The Unique Design of Our Solar System

The Unique Design of Our Solar System
Our Solar System (Distances and Locations Not to Scale)

We have pointed out that recent reports from NASA reveal that astronomers have found more than 5000 planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. These extra-solar planets show that our solar system is a rarity in space. The unique design of our solar system strongly supports the idea that it is a product of intelligent creation, not a cosmic accident.

One might suggest that having a life-bearing planet is like trying to shoot something. If you shoot enough times, you will eventually hit the target. So likewise, if we find enough planets outside of our solar system, we will ultimately find one like Earth that can support life and even beings like ourselves. However, recent discoveries show that our solar system is so unique that it cannot be a chance production.

One discovery from the observation of exoplanets is the uniqueness of having a rocky planet orbiting this far from a star. In a study of 169 detected and confirmed rocky planets orbiting nuclear burning stars, more than 90% of them orbit their stars ten times more closely than Earth orbits the Sun. Being closer to their stars would mean that the lighter elements in those planets would be burned away, so those planets should be denser than our rocky planets. However, the data shows the exoplanets have a density of 4.472 grams/cc, while Mercury, Venus, and Earth are 5.395 grams/cc. What does this fact suggest?

The starting point for interpreting this data is the Sun. It has a very unusual lack of refractory elements (those elements which boil easily). That is especially true of lithium which is 170 times lower in abundance in the Sun than in the rest of the solar system. Scientists have advanced various theories about why that is, but it means that the Sun’s flaring activity is at a very low level compared with similar stars. Thus the Sun has an exceptionally low level of harmful ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.

As we look at rocky extra-solar planets orbiting other stars, we see they are very close to their stars. Since the stars would burn off the light elements with low boiling temperatures, we would expect to see rocky material left behind. The fact that our Sun has rocky planets that are farther away is because of the Sun’s unusually low levels of refractory elements and low levels of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.

Other factors about exoplanet systems demonstrate the unique design of our solar system. For example, Earth’s chemical composition is unique. The extra-solar planets scientists have studied do not have the chemicals needed in the amounts required for advanced life forms to exist. Also, our Moon plays an essential role in the system that allows Earth to retain its atmosphere and hydrosphere.

With more data from astronomers studying extra-solar planets, it becomes increasingly clear that our Sun and our solar system are not typical products of accidental chances in space. The number of parameters that our unique solar system possesses speak of design. The unique design of our solar system shows that God’s creative hand has done much more than we imagined. This shows the truth of the old cliche that “the more we know of the creation, the more we appreciate the role of the Creator.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: We thank Gary Colvin for sending us the spring 2022 issue of Salvo magazine, which contains the article “Sun In a Million” written and documented by astronomer Hugh Ross.

Known Exoplanets Number 5009

Known Exoplanets Number 5009

As new space telescopes look out into the cosmos, astronomers discover more planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. NASA reports that known exoplanets number 5009. The process God used to create “heaven and earth” resulted in a lot of extra material in various forms throughout the cosmos. In 1999, astronomers discovered the first exoplanet, and since then, the number has kept growing.

At first glance, one might feel that since there are so many planets, some of them must be inhabited by sentient beings like ourselves. However, we find that is not the case when we examine the breakdown of the types of planets that astronomers have discovered. Even though known exoplanets number 5009, only 200 are worlds like Earth, made up of solid rock. The rest are gas planets like the Jovian planets Jupiter or Neptune, or they are huge solid planets with massive gravitational forces that would crush living beings. We should remind you that a world suitable for sentient life requires at least 47 other variables that we have listed in a chart you can see at THIS LINK.

When God “created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), His methods involved forging massive amounts of gases and very few solid materials. Known exoplanets number 5009 now, but the number is sure to increase. Studies continue to show that our solar system and planet are unique. God’s wisdom in creating Earth the way He did becomes more evident as we explore space and realize how many resources we have available on this planet.

The “heavens declare the glory of God and the sky shows His handiwork” (Palms 19:1). We see more of His power and wisdom as our technology produces better images of the cosmos and how it was created in the beginning.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: Science News April 23, 2022, and Time magazine for April11/April 18, 2022.

