The Life Project: Pascal’s Wager Writ Large

In several other essays, I have argued that God intervenes periodically in the evolution of Life, whether to invent reproductive or other mechanisms, such as identical and sexual reproduction, as well as the numerous homeostatic mechanisms that exist to keep complex living organisms in equilibrium, to favour certain organisms over others, to endow some of them with certain attributes, to introduce checks, such as disease, war, famine, predation, small litters, and long gestation periods, on the populations of overly successful or dominant species, or to steer their evolution in a particular direction. In this essay, I wish to consider the many different physical conditions that Life needs for it to continue to exist.

There are many devout scientific believers who are convinced that Life arose on the Earth entirely by accident, and therefore it is also possible for it to have arisen on many other planets in the Universe.[1] Between these two alternative explanations – that God created both the Universe and Life on Earth, and has maintained, for billions of years, the stringent conditions that Life requires in order to continue to exist on the Earth, which hypothesis I will call the Life Project, and the scientific belief that Life arose entirely by accident, in accordance with the natural laws that have been discovered by scientists – is it possible to decide which of them is true?

The astonishing discoveries made by science in the last several hundred years have led a great many people to conclude, from these regularities that exist in the operations of the Universe, that this means there is no God. But as I have argued elsewhere, this conclusion does not follow from these regularities’ existence, for they are equally consistent with the belief that it was God that set, ordained, determined, or programmed them – which regularities It can breach whenever and wherever it suits Its purposes – so that the Universe will continue to unfold without Its constant attention or intervention.

The Universe, the operations of which have been studied by scientists, whose discoveries have been transmitted from generation to generation in an ever-expanding body of established knowledge by astronomers, physicists, chemists, and other scientists, was not formulated for the express purpose of sustaining, supporting, or favouring the creation, development, and continued existence of Life. First of all, the vast majority of the Universe is much too cold and barren to support any life. Secondly, as we shall see, even those parts of the Universe that are heated and illuminated by stars also receive, from these same stars, other kinds of radiation that are fatal to the kinds of life that exist on the Earth. And third, in order to continue to exist and develop, Life requires numerous protective and homeostatic mechanisms in order to maintain a stable environment that does not fluctuate too greatly, otherwise it would soon die; moreover, these mechanisms must remain in place indefinitely and at all times, without interruption, for even a brief violation of one or more of these mechanisms could result in fatal and irreversible damage to the extremely delicate entities that are living organisms.

Even those who believe that Life exists elsewhere in the Universe will admit that Life nevertheless contains a miniscule fraction of all the matter that exists in the Universe. In the case of our solar system, assuming that Life exists only on the Earth,[2] let us try to compute the percentage of matter that is contained within the bodies of living creatures. Life exists on the Earth only within a very narrow band near its surface. We know that there is no Life in, on, or near the Sun, and it is not likely that there is any life on the larger gaseous planets, which contain the bulk of the non-solar mass of our solar system. The relevant figures are the following:

Estimate of total global biomass: 4 trillion tons of carbon, or 4 x 1015 kg[3]

Earth’s mass = 5.97 x 1024 kg

Sun’s mass: 1.99 x 1030 kg, or about 330,000 times greater than the Earth’s mass

Jupiter’s mass: 1.89 x 1027 kg, or about 317 times greater than the Earth’s mass

Saturn’s mass = 5.68 x 1026 kg, or about 95 times greater than the Earth’s mass

According to these figures, the Earth’s total mass exceeds its total living mass by a factor of 109, or 1,000,000,000. And the Sun, which contains most of the mass in our solar system, exceeds the Earth’s mass by a factor of 105, which makes for a total factor of 1014. This means that, expressed in decimal form, with 1 representing the total mass of the solar system, the amount of matter that is contained in all the living organisms in our solar system is less than 0.00000000000001![4]

What these calculations show is that the amount of matter in our solar system, and also in the Universe, that is contained in the bodies of living creatures is so tiny that, in any ordinary computation, it amounts to nothing more than an extremely small rounding or computing error.[5] If stars were conscious and could communicate with each other, there might arise among them vague, occasional rumours of the existence of this exceedingly rare entity called life – a substance so rare, so delicate, so insignificant, so small in its individual forms, so easily destroyed, and so impermanent as to make most stars doubt that it actually exists. And yet, because we form part of that infinitesimally small quantity of matter that is contained in living organisms, we know that life does in fact exist, despite its highly improbable – and mathematically insignificant – nature in the immense vastness of the Universe.

