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Section 2: Questions & Answers

The Failure of Darwin: Design in Nature

8. Does the earth appear to be specifically designed to support human life?

Answer: Yes. The features of the earth-sun-moon system which are essential to a life support system for plants, animals and man are numerous.9

a. The sun's temperature is right to provide the range of light wavelengths suitable for life. Higher temperatures would result in too much ultraviolet radiation, lower temperatures in too much infrared.

b. The sun is at the correct distance from the earth and has the proper size and temperature to provide the total amount of radiation required to maintain surface temperatures on earth suitable for life. Even small changes in any of these factors would probably destroy all life.

c. The nearly circular orbit of the earth limits temperature variations.

d. The water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produce a so-called "greenhouse effect" which moderates the temperature extremes.

e. A high altitude ozone layer effectively absorbs the lethal fraction of solar ultraviolet rays which would destroy life on the earth's surface were the ozone layer removed.

f. The 23 degree inclination of the earth's axis of rotation from the perpendicular to the plane of its orbit provides for the seasons. It probably also considerably increases the land area in the northern hemisphere suitable for intensive summer agriculture.

g. The earth's magnetic field, extending tens of thousands of miles into space, shields the earth's surface from much of the cosmic radiation which probably would prove deleterious to life.

h. The lunar gravitation produces important tidal circulation effects in the oceans, which make conditions much more suitable for sea life in the shallow zones along shores and in estuaries.

i. The mass and size of the earth are adjusted to provide gravitational force and atmospheric pressure suitable for life, and also to prevent the escape of the earth's atmosphere.

k. The earth's surface is blessed with a concentration unknown any-where else in the universe, of liquid water, the only possible solvent and medium for living cells. The physical properties of water are unique and absolutely essential to all life processes. These properties of water include (1) the highest heat of fusion(melting), (2) a liquid temperature range which includes the temperatures at which enzymes and other life molecules can exist and function, (3) the highest heat capacity(heat required to increase its temperature), (4) the highest heat of vaporization, (5) the highest dielectric constant of all of the common liquids, (6) the greatest solvent powers, (7) the greatest power to form a special chemical bond called a hydrogen bond, (8) the greatest ionizing power of all the common liquids, (9) the property (unique except for bismuth) of expanding when it crystallizes, and (10) a strong power to absorb infrared radiation.

Liquid ammonia is sometimes proposed as a possible liquid for some imagined kind of life system. It has slightly higher values in several of the above properties, but it is distinctly inferior to water in the others. The idea of life in any solvent other than water is mere fantasy.

l. The elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus, together with liquid water, are the basis for the only remotely possible chemical framework for life. The surface of the earth is the only known place in the entire universe where these substances are found in suitable quantities and in the proper forms for life to exist.

The ideal combination of conditions and factors essential to life observed only on earth surely points to intelligent, purposeful design. To believe that this beautifully balanced life support system which carries the human race safely at speeds of more than one thousand miles per minute through hostile space is a mere accident requires invincible faith in the power of chance. Would not any honest observer have to admit that the earth appears to have been designed for us to live on, just as David the Psalmist said? "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S; but the earth He has given to the children of men." Psalm 115:16

Deevey, Edward, Jr., Yale Review, 61, Summer (1967), pp.634-635.

...Of course these things are marvels, and of course, the fossil record being what it is, no one can say with confidence exactly how any one of them came about.

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