The Formation Adventure of the Atom
The universe, whose vast dimension pushes the limits of the human's comprehension, functions without fail, resting on sensitive balances and within a great order and has done so since the first moment of its formation. How this enormous universe has come into being, where it leads to and how the laws that maintain the order and balance within it work, have always been matters of interest to people in all ages, and still are. Scientists made countless researches into these subjects and produced various arguments and theories. For scientists who measured the order and design in the universe by using their reason and conscience, it has not been difficult at all to explain this perfection. This is because Allah, the Almighty, Who rules over the entire universe, created this perfect design and this is obvious and clear to all people who can think and reason. Allah proclaims this evident truth in the verses of the Qur'an:
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people with intelligence. (Surat Al 'Imran: 190)
Those scientists who ignore the evidence of creation, however, have great difficulty in answering these never-ending questions. They do not hesitate to take recourse to demagoguery, false theories without any scientific basis, and, if forced into a corner, even deceptions to defend theories that are entirely opposed to reality. Yet, all developments that have taken place in science recently, up until the outset of the 21st century, lead us to a single fact: the universe was created from nothing by Allah, Who possesses superior might and infinite wisdom.
The Creation of the Universe
For centuries, people searched for an answer to the question of "how the universe came into being". Thousands of models of the universe have been put forward and thousands of theories have been produced throughout history. However, a review of these theories reveals that they all have at their core one of two different models. The first is the concept of an infinite universe without beginning, which no longer has any scientific basis. The second is that the universe was created from nothing, which is currently recognized by the scientific community as "the standard model".
The first model, which has proven not to be viable, defended the proposition that the universe has existed for an infinite time and will exist endlessly in its current state. This idea of an infinite universe was developed in ancient Greece, and made its way to the western world as a product of the materialistic philosophy that was revived with Renaissance. At the core of the Renaissance lay a re-examination of the works of ancient Greek thinkers. Thus, materialist philosophy and the concept of an infinite universe defended by this philosophy were taken off the dusty shelves of history by philosophical and ideological concerns and presented to people as if they were scientific facts.
Materialists like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels vigorously embraced this idea, which prepared an apparently solid ground for their materialist ideologies, thereby playing an important role in introducing this model to the 20th century.
Sir Fred Hoyle
According to this "infinite universe" model which was popular during the first half of the 20th century, the universe had no beginning or end. The universe had not been created from nothing, nor would it ever be destroyed. According to this theory, which also laid the basis for materialist philosophy, the universe had a static structure. Yet, later scientific findings revealed that this theory is totally wrong and unscientific. The universe has not existed without beginning; it had a beginning and was created from nothing.
The idea that the universe is infinite, that is that it had no beginning, has always been the starting point of irreligiousness and ideologies that make the mistake of denying Allah. This is because in their view, if the universe had no beginning, then there was no creator either. Yet, science soon revealed with conclusive evidence that these arguments of the materialists are invalid and that the universe started with an explosion called the Big Bang. Coming into being from nothing had only one meaning: "Creation". Allah, the Almighty created the whole universe.
The renowned British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle was among those who were disturbed by this fact. With his "steady-state" theory, Hoyle accepted that the universe was expanding and argued that the universe was infinite in scale and without beginning or end. According to this model, as the universe expanded, matter originated spontaneously and in quantities as large as required. This theory, which was based on extremely unworkable premises, and advanced by the sole concern of supporting the idea of an "infinite universe without beginning or end" was in direct opposition to the Big Bang theory, which was scientifically proven closer to a great number of observations. Hoyle and others continued to resist this but all scientific development worked against them.
The universe came into existence out of nothing with a Big Bang. The present perfect system of the universe came about because of the scattering of all particles and forces that were formed in great harmony and order from the first moment of this big explosion.
The Expansion of the Universe and the Big Bang
In the 20th century, great strides were made in the field of astronomy. First, the Russian physicist Alexandre Friedmann discovered in 1922 that the universe did not have a static structure. Starting out from Einstein's theory of relativity, Friedmann calculated that even a tiny impulse might cause the universe to expand or contract. Georges Lemaître, one of the most famous astronomers of Belgium, was the first to recognise the importance of this calculation. These calculations led him to conclude that the universe had a beginning and that it was continuously expanding right from the outset. There was another very important point Lemaître raised: according to him, there should be a radiation surplus left over from the big bang and this could be traced. Lemaître was confident that his explanations were true although they initially did not find much support in the scientific community. Meanwhile, further evidence that the universe was expanding began to pile up. At that time, observing a number of stars through his huge telescope, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the stars emitted a red shifted light depending on their distances. With this discovery, which he made at the California Mount Wilson Observatory, Hubble challenged all scientists who put forward and defended the steady state theory, and shook the very basis of the model of the universe held until then.
