Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Order and Purpose

Pictures of “The Blue Marble” and “Pale Blue Dot” taken during explorations of our Solar System have helped the human race focus on the role and position of our planet in the grand scheme of things. Does this planet, our home in the cosmos, exist in a very special location in this vast universe as it provides a home for the human race? So far as is known, Earth is unique in its ability to harbor life because no other planetary system has been found with life supporting conditions remotely close to Earth. Add the presence of human life to the cosmic coincidence. These are two remarkable concurrences, a coincidence without precedent: Unique human life supported by unique conditions for life’s existence.

The sixteenth century Copernican discovery that Earth is not central in the planetary scheme of things was merely the beginning of a cascade of cosmic discovery. Earth was removed from centrality in terms of our planetary location. Along with Earth’s demotion from geocentrism, centuries later it remained for Georges Lemaitre, Edwin Hubble, Carl Sagan and others to pose that our environs are merely “a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.” Remarkably, we are less than one hundred years removed from Edwin Hubble’s telescopic discoveries of universal vastness. On a personal level I calculate with wonder the fact that early in my parents’ lifetime the vastness of the universe had yet to be discovered.

The discoveries of Edwin Hubble from 1921-1926 revealed the true magnitude of the universe, including the idea posed in 1927 by Belgian physicist Fr. Georges Lemaitre that the universe was expanding from from its initial singularity. Later, details of the Big Bang were conceptualized. In the sixteenth century naturalistic scientists began posing the Copernican principle, variously suggesting that in the incredible vastness of space, man’s importance seemed diminished. As millions of additional galaxies were discovered populating the vastness of space, the probability of abundant, habitable, life supporting planets appearing by chance seemed increasingly more likely. The concept of Earth as a special and unique place harboring a divinely created race of men also seemed easier to reject. Naturalistic world views have evolved in the days since Copernicus first proposed his inspired scientific discoveries.

Guillermo Gonzales’ and Jay Richards’ Privileged Planet DVD highlights discoveries of characteristics of Earth, our solar system, our galaxy, and our universe as manifesting multiple traits pointing to the Earth as a place specifically designed by God for human habitation. The DVD subheading reads “The Search for Purpose in the Universe.” Purpose and design are dual partners in a universe divinely created with humanity in mind. The hour-length production touches on fundamental parameters which make this universe a place designed for human habitation. They are a planet (1) having the proper distance from the sun (2) having liquid water (3) that is terrestrial (4) having tectonic plates (5) protected by large planets (6) orbiting the correct type of star (7) having a large moon (8) having a magnetic field and (9) being oxygen rich. The outline of these parameters is merely the beginning of wonders.

The same factors which make Earth uniquely habitable also provide the best conditions for scientific discovery. The DVD product description “explores a startling connection between our capacity to survive and our ability to observe and understand the universe.” Modern world views of atheistic, naturalistic materialism do not locate an overriding purpose for our existence in this sphere. The very concept of purpose is foreign to much modern thinking. The Copernican Principle, later named by scientists and philosophers who did not share Copernicus’ Christian faith, was articulated by scientists who developed more pessimistic, materialistic views of the role of humanity.               

The theistic Christian worldview recognizes specific purpose and order in our planetary abode. The human race and millions of species have been created by God both for our enjoyment and for His. Our environment has been created and designed with an overwhelming characteristic of order. Moreover, the Creator enables us to discover and comprehend his created works.