Our Amazing Spaceship Earth
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Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee recently wrote the book Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe to explain some of our planet’s unique features and how difficult it would be to duplicate these conditions on some other planet.
Similarly, the influential science textbook Earth begins its introduction with a section titled “the uniqueness of the planet Earth” (1986, p. 3). So many factors have to be just right to duplicate the feats of our amazing Spaceship Earth that hope is slowly fading of ever finding intelligent life on other planets.
“From the seventeenth to the twentieth century,” explain Drs. Gonzalez and Richards, “many expected to find intelligent, even superior life on the Moon, Mars, and other planets in the Solar System. . . Now, at the beginning of the twenty—first century, despite PR blitzes from Martian—life enthusiasts, the search has moved from the planets to a few obscure outlying moons. At the same time, the aspirations have been substantially downgraded” (The Privileged Planet, 2004, p. 253).
What are some of the remarkable features of our Spaceship Earth? Let’s explore some of these characteristics so we can appreciate how carefully crafted it is. We can then ask, could all these precise conditions be only a lucky accident?
Portholes to see beyond Spaceship Earth
As every spaceship has a porthole to view the outside, so our atmosphere acts in the same way. In fact, we have a much better window than an ordinary spacecraft. Our “window” on this Spaceship Earth is not limited to a certain viewing area, but actually covers the entire planet. It is like having a porous crystal 430 miles thick that allows everyone aboard to have a full view of everything outside our planet and yet still blocks out the airless outer space.
[13:2] GOD is the One who raised the heavens WITHOUT PILLARS that you can see…
Some planets are covered in thick clouds that make it impossible to see out. But our atmosphere enables us to view and discover the universe around us. Our earth is thus an exploration vessel.
The transparent canopy covering the planet also houses a renewable supply of oxygen for human beings and animal life and carbon dioxide and nitrogen for plants. It also provides the proper air pressure for living things, and the outer edge of this translucent shell is composed of an ozone layer that protects life from harmful ultraviolet rays.
Strange as it may sound, this canopy even comes equipped with a protective force field! It sounds like something out of the TV series Star Trek, but it’s true. We have a magnetic field generated by the spinning iron core at the center of our planet that deflects damaging cosmic rays and deadly solar winds. Without these features, life here would not be possible.
[57:25] … And we sent down the iron, wherein there is strength, and many benefits for the people…
Last but not least, this marvelous canopy contains an automatically adjusting “curtain” to shade the terrestrial orb from too much light hitting its surface. This delicate shroud is formed by clouds, which act as moving shades that cover some 60 percent of the earth’s surface at any given time.
[2:164] … and the clouds that are placed between the sky and the earth, there are sufficient proofs for people who understand.
What’s in the cockpit?
What if we enter the cockpit of Spaceship Earth? What do we find?
Incredibly, no pilot is aboard, but instead we find an “autopilot” system governed by carefully adjusted physical laws. Although no one is seen physically aboard our spaceship who manages the system, our planet faithfully obeys the programmed, finely tuned commands of the myriad of physical laws and completes its year—long journey around the sun, dutifully returning to its starting point only to begin yet another circuit.
[55:7] He constructed the sky and ESTABLISHED THE LAW.
What keeps the earth in its orbit? It is mainly the gravitational force of the sun that keeps the planet on its circular path.
In this cockpit, although not seen, are the equivalents of hundreds of elaborate dials, each regulating an aspect of our planet’s features. Each dial has been carefully calibrated to permit life to flourish on the planet. You can’t see the great Engineer, who set up the system, but you can measure the precision of every setting—and each one is just right!
[40:64] GOD is the One who rendered the earth habitable for you, and the sky a formidable structure, and He designed you, and designed you well. He is the One who provides you with good provisions. Such is GOD your Lord; Most Exalted is GOD, Lord of the universe.
Everything—everything down to the tiniest details—is “adjusted” just right for us to live comfortably on this planet. We get a glimpse of the marvelous Designer who set up the whole system…
[14:32] GOD is the One who created the heavens and the earth, and He sends down from the sky water to produce all kinds of fruit for your sustenance. He has committed the ships to serve you on the sea in accordance with His command. He has committed the rivers as well to serve you.
Truly, our planet is not some lucky accident since the evidence shows it was carefully designed to be inhabited by mankind and all other forms of life.
The spaceship’s engines
What drives this craft and propels it through space? There are “twin engines” aboard, one pushing the planet forward and the other keeping it spinning and fueling its interior heat.
The centripetal force caused by gravity keeps the globe in its orbit.
When an object reaches a certain speed and is spun by centripetal forces, it stays in a stable circuit around the center. This is what the earth does when orbiting around the sun. And our planet’s distance from the sun, though varying slightly, is perfect for life—not so close to the sun that we would all burn up, nor so far that we would freeze.
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