Lesson 3: Design In The Universe
In this universe, from the smallest atom to the largest celestial body, in everything we see, we are reminded of its perfect orderliness and exact regulation, so much so that great scientists have been provoked to amazement. One look at the world around us makes it clear that all things in it are in full coordination with one another. The nourishment of living creatures, for example, depends on the coordination between the sun, clouds, rain, earth and its resources. All this points to the existence of one coordinated system in the universe.
There is so much orderliness in nature that the scientists, by using the immutable laws of nature, can explain the course any phenomenon will take before it occurs. For this reason, scientists endeavour to discover these laws. For if these laws did not hold would not every kind of effort in this field be fruitless?
So let us look at some examples of the order and design in the universe:
The earth in which we live, with respect to its size, its distance from the sun, the speed of its orbital movement, etc., is so arranged that it is able to act as the support for life. If the smallest change were to take place in its condition, losses of unacceptable dimensions would occur.
“The earth rotates on its axis at one thousand miles an hour; if it turned at one hundred miles an hour, our days and nights would be ten times as long as now, and the hot sun would then burn up our vegetation during each long day while in the long night any surviving sprout would freeze.
“Again, the sun, the source of our life, has a surface temperature of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and our earth is just far enough away so that this `eternal fire' warms us just enough and not too much! If the sun gave off only one-half of its present radiation, we would freeze, and if it gave half as much more, we would roast.
“The slant of the earth, tilted at an angle of 23 degrees, gives us our seasons; if it had not been so tilted, vapours from the ocean would move north and south, piling up for us continents of ice. If our moon was, say, only 50 thousand miles away instead of its actual distance, our tides would be so enormous that twice a day all continents would be submerged; even the mountains would soon be eroded away. If the crust of the earth had been only ten feet thicker, there would be no oxygen without which animal life must die. Had the ocean been a few feet deeper, carbon dioxide and oxygen would have been absorbed and no vegetable life could exist.”1
The atmosphere, most of whose constituent elements are life-giving gases, is sufficiently viscous that it can, like a shield or armour, protect the earth from the deadly attack of 200 million meteors every day, which approach the earth with a speed of 50 km per second. The responsibility for regulating the temperature of the earth's surface within limits which maintain life also belongs to the atmosphere, and if it did not exist, inhabited land, like the dry deserts, would become incapable of supporting life. “Because of these, and a host of other examples, there is not one chance in millions that life on our planet is an accident.”2
But why are we taking the long way round in explaining these things?
Nearer than anything else is our own body. The mysteries of man's existence are without number, so much so that the world's scientists, after years of research and study, have not yet been able to fathom all the wonders of it. After many years of study, Dr. Alexis Carel wrote a book called L'homme, cet inconnue (Man, the Unknown). He confessed that biology and other sciences were still unable to discover the facts about the working of the human body, and that many problems remained to be unraveled.
Now let us examine some of the marvels of our own existence.
The Cells of the Body: A human body is like a building. It is composed of small building blocks called cells, each of which is itself a living entity. In the structure of the cells most metals such as iron, copper and calcium are used as are other elements like oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur.
The number of cells in the body of man is about 1016 which is equivalent to ten thousand, million, million.
Each one of these living cells works in perfect cooperation with the next, and all of them follow the same aim. They are very quick to suffer, having low tolerance levels, and nourishment must be correctly supplied for their needs.
The blood, with the help of the heart, performs this duty very well. The structure of the heart is well-designed and has perfect dimensions, so that it can supply blood to the whole body through the agency of the blood vessels and the capillaries.
The blood, after it has delivered nourishment to the cells, absorbs poisonous substances which have accumulated there and returns to the heart with a dull colour. The heart delivers this to the lungs, a filtering apparatus for the blood, whereupon it is resupplied to the whole body with a bright colour and greater freshness. While passing through the kidneys, another part of these poisonous matters are removed, so that no kind of disturbance arises in the general working of the body.
Do we not see in the precise combination and quantity of the metals and elements from which the cell is formed, and also the amazing structure of the heart and its way of working, a plan of perfect and superior design? And if we see in the human body, a mysterious whole and at the same time a design, are we exaggerating?
Without doubt, no.
In the same way we must confess that the world of existence firmly rests on the foundation of perfect orderliness, and undoubtedly every orderliness and design is the creation and accomplishment of a wise and powerful maker.
The same argument demonstrates that design and orderliness must have originated from a source of knowledge and power, and that chance cannot be the origin of marvels having design and orderliness simply because everything produces a particular effect: it is incorrect to suppose that design and order should come from chance or mere accident. The scientific “law of probability” makes it impossible to explain the coordination in this world on the basis of chance. According to the law of probability, for example, an illiterate person can never write an essay by randomly hitting the keys of a typewriter. Similarly, the present system in our universe could never have come to exist on the basis of chance or accident.
It therefore follows that the wonderful design and order that is observed in the human body and in the universe around us constitutes complete evidence and living proof that the universe has a wise and powerful designer and creator. The more we learn about the system of creation, the more aware we become of the greatness of its Creator.
Even the things produced by human beings themselves reflect the knowledge and intelligence of the Creator, because it is not possible for someone who has no understanding and intelligence to give to His creations such understanding and intelligence.
This lesson is based on the followings:
Dar Rah-e Haq Board, The Roots of Religion, Qum 1982.
Few details have been added from S. Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi, God of Islam, Tanzania, 1969 and Nāsir Makārim Shirazi, Principles of Islamic Ideology, Tehran 1985.
It has been compiled & edited for this course by S.M. Rizvi.
Question 1: [15 points]
Fill in the blanks:
(a) Intelligent creations are possible only by an _____________ creator.
(b) The more we come to know about the universe, the more we realize how ___________ we know.
(c) The number of cells in human body is ___________.
(d) Organization and discipline in this universe indicates a _________ and powerful ___________.
(e) Dr. Alexis Carel wrote a book called “_____ the ___________”.
Question 2: [20 points]
This lesson gives some examples of design and orderliness in the universe. Give three examples of your own observation of design and orderliness in this universe.
Question 3: [15 points]
(a) The physical meaning of the fraction 1/2 is “one part out of two parts”. What is the physical meaning of the fraction 1/0?
(b) Think about your answer in part (a). Is it possible? Relate your answer to the material you learnt in this lesson and then write one sentence that describes the essence of this lesson.