But it turns out that Sagan was off wildly about the numbers of conditions needed for life. The two conditions he posited were:
...the right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 27 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.After decades of probing by science and the space program, it now appears that there are more than 200 factors identified as necessary for life to exist and, as a result, a shrinking number of candidates on which such conditions might exist.
But, Eric Metaxis says in article in The Wall Street Journal, there are even more mind-blowing results and implications from years of scientific inquiry:
The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.
Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row.Science seems to be suggesting that the universe didn't just happen from some underived vacuum.
Read the whole thing.