Counting Hairs

Posted by on Nov 22, 2013 in Knowing for Sure Blog, Teleological Argument | 3 comments

Counting Hairs

You’re impressed with the fact that He knows the number of hairs on our heads? It seems hard to imagine that God would really know the number of hairs on our heads, especially when you think about the number of people in the rapidly growing population of our world. At the moment I am typing these words the population of our world is seven billion, one hundred and ninety four million, four hundred and twenty five thousand. The average person has from one hundred thousand, to one hundred and fifty thousand hairs on their head. That is a lot of hairs to keep track of.

If I was a god, I would not bother to keep track of how many hairs were on the heads my creations, but is God really keeping track? Would he tally them off as we might keep track of the days of the week, penny’s in a jar, or wood stacked for the winter?

hairs2

I wonder of much of who God is we can truly grasp? I don’t think we can even comprehend a small part of his character or ability. I would venture a guess that he does not keep track of anything. He would just know. No calculations involved. No pause for thought. No moments of reflection. As humans there are some things we just know without having to consider it. For example, ‘The whole is greater than the part.’ or ‘All bachelors are unmarried men.’ We don’t need to calculate those statements, we just know they are true by deductive reasoning.

Knock on your table. Seems pretty solid, but it is actually mostly empty space. Well, as empty as you might consider the circle of a spinning twin bladed propeller. The electrons that spin near the speed of light are quite a ways from nucleus of the atom, but as they spin around the nucleus they form a sort of barrier, much like a propeller you dare not stick your hand in. To give you an idea of how much empty space I am talking about imagine the nucleus of an atom enlarged to the size of a basketball. The electrons would be whirling around at the speed of light roughly a mile away forming an impenetrable sphere around the nucleus.

So atoms that make up everything around us are extremely small, but really are mostly an empty expanse from the core, (nucleus) to the electrons creating the sphere. To give you an idea how small atoms are, ten million atoms in a row are less than a tenth of an inch long. Now, it can be hard for us to imagine ten million of something, so to put it in perspective, ten million inches in a row is approximately 158 miles long. If we were to view the earth from a distance of ten million miles it would look just a bit larger than a period on this page.

These facts can be fun to read about, but it is really miraculous how it all works together in creation to form existence as we know it.

Mario Livio wrote a book titled, Is God A Mathematician? In his book he gives us examples of how math can express the simple beauty of creation. Picture again a sphere that is about a mile in diameter, much like the basketball, (nucleus) and the electrons (sphere) spinning around the basketball a mile away. As the sphere is inflated the surface area of the sphere grows in exact proportion to the square of its radius. radiusjpgIf you don’t remember what a radius is, it is half the diameter, or the distance of the basketball to the sphere. So when the distance of the radius is doubled, (2x) the surface area of the sphere is increases by 4x. If the distance of the radius increases by 3x, then the surface area of the sphere increases by 9x. Finally, if the radius increases by 4x then the surface area increases by 16x.

If you like that, the you will find Newtons law of gravitational force even more interesting. The gravitational pull of the sun weakens in exact proportion to the inverse square of the distance. So for example at twice the distance from the sun the gravitational force is 4x weaker. At three times the distance the gravitational force is 9x weaker and at four times the distance, it is 16x weaker.

How many of you have been electrically shocked by someone walking on carpet? The positive and negative charges are so finely tuned that you don’t feel any electric force pulling you to the ground. If we removed all the negative charges on earth you would instantly be crushed with just the small charge you acquire walking across a rug. If we removed all the positive charges on earth you would be shot into space instantly, no worries about lack of oxygen in space because the massive amount of G’s as you were flung into space, would kill you instantly. Science tells us that the universe’s positive and negative forces pulling and pushing are so finely balanced that gravity is the ruling force, but it is the weakest of all the four known forces in the universe.1

The four known forces in the universe are gravity, electromagnetic, strong force, weak force. Gravity and the electromagnetic forces you are probably familiar with. The strong force is the force that binds neutrons and protons together in the core of atoms, which you remember are very small. The range on the strong force is extremely short. Kenneth Ford in his book The Quantum World explains how gravity and the strong force compare with each other. “Another consequence of gravity’s weakness is that it plays no known role in the subatomic world. Acting between the proton and the electron in a hydrogen atom, the electric force out-pulls the gravitational force by a factor that can truly be called humongous. [1039].” Remember ten million atoms end to end are less than a tenth of an inch. “How big is 1039? That many atoms, stacked end to end would stretch to the edge of the universe and back a thousand times.” 2 Something we can’t even comprehend, and it boggles the mind.

Just the few thoughts above relate to what is called the Anthropic Principle. The Anthropic Principle suggests the universe was actually designed or ‘fine tuned’ for life, specifically life here on earth. Doug Powell in his Christian Apologetics Guide says, “There are many ways the design argument has been used to argue for the existence of God. Proponents have pointed to order, information, purpose, complexity, simplicity, sense, and even beauty as evidence of design in the universe.”3 Imagine taking a shower with the hot and cold knob set just right. No complaints and everything is just perfect. Now turn one of the knobs just a bit left or right and suddenly you have plenty to complain about. Now imagine a thousand knobs and all relate to the fine tuning of the universe. If one of them is off by just a tenth of an inch, (or ten million atoms lined up) then the recipe for our current universe is no longer hospitable for life.

A few more knobs would include:
-Ratio of electrons to proton mass.
-Ratio of protons to electrons.
-Expansion rate of the universe.
-Electromagnetic force constant.
-Gravitational force constant.
-Strong force constant.
-Range of the strong force.

The above, incomplete list applies to our whole universe, but we cal also look at the parameters for our solar system. In fact Hugh Ross, co-founder of Reasons to Believe has come up with a list of 66 parameters that deal with just our sun-planet-moon solar system. Each one of those parameters would represent a dial and if any of them were off just by just a fraction, life would not be possible.

When you reflect on all the possible requirements, and all the laws that govern our universe, interacting with each dial setting, counting hair seem like child’s play.
Isaac Newton was a physicist and mathematician who was one of the most brilliant scientists that ever lived. “This genius, who by a historical coincidence was born in exactly the same year in which Galileo died, formulated the fundamental laws of mechanics, deciphered the laws describing the planetary motions, erected the theoretical basis for the phenomena of light and color, and founded the study of differential and integral calculus… [His] work bridged the gap between the heavens and the Earth, fused the fields of astronomy and physics, and put the entire cosmos under one mathematical umbrella.”4

Isaac Newton wrote of himself, “I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

Sources:
1. Ford, Kenneth W. The Quantum World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004. Print
2. Ibid.
3. Powell, Doug. Guide To Christian Apologetics. Nashville: Holman Reference, 2006. Print.
4. Livio, Mario. Is God A Mathematician? New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. Print

3 Comments

  1. Thanks James.Most translations render that passage about the hairs on your head something like: “the very hairs of your head are all numbered”. I am not sure what the original Greek indicates, but I like to think that it means that not only does God know how many hairs are on your head, but he has “numbered” each one of them. So next time you brush your hair, and one falls out, I like to think that God says, “Oh, there goes number 371”. God really does love us! 🙂

  2. I had not thought about it that way. Each one being numbered. Thanks for the reply Jim. 🙂

  3. Whether he counts my hairs or simply cares about whether or not they keep my head warm….
    It seems He is more concerned with what we think, and our thought processes. The rest of it would be ancillary to He who is omnipotent and has a complete handle on all He created.

Feel free to leave a reply. :)

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