Solar Speculation: NASA Rendering of Planet Discovery Meets Professor’s Biblical Worldview

Rendering from NASA

At least some of scientists’ enthusiasm over discovery of seven potentially habitable planets seems to reflect the misplaced hopes of a secular worldview.

That is the assessment of a Union University physicist and a Gateway Seminary Old Testament professor following NASA’s Feb. 22 announcement that astronomers have detected the first known system of seven Earth-sized planets rotating around a single star.

Bill Nettles, chair of Union’s physics department, told Baptist Press the “excitement” among some scientists “over the possibility of extra-terrestrial life simply confirms” a longstanding assumption that “surely life must exist somewhere in the universe.” That assumption “has been a theme of writers for centuries, and we shouldn’t expect it to wane.”

Yet “for Christians, there is already a hope that there is life elsewhere, but we don’t need to find it in some other planet,” Nettles said in written comments. “It is found in the promises of God, revealed in the human-divine person of Jesus of Nazareth.”

The discovery of “other planets around other stars should be no more surprising to us today than the discovery of rocky planets in our own solar system centuries ago,” Nettles said. “The Bible begins with the creation of the heavens and earth. These discoveries do not dispute that.”

The newly discovered planetary system, located some 40 light-years from Earth, is called TRAPPIST-1, named for the Belgian-operated Transitioning Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope that first detected some of its components.

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope confirmed the existence of two planets in the system and discovered five more, according to a NASA press release, for a total of seven confirmed planets.

All seven likely are rocky and could possess liquid water — “the key to life as we know it,” according to NASA. Three of the planets fall within a “habitable zone,” where rocky planets are most likely to have liquid water.

The planets purportedly are so close together that a person standing on the surface of one could see others in the sky with appearances larger than Earth’s moon.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
David Roach