So what prompted the abundance of media coverage regarding a planet discovery announced at the end of April 2007? According to scientists, this was the first potentially habitable planet. For the recently discovered planet, this meant it orbited in the region around its star where liquid water could exist on its surface. A more detailed reading of the discovery announcement and papers revealed that liquid water would also require some type of sustained atmosphere. We have already written two articles about this potentially habitable planet as well as discussed the issue on Creation Update.
Additionally, two recent reports in Science Daily announced evidence of ancient volcanic and water activity on Mars and evidence for a molten core in the planet Mercury. The evidence for volcanic activity mixed with water on Mars relied on observations and measurements made by Spirit, a robotic rover in operation on Mars since January 2004. In contrast, scientists sent radio waves to bounce off Mercury to measure how much the planet wobbles as it orbits the Sun. The technique works on the same principle you can use to detect hard-boiled eggs. (The liquid center of a raw egg causes it to wobble as it spins whereas a hard-boiled egg spins smoothly.) A molten core provides the most straightforward interpretation for the detected wobbling of Mercury. The molten core, also conveniently explains the rather unexpected magnetic field discovered by Mariner 10 over 30 years ago.
My point in highlighting these three discoveries pertains to the fact that often liquid water, molten cores, and magnetic fields are thought to be proprietary to Earth. If other planets possess similar properties, how can we argue for Earth’s designed or unique nature? The answer lies in the creation accounts of the Bible. For instance, Genesis 1:1 describes the beginning of the universe and ends with a featureless, hostile-to-life Earth cloaked in water and darkness. Notice that the presence of water does not contradict the “formless and void” description of Earth. Neither does the author of Genesis comment on any particular miraculous work to bring Earth into existence, in contrast with the multiple miraculous events described as God prepared Earth to support life and then populated it.
It’s reasonable to conclude that the process of planet formation is a natural outworking of the laws of physics God ordained to govern the universe. Further, planets containing water may be far more common than previously thought (water is the universe’s second most abundant molecule) as are planets that briefly exhibit geological activity such as plate tectonics and volcanism. However, the combination and durability of Earth’s water cycle, plate tectonics, and magnetic field generation 4.5 billion years after its formation strongly argues for supernatural intervention. The sustained activity of all three characteristics constitutes a key distinction between the Earth, which God formed to be inhabited, and the “formless and void” planets scientists will continue to find.