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Clocks, atoms, time as creation proof.


In my early thirties I decided to accept evolution or to prove creation. A little booklet titled, "Does God Exist?"(4) was a big help as I did my research.


The purported author of the booklet explained he owned a 23-jewel railroad watch, which in those days was the finest watch made. As fine a watch as it was, however, it did not keep perfect time. Every so often it would have to be adjusted to a better clock, which in those days was generally at the local Western Union office.


But even that better clock did not keep perfect time; it too had to be adjusted every so often. The timepiece it was adjusted to was at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC. Did that one have to be adjusted to something better? Ah, yes it did.


The booklet described that it was adjusted to "The Master Clock of the Universe. Up there in the heavens is the great Master Clock that never makes a mistake-is always on time-never off a fraction of a second-the heavenly bodies coursing through the skies!"


So realizing there was a master clock - better than any made by man - was a major influence on my final conclusion that I had been created, and had not evolved from a fortunate accident.


A skeptic might say.......

I suppose a skeptic might say something like this, "Sure with all the vast distances involved with the stars and the planets it's easy to keep accurate time. Look at the margin of error that is possible when you have such a huge amount of space."


For the sake of argument, let's assume that to be a fair objection and take up the challenge. From the vast distances of the stars......let's go to the very smallest.


Let's go to atoms, which require 127 million(3) of them lined up side by side to cover the span of just one-inch. I think even the most hardened skeptic would agree there is little margin for error when dealing with something as tiny as atoms!


Time is now counted by atoms!

Imagine an airplane soaring through the sky. A passenger asks his neighbor for the time. The neighbor happens to be a scientist, a special type of scientist. He opens the door of a gray metal box he has been holding on his lap. He shows a dial. Then he informs his inquirer that the time displayed is exact to the millionth of a second.


Sound like fiction? In fact there are such scientists carrying boxes of atoms traveling to and fro from timing centers around the world. The centers include the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder, CO, the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, the International Bureau of Time in Paris, and others. How many others? The book (1) tells us, "there...are an "ensemble" of 260 secondary atomic clocks dispersed among the world's timekeeping laboratories".


Why do these scientists carry metal boxes? To synchronize the new clocks maintained at the major time keeping centers. This is how one encyclopedia(3) put it, ..."worldwide operational synchronization to 1 microsecond is provided by the Naval Observatory through transport by air of portable, cesium-beam atomic clocks."


The new measurement of time since 1967

It became official in 1967. The General Conference of Weights and Measures defined the new way to measure one second of time. The change is explained this way by source (1), "No longer was the second related to the length of the day, nor to the movements of the planets; no longer would the world look to the sky for its source of time. So ended the era of astronomical time."


This explanation from the same book tells us more, "Just fifty years ago, the global time standard was still based on the rotation of the earth on its axis [astronomical time]. It was the oldest physical standard in use and also the most accurate. However, in 1955, the National Physical Laboratory developed a new and more accurate time standard, using caesium atoms to set the rate of the clock. Since then...the atomic clock has transformed the way we measure and use time."


The new clocks

We will be looking at cesium-beam atomic clocks that in October 1998 brought about the closing of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Founded by King Charles II in 1675, the Observatory did its job for 323 years. The new way of counting time put the 300 year old observatory out of business!


The author tells us this, "The caesium atom now underpins the very definition of time. The atomic clocks themselves have improved by a factor of nearly a million, with the latest generation using laser-cooled atoms to extract such tremendous accuracy." (I had better mention readers will notice two spellings for caesium. I am just following the quoted material. Perhaps the American and British spellings are different?)


It is necessary to get over-technical here. The official definition of one second of time as now used by all scientists is this "The second is the duration of 9192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom."


Admittedly technical jargon is hard to understand. Another quote from the same book might be better. "By flipping over, so that its North Pole points another way, the electron can jump from one Hyperfine State into the other.... The atom can change energy from the lower state to the upper state by absorbing a photon, and can return to the lower state by emitting a photon. This is called a "spin-flip" transition and is well known to radio astronomers."

"The spin-flip transition [in the caesium atom] occurs at a frequency of 9193 megahertz, equivalent to a "vibration"(6) of almost 10 billion times a second."


Source (2) explains it like this, "In today's world the final arbitrator of both their time segments is the atom. When we call to get the time, it is 9,192,631,70 oscillations of the radiation emitted when outer electron in the cesium-133 atom flips over that is ultimately responsible for the answer we hear."


