One day a theologian and an astronomer were talking together. The astronomer said that after reading widely in the field of religious things that he had come to the conclusion that all religion could be summed up in a single phrase, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – and he said so with an air of smugness, believing that his field was so much more complex than that of the minister. Well, after a brief pause, the theologian replied that he, after reading widely in the field of astronomical things, had concluded that all astronomy could also be summed up in a single phrase. “Oh, and what is that?” said the scientist. And the reverend replied – “Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are?”
It is a question that has been pondered for centuries – Do other stars have planets like ours has? Johann Kepler, the brilliant German (mathematics teacher, astronomer, optician, natural philosopher, astrologer and theologian) even wrote the first science fiction book about such a thing, The Dream, way back in the year 1608. Today, scientists are now finally able to move from fiction to fact, for the answer is yes, other stars do have planets. They are called exo-planets (meaning a planet outside of our solar system that orbits around a star). The first one was discovered in 1992 and as of today, 3,693 more have been identified. And assuming that there are 200,000 million stars in our galaxy, this means there is the potential for 11 billion more exo-plantets in the Milky Way. Of the 3,693 eco-planets discovered, the smallest one is twice the size of our moon and the largest one is almost thirty times the size of Jupiter, our largest planet. And about 1 in 5 are similar in size to the earth. However, what astro-biologists are most looking for is a particular kind of exo-planet, one that falls into the habitable zone (has the ability to support life). This is why the Kepler Space Telescope was launched, to find such a planet(s). And what has been the result of all of this? The nearest extra-solar planetary system to ours is now called Proxima Centauri (closest one of its kind). The star (sun) is called Proxima Centauri/a and the planets that revolve around it are called Proxima Centauri/b, Proxima Centauri/c, Proxima Centauri/d, etc. It is 4.2 light years away – meaning it would take a space shuttle 156,240 years to travel the 25 trillion miles or 40 trillion km. (By the way, the newest exo-planet was just discovered by a Canadian astronomer living in Newfoundland, and it is 13,000 light years away, or 3,250 times farther in distance than Proxima Centauri.) Now when it is all said and done, there are two things that are really surprising astronomers. One, how hostile all the other solar systems are to life as we know it. From elliptical orbits to dwarf stars to hot gases, none are human friendly without any coming even close to meeting just one of the twelve major criteria for life on another planet. And two, just how different our solar system is. There is nothing out there even remotely like it for sustaining life.
The bottom line? None of this should surprise us as we read in Isaiah 45:18, God himself formed the earth and made it…he formed it to be inhabited.