A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, casting a shadow onto our planet. This stunning astronomical event is more than an amazing light show, it is one of the most dramatic pieces of evidence that our planet and solar system is not an accident, but was designed by a magnificently intelligent Creator.
A total solar eclipse crosses the continental United States, an event that hasn’t happened in nearly a century. Tens of millions of people, crammed into a 70-mile-wide path that crosses our country from Oregon to the Carolinas, stand looking up at the sky.
This massive nationwide spectator event, and especially for people of the Christian faith, is evidence of God’s majesty, glory, creativity, and power. God made the universe beautiful on purpose, and one of the beauties is a solar eclipse. The next one to occur in America will not be until 2024.
What is remarkable is this – of the many moons in our solar system, our moon is the only one known to yield the most perfect solar eclipses when viewed from the surface of the earth. Is it just a coincidence that the one planet in the solar system that produces the most perfect solar eclipses just so happens to be the one planet that hosts conscious intelligent observers to appreciate them? Only one other moon in the solar system appears the same size when viewed from its host planet – a small moon of Saturn called Prometheus. But this moon moves so rapidly around Saturn that its solar eclipses endure for less than a single second.
Solar eclipses are a spectacular sight to behold. But they have also contributed significantly to scientific discovery. The sun’s corona, the star’s outer atmosphere, becomes observable only during a solar eclipse. This has allowed scientists to conduct experiments during solar eclipses. A 1919 solar eclipse led to the confirmation of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity that he had proposed three years earlier. If Einstein’s theory was right, starlight should bend as it passes the sun. The 1919 experiments during the eclipsed confirmed Einstein’s theory.
The conditions for this dazzling display are incredibly rare. The moon has to be just the right size, orbiting a planet just the right distance from its host star. The sun is 400 times farther away from the earth than the moon is, but it is also 400 times larger than the moon. This is why the sun and the moon appear to be approximately the same size in the sky. The result – total solar and lunar eclipses. The one place in our solar system where you can see a total solar eclipse is on our planet where people can see it.
Happy Accident or Intelligent Design?
Yet, many skeptics are not convinced. David Dickinson denies that all of this planetary engineering suggests intelligent design. He calls the many preconditions necessary for solar eclipses a “happy celestial circumstance.” Other faith deniers call solar eclipses “a coincidence”, “natural phenomenon”, and ” a rare celestial spectacle.” They would be more accurate to call it a “miracle of intelligent design and divine engineering”, Genesis 1: 14-16.
Fred Espenak, famed eclipse expert (who has witnessed 27 eclipses on 7 continents), says, “The air gets noticeably colder by about 10 degrees. You feel something in the pit of your stomach like something is not right. As totality begins, and the shadow sweeps over you, the hairs on the back of your neck and arms stand up. You just go, ‘Wow.’ Flowers tend to close up like it’s nighttime. Birds tend to stop singing. I’ve seen cows head back to barns. I’ve heard crickets. All of a sudden now the sun, which was too bright to look at seconds ago, is replaced by this black disk with this ghostly halo around it, which is just exquisitely beautiful.”
Solar and lunar eclipses add to a growing body of data that suggests that our Universe was designed for intelligent life. Yes, the heavens do declare the glory of God, Psalm 24:1.