The Universe: Cradle for Life
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When we look around, can we still wonder and appreciate the amazing Creation from the microcosm to the macrocosm? So much has been carefully designed for us to truly enjoy, and most importantly, it can strengthen our faith!
Youth should be a time of imagination and exploration—of asking the “big” questions about life and of wanting to know more about the wondrous world that surrounds us and its intricate creations.
King David, from the time of his youth, marveled at what he saw in the earth and sky and declared, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
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 reshaping of the surface of the planet to have life on Earth, consisting of plants and animals (Genesis 1:2-25); and (3) mankind (Genesis 1:26-27).
Therefore, God raised the continents from a vast ocean of water and prepared the conditions necessary to receive life. He then 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), as we shall see—He was not exaggerating!
We normally 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 see Creation and its creatures were not a lucky accident, as evolution teaches, but that the universe is a carefully designed masterpiece by the Creator God.
Years ago, I was struck by a statement made by two French scientists, known as the Bogdanov twins, in an interview where they were asked why there existed such order in the universe.
“This is a fundamental question,” they answered. “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).
Also, the late NASA astronomer John A. Keefe noted, “If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in” (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 1992, p. 118).
So how is the universe a “cradle” for mankind? Let us go over some of these key findings made by scientists. This evidence certainly points to a Creator God.
Few realize how incredibly special the light and heat are that arrive on Earth in the precise amount and type to sustain life.
1. Light: our life-sustaining source
When we wake up in the morning, the sunlight begins to seep through the windows. Then, once outside, we are warmed by that same sun.
Yet few realize how incredibly special the light and heat are 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, they happen to be just the correct wavelength and quantity to produce the beneficial effects on life. How fortunate and thankful we should be.
“Our atmosphere participates,” notes astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, “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. That is much smaller than one star out of all the stars in the entire visible universe, about 1022” (The Privileged Planet, 2004, p. 66).
But 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 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 still not well understood by physicists. They say it has no mass, thus it can travel at the maximum velocity in the universe, the speed of light. Certainly, without light, there would be no life, and so it is a prerequisite for life.
And so, it is quite appropriate to read in the Bible, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light’” (Genesis 1:3).
2. Water: the miraculous liquid
If we marvel at the very narrow range of sunlight, which coincidentally has the right characteristics for life to thrive on Earth, in second place would come another wonder—the uncanny characteristics of water.
Washing dishes, taking a bath, drinking, walking in the rain, brushing our teeth—all of these constitute some of the multiple ways water is essential for all of us.
“Without water, life that exists on the earth would be impossible.”
—Biochemist Michael Denton
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 begins to expand instead of contract, thus becoming lighter as it converts into ice. If this were not so, when a lake or river froze over, the ice would sink to the bottom and eventually the lake or river would be frozen solid, killing all the fish and preventing thawing in the spring. It would prove fatal to the chain of life on Earth.
Furthermore, water has a surprising quality when it turns into a gas. Though water is 800 times heavier than air, when it evaporates, it becomes lighter than air, thus forming clouds that cover over half of the earth’s atmosphere. It makes the miracle of life-sustaining rain possible.
Another amazing property of water is how gently but effectively it acts as a universal solvent. While easily dissolving an enormous variety of substances, it is not 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 as cited above, 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” (Ibid., p. 31, 40).
Do all of these peculiar but wondrous characteristics of water just happen by chance? Or were they designed to sustain life once it was created?
As 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” (Ibid, pp. 22, 30).
Scientists still puzzle over the origin of the enormous quantity of water on Earth, covering 70 percent of its surface. They also do not know where all the salt came from to produce the precise ratio found in saltwater that acts as a mild antiseptic and sustainer of life in the sea.
How apt it is to read, “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).
These examples just touch the surface of how Creation and the Bible go together as hand and glove—all to the honor and glory of God. Look for part 2 of “The Universe: Cradle for Life” in the next issue of Compass Check.