This is a WordPress repost of an excellent and highly informative article originally authored by Rich Deem. The post is a tad lengthy but well worth the investment of time. I have taken the liberty of highlighting some of Rich’s text in bold. I’m always amazed at what we think we know and understand. How often do we hear of how normal our planet is and how many millions if not billions more earths must be out there in the universe. Really …. let’s take a look.
And my “food for thought” question is, if you got this one wrong, have you given any consideration to what else you might have gotten wrong? Everyone knows who Jesus is …… right? Really ….. you might want to take an honest look. What you think you know and what you really know aren’t necessarily one and the same.
Rich Deem has a bachelor of science in biological sciences from the University of Southern California and a master of science in Medical Microbiology from California State University, Los Angeles. He worked in medical science research (UC Davis, UCLA, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) from 1983 to 2017. He is currently adjunct professor at Biola University, teaching courses on human origins and the origins of life.
The following table (“Uniqueness of the galaxy-sun-earth-moon system for life support”) is based upon the assumption that life is based upon carbon. As you are probably aware, there has been speculation that life might be based upon boron or silicon (mainly in Hollywood productions, such as Star Trek). However, these elements do not form very long-chained compounds, which would make any form of life based upon these elements virtually impossible (6).
Life based upon carbon requires that water exist in the liquid state (a very narrow range of 100°C). For practicality, this range is even more narrow. There are a few bacteria which can exist near the boiling point, but they are very specialized. Nearly all other life forms must exist below a temperature of 50°C. This is the major constraint on the system, which requires stabile galaxies (spirals only) stabile stars (eliminating all large or small stars and all binary systems, which most stars are part of), stabile planetary orbits (orbital eccentricity must be small), exact rotational characteristics (long rotational periods will lead to too widely varying temperatures, short ones to high winds).
The list below provides some of the parameters required for a planet to be able to sustain life. Individually, the probabilities of occurrence of each parameter are not particularly impressive. The fact that all of these parameters are found on the Earth is extremely impressive, indicating an extreme deviation from random chance. The probability values below are ones obtained from that observed in the universe as a whole.
Uniqueness of the Galaxy-Sun-Earth-Moon System for Life Support
- galaxy size (9) (p = 0.1)
if too large: infusion of gas and stars would disturb sun’s orbit and ignite deadly galactic eruptions
if too small: infusion of gas would be insufficient to sustain star formation long enough for life to form
- galaxy type (7) (p = 0.1)
if too elliptical: star formation would cease before sufficient heavy elements formed for life chemistry
if too irregular: radiation exposure would be too severe (at times) and life-essential heavy elements would not form
- galaxy location (9) (p = 0.1)
if too close to dense galaxy cluster: galaxy would be gravitationally unstable, hence unsuitable for life
if too close to large galaxy(ies): same result
- supernovae eruptions (8) (p = 0.01)
if too close: radiation would exterminate life
if too far: too little “ash” would be available for rocky planets to form
if too infrequent: same result
if too frequent: radiation would exterminate life
if too soon: too little “ash” would be available for rocky planets to form
if too late: radiation would exterminate life
- white dwarf binaries (8) (p = 0.01)
if too few: insufficient fluorine would exist for life chemistry
if too many: orbits of life-supportable planets would be disrupted; life would be exterminated
if too soon: insufficient fluorine would exist for life chemistry
if too late: fluorine would arrive too late for life chemistry
- proximity of solar nebula to a supernova eruption (9)
if farther: insufficient heavy elements would be attracted for life chemistry
if closer: nebula would be blown apart
- timing of solar nebula formation relative to supernova eruption (9)
if earlier: nebula would be blown apart
if later: nebula would not attract enough heavy elements for life chemistry
- parent star distance from center of galaxy (9) (p = 0.2)
if greater: insufficient heavy elements would be available for rocky planet formation
if lesser: radiation would be too intense for life; stellar density would disturb planetary orbits, making life impossible
- parent star distance from closest spiral arm (9) (p = 0.1)
if too small: radiation from other stars would be too intense and the stellar density would disturb orbits of life-supportable planets
if too great: quantity of heavy elements would be insufficient for formation of life-supportable planets
- z-axis range of star’s orbit (9) (p = 0.1)
if too wide: exposure to harmful radiation from galactic core would be too great
- number of stars in the planetary system (10) (p = 0.2)
if more than one: tidal interactions would make the orbits of life-supportable planets too unstable for life
if fewer than one: no heat source would be available for life chemistry
- parent star birth date (9) (p = 0.2)
if more recent: star burning would still be unstable; stellar system would contain too many heavy elements for life chemistry
if less recent: stellar system would contain insufficient heavy elements for life chemistry
- parent star age (9) (p = 0.4)
if older: star’s luminosity would be too erratic for life support
if younger: same result
- parent star mass (10) (p = 0.001)
if greater: star’s luminosity would be too erratic and star would burn up too quickly to support life
if lesser: life support zone would be too narrow; rotation period of life-supportable planet would be too long; UV radiation would be insufficient for photosynthesis
- parent star metallicity (9) (p = 0.05)
if too little: insufficient heavy elements for life chemistry would exist
