“The Blue marble” taken from Apollo 17 >>
Even secular scientists refer to Earth as the Goldilocks Planet because Earth has all the features scientists have determined are required for a planet to be capable of supporting life, including a just-right atmosphere, all he just-right forms of water, a just-right surface temperature and a just-right rotation period.
Even as far back as 2008, scientists had identified two hundred and sixty eight (268) characteristics Planet Earth has which makes it capable of supporting life. [See, Hugh Ross, Why the Universe is the Way it Is, pg. 123 (2008)] Many of these characteristics are discussed in the book Rare Earth written by secular scientists and university professors, Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee.
To demonstrate the fine-tuned nature of the earth, this article highlights just a few of the just-right qualities Planet Earth possesses which make it possible for life to survive on the planet:
- Earth has a just-right atmosphere >>
- Earth contains all the just-right forms of water >>
- Earth has a just-right surface temperature >>
- Earth has a just-right rotation period >>
[See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pg. 193 (2001)]
The more massive a planet is, the more gravitational force the planet has which, in turn, causes it to retain a denser atmosphere. For example, Mars (which has only has a mass 1/9th that of Earth) has a very thin atmosphere because it does not have enough gravity to hang onto a denser atmosphere. The moon is much smaller than Mars and, consequently, it has almost no atmosphere. Uranus and Neptune (the next largest planets after Earth) have such dense atmospheres that astronomers refer to those planets as gas giants because their atmospheres dominate the total mass of the planet.
If Earth’s atmosphere was too dense, not enough light or heat produced by the sun would penetrate to the surface of the planet to support advanced life. However, if Earth’s atmosphere was too thin, it would also be deadly to life, especially to advanced life. The toxic effects of too thin of an atmosphere are evidenced by the problems mountain climbers encounter when climbing Mt. Everest where the atmospheric pressure is just 1/3 less than that which exists at sea level: cerebral edema, pulmonary edema and abnormal blood clotting, all of which causes severe headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath, exhaustion, loss of balance, loss of muscle control, altered mental states, etc.
What makes Earth’s atmosphere particularly unique is that given the amount of Earth’s gravitational force, it should hold onto a much thicker atmosphere than it does. For example, Venus, which is about 85% the mass of Earth, has an atmosphere that is 40 times denser than the earth’s atmosphere. Scientists calculate that Earth’s atmosphere should be 100 times denser than it is. However, such a dense atmosphere would make it just as incapable of supporting life as Venus, Uranus and Neptune are because of their thick atmospheres.
Earth Has All the Just-Right Forms of Water
Our everyday experience teaches us that all living things need liquid water to survive. Biochemists have also determined that for the molecules of life to work, they must reside in an environment that contains three forms of water: water vapor (found in the clouds), liquid water (found in rivers, lakes and oceans) and frozen water (found in snow and the polar icecaps). Water vapor in the clouds protects life on Earth from deadly heat and radiation and frozen water in the form of snow and icecaps reflects solar radiation back into space keeping Earth’s temperature at a level that can support life. All three forms of water must be abundant and stable for Earth to remain habitable.
In order for Earth to maintain all three forms of water, it must be located at a just-right distance from the sun. If the earth was any closer to the sun, it would be too hot for water to freeze and if the earth was any further from the sun, all the water would freeze. Even a 2% difference in the Earth’s distance from the sun would result in the death of all advanced life.
Earth Has a Just-Right Surface Temperature
Earth receives energy from the sun in the form of radiation and it presently reflects about 30% of the sun’s radiation back into space. Different surfaces on Earth reflect the sun’s radiation more efficiently than others. For example, white polar icecaps reflect the sun’s radiation much more efficiently than black asphalt, which tends to absorb heat. In order for Earth’s temperature to remain within a habitable parameter, Earth cannot get too hot or too cold and, therefore, the planet must reflect and absorb the just-right amount of the sun’s radiation. If not enough of the sun’s radiation is absorbed, Earth would be too cold to support life and if too much radiation is absorbed, the planet would be too hot to support life.
If Earth’s overall average temperature were to increase more than a few degrees, all of Earth’s water would evaporate. On the other hand, if Earth’s overall average temperature was more than a few degrees cooler than it is, more ice and snow would develop which would reflect more of the sun’s heat back into space. This would cause Earth to get even colder which would result in more snow and more ice. If this cycle persisted over a long period of time, scientists predict that Earth would eventually experience a runaway freeze.
Earth has maintained a just-right surface temperature which has permitted life to exist and thrive on the planet for an extended period of time.
Earth Has a Just-Right Rotation Period
In order for a planet to support life, the rotation period of the planet (i.e., the time it takes the planet to turn on its axis one time) must fit within finely-tuned parameters of a few percent. Earth rotates once every 24 hours which keeps any portion of the planet (except for the ice cap regions) from getting too hot or too cold.
