The Universe: A Cradle for Life

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A Cradle for Life

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MP3 Audio (30.37 MB)


The Universe: A Cradle for Life

MP3 Audio (30.37 MB)

In the first chapter of Genesis, the Bible majestically describes the three great acts of creation: (1) the universe, including the earth (Genesis 1:1); (2) a restitution of the earth following devastation with new plant and animal life (Genesis 1:2-25); and (3) human beings (Genesis 1:26-27).

After raising the continents from a vast ocean of water, God filled the earth with a variety of living things that now populate every nook and cranny of the planet. When He commanded the living creatures to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the sea, and let the birds multiply on the earth” (Genesis 1:21-22), He was not exaggerating!

We often take all of this for granted, accustomed to seeing the astounding gamut of life, from the tiny ant to the huge elephant or the gigantic whale.

Can we fully appreciate the care and precision that it took to put all of this together? It is compelling evidence for the existence of God and for creationism—the belief that God created the universe. We can see that creation and its creatures were not a lucky accident, as atheistic evolution teaches, but that the universe is a carefully designed masterpiece of the Creator God.

Years ago, I was struck by a statement from two French scientists known as the Bogdanov twins. Asked in an interview why there is such order in the universe, they answered:

“This is a fundamental question. The most striking feature of the universe is that order began from the very start—at its initial stage. According to some physicists, everything occurs as if mankind was born in a universe ‘created for them,’ in effect, intentionally designed for human beings. It is similar to preparing a bedroom before the birth of a baby” (“The Universe Was Not Born From Chance,” Le Point, June 10, 1991, emphasis added throughout).

So how is the universe a “cradle” for human life and all other physical life? Let’s go over some key scientific findings. The evidence certainly points to a Creator God.

Light—our life-sustaining source

When we wake up in the morning, sunlight begins to seep through the windows. Then, once outside, we are warmed by the same sun.

Yet few realize how incredibly special is the light and heat that arrive on earth in the precise amount and type to sustain life. Of all the vast ranges of solar energy possible to bathe the earth, ours happens to be of just the correct wavelength and quantity to produce beneficial effects on life.

Notes astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez: “Our atmosphere participates in one of the most extraordinary coincidences known to science: an eerie harmony among the range of wavelengths of light emitted by the Sun, transmitted by Earth’s atmosphere, converted by plants into chemical energy, and detected by the human eye . . .

“The near-ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared spectra—the light most useful to life and sight—are a razor-thin sliver of the universe’s natural, electromagnetic emissions: about one part in 1025 [or one in 10 trillion trillion]. That is much smaller than one star out of all the stars in the entire visible universe, about 1022 [or one in 10 billion trillion]” (The Privileged Planet, 2004, p. 66).

What would happen if the light and heat radiated from the sun did not fall within this minuscule range of possibilities?

“Our amazement grows further,” adds biochemist Michael Denton, “when we note that not only is the radiant energy in this tiny region the only radiation of utility to life but that radiant energy in most other regions of the spectrum is either lethal or profoundly damaging. Electromagnetic radiation from gamma rays through X rays to ultraviolet rays is all harmful to life . . .

“Moreover . . . this fitness [of light] is not merely for simple microbial life, but for the complex organisms such as ourselves. It is fit to provide the warmth upon which all life on the earth’s surface depends. It is fit for photosynthesis, which generates the reduced carbon fuels, whose oxidation provides energy for all complex life on earth, and it is fit for vision, the key adaptation [according to evolutionary perspective] through which our own species gained knowledge of the world” (Nature’s Destiny, 1998, pp. 53, 70).

Light is a type of energy that is not completely understood by physicists. In any case, without light there would be no life, and so it is a prerequisite for life.

Consequently, it is quite appropriate to read in the account of God making the world habitable for life, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light’” (Genesis 1:3, emphasis added throughout).

Water—the miraculous liquid

After light comes another wonder—water with its uncanny characteristics.

Drinking, washing, cleaning, sustaining crops, having our blood flowing and many other bodily processes—all of these have in common the multiple ways water is essential for all of us.

