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Life in the Balance And why Earth-like planets may be rare
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | March 30, 2012 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 03/31/2012 3:00:05 PM PDT by NYer

The video below is a very creative representation of what the day and night sky on Earth would look like if the earth had rings like Saturn. It is well worth a view.

But it puts me in the mind of pondering the delicate balance of life on this earth and, though the artwork in the video is beautiful, I suspect that the presence of rings would dramatically alter life on this earth, perhaps even annihilate it.

By way of disclaimer, let me say I am not a geologist or astronomer. But a number of things concern me about the presence of rings and then cause me, as a Christian and amateur theologian, to once again thank God for the incredible and rare conditions he maintains on this earth, so that we can live. Let me explain.

Rare Earth?? While most people, including most scientists, presume that there may be billions of inhabitable planets out there a lot like earth, there is another theory base (called “rare earth theory”) that is dubious of such a high number.

There are not just a few things that come together to support life on earth, there are many. Here are just a few:

  1. The earth is at just the right distance from the sun so that water is warm enough to melt, but not so hot as to boil and steam away into space. Water is also able in this habitable zone to both evaporate and condense at lower levels in the atmosphere, thus permitting a more even distribution of water, and a cycle of water over dry land known as precipitation.
  2. The earth is in a “habitable zone” in the galaxy too. Closer to the center of galaxies, radiation and the presence of wandering planetoids make life there unlikely.
  3. We have the nearby presence of two “gas giants” (Jupiter and Saturn) that attract and catch many wandering asteroids and comets and keep them form hitting the earth often.
  4. Our molten core and volcanism generate a magnetic field that protects the earth from the most harmful rays of the sun. Volcanism also has a role in helping generate our atmosphere and in cycling rich minerals widely.
  5. Our sun is just the right kind of star, putting out a fairly steady amount of energy. Other types of stars are more variable in their output and this variance can utterly destroy life or cause it to be impossible due to the extremes caused.
  6. The earth’s fairly rapid rotation reduces the daily variation in temperature It also makes photosynthesis viable since there is enough sunlight all over the planet.
  7. The earth’s axis tilt relative to it orbital plane is also just right to allow seasonal variations that help complex life but not so tilted as to make the seasons too extreme.
  8. The moon also has a good effect by causing tides that are just enough to permit tidal zones (a great breading ground for diverse life) and not too severe so as to destroy life by extreme tides.

So life here is in the balance of many fascinating things (and a lot more I don’t have time to mention). Just Google “Rare Earth Theory” to read more.

Now, what would rings do to this balance? I suspect a lot of damaging things. Three particularly come to mind.

  1. Interference with the tides might be significant since I suspect that the gravitational effect of the rings (rings, though they look like thin wafers, are really bands of rocks in fairly close orbit around a planet) would likely pull the ocean water over the area nearest where they orbit. This in turn would likely cause a loss in the ebb and flow of tides in areas further from them, limiting the benefit of the tides in many areas. Many estuaries would likely not exist. Estuaries are wonderful areas where salt and fresh water mix and a variety of life sets up.
  2. I also suspect that, due to gravitational effects on the sea, many sea currents would be interfered with. This too would effect weather and limit the even distribution of heat and cold on the planet, so wonderfully done now by weather and sea currents.
  3. I wonder too if the rings might not interfere with the magnetic field around the earth. This would be more the case if a lot of the rocks that made up the rings were of a significant metallic makeup. Without the proper magnetic field, we all cook. Bye Bye life.
  4. Finally, it seems certain that rocks from the ring would frequently fall out of orbit, to earth. If large enough, these falling rocks could cause extinction level events. Bye Bye life.

So, enjoy the video of the pretty rings and THANK GOD we don’t have them!

Life on this earth may be a far more rare and miraculous reality than we think. The more I learn of life, the more amazed I become at what the Lord has done. If science has done anything for me, (and it has done a lot), it has surely increased my wonder and awe for God. God has done a marvelous thing in creating this universe and an even more marvelous thing in creating and sustaining this earth. An old hymn says:

O tell of God’s might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain
.

Praise the Lord for Planet earth, and behold, life is in the balance, the perfect balance.

Watch Video


TOPICS: Catholic; Religion & Science
KEYWORDS: agw; astronomy; climate; climatechange; creation; creationism; creator; crevo; crevolist; earth; globalwarming; globalwarminghoax; god; godshand; msgrcharlespope; msgrpope; outerspace; science; space

1 posted on 03/31/2012 3:00:18 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

Another gem from Msgr. Pope, ping!


2 posted on 03/31/2012 3:01:10 PM PDT by NYer (He who hides in his heart the remembrance of wrongs is like a man who feeds a snake on his chest. St)
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To: NYer

There are definitely a lot of variables that have to be taken into account but its looking increasingly likely that God created trillions of planets in the universe.

