Why is today’s solar eclipse such a memorable event? Because those of us in the U.S. will get a really good look at it when the moon directly intercepts our view of the sun. Total solar eclipses happened every 1-3 years somewhere on Earth… but not always from a viewing area that’s convenient for us to get to. This one’s crossing over the width of the entire U.S. which is why people are making such a big deal about it.
Christian author Eric Metaxas, however, is convinced that today’s eclipse is more than just some naturally occurring event. It must be a sign from God. And to prove it, he did some math.
About 15 years ago, he says, he looked up some basic information about the diameters of the sun and moon and the distances between our planet and those objects.
Armed with these four figures, I did some simple math. I divided the sun’s diameter (864,576) by the moon’s (2,159) and got 400.452. If my strange hunch was correct, dividing the distance from the Earth to the sun (93,000,000) by the distance from the Earth to the moon (239,000) should give me something similar. It certainly did. My calculations yielded 389.121. And there it was. I stared at the numbers, amazed. Was the correlation in these ratios mere coincidence?
Yes. That’s a coincidence.
What Metaxas found, in plain English, was that the sun was about 400 times the size of the moon. It was also about 400 times further away from us than the moon. There’s nothing special or significant about that — but it does explain why both objects appear to be the same size from our point of view, and why the moon will look like it’s blotting out the entire sun today (despite being so much smaller).
It’s neat because it gives us a cool, rare visual today… but it’s not significant for any other reason. If we only got a partial solar eclipse like other planets, we might make note of it, but then we’d move on with our lives instead of stopping everything we’re doing to catch a glimpse.This is nothing more than the game psychics play with our minds, where they count the “hits” but ignore the “misses.” Today’s eclipse is a “hit” but there are so many celestial “misses” going on around us all the time and we just don’t make a big deal of them.
But Metaxas doesn’t want to hear any of that. He’s already on his knees.
I found the precision necessary for all of this unbelievable. The more I thought about it, the more I knew that there was no way this could be a mere coincidence. It seemed almost planned. In fact, it seemed utterly planned, as all things of such precision must be.
Forget God. Thank the Big Bang, gravity, and whatever crashed into our planet billions of years ago to create the moon.
(By the way, even if Metaxas was right, it’s quite a leap from “God created the eclipse” to “That wafer is made out of Jesus.”)
This isn’t Metaxas’ first time making this sort of argument either. A few years ago, he wrote an essay for the Wall Street Journal making the case for the fine-tuning argument, a fallacy so ludicrous that entire books have been written debunking it. (Physicist Lawrence Krauss responded to that particular article on the website of the New Yorker.)
Metaxas also thinks that if you don’t accept his “it’s a miracle!” argument, you’re intolerant and closed-minded.
Because that’s how math works. You find coincidences, pretend they’re bigger deals than they really are, then insult anyone who isn’t impressed by your ability to do basic division.
(Image via Shutterstock)