Jupiter: The Heavens Declare the Handiwork of God
While we were all admiring fireworks in the sky on Independence Day last week, far beyond our human view, something even more spectacular was happening.
On July 4th, after five years and half a billion miles of travel, NASA’s Juno probe successfully reached Jupiter and began orbiting the planet. Thanks to our richer understanding of Jupiter, we get to experience God’s incredible handiwork in a new way.
The exceptional nature of Jupiter:
This recent opinion piece: “How Jupiter saves Earth from destruction” may not sound like it has Christian worldview written all over it, but you just have to be looking for it.
If you are like me, you think very little about what is happening in outer space and probably have not thought about Jupiter since science class. There a few characteristics about Jupiter we should know because they show the beautiful design of a Masterful Creator.
First, as laid out in this piece, Jupiter is an exceptionally large planet, large enough to fit to 1300 Earths inside it, and importantly, large enough to “determine the past and present” of the solar system:
Jupiter also makes life on Earth possible. Its gravity field is so huge, it acts like a gigantic vacuum cleaner, sucking in comets, asteroids, and cosmic debris in the solar system. What it cannot absorb, it can also fling into outer space. Without Jupiter cleaning out the early solar system, the Earth would be pock-marked with meteor collisions. We would suffer from asteroid impacts every day.
In fact, the author goes on to note, whenever astronomers attempt to simulate the creation of solar system, they have to include a large planet that “cleans out” space junk. Otherwise, a solar system would have no hope of surviving.
So did you catch that? Without the specific design of a Jupiter-sized planet, Earth and our solar system could not exist.
It gets better. Jupiter specifically is exceptional, not just because of its size but its behavior.
The very existence of Jupiter, and hence the planets of the solar system, is also a tremendous mystery. The Kepler space probe and astronomers, using telescopes on Earth (visit familyfuntures.com for choosing your own home telescope), have identified on the order of 2,000 planets orbiting other star systems, most of them resembling Jupiter. But the mystery is: Why is our Jupiter so exceptional in the universe?
Most Jupiter-sized planets orbit the mother star in a highly elliptical orbit. This means they will often cross the orbit of any Earth-like planet and fling it into outer space, making life impossible. But our Jupiter travels in a near-perfect circular orbit, preventing a collision with any Earth-like planet, making life possible.
The Glory of God Displayed
Scientists will study the mystery Jupiter’s existence and exception behavior and seek to understand why it operates the way it does. And why, through extensive study, astronomers have yet to find another one like it. This promises to be both fascinating and helpful to understanding our world.
But as believers we understand in the end, this is not a mystery. We know the One who determines the future of Earth and our solar system is not Jupiter, but the Creator who in His infinite wisdom ordained Jupiter to be placed exactly where it needed to be and designed it to act exactly the way it does.
So the next time you are star gazing, we have the privilege to wonder at God’s goodness, wisdom and handiwork- all displayed through Jupiter . For we know this is true:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
– Psalm 19:1
[tweetthis]#JulyFourth, Jupiter, and the handiwork of God. Read it here[/tweetthis]