The question “What is your favorite…” is a favorite conversation starter and sustainer. Usually we are asked to choose among games, foods, music, or people. Students of science may be asked to name their favorite laboratory experiment. Less often they may be asked to choose among more serious alternatives, such as, “What is your favorite science topic?”
As a classroom science instructor, I had my personal favorite curriculum topics. High on the list was the electromagnetic spectrum. Of dozens of important topics for which I hoped to trigger student fascination, none rivaled the electromagnetic spectrum. The existence of this phenomenon and its importance is crucial to a basic understanding of how the universe operates. Even fine-tuning advocates who frequently intone beliefs that “without this or that scientific parameter, life as we know it would be impossible,” must recognize the paramount role of the electromagnetic spectrum.
In the first chapter of the Bible, God is identified as the creator of time, space, energy and matter. He created all things in the beginning. Matter before the initial creation event did not exist except in a near-infinitely minuscule singularity. Time, space, and energy did not exist as we now experience them. Then, In the Beginning, God created matter framed by time and space. With the newly created matter God called electromagnetic energy into existence by the action of atoms. Now we recognize radio, micro, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma radiation. Electric charges in atoms were produced by moving electrons (negative) and protons (positive). The result was a sea of electromagnetic radiation. Multiple forms of electromagnetic radiation were present in the eons prior to the creation of microbial life on earth. Earth was bathed in electromagnetic radiation before and after microbial life appeared.
Post-creation, the Creator provided many self-sustaining features of our universe. For example, light and infrared radiation are continually produced by the action of atoms generating magnetic fields by the movement of their electrons, protons, and nuclear particles. Now we are continually bathed in life-sustaining radiation. Visible light and heat (infrared radiation) are the two most familiar examples. These two examples of electromagnetic radiation comprise the great majority of radiation released by the sun.
Visible light and infrared is also produced by humans’ artificial sources. Actually, infrared radiation is being released from all matter in our environment above absolute zero. In nature, no object ever achieves this low temperature. Nonetheless, we are beneficiaries of infrared heat from surrounding matter every moment of our lives. Infrared radiation is constantly being generated, absorbed, and reflected by all atoms of matter in our environment. In terms of human comfort, our bodies are comfortable only within a narrow range of temperature. In our modern world our technology enables us to control the temperature of living environments to within a few degrees.
Atoms from the Sun emit primarily visible light and infrared. These atoms also release photons of every other electromagnetic radiation, but in much smaller quantities. Modern science technologists are able to generate many thousands of different wavelengths, especially in the radio and microwave regions of the spectrum. All of these wavelengths differ from visible light and infrared in only one respect—wavelength. Apart from wavelength, the physical characteristics of different electromagnetic waves are identical. The literature describing many thousands of different electromagnetic waves, how technicians produce them, and how they are useful to man would fill many libraries.
Is it more important to understand the causes and effects of electromagnetic radiation or grasp the divine genius of God as designer of the cosmic system? Both are vitally important! Acts 17:28 may be interpreted either as a spiritual truth or as a guiding devotional suggestion for appreciating the divinely created physical world: “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.”