Medical Challenges of Space Travel

Medical Challenges of Space Travel
NASA Kennedy Space Center

Space exploration presents many challenges, but the medical challenges of space travel may dwarf the technical challenges. Spending lengthy sojourns on the International Space Station (ISS) has already shown some of the problems that future space travelers will face.

One problem astronauts face is space anemia caused by a lack of red blood cells. On Earth, the human body makes two million red blood cells every second to replace the ones that are lost. In space, the astronauts’ bodies lose three million red blood cells each second, and they must replace those cells. Anemia results from a shortage of the red blood cells needed to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. It causes fatigue, dizziness, and weakness.

Space anemia was well-known, but scientists thought the body would adapt and correct the problem after an extended time in space. Unfortunately, a recent study of 13 astronauts has shown that it is not corrected after six months on the ISS. Furthermore, it took three to four months to restore a near-normal red blood count after the astronauts returned to Earth. There was still a thirty percent greater loss of red blood cells even after that.

A new study on cosmonauts in the ISS shows another area of concern. Scientists studied the brains of twelve cosmonauts just before and after their space flights and again seven months after they returned to Earth. They used computer reconstruction of data from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the structure (gray matter) and connectivity (white matter) in the brain. The research showed shape changes in the brain, especially in the corpus callosum, a large bundle of nerve fibers that connect the brain’s two hemispheres. In addition, researchers detected “changes in the neural connections between several motor areas of the brain.” But, perhaps, the most concerning is that in the brain scans taken seven months after the cosmonauts returned to Earth, the changes to the brain were still present.

A journey to Mars and back will take more than twenty months. During that space flight, astronauts will need protection from radiation, food for proper nourishment, and to replenish red blood cells while they experience “rewiring” of their brains. The many medical challenges of space travel remind us how blessed we are that God has given us the perfect planet to call home.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

References: and Frontiers In Neural Circuits

Methane and Life on Other Planets

Methane and Life on Other Planets

Astronomers are constantly looking for signs of life on other planets or moons. One of the potential clues they seek is methane, a hydrocarbon gas consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. It is classified as a “greenhouse gas” because it can trap heat on Earth’s surface resulting in “global warming.” It’s a more effective greenhouse gas than the much-discussed carbon dioxide. Methane is produced by organic decomposition and in the digestion process of ruminants such as cows and other animals. Scientists seek to learn more about a possible connection between methane and life on other planets.

Since living things create methane, scientists regard it as a potential “biosignature” indicating life on an astronomical body. For that reason, astronomers are searching for methane on planetary bodies. News reports have sometimes gone overboard with stories about methane and life on other planets. However, not all methane is created biologically. Volcanic eruptions can release methane gas, and even asteroid impacts can add methane to a planet’s atmosphere. So how can scientists tell if the methane is a sign of life on a body far out in space?

For one thing, gasses from a volcano would contain not only methane but also carbon monoxide. The biological creation of methane would consume carbon monoxide. When examining the gasses in a planet’s atmosphere, a large amount of BOTH methane and carbon monoxide would probably indicate that the methane was not a biosignature. Methane alone would be a more likely indicator of the possibility of life.

However, an abundance of methane without carbon monoxide would not prove the existence of life on a planet. As we have said before, many factors are required to make a planet suitable for any kind of life, especially advanced life. NASA’s James Webb telescope, launched in December, is still working to reach full functionality. When it does, a significant part of its purpose will be to look for methane in the atmosphere of exoplanets.

When results indicate that the Webb telescope has detected methane on a planet, news reporters may sensationalize the facts to suggest more than they deserve. Reputable scientists are more cautious in their predictions about methane and life on other planets. Nevertheless, we are excited about the possibility of learning more about the universe with the new Webb space telescope.

As we have said before, the Bible doesn’t tell us if there is life on any other object in space. If there is, we believe that God put it there. We are not afraid of scientific investigation because the more we learn about the creation, the more we stand in awe of the Creator.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Return of the Lyrid Meteor Shower

Return of the Lyrid Meteor Shower

In late April each year, we see the return of the Lyrid meteor shower. It may not be the most spectacular meteor shower of the year, but I find it easier to observe. That’s because, in our part of the world, it comes at a time when the weather is mild enough to sit outside and watch (unlike the Geminids in December) and before mosquitoes become a problem (as with the August Perseids shown in the picture).