Hubble's findings depended on the physical rule that the spectra of light beams travelling towards the point of observation tend towards violet while the spectra of light beams moving away from the point of observation tend towards red. This showed that the celestial bodies observed from the Californian Mount Wilson Observatory were moving away from the earth. Further observation revealed that the stars and galaxies weren't just racing away from us; they were racing away from each other as well. This movement of celestial bodies proved once more that the universe is expanding. In Stephen Hawking's Universe, David Filkin relates an interesting point about these developments:
…Within two years, Lemaître heard the news he had scarcely dared hope for. Hubble had observed that the light from galaxies was red shifted, and, according to Doppler effect, this had to mean the universe was expanding. Now it was only a matter of time. Einstein was interested in Hubble's work anyway and resolved to visit him at the Mount Wilson Observatory. Lemaître arranged to give a lecture at the California Institute of Technology at the same time, and managed to corner Einstein and Hubble together. He argued his "primeval atom" theory carefully, step by step, suggesting that the whole universe had been created "on a day which had no yesterday." Painstakingly he worked through all the mathematics. When he had finished he could not believe his ears. Einstein stood up and announced that what he had just heard was "the most beautiful and satisfying interpretation I have listened to" and went on to confess that creating the "cosmological constant" was "the biggest blunder" of his life.1
a) Edwin Hubble
b) The analysis of the light of the two stars of Alpha Centauri over a period of time showed a series of changes in their spectra. The way the red and blue shifts vary revealed a picture of two stars completing orbits around each other once every 80 years.
c) Albert Einstein, during a visit to the Wilson Observatory, where Edwin Hubble made his observations.
According to the Doppler effect, if a galaxy stays at a constant distance from the earth, the spectra of light waves will appear in the "standard" position (top). If the galaxy is moving away from us, the waves will seem stretched and red shifted (middle). If the galaxy is moving towards us, the waves will seem squashed up and blue shifted (bottom).
The truth that made Einstein, who is considered one of the most important scientists in history, jump to his feet was the fact that the universe has a beginning.
Further observations on the expansion of the universe gave way to new arguments. Starting from this point, scientists ended up with a model of a universe that became smaller as one went back in time, eventually contracting and converging at a single point, as Lemaître had argued. The conclusion to be derived from this model is that at some point in time, all matter in the universe was crushed together in a single point-mass that had "zero volume" because of its immense gravitational force. Our universe came into being as the result of the explosion of this point-mass that had zero volume and this explosion has come to be called the "Big Bang".
The Big Bang pointed to another matter. To say that something has zero volume is tantamount to saying that it is "nothing". The whole universe is created from this "nothing". Furthermore, this universe has a beginning, contrary to the view of materialism, which holds that "the universe has existed from eternity".
Big Bang with Evidence
Once the fact that the universe started to form after a great explosion was established, astrophysicists gave a further boost to their researches. According to George Gamow, if the universe was formed in a sudden, cataclysmic explosion, there ought to be a definite amount of radiation left over from that explosion which should be uniform throughout the universe.
In the years following this hypothesis, scientific findings followed one another, all confirming the Big Bang. In 1965, two researchers by the name of Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson chanced upon a form of radiation hitherto unnoticed. Called "cosmic background radiation", it was unlike anything coming from anywhere else in the universe for it was extraordinarily uniform. It was neither localised nor did it have a definite source; instead, it was distributed equally everywhere. It was soon realised that this radiation is the relic of the Big Bang, still reverberating since the first moments of that great explosion. Gamow had been spot-on, for the frequency of the radiation was nearly the same value that scientists had predicted. Penzias and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery.
The gigantic horn antenna at Bell Laboratories where Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the cosmic background radiation. Penzias and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1978.
