The approaching total solar eclipse coming Aug. 21 is turning the attention of many to space and the wonders of the cosmos. You may be in the camp that believes it all just happened by accident and even your own existence is a cosmic fluke.
But some stunning facts about how the exact fine-tuning of the solar system, the galaxy, and even the universe make life possible may shake your unbelief.
3,600 Planets Discovered… and None Like Ours
As astronomers began to find far-distant planets circling stars much like our sun, they suspected many might turn out to be similar to Earth or the other planets in our solar system. But as that number of planets discovered now soars to more than 3,600, the surprise is how different they are from Earth and its neighbors.
"Now we recognize that none of them are like the planets in our solar system," said astronomer and minister Hugh Ross, founder of Reasons to Believe, a group that uses science to point toward what they believe is a Creator God.
Ross added, "There's no Jupiter twin. There's no Venus twin. We're able to find planets as small as Mercury, but we're not seeing any twins -- not only of Earth, but of any of the eight planets in our solar system.
"And this has led my astronomy peers to discover that every one of the eight planets in our solar system plays a critical role in making advanced life possible here on planet Earth," he said.
Every Neighboring Planet Is Vital to Life on Earth
Ross told CBN News that not only must the masses and orbits of Earth's eight neighbors be exactly the way they are -- there are some 20 features of Earth's moon that must be exactly fine-tuned as they are for life to exist on Earth.
"So everything is just right," insisted Ross. "We're not just looking at a finely tuned planet Earth. The entire solar system has been highly fine-tuned to make possible the existence of advanced life here on Earth."
"And none of that would have been discovered if it wasn't for the astronomers finding these thousands of planets outside of our solar system," he said.
You can even toss the comets and asteroids into this precision design.
"As you look at other planetary systems, they either have no comets or asteroids, or they've got comet and asteroid belts that are thousands of times bigger than ours," Ross explained. "We have just the right asteroid and comet belts to make advanced life possible here on planet Earth."
Why the Milky Way is One-of-a-Kind
Scientists have been comparing complex maps of our Milky Way galaxy to many others and finding the Milky Way may be a one-of-a-kind.
"It's the only galaxy that we see that has the spiral arm symmetry, the spiral arm separation, the necessary lack of spurs and feathers, and the size and the right ratio of exotic dark matter to ordinary matter that makes advanced life possible," Ross stated.
"We have a fine-tuning compendium on our Reasons.org website where we list 200 different features of our Milky Way galaxy that must be fine-tuned — very carefully designed — to make advanced life possible within our galaxy," he explained.
For more information, Ross recommended going to Reasons.org/finetuning and scrolling to the end of the 300-page compendium found there just before the references section.
Like Winning the Lottery 150 Times in a Row
"We actually calculate the probability that the 854 features that we list could be fine-tuned without the supernatural intervention of the Creator God of the Bible to make advanced life possible here on planet Earth," Ross said. "And that probability we calculate must be much less than one chance in 10 to the 1,050th power. "
The Covina, California-based pastor/astronomer admitted that's a mind-boggling big number to try to comprehend.
"But to give you a comparison, that'd be roughly equivalent to someone here in California winning the California lottery 150 consecutive times where they buy just one ticket each time," Ross said with a smile.
Even the Universe Is Amazingly Fine-Tuned
Ross saved the wonkiest but also the most amazing fact for last.
He contends, "The most spectacular measurable evidence of fine-tuning design in all of physics is the fine-tuning of dark energy, that energy that's embedded in the space surface of the universe that controls the rate at which it expands."
But imagine if there was no dark energy and instead the mass of the universe was controlling its own expansion.
"You would have to fine-tune the mass of the universe to such a degree that if you were to add the weight of one dime to the universe, or subtract the weight of one dime, that would be enough to upset the balance to make life not possible," Ross said.
But there is dark energy, so how does its need for fine-tuning to make life possible in the universe compare?
"You actually have to fine-tune dark energy to a factor of a quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion times more than that dime analogy," Ross insisted.
He concluded, "So how can we escape the conclusion there must be a mind with supernatural power that designed it just right so that we could be here?"