Does the Solar Eclipse Prove the Existence of God?
On Monday, Americans got to see a rare treat — a total solar eclipse across a broad swath of the continental United States. While that eclipse inspired awe and wonder across the country, it might also furnish a powerful argument for the existence and providence of God.
A total solar eclipse — the phenomenon when the moon completely blocks out the light of the sun for a brief period of time — is a fundamentally unlikely event. Everything has to be "just right." Eric Metaxas, author of If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, pointed out just how unlikely this is.
Back in 2002, when "Google was just a gurgling infant," Metaxas picked up the Encyclopedia Brittanica and compared some figures. First, he found the diameter of the sun (864,576 miles), then the diameter of the moon (2,159 miles), next the distance from the Earth to the sun (93 million miles on average), and finally the distance from the Earth to the moon (239,000 miles on average).
Dividing the sun's diameter by the moon's, Metaxas got 400.452. Dividing the distance from the Earth to the sun by the distance from the Earth to the moon gave him 389.121. In other words, the size and distance of each of these celestial bodies is exactly right for a person on Earth to witness a total solar eclipse.
"Of course what this all meant was simply that these immemorially ancient and vast objects, though as different in size as a single BB and a super gigantic beach ball — one that was over six feet in diameter — would from our perspective here on Earth seem almost precisely the same size," Mataxas noted.
"So if they ever just happened to align in the sky, they would match up perfectly. Not almost perfectly. But perfectly, and bizarrely so," the author added. This does not seem like a coincidence.
As Metaxas noted, "Almost all the planets in our solar system have no moons or many moons (Jupiter has 60) of incredibly varying sizes. So this sort of thing doesn't happen anywhere else in our solar system."
The author described the precision involved in all these calculations as "unbelievable." He wrote, "The more I thought about it, the more I knew that there was no way this could be a mere coincidence. It seemed almost planned."
Metaxas suggested a scientific experiment to make this miracle more concrete than abstract mathematics.
Suppose a man held a BB twelve inches from his face and asked a friend to carry a six-foot diameter beach ball (three times the size of a normal beach ball) as far away as necessary, until it appeared exactly the same size as the BB. The friend would have to walk 400 feet — just a little bit longer than a football field — before the two objects would seem to be the same size.