A Life-friendly Ecosystem
“We know that by some strange and mysterious mechanism all the constants of nature turned out to be exactly as they need to be for life to emerge…” 1
Amir D. Aczel
Imagine every human on earth being given a Rubik Cube with the challenge to simultaneously resolve the three-dimensional puzzle in sixty seconds or less. The likelihood of success ranks mathematically off the wall.
Suggesting the self-creation of all matter in the cosmos as a fall out-from theoretical cosmic inflation fired up by an ancient Big Bang explosion offers even less luck-of-the-draw odds.
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Elements identified in the Periodic Table, were supposedly self-created during those alleged inflation years following the Bang.
Exposed at chemical evolution’s starting gate is the fanciful idea that random processes self-created the environment and the proteins essential to produce a living cell---spontaneously from inert, inorganic chemicals.
Heavy doses of intellectual flimflam can’t disguise reality!
It takes a giant leap of faith to suggest chemical evolution set in motion the cosmic convergence of conditions essential for life anywhere in the universe. It takes another blind leap to believe biological evolution took over and spontaneously generated life on earth without intelligent input.
Strewn like a random dice-throw across a black ocean of nothingness, “There may be as many as 40 billion planets roughly the size of the earth.” 2 At last count, 1800 planets have been identified. Only Kepler-186f, 3 some 490 light years distant, is considered the most “earth-like” planet with the possibility of housing a habitable zone.
In March, 2016, Scott Kelly returned to Earth after spending 340 days in space carving an elliptical orbit ranging from 205 to 270 miles above earth in the protective confines of the International Space Station. Immediate after effects of prolonged exposure to a weightless life style while confined in an artificial space include heightened skin sensitivity. Study continues as to possible consequences to the human genome. Clearly, without a controlled environment with food, water and oxygen “trucked” in from Earth, human survival would have been impossible.
So why life on the tiny blue island in space but only inert matter on Mars, Venus, Saturn or the moon? Did the pale blue dot win some cosmic lottery? Or is there a deeper meaning “as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe…The Impression of design is overwhelming …We are truly meant to be here.” 4
The mass, color, location, and luminosity of stars; an ideal sized moon to control Earth’s axis tilt and the inclination of earth’s orbit; and a terrestrial crust with moving tectonic plates---all combine to set the stage for life within the cross hairs of a minuscule terrestrial spot in an infinity of space.
“Almost everything about the basic structure of the universe…the fundamental laws…of physics and the initial distribution of matter and energy…is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to occur.” 5
Earth’s privileged ecosystem thrives on balanced land/water ratios, all nestled within a thin atmospheric envelope with delicately matched ratios of oxygen, carbon dioxide, ozone, and nitrogen. Add a dash of carbon and a touch of sulfur. Finally, bolster the formula with some nitrogen and phosphorous. Sunshine, atmosphere, electromagnetism, gravity and a full range of elements listed on the periodic table, anchor the all-or-nothing list of absolutes. But that’s only the beginning of a life-essential base.
Starting with a formulated mix of oxygen and hydrogen, water flows, a crucial ingredient for life’s recipe. Life’s origin and survival demands water.
It’s axiomatic: no water, no carbon-based life as we know it.
Viewed from space, earth reflects a bright-blue hue. Supposedly 70% of the earth is covered with water. So much so that if the earth’s land crust was flattened, water hundreds of feet deep might cover its surface. Scholars draw fascinating conclusions: 96.5% of earth’s water consists of ocean marine water and 0.97% brackish water. That leaves 2.53% of our entire water supply as fresh water. This comparatively minuscule amount of fresh water is allocated: 69.6% to glaciers and permanent snow; 30.1% ground water; 0.29% lakes, marshes, and swamps; 0.05% soil moisture; 0.04% atmosphere; 0.006% rivers; and 0.003% living organisms. 6
Too much water drowns its victims. Without water, death follows in days. Air deprivation guarantees suffocation in short minutes. Starvation takes longer but is certain to come calling. Plants and animals coexist as co-dependent components of a mutually supportive ecological package.
Explorers from earth’s home base survive in space’s hostile environment by carrying their own rations---oxygen, water and food.
While oxygen is critical to life, oxidation renders spontaneous generation of life impossible. Atoms and molecules tend to bond with oxygen atoms while free oxygen inclines to oxidize organic compounds, destroying life’s critical chemical building blocks.
“Oxygen was likely present in the early earth’s atmosphere.” 7 There is “strong evidence that oxygen was present on the earth from the earliest ages… Significant levels of oxygen would have been necessary to produce ozone which would shield the earth from levels of ultraviolet radiation lethal to biological life.” 8
If the “early atmosphere was oxygen-free…then there would have been no protective ozone layer. Any DNA and RNA bonds would be destroyed by UV radiation… Either way, oxygen is a major problem.” 9
This “major problem” undercuts spontaneous generation of first life.
