The Earth—Was It “Founded” by Chance?
TO AVOID extremes of temperature, the earth must orbit at the correct distance from the sun. In other solar systems, planets have been detected that orbit sunlike stars and are considered to be in the ‘habitable zone’—that is, they are capable of sustaining liquid water. But even these so-called habitable planets may still not be suitable for human life. They must also rotate at the right speed and be the right size.
If the earth were slightly smaller and lighter than it is, the force of gravity would be weaker and much of the earth’s precious atmosphere would have escaped into space. This can be seen in the case of the moon and the two planets Mercury and Mars. Being smaller and weighing less than the earth, they have little or no atmosphere. But what if the earth were slightly bigger and heavier than it is?
Then the earth’s gravitation would be stronger, and light gases, such as hydrogen and helium, would take longer to escape from the atmosphere. “More importantly,” explains the science textbook Environment of Life, “the delicate balance between the gases of the atmosphere would be upset.”
Or consider just oxygen, which fuels combustion. If its level were to increase by 1 percent, forest fires would break out more frequently. On the other hand, if the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide kept increasing, we would suffer the consequences of an overheated earth.
Another ideal feature is the shape of earth’s orbit. If the orbit were more elliptic, we would suffer unbearable extremes of temperature. Instead, the earth has a nearly circular orbit. Of course, the situation would change if a giant planet like Jupiter were to pass nearby. In recent years scientists have uncovered evidence that some stars have large Jupiterlike planets orbiting very close to them. Many of these Jupiterlike planets have eccentric orbits. Any earthlike planets in such systems would be in trouble.
Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy compared these external planet systems with the four planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, which make up our inner solar system. In an interview, Marcy exclaimed: “Look at how perfect this [arrangement] is. It’s like a jewel. You’ve got circular orbits. They’re all in the same plane. They’re all going around in the same direction. . . . It’s almost uncanny.” Can this really be explained by chance?
Our solar system has another marvelous feature. The giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune orbit the sun at a safe distance from us. Instead of being a threat, these planets fill a vital role. Astronomers have likened them to ‘celestial vacuum cleaners’ because their gravity sucks in large meteors, which might otherwise endanger life on earth. Indeed, the earth has been very well “founded.” (Job 38:4) Both its size and its position in our solar system are just right. But that is not all. The earth has other unique features that are essential for human life.
Oxygen and Photosynthesis
Oxygen atoms make up 63 percent of the weight of living organisms on earth. Furthermore, oxygen in the upper atmosphere protects terrestrial plants and animals from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. But oxygen is quick to react with other elements, such as when it reacts with iron and causes rust. How, then, does the atmosphere keep its 21-percent level of this highly reactive element?
The answer is photosynthesis—a marvelous process whereby earth’s vegetation uses sunlight to make food. A by-product of photosynthesis is oxygen—more than a billion tons of which are released into the atmosphere each day. “Without photosynthesis,” explains The New Encyclopædia Britannica, “not only would replenishment of the fundamental food supply halt but the Earth would eventually become devoid of oxygen.”
Science textbooks use several pages to explain the step-by-step process called photosynthesis. Some steps are not yet fully understood. Evolutionists cannot explain how each step evolved from something simpler. Indeed, each step appears to be irreducibly complex. “There is no generally accepted view of the origin of the photosynthetic process,” admits The New Encyclopædia Britannica. One evolutionist glossed over the problem by stating that photosynthesis was “invented” by “a few pioneering cells.”
That statement, though unscientific, reveals something else that is also amazing: Photosynthesis needs cell walls within which the process can safely take place, and the continuation of the process requires cell reproduction. Did all that just happen by chance in a few “pioneering cells”?
From Self-Reproducing Cell to Man
What are the chances of atoms collecting together to form the simplest self-reproducing cell? In his book A Guided Tour of the Living Cell, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Christian de Duve admits: “If you equate the probability of the birth of a bacterial cell to that of the chance assembly of its component atoms, even eternity will not suffice to produce one for you.”
Having come thus far, let us take a giant leap from one bacterial cell to the billions of specialized nerve cells that make up the human brain. Scientists describe the human brain as the most complicated physical structure in the known universe. It is truly unique. For example, large sections of the human brain are called association areas. These areas analyze and interpret information that comes from the sensory part of the brain. One of the association areas behind your forehead enables you to contemplate the marvels of the universe. Can chance processes really explain the existence of such association areas? “Equivalents of significant parts of these areas are not found in any other animal,” admits evolutionist Dr. Sherwin Nuland in his book The Wisdom of the Body.
Scientists have proved that the human brain processes information at a much faster rate than the most powerful computer. Bear in mind that modern computer technology has resulted from decades of human effort. What about the superior human brain? Two scientists, John Barrow and Frank Tipler, admit the following in their book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle: “There has developed a general consensus among evolutionists that the evolution of intelligent life, comparable in information-processing ability to that of Homo sapiens, is so improbable that it is unlikely to have occurred on any other planet in the entire visible universe.” Our existence, these scientists conclude, is “an extremely fortuitous accident.”
Did It All Happen by Chance?
What is your conclusion? Could the universe with all its wonders really have come about by chance? Do you not agree that every piece of grand music must have a composer and that the instruments must be finely tuned for it to sound good? What about our awesome universe? “We live in a very finely tuned universe,” observes mathematician and astronomer David Block. His conclusion? “Our universe is a home. Designed, I believe, by the hand of God.”
If that is your conclusion, then surely you will agree with the Bible’s description of the Creator, Jehovah: “He is the Maker of the earth by his power, the One firmly establishing the productive land by his wisdom, and the One who by his understanding stretched out the heavens.”—Jeremiah 51:15.
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A SPECIAL PLANET
“The special conditions on earth resulting from its ideal size, element composition, and nearly circular orbit at a perfect distance from a long-lived star, the sun, made possible the accumulation of water on the earth’s surface. It is difficult even to imagine the origin of life without water.”—Integrated Principles of Zoology, Sixth Edition.
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LIFE—DID IT COME ABOUT BY CHANCE?
In 1988 a book that attempts to explain how life could have arisen by chance was reviewed in the journal Search, published by the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science. On just one page of the book, science writer L. A. Bennett found “16 highly speculative statements, each depending on the preceding one for credence.” What was Bennett’s conclusion after reading the whole book? “It is far easier,” he wrote, “to accept an all-loving Creator instantaneously creating life and guiding it along its teleological [purposeful] pathways . . . than to accept the myriad ‘blind chances’ needed to support the author’s theses.”
Photosynthesis is vital for food production and the oxygen cycle
What accounts for earth’s ideal features that are necessary to sustain life?
Scientists describe the human brain as the most complicated physical structure in the universe. How could it have developed by chance?
Photo: Zoo de la Casa de Campo, Madrid
Monte Costa, Sea Life Park Hawaii
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Planet size shown to scale
Sun: National Optical Astronomy Observatories; Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn: Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Caltech/USGS; Venus and Uranus: Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Caltech; Earth: NASA photo; Mars: NASA/JPL; Neptune: JPL; Pluto: A. Stern (SwRI), M. Buie (Lowell Obs.), NASA, ESA