WHAT ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ITSELF?
One of the most fascinating ( and never-ending ) debate is that between Creation and Evolution. Those who believe in GOD also believe that He created the Universe and everything in it, and then created living things as part of His grand plan. So it was GOD who created life, or gave life to His creations. Among the believers are scientists, including very prominent ones too.
Atheist scientists counter that GOD does not exist, and that life exists through spontaneous evolutionary events which also explains the diversity of species in both the plant and animal kingdoms, starting from the primitive non-life forms like prions and viruses, and evolving into primitive life-forms like bacteria, amoebae and other one-celled organisms. Humans, of course, are the most evolved ape, sharing 99% of our genes with the chimpanzees. “We are self-evolving organisms that do not need a creator for us to exist” ( Professor Stephen Hawking ).
According to science, primitive life began in the hot cauldron of volcanic soup where a fortuitous mixture of chemical elements and compounds somehow resulted in the first living organism – that was able to have an energy-generating mechanism ( cellular respiration ) for survival, and also able to replicate itself ( otherwise the story ends there ). Although the scientists claim that several lab experiments mimicking those conditions have come close to “creating” life, it is indeed a monumental task for them to succeed in creating even the simplest life-form from bare chemicals.
A CLASH OF CONCLUSIONS
Even believers cannot deny the scientific observations. In the study of the cosmos, the billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars ( each may have its system of planets, and the planets themselves may have moons ) in the ever-expanding Universe is a scientific fact, only recently unraveled with the advent of sophisticated telescopes and space-satellites, combined with the brilliance of cosmologists like Professor Stephen Hawking and his peers.
The above observations are acknowledged by scientists who are also believers, like me. The only difference is that atheist scientists do not have a clue about what actually exploded; why it exploded; and where did it come from? They theorized that a marble-sized super-dense matter somehow exploded between 15-20 billion years ago.
For believers, the answer is simple. GOD ( who, by definition, is uncreated and eternal, and therefore does not need an explanation for His existence ) created the super-dense light/energy/matter that exploded because the energy was too intense ( much like a nuclear bomb, only a sextillion or more times stronger ). The believers have no reason to argue with the atheist scientists on what happened next, what is happening now, and what will happen in the future with the Universe, as proven scientific observations and evidences cannot be denied.
Where we differ is on whether everything happened and exists as a consequence of spontaneous, random events, or that these events were executed under some “Intelligent Plan” – implying the existence of a “Higher Intelligence” ( read GOD for believers ).
For example, atheist scientists insist that the precise respective sizes and orbital paths of the moon, earth and sun that enable total eclipse of the Sun with its beautiful corona to be witnessed by us to happen are all coincidental ( a chance occurrence ). Any difference in the sizes or the orbital paths of the three celestial bodies would mean that the moon would be too big or too small to cause the corona-effect. It must be a perfect fit with the existing precise dimensions and orbital paths. Believers say that it is a result of “Intelligent Design”.
“There is nothing in the whole of Nature to rival the glory of a total eclipse of the Sun.”
( Michael Maunder & Sir Patrick Moore in The Sun in Eclipse)
The total eclipse of the Sun is indeed magnificent. Here is a description from the NASA website (http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/ast05aug99_1.htm): “Just before the Moon completely covers the Sun, tiny specks of light called “Bailey’s Beads” appear. Caused by sunlight shining through valleys on the edge of the Moon, these points of light are spaced irregularly around the disappearing edge of the Sun, forming the appearance of a string of beads around the dark disk of the Moon. Bailey’s beads make their brief appearance up to 15 seconds before totality. When a single point of sunlight remains, a beautiful “diamond ring” effect is created against the outline of the Moon. This final sparkling instant signals the arrival of the moon’s shadow. Bailey’s Beads and the Diamond ring are seen again in reverse order at the end of totality when the Moon moves away from the Sun. During totality colourful prominences and the reddish chromosphere are also frequently visible”.
The same divergent conclusions are made when it comes to observations on the creatures that live on earth. Believers cannot deny the evolutionary changes that have been scientifically validated ever since Darwin first proposed his Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection ( Origin of Species 1859 ). Again and again scientific observations have shown that evolution does occur. To the scientists, evolution is already a fact, not a theory anymore. Believing scientists however, while acknowledging the facts as observed, differ in their conclusion in that the observed evolutionary changes are a result of a deliberate, planned, Intelligent Design, not a result of random, spontaneous mutations as believed by atheist scientists.
The argument is now becoming very heated, especially with the release of Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion calling on all true scientists to stop being deluded or hypocrites, denounce the existence of GOD, and embrace atheism and Evolution by random mutation/natural selection. On the other side, there is a growing community of respected scientists who maintain there is sufficient scientific evidence for Intelligent Design (ID) and Creative Evolution (CE), and therefore for the existence of GOD ( see http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org )
If you believe the atheist scientists, it means believing that we have somehow come to be what we are, with all the complexities and sophistication of our intricate body, organs, mind, emotions and behaviour, through a series of spontaneous mutations over many aeons.
THE ORIGIN OF SEX
I am a scientist. I am also a believer in GOD. When confronted with this enigma, I have to investigate and not just believe blindly. Fortunately, I have found some answers which may be interesting to all.
No matter how much you theorize, you can never come out with a satisfactory answer on how the sexes evolved. The atheist scientists have conveniently avoided this issue. For the development of the sexes ( male and female ), two individuals of the same species must evolve at the same time, with complementary features. For example, in animals, not only must the male gamete ( eg. spermatozoon ) have features that will enable it to fuse with the female gamete ( eg. egg or ovum ), but the external sexual apparatus must also be complementary ( eg. the penis must fit the vagina ). And all this must happen randomly at the same time for them to be functional. Even in a hermaphrodite, the two sexes must develop at the same time for reproduction to be possible. By Intelligent Design, this is not a problem. Note that any species will die off without the ability to reproduce. While lower organisms survive through asexual reproduction, everything else, including plants, have sexual differentiation and sexual reproduction ( eg. via pollination ). Indeed, in the Qur’an, GOD challenges the unbelievers to explain the mystery of the sexes.
EVERYTHING IS ENERGY
Readers who have followed this column will be familiar with qi, or life-force. I have described qi as being the intelligent force or energy that starts and sustains life, and (cellular) death is the depletion of this energy. Qi also defies many scientific criteria, and is therefore not fully understood. It does have many properties of known energy-forms, but has others that defy science. Could qi be another form of light/energy with different characteristics from the light or energies we know?
Science at least agrees that since everything that exists is either matter or energy, and since matter itself is another state of energy, then everything is in fact energy.
Whatever it is, all those who are familiar with qi ( or ki, prana, tenaga hayat ) believe that it is the energy that permeates the entire Universe, yet is also the energy that keeps our cells, and therefore ourselves, alive and healthy.
It is interesting that in the Qur’an, GOD describes Himself as “The Light within the light”. Does this therefore explain in scientific terms the universal religious and spiritual teaching that GOD is everywhere? While GOD certainly is not just a form of energy, could qi (or its higher forms) be GOD’s energy that shapes the cosmos and drives the evolutionary changes?
The truth? Only GOD knows!