Christian Right with its non-stop efforts to elec­t con­­ser­va­tive judges, legis­lators and school boards, plus its relentless error-filled propagan­da and watch­dog acti­v­i­­ties, has blocked many education­al pro­grams rela­ted to AIDS for the last three decades.  They have kept homo­phobia alive, kept sex educa­tion out of the schools, and kept IV drug addicts from obtaining sterile needles.

 The Catholic Church and AIDS

One of the biggest obstacles to AIDS education and to AIDS control pro­grams over the last three decades has been the Roman Catholic Church—a church that minis­ters to the spiritual needs of roughly one-sixth of the entire world popula­tion!

In 1986 the first condom commer­cials finally began to appear on television.  But it was not because the U.S. had the highest rate of unplanned teen pregnancies and one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases of all Western devel­oped na­tions.  No.  Instead, it was finally in response to the deadly serious AIDS epi­dem­ic that broke out in the late 1070s.  Even then the uproar, po­litical pressure and threatened boycotts from the Christian Right, in par­ticular the Roman Catholic Church, squashed most ads.

In 1989, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston even urged Catho­lic parents to pull their chil­dren out of pub­lic school AIDS classes because their discus­sions of sex and con­doms were “amoral.”  Just teach child­ren to be good and to abstain, said the Archdio­cese.

In 1995, Catholic officials in Brazil criticized the government’s new AIDS prevention campaign because it advocated the use of condoms to protect against the spread of AIDS.  In 1996, even though Kenya had a very serious AIDS problem, Kenya’s top Catholic bishop publicly burned several boxes of con­doms along with pam­phlets promoting safe sex.

Catholic Church officials have declared that condoms offered no protection against AIDS.  Some have even asserted that condoms actually caused AIDS by lulling people into believing they were protected.  Health professionals continue to strong­ly dis­agree.  Dr. James Prescott voiced his outrage back in 1987: “The willingness of the Roman Catholic church and moral funda­mentalists to subordi­nate the pre­vention of the spread of a deadly disease that will take millions of lives to their ill-conceived reli­g­ious beliefs of per­ceived evil in condom usage simply staggers one’s sense of moral conscious­ness.”[i]  Almost 25 years later, little has changed.[ii]

Some closing thoughts

There is no question that much Catholic Church ef­fort world­wide has been di­rect­ed to­ward aiding the poor, the sick, the elderly and the handi­capped, plus main­tain­ing child care centers, and pro­viding drug and alco­hol reha­bili­ta­tion programs.  Many kind and char­i­t­able programs are rooted in Catholic reli­gious teach­ings.  Also, many priests have been at the fore­­front of civil rights movements, cam­­paigns for dis­ar­ma­ment, struggles for economic equality and against capital punishment.  Many priests have also been active in cam­paigns to save our planet from be­ing envir­on­men­tally trashed by greed and power struggles.  Some have been killed for their efforts.  That’s why it’s so unfortunate that the Catholic hierarchy has chosen to continue to vig­or­ous­ly op­pose condoms in this age of AIDS, not to mention stem-cell research, all modern contra­ception, the morning-after pill, steri­li­za­tion procedures, all abortions, in-vitro fertilization, and gay marriage.

When certain reli­gious beliefs are being forced on others and result in the suffer­ing of inno­cent people, these beliefs deserve to be investigated and exposed if necessary.  Yet, when such harm is exposed, religious leaders often cry foul and accuse skep­tics of blasphe­my and reli­gion bashing.  However, history teaches us that religious be­lief systems, if not kept in check by ongoing skeptical inquiry, have the po­ten­tial of developing autho­ri­tarian, Holy Crusade systems of moral absolutes and truths.


[i] Dr. James Prescott. “AIDS, Sexual Oppression and Violence,” The Humanist, July/Aug. 1987.