“All experiments simulating the atmosphere of the early earth have eliminated molecular oxygen…Oxygen acts as a poison preventing the chemical reactions that produce organic compounds…If any chemical compounds did form, they would be quickly destroyed by oxygen reacting with them…” 10
“Even if oxygen was not present in the early earth’s atmosphere, the absence of oxygen would present obstacles to the formation of life. Oxygen is required for the ozone layer, which protects the surface of the earth from deadly ultraviolet radiation. Without oxygen this radiation would break down organic compounds as soon as they formed.” 11
Courtesy Popular Mechanics
After five years in space, NASA’s spacecraft explorer “Juno” arrived on target July 4, 2016, and began circling the giant Planet Jupiter at the rate of 37 orbits every 20 Earth days.
Microbiologist Michael Denton reasons “in an oxygen-free scenario, the ultraviolet flux reaching the earth’s surface might be more than sufficient to break down organic compounds as quickly as they were produced…In the presence of oxygen, any organic compounds formed on the early Earth would be rapidly oxidized and degraded…
“The level of ultraviolet radiation penetrating a primeval oxygen-free atmosphere would quite likely have been lethal to any proto-organism possessing a genetic apparatus remotely resembling that of modern organisms.
“What we have then is a ‘Catch 22’ situation…If we have oxygen, we have no organic compounds but if we don’t have oxygen we have none either.” 12
Its a classic lose/lose scenario---life could never evolve in an atmosphere with oxygen; but once formed, life could not survive without oxygen.
A narrow habitable zone is assured by solar radiation neither too near nor too far from the zone designed for life. Consistent doses of sunlight, radiating beams of ultraviolet and infrared, sustain life. If the sun’s relationship to the electromagnetic spectrum shifted imperceptibly, the chance of life could vanish.
Instead of blistering heat or deadly radiation, energy from the sun comes calibrated in a range maximizing a life-friendly environment. Sunlight also delivers a riot of kaleidoscopic colors embellishing environments as a psychological bonus. Restful sky-blues, backlighting forests of multi-hued greens define the landscape---a rainbow of accents, drenching the landscape with pastel shades of shimmering pinks, lavenders and crimson-golds. Shifting combinations of the sun’s rays conspire to induce peace.
Temperatures too hot or too cold accelerate the death process. Too much, too little, too far, too near, too late, too soon—any factor out-of-kilter and life on earth could not exist. Move the sun 5% closer, and the earth would be scorched. Modify earth’s orbit 20% farther from the sun, and life would drift into deep freeze. Despite predictions the raging inferno at the heart of the Solar System is certain to destroy itself eventually, in a blazing conflagration, the sun ignores dire predictions and keeps “rollin’ round heaven all day.”
The moon’s size and distance from earth, impacts climate.
Gravity keeps feet planted securely on terra firma and magnetic fields combine, suggesting “if masses did not attract each other, there would be no planets or stars, and once again it seems that life would be impossible.” 13 Reduce the pull of gravity significantly and feet would fly. Increase gravity’s pull many times, and the irresistible force could crush metal objects.
Molecular bonding, essential to life, requires the presence of no fewer than forty different elements. Success is contingent upon electromagnetism functioning within a balanced electron-to-proton mass ratio.
“...By some strange and mysterious mechanism all the constants of nature turned out to be exactly as they need to be for life to emerge.” 14
All this convergence by chance in a split second of time, at a location no more than a micro-mini speck in space, complete with a convenient and readily available array of that exotic array of life-essential elements spells habitable zone.
So what’s the probability of finding a free-floating space station offering an environment capable of generating and sustaining organic life by chance? Earth’s composite of conditions friendly to life, all within the cross hairs of one small time and place in infinity, seems mathematically off-scale, suggesting recognition of something beyond the luck-of-the-draw.
“There are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in…1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup... If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court.” 15
Bradley and Thaxton reason that “…even assuming that all the carbon on earth existed in the form of amino acids and react at the greatest possible rate of 1012/s for one billion years…the mathematically impossible probability for the formation of one functional protein would be -10-65.” 16
Sir Fred Hoyle calculated that “the likelihood of even one very simple enzyme arising at the right time in the right place was only one chance in 1020 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000… that about 2,000 enzymes were needed with each one performing a specific task to form a single bacterium like E. coli.” 17
Hoyle, with his colleague Chandra Wickersham, estimated that “the probability of all of these different enzymes forming in one place at one time to produce a single bacterium, at 1 in 1040,000.
“This number is so vast that it amounts to total impossibility.” 17
The likelihood of natural forces delivering the ingredients essential to sustain life, simultaneously in one place, at one instant in time, and without intelligent input is as preposterous as the discredited notion of spontaneous generation.
Thomas A. Edison recognized “…this world is ruled by infinite intelligence. Everything that surrounds us – everything that exists – proves that there are infinite laws behind it. There can be no denying this fact. It is mathematical in its precision.” 18