Thought for the Week, by Andy Moyle, October 16

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50 years ago, scientists believed there were two conditions for a planet to sustain life – the right kind of star and a planet the right distance from it. So the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence began, as it was considered 1 in every 1000 of all stars fell in that bracket. Now we know there are far more conditions for a planet to support life.

For instance, a slightly bigger earth and thus more gravity means our lower atmosphere would poisonously be mainly methane and ammonia. Slightly smaller means less gravity and so water vapour would not stay near the surface – without water and we humans who are 75% water also wouldn’t exist. Without Jupiter, a big planet in the solar system, we would be hit by asteroids and meteorites 1000 times more frequently. The moon’s size and distance gives us tides. A bit closer and the tides would be tsunami size. A bit smaller and the tides wouldn’t cleanse coastal seawater and replenish nutrients.

In the 1960s Carl Sagan and other scientists thought there were only two fine tuning characteristics to support life. By 2001 scientists believed there were 150. The chances of that leaps to 1 in 10 to the power 73. In a universe with ten to the twenty third power planets – the odds of a planet supporting life are 1 in 10 with 50 more zeroes. Incredible!

The level of fine tuning for life to exist on earth is amazing. Agnostic and physicist Robert Jastrow wrote “For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

The universe is not here by chance, earth is not here by chance, life is not a chance. You are not a chance. God is the fine tuning artist who threw the stars into existence and knitted you together fearfully and wonderfully. Life is a miracle. Enjoy it, celebrate it and most of all give thanks to God for it.

The Christian faith says that God is so much more than the supreme being who started it all off and then disappeared from the scene, sitting back watching while we make a mess of it all. He came down and got dirty with us. Jesus, God in the flesh, came and lived amongst and died to take away our mess. The miracle He offers is eternal life – a joy and peace that starts now and goes on forever when we respond to Him with simple trust. Why not do that today?