[ii] For a detailed coverage of the Roman Catholic’s position on condoms and AIDS, including the Church’s justification,  see <>

Cosmological Coincidences & God

By Charles L. Rulon

Emeritus, Life Sciences

Long Beach City College

Our universe appears to be fine-tuned

Astronomer, Fred Hoyle, commented that, because of what appears to be a “monstrous series of accidents,” our universe is exquisite­ly fine-tuned for the evolution of life.  In fact, says Hoyle, our uni­verse looks just like a “put-up job,” as though some­body had been “monkeying” with the laws of physics.”[1]  What Hoyle meant was that only tiny shifts in the relative strengths of var­ious forces such as gravity and electromagnetism, or the mass of var­i­ous par­ticles, or the form taken by the various laws of physics would bring about changes so drastic that car­bon-based life of any imagin­able sort could have never evolved.  In fact, physicist Freeman Dyson famously observed that our universe seems almost as if it “must have known we were coming”.

As just one example, carbon chem­istry is enormously richer than the chem­istry of any other element.  In fact, of all the 92 naturally occur­ring atoms found in our uni­verse, bio­chemists are convinced that only the carbon atom has the many unique and essential pro­per­ties neces­­sary to form the back­bone structure of life, not only on Earth, but through­out our uni­verse.  But carbon is very tricky for stars to syn­the­size.  With just the slight­est changes in the apparent fine-tuning of a few physical pa­rameters stars could never have made carbon in the first place.[2]

In 1999 Martin Rees, a leading figure in theoretical astrophysics and Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, in his book, Just Six Numbers, listed six fundamental physical constants, which are believed to hold throughout our universe.  Each of these six numbers is fine-tuned in the sense that, if it were slightly different, the universe would be completely different, making our form of life impossible.  Since then, other theorists have added several more numbers.  Currently there is no known law that requires these numbers to have the values that they do.  So how did we get so lucky with all these apparent cosmological coincidences?

Many theists see all of these “amazing cosmological coincidences”—all this “miraculous fine tuning”—as strong evidence for the existence of God.

Perhaps there are no knobs to tune in the first place? 

So how did we get so lucky with all this fine-tuning?  Physicist Tanner Edis (Ghost in the Universe, p. 88) agrees that the universe does look fine-tuned, but observes that future theories might reduce the number of dials to tweak, thus causing the apparent fine-tuning of these dials to disappear.  Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion – p. 144) also suggests that perhaps these six numbers of Martin Rees depend upon each other, or on some other unknown thing in ways that make them no freer to vary than the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. If this turns out to be true, then there could be only one way for a universe to be.  To quote Dawkins: “Far from God being needed to twiddle six knobs, there [would be] no knobs to twiddle.”  Yet, observes Dawkins, and this is the critical point, if there are no knobs to tune “then why did that one way [the only way to make a universe] have to be such a set-up job for our eventual evolution?”

Many theists would see such a discovery (no knobs to twiddle, thus a ready-made universe for the evolution of humans) as further proof that God not only exists, but that He also created our universe.

The multiverse can explain our universe’s apparent fine-tuning

Currently, the dominant naturalistic expla­nation for all this apparent fine-tuning is the existence of a multiverse, a huge number of universes each with differ­ent randomly appear­ing fundamental constants and, therefore, differ­ent proper­ties.  Our uni­­verse just happens to be one in which the evolution of carbon-based life was pos­sible.  No supernatural designer is now needed; no “amaz­ing coinci­­dences” need to be explained.


Many theists see a designer God as a much simpler explanation and that multiple universe believers are merely desperate atheists grasping at imaginary straws. 

But, according to astronomer William Jefferys, theists are mistaken to think that the motivation for the multiverse is to get around the fine-tuning problem. Instead, the proposed existence of a multiverse is a consequence of the leading theory of cosmology — the theory of chaotic inflation — which is the theory best supported by the evidence.  According to Jefferys, “Chaotic inflation was invented to explain certain observed facts about our universe, for example its flatness and homogeneity. One consequence of inflation is that the universe… contains infinitely many regions that have each inflated into expanding universes much like ours, but perhaps with physical constants different from ours.” [3]

According to one model of string theory, there could be 10500   possible universes, all with different self-consistent laws and constants.  When asked if scientists will ever be able to prove that the multiverse is real, physicist Andrei Linde responded that nothing else fits the data.  He explained that physicists don’t have any other explanation for the dark energy, or for the mass of the electron, or for the many properties of various particles.  Besides, if nature can produce one universe, why couldn’t it produce many universes? Indeed, it might even be expected.  Physicists know nothing in principle to prevent it.