An important point that is frequently overlooked by most people, both religious and non-religious, is that, in order to succeed, the Life Project did not require only the creation – or accidental development, if one believes that Life arose by chance – of early life forms. It also required the creation and constant maintenance of the hospitable conditions that these extremely delicate life forms require in order to survive. Outside of the nurturing and hospitable environment that exists on or near the Earth’s surface, the life forms that have evolved on our planet simply cannot survive anywhere else – unless, of course, they are protected at all times by helmets, suits, artificial breathing apparatuses, and space vehicles. Without these artificial contraptions, which are designed to replicate the physical conditions that exist on the Earth in terms of temperature, pressure, atmospheric composition, and solar radiation filtering, blocking, and reflecting, these delicate life forms most certainly cannot survive anywhere else in the solar system, and, in my opinion, they could only survive on the surface of another planet in the Universe if that planet has been deliberately and meticulously designed, just like the Earth has been designed, to support life forms that are comparable to terrestrial life forms.

Human beings are very easily misled by the patterns and phenomena with which they are familiar, from having observed and experienced them regularly. Because we are familiar with the tenacity of life on Earth – the fact that our planet teems with an extraordinary abundance of life, and that, for example, seeds which fall on the soil miraculously sprout to produce lush vegetation, without any tending or nurturing on our part – we believe that the same thing can also happen on other planets or moons in our solar system, and elsewhere in the Universe. But in making this leap from the terrestrial to the extraterrestrial, we completely fail to take into consideration the important fact that Life flourishes on the Earth only because of the many complex systems and conditions that exist only on the Earth and, in my opinion, nowhere else in our solar system. Moreover, these systems and conditions must remain stable and in balance with each other, which is truly an extraordinary feat, given how complex some of them are, and how even more complex their interactions are. If the Earth were considered from a design or engineering perspective, it is – to our limited human understandings – an unimaginably complex and ambitious project: in a Universe that was not designed to accommodate the existence of Life, and is in fact extremely hostile and indifferent to it, to create, first, the physical conditions that Life requires in order to begin, and then to preserve these conditions indefinitely so that it is able to develop, while growing more complex, as it diversifies into an astonishing variety of different forms.

To give just one example of the hostile conditions that exist in the Universe, let us consider the Sun. Although it is true that the Sun is the source of all Life on Earth, by providing the energy that plants require in order to grow, which in turn provide nourishment for all the many animals, both large and small, that feed on them, like all other active stars in the Universe, our Sun also produces radiation that is highly toxic to every kind of life that exists on the Earth. If this toxic radiation wasn’t prevented from reaching the Earth, it would very quickly decimate all terrestrial life forms, transforming the Earth into a sterile wasteland that can no longer support life, just like the Moon.

The Moon’s surface seems inhospitable to life of any sort. The diurnal temperatures range from about 100 to about 400 K.[6] In the absence of any significant atmosphere or magnetic field, ultraviolet light and charged particles from the Sun penetrate unimpeded to the lunar surface, delivering in less than an hour a dose lethal to the most radiation-resistant microorganism known [on Earth].[7]

If the Earth received all the radiation that the Sun produces, and not only the part that enables Life to exist, then there would be no Life on Earth, and the Life Project would have failed. Moreover, it would probably not even have gotten started. This toxic radiation must be blocked, deflected, or filtered out so that the useful radiation can reach the Earth’s surface, where it is transformed by countless organisms into organically useful forms. In other words, the extremely long-lived, radiation-emitting entities that exist in the Universe – stars – which heat up the frigid space around them that otherwise is only a few paltry degrees above absolute zero, have a fundamental problem in terms of their ability to support and sustain life: the fact that they produce large amounts of high-energy radiation that is deadly to life.[8]

The question is, Why doesn’t this radiation reach the Earth, thus killing all the many different living creatures that exist on or near its surface? The answer is that the Earth is protected from this toxic radiation by several mechanisms, including the ozone layer[9] and the existence of a large magnetic field that protectively envelop the Earth. Although humans, by inventing the compass, have used this magnetic field for sea and land navigation, it has a much more important function which was only discovered later on: the Earth’s magnetic field either deflects some of the Sun’s harmful radiation so that it passes around the Earth before continuing its trajectory harmlessly into outer space, or it funnels this radiation towards one of the Earth’s two magnetic poles, where again it passes harmlessly into the Earth’s interior.[10]

