Fred Hoyle was the second astronomer to address this question. Hoyle took Salpeter's idea a step further, introducing the idea of "double resonance". Hoyle said that there had to be two resonances: one that caused two heliums to fuse into beryllium and one that caused the third helium atom join this unstable formation. Nobody believed Hoyle. The idea of such a precise resonance occurring once was hard enough to accept; that it should occur twice was unthinkable. Hoyle pursued his research for years and in the end he proved that his idea was right: there really was a double resonance taking place in the red giants. At the exact moment two helium atoms resonated in union, a beryllium atom appeared in the 0.000000000000001 second needed to produce carbon. George Greenstein describes why this double resonance is indeed an extraordinary mechanism:
There are three quite separate structures in this story-helium, beryllium, and carbon-and two quite separate resonances. It is hard to see why these nuclei should work together so smoothly…Other nuclear reactions do not proceed by such a remarkable chain of lucky breaks…It is like discovering deep and complex resonances between a car, a bicycle, and a truck. Why should such disparate structures mesh together so perfectly? Upon this our existence, and that of every life form in the universe, depends.36In the years that followed it was discovered that other elements like oxygen are also formed as a result of such amazing resonances. A zealous materialist, Fred Hoyle's discovery of these "extraordinary transactions" forced him to admit in his book Galaxies, Nuclei and Quasars, that such double resonances had to be the result of design and not coincidence. 37 In another article he wrote:
If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just about where these levels are actually found to be…A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.38Hoyle declared that the inescapable conclusion of this plain truth should not go unnoticed by other scientists.
I do not believe that any scientist who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside the stars.39
This plain truth was expressed in the Qur'an 1,400 years
ago. Allah indicates the harmony in creation of the heavens in the
verse: Do you not see how Allah created seven
heavens in harmony… (Surah Nuh: 15)
A Lesser Alchemy Lab: The Sun
This reaction is no less essential for us to exist than are the reactions in the red giants. Moreover, the sun's nuclear reaction is also a designed process, just like the one in red giants.
Hydrogen, the input element for this reaction, is the simplest element in the universe for its nucleus consists of a single proton. In a helium nucleus, there are two protons and two neutrons. The process taking place in the sun is the fusion of four hydrogen atoms into one helium atom.
An enormous amount of energy is released during this process. Nearly all the thermal and light energy reaching Earth is the result of this solar nuclear reaction.
THE CRITICAL REACTION IN THE SUN
1) Above: Four hydrogen atoms in the sun join together to form a single helium atom.
2) Below1: This is a two-step process. First two hydrogen atoms fuse forming a deuteron. This transformation is a slow one and is what keeps the sun burning constantly.
3) Below2: If the strong nuclear force were
just a little bit stronger, a di-proton would be formed instead
of a deuteron. Such a reaction however cannot be sustained for any
length of time: a runaway catastrophic explosion would occur in
just a few seconds.
Like the reactions taking place in red giants, this solar nuclear reaction turns out to involve a number of unexpected aspects without which it could not take place. You can't simply jam four hydrogen atoms together and turn them into helium. To make this happen, a two-step process is required, paralleling the one taking place in red giants. In the first step, two hydrogen atoms combine to form an intermediary nucleus called deuteron consisting of one proton and one neutron.
What force could be great enough to produce a deuteron by jamming two nuclei together? This force is the "strong nuclear force", one of the four fundamental forces of the universe mentioned in the previous section. This is the most powerful physical force in the universe and is billions of billions of billions of billions times stronger than the gravitational force. Nothing but this force could unite two nuclei like this.
Now the really curious thing about all this is that research shows that, strong as it is, the strong nuclear force is just barely strong enough to do what it does. If it were even slightly weaker than it is, it would not be able to unite the two nuclei. Instead, two protons nearing each other would repel each other immediately and the reaction in the sun fizzle out before it ever began. In other words, the sun would not exist as an energy-radiating star. Concerning this, George Greenstein says: "Had the strong force had been only slightly less strong, the light of the world would have never been lit."40
What, on the other hand, if the strong nuclear force were stronger? To answer that, we first have to look at the process of converting two hydrogen atoms into a deuteron in a little more detail. First, one of the protons is stripped of its electrical charge and becomes a neutron. This neutron forms a deuteron by uniting with a proton. The force causing this unification is the "strong nuclear force"; the force that converts a proton into a neutron on the other hand is a different one and is called the "weak nuclear force". It is weak only by comparison however and it takes about ten minutes to make the conversion. At the atomic level, this is an immensely long time and it has the effect of slowing down the rate at which the reaction in the sun takes place.
Let us now return to our question: What would happen if the strong nuclear force were stronger? The answer is that the reaction in the sun would be changed dramatically because the weak nuclear force would be eliminated from the reaction.
If the strong nuclear force were any stronger than it is, it would be able to fuse two protons to one another immediately and without having to wait ten minutes for a proton to be converted into a neutron. As a result of this reaction, there would be one nucleus with two protons instead of a deuteron. Scientists call such a nucleus a "di-proton". It is a theoretical particle however insofar as it has never been observed to occur naturally. But if the strong nuclear force were much stronger than it is, then there would be real di-protons in the sun. So what? Well by getting rid of the proton-to-neutron conversion, we would be eliminating the "throttle" that keeps the sun's "engine" running as slowly as it does. George Greenstein explains what the result of that would be:
The Sun would change because the first stage in the formation of helium would no longer be the formation of the deuteron. It would be the formation of the di-proton. And this reaction would not involve the transformation of a proton into a neutron at all. The role of the weak force would be eliminated, and only the strong force would be involved…and as a result the Sun's fuel would suddenly become very good indeed. It would become so powerful, so ferociously reactive, that the Sun and every other star like it would instantaneously explode.41The explosion of the sun would cause the world and everything on it to burst into flames, burning our blue planet to a crisp in a few seconds. Because the strong nuclear force is precisely fine-tuned to be neither too strong nor too weak, the sun's nuclear reaction is slowed down and the star has been able to radiate light and energy for billions of years. This precise tuning is what makes it possible for mankind to live. If there were even the slightest deviation in this arrangement, the stars (including our sun) would not exist or if they did, they would explode in a short time.
