A LIVING PLANET: THE EARTH
Allah created the heavens and the earth with
truth. There is certainly a Sign in that for the believers.
The earth is a living planet where many complex systems
run perfectly without stopping at all. When compared to other planets,
it is evident that in all its aspects the earth is specially designed
for human life. Built on delicate balances, life prevails in every spot
of this planet, from the atmosphere to the depths of the earth.
Exploring only a few of the millions of these delicate
balances would be sufficient to show that the world we live in is specially
designed for us.
One of the most important balances in our planet is revealed
in the atmosphere that surrounds us. The atmosphere of the earth holds
the most appropriate gasses in the most appropriate ratio needed for
the survival not only of human beings, but also of all the living beings
on the earth.
The 77% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% carbon dioxide as well
as other gasses readily available in the atmosphere represent the ideal
figures necessary for the survival of living beings. Oxygen, a gas that
is vital for living beings, helps food to be burned and converted into
energy in our bodies.
If the oxygen quantity in the atmosphere were greater than
21%, the cells in our body would soon start to suffer great damages.
The vegetation and hydrocarbon molecules needed for life would also
be destroyed. If this quantity were less, then this would cause difficulties
in our respiration, and the food we eat would not be converted into
energy. Therefore, the 21% oxygen in the atmosphere is the most ideal
quantity determined for life.
No less than oxygen, other gasses like nitrogen and carbon
dioxide are also arranged in the ideal quantity for the needs of living
beings and the continuity of life. The amount of nitrogen in the atmosphere
has the ideal ratio to balance the harmful and burning effects of oxygen.
This ratio represents the most appropriate value required for photosynthesis,
which is essential for life's energy supply on the earth. Moreover,
the amount of carbon dioxide has the most appropriate value that is
needed to maintain the stability of the surface temperature of the earth
and to prevent heat loss especially at night time. This gas, comprising
1% of the atmosphere, covers the earth like a quilt and prevents the
loss of heat to space. If this amount were greater, the temperature
of the earth would increase excessively, causing climatic instability
and posing a serious threat against living beings.
These proportions remain constant thanks to a perfect system.
The vegetation covering the earth converts carbon dioxide to oxygen,
producing 190 billion tons of oxygen every day. The proportion of
other gasses is always kept constant on the earth by the help of interconnected
complex systems. Life is thus sustained.
In addition to the establishment of the ideal gas mixture
required for life on the earth, the mechanisms needed to preserve and
maintain this order are created alongside with it. Any break in the
balance, though instantaneous, or any change in the ratios even for
a very short time period, would mean the total destruction of life.
Yet, this does not happen. The formation of these gasses in the atmosphere
just in the amount people need, and the constant preservation of these
ratios indicate a planned creation.
The creation of the heavens and earth is far
than the creation of
mankind. But most of mankind do not know it. (Qur'an, 40:57)
At the same time, the earth has the ideal size in terms
of magnitude to possess an atmosphere. If the mass of the earth were
a little less, then its gravitational force would be insufficient and
the atmosphere would be dispersed in space. If its mass were a little
greater, then the gravitational force would be too much and the earth
would absorb all gasses in the atmosphere. There is an incredibly high
number of conditions required for the formation of an atmosphere such
as the one our world currently has and all of these conditions should
exist altogether to be able to talk of life.
The creation of these delicate proportions and balances
in the sky is mentioned in the 7th verse of Surat ar-Rahman:
He erected heaven and established the balance.
The majority of people spend their lives without being
aware of the delicate balances and subtle adjustments in the gas composition
of the atmosphere, the distance of the world to the sun or the movements
of planets. They are ignorant of the great significance of these balances
and adjustments to their own lives. However, even a minor deviation
in any one of these arrangements would create very severe problems regarding
the existence and survival of humankind.
There are many other balances established on earth for
the continuity of life:
For instance, if the surface gravity were stronger than
its current value, the atmosphere would retain too much ammonia and
methane gasses, which would mean the end of life. If it were weaker,
the planet's atmosphere would lose too much water, and life on earth
would be impossible.
The thickness of the earth's crust constitutes another
one of the delicate balances in the earth. If the earth's crust were
thicker, too much oxygen would be transferred from the atmosphere to
the crust and this would have severe effects on human life.
If the opposite were true, that is, if the earth's crust
were thinner, volcanic and tectonic activity would be too great to permit
life on earth.
Another crucial balance for human life is the ozone level
in the atmosphere. If it were greater than its current value, the surface
temperatures would be too low. If it were less, surface temperatures
would be too high, and there would be too much ultraviolet radiation
at the surface.
Everything in the heavens and every creature on
the earth prostrates to Allah, as do the angels. They are not
puffed up with pride.
In fact, the absence of even a single of these balances
would set the end to life on earth. However, Allah has created the universe
with infinite wisdom and power and designed the earth specially for
human life. Despite this fact, the majority of people lead their lives
in total ignorance of these events. In the Qur'an, Allah reminds people
of His blessings in the 13th verse of Surat al-Fatir:
(Allah) makes night merge into day and day merge
into night, and He has made the sun and moon subservient, each one running
until a specified time. That is Allah, your Lord. The Kingdom is His.
Those you call on besides Him have no power over even the smallest speck.
It is sufficient look at millions of dead planets in space
in order to understand that the delicate balances required for life
on earth is not a result of random coincidences. The conditions essential
for life are too complicated to have been formed 'on their own' and
at random, and these conditions are specially created for life alone.
These balances we have briefly described so far are only
a few of the millions of intricate, interrelated balances and orders
established so that people can live in peace and safety on the earth.
Examining only a part of the balances and harmony on the
earth is enough to comprehend the superior being of Allah and grasp
the existence of a planned creation in every detail of the universe.
It is no doubt impossible for a person or any other living being to
build such an enormous balance and order. Nor are the components of
this order such as atoms, elements, molecules, and gasses capable of
establishing an order based on such intricate and extremely delicate
calculations and measurements, and such fine tunings. This is because
activities like planning, ordering, arranging, calculating, and proportioning
can only be realized by beings that possess wisdom, knowledge and power.
The Exalted Being Who orders, plans and balances the entire universe
to be fit for life of human beings on a planet like earth and Who sustains
it with dramatically delicate measures and balances is Allah, Who has
Infinite Wisdom, Knowledge and Power.
In the Qur'an, it is stated that those people who are able
to realize these facts are only 'people with intelligence':
In the creation of the heavens and the earth,
and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people with
intelligence: those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying
on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth:
"Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You!
So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Qur'an, 3:190-191)