Let there be light

January 16, 2024 in Uncategorized

BILL TONER SJ :: Recent arguments by celebrity commentators debunking the notion of ‘God’ have been largely based on Darwin’s theory of evolution. If humans and all living creatures evolved naturally by a long process of genetic mutations that were useful for survival, what is the point – so the argument goes –  of inventing an invisible being called ‘God’ to account for them? 

However, what happened before evolution may be of more significance in arguing the case for an intelligent creator of the universe. 

In a blog some years ago I expressed a view that it was remarkable that modern biologists paid so little attention to the basic ‘stuff’ of the universe that drove evolution forward. This ‘matter’ – clay, rocks, minerals, water, and so on –  is glossed over by Dawkins and others, yet it is somehow the raw material of all that is useful and wonderful in our world, –  our artifacts, art, technology, and all living creatures with their intelligence and emotions.  None of this basic matter evolved. It existed long before living things began to emerge. 

Another remarkable thing that existed in the universe before life appeared is what is called the electromagnetic {EM} spectrum.  This is the source of all radiation on the planet.  Radiation is energy emitted by various sources like our sun. This radiation travels in a spectrum through space in the form of waves and tiny particles called photons. If you have been on a beach as a speedboat passes by, you will notice that the first waves to hit the beach are close together and frequent but as the boat moves away they become farther apart and less frequent.  The EM spectrum has the same structure..  The close-together frequent waves at one end of the spectrum are gamma rays and X-rays.  The middle area of the spectrum brings us infrared, visible light, and ultraviolet rays.  And the final stage of lower-frequency waves brings us microwaves and radio. 

The only part of the spectrum that we can see is the part bringing visible light. Yet this part is crucial to us.  Without light there would be no life on earth. There would be no photosynthesis transforming solar energy into plant life.  Nor would there be any biosynthesis transforming the energy into zooplankton.   These are the basic first steps in creating a food chain.  Without light there would be no sight, not even primitive light receptors in some living things, since there would be no light to receive and thus no value in the evolution of light receptors.   

Our knowledge of the EM spectrum has also been essential for human development. Although we do not make much use of the spectrum in the form that it comes to us from the sun, apart from visible light, scientists have gradually discovered and explored the parts of the spectrum that we cannot see. This has enabled them to replicate and enhance many of the waves for human use. Obvious examples are radio, microwaves, X-rays, and other rays used in medicine. So apart from being essential to life, the EM spectrum has been a great gift to mankind. At the same time, it has to be used wisely and with care.  Possible hazards range from sunburn to nuclear disasters! 

The EM spectrum must have existed before the process of evolution began, and therefore it is illogical to deny the existence of a creator of the universe on the basis of evolution alone. The question must be asked: How did the EM spectrum come about? 

There are also many other preconditions necessary for life as we know it. For instance: liquid water in the right temperature range; a planet that spins – otherwise one side is too hot and one too cold; a magnetosphere (created by a molten outer core) to prevent our atmosphere being blown away by solar winds; the right chemicals in the right proportions; and protection from comets and asteroids which in our case is provided by our giant neighbouring planets. To account for these, it is not surprising that people have hypothesized an intelligent designer of the universe rather than the workings of chance.