Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Who Put the Salt in Salt Water?

photo by Patchouly/Flickr
I read once of the possibility, in odds, of the millions of variables necessary to keep life sustainable on earth, just happening as it were, accidentally. It wasn't a bet my bookmaker buddies would make.

It computed out-in-space factors like earth's distance from the sun, the sun's size and temperature, the existence of earth's one moon, the numbers and sizes of planets in our solar system that have gravitational pull on earth, and other more minute aspects of everyday things, like the air we breath, its finely regulated chemical composition, and the fact that the atmosphere protects us from dangerous solar rays.

Then at the beach the other day looking out into the ocean I thought of salt water.

What if the oceans weren't salty? What if they were like lakes? What would that do to the earth's ecosystem? And where did the salt come from? How did nature know what proportions of salt and H2O to use?

We don't appreciate the complexity of things whether distant or near, because like breathing air, many of our actions are involuntary and we don't have to understand them to benefit from them. I just open my eyelid, and I see, and I understand. I never say to myself, open eyelid - see - interpret object. It just happens. It's kind of magical really. But get one teeny chemical disproportion, anywhere in the body, and like a tiny grain of sand in your eye, the whole system breaks down.

I think one can deduce with some intellectual honesty, that a First Cause or Prime Mover is a good bet. The question of who or what that First Cause is another question. But that there is something greater than the universe seems perfectly plausible to me.

3 comments:

Andrew said...

Was this a "I have a hand" moment?

Rambler said...

Well, if we had a tail, that would seem to us part of being "wondrously made". Which is to say, the argument from design has it's problems.

While the fact that God created the heavens and the earth is reasonable (given certain assumptions), I'm not sure it's self-evident. In a pre-scientific world, it might have been the simplest explanation, but given what we know about the physical universe, non-theist explanations are more readily at hand. Confession here: I've been watching some episodes of The Universe on the History Channel and pondering the vastness of time and space.

Now, I'm not given to "proofs" for the existence of God, but it seems to me a fruitful approach would look to the spiritual world - the inner workings of mind, heart, soul; the complexities of social relations, above all - love/caritas/agape. Do these things point us to God? Perhaps more effectively?

Oh, heavens... a pre-coffee ramble... time to hit the 7-11.

Francis Shivone said...

Fair points all, Rambler.

Not being a theologian or a philosopher, I don't know what answer to offer for your last question.

My question really started with wondering where the salt in the ocean comes from.

Anyway, I like your comments.