A journey in the world of miracles
Have a look around you from where you are sitting. You will see that everything in the room has been “made.” All the countless details, such as the walls, the furnishings, the lamp, the chair you are sitting in, the glass on the table, the carpet… None of them came into being by itself, and neither did the universe that we live in.
Everything, every tiny detail, from the atomic, the smallest component of matter, to the galaxies containing billions of stars, from the Moon, the inseparable companion of the Earth, to the Solar System they inhabit, works together in a breathtaking harmony. Paul Davies, one of the best known contemporary astrobiologists, describes this harmony in the words:
Everywhere we look in the Universe, from the far-flung galaxies to the deepest recesses of the atom, we encounter order. . . Central to the idea of a very special, orderly Universe is the concept of information. A highly structured system, displaying a great deal of organised activity, needs a lot of information to describe it. Alternatively, we may say that it contains much information. (Paul Davies, "Chance or Choice: Is the Universe an Accident?", New Scientist, vol. 80, 1978, p. 506)
This reveals a very obvious truth. The universe was created and is regulated and preserved through a sublime knowledge and power. And that sublime knowledge and power are those of Almighty Allah.
In the Qur’an, Allah reveals that the Earth and sky will be preserved while they are under His might:
Allah keeps a firm hold on the heavens and Earth, preventing them from vanishing away. And if they vanished no one could then keep hold of them. Certainly He is Most Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving. (Surah Fatir: 41)In this documentary we will be going on a journey to the Milky Way, some 10 million light years from the Earth, and from there to deep inside the atom, and will witness the magnificent order with which the universe was created. This is the universe we inhabit with all its glory…
1023 meters, 10 million light years.
The starting point of our journey…
We are 10 million light years from the Milky Way…
Thought of in terms of the vastness of space in general, the Milky Way is a very “small” place. It occupies barely a dot within it. Because there are other galaxies in space, some 300 billion according to the recent estimates! The Milky Way, visible from so far away, contains the Solar System, the planets, and the Earth we live on.
You, your home, the city you live in and even the planet you inhabit, the Sun that heats the planet and millions of stars like it, are all inside this dot you are looking at…
He is “the Originator of the heavens and earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.” (Surat al-Baqara, 117)1022 meters, 1 million light years.
We are 1 million light years from the Milky May that contains 250 billion stars like our Sun. There are billions of systems linked to the stars in this galaxy that resembles a swirl of white smoke. Yet we are so far away that the whole body looks like a simple, white cloud.
1021 meters, 100,000 light years.
If you look at the sky on a clear, cloudless night, you will see a belt of stars extending from one edge to the other. This mass of stars, which extends into deepest vastness of the sky and that revolves around its own axis at an amazing speed, is known as the Milky Way. Astrophysicists calculating this speed were unable to conceal their astonishment. Our galaxy, which completes a full circuit of its orbit every 250 million years, moves through the universe at an extraordinary speed.
This figure is one of the proofs of the infinite might of our Lord, Who causes giant galaxies to move at speeds the human mind finds it hard to conceive.
10+20 meters, 10,000 light years.
The galaxies are one of the proofs of the ordered structure in the universe.
The estimated number of galaxies is around 300 billion, and in terms of space in general the Milky Way occupies only a very minute space. The voids between these galaxies are millions of times greater than that of the distance between the Sun and Alpha Centauri.
George Greenstein says this about the vastness in question in his book The Symbiotic Universe:
Had the stars been somewhat closer, astrophysics would not have been so very different. The fundamental physical processes occurring within stars, nebulas, and the like would have proceeded unchanged. The appearance of our galaxy as seen from some far-distant vantage point would have been the same. About the only difference would have been the view of the night time sky from the grass on which I lie, which would have been yet richer with stars. And oh, yes-one more small change: There would have been no “me” to do the viewing… This gigantic gap of the space is the prerequisite for our being. (George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe, p. 21)
The way that Allah has created the Earth as a home for life within the boundless voids of the universe is a point requiring deep reflection. We inhabit a world that occupies a space so small in the infinite void that it barely exists at all. In fact, it is not just our Earth, but even our whole galaxy that occupies an exceedingly small space within the universe. Now imagine just how much room you occupy within the glorious vastness of the universe.
1019 meters, 1,000 light years.
We are travelling through the Milky Way, and the Sun is not yet visible. Huge masses of stars resemble tiny dots.
