Just Right Elements
By: Jim Virkler
As we study the history of the universe from its beginning until the present, the word “miracle” or a similar term is sometimes used by materialistic scientists notwithstanding their unbelief in supernatural creation to explain our current reality. Even if scientists do not believe in the action of a divine Creator, almost all scientists would admit the formation of our existing array of elements is a extraordinarily lucky accident. Some scientists have used the terms “miracle” and “overwhelming” to describe the formation of life-friendly elements from the hot primordial sea of particles, to early elements hydrogen and helium, and finally to the approximately 100 chemical elements known today.
We often hear claims that our universe is finely tuned. Its mass cannot differ from the currently measured quantity even minutely. Slightly more or less mass would result in an unworkable universe. In addition, the universe has been expanding since the initial creation event. We observe an expanding universe. Minutely faster or slower expansion would also create an unworkable universe. Linked is our post from 5-13-14:
Let us add another dimension to the necessary fine-tuning of our universe. This dimension involves “just right” quantities of the approximately 100 known chemical elements. As far as we know, life exists on but one planet of the likely billions of planets orbiting uncounted trillions of stars in our vast universe. Earth life is carbon based. Carbon is the key element necessary for life. Without carbon there would be no life. The mass of carbon existing in the cosmos must be precisely tuned in order for the universe to support life.
Discovery of the process of carbon production from earlier, simpler elements hydrogen and helium was a brilliant achievement of astronomer Fred Hoyle (1915-2001). His idea is known today as “stellar nucleosynthesis,” proposed in 1946. This is the process by which new elements are created within stars by combining protons and neutrons from the nuclei of lighter elements. During his lifetime Hoyle offered many brilliant insights as well as bizarre theories. His genius proposal of stellar nucleosynthesis caused him to consider believing in the guiding hand of a “god,” and become one of the original scientists to flirt with the concept of intelligent design. Hoyle thought the energy level necessary to produce the quantity of carbon in the universe was statistically highly unlikely.
Hoyle uttered a fascinating statement in 1981: “Would you not say to yourself, ‘Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.’” Hoyle has not been noted, however, for his faith-based beliefs.
We reiterate that without carbon no life, including human life, could exist. Only 0.0007 of the mass of the universe is carbon, far less than hydrogen and helium which compose 0.98 of ordinary matter in the universe. For life to exist the quantity of carbon must be balanced between too much and too little. We cite a link to our previous commentary on carbon:
All chemical elements have been formed in the nuclear furnaces of stars. Fred Hoyle no doubt discovered more about the remarkable transitions of simple elements hydrogen and helium into carbon and eventually all other elements than most scientists. If materialist scientist Hoyle had a serious vision of “a super intellect monkeying with the physics,” what sort of vision might we acquire of God’s acts of creation since our universe began if we have a theistic, Judeo-Christian worldview?
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.