A Designed World, For A Designed People

Editor’s note: We are pleased to present a series adapted from biologist Michael Denton’s book, Fire-Maker: How Humans Were Designed to Harness Fire and Transform Our Planet, from Discovery Institute Press. Find the whole series here. Dr. Denton’s forthcoming book, The Miracle of the Cell, will be published in September.

For Fire, Our Planet Is Just the Right Size by Michael Denton

Let’s set up an incomplete index for the articles below!

For the complete index to all the juicy science, go here.
For the full book treatment, go here.

Whatever the Cause, We Are No Accident

The unique fitness of nature for carbon-based life and intelligent beings of our biology is an empirical discovery.


For Fire, Nature Obliges Us with Rapid Reflexes

One area where very fast nerve conduction is vital is vision, more specifically, in keeping the eyes fixed on some object in the field of vision while in motion.

What if Our Muscles Were Less Powerful?

As every medical student comes to learn when first dissecting the human body at medical school, our limbs are almost entirely composed of muscles.

Appreciating the Design of Human Muscles

It is likely that no further improvement in muscle power can be achieved by increasing the density of packing of the myosin motors.

For Fire and More, Humans Are Designed to Have Just the Right Strength

How is it that an ant appears proportionately so much stronger than a trained human weight lifter?

Remarkably, Humans Are Just the Right Size to Make and Master Fire

Only an organism of our dimensions and android design — 1.5 to 2 meters in height with arms about 1 meter-long ending in manipulative tools — can handle fire.


The Role of Lignin for Fire, Explained

Without lignin, there would be no woody plants, no wood, no coal, no charcoal, no fire, no pottery, and certainly no iron or metallurgy.

Needed for Fire: All the Right Fuel

There is another aspect of the Earth’s environment that is absolutely crucial in allowing the utilization of fire for metal-based technologies.

In Praise of Copper, a Gift from Nature

If the conductivity of copper were ten times less, wires would have to be ten times the cross-sectional area to provide the same conductivity.

For a Technological Civilization, We Must Have Metals

It is very doubtful that any beings in the universe could develop a civilization remotely comparable with our own without the use of metals.

For Fire, Our Planet Is Just the Right Size

Self-evidently, the gravity on the surface of a planet limits the maximum size of large terrestrial organisms.

Why Do We Not Spontaneously Combust?

James Lovelock has pointed out that atmospheric levels of oxygen much above about 25 percent, let alone 30 percent, would cause raging conflagrations today.

By Design, Earth Is a Planet Fit for Fire

As we have seen so far in this series, fire was an absolutely crucial component in humanity’s rise to civilization and technology.


For Mankind, the Leap from Copper to Iron Was a Landmark Advance

The importance of metals, particularly iron, and the importance of the discovery of metallurgy can hardly be exaggerated.

Fire and Metals — Primal Discoveries, by Design

The ability to tame fire led to the invention of the art of cooking, and much more.

Humans Were Designed to Harness Fire

Of all the discoveries made on mankind’s long march to civilization, there was one primal discovery that made the realization of all else possible.

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