Water is a good thing. I’m glad it was invented. Our otherwise smart minds are too small to appreciate, really, the fundamental indispensability of the simple compound formed by an atom of oxygen and a couple of hydrogen atoms. For starters, almost unique among substances, it expands when it freezes; it becomes less dense. Typically substances contract as they are cooled. This is very important.
So what is the “big deal ”about expanding when it becomes ice? For a few moments, let’s think about Lake Champlain, between New York and Vermont. With cold weather , IF water quit behaving in its unique, special way, the ice formed on the surface would quickly settle to the bottom of the lake. As cold weather continued, more and more would sink to the bottom. Very soon the lake would be frozen solid and could no longer furnish water downstream. The Great Lakes would be a disaster. Fresh water to drink would be almost unobtainable in much of North America.
There is widespread realization among scientists that the earth-------indeed, the majestic universe----------- is “fine tuned”, as many describe it. Not just the remarkable, almost aberrant, expansion upon freezing that water exhibits, but a nearly incredible number of other values and physicochemical constants that facilitate and even make possible our life upon what the Book of Common Prayer eloquently calls “this fragile earth, our island home” (BCP p.370).
If the sun, “our” sun, which is actually a very minor member of an estimated 70,000 million million million stars, were only a little closer, that precious commodity water would be boiling on the part of the earth exposed to the sun; a little farther away and it would be frozen. The atmospheric range of temperature would preclude life, anyway. . If the concentration of oxygen in the air we must breathe were to fluctuate by more than a very slight amount----no go. There’d be no St. Paul’s Chapel or General Convention, or indeed any human beings. Scientists and theologians acknowledge, although neither they nor we can comprehend, the vast number of “what ifs” that make life, our life, possible. Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Laureate in chemistry, said it well: “The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident is zero.”