Goenka, Lakih (2019). Does the Atom Have A Designer? eThermal, LLC. 87 Pages
Dr Goenka asked a question, and without coming right out and giving us a straight answer, implied an answer. The atom, he implied, must have a designer for otherwise how do we account for the complexity of what is going on inside an atom? Could those complexities that must work precisely for the atom to exist have come about by accident or did someone design it? Is there an intelligent designer in the universe?
The Atom has the same structure regardless of what element it manifests in, the only difference between two elements is the number of the internal particles in them.
Each atom has a nucleus consisting of protons and neutrons and electrons orbiting the nucleus. The difference in the number of these particles determine what element it is. The simplest element, hydrogen has one electron and one proton (and its isotopes, such as deuterium and tritium have either one or two neutrons). Helium has two electrons, two protons and two neutrons. Carbon has six electrons, six protons and six neutrons. Oxygen has eight electrons, eight protons and eight neutrons. Nitrogen has fourteen electrons, fourteen protons and fourteen neutrons. Iron has twenty-six electrons, twenty-six protons and twenty-six neutrons; the numbers keep increasing until we get to the heaviest element in nature, uranium with ninety-two electrons, ninety-two protons and 146 neutrons.
How large is an atom? Consider that over five million hydrogen atoms would fit into the period at the end of this sentence. That tells you how small the atom, is. Yet, inside this infinitesimally small thing are three different particles dancing their dance and doing it precisely.
How did nature design electrons, protons and neutrons and fit them to work together in a packet as unbelievably small as the atom?
As if that is not wonderous enough, in the nucleus protons and neutrons are composed of quarks, three up quarks and three down quarks, these are held together by seven gluons, meaning that each proton and neutron has eleven particles in it.
Quarks are composed of particles of light (if a quark is isolated from protons and neutrons, it quickly decays to radiation, light).
If a neutron is isolated from the nuclei within ten minutes it decays to an electron, a proton and neutrino. So how did nature manage to pack these particles together?
Apart from its incredible structure is the activities going on inside the atom. The electron orbits the nucleus. It jumps from a higher position downwards and in doing so emits photons. It also absorbs photons, light. And this is going on inside all atoms, including the atoms inside your body and in the table that I am typing on, in rocks, stars, in everything.
The nucleus of the atom, that is, protons and neutrons are held together by the strong nuclear force; the weak nuclear force decays the nucleus, the electromagnetic force keeps electrons going around and around the nucleus and gravitational force makes sure that the electron does not crash into the nucleus but keeps circling it for billions of years.
When atoms of the same element or different elements come together to form compounds or molecules, they exchange their outer electron shells. Water, for example, is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Their outer electrons intermingle to form the bound in their new molecular structure. And this process take place in the formations of all molecules (called valence). How is it that nature can do this precisely and form the many molecules that form our bodies? Is this done by chance or is there an unknown force at work here?
Unfortunately, whereas we can grasp the complex activities going on in the atom, we really cannot say for sure that an intelligent being designed the atom; all that we can say, for sure, is that it boggles the mind that nature could have formed the nuclei and make them work as they do within the first 400, 000 years of the existence of the universe.
In the first nanosecond of the existence of the universe, light was transformed to electrons and quarks, and quarks were transformed to protons and neutrons; by the end of first three minutes of the existence of the universe, nuclei were already formed. And the universe sped off in an inflationary speed, greater than the speed of light, 186, 282 miles per second (which, apparently, prevented the universe from collapsing back to itself and ending the incipient universe).
Matter and anti-matter attacked themselves and some matter remained to continue the existence of the universe (this and other seeming accidents, why did matter remain instead of returning to light, is part of what is called the anthropic principle; that is, belief that it seems that the universe was designed to produce biological life forms).
400, 000 years later, nuclei captured electrons to form atoms, and release the light that was trapped inside the plasma and end the reign of the plasma phase of the universe.
A few million years later, the universe now composed of mostly hydrogen and some helium and lithium, separated into clumps. Gravity acted on each clump to pressure hydrogen to fuse into helium and stars were formed.
A star is a clump of hydrogen in whose core hydrogen is fused to helium, and heat and light are released.
The original stars were very massive in size and burned most of their hydrogen off in a few million years and began fusing other elements and when the fusion process got to iron the star expands in size and become extremely hot and explodes in supernova.
In the explosion all elements beyond iron are formed. The various elements are spilled into nearby space and from that nebular medium sized stars and planets, asteroids and comet are formed.
Our Sun and its nine planets, asteroids and comets were formed from nebular from exploded stars, 4.5 billion years ago.
The core of exploded stars often compacts into black holes where not even light can escape from their events horizon or neutron stars that spin at incredible rate.