If Earth took too long to rotate, the temperature differences between opposing sides of the planet would be too great. The side facing the sun would get too hot and the side facing away from the sun would get too cold. On the other hand, if Earth were to rotate too quickly, it would experience a substantial increase in wind velocity which would kill off advanced life. For example, Jupiter rotates once every 10 hours which generates wind velocities of more than 300 miles per hour. Compare Jupiter’s 300 mph wind velocities to the 125 – 175 mph wind velocities generated by Hurricane Katrina which only lasted 7 days, yet, killed over 1,800 people and caused over 80 billion dollars in property damage.
Consider the 145 mph wind velocity in a video taken during Hurricane Charley in 2004 and published on YouTube by Ultimate Chase (ultimatechase.com) >>:
Earth rotates every 24 hours, which is an ideal period of time to keep the planet at the just-right temperature to support life without generating wind velocities that could not be tolerated by advanced life.
Earth is referred to as the Goldilocks Planet because it has all of the 268 plus features scientists have discovered a planet must possess to be capable of supporting life. Those features include a just-right atmosphere, all the just-right forms of water, a just-right surface temperature and a just-right rotation period. [See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pg. 193 (2001); see also, Hugh Ross, Why the Universe is the Way it Is, pg. 123 (2008); see also, Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe (2000)]
As referenced in this article and other articles on this website, the exquisite precision and chance calculations involved with the numerous finely-tuned design features necessary for life to exist on even one planet in the universe are astronomical — numbers like 1060 (the mass density of the universe >>), 10100 (the weak nuclear force >>), 10120 (the energy density of the universe >>).
The incomprehensibility of this kind of fine-tuning is more fully appreciated when one considers that there are only about 1025 grains of sand on all the beaches on Planet Earth. So, fine-tuning in the order of 1060 would be something like saying that not a single grain of sand could be added to or removed from even one beach on Planet Earth without causing the earth to be unable to support life. Actually, the illustration is a tremendous understatement because it assumes a change in one part in about 1025 (the estimated number of grains of sand on Earth) whereas the total mass density of the universe must be fined-tuned to within one part in 1060 and dark energy must be fined tuned to 10120 which are substantially greater numbers that 1025.
When one looks at the probability calculations for life to have developed by chance, the numbers are even more incomprehensible. For example, just the chance of amino acids randomly coming together to form the 2,000 enzymes that are essential for life has been calculated as only one chance in 1040,000 >>.
In the aggregate, Donald Page of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Science has calculated that when all of the fine-tuned features that must exist in a life-permitting universe are taken into consideration, the odds of the universe developing by blind, random chance into a form suitable for life as only one chance in 10,000,000,000124>> — a number so large that it exceeds all imagination. [Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 35 (2008)]
“A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” [Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 20, pg. 16 (1982)]
Consequently, Christian apologists maintain there is no compelling reason why belief in an intelligent designer is not a rational, if not the most rational, explanation for the existence of the universe and life in the universe, especially when one considers all the independent lines of argumentation for God’s existence including:
- God’s existence best explains why anything exists rather than nothing (an argument for the existence of a “first uncaused cause”) >>
- God’s existence best explains the cause of the universe coming into existence (the Kalam Cosmological Argument) >>
- God’s existence best explains all the mind-boggling, just-right design features scientists have discovered throughout the universe which make it possible for life to exist in the universe (the Intelligent Design aka Teleological Argument) >>
- God’s existence best explains the existence of objective morality
- God’s existence best explains man’s search for, and innate belief in, meaning, purpose and significance
© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson
Published: July 19, 2012 / Last Updated: April 27, 2013
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman, 20 Compelling Evidences That God Exists: Discover Why Believing In God Makes so Much Sense(River Oak Publishing, 2002)
William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision(Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook; New Edition, 2010)
J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview(IVP Academic, 2003)
Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God(Navpress; 2 edition, 1995)
R.C. Sproul, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology(Baker Books, 1999)
Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe (Copernicus, 2000)
IMAGE CREDITS & LICENSING
Slideshow Photo: “The Blue marble” photograph of Planet Earth taken from Apollo 17 (downloaded from www.nasa.gov and cropped). This image was downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image in in the public domain because is was created by NASA. back>>
Photo of Earth’s Atmosphere: NASA / ISS Expedition 23 crew (downloaded from www.wikipedia.org, “Atmosphere of Earth”. This photo was taken from the International Space Station and depicts the sun setting over the Indian Ocean. back>>
Photo of the Perito Moreno Glacier: Photograph by Luca Galuzzi (www.galuzi.it) of the Perito Moreno Glacier located in the south west region of the Santa Cruz province in Argentina. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. back>>
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