That said the article does a pretty good job of pointing out the things that are problematic for human life on other planets.


3 posted on 03/31/2012 3:19:49 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: NYer

Recent excerpt:

In an announcement with massive consequences for the human race, astronomers say there are “probably about one hundred” planets within just 30 light-years of our solar system which could support life along Earthly lines. By their calculations, there are tens of billions of such worlds in our galaxy, suggesting that even if life is very rare it is bound to have arisen elsewhere.


4 posted on 03/31/2012 3:26:03 PM PDT by BushCountry (I hope the Mayans are wrong!)
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To: BushCountry

Even if life has arisen on many other planets, the chances that chocolate has evolved on them is extremely slight.


5 posted on 03/31/2012 3:34:33 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: NYer

Funny thing is I once read a book suggest the Earth did have a smallbset of rings at one time, and how that made life a lot easier.


6 posted on 03/31/2012 3:34:55 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: NYer; SunkenCiv
Very nice video.
The stories from the ancients ,to explain that, would be interesting to hear.
7 posted on 03/31/2012 3:39:57 PM PDT by moose07 (The truth will out, one day.)
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To: NYer

Given the fact that there are at least a hundred billion galaxies in the universe, and that each galaxy has at least a hundred billion stars, I have no doubt that there are millions or billions of planets in the universe that support life, but it’s irrelevant because they would be millions of light years away.


8 posted on 03/31/2012 3:44:53 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: NYer

Thanks for that NYer.

Guillermo Gonzalez & Jay W Richards, “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place In The Cosmos Is Designed For Discovery”


9 posted on 03/31/2012 3:49:39 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: NYer

This is a subject with so many variables the human mind simply can’t draw any logical conclusions.


10 posted on 03/31/2012 3:51:01 PM PDT by Psycho_Bunny (Burning the Quran is a waste of perfectly good fire.)
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To: BushCountry

Just google “michael crichton” + “drake equation” for a real eye-opener on the true value of the astronomer’s “calculations” in this areas.

My contempt for these people and their duplicity only grows with each data point.


11 posted on 03/31/2012 3:52:42 PM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if...")
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Given the fact that there are at least a hundred billion galaxies in the universe, and that each galaxy has at least a hundred billion stars, I have no doubt that there are millions or billions of planets in the universe that support life,

Given that there are at least a hundred billion inclines in the universe, and that each incline has to have something at the top as well as something at the bottom, I have no doubt that there are millions or billions of inclines in the universe where water can defy gravity and flow uphill.....

12 posted on 03/31/2012 4:00:58 PM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if...")
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To: NYer
Q: Why doesn't Earth have a ring?

A: Because it's a single parent.

13 posted on 03/31/2012 4:03:53 PM PDT by mikrofon (The Wonders of God's Creation)
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To: moose07; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Rurudyne; steelyourfaith; Tolerance Sucks Rocks; xcamel; AdmSmith; ...

This is just a shill piece for global warming caused by human activity, but thanks moose07 for the ping.


14 posted on 03/31/2012 4:04:28 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: Psycho_Bunny
This is a subject with so many variables the human mind simply can’t draw any logical conclusions.

Nonsense. There are no combination of variables that make a lottery easier to win.

15 posted on 03/31/2012 4:04:51 PM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if...")
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To: NYer
of course they're rare. and the earth's balance is hairline fragile.

I once did (and since forgot) some calculations the long and short of which is that the most miniscule variation in the earth's diameter would render the whole planet an ice cap or a desert.

16 posted on 03/31/2012 4:10:44 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: NYer

Thank you for posting this. I once saw a teaching by Frank Turek on the same subject, and the reality of how finely God tuned His creation-—so that we can exist-—is pretty breathtaking.

http://www.crossexamined.org/blog/?m=20120321


17 posted on 03/31/2012 4:12:04 PM PDT by CatherineofAragon (I can haz Romney's defeat?)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

“I have no doubt that there are millions or billions of planets in the universe that support life, but it’s irrelevant because they would be millions of light years away.”
_______________________________________________________

I agree, and I am a strong denier that ET is, or ever has been zipping around Earth.
All of the anecdotal “sightings” in the world mean nothing, despite what one hears on Kook to Kook AM.


18 posted on 03/31/2012 4:19:12 PM PDT by AlexW
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To: papertyger
Given the fact that there are at least a hundred billion galaxies in the universe, and that each galaxy has at least a hundred billion stars, I have no doubt that there are millions or billions of planets in the universe that support life,

Given that there are at least a hundred billion inclines in the universe, and that each incline has to have something at the top as well as something at the bottom, I have no doubt that there are millions or billions of inclines in the universe where water can defy gravity and flow uphill.....


