HYDROGEN, CARBON AND OXYGEN:
VITAL ELEMENTS BY ACCIDENT OR DESIGN?

 

The average person, if he or she has any knowledge of the Big Bang Theory, assumes that somehow an explosion occurred billions of years ago.  He or she also assumes that in one way or another, our universe came to be, purely as a result of some accident of nature.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Unfortunately, this unrealistic picture has been reinforced by such popular science writers as Isaac Asimov.  A closer look reveals God's magnificent work and precise design with close attention to the smallest detail of every process - all for a specific end.  To illustrate this, we shall elaborate on two examples.

Hydrogen comprises 75% of the universe, playing a most vital role in its chemistry.  Without it there would be no organic materials, no water and, obviously, no earth or oceans.  It is, of course, possible that stars could have formed from helium alone if hydrogen did not exist, but they would have burned at a much higher rate.   They would have exhausted their fuel in a very short time and exploded long before life could have developed anywhere.

Let us now look at the early history of the universe to see if a haphazard process could have resulted in the production of hydrogen and the ratio of hydrogen to helium of 75 to 25 which now exists.  During the first one and a half minutes of the Big Bang, there was total equilibrium.   Free neutrons and protons were being continually created and annihilated at fantastic rates.  As the universe expanded and the temperature dropped, the reaction rates also slowed down until, at the "freeze out" temperature of 10 (raised to the power of 9) K, the equilibrium was destroyed and the abundance ratios of neutrons and protons remained fixed --- one neutron for every six protons.  From then on, neutrons combined with protons to form deuterium, which in turn formed helium, and the unmatched protons formed hydrogen.

Recent detailed analysis by physicists indicates that the preceding factors: (1) the specific abundance ratios of protons and neutrons, (2) the existence of hydrogen, and (3) the specific hydrogen to helium ratios must be considered at least "very remarkable," since they could not have been the result of some haphazard set of circumstances.  They imply, as one physicist put "a fortuitous" arrangement of a number of factors from different fields:

1. A large role is played by the difference between the mass of a proton and that of a neutron.  It is calculated that if the neutron's mass was only slightly different, just one thousandth of a percent of change, the neutron would not be able to decay into protons and electrons (thus producing the one proton and one electron needed to produce hydrogen).  If this process did not take place, there would be no hydrogen, and in all likelihood, no atoms at all.   We would not be here to write this, nor would you, or anyone else, be here to read it!

2. Free neutrons are unstable particles.  They disintegrate spontaneously in about fifteen minutes.  If the neutron's lifetime were any different from what it is, the universe would either be all helium, or no helium at all.  If the disintegration were faster, the free neutrons could not catch the free protons and helium would not be produced; and if it were slower, then all the free neutrons would catch all the free protons and only helium would be formed.  In either case, the result would be the same as for item one, above.

3. It has been established that there are four forces in nature holding the universe together at the most fundamental level and determining the size and structure of all that we see: gravity, the electromagnetic force, the strong force and the weak force.  The strength of gravity (designated as 10 (raised to the minus 39th power)) is infinitesimal compared to the strength of the weak force (10 (raised to the minus 5th power)), yet this is exactly how it has to be.  If the two forces were any different, the proton/neutron ratios would be almost zero or almost 100%, and again, life could not exist.

Now let us look very briefly at carbon and oxygen.  These are elements which are vital to life on earth.  Detailed studies indicate that they have been produced in exactly balanced amounts.  Any excess in carbon would have prevented the formation of many materials essential for life.  An excess in oxygen would have burned up many carbon bearing biochemicals also essential for life.  Once again, studies show that for carbon and oxygen to have been synthesized and produced in the abundance ratios we observe, it required precise matching.  This is critical when we remember that those ratios are necessary for life.

The electrons of an atom reside in various states depending on their energy level, giving rise to different chemical properties.  Analogous properties exist for the protons and neutrons.  These analgous properties are called the nuclear resonance level.

The successful synthesis of carbon and oxygen, as well as their appropriate ratios, is the direct result of their having exactly the correct nuclear resonance levels.  If this were not so, the synthesis would place too easily and all carbon would be fused into oxygen!  This is too complex a process to try to discuss in this short space, but as physicist Fred Hoyle, in his book Galaxies, Nucleai & Quasars: "carbon and oxygen are like two radio receivers, each tuned to a particular wavelength.  Unless the tunings are right, far more oxygen is produced than carbon."

In coming to any conclusions from all this, two points must be remembered.  First, as we said in the beginning, these are not isolated coincidences that may be dismissed with the wave of a hand.  We have given here two examples as illustrations.  Within any field one studies in any detail -- chemistry, physics, biology, etc. -- one will find the same phenomenal fine tuning: specific selections of factors toward a specific goal.   Second, each of these "coincidences" requires a coordination of factors from various fields, making the case for "coincidence" even less likely.  On the carbon/ oxygen ratios and the delicate positioning of nuclear resonances on which they depend, Fred Hoyle has this conclusion: "if you want to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal amounts by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix and your fixing would have to be where these are actually found to be.  A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics as well as chemistry and biology and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature."

How long will most scientists and others who choose not to believe in the magnificent design of God continue to say "fortuitous arrangement of factors" and "remarkable coincidences," in spite of the overwhelming and increasing evidence to the contrary? Apparently, human arrogance has no limit when it comes to admitting the existence of God.  As an example I cite John Barrow (author of the Anthropic Cosmological Princole).  He apparently believes that our existence is actually responsible for the very special structure of the Universe!  "Many observations of the natural world, although remarkable, a priori, are seen in this light as inevitable consequences of our own existence."

The preceding quotation, taken at face value, implies that you and I are somehow the cause of the fact that the neutron has a life of fifteen minutes, or that it has a certain weight and not another!

[He is] the one to whom belongs the kingship of the heavens and the Earth.  He never had a son, nor does He have any partnership in kingship. He created everything in exact measure; He precisely designed everything. (Quran, 25:2)

- Hossein Kowsari

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