The above three definitions while somewhat technical, were necessary for accuracy.


Can our mind really picture what we have just been told by these technical definitions? We have to imagine tiny cesium atoms, 127,000,000 needed to span just one inch, all "vibrating"(6) at exactly the same frequency. And that frequency is the enormously large number of Nine Billion one hundred ninety-two million, six hundred and thirty-one thousand, seven hundred and seventy; not per day, not per hour, not per minute, but each and every second!


But there's more. All throughout the universe, wherever there is a caesium-133 atom, it will be vibrating exactly the same 9,192,631,770 times each and every second!




I don't know about you, but it is really difficult for my mind to grasp such an enormous number of "vibrations" every single second. Moreover my mind can hardly grasp the concept that every caesium atom throughout the universe is vibrating at exactly the same number; never missing a beat, never hesitating, never faltering.


A side note that may be of interest

Because we are physical beings living in a physical world we have to see and feel something for it to be real. And the more solid and heavier it is, the more real it must be.


As a side note, the writer has given a speech titled "Which is more real, the physical or the spiritual?". In the speech I try to persuade the audience that it is the spiritual world we are unable to see that is the permanent one, the one that does not decay or run down, the one that is actually more real.


"Time's Pendulum" provides remarkable information for the speech by telling us, "In the large world, friction causes everything to eventually run down. Even the planets are very gradually losing energy, slowing down, and spiraling toward the sun. However, within the miniature solar-like world of the atom, another set of laws seem to rule. One would have imagined that the electrons, circling the nucleus like tiny planets, would also lose energy and spiral downward.


Not only wasn't this happening, but something else entirely was: the electrons lost or gained energy not gradually, but in discrete lumps (or quanta) as they jumped from one definite orbit to another or even as they changed their magnetic alignment while spinning within the same orbit. This jumping from one energy level to another went on and on forever; there was no eventual running down. The perpetual motion machine...is in fact exactly what atoms are."


Isn't the above information splendid support for the premise of the speech? Isn't it remarkable that our author tells us the physical, the world we can see, runs down and decays; while the unseen world of the atom is said to have gone on forever, with no running down? Weren't we told atoms are perpetual motion machines? In fact weren't we told that the atomic world operates under a different set of laws.


Variety in nature

With that side note, we can go back to the main subject. As we look at the world around us, we quickly notice there is a large amount of variety. In fact if we were asked to describe nature in one word, variety might very well be the one we would choose.


Except for identical twins, we know that the planet's five billion or so human beings have five billion different faces. Even with human bodies, although they all have the same basic structure, there are all kinds of subtle differences in sizes and shapes. Most of us don't go around expecting to see our exact double somewhere.


Another common example might help make the point. Are apples from the same apple tree identical? No. They are various sizes, various shades of the same color, and have slightly different shapes. Moreover they do not all ripen at the exact same time. So even there, where we might expect exact uniformity, it does not happen.


We can observe such variety everywhere in nature. In flowers, dogs, cats; and on and on.


All of us have probably seen photos of snowflakes. Scientists tell us that of millions of snowflakes, no two are exactly alike; and the photos seem to bear that out.


Are the new clocks accidents, or are they manufactured objects?

But what if instead of variety - we see exact conformity? Source (2) tells us more, "Atoms of many different elements can play the role of pendulum in atomic clocks, but the atom ultimately selected for use in defining the duration of a second was isotope of the cesium atom, cesium-133....at any temperature all cesium atoms have a nucleus containing 54 protons and 79 neutrons, with 54 electrons spinning in orbits (energy shells) around the nucleus.


All cesium-133 atoms are exactly alike. If one were to be found with as much as one electron too many or too few, it would simply no longer be cesium-133. Only on nature's production line, and only at the atomic level, is this absolute identity possible...There is no opportunity for friction, distortion, or aging - in identical atoms, the frequency emitted or absorbed when an electron changes energy status is also identical."


What did we learn about cesium atoms? Wasn't it that they have no variety whatsoever? Wasn't it that all, each and every one, trillions and trillions of them, are exactly identical? Remember, also, that we are talking about something incredibly tiny; it takes 127 million side by side to make a line one-inch long. There is little leeway to make imperfections or errors in something so incredibly tiny.


Notice again the wording from our scientific author, "All caesium atoms are exactly alike". "Only on nature's production line, and only at the atomic level, is this absolute identity possible." "In identical atoms, the frequency absorbed when an electron changes energy status is also identical."


