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How We Won the Cosmic Lottery

SWAP View of Sun space wallpaper

When I read about the sun’s magnetic field reversing its polarity within the next several months, part of me felt a little nervous. How will the sun’s changes affect the earth? Does this mean that our earthly days are numbered? Actually, astronomers and meteorologists have indicated that we have little to worry.

The sun’s shift in polarity will not lead to more solar storms or other events that might spell doom and gloom for the residents of earth. Such an event occurs every eleven years—and given what we have seen in the past, we are still here—alive and well.

The change in polarity may actually have some positive benefits for all us. For one thing, the shift in the sun’s magnetic field will make our planet’s radiation belt more effective as a barrier against dangerous cosmic rays emanating from distant galaxies.

Not bad, no?

In practical terms, the earth’s storms should be less intense since the lightning storms will diminish comparatively.

At any rate, the changes in our sun’s magnetic field illustrate just how finely attuned the universe is calibrated to enhance life on this planet.

In spiritual terms, we may say that God carefully preordained the movement of the heavenly bodies in the cosmos. Had the Earth been closer to the sun or larger than it presently became, the sun’s rays would have incinerated the earth. Had the earth been just slightly farther away from the sun than its present orbit, life on our planet would have frozen. Had the earth’s circular orbit (with a 3% variance) been like the elliptical orbit of the planet Mars, which varies by 42 million kilometers in its distance from the sun, the earth would incinerate annually once it came closest to the sun. Nothing is fortuitous about the Earth’s orbit. Bar-Ilan University physicist Nathan Aviezer observes how fortunate this planet was in the cosmological scheme of the universe:

  • Our planet Earth is very hospitable to life, abundant with air and water essential to life. Our neighbors Mars and Venus, however, have no water or air. Yet shortly after they were formed about 4.6 billion years ago, all three planets (Earth, Mars, and Venus) had comparable amounts of surface water. In fact, the deep channels that are observed today on the surface of Mars were carved out long ago by the copious, fast-flowing Martian primordial surface waters. Venus was once covered by deep oceans which contained the equivalent of a layer of water 3 kilometers deep over the entire surface of the planet. Why, then, are the two planets so completely different today?
  • The difference in the subsequent development of Mars and Venus was due to their proximity to the Sun. Mars is somewhat more distant from the Sun than the Earth. This caused the temperature of Mars to drop in the course of time. Eventually, Mars became so cold that all its surface water froze, and as a result, the planet Mars has become completely devoid of all liquid water, thus preventing the existence of life as we know it on that planet. Venus, on the other hand, is somewhat closer to the Sun than the Earth, which caused it to gradually become hotter. As a result, Venus became so intensely hot, all its oceans and seas completely evaporated and then decomposed into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas, both of which later dissipated. Why did the Earth escape these catastrophes?
  • The answer is that the Earth escaped these catastrophes by sheer accident! The Earth just happened to be sufficiently distant from the Sun that the runaway greenhouse effect did not occur and therefore all our surface water neither evaporated nor decomposed. Moreover, the Earth just happened to be sufficiently near the Sun that it remained warm enough to prevent all the oceans from freezing permanently into ice caps. Therefore, the Earth alone, of all the planets of the solar system, is capable of supporting life. This balance in the carbonate‑silicate geochemical cycle is so delicate that if the Earth were only a few percent closer to or further from the Sun, the possibility for life could not exist. This enigmatic situation has become known among scientists as the “Goldilocks problem of climatology.”[1]

The recent discovery of extrasolar planets orbiting other nearby stars, has given us a new appreciation as to the perfect conditions that exist on this planet, which produce life. One interesting planet, classified as Upsilon Andromeda b, orbits a star that is approximately 40 light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It is a Jupiter-sized planet that circles closely around its scorching star every 4.6 days—is a world composed of fire and ice. Some planets float eerily through space with heat sources that someday may produce a new solar system, while others orbit pulsar stars, which emit such powerful bursts of energy—life as we know it would prove impossible. Paul Davies refers to our world as hitting the “cosmic jack-pot,” and argues that the “cosmos” appears to have played a “conscious” role in the formation of life, and continues to play a pivotal role in the evolution of the cosmos.

 


[1] Nathan Aviezer, In The Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1990), 37.

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