This year, the return of the Lyrid meteor shower is from April 14-30, with the peak on the night of April 22. Typically, the Lyrids display five to 20 meteors per hour at the peak, although, in some years, the number has been higher. Written records of the Lyrid meteor shower go back 2700 years when Chinese astronomers made note of it in 687 B.C. A Korean account from A.D.1136 says that “many stars flew from the northeast.”

If you see the Lyrid meteor shower, you will not be looking at falling stars, although you may get that impression. Instead, you will see tiny fragments of Comet Thatcher (officially C/1861 G1), discovered in 1861 by amateur astronomer A.E. Thatcher. That year was the last time the comet flew by our planet at 31.1 million miles (50.1 million km). Its next return to our vicinity will be sometime around the year 2280. Meanwhile, Earth’s orbit around the Sun causes us to pass through debris the comet left behind. So we see those fragments as they burn up from the effect of atmospheric friction.

We live in an orderly universe on a planet positioned to allow observation and study of the cosmos. Our planet is designed with an atmosphere and magnetic field to protect us from comet debris, meteorites, cosmic rays, and solar wind. If you have the opportunity to observe the return of the Lyrid meteor shower, use it as a time to thank the Creator for allowing us to live in the just-right time on a just-right planet in a just-right location in the universe.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

The Size of the Cosmos

The Size of the Cosmos
Logarithmic Illustration of the Cosmos by Pablo Carlos Budassi CC by SA 4.0

We have often mentioned NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). Their March 16, 2022, post showed the above diagram of the OBSERVABLE universe. The emphasis on the word observable is because astronomers have realized that what we can see is only part of the creation. Our technology allows us to appreciate the size of the cosmos. When you look into space with today’s most powerful telescopes, you can see far beyond our Milky Way galaxy.

We can observe that there are billions of galaxies with different shapes, and each contains billions of stars. However, visible light is limited. Just as the light from a lightbulb appears less bright as you move further away from it, visible radiation from distant objects becomes dimmer the farther away they are. As a result, science has developed new instruments to see radiation other than visible light, such as Xrays and microwaves. In addition, we now have devices that can detect neutrinos and gravitational waves from objects still farther away.

Everything we can detect operates by the same physical laws that govern our own tiny part of space. So any suggestion that there could be universes with different physical laws and physical constants is pure speculation.

The more we learn about the size of the cosmos as we use improved instruments, the more obvious it becomes that the creation is too vast for us to comprehend. The cosmos speaks of design, power, and creative expression beyond what our technology can perceive.

The NASA website reveals higher dimensions, and the size of the cosmos speaks to us of a God beyond our comprehension. In the words of Psalms 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies show his handiwork.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

On Wikimedia, you can see the above logarithmic illustration with annotations identifying the objects. In addition, you can find some of our previous APOD references HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Creation of Heaven and Earth

Creation of Heaven and Earth

As scientists find more and more evidence, the picture of creation becomes clearer. That is not to say that science has the entire creation of heaven and Earth figured out. However, studies have allowed us to see what was done, even if we don’t understand and will never in this life understand how it was done.

Science has identified four fundamental forces involved in creation. They are the electromagnetic force, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force, and the gravitational force. These forces work on particles that science has observed or particles for which science has found evidence but has not observed. For example, photons are responsible for electromagnetism. Particles called gluons are responsible for nuclear forces, with eight gluons causing the strong nuclear force and three gluons causing the weak nuclear force.

The recently discovered particle called the Higgs boson gives mass to the force particles and controls their behavior. Physicists are studying how that happens and looking for a particle that causes the gravitational force. As research continues, science strongly suggests that those forces began as a single force. Our standard rules of physics cannot deal with this concept, and the time during which the forces originated is called the “Planck era.” The creation of heaven and Earth is not a simple process, and science is trying to understand it.

The so-called “standard model” of particle physics has so much supporting evidence that most physicists accept it as a starting point to understanding the process of creation. Some scientists have developed an approach called “string theory” to understand what took place in the Planck era. The mathematics of string theory forces us to believe that creation has come about from dimensions higher than our own. A prominent string theory called “bulk” has creation originating in an 11-dimensional arena. We live in a three-dimensional world with time as a fourth-dimensional quantity. The idea of 11 dimensions is beyond our comprehension. We can describe it mathematically, but we cannot visualize it.

