My Purpose? Fine-Tuned Earth
Updated: Oct 16, 2022
Why has life only been found on Earth so far?
Dr Hugh Ross outlines the uniqueness of planet Earth as the ‘Goldilocks Planet’. He lists twenty unrelated essentials that have to arise simultaneously for complex life forms to exist (i.e. ideal sun luminosity, atmospheric oxygen content, formation of adequate continental land mass, optimal location in the Milky Way spiral arm, etc.) And each of these 20 unrelated essentials require 'just right' conditions to come to fruition.
Every element that we see on Earth is highly anomalous (compared to other earth-like planets). Earth needs to be rich in metals in order to sustain life. The further the distance from the centre of the Milky Way galaxy causes a proportional decrease in the metallicity of the planets that form. There happens to be a peak zone where you get ideal levels of planet metallicity. One theory proposes that the Earth must have formed in this zone in order to explain the incredible levels of uranium and thorium it contains. However, this peak-zone for metallicity happens to be extremely dangerous for life to exist. Earth formed there but somehow moved to the safer location we now find ourselves in, near the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. How then did Earth move such a huge distance?! It takes an extraordinary set of events to make this happen with highly improbable odds:
There are four different kinds of Supernova – each produces a different spread of elements (as Earth has 98 elements, it would have had to form nearby all four types of Supernova at the right distance away)
After formation, our Solar System was then violently kicked out of its birthing cluster to avoid the harmful radiation and gravity from nearby stars preventing the formation of life.
Our sun may have had a gravitational encounter with some large stars, which operated like a high velocity slingshot and expelled us far into the safe zone. Our sun was flung between two spiral arms of the galaxy, which caused it to orbit around the centre of the galaxy at almost the same pace as the rotations of the spiral arms.
You may think this isn’t the optimal position if we don't match the spiral arm rotations exactly. However, if the Sun was positioned equidistant between two spiral arms it would be subject to mean-motion resonance which would prohibit life in its solar system.
We have such a gigantic moon for the size of our planet. Its x50 bigger than any other moon in the solar system when compared to the mass of the planetary body it orbits. Ours is not an ordinary moon; it has many functions (tidal and seasonal regulation for instance) which are necessary for sustaining life. This is an anomaly that Science is at a loss to explain. Genesis records an answer however - God created our unique planet and its unusual moon to sustain life.
The Earth has x4 more phosphorous than we would expect to see on other similar bodies in our universe. Phosphorous is crucial for life. Fluorine is also vital for life, and we have x50 more than expected on other earth-type planets.
Sulphur, we’ve got x60 LESS than other earth-type planets and compared to other planets in our solar system. Sulphur is extremely acidic and not conducive to life in high quantities: Mars has x60 more than we do. We have x1200 less carbon than we would expect; too much carbon gives you a thick atmosphere which traps too much heat and doesn’t let in enough light.
98 elements are stable, and these are the 98 that earth contains – there are more elements that exist in the universe that are heavier but much more radioactive. Earth used to have natural plutonium, but it has decayed and made it safe for life to exist.
So many factors that have to be "just right" in order to produce the conditions for life to exist. Stephen Hawking once said, "a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a Super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology." I would have to agree with him on that one.
This is the final paraphrase of John 3:16 I shall present: “For God so loved the world that He lovingly hand-crafted the Earth, leading it through an improbable chain of events, to place it in just the right part of the Galaxy, packed with necessary materials for life."
Some sceptics conclude that the Goldilocks Phenomenon of a finely-tuned universe is mere coincidence. Of course the universe looks remarkable, with all the 'just right' parameters having been met for life – if it had missed the mark we wouldn’t be here marvelling over the details! We weren’t around to view the near-infinite attempts that the Multiverse churned through in order to hit on one that could facilitate life. The Multiverse isn’t directed by any grand intellect in the sky – it just has infinite time to its advantage, so can generate every conceivable universe that operates along every possible combination of parameters until, hey presto, ours arrives; life flourishes and we think Wow – what are the chances of that?! There must be some grand purpose behind it!
My first issue with this line of argument is that there is no proof. Normally atheists claim they are 'following the science' and basing their deductions on sensory knowledge – i.e. evidence we gain from our senses exploring the universe, which is the only thing we know for certain exists. Fair enough. But then, when our universe seems so fine-tuned to beat the odds of what is possible, they posit the Multiverse Theory which is outside the known Universe. You can’t see it, touch it, measure it, interact with it in any way; it exists as a proposition to explain how a seemingly impossible universe like ours could exist – if you have infinite time then anything is possible! But how do they prove we have infinite time? What we see in our universe is a temporary one with a definite beginning and decaying to a definite end. It seems you have to propose a theory based on faith to avoid having to accept a universe designer – hardly 'following the science'.
Richard Swinburne likens this line of argument to a firing squad aiming to execute a criminal but missing every single shot. The criminal wouldn’t simply exclaim: “well it isn’t that remarkable – if it were otherwise, I would be dead and not here to witness it!” Every shot missed by a competent firing squad with working weapons would require a decent explanation; the conclusion could be that someone had tampered with the proceedings. It would be laughable for someone to suggest that as there is always a small chance of anything happening, given infinite time, there was bound to be one occasion where all members of the firing squad miss their target. What sheer luck for that criminal!
John Dyson concluded: “The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.” I would agree with him. The world appears to have been exquisitely designed to make life possible. It makes me wonder if there is some great purpose to it all. On to Part Three.