Chemical Evolution

29 Jul
Periodic Table of the Elements (Image from Google Images)

Periodic Table of the Elements
(Image from Google Images)

If the Big Bang Theory is true, then there must have been a time when hydrogen and helium evolved into oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and the other heavier elements we find on Earth and elsewhere. They had to have come from somewhere, and they are not accounted for in the Big Bang itself. Therefore, they had to have evolved from the most basic elements: hydrogen, helium, deuterium and lithium. Is there an explanation?

Dr. Jagadheep D. Pandean,[1] has provided us with such an explanation.[2] He says the lightest elements mentioned above were formed in the Big Bang. He claims that in stars like our Sun hydrogen converts to helium through nuclear fusion, but in order to convert helium into heavier elements like carbon and oxygen stars much more massive than our Sun are needed, and the process of conversion into the heavier elements is in stages over time. Nuclear fusion in stars whose mass is greater than eight times that of our Sun are needed to create elements like silicon to iron.

After iron (#26 in the table), the problem becomes even greater in that the heaviest elements cannot be formed simply through fusion alone. An even greater supply of energy would be needed. Nevertheless, we see these elements all around us on Earth. We had to have acquired them in some way, otherwise they wouldn’t be here. How did we get them? According to scientists like Dr. Pandean, a supernova explosion would be needed to provide the Earth with elements heavier than iron. Of course the details are more technical than could be presented in a blog like this, but this is the scientific explanation of how we received the 92 natural elements of the chemical makeup of the Earth and its atmosphere, and let me say that Dr. Pandean’s explanation is not the only one science offers, but aside from differing technical details, I believe it is typical of what we can expect, if we ask a scientist with a naturalistic worldview how chemical evolution occurred. The problem is that it is all theoretical. All these processes need to occur over billions of years. No one has ever seen hydrogen change to helium or helium into oxygen or carbon. This is a theory associated with the Big Bang.

Although these elements are said to have been formed in the “laboratory” of the universe itself, it is difficult at this point to refrain from comparing such ideas with the philosophy of the medieval alchemists who believed, if one knew the secrets of the universe, one could change base metals, which are those that oxidize like iron, into the more noble metals that resist oxidation like gold and silver. This is a philosophy that can be traced even further back to the Greek philosophers, like Empedocles whose ideas were also developed by Aristotle. They believed all things in the universe were formed by only four elements: water, fire, air and the earth. It is not difficult for one to imagine how this philosophy was kept alive and evolved into the philosophy of the alchemists of the Middle Ages. Moreover, in view of the fact that one can also trace the basics of the Theory of Evolution to the ancient philosophers (admitted to by Darwin in the 6th edition of The Origin of Species), it seems probable, at least to me, that the idea that the most basic elements (hydrogen and helium) could evolve into the heavier elements like nitrogen, carbon and so on through the “Periodic Table of Elements” is really an ancient philosophical idea that evolved into our modern “scientific” one.

We need to ask ourselves at this point: which is easier to believe, the naturalistic viewpoint of the Big Bang or that of the creationist? Is the miracle of the vanishing suns eight times larger than that of our sun responsible for silicone to iron found upon the Earth? Is the miracle of the invisible supernova responsible for the heaviest elements we find on Earth today? Are these unrealistic explanations easier to believe than that of a benevolent Creator God being responsible for everything that makes up the planet we call home? Think about it—use that marvelous, God-given, thought manufacturing, organic laboratory you are blessed with and choose this day to agree with men, who can’t seem to find God, or God, himself, who reaches out to you whom he as lovingly created and with whom he wishes to share all creation—and, yes, even himself.

[1] Dr. Pandean got his Ph.D from Cornell in January 2007 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany.

[2] “How Are Light and Heavy Elements Formed,” See Curious About Astronomy? Ask and Astronomer at

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in God, naturalism, theory of evolution


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