After the Big Bang, only hydrogen and helium atoms appeared in the universe. Astronomers maintain that giant clouds made up of these atoms were compacted together under specially regulated conditions in order to constitute stars like the Sun. But even if that had happened, the universe would still have continued to exist as a dead mass of cloud made up of these two kinds of atom. Another process would be needed to turn these two gasses into heavier elements.
The production centres for these heavy elements is the red giants, enormous stars 50 times larger, on average, than our Sun.
Red giants are far hotter than ordinary stars like our Sun, and this means they can do things that normal stars cannot. They convert helium atoms into carbon atoms. But this conversion is no simple process. In the words of the American astrophysicist Greenstein, “an extraordinary process takes places within the depths of these stars.”1018 meters, 100 light years.
1017 meters, 10 light years.Astronomers use the term “supernova” to describe the fragmentation of a star in the form of an explosion. A giant star is destroyed in a terrifying explosion, and the matter it contains is flung far and wide at an enormous speed.
Through these explosions, matter is carried from one point in the universe to the others. The stellar remains flung out as a result of explosions represent the raw material for the construction of new stars, solar systems, planets and asteroids as they combine together elsewhere in the universe.
Investigation of the Sun, the planets in the Solar System, our Earth and the natural elements in them reveals that they were created as the result of a supernova explosion a very long time ago.
Iron is the main constituent of asteroids and meteors. Space is full of this cooled iron. Examination of meteors that enter the Earth’s atmosphere and eventually fall to land through the force of gravity shows that they are to a large extent made up of iron.
In his book Nature's Destiny Michael Denton writes:
The distances between supernovae and indeed between all stars is critical for other reasons. The distance between stars in our galaxy is about 30 million miles. If this distance was much less, planetary orbits would be destabilized. If it was much more, then the debris thrown out by a supernova would be so diffusely distributed that planetary systems like our own would in all probability never form. If the cosmos is to be a home for life, then the flickering of the supernovae must occur at a very precise rate and the average distance between them, and indeed between all stars, must be very close to the actual observed figure. (Michael Denton, Nature's Destiny, p. 11)
The ratio of supernovas and stars' distances are just two more of the fine-tuned details of this miraculous universe. Examining deeper the universe, the arrangement we see is beautiful both in the organization and plan.
1016 meters, 1 light year.
When we look at the universe in rather more detail, we encounter an order in a constant state of growth and based on the most delicate balances.
The Milky Way has a spiral shape. The stars and celestial bodies in spiral galaxies have been so located as to form a thick, circular centre and arms protruding in the same plane and at the same angle from the centre out. There are some stellar systems within the gaps between these arms, but very, very few. Our Solar System is one of those between such spiral arms.
So what is the significance of the Solar System lying between those arms?
First of all, from where we are, we possess a very clear and distinct view of the gasses and wastes in the spiral arms. If we were inside one of those arms, our view would be significantly impaired.
Prof. Michael Denton says, in his book Nature's Destiny:
What is so striking is that the cosmos appears to be not just supremely fit for our own being and for our biological adaptations, but also for our understanding... Because of the position of our solar system on the edge of the galactic rim, we can gaze farther into the night to distant galaxies and gain knowledge of the overall structure of the cosmos. Were we positioned in the center of a galaxy, we would never look on the beauty of a spiral galaxy nor would we have any idea of the structure of our universe. (Michael Denton, Nature's Destiny, s. 262)
As Michael Denton says, the universe possesses just the right features to meet our needs. The noteworthy point here is that our Solar System lies at the edge of the galactic arm, rather than at the centre of the Milky Way. This, as Michael Denton also states, allows us to examine the sky and, most importantly, to acquire information about the universe.
Our Lord has specially revealed the location of the Solar System within the Milky Way. This location is a means whereby we can come to know the universe, reflect deeply and witness the infinite might of Allah.
In one verse of the Qur’an Allah reminds us:
“You have known the first formation, so will you not pay heed?”(Surat Waqi’a: 62)
1015 meters, 1 trillion kilometers.
The Sun is the largest body in our Solar System, representing 99.8% of its total mass. The planet Jupiter constitutes much of what remains.
1013 meters, 10 billion kilometers.
One of the areas in which we can most clearly see the regularity in the universe is the Solar System in which our Earth lies. The Solar system contains 9 separate planets and 54 satellites belonging to them. These planets, in order of their proximity to the Sun, are Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto. The only celestial body with a surface and atmosphere capable of sustaining life is our Earth.
“It is He Who created night and day and the sun and moon, each one swimming in a sphere.” (Surat al- Anbiya: 33)
1012 meters, 1 billion kilometers.
