We Are A Special Case

A while back, I noticed a significant statement, or rather misstatement, in an earthsky.org article[1]. The article was describing research (or rather, computer modeling) which supposedly supports the pebble accretion theory, and which also suggested that earth was originally formed with its water, rather than having the water deposited later by comets. Whitt wrote that

Working off a key tenet in science – that we should never presume we’re a special case – these scientists suggest water might be abundant on Earth-sized planets throughout our Milky Way galaxy.

The idea that "we should never presume we’re a special case" may be a tenet of modern philosophy and cosmology, but it is certainly not a key tenet of science. This statement sounds deceptively similar to another concept, which is a key tenet of science, namely the idea that any experiment, conducted under the exact same conditions, will yield the same result anywhere in the universe. That is, the laws of physics operate the same everywhere in the universe. We can't empirically verify that, of course, since it would require running an infinite number of experiments everywhere in the universe, but you can't do science unless you make that assumption. Incidentally, that idea only makes sense if you assume there is one Lawgiver, that is, one Creator who decides all the laws of physics and is also in control of the whole universe.

That is quite distinct, however, from the idea that "we should never presume we’re a special case", which is really just a short way of stating the philosophical belief that the universe formed through natural processes, and therefore the processes that formed our earth and solar system should be found at work in many other places in the universe.

First of all, the universe did not form through natural processes. It was brought into being through a supernatural act of creation. According to the Book of Genesis (Hebrew בראשׁית)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

According to this narrative, the entirety of the creation process was completed in a series of steps over a six day process. To give some examples, the surface of the earth was formed on the third day, the solar and interstellar bodies were formed on the fourth day, and humanity was formed on the sixth day.

Furthermore, there is considerable evidence of our "specialness" as we explore our planet and our solar system, compared to what we are finding elsewhere in the universe. I want to provide a few interesting examples from the great book "Our Amazing Created Solar System".[2] These are from Chapter 2, "The Sun: our special star":

Anti-theists are fond of dismissing the sun as a run-of-the-mill star in a not-too-special place in a spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy [....] Recent research has called the sun 'exceptional'. Our sun is among the top 10% (by mass) of stars in its neighbourhood (most stars are red dwarfs invisible to the naked eye). It is actually an ideal size to support life on Earth [....] A red supergiant star like Betelgeuse, because it is so huge [...] would engulf all the inner planets! [....] Rigel, about 120,000 times as bright as the sun [emits] too much high-frequency radiation. Conversely, a star much smaller than our sun would be too faint to support life, unless the planet was so close to the star that there would be dangerous gravitational tides.

Furthermore, the fact that we have only one star in our solar system is significant:

Most stars exist in multiple-star systems. A planet in such as system would suffer extreme temperature variations.

Furthermore, the location of our solar system in our galaxy is important:

[The sun's] orbit (within this galaxy) is fairly circular, meaning that it won't go too near the inner galaxy where supernovae, extremely energetic star explosions, are more common. It also orbits almost parallel to the plane of our galaxy— otherwise, crossing this plane would be very disruptive. Furthermore, the sun is at an ideal distance from the centre of our galaxy, called the co-rotation radius. Only here does a star's orbital speed match that of the spiral arms—otherwise the sun could cross an arm and be exposed to supernovae.

Furthermore, our sun is an "exceptionally stable star". After describing the sun's coronal mass ejection (CME) which disabled power in northern Quebec in 1989, the author notes:

Three astronomers recently studied single stars of the same size, brightness, and composition of the sun. Almost all of them erupt about once a century in superflares 100 to 100 million times more powerful than the one that blacked out Quebec. If the sun were to erupt in such a superflare, it would destroy Earth's ozone layer, with catastrophic results for life.

Another fun one to draw attention to is that interesting relationship between our sun and our moon — they both have nearly the same angular diameter.

A total eclipse is possible becaue the moon is almost exactly the same angular size (half a degree) in the sky as the sun—it is both 400 times smaller and 400 times closer than the sun. This looks very much like design [....] Solar eclipses (as seen from the earth) are unique in the solar system—no other planet/moon combination comes close.

I could go on quoting interesting facts from the book, but it would be much better if you read the book yourself. You should be able to borrow it for free through the interlibrary loan program at any library[2], or the book can be purchased from the CMI Web site.[3]

End Notes

[1] "Water worlds may be abundant in our galaxy", https://earthsky.org/space/water-common-on-planets-pebble-accretion-milky-way/, accessed January 19th 2023

[2] Our Amazing Created Solar System, ed. Russel Grigg, 2016, Creation Book Publishers, ISBN 978-1-942773-33-7

[3] https://usstore.creation.com/product/929-our-amazing-created-solar-system. The book purchased from CMI comes with a small (3.5 inch by 4 inch) sheet of Erratum, which might not be included in a book checked out from the library.

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