Some theists actually hope that there is a multiverse because it would truly portray to them God’s power and inventiveness at being able to create all possible universes.  Also, the fact that it might take an entire multiverse to evolve us makes humans even more special and precious to God.


Maybe our universe is not fine-tuned or a set-up job after all? 

Physicist Victor Stenger takes a different route from the previous scientists mentioned.  He writes that our universe may not be that fine-tuned in the first place — that ‘artificial life’ computer simulations demonstrate that a wide range of physical parameters can lead to a life-friendly universe — that a number of such universes already have been found possible by twiddling with multiple knobs at the same time.  Stenger’s conclusion is that the fine-tuners have no basis in current knowledge for assuming that life is impossible except for a very narrow, improbable range of parameters. [4]  Furthermore, Stenger emphasizes, “the laws of physics are those that would be expected to exist if the universe arose from simpler systems mostly by chance — from… no matter , no energy, no structure and, most significantly, no information.”[5]

Many theists see the possi­bility of a uni­verse capable of creating “the miracle of life” under a whole variety of different physical constants as even more evidence for a mas­ter designer God.

Other tunings might lead to the evolution of other life forms

Neuroscientist Sam Harris writes that even if there are many other universes with different laws, different physi­cal constants and totally different atoms, we can’t rule out the evolution of life based on different chemistry.  Harris observes (Newsweek. -11/13/06): “To us carboniferous creatures, the dials may seem miraculously tweaked, but different physical laws might have led to universes harboring equally awe-filled forms of energy, cooking up [fine-tuned] arguments of their own.”

Scientific discoveries continue to challenge God beliefs

Rationalists ask: If humans really are central to some master plan, then why is our universe so unfathomably huge and old ….. and so violent?  Stars explode.  Black holes suck in entire star systems.  Gigantic explosions at the center of galaxies destroy millions of worlds.  Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize winner in physics, does not see any evidence for God in our universe.  He observes: “If we were to see the hand of a designer anywhere, it would be in the funda­mental principles, the laws of nature.  But contrary to some assertions they appear to be utterly impersonal and without any special role for life.” [6]

A Designer of the universe is a scientific useless hypothesis

Real scientific hypotheses have to be vulnerable to evidence.  Not so supernatural ones, since there is no conceivable evidence that can refute the claim that our universe was designed by God.  No matter what scientists discover, that’s the way God did it.  If there are “amazing cosmological coincidences,” this is strong evidence for the existence of God.  If there is a multiverse, this portrays God’s power and inventiveness to create all possible universes.  If it takes an entire multiverse just to produce humans, this makes us even more likely to be God’s special creation.  And if it turns out that there can only be one kind of universe (i.e. no knobs to fine-tune), this is proof that God had to have created this universe—a universe that was set up to evolve humans.  Evolutionary biology per se does not need God, but theologians interpret the evolutionary process as a manifestation of divine creativity.

Of course, if an all-powerful God really wanted us to know that He created us, it would have been relatively easy.  As just one example, He could have created a universe where the constants are not right for the production of carbon and oxygen in the interiors of stars.  The result would be no carbon or oxygen atoms in the universe . . .  except on Earth where God sprinkled them so that life would evolve.

Even if the universe was created by some “cosmic being”, what evidence is there that this “designer” was the God of Abraham?

There is a huge leap from believing that an “Intelligent Designer” created our universe and believing that this designer is actually the God of the Bible.  After all, why couldn’t this designer be:

a) An evil designer who delights in his creation of millions of hideous parasites and who has been gleefully enjoying our endless wars, genocides, hatreds, famines and plagues, not to mention the horrendous levels of death, pain and suffering on Earth for hundreds of millions of year

b) An incompetent designer who had hoped to create a being that would reflect his wisdom and divinity, but, having obvi­ously failed so miserably, abandoned his project long ago.

c) A Gremlin collective that de­cided long ago to evolve just bacteria, insects and dino­saurs on Earth.  But then an asteroid sent by an evil force destroyed the dino­saurs… and, well, you make up the rest.