It took only eight minutes for George Smoot and his NASA team to confirm the levels of radiation reported by Penzias and Wilson, thanks to the COBE space satellite. The sensitive sensors on board the satellite earned a new victory for the Big Bang theory. The sensors verified the existence of the hot, dense form remaining from the first moments of the Big Bang. COBE captured evidentiary remnants of the Big Bang, and the scientific community was compelled to acknowledge it.
Other evidence had to do with the relative amounts of hydrogen and helium in the universe. Calculations revealed that the proportion of hydrogen-helium gasses in the universe is in accord with theoretical calculations of what should remain after the Big Bang.
The discovery of compelling evidence caused the Big Bang theory to gain the complete approval of the scientific world. In an article in its October 1994 issue, Scientific American noted that "the Big Bang model was the only acknowledged model of the 20th century"
The launch of the COBE satellite further substantiated that the universe was formed as a result of a big explosion.
Confessions were forthcoming one by one from the names who had defended the "infinite universe" concept for years. Defending the steady-state theory alongside Fred Hoyle for years, Dennis Sciama described the final position they had reached after all the evidence for the Big Bang theory was revealed:
There was at that time a somewhat acrimonious debate between some of the proponents of the steady state theory and observers who were testing it and, I think, hoping to disprove it. I played a very minor part at that time because I was a supporter of the steady state theory, not in the sense that I believed that it had to be true, but in that I found it so attractive I wanted it to be true. When hostile observational evidence became to come in, Fred Hoyle took a leading part in trying to counter this evidence, and I played a small part at the side, also making suggestions as to how the hostile evidence could be answered. But as that evidence piled up, it became more and more evident that the game was up, and that one had to abandon the steady state theory.2
Allah Created the Universe from Nothing
With ample evidence discovered by science, the thesis of an "infinite universe" was tossed onto the scrap-heap of the history of scientific ideas. Yet, more important questions were forthcoming: what existed before the Big Bang? What force could have caused the great explosion that resulted in a universe that did not exist before?
There is a single answer to be given to the question of what existed before the Big Bang: Allah, the All-powerful and the Almighty, Who created the earth and the heavens in great order. Many scientists, be they believers or not, are obliged to admit this truth. Although they may decline to admit this fact on scientific platforms, their confessions in between the lines give them away. Renowned atheist philosopher Anthony Flew says:
Notoriously, confession is good for the soul. I will therefore begin by confessing that the Stratonician atheist has to be embarrassed by the contemporary cosmological consensus. For it seems that the cosmologists are providing a scientific proof of what St. Thomas contended could not be proved philosophically; namely, that the universe had a beginning. So long as the universe can be comfortably thought of as being not only without end but also beginning, it remains easy to urge that its brute existence, and whatever are found to be its most fundamental features, should be accepted as the explanatory ultimates. Although I believe that it remains still correct, it certainly is neither easy nor comfortable to maintain this position in the face of the Big Bang story. 3
Some scientists like the British materialist physicist H. P. Lipson confess that they have to accept the Big Bang theory whether they want it or not:
If living matter is not, then, caused by the interplay of atoms, natural forces, and radiation, how has it come into being?… I think, however, that we must…admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it.4
In conclusion, science points to a single reality whether materialist scientists like it or not. Matter and time have been created by a Creator, Who is All-Powerful and Who created the heavens, the earth and all that is in between: Almighty Allah.
It is Allah who created the seven heavens and of the earth the same number, the Command descending down through all of them, so that you might know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge. (Surat at-Talaq: 12)
The Signs of the Qur'an
In addition to explaining the universe, the Big Bang model has another important implication. As the quotation from Anthony Flew cited above points out, science has proven an assertion hitherto supported only by religious sources.
This truth is the reality of creation from nothingness. This has been declared in the scriptures that have served as guides for mankind for thousands of years.
In the only book revealed by Allah that has survived completely intact, the Qur'an, there are statements about the creation of the universe from nothing as well as how this came about that are suggestive of 20th-century ideas and yet were revealed fourteen centuries ago.
First of all, the creation of this universe from nothingness is revealed in the Qur'an as follows:
He (Allah) is the Originator of the heavens and the earth… (Surat al-An'am: 101)
Another important point revealed in the Qur'an fourteen centuries before the modern discovery of the Big Bang and findings related to it is that when it was created, the universe occupied a very tiny volume:
Do those who are disbelievers not see that the heavens and the earth were sewn together and then We unstitched them and that We made from water every living thing? So will they not have faith? (Surat al-Anbiya': 30)
There is a very important choice of words in the original Arabic whose translation is given above. The word ratq translated as "sewn to" means "mixed in each, blended" in Arabic dictionaries. It is used to refer to two different substances that make up a whole. The phrase "We unstitched" is the verb fataqa in Arabic and implies that something comes into being by tearing apart or destroying the structure of ratq. The sprouting of a seed from the soil is one of the actions to which this verb is applied.