if too great: radioactivity would be too intense for life; heavy element concentrations would be poisonous to life
- parent star color (9) (p = 0.4)
if redder: photosynthetic response would be insufficient to sustain life
if bluer: same result
- H3+ production (23) (p = 0.1)
if too little: simple molecules essential to planet formation and life chemistry would never form
if too great: planets would form at the wrong time and place for life
- parent star luminosity (11) (p = 0.0001)
if increases too soon: runaway green house effect would develop
if increases too late: runaway glaciation would develop
- surface gravity (governs escape velocity) (12) (p = 0.001)
if stronger: planet’s atmosphere would retain too much ammonia and methane for life
if weaker: planet’s atmosphere would lose too much water for life
- distance from parent star (13) (p = 0.001)
if greater: planet would be too cool for a stable water cycle
if lesser: planet would be too warm for a stable water cycle
- inclination of orbit (22) (p = 0.5)
if too great: temperature range on the planet’s surface would be too extreme for life
- orbital eccentricity (9) (p = 0.3)
if too great: seasonal temperature range would be too extreme for life
- axial tilt (9) (p = 0.3)
if greater: surface temperature differences would be too great to sustain diverse life-forms
if lesser: same result
- rate of change of axial tilt (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: climatic and temperature changes would be too extreme for life
- rotation period (11) (p = 0.1)
if longer: diurnal temperature differences would be too great for life
if shorter: atmospheric wind velocities would be too great for life
- rate of change in rotation period (14) (p = 0.05)
if more rapid: change in day-to-night temperature variation would be too extreme for sustained life
if less rapid: change in day-to-night temperature variation would be too slow for the development of advanced life
- planet’s age (9) (p = 0.1)
if too young: planet would rotate too rapidly for life
if too old: planet would rotate too slowly for life
- magnetic field (20) (p = 0.01)
if stronger: electromagnetic storms would be too severe
if weaker: planetary surface and ozone layer would be inadequately protected from hard solar and stellar radiation
- thickness of crust (15) (p = 0.01)
if greater: crust would rob atmosphere of oxygen needed for life
if lesser: volcanic and tectonic activity would be destructive to life
- albedo (ratio of reflected light to total amount falling on surface) (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: runaway glaciation would develop
if less: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
- asteroid and comet collision rates (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: ecosystem balances would be destroyed
if less: crust would contain too little of certain life-essential elements
- mass of body colliding with primordial earth (9) (p = 0.002)
if greater: Earth’s orbit and form would be too greatly disturbed for life
if lesser: Earth’s atmosphere would be too thick for life; moon would be too small to fulfill its life-sustaining role
- timing of above collision (9) (p = 0.05)
if earlier: Earth’s atmosphere would be too thick for life; moon would be too small to fulfill its life-sustaining role
if later: Earth’s atmosphere would be too thin for life; sun would be too luminous for subsequent life
- oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere (25) (p = 0.1)
if greater: advanced life functions would proceed too rapidly
if lesser: advanced life functions would proceed too slowly
- carbon dioxide level in atmosphere (21) (p = 0.01)
if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
if less: plants would be unable to maintain efficient photosynthesis
- water vapor quantity in atmosphere (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
if less: rainfall would be too meager for advanced land life
- atmospheric electric discharge rate (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: fires would be too frequent and widespread for life
if less: too little nitrogen would be fixed in the atmosphere
- ozone quantity in atmosphere (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: surface temperatures would be too low for life; insufficient UV radiation for life
if less: surface temperatures would be too high for life; UV radiation would be too intense for life
- oxygen quantity in atmosphere (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: plants and hydrocarbons would burn up too easily, destabilizing Earth’s ecosystem
if less: advanced animals would have too little to breathe
- seismic activity (16) (p = 0.1)
if greater: life would be destroyed; ecosystem would be damaged
if less: nutrients on ocean floors from river runoff would not be recycled to continents through tectonics; not enough carbon dioxide would be released from carbonate buildup
- volcanic activity (26)
if lower: insufficient amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapor would be returned to the atmosphere; soil mineralization would be insufficient for life advanced life support
if higher: advanced life would be destroyed; ecosystem would be damaged
- rate of decline in tectonic activity (26) (p = 0.1)
if slower: crust conditions would be too unstable for advanced life
if faster: crust nutrients would be inadequate for sustained land life
- rate of decline in volcanic activity (9) (p = 0.1)
if slower: crust and surface conditions would be unsuitable for sustained land life
if faster: crust and surface nutrients would be inadequate for sustained land life
- oceans-to-continents ratio (11) (p = 0.2)
if greater: diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited
if smaller: same result
- rate of change in oceans-to-continents ratio (9) (p = 0.1)
if smaller: land area would be insufficient for advanced life
if greater: change would be too radical for advanced life to survive
- distribution of continents (10) (p = 0.3)
if too much in the Southern Hemisphere: sea-salt aerosols would be insufficient to stabilize surface temperature and water cycle; increased seasonal differences would limit the available habitats for advanced land life
- frequency and extent of ice ages (9) (p = 0.1)
if lesser: Earth’s surface would lack fertile valleys essential for advanced life; mineral concentrations would be insufficient for advanced life.