1011 meters, 100 million kilometers.
1010 meters, 10 million kilometers.
In addition to this magnificent balance in the Solar System, the planet Earth’s position in that system and in space in general again reveal the existence of an immaculate Creation.
The Earth orbits the Sun in such a way that it only deviates from a straight line by 2.8 mm every 18 miles. The Earth never deviates from that orbit, which is extremely important because even a 3.0 mm deviation, for example, would give rise to dreadful catastrophes; if the deviation were 2.5 mm instead of 2.8 mm, the orbit would be wider and all living things on the Earth would freeze, whereas if it were 3.1 mm all living things, ourselves included, would burn up and die. ( Bilim ve Teknik Magazine, July 1983)109 meters, 1 million kilometers.
Were it not for the Moon, the Earth would not be as it is today. There would be no life on it at all.
Were there no Moon, the days would be shorter, and we would live on a planet of incessant storms and tornados.
The atmosphere would not be as it is today, but would be much thicker.
Were it not for the Moon, the tides would decrease by 70%. Nocturnal life forms could not develop, and the seasons would not exist.
With the Sun alone, the Earth would be an empty planet, consisting of the plants only, dependent on the seasons, winds and rains. The Qur’an refers to the Moon and its actions:
“And We have decreed set phases for the moon, until it ends up looking like an old palm spathe. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon nor for the night to outstrip the day; each one is swimming in a sphere.” (Surah Yasin:39-40)
108 meters, 100,000 kilometers.
Our Earth proceeds along its orbit at a speed of 30 kilometers a second. From 100,000 kilometers away it looks very small. Nothing can as yet be seen, merely a round, colored image. At a distance of 100,000 kilometers from our Earth, which meets all the conditions for our survival, it is impossible for us to breathe, drink water, benefit from the daylight or consume nourishing foods.
In addition, it is impossible to read a book or magazine outside the Earth’s atmosphere in the deep voids of space. Is that because the Sun’s rays do not reach that far? No. Light from the Sun does arrive, but in space particles such as molecules and atoms do not exist. That means there is no matter or objects that can reveal themselves by being struck by the Sun’s rays in the vastness of space. The light that does strike matter is given off all around in the form of heat and light, rather like a firework. That is why there can be no daylight where the two are not present together.
107 meters, 10,000 kilometers.
We are somewhere that is moving rapidly through enormous cold and pitch blackness, protected against the daylight created for us and against external agents.
From wherever we look at the Earth we can see that there is a stupendous Creation; from the way the winds carry clouds laden with rain to the land, to the way the Moon illuminates the Earth like a torch and the extraordinary speed of an average 110,000 kilometers an hour at which the Earth revolves around the Sun. Everything has been created within an immaculate order. Looked at in the light of the links between these balances and systems it is obvious that they have all been placed at the service of mankind.
106 meters, 1,000 kilometers.
We are now on Earth, created with the finest conditions for the maintenance of life in the Solar System. We lack for nothing on this giant spaceship created for us. There is no need to look beyond the Earth for any of our needs. It has light, water, air and food resources for us, and these never come to an end. The average temperature has been maintained in a dynamic equilibrium for centuries.
Mars, which is further away from the Sun, is freezing cold, while Venus, which is closer to it, is hot enough to melt lead. Less than a 10% reduction in solar energy would lead to a fall in the average temperature on Earth, for which reason the world would become covered in a layer of ice many meters thick. A small increase in that energy, on the other hand, would cause all living things to burn up and die.
105 meters, 100 kilometers.
104 meters, 10 kilometers.
103 meters, 1 kilometer.
The Earth’s atmosphere consists of 77% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% of a combination of other gasses such as carbon dioxide and argon. The most important of all these gasses is oxygen, because it is by way of oxygen that most chemical reactions in living things with complex bodies, such as human beings, take place. Carbon reacts with oxygen, the result being water, carbon dioxide and energy.
The atmosphere has been specially created for human life. This fact revealed by science once again proves that the universe is not a random mass of matter. There is of course a Creator Who rules the entire universe, shapes matter as He wishes and keeps the galaxies, stars and planets under His control. That sublime Creator is Almighty Allah.
102 meters, 100 meters.
101 meters, 10 meters.
For hundreds of millions of years, plants have been carrying out a process that no laboratory equipped with the most advanced technology and containing the very best specialist experts have ever succeeded in doing. They use sunlight to manufacture food, in a process known as “photosynthesis.” One necessary condition for this important process is that the light reaching the plant be the kind of light permitting photosynthesis.
