George Bowers Sr.: What Goldilocks can teach us
Most of us are familiar with the story of Goldilocks. This precious little girl went for an unsupervised walk in the woods and happened upon the home of three absentee bears. After sampling their porridge, she gobbled up the portion belonging to the baby bear because it was just right. His little chair also afforded her just the right amount of comfort, but sadly, it broke under her weight. When the bruins returned and discovered their forest sanctuary had been violated, they were none too happy to discover the young lady still sleeping in the baby bear’s bed, which had just the right amount of coziness. Thankfully she escaped harm by running away before they could consume her.
There are many obvious lessons here, including ones to lock your doors when you leave, not to leave food unattended, and never to allow little girls to go walking by themselves. The compelling phrase, however, of each of the baby bear’s things being “just right” should cause us to pause and consider those things that are just right for us.
Recently, scientists announced the discovery of no less than eight additional planets that might be able to support life at a distance of 470 light years from Earth. But don’t get your hopes of finding any celestial cousins up too far. The unique factors that have to be “just right” in order to support life are so finely tuned, the odds of them existing anywhere else are literally mathematically non-existent.
Our Earth is miraculously positioned at just the right distance from the sun. Any closer and we’d burn up, any further and we’d freeze. Our atmosphere is “coincidentally” 21 percent oxygen. Just 6 percent lower and we would suffocate and just 4 higher and fires would ignite spontaneously. The real kicker is the force of gravity. If it were altered by just a fraction of a percent (a decimal followed by 37 zeros and then a 1), it would be impossible for the sun to exist, which would eliminate our existence as well. Isn’t it amazing how all of this happened to be just right?
But wait, as the TV salesman says, there’s more! If the planet Jupiter wasn’t exactly where it is, millions of asteroids would pummel the Earth, wreaking havoc for all living things. In addition, if our Earth rotated much faster, wind velocities would be too great and if it were any slower, temperature variations from day to night would likely be too great for life forms to survive.
According to Frank Turek and Norman Geisler, co-authors of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,” scientists have identified 122 of these factors that are like the little bear’s porridge, just right, for life to exist. These include the thickness of the Earth’s crust, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, the amount of water vapor, the frequency of lightning and earthquakes, the speed of light, and centrifugal force. “Apple-style-span”>Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has calculated the probability that this unique set of “just right” conditions would exist anywhere else in the universe and his answer is one chance in 10138 . That’s a 10 with 138 zeros after it! Most physicists agree that anything less than 1 in 1050 will never occur.
So what does this tell us? First of all, we can be very grateful for the incredibly unique conditions that exist for us to survive. Secondly, it is absurdly impossible for all of this to have happened by random chance without an intelligent designer. Even Goldilocks knew someone had heated the porridge. And thirdly, we need to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Humans are capable of altering one or more of these constants to such an extent as to spoil this planetary miracle and we must be vigilant to never allow that to occur.
There may be life on other planets, but if it is, it only exists there as it does here, by the incredible design and decision of the creator God who made all things exactly as we Goldilockses would need them. The next time you draw a breath or drop a dish or gaze at the stars, thank God for the “just right” conditions he has provided for us on planet Earth. And worship him for it!
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored eight books, including his latest, “Celebration Time, A Collection of Brethren Love Feasts.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.