Scientists are awed by the unique features of water that permit life to flourish. For instance, just before it freezes, water does an about-face at 39°F (4°C) and, unlike other solidifying liquids, begins to expand instead of contract—thus becoming less dense as it converts into ice. If this were not so, when a lake or river froze over, the ice formed at the top would keep sinking to the bottom, and eventually the lake or river would be frozen solid, killing fish and other life and preventing thawing in the spring. It would prove fatal to the chain of life on earth.

Furthermore, water also has a surprising quality when it turns into a gas. Though water is 800 times heavier than air, when it evaporates it mixes with other gases in earth’s atmosphere, suspended water droplets form clouds that cover more than half the earth’s atmosphere. This makes the miracle of life-sustaining rain possible.

Another amazing property of water is how gently but effectively it acts as a solvent. While easily dissolving an enormous variety of substances, it is not, unless unusually propelled into fast motion, strong enough to wear down the rocky cliffs by the seashore—otherwise all the continents would have long ago crumbled into the sea.

“It turns out that, as a solvent, water is indeed ideally fit,” notes Denton, “so much so that water approaches far nearer than any other liquid to the alkahest, the universal mythical solvent of the alchemists. This is a property of critical importance to water’s biological role . . . What is so very remarkable about the various physical properties of water . . . is not that each is so fit in itself, but the astonishing way in which, in many instances, several independent properties are adapted to serve cooperatively the same biological end” (pp. 31, 40).

Did all of the peculiar but wondrous characteristics of water just happen by chance? Or were they designed?

Denton remarks: “Although water is one of the most familiar of all substances, its remarkable nature never fails to impress . . . Water forms the fluid in which occur all the vital chemical and physical activities upon which life on earth depends. Without water, life that exists on the earth would be impossible . . . Most organisms are made up of more than 50 percent water; in the case of man, water makes up more than 70 percent of the weight of the body . . . As far as the thermal properties are concerned, water would appear to be uniquely, and in many different ways, ideally adapted for life on earth” (pp. 22, 30).

Scientists still puzzle over the origin of the enormous quantity of water on earth, covering 70 percent of its surface, and they also wonder where all the salt came from to produce the precise ratio found in saltwater that acts as an antiseptic and sustainer of life in the sea.

Genesis 1 tells us simply, “Thus God made the firmament [atmosphere], and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament [the clouds]; and it was so” (Genesis 1:7).

Carbon—the matrix for life

When we think of carbon, maybe the first thing that comes to mind is coal, which is made mostly of carbon. Yet, carbon is an amazing element that forms the chemical backbone for all living things. Scientists use the term carbon-based life to emphasize the importance of this substance in living things. It is another marvel of design.

“A house is built up from wood, brick, stone, and metal components,” explains Denton. “In the case of living organisms, the basic chemical building blocks utilized in their construction are organic compounds—molecules composed of the atom carbon (C), in combination with a handful of other atoms . . . The world of life is very much the product of the compounds of carbon. All the machinery of the cell, and all the vital structures of living organisms from the molecular to the morphological [physical shape] level, are constructed from the compounds of carbon . . .”

“Carbon is so uniquely fit for its biological role, its various compounds so vital to the existence of life, that we may repeat the aphorism, ‘If carbon did not exist, it would have to be invented’” (pp. 104, 116).

Some writers have envisioned life on other planets having another chemical basis, such as silicon. Yet the more that’s known about other possible substances as the foundation for life, the more carbon is found to be the only element that fulfills the requirements.

As astronomer Hugh Ross concludes about carbon and the just-right amount of it in the universe: “Without carbon, physical life is impossible. No other element displays the rich chemical behavior needed to form the range of complex molecular structures life requires. Given that physical life must be carbon-based, why would God make a universe with so little carbon?

“Researchers have found that the quantity of carbon must be carefully balanced between just enough and not too much because carbon, though essential for life, can also be destructive to life. Too much carbon translates into too much carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. In large quantities, these gases are poisonous. In modest quantities, their greenhouse properties keep the planet sufficiently warm for life. In larger quantities, they can heat a planet’s surface beyond what physical life can tolerate” (Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, 2008, p. 28).

Notice how the Bible mentions that life came from the very compounds of the earth made by God, which include this vital carbon: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creatures according to its kind, cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so” (Genesis 1:24).