The statement you responded to draws it's conclusion from the fact that there is at least one star in this galaxy with a planet that supports life. The statement you make draws it's conclusion from...what? Why do you think this is analogous to the first statement or that it refutes the first statement?
19 posted on 03/31/2012 4:24:03 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: BushCountry

But on Star Trek, there are numerous Class M planets throughout the galaxy.

There is a formula or equation they used, which predicted how many there were.

Well, they visited such planets almost every week on that show.

(sarcasm)


20 posted on 03/31/2012 4:39:02 PM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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To: papertyger

lol...OK.


21 posted on 03/31/2012 5:02:18 PM PDT by Psycho_Bunny (Burning the Quran is a waste of perfectly good fire.)
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
The statement you make draws it's conclusion from...what?

The fact that the entire "chances of" rationale fundamentally misstates the problem. How many chances you have of obtaining a certain outcome are largely irrelevant apart from correctly evaluating the events required for that outcome to take place.

In a very real sense, the whole line of reasoning is predicated on "the gambler's fallacy." ....hence my reference to Michael Crichton and his famous speech on the Drake Equation before SETI.

22 posted on 03/31/2012 5:06:51 PM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if...")
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To: cripplecreek
When you are talking trillions, or more, then there are likely hundreds, if not thousands of planets with life.

I think it is hubris to believe Earth is the only planet with life, even intelligent life.

I also think an omniscient God has more “capacity” than just one planet & one species in a vast universe.

23 posted on 03/31/2012 5:17:51 PM PDT by Mister Da (The mark of a wise man is not what he knows, but what he knows he doesn't know!)
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To: BushCountry

It all those. “Relatives” of ours are so nearby, why haven’t they looked us up.....or at least dropped us a card? I’m offended!


24 posted on 03/31/2012 5:17:51 PM PDT by Tucker39 ( Psa 68:19Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits; even the God of our salvation.KJV)
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To: Mister Da

Agreed.


25 posted on 03/31/2012 5:20:11 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: NYer
O tell of God’s might, O sing of His grace, ...

I have long held that the loss of "God's NIGHT" to modern light pollution has materially diminished our wonder of our small place in the cosmos. For most of us moderns we have to make a special effort to see a truly dark night sky. Pre-1900, our ancestors would see it almost every night. I feel that it does make a difference!

26 posted on 03/31/2012 5:22:57 PM PDT by SES1066 (Government is NOT the reason for my existance!)
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To: redgolum

Considering the fact that there are something like 200 known moon in our solar system alone, I’d guess that there are many more moon than planets in the universe and that’s a lot.

I also think our earth, moon pair is really more of a dual planet system due to their relative sizes.


27 posted on 03/31/2012 5:25:17 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: onedoug

Thanks onedoug, for referencing “The Privileged Planet.” IIIFFFF God has already peopled other worlds, He will tell us all about it/them in His own good time. WE were created in His image, and the Scriptures tell us indirectly that we will spend eternity developing the universe; therefore, I have doubts about life on other planets....as get! That will happen AFTER Good finishes settling the sin question on Earth, when satan had been cast into the lake of fire and the New Jerusalem had been brought down from Heaven and takes its place on the New Earth. It is not arrogance or hubris to think we are unique when The Creator SAYS we are!


28 posted on 03/31/2012 5:42:56 PM PDT by Tucker39 ( Psa 68:19Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits; even the God of our salvation.KJV)
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To: Mister Da

Life grows and thrives in the coldest and hottest places imaginable. Survives on nuclear fuel rods, the deepest deeps of the oceans, in lava, and blocks of ice for thousands of years.

The earth is merely a spec of dust in a universe beyond measure and age. Our civilization’s lifespan is not even the quickest flicker of light when compared to the age of the planet (1/15,000 of second if the lifespan of the earth is an hour old), much less the universe. Applying this time span to the universe, comparably we have been aware less than 1/60,000 of a second.


29 posted on 03/31/2012 6:00:44 PM PDT by BushCountry (I hope the Mayans are wrong!)
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To: papertyger

Sure, but Drake’s equation is just a Fermi estimate - a reasonable guess about a matter we don’t have nearly enough data about. There’s no doubt the press sensationalizes such mind-exercises and the speculations some scientists attach to them, but the fact is that we do know that intelligent life is allowed by the physics of this universe. Speculation about how often it occurs is certainly more legitimate than speculation about how common water flowing uphill on other worlds might be.


30 posted on 03/31/2012 6:47:17 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: BushCountry
The earth is merely a spec of dust in a universe beyond measure and age.

So what in the universe isn't? Its sum is the total of its parts. And for our part at least, it's as if the universe has created eyes and mind to discern itself. Thus we can, in that sense, speak with some confidence of its measure and its age.