In other words the structure of the sun is neither accidental nor unintentional. Quite the contrary: Allah has created the sun for people to live, as expressed in the verse:
The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly)
computed. (Surat ar-Rahman: 5)
Protons and ElectronsSo far we have been examining matters concerned with forces that affect atomic nuclei. There is another important equilibrium in the atom that we must consider: the balance between its nucleus and electrons.
Put in its simplest terms, electrons revolve around the nucleus. The reason for this is electrical charge. Electrons have a negative charge and protons have a positive charge. Opposite charges attract, so an atom's electrons are drawn towards the nucleus. But the electrons are also moving at an enormous speed which would, under normal conditions, cause them to shoot away from the nucleus. These two forces (attraction and motion away) are balanced so that the electrons move in orbits around the nucleus.
Atoms are also balanced in terms of their electric charges: the number of orbiting electrons is the same as the number of protons in the nucleus. (For example, oxygen has eight protons and eight electrons.) In this way the electrical force of an atom is balanced and the atom is electrically neutral.
So far, so much basic chemistry. However there is a point
in this seemingly simple structure that is overlooked by many. A
proton is much bigger than an electron in terms of both size and
weight. If an electron were the size of a walnut, a proton would
be about the size of a man. Physically, they are quite dissimilar.
Although their electrical charges are opposite (electrons negative, protons positive) they are also equal. There is no obvious reason why this should be so. Conceivably (and "logically") an electron ought to carry a much smaller charge because it is so much smaller.
But if that were true, then what would happen?
What would happen is that every atom in the universe would be positively charged instead of being electrically neutral. And because like charges repel, every atom in the universe would try and repel every other atom. Matter as we know it could not exist.
What would happen if it suddenly became true now? What would happen if every atom were to start repelling every other?
Quite extraordinary things would happen. Let us begin with the changes that would occur in your body. The moment this change occurred, your hands and your arms holding this book would shatter at once. And not just your hands and arms but also your body, your legs, your eyes, your teeth–every part of your body would explode in a split second.
The room you sit in and the world around you would explode in a moment. All the seas, mountains, the planets in the solar system, and all the stars and galaxies in the universe would shatter into atomic dust. And there would never again be anything in the universe to observe. The universe would become a mass of disorganized atoms pushing each other around.
By how much would the sizes of the electrical charges of protons and electrons have to differ in order for this dreadful thing to happen? One percent? A tenth of one percent? George Greenstein addresses this question in The Symbiotic Universe:
Small things like stones, people, and the like would fly apart if the two charges differed by as little as one part in 100 billion. Larger structures like the Earth and the Sun require for their existence a yet more perfect balance of one part in a billion billion.42
Here is yet another precisely-tuned equilibrium that proves that the universe is intentionally designed and created for a particular purpose. As John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler maintain in their book "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle", "there is a grand design in the Universe that favours the development of intelligent life."43
Of course every design proves the existence of a conscious "designer". That is Allah alone, "Lord of all the worlds", described in the Qur'an as the only Power Who created the universe from nothingness, and designed and fashioned it as He willed. As stated in the Qur'an, "He built the heaven, He raised its vault high and made it level." (Surat an-Nazi'at: 27-28)
Thanks to the extraordinary balances that we have seen in this chapter, matter is able to remain stable and this stability is evidence of the perfection of Allah's creation as revealed in the Qur'an:
Everyone in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. All are submissive to Him. (Surat ar-Rum: 25)
31. Paul Davies, Superforce, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 235-236
32. George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe, p. 38
33. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1995
34. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1995
35. The resonance mentioned here occurs as follows: when two atom nuclei fuse, the new emerging nucleus both takes on the total of the massive energy of the two nuclei forming it and their kinetic energy. This new nucleus works to reach a particular energy level within the atom's natural energy ladder. However, this is only possible if the total energy it receives corresponds to this level of energy. If it fails to correspond, then the new nucleus decomposes at once. For the new nucleus to attain stability, the accumulated energy in its body and the level of natural energy it forms should be equal to each other. When this equality is attained the "resonance" occurs. However this resonance is a highly rare harmony with a very low probability to be achieved.
36. George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe, p. 43-44
37. Paul Davies. The Final Three Minutes, New York: BasicBooks, 1994, p. 49-50 (Quoted from Hoyle)
38. Fred Hoyle, "The Universe:Past and Present Reflections", Engineering and Science, November 1981, pp. 8-12
39. Fred Hoyle, Religion and the Scientists, London: SCM, 1959; M. A. Corey, The Natural History of Creation, Maryland: University Press of America, 1995, p. 341
40. George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe, p. 100
41. George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe, p. 100
42. George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe, p. 64-65
43. W. Press, "A Place for Teleology?", Nature, vol. 320, 1986, p. 315
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