Meanwhile, the earth has a proper relative proportion of land and water surface in order that the land may be neither parched through insufficient precipitation nor turned into a swamp through excess. The topography of the land is such that it assists in the process of watering the earth by causing turbulence in air currents which pass over it, thus bringing about the breakup of cloud formations.
(6) The existence of the moon is also of fundamental importance tothe earth. As far as is known, it is the largest satellite relative to the size of its parent body. From this point of view it is, in fact, huge. The moon has sufficient mass to cause tides, and tides are of great importance in keeping the oceans fresh. The possession of a moon of such a size by our earth is of importance in more than one way to life as we know it. What currents do in vitalizing rivers, tides do for the oceans.
All these coincidences add up to an impressive testimony to the uniqueness of the earth as a theatre for the unfolding of God's plan. In his book Man on His Nature, Sir Charles Sherrington remarked:
A great American physiologist, Lawrence Henderson, has set forth the particularity of the physical and chemical conditions whose occurrence on the face of the earth render possible the existence of the systems we call living. Certain anomalous properties of water in conjunction with universal powers and space-relations of the carbon atom, along with exceptional conditions of radiation and temperature, are shown to form a sort of conspiracy of circumstance allowing life to be, both here and now.
Dean H. Kenyon and Gary Steinman, in their book Biochemical Predestination, would go one step further and argue that the raw materials for life were created in such a form that life must have been predestined by them. They put it this way: "Biochemical Predestination means that the limits beyond which evolutionary processes could not stray, would be determined largely by the properties inherent in the evolving bodies as preset by the (raw) materials from which the (finished) materials were fabricated."
We are often told that the chances of life on other planets like the earth are very considerable, and there is no need to suppose that the existence of life here is really so exceptional. I think the total situation is more complex than the public has been led to believe. In a paper entitled, "Some Cosmic Aspects of Evolution," which G. G. Simpson contributed to a symposium held in Europe in 1968, he dealt with some aspects of the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe and concluded with the following remarks:
The chances that anything like man, or for that matter like any other terrestrial species except perhaps the most primitive, exists elsewhere in the universe are, I think, the same as the chances that any other planet has had exactly the same history as earth -- and as its inhabitants -- in every essential detail for two billion years and more.
I therefore earnestly doubt whether there are any manlike beings waiting to greet us anywhere in the universe. The opposite opinion, even though it has been advanced by some eminent and sensible men, seems to me to underestimate either the complexity or the rigidity of historical causation.Our earth therefore may be somewhat more significant than we might suppose, even though astronomers have shown that it is such a tiny speck of material in an inconceivably vast universe. The question arises, can such a tiny speck, looked at from this point of view, be really so important? The answer, I think, may be found this way: There are two alternatives. One would be to make the earth much larger relative to the universe. And the other would be to make the universe much smaller relative to the earth. As we have seen, the first alternative is out of the question; the size of the earth cannot be changed very much. Then what of the latter alternative? What would happen if the universe were made smaller? Is it not true that in due time we should pierce through space until we have found its boundaries? Then suddenly it would not seem so big after all. At first this might not matter very much. But in the end and in a subtle way, when we found we could comprehend the whole of it, our view of the Creator would begin to contract and He would seem to become smaller as our exploration became more complete. In a way, man's greatness is sensed by the magnitude of his achievement, and the immensity of the universe -- for the Christian -- adds not a little to our sense of awe and our worship of the Creator. If it is true that the universe is expanding, there is little need to fear that we can ever catch up to, or overtake the greatness of God.
And this touches one other point. We are making an assumption that the universe was created a very long time ago. It is quite conceivable that God could have created everything instantaneously and set the stage for man in a moment. Yet this would have two effects: First, it would have prevented us from seeing how wise, methodical, and orderly is God's work. The suddenness of instantaneous creation is frightening rather than reassuring and, as a rule, God has only adopted this method when He desired to make a special impression. It is not His normal way. Moreover, "taking time" implies a certain determination, forethought, and unchangeableness of purpose, as though the end result was something greatly to be desired how ever long it took to achieve. It seems to have taken a long time to prepare the earth for man, and so long as we believe it was a preparation for man, we can derive considerable assurance and
To an imaginary being, with a life span of ten thousand million years evolution would seem very rapid. To God, whom we cannot even conceive in relation to time, it may well have been instantaneous.There is no doubt, of course, that God could have created the world instantaneously, although this would have involved the making of many things in such a form that they would appear to have an age which they did not, in fact, actually have ‹ trees with tree rings that did not signify age, humus which was not constituted of decayed vegetation, and so forth. Scripture shows that this kind of "creation with a history" has often occurred in a miraculous way whenever it was absolutely necessary. Thus Moses' rod became a serpent (Exodus 4:2‹4) which was probably of comparable length, and therefore of a specific age, since serpents grow with age continuously. When the Lord restored Malchus' ear (Luke 22:51), it was the ear of a man, appropriate to his age even though it had certainly been created instantaneously. There are many such illustrations in Scripture. Undoubtedly the Lord could have accelerated the preparation of the earth for man in the same way, but evidently a better purpose was served by working in a manner more in keeping with human experience in order that man could, if he would, see that it was all done specifically in preparation for his own coming.
Unfortunately, for a little over one hundred years, since Lyell and Darwin's time, man has not been willing to see the whole process as purposeful with respect to himself. The insights of previous generations of naturalists have been, and largely continue to be, laid aside as inappropriate to the naturalistic world view. But the categorical denial of teleological explanations, a denial which at first seemed so stimulating to our understanding of the natural order, is now beginning to prove to be a barrier to further advances in understanding, and there is a new wind blowing.
To be continued . . .