What enables plants to make photosynthesis is the sensitivity to light energy of the chlorophyll molecules in the cells. However, chlorophyll can only employ rays of a very specific wavelength.
The fact that the light radiated by the Sun is more or less the same as that required for photosynthesis shows the immaculate Creation in light.
100 meters, 1 meter.
As a result of the photosynthesis performed by trees and all green plants, oxygen is constantly being manufactured and its levels maintained. That is why we are never left without oxygen.
Plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. By ensuring a balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide, the temperature balance on Earth is also maintained. There is no other means in nature of preserving the oxygen balance in the atmosphere. That means that trees and all green plants are essential for the maintenance of the balances in all living things.
That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything. (Surat al-An’am, 102)
10-1 meters, 10 centimeters.
10-2 meters, 1 centimeter.
10-3 meters, 1 millimeter.
We are looking at a flawless, microscopic arrangement in leaves. The pores in leaves, known as stoma, one of their very important structures, are also an important component of that arrangement. Their job is to ensure the heat and water cycle and to obtain oxygen from the atmosphere.
As can be seen from this leaf’s cross-section, the pores are generally located on the underside of leaves and are capable of opening and closing according to how much water the plant needs. Variations in the external environment are the factors on which pore activity depends.
The leaf resembles a piece of cloth based on veins that serve like a mechanical support. In order for this system to be used effectively, the leaf has to keep the level of energy it will use to support its tissue as low as possible. This is an easy matter for the leaf. Because there is a main prop running through the centre of the leaf and secondary struts running from this out towards the leaf edges. In particular, the location of the main vein is very important in the distribution of the leaf’s weight. We can compare this to the reduction in lifting power you experience when you hold a heavy book out at arm’s length, and the way the weight of the book seems to grow as it affects your arms.
10-4 meters, 100 microns.
10-5 meters. 10 microns.
10-6 meters, 1 micron.
The most distinctive feature that distinguishes the plant cell from those in humans and animals is that it is able to make use of solar energy. It achieves this through the process known as photosynthesis and converts the energy reaching it from the Sun into energy that can be used by humans and animals through the food they consume.
Let us briefly run over some of the stages that take place during photosynthesis. First of all, it is essential that all the enzymes and systems necessary for photosynthesis to be present in the plant cell at exactly the same time.
10-7 meters, 1,000 Angstroms.
When sunlight falls onto the leaf it moves through various layers in it. The chlorophylls inside the organelles in the cell known as chloroplasts convert this light energy into chemical energy. The plant receiving this chemical energy immediately uses it to obtain food.
Scientists only acquired this knowledge, summarized here in just a few words, in the mid-20th century. Yet plants have been performing this process with complete accuracy for hundreds of millions of years, thus providing the Earth with food and oxygen.
10-8 meters, 100 Angstroms.
The paired DNA chain resembles a zip. The DNA chain is quite a long one. In the same way that we would roll a long thread around a reel in a regular manner, so the cell uses a similar mechanism to package the DNA up and place it inside the nucleus. DNA exists inside every cell.
The following comparison by Michael Denton is enough to reflect the minute size of DNA, with its enormous capacity:
If all the features of all the species that have ever lived were to be loaded onto DNA, the resulting total volume of DNA would fill only a small part of a teaspoon. Enough space would even be left over the rest of the teaspoon to contain all the books that have ever been written. (Michael Denton, A Theory in Crisis, p. 334)10-9 meters, 1 nanometer.
DNA replication begins in a specific nucleotide sequence. The helix-shaped arms of the DNA begin to be opened out by the enzyme known as DNA helicase, after which they begin separating from one another. Special proteins that stabilize the helixes make sure the two arms do not wind round one another again. It is at just this point that a special RNA molecule known as “primary RNA” is synthesized between the DNA arms. This molecule shows the enzyme DNA polymerase that will carry out the copying process where it is to begin. DNA polymerase begins forming new DNA arms by binding the nucleotides in such a way that they line up opposite the separating arms of the DNA.
10-10 meters, 100 picometers.
All material entities, living or non-living, are made up, as we know, of the basic building blocks known as “atoms.” The atom consists of particles in the nucleus called “protons” and the electrons that orbit around the nucleus.
The protons inside the atomic nucleus carry a positive electrical charge, and the electrons that revolve outside it a negative one.
