John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera on the Improbability of Our Existence: What is Man That Thou Art Mindful of Him?

On April 13, 2029, a 370-meter wide asteroid formally known as 99942 Apophis will pass by Earth at a distance of about 19,000 miles.

While 19,000 miles sounds like a long way away, in astronomical terms it’s actually the equivalent of having a bullet whiz by your ear. There are man-made satellites that orbit farther from Earth.

Even scarier, it was initially believed there was a slight chance Apophis could strike the Earth in 2036. That’s why, when the asteroid and its trajectory was discovered in 2004, scientists named it after the Egyptian god of chaos who, by the way, is also the villain in the TV series, Stargate-SG1.

Thankfully, that possibility has since been ruled out. Still, as the saying goes “There are plenty more where that came from,” in particular, in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The imminent threat of asteroid-caused destruction was the motivation behind a recent Planetary Defense Conference at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The purpose of the conference was to discuss “the threat to Earth posed by asteroids and comets, and actions that might be taken to deflect a threatening object.”

While the chances of something the size of Apophis or bigger hitting the Earth are remote, it would only take one to dramatically alter or even destroy human civilization as we know it. Thus, we should be grateful that scientists are taking the potential threat seriously.

And yet, all of this underscores how improbable our very existence, never mind human civilization, is. There is something called the “Rare Earth Hypothesis,” which holds that intelligent life is the result of “improbable astrophysical and geological events and circumstances.”

Whereas people like Carl Sagan insisted, based on faulty math and even faultier logic, that intelligent life was common in the Cosmos, the Rare Earth Hypothesis takes note of all the things that had to go exactly right for us to exist.

For instance, not only does a planet have to be just the right distance from its sun, often called the “Goldilocks Zone,” but its tilt and orbit must be just right, too. And, its sun must also be just the right distance from the center of its galaxy.

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Source: Christian Headlines