One of the most frequent topics for movies over the last twenty years has been the end of the world scenarios. One of the most prominent is the asteroid collision event. ‘Deep Impact’ and ‘Armageddon’ to name two.
This scenario has been placed in the rare event box and dismissed because, to be honest, why are we still here? That is the universal question. Is there evidence that pertains to our continued existence being remarkable?
When I was young my family had 16 large bird aviaries in which my parents kept Australian parrots. In year seven my class came to look at them. My father set up an electric wire around the cages which we turned off. It was only 12 volts but enough to give a cat a jolt.
Well, the boys wanted me to turn it on to which I begrudgingly obliged 🤫😉. I suggested they try touching the fence as well as the wire (for fun as this doubled the dose). They were double daring each other to touch it.
Two of the boys found out being tough isn’t always fun but at least they had a story to tell. My friends and I enjoyed the shenanigans… The teachers were oblivious to it all as they sometimes are. We teachers think we have it all under control. But life and kids can be unpredictable.
Our modern world is full of electric fences and barriers and protection devices to prevent uninvited guests, disasters or stupidity. One of the common questions before leaving for that well deserved holiday is. “Did you put the alarm on?”
Research is revealing more of the role our gas planets have in protecting planet earth.
Of the 3600 plus planets, astronomers have found outside our solar system the majority are gas giants. These planets are between 10-13 times the size of the earth. Our solar system has four gas giants.
Of these Jupiter is the biggest. While an amazing 1300 planets like earth could fit inside it. Can you guess how much bigger the mass of Jupiter is? Perhaps 20-50 times? No, keep going! 100-150 times? No! “So Jupiter is 200 times bigger in mass than the earth ?” I hear you say.
Well in fact Jupiter is a whopping 318 times bigger in mass than earth. Jupiter is indeed a massive humongous giant. Its magnetic field is 20,000 times stronger than the earth. It has 63 known moons orbiting it.
Saturn and Uranus are gas giants. So is Neptune at 17 times bigger than earth. Where is this all leading?
Our planet benefits from having strong shields between it and potential colliders to protect us from what we thought were rare catastrophic hits from comets and asteroids.
Because of its size and proximity to Earth, Jupiter is by far the most important.
A team of Astronomers lead by Harold Leviton and Craig Anor determined that “The Gas giant planets play a pivotal role in deflecting asteroids via a gravitational pull or by absorbing them.”
Consider this, it’s July 16th 1994. It’s a relaxing Saturday and you’re going about your weekend routine only to be interrupted with an alert. “Comet collision impending. Say your goodbyes.” Can anyone remember such an alert? Why all the melodrama?
There was indeed a comet collision on this date not so long ago and this collision was fortunately absorbed by Jupiter. As described in the NASA article June 30, 2019, on ‘planetary defence ‘ “Had the comet hit Earth instead, it could have created a global atmospheric disaster, much like the impact event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.”
Astronomers who observed this (comet Shoemaker-Levy 9) in 1994 believed the event so rare they would not see another in their lifetime. However, in July of 2009, another collision was observed when an asteroid hit Jupiter.
In his blogs ‘Thank God for Jupiter and Jupiter’s Migration Miracle ‘ Astrophysicist Dr Hugh Ross shares the latest findings.
“Another research team, led by A. Sánchez-Lavega, estimated the size of the collider as 0.5–1.0 kilometres. They also put the collision rates both for this type of impact and the Shoemaker-Levy 9 event at about five to ten times more frequent than what astronomers had previously determined…..(This) reveals how dangerous a place the solar system can be. One of the 21 fragments of Shoemaker-Levy 9 generated the equivalent of a six trillion ton TNT energy on impact. This is about 600 times greater than the energy that would be released if the world’s total nuclear arsenal were detonated all at once.
Astronomers have also determined that if Jupiter or Saturn were less massive or any more distant such protection would be inadequate and our planet would be pummeled by frequent life-exterminating events.”
Writing about the solar system for NASA, in Dec 2018, Preston Dyches discussed the Kuiper Belt. It is one of the largest structures in our solar system which consists largely of a huge cloud of asteroids and comets. Residing beyond Neptune this cloud of potential earth impacting, life-ending missiles. “was once 7-10 times the mass of earth. From the ‘Nice (France) model’ developed, astronomers concluded that the shifting orbits of the four giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune)…caused most of the original material to be lost. The total mass of all the material in the Kuiper Belt today is estimated to be no more than about 10 per cent of the mass of Earth.”