The point is this - atoms are so perfect, so identical to each other, that they appear to be manufactured items. Didn't our scientific author even allude to that when she wrote, "Only on nature's production line, and only at the atomic level, is this absolute identity possible"?


Two revealing questions

Did caesium atoms evolve one at a time? Doesn't it seem more likely that atoms were built - precisely identical - all at the same time? Remember a previous "Creation Corner"(8) article where it was pointed out no new cells are being formed anymore? Something or someone has apparently said, "This many cells and no more." Doesn't it seem the same limitation has happened with atoms?


James Clerk Maxwell is widely acknowledged to be the nineteenth century scientist whose work had the greatest influence on twentieth century physics. In a paper he presented to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1873, he said(9),


"No theory of evolution can be formed to account for the similarity of molecules, for evolution necessarily implies continuous change.... The exact equality of each molecule to all others of the same kind gives it .... The essential character of a manufactured article."


Maxwell saw this in molecules, which are made up of atoms. Therefore his argument has as much or more application to atoms. Maxwell presented his paper in 1873, about eighty years before scientists began their study of the tiny world of the atom. What would Maxwell think about cesium atoms, 127 million to an inch, that are all exactly identical, all "vibrating" at exactly the same incredibly large number of over Nine Billion times per second?


And as Maxwell pointed out for us; by its own criteria, what is evolution? Isn't it continuous change? Isn't evolution the very opposite of identical similarity, of no change or variation? What is the very name its disciples have given it? Doesn't evolve mean "change"? We have to ask ourselves, if something doesn't include change, can it have evolved?


How accurate is the new measure of time?

Source (2)tells us, "When it was invented in 1657, the pendulum clock's gain or loss of only ten seconds a day made it a paragon of accuracy. Three hundred years later, the cesium clock is accurate to a few billionths of a second per day, making it nearly ten billion times more accurate than the pendulum."


As our encyclopedia reference put it, "Today, however, the frequencies of atomic clocks are of such high stability that they can be used to form a time scale that is independent of rotational time. Indeed, the variation in the speed of the earth is determined by comparing rotational time with the time provided by atomic clocks."


What a reversal! The old astronomical time, including the speed of the earth's rotation, is now determined and adjusted to a tiny unseen(9) atom resonating at its constant, unchangeable, nine billion and more times per second.


Source (2) informs us, "There is now a cesium clock accurate to one second in three million years - such a phenomenon doesn't result from man-made, but only from man harnessing nature."


How remarkable. To paraphrase the author, man cannot achieve such accuracy, he has to go to nature to get it. We have ask ourselves: If such accuracy cannot be made by man expending his best efforts, how likely is it to have been accomplished by accident, by mindless evolution?


Why was a new, higher accuracy needed?

The frequencies of modern electric power grids have to be checked against a standard many more times more precise than in the past. The historic East Coast blackout of 1965 was caused by hundreds of generators getting out just slightly from their precisely needed synchronization.


From source (2) we learn, "Our communication networks literally run on electromatic waves, and their smooth working requires a time standard reliable to the thousandth, millionth, or billionth of a second."

The Apollo 12 crew was involved in an exercise that involved setting up reflectors on the moon so that laser beams could be bounced off them and reflected back. Notice how critical accurate timing was as explained by source (2), "Now, if the precision of timing is within one part in a million, the distance can be determined within 415 yards, but if it is within one part in ten billion, the distance can be determined within two inches! ! Navigation of our space flights and our telescopic searches into the distant universe also require this kind of precision timing."

Another example of the importance of better time counting is this from the same book, "In electronic navigation, a time error of a millionth of a second can produce a position error of about a quarter of a mile. Get your celestial timing wrong and spacecraft will sail past planets, missiles can fall in the wrong places, and jets can land short of the runway."

Do atoms measure anything else?

For centuries the meter was defined as the distance between two tiny etched lines on a metal bar kept at BIPM in Paris. The bar was stable to three parts in ten million. Now a metal bar is a nice, solid, strong physical object that we physical humans can relate to. What could possibly replace it? What do you think is the new tool to measure the length of one meter if a solid metal bar is no longer accurate enough?


You guessed it. The new, more accurate one-second of time is now used to determine the length of one meter. Time is being used to measure length. One meter, which is involved with physical materials, is now being measured by an unseen atom. You might want to ponder that a moment.