31 posted on 03/31/2012 7:38:49 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
Sure, but Drake’s equation is just a Fermi estimate - a reasonable guess about a matter we don’t have nearly enough data about.

"Reasonable" in what sense?

... but the fact is that we do know that intelligent life is allowed by the physics of this universe. Speculation about how often it occurs is certainly more legitimate than speculation about how common water flowing uphill on other worlds might be.

I don't see how until you've repeatably demonstrated how it in fact started here.

Life, any life, is a proverbial "turtle on a fence post."

We know the capabilities of turtles, and we know the characteristics of fence posts. All the calculations in the world are not goring to give you a legitimate probability for how often you can expect to find another turtle on another fence post.

32 posted on 03/31/2012 7:42:33 PM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if...")
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To: Tucker39

Thank you. I love “The Privileged Planet”.

Though doesn’t it seem odd to you that despite an abundance of evidence for God in the universe, there is absolutely none at all for Satan outside the human mind? And wouldn’t that undermine monotheism?

Another goodie - to my mind at least...Gerald L Schroeder: “The Science Of God: The Convergence Of Scientific And Biblical Wisdom”


33 posted on 03/31/2012 7:52:36 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: NYer
God said that mankind will rule His creation (all the created universe) and He sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to redeem mankind. It's logical to say that if there is life out there they are in need of a savior too and that savior is human.
34 posted on 03/31/2012 8:10:27 PM PDT by ForAmerica (Conservative Christian Black Man!)
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To: onedoug

“.....there is absolutely none at all for Satan outside the human mind?”

Whaaaaaat? No, I guess there isn’t, if you discount an insignificant minor little item called the BIBLE!

No offense, but I’m sorry I replied to you. You appear to be so far out in left field that I can just barely pick you out with my 60X spotting scope.


35 posted on 03/31/2012 9:50:08 PM PDT by Tucker39 ( Psa 68:19Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits; even the God of our salvation.KJV)
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To: papertyger
"Reasonable" in what sense?

In that these inferences don't violate or contradict any known facts and can be considered a valid possible consequence of those facts. Fermi estimates are often required in interviews in the software industry - it's a good way to find out how candidates approach and reduce problems. Without data, the results can't be confirmed of course, but the guess-timates often turn out to be quite good.

Life, any life, is a proverbial "turtle on a fence post."

So was the notion of stars having planets. Prior to verification over the last couple of decades, we had no way of knowing whether planets actually existed anywhere but here around our star. But what we could observe of our own star certainly warranted speculation. Detecting life will be far harder, but speculations about it's existence don't rank with speculations about physical impossibilities, IMHO.
36 posted on 03/31/2012 10:33:45 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
In that these inferences don't violate or contradict any known facts and can be considered a valid possible consequence of those facts.

Sure they do. Furthermore, such inferences camouflage the fact conventional "science" threw in the towel on abiogenesis a long time ago.

What's more if you can't confirm your guesstimates, what makes you so sure Fermi estimates are any better than the guy looking for his wallet under the street lamp, because the area he lost it in was dark?

Finally, unconfirmed, as opposed to disputed, planets are nowhere near analogous to attempts to make "life" just another mundane physical process.

Showing me a bird on a fence post does zero to explain the turtle, even if it's the exact same fence post.

The sad fact is this area of science is tainted in the same way as "gun control" advocacy; forget whether the thesis is verified, plausible is good enough....just assume it's correct and legislate accordingly.

37 posted on 03/31/2012 11:12:46 PM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if...")
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To: Tucker39

Be sorry as you may, but there is none in Torah outside what I believe to be God himself.

And, as evinced in Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”


38 posted on 03/31/2012 11:33:41 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: papertyger
just assume it's correct and legislate accordingly.

What legislation? SETI and similar projects have received some government funding but also plenty of private financing. Mind-exercises like the Drake equation are just intended to provide some initial framework for research and discovery - they don't deserve the uncomprehending awe the press always bestows on things like equations, but they do serve a legitimate purpose. Without such things we'd never have bothered looking for or finding extra-solar planets.
39 posted on 04/01/2012 12:19:28 AM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
What legislation?

It was in keeping with the analogy. There's no actual legislation involved unless you count educational standards.

Without such things we'd never have bothered looking for or finding extra-solar planets.

I disagree.

The fact that we knew planets existed makes it impossible to claim we'd never have looked for them elsewhere: just as we will look for life elsewhere.

But again, that is irrelevant. Looking for planets is nowhere near assigning probabilities for finding them...particularly when you've already admitted you have no idea what circumstances repeatably cause planets to form.

40 posted on 04/01/2012 12:45:21 AM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if...")
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