Issue 86 / March - April 2012
Quest to Solve the Mystery of Life
Ali Fethi Toprak
The quest to solve the mystery of life seems to be continuing. Where did we come from? Whatâ€™s matter and whatâ€™s beyond it? Where and how did life originate? What about Adam and Eve of other organisms? Obviously, we were not allowed to witness either the creation of universe or the beginning of life on Earth. We donâ€™t know much about creation, but we can see the results of creation.
While discussions on the education of creation in schools continue, generations grow up with lack of knowledge about the Creator and understanding of His Actions. The current education system in high schools and colleges are giving knowledge about the universe, nature, earth, and life but courses are not directed to understand the Actions of the Creator. How and where can people learn about their Creator? Although there are various means such as the internet, religious groups, and journals, it is not always feasible and enough to understand directly the Creatorâ€™s Actions without a good understanding of sciences. Fortunately, every science continuously mentions God with their unique language and speaks of the Creator, but we will need a point of view, windows to see beyond our sight and knowledge, just like we need a microscope to see microorganisms or a telescope to discover depths of the universe. With some attention, everyone can understand what sciences reflect from Godâ€™s Actions. Thatâ€™s why we should listen to what sciences tell us in their own language.
Imagine there is a simulation program to analyze a car crash. In this program, let us say you enter different parameters such as velocity, weight, angle of hit, general structure of the car, hardness of the body, and weather information like wind velocity and its direction and so on. After you click on the OK button in this imaginary simulation program, you almost get the same results with real physical crash tests. This obviously shows us a skillful software programmer and his great knowledge in mathematics and physical events. Noticeably, nature is composed of millions and millions of parameters determining final result just like this simulation program. For instance, when you throw a stone to a lake or into water, first of all it falls down with a velocity and then you see a wave of water expanding to its surrounding from the center affected by that velocity. The velocity of this stone at a certain time and place and wave formation on the surface of water can be explained with some physical laws described with mathematical equations. Whoever put these rules for the physical events also created the universe in a perfect mathematical order. From these and the knowledge we get from computer sciences, physics, and mathematics, we can open windows to understand the ruler of the universe as Glorious Creator.
We are at the time of great advancements in gene technology and huge increase in knowledge about molecular biology; even individual structures of biological molecules are known and many more discovered about cellular mechanisms. The more we learn, the more we face complexity and organization in the tiniest compartments of cell. Cell is no longer a small room filled with a gel-like structure in our minds, it is a massive factory that contains all required machinery and it is automatic, well balanced, and continuously renewed. Things are in constant motion; uptake follows release of substances and signal from outside results in a response produced inside. With increase in understanding of how living things are working and necessity to answer how these things originated caused discussions in scientific research. Some scientists like to talk only at scientific platforms or on so-called testable scientific subjects, but this does not change the reality. We wonder about the beginning and we wish to live forever. We are finite but dream of infinity. How can we think of eternal life if we were a product of something that is not eternal?
Imagine there is a high-tech, but small self-working factory producing highways and trucks to carry items, fuel engines for the energy that can be used in many different processes and containing solar energy collectors. There are great photocopy machines for the production of a new factory, feedback systems to control and repair any problems as well. Without any concern, control of all these events and thousands of machines, engines, highways in such a small sized factory without any problem involves a perfect engineer, scientist, architect, and chemist. Similarly, believe it or not, the cell is an excellent composition of around one million molecules, thousands of machines, and energy producing engines. There are highways, trucks, feedback systems and more in an arranged and fine control in such a small size. Mitochondria, for instance, is one of the most essential cellular organelle and produces ATP molecules as carrier of energy obtained from organic molecules for energy requiring cellular processes. In addition, cellular requirements vary by time and vesicles carry required molecules as cargo on molecular motors using microtubule pathways to different places. Those and many other examples we learn from biological sciences point to the Glorious Creator of the Earth.
When you consider a cell coming into existence by causes other than the hands of a Creator with numerous levels of regulation, coordination of subcellular compartments like organelles, information storage in DNA, and use of this information required for their specific function, it means molecules come together under the effect of natural causes and form an artistic cellular structure in a wise-manner. Actually, this reminds us of a very famous experiment by Stanley Miller to make amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, to demonstrate that life on earth has originated by natural causes and chance. Miller, in his experiment, took molecules which were supposed to represent the major components of the early Earth's atmosphere and put them into a closed system. He used methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and water (H2O) in his experiment and ran a continuous electric current to stimulate lightning storms and to drive these unfavorable reactions. He found that three amino acids have been synthesized in these conditions. Later, it was found that this composition was different from the early Earth's atmosphere and arguments raised to his experiment due to continuous energy input not possible in nature. However, this was exciting at that time and some used headlines like "Miller created life." On the other hand, what Miller had managed to synthesize was only a few inanimate lifeless molecules.
People who do not believe in God also do not believe in creation. Thatâ€™s why they tend to conclude that "nothing is created out of nothing, and nothing goes to nothing; there is only composition and decomposition." But, the All-Powerful One has two ways of creating. The first way is through origination and invention and the second way is through composition and through art. He creates from out of nothing together with everything necessary for, again, nothing. In the second way of creating, He forms beings from materials of universe in order to show his delicate wisdom, perfection, and the manifestations of His Names. "O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women..." (Quran 4:1)
When we think about the lessons learnt from these examples and natural sciences with their special focus areas, we realize that every science somehow declare the Glorious Creator of this universe. However, there may not be an opportunity in school to discuss and go deep into the understanding of the Actions of the Creator. With the window of what sciences open to us about God, we can uncover the hidden truths.
Ali Fethi Toprak is a PhD candidate at Southwestern Medical Center, Texas University, Dallas.