Or perhaps humans and other “meat” were only created as “fast food” for this Master Designer’s truly chosen species who is now tour­ing our galaxy.  Or…Or…The point is that once we introduce non-testable, non-falsifiable super­natural answers, anything becomes possible. We’re now only limit­ed by our extremely fertile imaginations and our immense gullibility.

Christian apologists, of course, disagree and argue in “zillions” of books, articles and web sites that only their god can be the one true creator/designer God of the universe.

Is Earth also “fine-tuned”?

Many articles and books have been written, which document all of the “amazing coincidences” we find regarding Earth, itself, — coincidences that permit the existence or evolution of sentient beings like ourselves — coincidences which all but prove to the authors the likely existence of an Intelligent Designer.[7]  A quick web search reveals that these writings have been seriously criticized by many other scientists, including Stenger and astronomer William Jefferys.

But to the extent that Earth (and our solar system) might appear “fine-tuned” regarding some of its properties, are there natural explanations?  Sure.  Here’s one:  In 2010, Geoff March, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley estimated that, judging from his observations, our galaxy may contain tens of billions of planets roughly the size and mass of Earth.[8]   Thus, with so many planets it’s not surprising that a planet here or there would be friendly to life.

Besides, perhaps there are numerous planets much more suited for the evolution of advanced, space-age species than Earth is.  After all, it took over two billion years for even simple multi-cellular life to evolve on Earth.  Then it took another two billion years for humans to evolve, an event that included so many accidents and contingencies of history that, were evolution to start over, the big money is on humans never evolving again.  In addition, catastro­phic events such as meteor impacts, gigantic volcanic eruptions, ice sheets cover­ing much of Earth, and plate tectonic movements tearing apart entire continents have devastated Earth’s surface for eons, resulting in at least five major mass extinctions over the last 600 million years.  Then throw in all the earthquakes hurricanes, tsunamis and pandemics.  Surely God could come up with a better planet for the evolution of His favorite species.



[1] Hoyle, F., 1983, The Intelligent Universe, p. 218

[2] Google “anthropic universe”, “anthropic principal,” or “cosmological coincidences” for thousands of websites and dozens of fine-tuned examples.  Here are just a few:  If the proton-neutron mass dif­fer­ence were not about twice the mass of an electron, the atoms that are essential for life as we know it would never have formed.  If the explosive force of the “Big Bang” had been slightly weak­er, or the grav­itational attraction slightly stronger, the stars would have burned out much faster and the cosmos would have soon fallen back on itself in a big crunch prob­ably long before life could have evolved.  On the other hand, had the reverse been true, the cosmic material would have dis­persed so rapidly that gala­xies would never have formed.  If the weak force were slightly different, helium rather than hydrogen would have emerged as the domi­nant element in stars.  The result would have been much shorter lived stars and almost no water.  Without ade­quate time, could higher life forms have evolved?  If the strong nuclear force was only 2% stronger there would be virtually no hydro­gen left over after the Big Bang. Thus, stable stars like our sun which burn hydrogen couldn’t exist.  Also, neither could water, nor or­ganic chem­istry, nor life as we know it.


[4]Victor Stenger has written several books dealing with physics and God.  For example, see his best-seller, God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist.  Stenger’s web site is: <>

[5] Free Inquiry, Aug. 2008.

[6]Weinberg, Steven, 2001, A Designer Universe?  Skeptical Inquirer, Sept./Oct. 2001.  This article is based on a talk given in 1999 at the Conference on Cosmic Design of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

[7]For example, see the 2000 book Rare Earth by Ward and Brownlee and the 2004 book The Privileged Planet by Gonzalez and Richards.

[8] Discover, Jan./Feb. 2011, p. 34