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GOD’S BLESSING OF TECHNOLOGY
The early 1900s saw major advances in transport technology.
Mankind welcomed these advances, which made life so much easier, and quickly adapted to them.
Less than a century later, jets, high-speed trains and smart cars have all become part of our lives.
Journeys which used to take days are now but a matter of hours.
The advances in technology are not limited to modern means of transport. Technological possibilities in many fields, especially in health, information and communications, have assumed giant dimensions.
The technology which surrounds all aspects of our lives has made them easier and faster, and has therefore brought with it comfort and time-savings.
It is hard to say what else will change in our lives in another century.
For the moment being, we can only imagine what those years will be like …
PRESENTER: In many peoples’ view, the modern buildings they live in, the cars they drive, computers, televisions and all the other countless products of technology are entirely ‘man-made.’ The fact is, however, that if they think a little deeper and engage in a conscious examination they will see that there is a very important truth behind these advances: Technology is also an example of God’s blessings to mankind, and thanks must be given to Him for all these things. Let us now embark on that examination together and see why it is that technology is a blessing for which we must give thanks to God.
THE SECRET IN IRON
Let us consider the products of technology we use:
Cars, computers, televisions …
The ovens in our homes, the telephones we use …
All of these products are made of metals such as iron, copper, zinc and aluminum, and plastic, a by-product of oil.
In other words, if these raw materials, and particularly metals, did not exist on Earth, or if mankind lacked the means to make use of them, then we would be unable to speak of technology, which makes our lives so much easier, at all.
Technology comes about when man shapes the elements found on Earth in accordance with a specific aim.
Looking at just a few of these elements, we shall see what a miraculous structure these substances, with which we are so familiar, possess.
Heading the list of these comes an element which occupies a particularly important place in life as well as in technology: iron!
Iron is one of the most available elements on Earth and comprises some 5% of the Earth’s crust.
This element plays a major role in every stage of life, from the fundamental physical balances of the world we live in to our being able to make use of the air we breathe.
In his book Nature’s Destiny, which has provoked enormous interest, the famous Australian molecular biologist Michael Denton describes how the laws of nature and elements in the universe are specially tailored for human life. With respect to iron, he writes:
Of all the metals, there is none more essential to life than iron… It was the drawing by gravity of iron atoms to the center of the primeval earth, that generated the heat which caused the initial chemical differentiation of the earth, the outgassing of the early atmosphere, and ultimately the formation of the hydrosphere… (Michael Denton, Nature’s Destiny, The Free Press, New York, 1998, p. 198).
Iron is also of particular importance to our respiratory systems.
This substance forms a compound with oxygen in the hemoglobin in human blood. This keeps the exceedingly combustive oxygen atoms under control.
Iron directs oxygen, a most valuable source of energy, to the cell’s respiratory mechanism. In other words, even our breathing is made possible by iron.
What if there were no iron atoms?
In that event, life would not be possible and the planet we live on would become unable to sustain life.
Were there no iron, the primitive Earth would not have warmed up, and the atmosphere and hydrosphere would not have formed.
The magnetic field which protects the Earth from meteors would not have formed, and there would be no radiation belts or ozone layer.
The Earth would be a dead planet.
Iron is also the most important material basis of the civilizations established by human beings.
That is because industry exists thanks to iron, and steel is made by iron combining with carbon.
All of the products of advanced technology, which make our lives so much easier and so improve the quality of life, are reflections of industry.
Were there no iron, then the level of technology on Earth would be no higher than simple wooden tools.
PRESENTER: All this shows that the existence of the element known as iron, and its presence in large quantities on Earth, is a major blessing for which we must give thanks to God. Indeed, God draws attention to this fact in the Qur’an. In the Surat al-Hadid, or “Iron,” He reveals:
We sent Our Messengers with the Clear Signs and sent down the Book and the Balance with them so that mankind might establish justice. And We sent down iron in which there lies great force and which has many uses for mankind, so that God might know those who help Him and His Messengers in the Unseen. God is All-Strong, Almighty. (Surat al-Hadid, 25)
PRESENTER: Iron, in which there lies great force and which has many uses for mankind, is one of the most important blessings which allow mankind to make technological progress. Therefore, everything made from iron and steel once again reminds us of the compassion of God.
The buildings, cars, airplanes, railways and skyscrapers on Earth may appear to be man-made. In fact, however, they only exist because God has created iron and placed it in the Earth.
