Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Plain Water will Tell you the Story

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Plain Water will Tell you the Story
Epigraph: In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day there are indeed Signs for men of understanding; those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth: 'Our Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain; nay, Holy art Thou; save us, then, from the punishment of the Fire.' (Al Quran 3:191-192)
By Thomas David Parks Ph.D.
Whittaker Chambers in his book Witness tells of a simple incident which was probably the turning point of his life (and perhaps of the affairs of mankind). He was watching his little daughter and unconsciously became aware of the shape of her ears. He thought to himself how impossible that such delicate convolutions could have come about by chance. They could have been created only by premeditated design. But he pushed this thought out of his agnostic mind because he realized that the next step in logical sequence would have to be: design presupposes God — a thesis he was not yet ready to accept.
I have known many scientists among my professors and fellow research workers who have had similar thoughts about observed facts in chemistry and physics, even though they have not spoken from the depths of despair that Whittaker Chambers found himself in.
I see order and design all about me in the inorganic world. I cannot believe that they are there by the haphazard, fortunate coming together of atoms. For me this design demands an intelligence, and this intelligence I call God.
Probably to a chemist the periodic arrangement of the elements is the most arresting. One of the first things a freshman chemistry student learns is the periodicity or order found in the elements. This order has been variously described and classified but we usually credit Mendeleev, the Russian chemist of the last century, with our periodic table. Not only did this arrangement provide a means of studying the known elements and their compounds but it also gave impetus to the search for those elements which had not yet been discovered.  Their very existence was postulated by vacant spaces in the orderly arrangement of the table.
Chemists today still use the periodic table to aid them in their study of reactions and to predict properties of unknown or new compounds. That they have been successful is sound testimony to the fact that beautiful order exists in the inorganic world.

But the order we see around us is not a relentless omnipotence. It is tempered with beneficence — a testimony to the fact that good and pleasure are as much a concern of Divine Intelligence as the immutable laws of Nature. Look around you at the exceptions and deviations that do, in fact, defy the laws of cold rationality.
Take, for example, water. From its formula weight –18 — one would predict it would be a gas at ordinary temperatures and pressures. Ammonia — with a formula weight of –17– is a gas at temperatures as low as minus 33° C. at atmospheric pressure. Hydrogen sulfide, closely related to water by position in the periodic table and with a formula weight of 34, is a gas at temperatures down to minus 59° C. The fact that water exists as a liquid at all, at ordinary temperatures, is something to make one stop and think.


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