One of the positive things about science is that its methodology allows change. When new data become available, theories are either supported or discarded, resulting in the constant evolution of what scientists believe to be true. This applies to our understanding of the uniqueness of planet Earth.
Experts from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre have announced that a widespread assumption about life on other planets is not valid. Science has assumed that other stars similar to our Sun in size and type also have similar stability. The Sun has not changed significantly in brightness and temperature in the hundreds of years that scientists have been observing and measuring it. Recent measurements of similar stars show that three-quarters of them go through changes in both brightness and temperature.
Dr. Noah Tuchow of NASA says that the number of alien worlds that could contain life has been “vastly overestimated.” The planetary zone where water could exist as a liquid is known as the “Goldilocks Zone.” A planet would have to be orbiting a star with relatively constant heat output to be in such a zone. Planets that formed too close to be in the star’s habitable zone would have their water boiled away. Those that began beyond the habitable zone would have frozen water that would take a long time to melt. Either way, they would have a relatively short time to support life. This shows the uniqueness of planet Earth.
NASA has created a new label for planets that enter the habitable zone after their formation due to orbiting a changing star. They call it the “Belatedly Habitable Zone” (BHZ). Dr. Tuchow says, “A planet’s history dictates its current potential to host habitable conditions and life.”
Our point is the uniqueness of planet Earth, not whether it is the only place where life exists. However, if life exists elsewhere, God created it. Every discovery scientists make shows that Earth is an extraordinary place and our Sun is an exceptional star. Considering what we have learned about the cosmos, the statement of Psalms 19:1 is more meaningful today than when it was written thousands of years ago: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky shows His handiwork. Day to day they utter speech, and night to night they show knowledge.”
Please go to our doesgodexist.org website to see a chart titled “Evidence for Design in the Universe,” listing 47 of the vast number of variables required for a life-sustaining planet. The constancy of the parent’s star adds one more limiting variable to what it takes to have a world able to support life.
— John N. Clayton © 2023