THE SIGNS OF CREATION IN METALLURGY
There are signs of God’s creation in every one of the elements which comprise technology. One of these elements is metallurgy, in other words the production and purification of metals.
Metallurgy is the starting point for technology. The existence of suitable metals and the means whereby human beings can melt and shape these metals are therefore essential to it.
The first of these means is fire.
It is thanks to fire that man is able to melt metals.
Metals are the only natural conductors of electricity.
The electronics industry is thus a result of the existence of fire. Michael Denton says the following on this subject:
Our ability to handle fire is no trivial ability because it was only through the use of fire that technological advance was possible. Through fire came metallurgy and metal tools and eventually chemical knowledge. (Michael Denton, Nature’s Destiny, p. 242).
Fire begins with the ignition of combustible objects. It is the carbon it contains which allows an object to burn. When carbon and oxygen react they release large quantities of heat, which we see and feel as flame.
PRESENTER: However, there is an interesting point here: Some 20% of the Earth’s atmosphere consists of oxygen. Carbon is found in all living things, including our own bodies. In other words, the materials for fire exist side by side all over the world.
So why is that they do not immediately react together? Why do our bodies and all other organisms not suddenly burst into flames? The answer lies in the astonishing properties of fire.
The chemical properties of oxygen and carbon have been so carefully arranged that they only react together and give rise to fire at very high temperatures. For that reason, a high temperature is essential for fire to appear.
Someone trying to make fire by rubbing sticks together is actually raising the temperature by means of friction.
In striking a match you have to heat it in a moment by rubbing the head against a rough surface.
If carbon and oxygen had a rather higher tendency to react together, people, trees and animals would suddenly catch fire when the air temperature went up. That would become almost an everyday phenomenon.
For example, this plant living in the desert could suddenly burst into flames like a tinder box when the air temperature reached its highest level in the middle of the day.
That, of course, would make it difficult to speak of life on Earth at all.
If oxygen and carbon required even greater heat in order to react than they actually do, then people would be unable to make fire at all.
Fire would be a mythical form of energy which only emerged when lightning struck a forest.
PRESENTER: In short, the properties of oxygen and carbon have been created with such sensitive balances that they are in the best possible form for being used and kept under control.
What human beings call “the discovery of fire” is actually fire being placed at the service of mankind by God. God draws attention to this fact in the Qur’an and reveals that fire has been specially created:
He Who produces fire for you from green trees so that you use them to light your fires. (Surah Ya Sin, 80)
The Earth we live on is a perfect environment for making fire. And this specially created environment is the starting point for the technology we possess today. Denton also refers to the environmental factors in the use of fire:
The use of fire is of course dependent on additional environmental factors—on the availability of wood, for example, and relatively dry conditions. Unless these additional factors were also favorable, then despite all the physical and mental adaptations which makes us [human] and despite the fitness of the earth as an abode for carbon-based life, neither fire, metallurgy, chemistry, nor any scientific progress would have been possible. (Michael Denton, Nature’s Destiny, p. 245).
Indeed, human beings’ physical structure, in other words their hands, arms, ability to move and sense of sight, are ideally suited to being able to use fire.
God has created the human body with a perfection allowing it to meet all its needs.
He has also given human beings a brain, and thus the intelligence and skill, with which to use fire.
For instance, we could have come into the world without arms. In that event it would have been impossible for us to make fire and shape metals, and therefore to develop technology.
Or our intelligence level could have been much lower, and we could have lacked the awareness with which to understand and shape the world around us. In that event, we could not even have described our technological needs.
Yet God has given us intellect with which to think, five marvelous senses with which to perceive the world, and a body with which to meet our needs in the best possible manner. It is thanks to these that we are able to take advantage of His blessings, found civilizations and develop technology.
All these are blessings from God. We are reminded of the endless nature of these blessings in a verse from the Qur’an:
If you tried to number God’s blessings, you could never count them. God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nahl, 18)
As well as the fact that fire can be made and kept under control in the world, it also possesses another feature which supports metallurgy:
All the metals in the world, and especially iron, melt and become liquid at a temperature which fire is capable of achieving.
For instance, a temperature of 1530 degrees is necessary to melt iron, and that can only be achieved by a powerful fire.
Were even higher temperatures to be needed to melt iron, then no fuel in the world could achieve them, for which reason metallurgy would again be impossible.
In that case, of course, there could be no technological progress and civilizations could not be established.