The Bible summarizes the creation of heaven and Earth by simply indicating that an Intelligence in a far higher dimension than our own created time, space, and the physical world in which we exist. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” accurately describes what our research and observations tell us.

In summary, there was a beginning often described as the “big bang.” At that beginning, there was Planck time when our laws of physics did not apply. The creation event was caused by “Elohim,” an intelligence outside of space/time who operates in dimensions outside of our physical universe. The creation included the matter/energy from which everything is made and the three-dimensional space, “shamayim,” translated “heaven” in your Bible. It also included the planet we call home, “erets” in Hebrew, created from that matter/energy. The more we know of the creation, the more we know of the Creator.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Imaging Our Infant Universe” by Sten Odenwald in Astronomy magazine, April 2022, pages 16-23 or on

You can see a chart of the text of Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 HERE. You will find a chart of Hebrew words from Genesis and their definitions HERE.

No Life Without Water

No Life Without Water

Without water, life would not be possible. For that reason, astronomers are constantly looking for other locations in the universe where liquid water might exist. Only in such places could there be any hope of finding life. Whether life exists anywhere in the universe outside of planet Earth is a question people have asked for hundreds of years. Scientists still don’t know the answer, but everyone agrees that there could be no life without water.

The water molecule seems very simple. It is H2O–one oxygen atom combined with two hydrogen atoms. However, instead of bonding in a straight line (H-O-H), the two hydrogen atoms are on one side of the water molecule at a 104.5-degree angle from each other. That alignment gives the hydrogen side of the water molecule a partial positive charge, while the other side has a partial negative charge. Because of that, the positive and negative sides of water molecules attract one another and form hydrogen bonds resulting in a network of water molecules.

When water is in the gaseous state, the interaction between molecules is negligible. However, when it is in the solid form of ice, each water molecule forms a bond with four others, creating a lattice that causes ice to be lighter than liquid water. For most substances, the solid state is heavier than the liquid state. This unique property of water causes ice to float. Additionally, the low thermal conductivity of ice prevents the water below from freezing. If lakes and oceans froze from the bottom up, it would kill all marine life and ultimately all life on Earth.

If water molecules did not form hydrogen bonds, instead of boiling at 100 degrees C, water would boil at -100 degrees C. That would prevent life processes. Furthermore, because there is a 100 degree C difference between water’s melting and boiling points, life is possible in Earth’s wide range of environments. Water has the highest heat of evaporation of any known substance so that it remains liquid up to and even at its boiling point. It also has the second-highest heat capacity of any known substance, allowing its temperature to remain stable during heat fluctuations in the environment. Those qualities of water are also critical for life, meaning that there could be no life without water.

Water’s ability as a solvent makes it essential for the life processes of living cells. Likewise, water’s inability to dissolve oily substances is vital to create a strong “hydophobic effect.” Cell membranes, DNA, RNA, and proteins all contain oil-like regions. If the water in the cells could dissolve them, life would not be possible. In addition, the water molecule can participate in and enable chemical processes such as hydrolysis, reduction, oxidation, and others that are essential in living cells.

The bottom line is that there is no life without water and the fine-tuning of the hydrogen bonding in water molecules. With new scientific discoveries, we see fine-tuning for life in the cosmos and even in the cells of our bodies. Without that fine-tuning, life would not exist, and we would not be here. Accidental coincidences do not explain such incredible precision of design. We think the explanation goes beyond science and points to an intelligent Designer.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

For much more on this, read chapter three, “The Chemical Anthropic Principle,” in Fazale Rana’s book Fit for a Purpose.

The Carbon Miracle and Life

The Carbon Miracle and Life

Life on Earth would not be possible without carbon. All known living things are carbon-based, and there is a good reason for that. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, and it’s also plentiful in Earth’s crust. That means there is plenty of it to form life. It’s the second most abundant element in the human body, after oxygen. However, that abundance is a carbon miracle because it demonstrates precise fine-tuning of the cosmic creation event known as the big bang.