if greater: Earth would experience runaway freezing
- soil mineralization (9) (p = 0.1)
if nutrient poorer: diversity and complexity of lifeforms would be limited
if nutrient richer: same result
- gravitational interaction with a moon (17) (p = 0.1)
if greater: tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe for life
if lesser: orbital obliquity changes would cause climatic instabilities; movement of nutrients and life from the oceans to the continents and vice versa would be insufficient for life; magnetic field would be too weak to protect life from dangerous radiation
- Jupiter distance (18) (p = 0.1)
if greater: Jupiter would be unable to protect Earth from frequent asteroid and comet collisions
if lesser: Jupiter’s gravity would destabilize Earth’s orbit
- Jupiter mass (19) (p = 0.1)
if greater: Jupiter’s gravity would destabilize Earth’s orbit 9
if lesser: Jupiter would be unable to protect Earth from asteroid and comet collisions
- drift in (major) planet distances (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: Earth’s orbit would be destabilized
if less: asteroid and comet collisions would be too frequent for life
- major planet orbital eccentricities (18) (p = 0.05)
if greater: Earth’s orbit would be pulled out of life support zone
- major planet orbital instabilities (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: Earth’s orbit would be pulled out of life support zone
- atmospheric pressure (9) (p = 0.1)
if smaller: liquid water would evaporate too easily and condense too infrequently to support life
if greater: inadequate liquid water evaporation to support life; insufficient sunlight would reach Earth’s surface; insufficient UV radiation would reach Earth’s surface
- atmospheric transparency (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: too broad a range of solar radiation wavelengths would reach Earth’s surface for life support
if lesser: too narrow a range of solar radiation wavelengths would reach Earth’s surface for life support
- chlorine quantity in atmosphere (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: erosion rate and river, lake, and soil acidity would be too high for most life forms; metabolic rates would be too high for most life forms
if lesser: erosion rate and river, lake, and soil acidity would be too low for most life forms; metabolic rates would be too low for most life forms
- iron quantity in oceans and soils (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: iron poisoning would destroy advanced life
if lesser: food to support advanced life would be insufficient
if very small: no life would be possible
- tropospheric ozone quantity (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: advanced animals would experience respiratory failure; crop yields would be inadequate for advanced life; ozone-sensitive species would be unable to survive
if smaller: biochemical smog would hinder or destroy most life
- stratospheric ozone quantity (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: not enough LTV radiation would reach Earth’s surface to produce food and life-essential vitamins
if lesser: too much LTV radiation would reach Earth’s surface, causing skin cancers and reducing plant growth
- mesospheric ozone quantity (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: circulation and chemistry of mesospheric gases would disturb relative abundance of life-essential gases in lower atmosphere
if lesser: same result
- frequency and extent of forest and grass fires (24) (p = 0.01)
if greater: advanced life would be impossible
if lesser: accumulation of growth inhibitors, combined with insufficient nitrification, would make soil unsuitable for food production
- quantity of soil sulfur (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: plants would be destroyed by sulfur toxins, soil acidity, and disturbance of the nitrogen cycle
if lesser: plants would die from protein deficiency
- biomass to comet-infall ratio (9) (p = 0.01)
if greater: greenhouse gases would decline, triggering runaway freezing
if lesser: greenhouse gases would accumulate, triggering runaway greenhouse effect
- quantity of sulfur in planet’s core (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: solid inner core would never form, disrupting magnetic field
if smaller: solid inner core formation would begin too soon, causing it to grow too rapidly and extensively, disrupting magnetic field
- quantity of sea-salt aerosols (9) (p = 0.1)
if greater: too much and too rapid cloud formation over the oceans would disrupt the climate and atmospheric temperature balances
if smaller: insufficient cloud formation; hence, inadequate water cycle; disrupts atmospheric temperature balances and hence the climate
- dependency factors (estimate 100,000,000,000)
- longevity requirements (estimate .00001)
Total Probability = 1:1099
Taken from Big Bang Refined by Fire by Dr. Hugh Ross, 1998. Reasons To Believe, Pasadena, CA.
By putting together probabilities for each of these design features occurring by chance, we can calculate the probability of the existence of a planet like Earth. This probability is 1 chance in 1099. Since there are estimated to be a maximum of 1023 planets in the universe (10 planets/star, see note below), by chance there shouldn’t be any planets capable of supporting life in the universe (only one chance in 1076). Design or random chance?
Note: This is most likely a huge over estimate. In a recent survey of globular cluster 47 Tucanae, scientists found zero extrasolar planets out of 37,000 stars searched (Astronomers Ponder Lack of Planets in Globular Cluster from the Hubble Space Telescope).
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