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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 11/1/1997

The Earth—Our "Just Right" Planet

What an amazing planet it is upon which we live. And what a beautiful place to call "home." The Earth is blessed with crystal blue seas, brilliant cloud-filled skies, raging white water rivers, luscious green valleys, rising snow-capped mountains, dense crisply-scented forests, and much, much more. Astonishingly, everywhere we look we can see evidence of God’s existence in the design of the Earth. We understand, do we not, that one cannot get a poem without a poet? There is no law without a law-giver. A painting does not come into existence without a painter. And just as surely, purposeful design does not occur without a designer!

When we look closely, we can see that our planet is "just right." Everything has been designed carefully so that we as humans can live here. Consider the following examples of God’s design of the Earth.

The Earth is balanced in a position, relative to the Sun, by gravity (which pulls the Earth toward the Sun) and centrifugal force (which pushes the Earth away from the Sun). As it travels in its orbit around the Sun (a distance of 600 million miles!), it veers from a straight line onlyone-ninth of an inch every eighteen miles. If it veered by one-tenth of an inch, the orbit would become so large that life on the Earth would be impossible due to drastically-reduced temperatures; if it veered by one-eighth of an inch, life on the Earth would be impossible due to drastically-increased temperatures. Yet the Earth veers from a straight line only one-ninth of an inch, which is just right—by accident?

The Earth completes its orbit in about 365 days—which represents what we call one year. This, together with the fact that the Earth is tilted on its axis, allows for what we call "seasons." The rotation of the Earth on its axis provides periods of light and darkness, which is necessary to sustain life as we know it. If the Earth rotated much faster, fierce hurricanes would stir over the Earth like a kitchen food mixer. If the Earth turned significantly slower, the days and nights would be impossibly hot or cold. Venus, for example, turns only once every 243 days, which accounts in part for the fact that daytime temperatures can reach as high as 500 degrees Celsius (remember: water boils at 100 degrees Celsius). The Earth’s orbital speed and tilt are just right—by accident?

Wrapped around the Earth is a protective blanket we know as the atmosphere. It is composed of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), and carbon dioxide (0.03%), in addition to water vapor and small amounts of other gases. The proper balance of these gases is essential to life on the Earth. The atmosphere of Venus is too thick to sustain life; that of Mars is too thin. But the Earth’s atmosphere does several things. Without water vapor and certain gases, the heat would escape as soon as the Sun set each day, and nights would be unbearably cold. Frequently, meteors fall from space. Were it not for the fact that most of them burn up (from friction) when they strike the atmosphere, the Earth would be pounded almost daily by these unwelcome visitors. At about 6-30 miles above the Earth, there is a special form of oxygen known as ozone, which filters out most of the ultraviolet rays from the Sun that would be harmful, or fatal, in larger amounts. And, electrified layers of air in the upper atmosphere form the ionosphere, which can make radio signals travel much farther around the Earth. Our planet has an atmosphere that is just right—by accident?

One famous scientist from Princeton University (who does not believe in God) said that as he looked at the Universe and the Earth, he saw many things that he believed were the result of "accidents." But then he went on to say that when we see how these "accidents" have "worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the Universe must, in some sense, have known we were coming!" What?! Did the Universe, and the Earth, knowthat we were coming? Of course it did! The Bible tells us that God created this planet "to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18). In Acts 14:15, the apostle Paul told the people of his day that it was God "...who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them." He also said that God "...did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:17). The Earth is our "just right" planet. Did it happen just by accident? No, it was designed by God. Let us give Him glory and honor for the wonderful place He has given us to live.



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