Offerings of the Eclipse
Today over the noon hour most of the USA stood outside staring skyward, hopefully with some approved glasses, to watch the first total solar eclipse in 38 years. Where I live, in western Colorado, it was only a partial eclipse but as 11am passed we could begin seeing a dimming of the sun that became, at its climax, comparable to the haziness cause by smoke from wild fires. Personally I was only mildly interested because we were only seeing a partial which is the same as any more frequently appearing partial eclipses I have seen in my lifetime.
Because I wasn’t real interested, I hadn’t heard some of the interesting facts that my co-worker, Ross, started sharing with me as we joined the rest of staff outside our place of work. First he pointed out the noticeable temperature difference which was about 10˚ to 15˚ cooler. He said a lot of animals will start to act erratically because it messes with their internal clocks which reminded me something I had heard about being quiet and listening. When I did, I noticed the din of crickets much louder than usual. I had also heard of people making pinhole viewers so I tried making a sort of pinhole with my index finger and thumb. Sure enough, I could see a little half-circle bump in my “pinhole” shadow on the ground.
This event also reminded me of an interesting documentary called The Privileged Planet in which philosopher Jay Richards and astro-biologist Guillermo Gonzalez talk (among a plethora of other observations) about the scientific data that is able to be gathered only at an eclipse. The documentary is mostly about the anthropic principle which, simply put, states that universe seems to have been designed for observation; the conditions that make our planet habitable are so finely tuned that any slight deviation in temperature, the earth’s axis, etc. would render our planet without life. There’s quite a bit more in that documentary and about the anthropic principle to discuss, but as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I’m not here to reiterate ideas already thoroughly discussed elsewhere, but to add my original thoughts and observations to these kinds of topics.
Taking Our Sun for Granted
What struck me most is that, when I paid attention to the rising noise of the crickets and the cool, dim air, I was flooded with a lucid and almost eery realization of the sun’s power over nature. I’m not sure if the same effect doesn’t happen when storm clouds blot out the sun (and if it doesn’t, why not?). It takes a special event like this because, though one can observe the sun’s return each and every morning, one needs a jolt of the unordinary to recall their latent gratitude. Suddenly it flashes through my mind: What if something we have always regarded as a constant in our universe were to come undone or “break” so to speak and caused this phenomenon of the sun to happen more frequently? (And in any other necessity provided to us in our symbiotic existence? I.E. Why shouldn’t the trees run their course and suddenly stop giving off oxygen?) Depending on how much the sun was blocked and for how long, it could have devastating effects to life on earth. Today’s events proved it can start having major effects relatively quickly.
To Whom Do I Owe My Gratitude?
I don’t claim that any of this is an absolute proof that their is a God, but the idea that life exists on a knife edge, that any slight change in these consistencies that make life possible, testify (as Romans 1:20 says) to a Creator. Even prominent militant atheist Richard Dawkins said, when asked if there was one argument given by a Christian or Creationist that caused him to pause he said “I think the closest is the idea that the fundamental constants of the universe are too good to be true…that does seem to me to need some kind of explanation if its true”. When I start to remember that no one/no thing owes me my next breath or my next heart beat, I start to wonder who designed this place where I get enough oxygen, where my atoms hold together, my synapses keep firing and where our planet faithfully rotates giving us night and day. The sun rains down ultraviolet-B radiation helping us create Vitamin D, raises our serotonin which can relieve anxiety and reduce depression, its light kills bad bacteria, has a beneficial effect on skin disorders and on and on. I choose to thank the Creator for this incredible biosystem He built us into.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.