Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Earth--Exceptional or One-of-a-Kind?

“One-of-a-kind” connotes a person or thing that is not like any other person or thing. “Exceptional” is not nearly so exclusive. Virtually all athletes on major league baseball, football, basketball, and hockey rosters are exceptional. Numbers of players range from 420 professional basketball competitors, to 620 hockey, 750 baseball, and nearly 1700 football roster players. These are exceptional athletes. Except for literary hyberbole, no athlete may truly be categorized one-of-a-kind.

In one sense, every planet, of the billions circling sextillions of stars spread throughout our galaxy, may be considered one-of-a-kind. That sense tells us that no single set of physical conditions could possibly be exactly like the conditions on any other planet. Taken more broadly, we might say that every human is also one-of-a-kind, allowing for minor as well as major differences. In view of our most recent posts concerning statements by secularists that humanity is alone in the universe, we elaborate further on Earth’s one-of-a-kind status.

The history of creation of our universe is the stage setter for all the wondrous life-generating events to follow. The complex events of the Big Bang, sometimes derided as chaotic and violent, were set in place by the Creator as the forerunner of physical conditions which permitted the first primitive earth life about four billion years ago. Ten billion years had elapsed before Earth was ready to receive the “gift of life.” 

The temporal timeframe experience of humans cannot be compared with timeframes of the Creator of all things. The GotQuestions.org website says, “In a sense, the marking of time is irrelevant to God because he transcends it…He is above and outside the sphere of time…The time that passes on Earth is of no consequence from God’s timeless perspective.”

We return to consideration of how our one-of-a-kind Earth came to be. There are many exceptional planets. In terms of life, human life in particular, there is, by definition, apparently only a single one-of-a-kind planet. This fact is not proven beyond all reasonable doubt, but there is preponderance of evidence—a legal term. In order to make a claim “beyond reasonable doubt” we would need plentiful knowledge about conditions on most, or all of the billions of planets revolving around sextillions of stars in our known universe.

The virtually infinitely hot and dense singularity from which our universe sprang may be considered the early birth of matter which now comprises our physical, one-of-a-kind world. At the initial moment of the hot Big Bang event, the universe briefly consisted of a “quark soup.” The soup became consolidated into particles with which we are more familiar—hydrogen and helium atoms with protons, neutrons, and electrons. Eventually, further consolidations resulted in nucleosynthesis—formation of more complex elements such as carbon.

Of hundreds of fine tuning parameters known to be necessary for either simple or human life to exist, many of them involve the element carbon and/or the compound water. The element carbon is one of the elements formed by stellar nucleosynthesis. Earth’s life is uniquely dependent on the presence of carbon in just the right amounts, neither too much or too little. Earth is a water world. The same may be said of water. Scientists have written voluminously on both subjects.

Cosmologists are in essential agreement concerning the universe’s sequence of events since the Big Bang which is acknowledged to be the beginning of time. When I taught the Big Bang event to my astronomy students, I announced it as “God’s initial creation event”—the beginning of the time, space, matter, and energy dimensions of our universe. Much later than this “initial creation event,” the element carbon was produced in the formation of stars by what is known as the triple alpha process. When supernatural creation events such as the Cambrian Explosion and the creation of modern humans occurred, carbon was already present on earth, ready to be incorporated into the bodies of earth’s living creatures.”

The previous paragraph is a reprint of a portion of our post from March 19, 2012. Here is a link to that complete post relating to the wondrous carbon cycle:

Hand in hand with the carbon cycle is the water cycle. “Transition of liquid water to vapor and from vapor back to liquid enables water to travel long distances from ocean and other water bodies to cropland locations. Atmospheric circulation quickly transports the water vapor from place to place. Some water infiltrates the soil, becomes groundwater, and eventually returns to streams and larger water bodies for use in irrigation or even re-evaporation back into the atmosphere. Superimposed on this process are many sub-cycles, some of which may be demonstrated in the laboratory…..” Carbon is cycled and recycled through plants, animals, earth, water bodies, and atmosphere, in various states to sustain Earth life and transport earth materials in life-sustaining ways. Here is a link to our original post on the water cycle. Several posts on the water cycle and various other life-giving cycles follow: (Click on “Newer Posts”)

It is doubtful that any of the recently discovered 3774 planets (as of July 31, 2018) come remotely close to “one-of-a-kind” status with respect to life. Conditions on those planets are foreign to life of any kind, lacking hundreds of fine tuning characteristics involving nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and hundreds of other elements and compounds necessary for human life.