Science

  • Issue 104 / March - April 2015



    The Veils of Existence

    Kemal Serce

    We are conscious beings and we seek answers to our existence. People search for answers to questions like, "Who am I and why do we exist?" The sciences reveal that existence is full of meaning and purpose. However, judgmental values and beliefs enter the process; restrictive and ideological approaches lead to confusion during man’s voyage to truth.

    Take the question of how we exist. Different perceptions have their own point of view and reach different conclusions. While a materialist person accepts the matter to be eternal, for some the theory of evolution has all the answers; yet on the other hand, a person of faith explains existence with creation. Therefore a materialist, an evolutionist, and a believer struggle to reach a common conclusion.
    Human vision is somewhat veiled; the things that are not witnessed are considered unknown. The events of both the micro and macro cosmos are veiled to us. Yet the more our science advances, the more of these worlds we begin to see. We understand how complex existence is, while also appreciating how majestically it has come into being.

    Can senses and observations guide humanity to the truth? Our strongest senses are seeing and hearing; however, these senses can only perceive a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. The human eye can see the wavelengths in between 4,000-7,000 angstroms; the ear can hear frequencies in between 16-20,000 Hz. When we rely only on our senses to understand and comprehend existence, the things that are outside our ability to see or hear become absent.

    Dimension and distance are very important for vision. The dimension that humans can see with the naked eye starts at the millimeter scale; in perfect conditions, we can barely see beyond 18-25 miles. Things at dimensions much smaller than a millimeter and at considerably longer distances remain out of our visual range. A microscope brings the small dimensions into our visual spectrum and the telescope does the same for long distances. Before the invention of these devices, humankind was not aware of things such as the atom, molecule, galaxy, nebula, or black hole. Today, because of scientific advances, as we get closer to seeing things on the nanometer dimension, we are newly discovering structures at this scale and the laws that are effective here. The inner makeup of the atom has not yet been elucidated; our knowledge is based on certain theories and experiences. Our information regarding the universe is also limited. It is considered that in an expanding universe, according to the expansion velocity of galaxies and gravitational force calculations, the amount of visible matter only corresponds to 4% of the total mass of the universe, the rest estimated to consist of 26% dark matter and 70% dark energy.

    When the true nature of things (objects, existence) that are unknown or seem to be simple are explained through science, the truth is found to be very different. From space, the earth looks like a small and pale blue dot. After getting closer, at first the oceans, continents, and major mountain ranges start to appear. There is not any indication of people or other organisms on earth yet. However, after looking closely enough, it is observed that earth is filled with numerous life forms.

    We witness the twinkle of countless stars when we gaze at the sky on a dark night. These stars, each shining as a small spot, may seem insignificant. When we turn our telescope towards one of these spots, we face a giant star or a galaxy that houses billions of stars; we become astonished. And when we take a better look at these stars, some of which are colossal, we witness interesting events. In these thermonuclear cauldrons that are utilized like millions of atomic reactors, enormous amounts of energy are released into space after being produced each second under immense pressure at temperatures reaching millions of degrees. Humans should think for a while and be amazed by these things. The power required is immense and they last millions of years.

    People can also observe the wonder of the universe by delving into much smaller dimensions (the micro world). Here, we witness the creation of wonderful beings and the employment of tiny creatures in vital tasks, even though this micro world is hidden secret from the naked eye. For instance, in the thousands of small chemical factories fitted in a seemingly plain leaf, sugars are produced from carbon dioxide and water via sunlight; nutrients are synthesized from various minerals in the soil and stored in the fruits, seeds, and roots of plants to serve as nourishment for the living.

    The biological structure of a human body is built by the proliferation of a fertilized single cell, called a zygote, through division. More than 200 different cells executing very unique functions in tissues such as the brain, liver, kidneys, muscles, and bones are created from a single cell. Cells have specific structures and tasks according to their types, each housing various work benches and laboratories. For example, the make-up and function of a brain, liver, or muscle cell is very diverse, each shaped for their assigned task. The organelles inside the cells are also specialized; the job of one cell type cannot be completed by another. The molecules, secreted enzymes, and hormones synthesized in cells are different. While a pancreatic cell secretes insulin and glucagon, a thyroid cell releases thyroxine. Various dimensions and models of protein, hormone, enzyme, and antibody molecules are formed with structures called ribosome to be employed in unique processes. The energy that cells need is generated in organelles of mitochondria. In addition, various transmission lines, communication networks, and defense mechanisms are established inside cells.

    Organs are not just packs of meat. Billions of cells in each organ are completing their works around a common goal. In each organ and cell, micro factories and laboratories of microscopic dimensions are set up, micro-machines and robots are being utilized, and atoms and molecules are employed like conscious workers.

    The entire body is formed by the specialization of this zygote into very diverse cell types during the formation of these organs. The set of tasks in different organs is programmed to sustain the life of a single organism and to serve a common goal. How could one not be amazed by the combination of trillions of cells in a way to serve one purpose, form a body, and distribute tasks to different organs?
    It is also important to analyze the composition of atoms and their relations with each other for a better understanding of the facts of creation. Different atoms form with varying numbers of protons, neutrons, and electrons in their atomic structures. A different element is generated when the proton number is changed; an isotope of the same element is generated with the replacement of the neutron number. Millions of types of molecules with unique features can be made via different combinations of atoms. Molecules are the smallest units that determine the chemical properties of matter. While the simplest compound is the hydrogen molecule, formed by two atoms, there are also molecules composed of millions of atoms.

    There are molecules of diverse types and sizes present in the universe. Each molecule type is constructed in a three dimensional and unique way. The number, order, and shape of the bonds present among atoms in a molecule, even the angle between atoms, is very important. Because of these differences, despite the fact that they both contain a carbon atom, a diamond and graphite (coal) are distinct substances. The carbon atom can miraculously form 1,700,000 types of compounds on its own. Just as in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2,) and water (H2O) molecules, a change of an atom in a molecule can alter the entire property of that particular molecule. A small change taking place on a single base sequence of the DNA chain may disrupt its condition leading it to be ineffective or cause a disease.

    As humans, we only observe the tangible side of such materials. Yet the universe contains multitudes that we cannot detect or know. Just like a software composed of commands is required for computers and electronic devices made up of physical elements, the presence of an intangible world that is dominated by souls and commands undetectable by senses is necessary within the matter where the program of fate is operated.

    As mankind accumulates knowledge about the universe and existence, we notice that not only do we have a greater understanding of the nature of things, but also that each dimension in existence is a veil and this veil is lifted with science.

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