Surrounded by Radiation
By: Jim Virkler
If our blog title provokes fear, we must act quickly to allay a feeling of alarm. We must replace alarm with appreciation and respect for a mostly harmless, beneficial phenomenon surrounding us every moment of each day throughout our lives. Electromagnetic radiation, sometimes abbreviated EMR, is a ubiquitous life-sustaining energy phenomenon surrounding us.
The awe-inspiring physical characteristics of our universe do not prove the existence of a Creator. Some may claim our apologetic strategies for establishing God’s existence would be simpler if we acquired explicit proof. Our view, however, is that conclusions about God’s reality are meaningfully demonstrated when we observe, reason, and learn from the discoveries of skilled scientists.
We return to the subject of electromagnetic radiation. At natural levels of exposure most levels of EMR are innocuous. Without EMR life on Earth would simply not exist at all. How do we characterize the presence of radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays? In particular, infrared radiation and visible light sustain earth life. In past eons it has bathed earth with life sustaining energy producing resources we still enjoy in our day as fossil fuels and mineral riches.
Our contemporary examples include, of course, light from the sun and artificial illumination by which we carry on daily activities. Today’s green plants, the base of our food supply, rely on solar radiation. Our modern lives could not function without microwaves to prepare food, radar to guide our planes, radio and television signals to provide information and entertainment, and X-rays to help doctors observe our inner body parts. In one way or another infrared radiation circulates heat energy for our bodily comfort and provides the dynamics for our weather. The physical mechanism for producing and transporting EMR does not ordinarily filter into our everyday awareness.
Advanced knowledge of the physical production and transfer of electromagnetic radiation coming from the matter surrounding us has been acquired only in the two most recent centuries. Important details have been added to human knowledge more recently as details of atomic structure have come into focus. Ordinary matter generates electromagnetic radiation. The basics of electromagnetic generation and the scope of usefulness of the many thousands of different types of EMR emitted by matter are cause for worship of the Creator who designed this cosmic system.
We must leave additional discussion of ubiquitous electromagnetic radiation for future posts. Simple explanations of what occurs when simple atoms emit millions of different wavelengths of energy under a myriad of different physical conditions can be reported with relative ease. The how and the why of the process is more difficult, even impossible to explain. Physical scientists often feel empowered when they respond to the questions, “What happens?” But many other how and why questions concerning the generation ability of physical matter must remain unexplained and unanswered for now. One example to illustrate the previous sentence: There is no answer to why any particular physical constant has a specific quantitative value. Professional physical scientists may be embarrassed to admit, “That’s just the way it is!” For reference, see this link:
Many years ago a friend asked me, rhetorically, “Who is the author of the physical laws governing the universe?” We both agreed there exists an omnipotent, omniscient Creator who formulated the laws.
The behavior of matter as it generates electromagnetic radiation may be considered obedience to the physical “laws” of the universe. Removal of even one of the physical laws governing the behavior of the electromagnetic spectrum would send our universe into a state of chaos. Our universe, instead, manifests order and purpose.
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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.