Let us take a look at the verse again with this knowledge in mind. In the verse, sky and earth are at first subject in the condition of ratq. They are separated (fataqa) with one coming out of the other. Intriguingly, cosmologists speak of a "cosmic egg" that consisted of all the matter in the universe prior to the Big Bang. In other words, all the heavens and earth were included in this egg in a condition of ratq. This cosmic egg exploded violently causing its matter to fataqa and in the process created the structure of the whole universe.
Another matter in the Qur'an that could be interpreted as the expansion of the universe, which was discovered in the late 1920s. Hubble's discovery of the red shift in the spectrum of starlight is revealed in the Qur'an as :
It is We Who have built the universe with (Our creative) power, and, verily, it is We Who are steadily expanding it. (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 47)
In short, the findings of modern science increasingly point towards the truth that is revealed in the Qur'an and do not support materialist dogma. Materialists may claim this all as "coincidence" but the plain fact is that the universe came into being as a result of an act of creation on the part of Allah. The only true knowledge about the origin of universe is to be found in the word of Allah as revealed to us.
Creation of Matter Moment by Moment
As the Big Bang theory showed once more, Allah created the universe from nothing. This great explosion involves many fine gradations and details, prodding one to reflection, and these matters unaccountable for by coincidence.
The temperature at each moment of the explosion, the number of atomic particles, the forces involved, and their intensity must be of very precise values. Even if only one of these values was not specified, the universe we live in today would not be formed. This end would be inevitable if any one of the abovementioned values deviated by any value mathematically close to "0".
In short, the universe and its building blocks, the atoms, have come to exist in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang after having not existed, thanks to these balances created by Allah. Scientists conducted numerous researches to understand the chronology of the events that took place during this process and the order of the rules of physics in effect at each phase. The facts all scientists who have worked on this subject today admit are as follows:
Moment "0": This "moment" when matter and time were non-existent, and when the explosion took place is accepted as t (time) = 0 in physics. This means that nothing exists at time t=0. In order to be able to describe earlier than this "moment" when creation was initiated, we must know the rules of physics that existed then, because the current laws of physics do not count for the first moments of the explosion.
The events that may be defined by physics start at 10-43 seconds, which is the smallest time unit. This is a time frame incomprehensible to the human mind. What happened in this small time period of which we cannot even conceive? Physicists have hitherto been unable to develop a theory that explains in full detail the events that took place at that moment.5
This is because scientists do not have the data required to make the calculations. The scope of the rules of mathematics and physics is at a dead-end at these limits. That is, both what went before and what happened at the first moments of this explosion, every detail of which rests on highly delicate balances, have a reality beyond the confines of the human mind and physics.
This creation, which started at before time, has led moment by moment to the formation of the material universe and the laws of physics. Now let us take a look at the incidents that occurred with great precision within a very short time during this explosion.
As mentioned above, in physics, everything can be calculated from 10–43 seconds onwards, and energy and time can be defined only after this moment. At this point of the creation, the temperature is 1032 (100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) K. To draw a comparison, the temperature of the sun is expressed in millions (108) and the temperature of some stars much larger than the sun is expressed in billions (1011). That the highest measurable temperature at present is limited to billions of degrees reveals how high the temperature was at 10-43 seconds.
When we go one step further than this period of 10-43 seconds, we come to the point at which time is at 10-37 seconds. The time lapse between these two periods is not something like one or two seconds. We are talking about a time lapse as short as one over quadrillion times quadrillion of a second. The temperature is still extraordinarily high, at 1029 (100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) K. No atoms were yet created at this stage.6
Following moment "0" when no matter or time existed and when the explosion occurred, the universe, and its building blocks, the atoms, were created out of nothing within a great scheme.
a) 3 MINUTES: Protons and neutrons form atomic nuclei.
b) 1 SECOND: Quarks form hadrons, electronsand neutrinos.
