Let's Digress

Let’s Digress about Saturn and Jupiter

I started reading a new book last week. Much to my surprise, it talks about space and the purpose of planets. 

The book is Is Atheism Dead? by Eric Metaxas. Also, who knew that planets actually had a purpose

I’m only about 80 pages into the book currently, so I still have quite a bit of ground to cover before it’s finished. From what I understand though, Metaxas basically argues that atheism—the ardent belief that there is no creator, no God, no designer who exists outside of time of any sort—is no longer a scientifically supported belief pertaining to big life questions. 

Atheism used to be, and still often is, a default answer for those big questions. How did we get here? Why is there life on Earth? Where did ___ come from? The unfulfilling answers of mere chance, random developmental outcomes, and the spontaneous Big Bang of something from nothing aren’t scientifically supported anymore, Metaxas argues.

According to Metaxas, thanks to relatively new scientific discoveries, there is ample evidence that there is some sort of Creator behind the origin of, well, everything.

If you want the hard statistical numbers, you should read the book. But the odds of life existing in the first place are astronomically slim. A few of the initial examples Metaxas expands on pertain to how if Earth were any closer or further from the sun, we would all cease to exist. If Earth’s moon wasn’t at its current size and location, life on Earth wouldn’t exist. If water sank rather than floating when it freezes (which is the opposite of most liquids), life wouldn’t exist. If our atmosphere were any different, life wouldn’t exist. If Saturn and Jupiter weren’t as large as they are and weren’t at their current locations in the solar system, life wouldn’t exist.

It has been quite interesting to read so far. What struck me was the Saturn and Jupiter part. I had never heard that our existence on Earth was dependent on those two seemingly unrelated planets. 

Basically, they function as linebackers for Earth by absorbing and deflecting asteroids and meteorites. Because of their massive size and massive gravitational pull, when giant space rocks of death go near them, they either pull the asteroid or meteorite into themselves and take the hit or their gravitational pull changes the trajectory of the asteroid or meteorite, hurling it somewhere else into space, safely away from Earth.

According to NASA, within the asteroid belt that orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, there are currently 1,113,527 recorded asteroids. Some of the largest ones have been recorded around 329 miles in diameter. Thanks to Saturn and Jupiter, these stay away from Earth for the most part. But for context, did you ever hear about the 1908 Tunguska event? 

No? I hadn’t either.

In 1908 an asteroid only 300 feet in diameter exploded over an uninhabited area in Siberia. When it exploded, it instantly flattened eighty million trees over an area of 830 square miles and disturbed Earth’s atmosphere so severely that it was noticed as far as London, roughly 3,500 miles away. The shockwave alone shattered windows hundreds of miles away and was reported to have knocked people off their feet.

300 feet is a super small death rock compared to the size of our planet and compared to the size of the 329-mile diameter ones whose effects in the sky could still be seen at a distance not much further than San Francisco to Boston. 

I think Metaxas definitely has a point that life on Earth would be radically different, if in existence at all, if Saturn and Jupiter weren’t how they are. It does provoke the question though…did Saturn and Jupiter just happen to end up at their locations at their size with their specific orbital pattern which coincidentally benefits Earth by random chance? Or were they placed there by some sort of designer on purpose? Metaxas argues that this is only one of many examples of science proving the existence of a creator. Not just any creator, however, but a Creator who appears to care about protecting his creation. 

If the former, perhaps we should invest in some lottery tickets and a good helmet.

If the latter, perhaps we should express gratitude to that Creator for being so innovative.



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