Besides contributing to the existence of the Earth’s magnetic field, its molten core also helps to stabilize the surface, oceanic, and atmospheric temperatures. On a planet or moon that lacks a molten core, these temperatures would depend entirely on the radiation received from the star around which it rotates, which dependence would lead to greater daily and seasonal fluctuations; and this, in turn, would make the preservation of life more difficult.

Like the rest of the Universe, the early conditions of the Earth were extremely hostile to life, especially to more complex life forms. It was only gradually, as God was able to figure out what changes to make and how to stabilize its physical landscape, that it became more hospitable to life. Scientific atheists must explain how this transformation occurred, for, in my opinion, the belief that these hospitable conditions arose, developed, and were maintained entirely by chance is complete nonsense. Those who seek to account for these changes by purely natural, meaning non-divine, processes simply assume that this belief is true and then attempt to make the facts fit it. We must be careful not to commit the Conception Fallacy, for the mere fact that we can conceive that all this occurred by chance certainly does not mean that this is how it actually occurred, or that such a thing is even possible.

Before our planet’s Moon was studied in detail with the aid of ever-stronger telescopes and other scientific devices, and before it was visited on several occasions by humans, many people naively believed that it could support life. Now that this belief has been discredited, the credulous and ever-hopeful belief that life exists, or once existed, elsewhere in our solar system has shifted its focus to Mars. Even if Mars has supported life in the past, as some humans believe – for which belief, however, there is presently only hopeful conjecture and no actual evidence – these two proximate celestial objects are not presently capable of supporting any form of terrestrial life. The question is, then, How could the physical conditions that exist on the surface of either the Moon or Mars be changed, and changed, moreover, by purely random processes, so that it would be able to support the kinds of life that exist on the Earth? In my opinion, even if we clever humans were to devote all our energies to altering their environments in order to make them hospitable to Life, the difficulties of the project would prove to be insuperable.

If life on Earth did indeed arise by chance, as the many scientific atheists and agnostics believe, and not by divine intervention, now that we are able to travel to the Moon and Mars, it should be possible for us extremely clever and intelligent human beings to start life on these two large barren objects. However, my belief is that we humans will never achieve such an ambitious undertaking because it takes a God to create and maintain the conditions that are necessary for Life to exist and flourish, as it has on the Earth continually for billions of years. Furthermore, my belief is that no life can exist on them, except for temporary periods, and at a very high energy cost from the Earth, in order to keep these transient terrestrial life forms alive in these barren and inhospitable places. The widespread belief that we will one day colonize the Moon and Mars, just as our ancestors colonized other regions of the Earth, is nothing more than a science-fiction fantasy that will never be realized. For the fact is that we humans, in spite of our intelligence, ingenuity, scientific knowledge, and manifest abilities, are not capable of creating the life-sustaining conditions necessary for Life to survive on a scale as large as a moon or planet.

If you were to sow seeds in the dust of either Mars or the Moon and water them, even if the dust were kept at the necessary warm temperature, I do not believe the seeds would sprout because either there is no atmosphere, as is true of the Moon, or the composition of the atmosphere is radically different from the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, as it is on Mars. And even if they did sprout, they would not long survive because of these and other important differences. Just like living organisms, seeds that are exposed to high-energy radiation become non-viable, meaning they can no longer develop into the plants which they would normally develop into, given the necessary conditions. The same is true of bacteria, which also would not long survive on either the Moon’s or Mars’s surface. Instead of multiplying to form greater and greater bacterial colonies, as they do on the Earth, their existence would be very quickly terminated by the inhospitable conditions that exist on or near their surfaces.[11] If life did indeed arise by chance, then, since our planet teems with an abundance of life, it should be possible to transplant some of this life to our nearest celestial neighbours, so that they too can begin the very long, uninterrupted journey to becoming a life-sustaining planet or moon.