The size of living things—not an accident

We take for granted the size of the living things we see around us, but, as scientists have discovered, these have been carefully created with the optimal dimensions, given their different functions.

“The physiologist Knut Schmidt-Nielsen considered the question,” writes Dr. Denton, “of whether or not the blue whale weighing 100 million grams (110 tons,) the giant redwoods (1 billion grams or 1,100 tons) and the smallest existing organism, the mycoplasma, are close to the actual limits on what is possible and concluded, ‘There are cogent reasons to believe that the smallest and the largest organisms represent approximate limits to the possible size of animals under the conditions that prevail on our planet’” (p. 309).

Scientists talk about constraints or limiting factors in these regards. If a biological structure exceeds or falls short of the range allowable by the physical laws that govern it, it simply will not work.

For instance, the method of delivery of oxygen to living creatures falls into two categories—the circulatory system for vertebrates and the tracheal system for invertebrates such as insects and spiders.

Dr. Denton adds: “There are also firm grounds for believing that in the case of certain basic structural and physiological systems, such as oxygen delivery systems, skeletal systems, and excretory systems, all design possibilities have been exhaustively exploited . . . There is nothing in the slightest ‘accidental’ about the fact that it is the larger vertebrates that use the circulatory system, while the tracheal system is utilized by the much smaller arthropods . . . The largest insects are in fact close to the maximum size possible for an organism obtaining oxygen via a tracheal system . . .”

He concludes marveling at such variety: “It is impossible not to be struck by the enormous functional, structural, and behavioral diversity manifested by life on earth. Is it conceivable that there could be a world of life more varied . . . than the one existing on our watery planet? From the tiniest bacterial cell to the immensity of the blue whale . . . our senses reel before the fantastic panoply [wide array] of carbon-based life forms which clothes the earth” (pp. 302, 311).

Yes, virtually every square inch of this earth is teeming with life. Yet all the world’s laboratories have not been able to create anything close!

While Denton describes the fact of the awesome variety in this vibrant world, we read of its cause in Genesis 1: “So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth’” (Genesis 1:21-22).

Foresight—the creation of organic backup systems

Some people fear flying in a plane. The idea of being up thousands of feet above the ground can send shivers down their spines. Yet about 4 million people around the world take flights every day, and very rarely does something go wrong. Why?

Two of the reasons are: (1) man has been able to harness the physical laws of flight, and (2) people have carefully designed and built backup systems so that if one device fails, there is another to take its place. Engineers call this redundancy. For instance, the space shuttle launched by the United States for the last time in 2011 had five backup computers to ensure its navigational system.

Similarly, the more that’s known about life, the more redundant systems are found to protect organisms from minor errors that could destroy them. It throws a real monkey wrench into the idea of evolution through chance mutation.

Denton notes: “And it seems increasingly that it is not only individual genes that are redundant, but rather that the phenomenon may be all-pervasive in the development of higher organisms, existing at every level from individual genes to the most complex developmental processes . . . Now this phenomenon poses an additional challenge to the idea that organisms can be radically transformed as a result of a succession of small independent changes, as Darwinian theory [of evolution] supposes . . .

“In other words, the greater the degree of redundancy, the greater the need for simultaneous mutation to effect evolutionary change and the more difficult it is to believe that evolutionary change could have been engineered without intelligent direction. Redundancy also increases the difficulty of genetic engineering, as it means that the compensatory changes that must inevitably accompany any desired change must be necessarily increased” (pp. 338-339).

We see the bounteous and carefully designed life on earth reproducing within special created-kind boundaries described once more in Genesis 1: “And God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth . . . And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” (verses 21-25).

Evidence all around us

In sum, from the many striking examples of carefully fine-tuned physical properties that are all around us, we can conclude that God did prepare the universe and the earth, just as the Bible describes, as a “cradle” for life—and especially for mankind. How many thanks should we give to our Heavenly Father and His Son for all of this!

Romans 1:20 assures us: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (New International Version).

Indeed, with all the wealth of evidence we see more and more, we can better understand why Psalm 14:1 declares, as rendered in the Contemporary English Version, “Only a fool would say, ‘There is no God!’”