Fine-Tuned Position In Galaxy

Fine Tuned Galaxy

My first post for Fine-Tuned Fridays. I figure that if I feature a different fine-tuning point each Friday I can keep this going a long time. This week’s is about our position in the Milky Way.

We are positioned between spiral arms of the galaxy in a relatively empty area of space. This is important because if we were situated within a denser region of an arm we would be subject to a much higher amount of radiation, and would more likely to suffer nearby supernovas and gamma-ray bursts.

This position in the galaxy also allows us to make observations of the universe. There are no large nebulae or star clusters to drown out the light from more distant objects. The Coal Sack of dust between us and the galactic center blocks the blinding light from that direction.

We are situated about halfway between the galactic center and the outer edge of the galaxy. If we were closer to the center we would be subject not only to the same dangers as inside an arm, but by the massive amounts of radiation that the central black hole emits when it is in a feeding phase. If we were in the outer part of the disk there would not be enough heavier elements to create planets, or provide the chemistry for life. There is evidence that our system was formed closer in, in cluster of other stars, and migrated out to it’s present position. This provided an abundance of heavy elements for formation, and a quiet neighborhood for maturity.

We are placed just inside the co-rotation distance from the center, which means that we revolve around the galaxy at roughly the same rate as the spiral arm structure, which keeps us in our area between arms and avoids dangerous arm crossings. If we were at exactly the co-rotation distance it would set up gravitational instabilities in our system, so just inside that distance is optimal.

Our orbit around the galactic center is remarkably flat. if it were to oscillate too much and carry us too far beyond the plane of the elliptic we would emerge from behind the Coal Sack and other intervening matter, and would be bombarded by deadly radiation from the core.

The more observations we make, the more we discover how unlikely we are. Virtually everything we measure about our reality shows a narrow range of circumstances for life. In my judgement this is strong evidence for design. You are free to believe what you want.

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10 Comments

  1. Naturally, if we weren’t out here in the galactic burbs we wouldn’t be alive to remark on how lucky it is to win the ontological lottery. This is the strong anthropic principle, and I’m quite sure you’re aware of it.

    Reply
    • The SAP serves as an observation better than as an explanation. Simply saying that the conditions must be this way doesn’t explain why they are. One way I have heard it stated is that it is like saying there must be unmarried men in order for there to be bachelors. It is a component of the Teleological Argument, but it does not explain the “why” by itself.

      Also, it has not been proven that it is inevitable that simply having the conditions for life will produce life.

      Reply
  2. Scientific inquiry is human mythology very much like all the earlier ones (once you understand that mythology is simply a narrative that explains the otherwise inexplicable). The difference with the myth of science, however, is that Father Galileo, unlike Father Moses, laid down a procedure for allowing it to develop, such that if you wiped all of human memory and records and made everyone start over, the mythology of science would eventually re-emerge more or less like we see it today while the mythology of Moses would not. And science doesn’t explain why, but how. We leave it to others to explain why, and we are content with that. The only problem I have is when the why of Moses overrides the how of Galileo in public schools.

    Reply
    • I agree with everything you said about science. I even think that is another reason to believe in a creator. It makes sense to me that if this universe was designed by an intelligence, and we are made in the image of that intelligence, then we should have the capacity to understand this creation. The Bible even says that is a worthy thing to do, as a deeper understating of creation gives you a deeper understanding of the Creator.

      I do not agree with your evaluation of the reliability of religious discovery. The question of why has always been just as, if not more, important as the question of how. Studies have shown that we are all born predisposed to believe that there is a purpose to things and life, and that there is something beyond this physical world. We are designed to seek God, and God will reveal himself to those who seek him.

      This is only an intellectual game to me, as I believe that the Bible is true when Jesus says His words will not pass away. What he accomplished on the cross is the most important thing to ever happen. God will preserve that Truth.

      And again, I am not advocating teaching this in public schools, though I think it compliments science rather than overrides it.

      Reply
  3. Studies may have shown that we are predisposed to believe there is something beyond this physical world, but in the end those remain psychological studies, which are inherently inexact. Studies of the physical world still do not indicate there is something beyond, as indeed they cannot, since any intrusion from beyond the could be studied would be, in the end, still a study of the physical world. A sample of Christ’s DNA would be an example of this. As for what Christ accomplished on the cross, it seems to me to be rather roundabout. If God wanted to forgive people for their sins, why don’t he just do like we do and simply forgive, and not require a human sacrifice first?