c) 10-6 SECONDS: Annihilation of matter andantimatter
d) 10-35 to 10-32 SECONDS: Inflation period
e) 10-43 SECONDS: Planck time
1) Electrons captured 2) Electron 3) Neutrino 4) Helium nucleus 5) Deuterium nucleus 6) Neutron 7) Proton 8) Triples of quarks formhadrons 9) Quark 10) Antiquark 11) Singularity 12) Gravity 13) Electromagnetic force 14) Weak force 15) Strong force 16) Unified Force 17) Electroweak force 18) Universe becomes transparent 19) High energy fog of matter and radiation
One more step, and we are at 10-2 seconds. This time period indicates one hundredth of a second. By now, the temperature is 100 billion degrees. At this point, the "early universe" has started to form. Particles like the proton and neutron forming the nucleus of the atom have not yet appeared. There is only the electron and its antiparticle, the positron (anti-electron), because the temperature and speed of the universe at that point only allow the formation of these particles. In less than a second after the explosion has taken place out of nothing, electrons and positrons have formed.
From this moment on, the time of the formation of each sub-atomic particle is very important. Every particle has to emerge at a specific moment so that the current rules of physics may be established. It is of great importance which particle is to form first. Even a slight deviation in the sequence or timing would make it impossible for the universe to take its current shape.
Let us stop now and do some thinking.
The Big Bang theory provides evidence for Allah's being by showing that all matter comprising the universe originated from nothingness. It did even more and showed that the building blocks – the atoms – also came into existence from nothing less than one second after the Big Bang. The enormous equilibrium and order in these particles are worthy of note. The universe owes its present state to this equilibrium that will be described in more detail in the pages ahead. It is again this equilibrium that allows us to live a peaceful life. In short, perfect order and un-changing laws, "the laws of physics", have formed following an explosion that would normally be expected to create great turmoil and disorder. This proves that each moment following the creation of the universe, including the Big Bang, has been designed perfectly.
Now, let us continue looking at the developments from where we left off.
Do you not see that everyone in the heavens and everyone on the earth prostrates to Allah, and the sun and moon and stars and the mountains, trees and beasts and many of mankind? But many of them inevitably merit punishment. Those Allah humiliates will have no one to honour them. Allah does whatever He wills. (Surat al-Hajj: 18)
The next step is the moment at which a time of 10-1 seconds has elapsed. At this moment, the temperature is 30 billion degrees. Not even one second has elapsed from t = 0 moment to this stage. By now, neutrons and protons, the other particles of the atom, have started to appear. The neutrons and protons, the perfect structures of which we will analyse in the following sections, were created out of nothing within a time period even shorter than a second.
Let us come to the first second after the explosion. The massive density at this time again gives a colossal figure. According to calculations, the density value of the mass present at that stage is 3.8 billion kilograms per litre. It may be easy to express this figure, termed as billions of kilograms, arithmetically, and to show it on paper. Yet, it is impossible to conceive of this figure exactly. To give a very simple example to express the magnitude of this figure, we can say "if Mount Everest in the Himalayas had this density, it could swallow our world in a moment with the force of gravitation it would possess."7
The most distinctive characteristic of the subsequent moments is that by then, the temperature has reached a considerably lower level. At that stage, the universe is approximately 14 seconds old, has a temperature of 3 billion degrees and continues to expand at a dramatic speed.
This is the stage where the steady atomic nuclei, like hydrogen and helium nuclei, have started to form. One proton and one neutron have for the first time found conditions conducive to their co-existing. These two particles, which have a mass straddling the line between existence and non-existence, have, because of the force of gravitation, started resisting the tremendous rate of expansion. It is obvious that a dramatically conscious and controlled process is in progress here. A massive explosion gives way to great equilibrium and precise order. Protons and neutrons have started to come together to form the atom, the building block of matter. It is certainly totally impossible for these particles to have the power and consciousness to establish the delicate balances required for the formation of matter.
During the epoch following this formation, the temperature of the universe has dropped to one billion degrees. This temperature is 60 times the temperature at the core of our sun. Only 3 minutes and 2 seconds have elapsed from the first instant to this one. By now, sub-atomic particles like photons, protons, anti protons, neutrinos and anti-neutrinos are abundant. The quantities of all the particles existing in this phase and their interactions with each other are extremely critical. So much so that the slightest variation in the quantity of any particle will destroy the energy level set by them and prevent the conversion of energy into matter.