These diametrically opposed electrical charges cause an attraction between them, and that attraction keeps the electrons in a stable orbit around the nucleus. The force that binds the protons and electrons, with their opposing electrical charges, together is known as “electromagnetic force.”
The nature of the electrons’ orbits around the atomic nucleus determines the bonds the atoms will have among themselves and the kinds of molecules they will be able to make up.
The electrons in the atom never crash into one another, despite their travelling at the extraordinary speed of 100,000 kilometers a second.
10-11 meters, 10 picometers.
Atoms consist of a dense nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons. It is electromagnetic force that holds the nucleus and electrons together.
10-12 meters, 1 picometers.
10-13 meters, 100 femtometers.
The question of how invisibly small particles manage to arrange themselves together in empty space in such a way as to constitute the atom is a most important one. These particles give rise to the atom through a very special structure. One of the main features of this structure is the existence of fundamental forces that enable the particle to repel and attract one another.
It is these forces that, as well as controlling all the delicate balances in the universe, from atmospheric pressure to the Earth’s orbit, that also influence the components that constitute the atom. These four forces are:
Strong Nuclear Force
Weak Nuclear Force
The Force of Gravity and
10-14 meters, 10 femtometers.
All the very different organic structures in existence, from the cell membrane to tree bark, from the optic lens to a stag’s antlers, are all made up from carbon-based compounds.
By combining together with hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen atoms in various different geometrical forms and sequences, carbon gives rise to very different substances.
10-15 meters, 1 femtometer.
The mass of a proton is exactly 1836 that of the electron.
To make a concrete comparison, the difference between them is like that between a human being and a hazelnut. In other words, the electron and the proton have no physical structures that particularly resemble one another.
The striking thing here is that the electrical charges of these two totally different particles are exactly the same. One possesses a positive charge and the other a negative one, but they are exactly the same in size.
On account of this, the atom’s electrical charge is balanced. Otherwise, there is nothing making such a balance necessary. On the contrary, what one would expect in physical terms is for the electrical charge of the electron to much lower, in proportion to its mass, than that of the proton.
If that were the case, if the electrical charges of the electron and proton were different, what would happen?
In that event, all the atoms in the universe would be positively charged, because of the higher electrical charge in the proton. As a result, every atom in the universe would repel every other atom.
And what would happen then? What would happen if all the atoms in the universe repelled one another?
The moment such a change took place; you and everything around would instantly dissolve into space. All the seas and mountains on Earth, all the planets in the Solar System and all the celestial bodies in the universe would split up into an infinite number of component articles inthe blink of an eye. No object visible to the eye would ever exist in the universe again. What we refer to as the universe would consist of mutually repellent atoms.
10-16 meters, 100 attometers.
The neutrons and protons that constitute the atom are actually made up of even smaller sub particles known as “quarks.”
The size of the quarks that comprise the unimaginably small proton is absolutely amazing - just: 10-18 meters.
The sublime Creation of the atoms at the basis of the cell, the protons and neutrons within the atom, and the quarks inside them, together with all their mechanisms, is utterly astonishing in its perfection.
What really needs to be reflected on here, however, is the way that all these flawless mechanisms work every second of a person’s life, with no human intervention involved and totally beyond the individual’s control.
It is crystal clear to any rational and honest person that Almighty and Omniscient Allah created all these, and that their supervision is again His:
Everyone in the heavens and earth requests His aid. Every day He is engaged in some affair. So which of your Lord’s blessings do you both then deny? (Surat ar-Rahman, 29-30)
WHAT THIS JOURNEY TEACHES US
All the physical laws in the universe, the position of the Earth in space, the biochemical reactions in the bodies of living things and the behavior of the atoms that constitute the main element in those reactions taking place all show that the universe has been specially created to support life.
Whichever of the structures or systems that surround us, from the greatest to the very smallest, we may look at, we encounter yet another wondrous miracle. Because no matter how enormous and obvious a miracle may be, it is only believers who possess the ability to see and comprehend the existence of Allah and His infinite greatness from it.
Deniers, on the other hand, will refuse to recognize the most evident miracle because of their pride and worldly ambitions. They generally downplay these miracles by means of irrational interpretations and statements. Yet any single one of the miracles we have encountered during our journey is enough to lead an honest person to faith. Let us now once again witness the sublime Creation of Allah by once more setting out on this journey from the micro world to the macro one.
He Who created the seven heavens in layers. You will not find any flaw in the Creation of the All-Merciful. Look again – do you see any gaps? Then look again and again. Your sight will return to you dazzled and exhausted! (Surat al-Mulk, 3-4)