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1 In 1,000,000,000,000

By John Fischer

I am fascinated by the universe. I am fascinated by the billions upon trillions of stars and galaxies out there and the unfathomable distances between everything. I am fascinated by the stars burning so bright that we can see them light years away and then I am fascinated by how long it takes the light to get here. It's like we are looking at ancient information in the heavens.

Today it's not as noticeable because the mornings are warmer, but a couple of months ago when the early morning air was in the lower fifties, I noticed that if I stepped into the path of the sun just cresting the hill behind my house, I could feel the heat from it as if I were standing in front of a portable heater. I could turn my face to it and feel it radiate. I could turn around and feel the sun heating up my back. Then I would reflect on the fact that the sun was 93 million miles away, and the actual photons that were warming my body had taken a little over 8 minutes travel time to get here. Now I like a good road trip, but that's some traveling!

But I read this morning in an article from Breakpoint that our sun, compared to most other stars out there, is pretty tame, and it's a good thing because otherwise, we would be toast. The article went on to point out other things in our delicate solar system and our unique place in it that makes life on this planet possible - things like being just the right distance from the sun, at the right location in the galaxy, in a solar system with gas giants that shield us from wandering asteroids and comets, with a moon just the right size to stabilize our axis and create tides and seasons, on a planet with land, liquid water, oxygen, plate tectonics, and a molten iron core to generate a magnetosphere. Tally up all these factors and come up with the probability that all these things could have combined for the benefit of this one tiny planet and the chances come out to be something like 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000. I don't even know what to call that figure except one, followed by fifteen zeroes! (It's a quadrillion; I looked it up.)

And why am I reflecting on all this today? Because when it feels like things are flying out of control in our world, it's comforting to know that we are not here by chance. And if we aren't here by chance, then God has a plan and design for everything that is happening right now, even that which seems to us to be pretty chaotic.

So step outside today, if you can, and turn your face toward the sun and thank God that nothing escapes His watchful eye.

Visit John Fischer at
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