Take electrons and positrons for example: when electrons and positrons come together, energy is produced. Therefore, the numbers of both particles are very important. Let us say that 10 units of electrons and 8 units of positrons meet. In this case, 8 of the 10 units of electrons interact with 8 units of positrons and produce energy. As a result, 2 units of electrons are released. Since the electron is one of the particles forming the atom that is the building block of the universe, it has to be available in required quantities in this stage so that the universe may exist. To take up the abovementioned example, if the number of positrons was more than that of the electrons, then positrons would be left over instead of electrons as a result of the energy released and the material universe would never be formed. If the numbers of positrons and electrons were equal, then only energy would be produced and nothing left to form the material universe. Yet, this excess in the number of electrons has been arranged in such a way as to match the number of protons in the universe in the time that follows this moment. In the atom that will form later on, the numbers of electrons and protons will be equal.
The numbers of particles that emerged in the aftermath of the Big Bang were determined with so precise a calculation, finally leading to the formation of the material universe. Professor Steven Weinberg remarks on how critical is the interaction between these particles:
If the universe in the first few minutes was really composed of precisely equal numbers of particles and antiparticles, they would all have annihilated as the temperature dropped below 1,000 million degrees, and nothing would be left but radiation. There is a very good evidence against this possibility – we are here! There must have been some excess of electrons over positrons, of protons over antiprotons, and of neutrons over antineutrons, in order that there would be something left over after the annihilation of particles and antiparticles to furnish the matter of the present universe.8
The Hydrogen Atom
A total of 34 minutes and 40 seconds have passed since the outset. Our universe is now half an hour old. The temperature has dropped from degrees expressed in billions to 300 million degrees. The electrons and positrons continue producing energy by colliding with each other. By now, the quantities of the particles that are to form the universe have been balanced to allow the formation of the material universe.
The Helium Atom
Once the rate of the explosion slows down, these particles, almost lacking a mass, start to interact with one another. The first hydrogen atom forms by an electron settling into the orbit of a proton. This formation introduces us to the fundamental forces we will commonly encounter in the universe.
It is no doubt impossible for these particles, which are products of a design far beyond human comprehension and have distinct structures resting on extremely delicate balances, to have come together through coincidence and to act towards the same goal. This perfection leads many researchers working on the subject to a very important conclusion: it is a "creation" and there is a matchless supervision of every moment of this creation. Each particle that is created after the explosion is supposed to form at a specific time, at a specific temperature and at a specific velocity. It seems that this system, which runs almost like a wound-up clock, had been programmed with such fine-tuning before becoming active. This means that the Big Bang and the perfect universe that originated as a result of the Big Bang had been designed before the inception of the explosion and afterwards put into action.
The will that arranges, designs and controls the universe is certainly that of Allah, the Creator of everything.
This design is observable not only in the atom, but in every object in the universe, big or small. These particles, which initially dashed away from each other at the speed of light, not only caused the formation of hydrogen atoms, but also gave rise to all the enormous systems contained within the universe today, as well as the atoms, molecules, planets, suns, solar systems, galaxies, quasars etc., according to a magnificent plan, and in perfect order and balance. While it is impossible for the particles required to form an atom to come together by chance and establish delicate balances, it would be far more unreasonable and illogical to claim that planets, galaxies, and in short, all systems that provide the workings of the universe to form by chance and develop balances by themselves. The will that makes this unique design is that of Allah, the Creator of the entire universe.
Other atoms formed following the hydrogen atom, which was a miracle on its own. At this point, various questions come to mind such as "How did other atoms form? Why didn't all protons and neutrons form only the hydrogen atom? How did the particles decide which atoms they would form and in what quantities?" The answer to these questions again takes us to the same conclusion. There is a great power, control and design in the formation of the hydrogen atom and all the other atoms that followed. This control and design exceeds the capacity of the human mind and points to the fact that the universe is obviously a "creation." The laws of physics that were established in the aftermath of the Big Bang have not changed at all during the approximately 17 billion years that have passed. Furthermore, these laws are based on such precise calculations that even millimetric deviations from their present values may cause results upsetting the general structure and order in the entire universe. The words of famous physicist Prof. Stephen Hawking addressing this point are quite interesting. Hawking explains that these phenomena are based on much finer calculations then we can imagine:
If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have recollapsed before it ever reached its present size.9
The Big Bang, which is built on such fine calculations, evidently reveals that time, space and matter did not come into being spontaneously, but were created by Allah. It is absolutely impossible for the events described above to have formed as a result of sheer coincidence and to lead to the formation of the atom, the building block of the universe.
