The Science of the Universe (Cosmology)
The Science of the Universe (Cosmology)
Islam is a religion (way of life) based on nature, and there is nothing in science that could contradict Islam. We in our limited knowledge often doubt this assertion about Islam, only to be proved wrong by a new discovery. Many things that modern science is discovering today were mentioned in the Qur'an more than 1,400 years ago.
In this article we will concentrate on modern cosmology and the Qur'an. Cosmology is the study of the birth and evolution of the cosmos, or heavenly bodies, and the universe.
The earth has plenty of water with only one-fourth-land area. The temperature on earth varies between freezing point and boiling point of water with an average temperature that keeps water liquid.
Scientists say that life evolved on earth because the environment and conditions were conducive to its existence. However, one can propose an odd or counter argument that the presence of life on earth accounts for the exceptionally hospitable environment and conditions on the planet earth. The fact is that the real universe does harbor intelligent observers. In order to achieve this goal certain constraints were placed on the diversity of ways the universe could have begun. Similarly, constraints were placed on the physical laws that could have governed the development of the universe. If the universe were allowed to evolve in a random or accidental fashion, it would have been impossible for any intelligent life to come into existence. This argument is called the modern cosmological principle or anthropological principle.
Any theory, which rises to reconstruct the initial conditions of the universe and the corresponding laws of nature, should show that those conditions and laws give rise to an inhabited universe. The high point of the modern cosmological principle is that the universe we live in is the only conceivable universe, which harbors intelligent life. The earth has a privileged position because intelligent life is present on this planet.
In 1937 P.A.M. Dirac (who died in Florida in 1984), a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, noted certain curious numerical relations among the dimensionless numbers that play an important role in physics and astrophysics.
The first quantity is a dimensionless form of the gravitational coupling constant, which is a measure of the strength of the gravitational force and has a value of roughly 10-40. The inverse of this becomes 1040.
The second dimensionless number is the age of the universe expressed in nuclear units. Professor Dirac defined it as the ratio of the Hubble age to the time required for light to travel a distance equal to the radius of a proton. This ratio has a value of roughly 1040.
The third dimensionless quantity is the number of massive particles or nucleons (protons and neutrons) in the visible region of the universe. This number is estimated to be 1080 and the square root of this number is 1040.
One can see that a relationship exists between these three constants, which are strongly constrained by the conditions necessary for the existence of man. Hence Dr. Dirac's numerical relations apply not to any possible evolutionary universe, but only to the universe humans observe that today. Evolution of a habitable star system depends sensitively on the value of the gravitational coupling constant. In a universe where the gravitational coupling constant is an order of magnitude large, then the sun evolves into a Blue giant, which dies too soon.
On the other hand in a universe where the gravitational coupling constant is an order of magnitude small, then the sun evolves into a red dwarf that exists for an extremely long time but radiates little energy. The emergence of life demands two things of a star.
First, it must live long enough for living organisms to evolve.
Second, it must radiate enough energy to warm a habitable region of space, that is, a region where a planet could have a stable orbit.
Neither a blue giant nor a red dwarf satisfies both conditions, hence could sustain life. The anthropological principle asserts that the presence of life on earth explains why the sun is at the division between the blue giants and the red dwarfs and hence why the gravitational constant has the value it is observed to have.
It explains why the earth is 93 million miles (1 Astronomical Unit = AU = 93 X 106 miles) away from the sun. If the earth was close to or farther away from the sun compared with the present location then life would not exist.
Stephen Hawking, Professor of Astrophysics and Cosmology at Oxford University who is called the greatest genius alive today, has concluded after many extensive calculations and the analyses that galaxies were not formed by a random process or chance after the Big Bang but were formed when recessional velocity was exactly equal to the escape velocity of matter. Professor Hawking concluded that since "the existence of galaxies would seem to be a necessary precondition for the development of any form of intelligent life." The fact that we have observed the universe to be isotropic is therefore only a consequence of our existence.
The Qur'anic Statements
The Qur'an talks about the foundation of the anthropological principle in these words:
He has created the heavens and the earth for just ends.
(Surah al-Nahl, 16:3 & Surah al-Hijr, 15:85)
Yusuf Ali, commenting on the above verses, says: "Everything in God's creation has use and purpose, and fits into a design. It is true sense of the word and it is good and just. Not for sport, or fortuitously and without design. God's creation is all for a true, just and righteous purpose."
The fate of the earth is intimately linked with the fate of the sun.
Astrophysicists estimate that the sun's nuclear fuel will be depleted in another Five billion years. Already the sun is four and a half billion years old. The Qur'an says:
Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and (in) the difference of night and day are token (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding. Those who remember God while standing, sitting, and (tying) on their sides and contemplate on the creation of the heavens and the earth.
(Surah Al-i-Imran, 3:190-191)
It further says:
He draweth the night as a veil over the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession; He created the sun, the moon and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command.
(Surah al-A'RAF, 7:54)
Was the universe created by chance or by an accident?
Let us consider how our sun (a star) was created. Paul Davies, formerly a Professor of Astrophysics at Cambridge University, and now living in Australia, says: If the primeval material was churned about random, it would have produced black holes rather than stars, because the black holes, being so much more disordered, can be produced in a vastly greater number of ways. For every star that formed, countless billions of more easily achieved black holes should have accompanied it. The chances against the sun, rather than the black hole, emerging from a purely random process will be one in 1020 (or the probability is 10-20 which is pretty improbable by any standards."
If the same argument is applied to the entire universe, the chances of getting a starry cosmos with the present-day orderliness with no chaos are one in 1030. This is like trying to shoot a one-square inch target at the other end of the universe at a distance of 10 billion light years away. (A light year is the distance light travels for one year at the rate of 186,000 miles per second.) Therefore the conclusion is we live in a world of astronomical unlikelihood." Theologically one can infer that God caused against all odds the primeval matter to escape annihilation from an overwhelming array of universes dominated by black holes, and arranged it into life supporting stars such as our sun. It is quite clear from the above that it is highly improbable for a life-supporting star such as our sun to evolve by random processes. When the argument is extended to the entire universe, then the creation of the universe by random process becomes astronomically unlikely.
With thanks from Mr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President,
Islamic Research Foundation International,
God bless the entire humanity