The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Ps 19:1)
So this past Monday I, like many of you, took a moment to look up into the sky and marvel at the solar eclipse. How beautiful! How amazing! How? I mean…the sun is 400 times the size of the moon. How can they look exactly the same size in the sky, enabling one to block the other? The sun, then, has to be 400 times the distance away. What a neat coincidence. Or is it? What are the odds? Turns out the odds are nearly impossible. This led me to contemplate something called the Anthropic Principle: basically, the universe was created and fine tuned for human life. All the beauty of sunsets, mountains, oceans, diversity of life, physics, math, and yes, solar eclipses are fine tuned for us to live and thrive.
Another aspect of this principle is that we can even explore the possibilities. It is apparent that human beings are curious creatures, always exploring and wanting to know why, how, what, where and when. Because of earth’s particular location in the Milky Way Galaxy, we have a special window into the solar system. In virtually any other galaxy–or at any other location in Earth’s galaxy–and at any other time in the history of the universe, the view to the surrounding cosmos would be too unstable, obstructed or both to enable any chance of discovery. Only right here, right now is it possible. Nowhere else, and at no other time in the universe, would the glory of the universe be visible. We seem to be at just the right place, at just the right time, with just the right desire to discover its glory.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies. (Ps 148:3-4)
The more astronomers study the universe, and compare it to the requirements for human existence, the more they realize the severe limitations put on the structure and development of the universe to fit those requirements. Back in the 1960’s astronomers only identified a few solar system characteristics that required fine tuning for human life: they calculated the odds of another planet supporting life at 1 in 10,000. Not great odds, but possible. Today astronomers have identified over 150 characteristics bringing the probability to 1 in 10 to the 173rd power … basically impossible.
So it seems the universe was set in motion for one purpose and one purpose only … human beings on one tiny planet.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
A British mathematical physicist, Roger Penrose, was the first to give voice to this philosophical conclusion: that the extreme level of fine tuning that scientists see, powerfully suggests a purpose behind the universe. That the design is so overwhelmingly focused on providing a home for humanity, suggests the purpose for the universe is anthropic. It was created for the express benefit of humans.
How amazing that the God of the universe provided us a front row seat to His Glory through creation! Even if we have to look goofy in eclipse glasses.