Now that’s what I call, ’A convenient truth.’
In an article in the ‘New York Times’ in July 2009, titled ‘Jupiter our cosmic protector’ Hal Levison, an astronomer from the Southwest Research Institute, Said, “Jupiter and Saturn are so strong, … that, first of all, they threw a lot of the junk out of the solar system altogether, lessening the size of this cosmic arsenal. Second, Jupiter deflects some of the comets that get dislodged and fall back in. “It’s a double anti-whammy.”
Not only are these planets an ever-present big brother but as Ross explains “remarkably Jupiter drifted into exactly the right place (in distance) for life on Earth to survive. If Jupiter had drifted any closer to the Sun, its gravity would have destabilized Earth’s orbit.”
The current orbital positions of all our solar systems planets are such that they benefit life on earth, but that’s for another blog. As is the fact that for life to flourish, we needed a delivery system for the elements stars to provide. Comets have assisted life on earth in that way.
Remember the scene in The Matrix when Neo is offered the two pills. One would show him reality the other takes him back to his ‘contrived existence.’
The question is which pill will we take today?
When faced with this evidence of a creator behind the cosmos some people respond with. ‘The evidence for design is merely coincidental .’ To this philosophers, Richard Swinburne and William Lane Craig pose this scenario,
“Suppose a hundred sharpshooters are sent to execute a prisoner by firing squad and the prisoner survives…He should be surprised that he is alive!”
He could conclude that since he is alive, that all the sharpshooters missed, by an incredible bit of good luck. It would be far more rational to conclude that the guns were loaded with blanks or that the sharpshooters deliberately missed. Someone must have purposed he lives. Likewise, the rational conclusion to draw from the incredible fine-tuning of the universe is that someone purposed we should live.”
As world-renowned apologist and philosopher, Ravi Zacharius points out. “This fine-tuning points to an intimate personal being. Not a detached impersonal one.” You can’t get any more personal than someone who lays down his life for his friends(and enemies).
The stand out difference between what Christ offers us and all the other world religions is that they are based on what you do for the God or deity while Christianity is based on what God has done for us. See (John 3.16)
Psalm 8.3 -5 puts it this way… When do I look at the sky, which you have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places what are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them? Yet you made them inferior only to yourself; you crowned them with glory and honour. You appointed them rulers over everything you made.
Ravi Zacharius recalls. It was Xmas eve 1968 on the Apollo 8 mission, the first manned mission to the moon. When the astronauts saw the earth from space for the first time. “Coming over the horizon In that brilliant combination of blue and white (circled )by sunlight against the black void of space.
To the world, Commander Frank Borman didn’t quote (Mr Spaceman by ‘The Byrds‘ or ‘Imagine there’s no heaven by The Beatles)‘ but… ”In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Only God was big enough to catch that awe-inspiring reality.”
But Commander Borman isn’t the only one transfixed by these features. As astronomer and author Paul Davies put it “Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth – the universe looks suspiciously like a fix.”
I for one am grateful that when God took a step back from all this creation. He remembered to turn the shield switch on.
With that Houston “Over and out.”
For more fine-tuning examples See reasons.org /finetuning
Research from Astronomical journal 125 May 2003 ‘Gas giants’
A. Sánchez-Lavega et al., “The Impact of a Large Object on Jupiter in 2009 July ”Astrophysical Journal Letters 715 (June 1, 2010):
Ravi Zacharius ‘The Glory of God’ part 2 on Youtube See also Ravi Zacharius ‘ Why I’m not an atheist’ lecture at Princeton University followed by the Ravi Q &A at Princeton.
Jupiter our comic protector’ by Denise Overbye July 25 2009, New York Times.
Reasons.org Blogs; Thank God for Jupiter and Jupiter’s migration miracle, books ‘Improbable Planet’ and ‘Why the universe is the way it is ‘ Creator and the Cosmos’ Dr Hugh Ross
NASA article July 30, 2019, How Historic Jupiter Comet Impact Led to Planetary Defence
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