From "Splitting the Seconds" we learn that since 1983 the new official definition of a meter is this, "the length of the path traveled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second".


Think of that. The cesium atom second is so accurate that just a tiny part of it - one/over 299 millionth of it - can measure one meter - 39 inches - of a ray of light traveling at 180,000 miles per second! And this 39 inches that is pulled out of 180,000 miles, is more accurate than the former metal bar! As a physical being living in a physical world, I find that concept hard to grasp. How about you?


The new second of time will be doing more measurements

There is more. Seven base units make up the System International. They are the second (time), the meter (length), the kilogram (weight), the ampere (electric current), the kelvin (temperature), the candela (luminous intensity), and the mole (amount of substance).


Scientists are hard at work, and think they will succeed, so that six of those seven international units of measurement will be based on the frequency vibration of the cesium atom.


So the marvelous identical accuracy of the unseen cesium atom is very much involved in bringing better measurements to many of the things in the physical world, things we can see, things we can touch.


Our planet seen as a massive and superior watch

Let's apply our study of watches and timepieces in a direction you have probably never considered before. A book published in 1802 turned out to be a classic. Written by William C. Paley, it was titled "Paley's Watchmaker". A British publisher recently re-printed it and I have a copy.(5) Condensing Paley's 223 pages of arguments to a few paragraphs cannot do him justice, but is unavoidable due to lack of space in an article such as this.


Paley's book was required reading at Cambridge for over one hundred years, until the 1920s. Now evolution is the required reading.


At the time of his book, watches required spring movements that had to be periodically re-wound. Paley imagines walking in a field and stumbling over a watch. The walker picks it up and examines it. The walker sees a case containing a coiled spring. Then is observed a series of wheels, the teeth of which fit in and apply to each other, conducting motion from the fusee, to the balance, to the pointer.


In addition to moving parts that perform work, the walker notices specialized materials are involved. The little wheels are made of brass to keep them from rust. The springs are made of steel, no other metal being so elastic. Over the face is a glass cover, a material employed in no other part of the work.


In addition to the inner workings and specialized materials, the walker notes that the watch has a goal, a purpose. Paley argued that as we observe this finished product, the inference is inevitable that the watch must have had:

a maker;

someone who formed its purpose,

who planned its construction,

and designed its use.


To argue otherwise, says Paley, would be against logic.


Paley went on to point out that it would not weaken those conclusions if we had never seen a watch made, if we could not make one ourselves, or if we did not understand in what manner it was made.


How does Paley's watch apply today?

Paley went on to say his watch analogy very much resembles the human situation. He pointed out that we find ourselves living on a planet that has many complex parts all functioning together to support life.




We know much more about our planet and about the universe than Paley did two hundred years ago. Let's use our new knowledge to expand on his theme.


Imagine yourself a space traveler. As you traveled through the universe, you would see billions of galaxies made up of billions of stars. You would see innumerable bright stars, yet despite their brightness, they had no life on them. Instead you would see innumerable dead rock planets orbiting other dead rock masses. We know they are without life because for twenty years or so our government has spent millions of dollars and hired hundreds of scientists to search the universe for evidence of other life. They have failed to find any.


Only one that is different

Then as your space travel continues, you come upon one planet that is startlingly different from any other planet or star. You are struck with its beauty as you see its air and clouds swirling around in its atmosphere. This planet is colorful, it is vibrant, it seems almost alive. What a vivid contrast to all the dead rock planets you as space traveler saw throughout the universe!


As you draw closer and examine this unique planet you could not help but marvel at its special characteristics. You notice it is made up of many different parts: soil, air, clouds, rain, plants, birds, fish, and mammals. It even has fresh waters and salt oceans - are kept within clearly defined boundaries. Yet all of the various complicated parts function and fit together harmoniously.


Paley imagined finding a watch in a field. We have just imagined finding a whole planet. Can the functioning earth be likened to Paley's watch, but on a far larger, far grander scale?


More than a mere watch

But merely comparing Paley's watch to the earth is not taking into account the real superiority of the earth's mechanisms. A watch is just that - a manufactured object that needs care until it eventually wears out. But isn't what we find all around us much more than mere manufactured objects?


Most of us have visited Disney World. Reflect a moment on the Pirates of the Caribbean exhibit for example. The visitor, while moving through the exhibit seated in a floating barge, observes animated figures moving and talking. Coupled with the lighting and the sound effects, the figures seem almost alive. Yet they have no life. In fact they require constant maintenance. Moreover every part of the large exhibit hall requires maintenance and assistance.