After briefly summarizing mankind’s scientific development, Denton makes the following comment:
But although the journey was long… the evidence increasingly suggests that the end was never in doubt, that we followed a path already charted to an end foreseen and that our success was not in the least a matter of contingency… we have been drawn along a predetermined path from the discovery of fire to the birth of science to the revelation of our own centrality in the order of nature. (Michael Denton, Nature’s Destiny, p. 395)
PRESENTER: The truth expressed by professor of Biochemistry Michael Denton in scientific terminology is the truth learned from the Qur’an by every believer: God created the world for human life, placed all that exists on Earth at “the service of mankind” and enriched it with a variety of blessings. As God reveals in the verses of the Qur’an:
God is He Who created the heavens and the earth and sends down water from the sky and by it brings forth fruits as provision for you. He has made the ships subservient to you to run upon the sea by His command, and He has made the rivers subservient to you, and He has made the sun and moon subservient to you holding steady to their courses, and He has made the night and day subservient to you. He has given you everything you have asked Him for. If you tried to number God’s blessings, you could never count them. Man is indeed wrongdoing, ungrateful. (Surah Ibrahim, 32-34).
What we refer to as the “marvel of technology” is actually the blessings created for man by God.
All of these technological devices are specially created by God and made of materials He places at our disposal.
Human beings shape these materials by using the body, senses, intellect and “innovative capacity” He gave them.
THE SIGNS OF CREATION IN GLASS
One substance we use together with technology occupies a particularly important place in our lives, and what is more, it is an incomparable substance: glass!
From the time it was first discovered to the present day, the varieties of glass have constantly increased, and as its range of uses has broadened it has become an indispensable consumer commodity.
This important substance is used in the construction, automotive, drinks, food, pharmaceutical, electrical, electronic and a great many other sectors.
Glass occupies a state between solid and liquid. Silicon, in other words, sand atoms, combine in an irregular manner with calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium atoms. Glass emerges as a result of this “irregularity.”
The reason why glass is so widely used is its superior properties. It does not rust. It is waterproof and transparent. Glass is highly resistant to the effects of substances in liquid, solid or gas form which come in contact with it. This is known as “chemical resistance.”
Furthermore, the chemical resistance of glass is an adjustable property. The height of the alkali level in glass lowers that resistance, and boron oxide, aluminum oxide, zinc oxide and zirconium oxide raise it.
Thanks to this property, a great many corrosive and destructive chemicals can be stored in glass containers.
The mechanical properties of glass are also miraculous. A number of special methods can be employed to raise its resistance to very high levels.
Toughened glass is remarkably resistant. Not even kicks or blows from a hammer can break it. In addition, glass can be made stronger still by adding another chemical between two layers of glass.
The interesting thing is that this method was discovered right at the beginning of the automobile age.
The discovery of reliable glass took place just when it was most needed: in the age of the motorized vehicle … In 1903, the French chemist Edouard Benedictus formed triple-layer glass by placing cellulose nitrate between two layers of glass. His discovery began to be employed in car windscreens in the 1920s and to be seriously reproduced in the automotive industry. (Focus Magazine, November 1998)
PRESENTER: Glass has yet another important property, one which makes it so important in our lives. Its raw materials are plentiful and easy to find.
Had God so wished, those raw materials could have been as rare as gold or diamonds. In that event, we would have been unable to make as much use of it as we do.
Just like iron and fire, glass has also been created for human beings and placed at their disposal.
The products of technology occupy a wide place in our lives today, make our work easier and widen our habitats.
We can now accomplish a great deal more work in a great deal less time.
We can travel great distances in a short space of time.
Present-day technology is of course a product of the levels which human intelligence and ability have reached.
However, there is one fact which must never be forgotten: it is God, the Lord of all the Worlds, Who gives mankind these materials essential to the production of technology, and most important of all, the intelligence and ability to make use of them.
Every person aware of this truth must know that all the products of technology are, in fact, blessings from God.
Most important of all, he must give thanks by using them in such a way as to earn God’s good pleasure.
In the verses of the Qur’an, God reveals that the Earth and the whole universe have been specially created for mankind:
It is God Who has made the sea subservient to you so that the ships sail on it at His command, enabling you to seek His bounty, so that hopefully you will be thankful. And He has made everything in the heavens and everything on the earth subservient to you. It is all from Him. There are certainly Signs in that for people who reflect. (Surat al-Jathiyya, 12-13)