    Reply
    • OK, last things first, since it is the most important thing raised in your reply. What happened on the cross was not a human sacrifice. A main difference between Christianity and other world religions is the idea that a prophet or holy man can not tell you how to reach God, that you can not earn your way into His graces. There is such a chasm between us and God that He is the only one able to bridge it. The Word became flesh to provide access for us to the Father. Jesus was not just a man.

      If God is just, then there must be payment for sin. It would not be justice if a court judge just forgave people for their crimes. If a crime is committed someone needs to be held accountable, someone has to pay. We are not able to pay for our crimes (sins) ourselves, so in order to serve justice God made a way for Him to pay for us.

      I could go deeper, but I can not spend all day on this one reply. I need to have fun with my kids today. There are many works of theology out there. If you want I can recommend a few.

      I agree with everything else in your reply.

      Reply
  4. Aquinas gave us the argument from the Unmoved Mover to explain all motion in the universe, and the same principle could be applied to forgiveness. One might very rationally hold that in the human world, every good demands a reward, every evil a punishment, and every crime demands retribution, to set balances aright. And yet God, who is said to be wholly other than man, is depicted as requiring the same sort of movement, the same need to balance the books that governs our society. Yet it seems to me that it would be a far more explicit demonstration of divine power and mercy to simply absorb the penalty for sin and forgive without a balancing of the books, a kind of Last Resort as a mirror image to the First Cause.

    Reply
    • I have the kids sitting down to lunch, so I have a few moments.

      It seems you may be conflating Christianity with other world religions. Unlike Islam or Hinduism there is no cosmic balance sheet or karmic wheel in Christianity. Adam was created in a certain state, he fell from that state by rebellion, and was never able to regain it. Our natures are now that we are naturally rebellious to God. Whatever “good” we do is only what is expected of us in the first place, we do not get extra credit for it. Whatever “bad” we do just adds to our debt. There is no way for us to make up for it. We are just digging a deeper hole all of the time. The most that is theoretically possible to do on our own is to stop digging for a time. It is a mercy that there is ANY way to pay this debt.

      What would be the value of grace if all sins were just automatically forgiven? Couldn’t we claim it as our just due? Wouldn’t it undermine the whole basis of morality and justice? What would it matter how we treated God or each other if there was no accountability?

      When a judge hands down a sentence it is not just for his own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole society.

      Reply
  5. And yet the meaning of grace, gratis, is unearned merit. It’s a birthday present, grasped by those who believe in the resurrection of Christ. And so the value of grace is precisely zero, because it is claimed as our just due for faith without recourse to any kind of accountability, at least in Protestant soteriology. A mass murderer could repent and accept Christ at the very last instant before the police kill him, or possibly later before the lethal injection takes effect, and he would be saved, since his sin is “covered” by grace, forensically, without regard to any objective sanctification of his soul, and this would in the eyes of the families of the victims be a vast injustice. And we are told that the smallest sin is just as infinitely repugnant to God as the biggest, yet he forgives them both, remitting eternal punishment equally for both sinners, but making a mockery of justice in the bargain.

    Reply
    • This seems a little confused. The fist sentence says grace is unearned merit, but a couple of sentences later it says grace can be claimed as our just due? You also say that since it is a gift the value is zero? I’m not sure we are talking about the same thing.

      As far as the mass murderer, salvation isn’t a simple incantation you mouth. I doubt he would be able to experience genuine repentance, be able to humbly beg for forgiveness, sincerely devote his life to Christ, and God decide to bestow mercy on him in the last moments of his life, among a hail of bullets. I used to think of this loop-hole when I was young and wild, until I found out it doesn’t work like that.

      Now if he were able to experience all of these things as he was waiting on death row it would be another matter. God is sovereign, and he holds us all to the same standards and conditions. If he decides to bestow his mercy it is not my place to question. We have all committed a multitude of crimes against Him and are all deserving of punishment. Some of the things that happen in this life do seem unfair and pointless, but I am assured that there IS purpose behind everything, even if I can not imagine what it is on this side of the grave.

      I feel like I am starting to talk in religiouseese, but certain subjects almost call for it.

      I appreciate the exchange, but it seems that we are getting to the point where we are going to start repeating the same things using different words. I’m not going to convince you and you are not going to convince me. Is it time to agree to disagree?

      Reply

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