In my mind's eye, I sometimes liken our planet to one huge Disneyland exhibit, but one that is far superior, far grander. Isn't it true that on this vast planet the non-living material items do not require maintenance? Moreover isn't it true its living things are actually self-perpetuating? Could something be involved here that is far more than just making a watch?


But wait a minute. Isn't the earth more than just non-living and living parts that need no maintenance?


Elaborate working systems are also involved

The earth has entire systems that are self-regulating. For example, water is evaporated from the oceans, where it forms clouds. The clouds are moved around by wind currents. Eventually the clouds break up providing rain for the soil. The rain falls into brooks and rivers. The brooks and rivers flow into the oceans. The self-regulating cycle that provides the whole planet with cleansed, rejuvenated water then begins itself all over again.


A previous "Creation Corner"(7) article argued our planet has self-regulating waste disposal systems that operate without ceasing.


Books have been written about the checks and balances present in nature. The elaborate systems that keep species in check so that one specie does not pre-dominate and wipe out the others.


A Self-perpetuating World

Once having life, all of nature continues re-producing their kind. The means of re-production are many. But re-production is just part of the "watch mechanism" we see at work. Each specie or kind also has provided for it:

its own food supply,

its own means of protection from predators,

its own means of shelter,

its own system of attracting a mate or spreading its seeds.


As you consider the above characteristics for the earth's living things, reflect also on this summary of the other points we looked at. On the earth:

no maintenance is required,

the living things on it re-produce themselves,

many systems self-regulate themselves,

it has checks and balances so one specie does not pre-dominate and conquer the others.


Can we agree on Paley's point that examining a watch should lead its finder to conclude it had a maker?


Is it illogical, then, to consider the functioning entity we call earth as one giant "watch"? Isn't this marvelous planet multiple times more complicated than a watch? Wouldn't it be logical to acknowledge that the perfectly functioning earth too had a planner, a designer, a maker?


In Summary

As we consider which is more logical, evolution or creation, we have studied the following:

If we examine a watch, it seems evident it had a planner, a designer, and a maker.

In a multitude of aspects the earth can be seen as a superior, grander, and more complex form of living "watch".

Even more than a watch because the earth self-maintains and self-regulates.

Even more than a watch because its life forms self-perpetuate.

Even more than a watch because its various systems self-regulate and are maintenance free.

We went from the master clock of the stars to the master timepiece in the cesium atom.

We learned atoms never decay or run down.

We were told that atoms are perpetual motion machines.

We were told that the sub-world of atoms operates under different laws.

We have considered that the unseen world may be more real than the physical one we see that runs down and decays.

Cesium atoms even though incredibly tiny - 127 million to span one inch - are exactly identical.

Moreover cesium atoms all "vibrate" at the same incredible 9,192,631,770 times per second.

Such precision is far beyond man's ability to achieve.

Such identical precision is the opposite of evolution, which by its own definition is change.

We have to consider that such precision may come only from manufactured objects.

The unseen cesium atom is now used to define the official length of one meter.

The unseen cesium atom will likely be used to define other physical measurements.

We now have to ask ourselves the question. Did all that we have studied happen by

1) accidental, mindless evolution; or

2) by planning and design, by a creator?


C. Frazier Spencer

References and footnotes:

Note: bold, underlining, or italics sometimes added to references for emphasis.

(1) "Splitting the Second" by Tony Jones. Published 2000 by Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol, England.

(2) "Time's Pendulum" by Jo Ellen Barnett. Published 1998 by Barnett Press, NY.

(3) Encyclopedia Brittannica 2002 edition.

(4) "Does God Exist" author named as Herbert W. Armstrong, published 1957 by Radio Church of God, CA

(5) "Paley's Watchmaker" abridged edition by Bill Cooper, published 1997 by CRP Associates, Reepham, England.

(6) We will call it "vibrations" for want of a better descriptive term.

(7) "Vital yet Little Noticed Systems".

(8) "Evolution and Humans are just Animals".

(9) From "Answers in Genesis" web site, which cited E.L. Williams and G. Mulfinger as authors of "Physical Science for Christian Schools" published 1974 by Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC.

(10) Atoms are unseen by most of us. Scientists, of course, "see" them (blinking) with super-powerful microscopes.