Today we behold one of the most spectacular celestial events to grace our planet: for just a few brief moments, night will intrude upon daylight. Jay Richards, from the Catholic University of America, describes just how unlikely it is that we should ever experience one these amazing eclipses:
But the story doesn’t end there. A rare alignment of events allows Earthlings to witness not just solar eclipses, but what we might call perfect solar eclipses. Our Moon just barely covers the Sun’s bright photosphere. Such an eclipse depends on just the right sizes, shapes, and relative distances of the Sun, Moon and Earth.
There’s no law of physics that dictates this layout. There are 65 major moons in our Solar System, and many smaller ones. But only we enjoy perfect solar eclipses. If there were Martians or Uranians, they wouldn’t see such eclipses.
The Moon is about 400 times smaller than the Sun. But the Moon is also about 400 times closer to the Earth than is the Sun. As a result, the size of the Moon on our sky matches the size of the Sun. And since they appear as round disks, they match in both size and shape.
. . . .
In brief, the best time and place to view total solar eclipses in our Solar System is just when and where there are observers to see them.
Let that sink in.
Richards also points out that the phenomenon made certain scientific advances possible, including the confirmation of an important prediction of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. From this he draws an important conclusion:
This is just one example of an eerie pattern we discuss in detail in The Privileged Planet: life-friendly places like Earth are also the best places, over all, for doing science.
Evidence of intelligent design is, of course, evidence of an Intelligent Designer and so quite possibly points to the existence of God. Maybe God designed the perfect total eclipse just for us? And maybe God designed our minds so that we could appreciate eclipses and learn from them?
My personal opinion is that the design of the human mind is the most underappreciated and least explored frontier of intelligent design, and much of my book is devoted to investigating the evidence for this. If in fact the human mind was designed, it was designed for a purpose:
To know, to love, and to serve God— the saints and spiritual masters tell us, and the Church emphatically agrees, that this is the purpose and function of man. This is our reason for existence. Based on our observations here, I suggest there is room to extend this wisdom just a bit further. To know, to love, and to serve God is indeed the end and function of man. But more than this, it is the divinely ordained purpose and function of the human mind. God made the human mind to know, to love, and to serve Him. Notice what follows from this. To the extent that the mind knows, loves, and serves God, we can say of that mind that it is performing its function. But to the extent that a mind fails to do these spiritual things, we can say that such a mind is failing to perform its function. In other words, such a mind is dysfunctional. The Grace Hypothesis of Mind and Mental Health . . . predicts that symptoms of mental dysfunction— depression, anxiety, impulse control disorders, and substance abuse— will be present to the extent that a mind fails to perform its spiritual function— to know, to love, and to serve God.
. . . .
God gave us the Bible so that we might learn best how to know, love, and serve Him. [Thus] it follows that the mind that conforms to . . . Biblical [teaching] will flourish because it is properly performing its function, while the mind that fails to follow the Bible will suffer the symptoms of dysfunction. If the Grace Hypothesis is true, the universal, immutable law that governs the human mind is this: that we learn and observe the teachings of the Bible.
[From: The Immoral Landscape of the New Atheism, chapter 3]
As I show in my book, the investigation of the mind promises much more than other design arguments. For the standard design arguments can only point to some intelligent designer or other. They do not necessarily point to the God of the Bible. But the evidence from my book points directly to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of the Ten Commandments, for God designed our minds to follow these Commandments, as St. Paul tells us in Hebrews:
10This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. * [RSV. Heb. 8:10-11]
The Intelligent Design argument that I advance in my book makes a prediction. It says that the rapid secularization we are now seeing in our culture will lead to an equally rapid decline in mental health. Not everyone agrees with this prediction however. Steven Pinker, for example, is predicting a new Enlightenment for our new secular age. And he has a new book coming out to make this case. But the empirical data is working against our optimistic atheist. For everywhere that Pinker expects to find enlightenment, there one finds mental illness instead. The evidence now is too overwhelming to ignore: as America has become more secular, she has, at the same time, become more mentally ill. And our present political and cultural climate bears witness to this uncomfortable truth. America is not heading for a new Enlightenment. Instead she walks in darkness.
Consider that as you experience the Great American Eclipse. Perhaps, today, God is trying to tell us something. Perhaps we should listen.