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The Wonder of Our Solar System

For about two minutes on Monday, August 21, the Great American Eclipse will darken skies across the U.S. as the moon passes between the sun and Earth, casting its shadow on the planet. According to John Dvorak, a trained lunar scientist and author of Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses, people have always ascribed spiritual importance to eclipses. Historically, solar eclipses have been understood as powerful manifestations of God’s greatness.”

In our book, Creation and Evolution 101, we show how our own solar system, one of billions in the Milky Way Galaxy, demonstrates God’s greatness and creative power.  It has certain features that are not common to all other solar systems. Not only are these features unique, but they are also necessary for life to exist.

Here are just a few characteristics that make our solar system a habitable place for human life: 

  • Our solar system has one star. If we had more than one star (the sun), the tidal interactions would throw earth’s orbit out of whack. This factor alone eliminates 60 percent of the solar systems as candidates for a place that would support life.
  • The star in our solar system is just the right age. When stars are newly formed, their burning rate and temperature are not stable. They only begin to maintain a stable burning phase after they have matured a bit. If the star is too old or too young, the luminosity of the star changes too quickly to all life.
  • The star in our solar system is just the right size. If the mass of the star in any solar system is too large, its luminosity changes too quickly and burns too rapidly. If the star’s size is too small, you have another set of problems. The range of distances necessary for life would be too narrow; tidal forces would knock the planet’s rotational period out of sync; and there wouldn’t be enough ultraviolet radiation for plants to make sugars and oxygen. Ninety-nine percent of all stars are the wrong size for you need for a solar system that supports life.
  • The star is a certain distance from the planet. If the star were too far away, the planet temperature would be too cool to permit a stable water evaporation cycle. If the star were too close to the planet, the climate would be too warm for a stable water cycle. If the distance from the earth to the sun differed by just 2 percent, then on plant life would be possible. This parameter eliminates 99 percent of all stars.

And what about the moon, which is going to darken the sun for two minutes from the perspective of millions of Americans gazing into the sky (with protective glasses, of course)? What purpose does the moon serve in our solar system? Well, you will be happy to know that the moon serves more than a romantic purpose. The earth needs the moon’s gravitational pull to produce the necessary tidal effects (which are required for cleansing coastal waters and replenishing nutrients).

The moon’s gravity also helps to stabilize the earth’s axis tilt. By the way, just any ordinary moon wouldn’t do. It takes a moon exactly the size of our moon (which is unique among solar systems because it is unusually large relative to the size of its planet). But if it were much larger or smaller, the climatic and tidal disruptions on Earth would be severe.

Whether you watch the solar eclipse live or watch it on video, let it be more than a scientific curiosity. Reflect on what our earth and moon and sun say about our Creator.

We think David says it best in Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God,

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have have no speech, they use no words;

no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

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Christianity 101 is a collection of books and digital resources by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz that talk about God in a way that encourages people to grow in their faith.