By Rabbi Shmuel Waldman

Before we continue, I will expand a bit more on this true open miracle of Photosynthesis. The previous explanation is almost a Chillul Hashem. Hashem made such an amazing miracle so I can’t go and almost ignore it so to speak.  Of course, anything we write to try and explain the wonders of Hashem’s world will be border line Chillul Hashem since it takes pages and pages in Biology textbooks to barely scratch the surface when explaining these miracles found in “Nature”. But we must try our best.

So, we start off by saying that in an article written by Berkley college of CA, (not a religious institution by any means) they call the process of photosynthesis “one of nature’s miracles”. So, what’s a “miracle”? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary that I have floating around my house says as its first definition: An extraordinary event (in this case a very complicated set of chemical processes) manifesting (showing) Divine intervention (involvement) in human affairs.

close up view of leaf texture
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Nevertheless, they still insist that things came about by accident. Pretty strange, no? It doesn’t look like they are paying attention to what they themselves are saying. Is it a miracle or an accident? Make up your mind. And once there are miracles, so why assume, without ANY EVIDENCE that things are an accident? Believe me, they have no legitimate answer.)

So, we will look a drop more into this miracle. If you want an even more detailed explanation of PS (PHOTSYNTHESIS) please email me at for a copy of a more detailed article on the topic.

(The details written here were taken from a popular High-School Biology book.)  So, lets first mention a whole bunch of necessary components that are needed for PS to even have the slightest chance of it working. There’s the leaf. There’s the Stoma on bottom of the leaf that is a “gate” that somehow “knows” when to open and when to close, due to complex changes in the atmosphere, that allows Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into the leaf. In the leaf there’s Mesophyll cells which is where the Thylakoids are. They look like pancakes. A typical leaf contains many stacks of Thylakoids. In each Thylakoid there’s an outer membrane and an inner membrane and stuff in between. In the outer membrane of the thylakoid are the various types of antennae that catch the packets of photons, full of energy, coming from the sun. There are three special types of antennas called Chlorophyl a, Chlorophyl b and Carotenoids. These antennas somehow capture almost all the different types of energy packets (depending on their wavelengths) of photons that come directly from the Sun. Now, let’s contemplate this accident. Who gave this accident the knowledge and the absolute brainstorm of an idea that – hey, I bet there’s photon energy coming from the Sun? I bet I can figure out a way to capture that solar energy! Then, this brainstorm needs to continue a bit because even if for argument’s sake it somehow developed a working set of antennas to capture that energy, what good will all that stored energy be? How will you make something out it? In which accidents wildest dreams could it think of the massive colossal brainstorm of being able to turn that energy, through MANY complicated chemical processes, into glucose / starch – our entire source of food? Then, lo and behold, added to this miracle, will also be the production as a byproduct of this food production, the free filtration of all the unhealthy poisonous CO2  that all animals and humans exhale, into the truly indispensable ingredient of oxygen that we need to breathe with. Pretty amazing, huh? Good points to think about, no?  Then, after being caught by the antennas the photons are brought to two separate “reaction centers”. There’s the Photosystem l and Photosystem ll. In the light dependent cycle (Photosystem ll) there’s three separate chains of the all-important Electron transport chain, and in the Calvin cycle (Photosystem l) there’s the six separate chains to the all-important Electron transport chain. Who set up these complex chemical chains? Then there’s ADP that needs to be converted to ATP. Where did the ADP come from? There’s NADP that needs to be converted to NADPH. Where did the NADP come from? Where DID ANY OF THESE COMPONENTS COME FROM? WHO brought all these components to the leaf in the first place? What benefit would ANY OF THESE COMPONENTS HAVE if there wasn’t a VERY COMPLEX AMAZING (or to quote from the Berkley article – MIRACULOUS) PLAN to carry out this miraculous life giving process?? If any parts of these processes were to be missing the entire plan would fail. If anyone thinks this is an accident… I truly don’t know how to finish this sentence. WHO set up this whole complex chain of events (that takes place in the most amazing speed that’s incomprehensible to the human mind as we shall describe shortly)? The Calvin cycle alone has 13 reactions caused by 13 enzymes that are found in the Stroma area of the leaf. How did all those complex enzymes get there? There’s also the all-important RuBP (ribulose bisphosphate) that has 5 carbon molecules in it, which is worked upon by the enzyme rubisco to cause a reaction with the added molecule CO2 to create an unstable six-carbon intermediate, which immediately breaks down into two molecules of PGA with three carbons each, which then finally turn into the much needed glucose. So, all around us, lies very busy factories, producing the 2 most important ingredients for life to exist, quietly without any fanfare. Without any electricity or any other fuel running it. There’s no hint of this miracle going on. The leaf remains at the surrounding  air temperature, in spite of all the activity going on in it. There’s a whole complicated process going on here. Photosynthesis in short has the Light-dependent reactions, and the Photochemical reactions, and the Electron transports, and the Chemiosmosis, finally followed by the Carbon fixation reactions all taking place, in FASTER than lightening speed, to produce the lucky by-products of photosynthesis – all our food to eat and all our Oxygen to breathe! How lucky can you get and ALL by accident!!

Two more points. How quick do some enzymes work, and what are the chances of an enzyme (each made of many specialized proteins) to happen by accident? Well let’s first see what an enzyme accomplishes. Enzymes speed up what would otherwise be extremely slow chemical reactions. Reactions that at their normal speed could never accomplish anything.

Abracadabra – along comes this accident enzyme with its exactly correct makeup and it works to speed up the chemical process at unimaginable speeds. An extreme example is the enzyme called orotidine 5′-phosphate decarboxylase, This enzyme causes a reaction that would otherwise need millions of years to occur, to occur in milliseconds (a tiny fraction of a one second)!!! It speeds up the process at the speed of a 1017 factor. That’s a 10 with 17 zeros behind it!!

Because of such calculations, it is well known that in 1981 Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe [ both well known, eminent scientists]  wrote a book called Evolution from Space. In an often-quoted section of the book it is brought that they calculated what are the chances that the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell could come together by chance alone [accident]. Their final calculated number was 1040,000 10 to the 40,000 power. (That’s a 10 followed by 40,000 zeros) To put this mind-boggling number into perspective, the number of atoms in the entire universe is estimated to be 1080 that’s  (“just”) 10 to the 80th power (or 10 followed by 80 zeros). And that’s just the chance of one set of enzymes in the simplest living cell. Hoyle explained it in another way as well. He compared the likelihood of the accidental emergence of even the simplest working cell to the likelihood that “a tornado sweeping quickly through a junkyard might assemble (in those few minutes) a Boeing 747 from the scattered materials therein.   Not much of a chance is there? So, while we really should give a much lengthier explanation of the miracles of the components and the process of photosynthesis, we need to move on.

There’s no end to such examples in nature. G-d put them in nature on purpose so that we can recognize Him and His Greatness. This is necessary so that we have the proper respect and awe of Him, which will help us grow in our service of G-d.

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