Unsurprisingly, many scientists working on the subject have accepted the existence of an infinite force and its might in the creation of the universe. The renowned astrophysicist Hugh Ross explains that the Creator of the universe is beyond all dimensions:
By definition, time is that dimension in which cause-and-effect phenomena take place. No time, no cause and effect. If time's beginning is concurrent with the beginning of the universe, as the space-time theorem says, then the cause of the universe must be some entity operating in a time dimension completely independent of and pre-existent to the time dimension of the cosmos. …It tells us that the Creator is transcendent, operating beyond the dimensional limits of the universe. It tells us that God is not the universe itself, nor is God contained within the universe.10
The most important aspect of the Big Bang is that it gives mankind the chance to understand Allah's power better. The origination of a universe with all the matter it contains from nothing is one of the greatest signs of Allah's might. The delicate equilibrium in the energy at the moment of the explosion is a very big sign directing us towards thinking about the infinity of Allah's knowledge.
He has made night and day subservient to you, and the sun and moon and stars, all subject to His command. There are certainly Signs in that for people who use their intellect. (Surat an-Nahl: 12)
Fundamental Forces In the Universe
We mentioned that the laws of physics in the universe originated after the Big Bang. These laws are based on the "four fundamental forces" known to modern physics today. These forces were formed along with the formation of the first sub-atomic particles at specifically appointed times in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang to form the entire order and system of the universe. Atoms, which make up the material universe, owe their existence and extremely even distribution across the universe to the interaction of these forces. These forces are the force of mass attraction known as the gravitational force, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. All have a distinct intensity and field of impact. The strong and weak nuclear forces operate only at the sub-atomic scale. The remaining two – the gravitational force and the electromagnetic force – govern assemblages of atoms, in other words "matter." The flawless order on the earth is the outcome of the highly delicate proportion of these forces. A comparison of those forces produces a very interesting result. All the matter that was created and dispersed across the universe following the Big Bang was shaped by the effect of these forces, which have wide gulfs between them. Below are the stunningly different values of these forces shown in international standard units:
These fundamental forces allow the formation of the material universe through a perfect distribution of power. This proportion between the forces is based on such a delicate balance that they can cause the due effect on particles only at these particular proportions.
Strong nuclear force: 15
Weak nuclear force: 7.03 x 10-3
Gravitational force: 5.90 x 10-39
Electromagnetic force: 3.05 x 10-12
1. The Giant Power in the Nucleus: The Strong Nuclear Force
Up to this point, we reviewed how the atom was created moment by moment and the delicate balances acting in this creation. We saw that everything around us, including ourselves, is made up of atoms and these atoms consist of many particles. What then is the force that holds all the particles that form the nucleus of the atom together? This force, which keeps the nucleus intact, and which is the most powerful force defined by the laws of physics, is the "strong nuclear force".
This force ensures that the protons and neutrons in the nucleus of the atom stay together without flying apart. The nucleus of the atom is formed in this way. This force is so strong that it almost causes the protons and neutrons within the nucleus to bind to each other. This is why the minute particles that possess this force are called "gluon" meaning "glue" in Latin. The strength of this bond is adjusted very sensitively. The intensity of this force has been specifically arranged to provide that the protons and neutrons keep at a certain distance to each other. If this force had been just slightly stronger, the protons and the neutrons would bump into each other. If this force had been slightly weaker, they would be dispersed. This force has just the proper degree required for the formation of the nucleus of the atom after the first seconds of the Big Bang.
The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were indicative of how destructive the strong nuclear force becomes once it is liberated. The only reason atomic bombs, which will be reviewed in more detail in the chapters ahead, are so effective is the liberation of tiny amounts of this force hidden in the nucleus of the atom.
2. Safety Belt of the Atom: The Weak Nuclear Force
One of the most important factors maintaining order on the earth is the balance within the atom. This balance ensures that things do not suddenly fall apart or emit harmful radiation. The "weak nuclear force" is responsible for this balance between protons and neutrons in the nucleus of the atom. This force plays an important role in maintaining the equilibrium of the nuclei that contain high numbers of neutrons and protons.