In my opinion, the fact that ice, which is the solid state of water, is less dense than its liquid state is an example of God’s modification of a general rule to ensure the success of the Life Project. In the case of other substances, their solid state is denser than their liquid state, and their gaseous state is the least dense of all – an observation that is also true of steam, or gaseous water. Considering the vital importance of water to Life on Earth, I do not believe this is an accidental feature of the world we live in. For if water behaved like most other substances, in the winter, or in regions that are frigid year-round, the ice that forms on the surface of the water, since the air temperature usually drops before the water temperature, would immediately start to sink to the bottom, where it would melt as it mixed with and was warmed by the warmer water located at lower depths. But as this process of cooling continued, the entire body of water would eventually freeze, provided the winter was sufficiently long and cold, and the body of water not too deep. Clearly this would be disastrous for all larger animal life forms, such as fish, which would all freeze and therefore die. Moreover, it would mean that, near the poles, the oceans would be completely frozen, rather than having a thick ice layer that prevents the underlying water from freezing.

Besides floating on the surface of the water rather than sinking to the bottom and thereby cooling the entire body of water, ice is also a good insulator, another property which favours the survival of organisms that live in the water below the surface ice. This is why the Inuit were able to survive the frigid winters in the Arctic during thousands of years, by building igloos, or houses made of ice and compacted snow. Due to these unusual features of ice, it is possible for marine animals to live even in the frigid regions near the Earth’s poles, provided they have sufficient insulation to protect their bodies from the cold water, or they have developed other adaptive bodily mechanisms or attributes.[12]

Another interesting feature of the Earth is its tilt, which is 23.4 degrees from the perpendicular to the plane of the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. As most people are aware, this tilt is the cause of the seasons, as well as the seasonal variations that exist in the length of the day and night. It is also the reason for, or an important determinant of, the oceanic and atmospheric currents that exist, both of which have important effects on the global redistribution of heat, nutrients, and precipitation.

If the Earth had no tilt, so that its axis was exactly perpendicular to its plane of orbit around the Sun, this would mean that there would be no seasons and no seasonal variations in the length of the day and night. Hence, each part of the Earth would invariably receive, from one day to the next, the same amount of sunlight throughout the year. In this case, the equatorial regions would probably receive too much sunlight, and thus become too dry and hot to support life, while the two polar regions would receive too little, and thus be too cold to support life. Hence, Life would probably only exist in two bands located between the equator and the two poles, one in the northern, and the other in the southern, hemisphere. Furthermore, since storms are caused by the differential heating of the Earth’s surface, weather patterns would change dramatically, with the possibility that storms and hurricanes would become more regular and violent.

Conversely, if the Earth’s tilt were 90 degrees from the perpendicular, so that its axis coincided exactly with the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, this again would have a radical effect on the amount of sunlight received by the different regions of the Earth during the course of the year. Although there would still be days and nights and seasons, the variations in these phenomena would be much more extreme than they presently are. For as the Earth made its way around the Sun, first one hemisphere would directly face the Sun, leaving the other hemisphere in complete darkness, which situation would be reversed six months later. During the intervening six months, there would be a gradual shift from one to the other of these situations, so that at their two midpoints, the points that we call the equinoxes, the equatorial regions would directly face the Sun. At these two points in its annual rotation, but only at these two points, the length of the day and night, as well as the amount of sunlight received by each part of the Earth, would exactly coincide with the actual existing conditions. At all other points in its rotation, however, these figures would diverge more and more from each other, reaching their maximum divergence at the summer and winter solstices, when one of the poles would directly face the Sun. Such radical physical changes would make almost all terrestrial life seasonal, able to be active only during a part of the year, when that part of the Earth receives sufficient sunlight for Life to prosper.

Based on these considerations, I will make the conjecture, if it has not already been made before, that, of all the possible tilts, from 0 to 90 degrees, the Earth’s tilt is the one that maximizes, or at least comes close to maximizing, the Earth’s total living mass, by making as many parts of the Earth habitable, at least during a part of the year. In other words, although the Earth could support Life if its axis were tilted at other angles, it would not support as much Life as it does at its actual tilt. If this is true, then this means that, not only is the Earth able to support and sustain Life, it has certain features, such as its tilt, that make it ideal for supporting Life. If these features arose by chance, then we would not expect that they would be ideal, since the chances of this occurring by chance are very small.