First, let’s look at the qualities of carbon that make it so useful for life. Carbon can form more compounds than any other element. That’s because it is the smallest element that has four valence electrons. As we said in our discussion of oxygen, all atoms look for eight electrons to complete their valence shell. Carbon can form covalent bonds by sharing electrons with up to four other atoms to complete that shell.

Furthermore, the energy required to make or break those bonds is at the exact level to build large and complex molecules with both the stability and reactivity necessary for life. Carbon atoms are also lighter because they are smaller than the other atoms with four valence electrons. Their small and lightweight qualities allow enzymes to manipulate the organic molecules formed around carbon atoms. Metabolism requires the manipulation of organic molecules.

Carbon can combine with other carbon atoms to form macromolecules that life requires. Without carbon, there would be no proteins or DNA. Because of its unique qualities, carbon can form hydrocarbons such as sugar, lipids, and alcohols for storing energy in living organisms. Without carbon, there could be no life functions such as breathing, digestion, excretion, or reproduction. In other words, there could be no life. Some scientists have suggested the possibility of silicon-based life somewhere in the universe. However, there are numerous problems with the “rock people” concept, and there is no evidence to support it.

But what is the carbon miracle? According to Fermilab, it is “miraculous” that carbon exists. The cosmic creation event known as the big bang formed only the elements hydrogen, helium, and lithium. Clouds of hydrogen and helium gas came together because of gravity to form stars that collapsed and became hot enough to fuse some pairs of helium nuclei with two protons each into beryllium with four protons. The next step would be to fuse one more helium nucleus to form carbon with its six protons.

That is where there seemed to be a roadblock. The beryllium isotope is so unstable that it decays back into two helium atoms in a ten-thousandth of a trillionth of a second. However, scientists found that the carbon nucleus has an “internally excited short-lived state” that allows the miraculous microsecond bonding to take place. According to scientists, as reported by Fermilab, “Amazingly, if the strength of the nuclear force between protons and neutrons after the Big Bang were different by less than 1%, carbon would be extremely rare, and the universe would be devoid of life.”

That is the carbon miracle, and we don’t think it was an accident that the creation event was fine-tuned. English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle first suggested the unique quality of the carbon nucleus that made it possible for carbon to come into existence. Hoyle was an agnostic, but seeing the fine-tuning of the creation, he wrote, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with 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”) We believe that “superintellect” is God.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Evolution Is Not Creation

Evolution Is Not Creation

An error shared by some creationists and some evolutionists is confusing evolution with creation. One problem is that the terms “creation” and “evolution” do not mean the same thing to different people. Regardless of how we use the terms, evolution is not creation. Evolution and creation are two completely different subjects that are only very remotely related.

We see the concept of creation in the very first verse of Genesis 1. “Reshith Elohim bara shamayim erets” is the Hebrew of this verse. Each of these words has great significance:

Reshith tells us that there was a beginning to time, space, and matter-energy. Our studies in quantum physics continue to support that statement.

Elohim is a plural word for God and conveys the power and nature of the agent that produced the beginning.

Barais a word used only in reference to God and implies a process beyond human capacity to reproduce.

Shamayim refers to “heaved up things,” meaning the expanding universe.

Erets refers to our functional planet. It is used 648 times in the Old Testament.

A person might deny God as the causal agent of time, space, and matter-energy. Nevertheless, the creation’s characteristics strongly suggest intelligence and wisdom. However, this entire subject has very little to do with evolution. “Evolution” means “unfolding change.” The evolutionist starts with the assumption that not only time, space, and matter-energy existed, but that they existed in a form that allowed change to take place.

Many evolutionary scientists bring into their thinking the question of God’s role in shaping what He had already created. The other option is naturalistic evolution which attributes all we see in the natural world to chance. But, regardless of how you define the terms, realize that evolution is not creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

For some interesting points on this topic from the perspective of a scientist who is a Christian, we suggest “How might God have Guided Evolution? Scientific and Theological Viewpoints” by Dr. Peter Bussey. It was published in the June 2021 issue of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. Dr. Bussey is Emeritus Reader in Physics with the University of Glasgow in Scotland and works with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and its Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator.