The Earth: A Living Planet
Posted: 8 Ramadan 1422, 24 November 2001
The earth is a living planet where many complex systems run perfectly without stopping
at all. When compared to other planets, it is evident that in all its aspects the earth is
specially designed for human life. Built on delicate balances, life prevails in every spot
of this planet, from the atmosphere to the depths of the earth.
Exploring only a few of the millions of these delicate balances would be sufficient to
show that the world we live in is specially designed for us.
One of the most important balances in our planet is revealed in the atmosphere that
surrounds us. The atmosphere of the earth holds the most appropriate gasses in the most
appropriate ratio needed for the survival not only of human beings, but also of all the
living beings on the earth.
The 77% of nitrogen, 21% of oxygen and 1% of carbon dioxide as well as other gasses
readily available in the atmosphere represent the ideal figures necessary for the survival
of living beings. Oxygen, a gas that is vital for living beings, helps food to be burned
and converted into energy in our bodies.
If the oxygen percentage in the atmosphere were greater than 21%, the cells in our body
would soon start to suffer great damages. The vegetation and hydrocarbon molecules needed
for life would also be destroyed. If this percentage were any less, this would cause
difficulties in our respiration, and the food we eat would not be converted into energy.
Therefore, the 21% of oxygen in the atmosphere is the most ideal quantity determined for
The conditions essential for life are too
complicated to have been formed "on their own"
No less than oxygen, other gasses like nitrogen and carbon dioxide are also arranged in
the ideal quantity for the needs of living beings and the continuity of life. The amount
of nitrogen in the atmosphere has the ideal ratio to balance the harmful and burning
effects of oxygen. This ratio represents the most appropriate value required for
photosynthesis, which is essential for life's energy supply on the earth. Moreover, the
amount of carbon dioxide has the most appropriate value that is needed to maintain the
stability of the surface temperature of the earth and to prevent heat loss especially at
night time. This gas, comprising 1% of the atmosphere, covers the earth like a quilt and
prevents the loss of heat to space. If this amount were greater, the temperature of the
earth would increase excessively, causing climatic instability and posing a serious threat
against living beings.
These proportions remain constant, thanks to a perfect system. The vegetation covering
the earth converts carbon dioxide to oxygen, producing 190 billion tons of oxygen every
day. The proportion of other gasses is always kept constant on the earth by the help of
interconnected complex systems. Life is thus sustained.
In addition to the establishment of the ideal gas mixture required for life on the
earth, the mechanisms needed to preserve and maintain this order are created alongside
with it. Any break in the balance, though instantaneous, or any change in the ratios even
for a very short time period, would mean the total destruction of life. Yet, this does not
happen. The formation of these gasses in the atmosphere just in the amount people need,
and the constant preservation of these ratios indicate a planned creation.
At the same time, the earth has the ideal size in terms of magnitude to possess an
atmosphere. If the mass of the earth were a little less, then its gravitational force
would be insufficient and the atmosphere would be dispersed in space. If its mass were a
little greater, then the gravitational force would be too much and the earth would absorb
all gasses in the atmosphere. There is an incredibly high number of conditions required
for the formation of an atmosphere such as the one our world currently has and all of
these conditions should exist altogether to be able to talk of life.
The creation of these delicate proportions and balances in the sky is mentioned in the
7th verse of Surat ar-Rahman:
"He erected heaven and established the balance." [Ar-Rahman 55:7]
The majority of people spend their lives without being aware of the delicate balances
and subtle adjustments in the gas composition of the atmosphere, the distance of the world
to the sun or the movements of planets. They are ignorant of the great significance of
these balances and adjustments to their own lives. However, even a minor deviation in any
one of these arrangements would create very severe problems regarding the existence and
survival of humankind.
There are many other balances established on earth for the continuity of life:
For instance, if the surface gravity were stronger than its current value, the
atmosphere would retain too much ammonia and methane gasses, which would mean the end of
life. If it were weaker, the planet's atmosphere would lose too much water, and life on
earth would be impossible.
The thickness of the earth's crust constitutes another one of the delicate balances in
the earth. If the earth's crust were thicker, too much oxygen would be transferred from
the atmosphere to the crust and this would have severe effects on human life.
If the opposite were true, that is, if the earth's crust were thinner, volcanic and
tectonic activity would be too great to permit life on earth.
Another crucial balance for human life is the ozone level in the atmosphere. If it were
greater than its current value, the surface temperatures would be too low. If it were
less, surface temperatures would be too high, and there would be too much ultraviolet
radiation at the surface.
In fact, the absence of even a single of these balances would set the end to life on
earth. However, God has created the universe with infinite wisdom and power and designed
the earth specially for human life. Despite this fact, the majority of people lead their
lives in total ignorance of these events. In the Qur'an, God reminds people of His
blessings in the 13th verse of Surat al-Fatir:
"(God) makes night merge into day and day merge into night, and He has made the
sun and moon subservient, each one running until a specified time. That is God, your Lord.
The Kingdom is His. Those you call on besides Him have no power over even the smallest
speck." [Al-Fatir 35:13]
It is sufficient look at millions of dead planets in space in order to understand that
the delicate balances required for life on earth is not a result of random coincidences.
The conditions essential for life are too complicated to have been formed "on
their own" and at random, and these conditions are specially created for life alone.
These balances we have briefly described so far are only a few of the millions of
intricate, interrelated balances and orders established so that people can live in peace
and safety on the earth.
God has created the universe with infinite
wisdom and power and designed the earth specially for human life.
Examining only a part of the balances and harmony on the earth is enough to comprehend
the superior being of God and grasp the existence of a planned creation in every detail of
the universe. It is no doubt impossible for a person or any other living being to build
such an enormous balance and order. Nor are the components of this order such as atoms,
elements, molecules, and gasses capable of establishing an order based on such intricate
and extremely delicate calculations and measurements, and such fine tunings. This is
because activities like planning, ordering, arranging, calculating, and proportioning can
only be realized by beings that possess wisdom, knowledge and power. The Exalted Being Who
orders, plans and balances the entire universe to be fit for life of human beings on a
planet like earth and Who sustains it with dramatically delicate measures and balances is
God, Who has Infinite Wisdom, Knowledge and Power.
In the Qur'an, it is stated that those people who are able to realize these facts are
only "people with intelligence":
"In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and
day, there are Signs for people with intelligence: those who remember God, standing,
sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the
earth: 'Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us
from the punishment of the Fire." [Al-i-'Imran 3:190-191]