Of course, the skeptical scientific atheist will point out that if any of these important life-preserving and life-enhancing mechanisms were absent from our planet, then we would not be here to ask these questions, along with the many other questions that we humans are wont to ask ourselves and try to answer. Although this observation is true, it is important to recognize that this type of argument is merely consistent with the view that all these mechanisms arose by chance; they do not, however, provide any evidence for it. Conversely, although the arguments that we have considered against this view do not demonstrate conclusively that Life on our planet arose, and has been preserved, by periodic divine interventions and modifications on God’s part, they should make clear that the alternative belief is problematic, and probabilistically speaking, highly unlikely, if not impossible.

There are several important conclusions that follow from the Life Project hypothesis – the belief that, in order for it to continue to exist, Life requires God’s protective interventions in the physically hostile and wholly indifferent Universe. First, the search for extraterrestrial life depends, not on probability estimates – of how many stars there are in the Universe, how many of them have planets revolving around them, how many of these planets are solid, not too small or massive, are located at the “right” distance from their star, possess sufficient water in liquid form, rotate around its axis at a sufficiently rapid rate, contain a sufficient variety of elements and chemical compounds, and so on – as many people believe, but on whether or not God has chosen to nurture Life elsewhere in the Universe besides the Earth. In other words, this search means trying to determine exactly where – and whether – God has chosen to nurture Life elsewhere in the Universe. This means that the probability estimates about Life’s existence elsewhere in the Universe are completely meaningless. Second, we humans are not capable of creating and preserving, in even the remotest degree, the conditions that are necessary for Life to exist and flourish on an object as large as a planet or even a moon; for it takes a God to create and maintain these conditions so that they remain in perpetual balance within narrow boundaries.

The credulous scientific faithful who believe that one day humanity will live on the Moon or Mars completely fail to understand how difficult it is to create and maintain, in a Universe that is hostile to Life’s existence, the hospitable conditions that exist on the Earth. Because they believe that all the numerous conditions and processes that enable Life to exist and thrive on this planet arose by the concatenation of a series of fortunate accidents, they believe that these conditions could also arise by chance on another planet somewhere else in the Universe; or that humanity, with its extraordinary ingenuity and ability to solve problems, could create and maintain these conditions on an otherwise barren and inhospitable planet like Mars or the Moon. Contrary to what these many credulous simpletons believe, I declare that Life can only exist in places where God purposely creates and maintains the numerous mechanisms that are necessary for the extremely delicate forms that we call Life to survive. And unless this information is revealed to us by God, it is impossible for humans to know how many – or how few – are the places in the Universe where these conditions exist.

The Gaia hypothesis is based on the growing recognition and understanding of the numerous conditions which make Life possible on the Earth, and which distinguish it from all the other planets in the solar system. However, due to the non-religious nature of the times[13] in which its originator grew up, instead of attributing the preservation of these conditions to God, as the inhabitants of a more simple and credulous past age did, James Lovelock has argued that they imply that the Earth is itself a living, self-regulating organism. Although I wholeheartedly agree with him about the extraordinary nature of these conditions – that they very clearly distinguish the Earth from all other planets where Life does not exist, and that they most certainly could not have arisen by chance – I do not agree with him in believing that it follows from their existence that the planet is alive.

Young children often take the many things that their parents provide for them for granted. This is because they are not aware of the work, effort, and sacrifices which their parents have had to do or make so they can enjoy these things. Similarly, many human beings are not aware of the numerous conditions that God has created and maintained so that Life, and not just human life, can exist and thrive on our planet, uninterrupted for a period of billions of years. Just like spoiled, selfish, ungrateful children, they too take these conditions for granted, believing that they arose and are maintained entirely by accident.

Before we humans became dominant and began to remake the Earth solely to satisfy our narrow selfish human desires and conceptions, the Earth, with its extraordinary abundance of organic life forms, was God’s Living Masterpiece. That so many humans have failed to recognize this very simple and obvious fact, believing instead that this extraordinary complexity, diversity, beauty, efficiency, and harmony arose by chance, is ample proof of our species’ colossal stupidity. Of course, God must bear partial responsibility for the grave harms that we have caused to Its Divine Masterpiece, since God – rather foolishly and recklessly, in my opinion – decided to endow our species with the ability to understand the operations of Its Earthly Masterpiece, as well as of the Universe in general, in all its complex and intricate details.[14] But just as we humans would be outraged if other organisms were to use, transform, mutilate, and destroy our human masterpieces solely for their selfish ends, and thus would be motivated to protect them, including, if necessary, by exterminating these deviously destructive organisms, how much longer will God tolerate our continued human violation of Its Glorious Living Masterpiece, before It decides to act to protect it from our arrogant and catastrophic destruction?