As this balance is maintained, a neutron, if required, may be changed into a proton. Since the number of protons in the nucleus changes at the end of this process, the atom changes too and becomes a different atom. Here, the result is very significant. An atom transforms into a different atom without disintegrating and continues its existence. This safety belt protects living organisms against the dangers that would otherwise arise from particles breaking free uncontrollably and giving harm to people.
3. The Force That Keeps Electrons in Orbit: The Electro-magnetic Force
The discovery of this force ushered in a new age in the world of physics. It was then understood that each particle bears "an electrical charge" according to its own structural characteristics and that a force exists between these electrical charges. This force provides that particles with opposite electrical charges attract each other and particles with the same charge repel each other, therefore ensuring that the protons in the nucleus of the atom and the electrons travelling in the orbits around it attract each other. In this way, the "nucleus" and the "electrons", the two basic elements of the atom, stay together.
The slightest change in the strength of this force would cause electrons to shoot away from the nucleus or to fall into the nucleus. In both cases, it would become impossible for the atom and therefore, the material universe to exist. Yet, from the first moment this force formed, the protons in the nucleus attracted the electrons at the exact force required for the formation of the atom thanks to the value of this force.
4. The Force Holding the Universe Together: The Gravitational Force
Being the only force we can ordinarily perceive, it is also the one about which we know least. Commonly known as gravity, this force is actually called the "mass attraction force". Although it is the least powerful force compared to the other forces, by it very large masses attract each other. This force is the reason why the galaxies and stars in the universe stay in each other's orbits. The earth and other planets remain in a certain orbit around the sun again with the help of this gravitational force. We are able to walk on the earth because of this force. If there were a decline in the value of this force, the stars would fall, the earth would be ripped from its orbit and we would be dispersed from the earth into the space. In the case of the slightest increase, the stars would collide with each other, the earth would run into the sun and we would be pulled into the earth's crust. These may seem very remote possibilities to you now but they would be inevitable if this force had deviated from its present value even for a very short time.
All scientists doing research on this subject admit that the precisely determined values of these fundamental forces are crucial for the existence of the universe.
One can stay in an environment without gravity only for a certain period using special equipment. Living beings can only survive in a system where gravity exists.
Addressing this point, the famous molecular biologist Michael Denton states in his book Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe:
If, for example, the gravitational force was a trillion times stronger, then the universe would be far smaller and its life history far shorter. An average star would have a mass a trillion times less than the sun and a life span of about one year. On the other hand, if gravity had been less powerful, no stars or galaxies would have ever formed. The other relationships and values are no less critical. If the strong force had been just slightly weaker, the only element that would be stable would be hydrogen. No other atoms could exist. If it had been slightly stronger in relation to electromagnetism, then an atomic nucleus consisting of only two protons would be a stable feature of the universe-which would mean there would be no hydrogen, and if any stars or galaxies evolved, they would be very different from the way they are. Clearly, if these various forces and constants did not have precisely the values they do, there would be no stars, no supernovae, no planets, no atoms, no life.11
Supreme design and perfect order prevail in the entire universe governed by these fundamental forces. The Owner of this order is, beyond doubt, Allah, Who created everything flawlessly out of nothing. Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the father of modern physics and celestial mechanics, who is recognized as "one of the greatest scientists who ever lived" draws attention to this fact:
"This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all, and on account of His dominion. He is wont to be called Lord God, Universal Ruler."
Renowned physicist Paul Davies states his admiration for the predetermined values of the laws of physics in the universe:
When one goes on to study cosmology, incredulity mounts. Recent discoveries about the primeval cosmos oblige us to accept that the expanding universe has been set up in its motion with a cooperation of astonishing precision.12
Supreme design and perfect order prevail in the entire universe constructed on a foundation provided by these fundamental forces. The owner of this order is, beyond doubt, Allah, Who created everything flawlessly out of nothing. Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, holds the stars in their orbits with the weakest of forces, and holds together the nucleus of the minute atom with the strongest of forces. All forces act according to the "measures" He has determined. Allah refers to the order in the creation of universe and the equilibriums "determined most exactly" in one of His verses:
He to whom the dominion of the heavens and the earth belongs. He does not have a son and He has no partner in His dominion. He created everything and determined it most exactly. (Surat al-Furqan: 2)