The initial earth was extremely hot; water was brought to it by comets and that water cooled it and today the surface of the earth is covered by 70% water.
In the waters of planet earth carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sixty other elements combined to form molecules that transformed to biological life forms.
Life has been evolving on earth for over 3.5 billion years. Human bodies were formed from the combination of single celled organisms into the multicellular organisms.
Evolution from inorganic to organic life forms could not have taken place without the atom. So, is the atom the product of chance or did someone design it? Why did inorganic atoms form cells that now have life in them?
Are complex biological life forms, such as human beings the product of accidental, random and chance mutations or were they designed by an unknown intelligence?
If the atom was designed, who was the designer?
Religious folks say that God designed the atom and everything in the universe. If so, what is the point? As Stephen Hawking asked, why did God bother taking all the trouble to design a universe whose galaxies are expanding away from each other and in a few trillion years would be so cold that stars and planets decay to their constituent elements and the elements decay to electrons, neutrons and protons and those to quarks and to radiation, this time cold radiation, Big Chill, or is it Big Crunch where the expansion stops and the universe collapsed on itself?
What point was God making in designing a universe that is meant to die? This situation reminds us of a mad artist who took the trouble to construct a complex artwork and then break it.
What is the point in the existence of the universe? There does not seem any meaning and purpose to the universe?
Dr Goenka, in addition to describing what is going on in the atom, provided us with outstanding knowledge of quantum mechanics; he discussed Thomas Young’s 1801 double slit experiment and Louis Broglie’s replication of it with electrons in 1924. He showed thorough grasp of Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (you can ascertain the position of the electron inside the atom but will not at the same time ascertain its momentum, velocity, it is either one or the other); he talked about Niels Bohr’s complementarity principle.
He also showed adequate understanding of Albert Einstein’s Special and General relativity theories (his discussion of Einstein’s paper on the photo electric effect of light whereby released photons were able to knock off electrons from hot Black bodies is excellent).
The man talked about what Einstein in 1935 called the “spooky action at a distance”, how entangled particles but now separated and placed at the opposite ends of the universe instantaneously responded to each other as if there is no space and time between them hence calling into question the existence of space and time.
Are space, time and matter illusions, as Hinduism teaches and as Bohr embraced in his notion of non-separability of particles? Are all things in one thing but give the impression of being separated?
John Bell, in his 1962 Bell’s theorem provided mathematical proof of the fact of the nonlocal behavior of entangled particles; Alain Aspect’s 1982 experiment proved the idea, and it is now accepted as a scientific principle; indeed, folks say that soon they will build a quantum computer that would operate on the instantaneous responses of entangled particles.
He discussed strings theory, multiverse, specifically Hugh Everett’s many worlds theory and discussed quantum superposition, Quantum Field Theory QFT, Symmetry and breaking of symmetry.
He gave serious thought to Einstein’s notion that energy is the same as mass in different states; Einstein’s famous equation, E= Mc2 implies that energy can be converted to matter and matter can be converted to energy.
We easily convert matter to energy but who has, in fact, converted energy, say, light, to matter? But we do not need to split hairs here. Let us just say that Goenka showed understanding of quantum mechanics and educated the reader on what the atom is; he taught the reader what are gluons, pions, fermions, leptons and bosons.
Goenka likes quantum field theory. He suggests that there must be an unknown field from which virtual particles of matter and anti-matter emerge, attack each other and annihilate each other and turn to light.
Goenka would like us to believe that there may be a ground, which we may call the intelligent designer, aka God, from which virtual particles emerge and the light that formed the Big Bang emerged, 13.8 billion years ago, to get the universe going.
The problem is that intriguing as his speculation is, there is no proof of quantum field theory; there is no proof that there is an unknown ground from which the universe came out.
He used Aristotle’s four arguments, in his metaphysics, which supposedly proved the existence of God: material cause, formal cause, efficient cause and final cause, to make his point that there may be a designer of the atom and the universe.
Aristotle did not convince skeptics with his metaphysical and ontological arguments, and neither did Goenka do so.
Thus, we end by agreeing with him that the atom is indeed extraordinarily complex and that it is difficult to see how it could have come into being through mere chance, how a monkey could pound away at a typewriter (who made the typewriter) and in fourteen billion years write Shakespeare’s plays? The universe remains a mystery.
Goenka’s book is less than one hundred pages long, and, as such, can be read in a few hours; you can easily understand what the man is saying if you understand physics and chemistry. Whether you would accept his putative argument for God’s creation of the universe is up to you; he did not persuade me.
I recommend the book to those interested in physics, metaphysics and ontology, especially to those interested in understanding the interface of science and meta-science.
January 29, 2022