This leads to a far more urgent version of Pascal’s famous wager. Blaise Pascal declared that it is better to believe in God, regardless of whether God exists or not: for if God exists, then one will be rewarded after death with eternal life in Heaven; but if one doesn’t believe in God, then one will be punished with eternal damnation in Hell. Conversely, if God doesn’t exist, then one will have only lost a small part of one’s life that was spent in worshipping God, while the non-believer will have saved this time, which one could have put to better use – a relatively minor benefit. In other words, Pascal’s argument is that, if God exists, then the rewards from believing in God are far greater than the harms that would result from not believing in God.

The wager that we are now faced with is superficially similar but with a crucial difference, for while Pascal’s version is limited to the consequences of the belief, or non-belief, in God’s existence to the afterlife, this wager deals with our species’ survival in this life. If, as many people believe, there is no God, and Life on Earth originated and evolved to its present state entirely by accident, then this means that we have nothing to fear from the actions of a Being that may be outraged, or at least is greatly alarmed, by our massive disruptive effects on Its Living Creation; but if God does exist, and It has made numerous efforts to preserve, nurture, and direct the development of Life on Earth during an uninterrupted period of billions of years, then there exists the very real possibility that God will act to curtail our destructive human tendencies, while it culls our constantly increasing numbers, in order to protect Its Living Masterpiece, thereby making manifest that God – and not we vain, arrogant, destructive, narcissistic, and clever but extremely foolish human beings – has always been, is, and will continue to be in charge of our planet’s destiny.

 

[1] Most of these credulous believers fail to realize that, since we have not yet found any evidence that Life exists elsewhere in the Universe, this belief is merely a modern-day version of the discredited Medieval belief in spontaneous generation, the belief that living organisms can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter.

[2] Even if life exists elsewhere in our solar system, as some credulous believers continue to hope, in terms of mass, the totality of this life is paltry. At the present time, now that a few space probes have scoured the outer reaches of the solar system, the search for life beyond the Earth has been reduced to the search for microbial forms beneath the icy surfaces of several of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, where liquid water is believed to exist.

[3] Of course, this figure is only a rough estimate. It does not include the total bacterial mass, since this is even more difficult to estimate accurately. Although my discussion requires an estimate of the total living mass of all organisms, this slightly larger figure would differ from the given figure by less than a factor of 10, which will not appreciably alter the final result.

[4] Expressed in monetary terms, this is equivalent to less than one penny out of a total of one trillion, or 1012, dollars.

[5] I have used the mass of our solar system as the base mass in making this calculation because I do not believe that anyone would seriously suggest that, first of all, life could exist independently of a planet like the Earth, and second, that a planet like the Earth could support life independently of a star like our Sun. Hence, the solar system is the basic unit in the Universe that is capable of supporting life, at least the kinds of life that exist on the Earth.

[6] Or –173°C to 127°C. Of course, much of this variation is due to the fact that one lunar day lasts approximately 29 Earth-days, due to the Moon’s significantly slower rate of rotation.

[7] Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Life: Extraterrestrial life: An exobiological survey of the solar system”. CD-ROM, 2004.

[8] A recent application of this fact is the use of high-energy radiation in controlled doses to sterilize certain things, such as foods meant for human consumption.

[9] There is a very curious feature of the hole that was discovered in the ozone layer by scientists in 1985, which, more accurately speaking, was a thinning of the ozone layer rather than a hole. The widespread use in industrialized countries of products containing chlorofluorocarbons that were released into the atmosphere, where the chlorine atoms, liberated by the Sun’s radiation, proceeded to bind with the oxygen atoms that were also liberated by solar radiation, thus causing a significant reduction in the number of ozone molecules. One would have expected to find a massive thinning of the protective ozone layer directly above those places where large quantities of CFCs were released into the atmosphere, just as, in the case of smog, the brownish cloud that is due to the burning of various substances is most noticeable in urban or industrial areas. Hence, there should have been a detectable thinning of the ozone layer directly above North America, Europe, and certain parts of Asia. But instead, this thinning was only discovered above Antarctica, a place where there are very few human beings and thus, very little use of products containing CFCs. Furthermore, these CFCs, being gaseous, should eventually have been dispersed roughly evenly throughout the Earth’s atmosphere, instead of being concentrated in only one part of it. In other words, the thinning in the Earth’s protective ozone layer was observed only above a place with very few life forms – and, moreover, where the Sun does not shine during a part of the year – while it was conspicuously absent above places where CFCs were released in large quantities, and where it would have caused harm to a much larger number of living creatures, by increasing their exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The key questions in what I will call “The Curious Case of the Congregating CFCs” are, How did it happen that these CFCs became concentrated in an area above Antarctica, and why did they not become diffused more or less evenly throughout the Earth’s atmosphere? Another perplexing question is, Why did no one previously recognize the highly anomalous nature of the behaviour of these CFCs? For given what we know about the normal behaviour of gases, their observed behaviour was an impossibility.

[10] A very curious feature of this magnetic field is that its polarity has reversed itself numerous times in the past, so that what was formerly the north magnetic pole becomes the south magnetic pole, and vice versa. Besides the fact that the process which produces the Earth’s magnetic field is not entirely understood, at the present time, geologists and other scientists do not understand how or why this periodic reversal occurs. In addition, the magnetic field gradually shifts, so that the poles drift with the passage of time. And yet, they do not coincide with places that are densely populated with life. Considering the aleatory nature of the magnetic field, why hasn’t it happened during the very long existence of Life on Earth that it disappears periodically or its strength diminishes from time to time, leaving all forms of terrestrial life unprotected, or less protected, from the Sun’s deadly radiation?

[11] Since it is possible to replicate approximately the conditions that exist on the surfaces of the moon and Mars, and since it is possible to sterilize dust by irradiating it, it would be interesting to see what happens to watered seeds and bacteria in, for example, the completely sterile and vacuum-like conditions that exist there.

[12] Water has many other unusual characteristics that favour the development of Life, including its high surface tension, which means, among other things, that tiny creatures can float on top of water instead of sinking in it, and its ability to dissolve a great many other substances.

Although this is highly speculative, I will advance the idea that, prior to the appearance of Life on the land, there was no precipitation, or it was insufficient to support much life. Although there are other substances that sublimate or evaporate at temperatures below their boiling point, they do not do so to the same extent that water does. We humans think this is normal – that water evaporates, or ice sublimates, at temperatures that are 100°C or more below its boiling point, for the simple reason that it is an extremely common experience. However, without this unusual feature of water, along with its later condensation as rain or snow, life would not be possible on the land. My belief is that, after having created and developed Life in the oceans, God later turned Its attention to creating terrestrial and fresh-water forms of Life. But before this development, God first had to alter the properties of water and perfect the hydrologic cycle so that terrestrial and fresh-water life forms had sufficient water to survive.

[13] To speak of the nature or spirit of the times often generalizes to an extent that is frequently not justified by reality. In doing so, one very often ignores the features of certain groups of people whom one doesn’t think much about or at all. For instance, in this case, it is certainly not true that Muslims are not religiously devout. The statement I have made applies primarily to Christian societies and the effects that science’s many discoveries have had on those people’s belief in God, since it was originally in Christian societies that science first developed and flourished, at least in the modern era, and thus has had the greatest effect in lessening people’s belief in God.

[14] In his book, A Guide for the Perplexed, E. F. Schumacher distinguishes between “science for understanding” and “science for manipulation.” My belief is that God intended for humans to acquire the first – science for understanding. Of course, God must have realized that this knowledge would also lead to the second – science for manipulation – which is the principle cause of all the destruction that we humans are wreaking on the Earth and its other inhabitants. However, I very much doubt that God foresaw just how destructive this knowledge would make us, first, because it has led a great many human beings to deny God’s existence; second, because it has enabled us to liberate our species from the numerous checks that exist to preserve the Law of Balance; and third, because, together with our extraordinary creative abilities, this knowledge has led many of us to prefer our dead human creations over the living creations of God, which, in our profoundly selfish and myopic immorality, many humans regard as our species’ patrimony, to do with as we please.

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