Pixabay/Gerd Altmann/Public Domain
Source: Pixabay/Gerd Altmann/Public Domain

Note: This is not one my typical articles dealing with bullying and aggression. It deals with a subject that has fascinated thinking human beings forever, the question of the existence of God.

Do you believe in God, like most people in the world, but wish you had some physically-based ammunition to bolster your belief?

I have no personal interest in whether or not you believe in God. But people have always seemed to have a need to know whether God exists. This essay is not an attempt to prove that God exists, as that may be impossible, or to encourage you to believe in It. (I will refer to God as “It” rather than the common “He” because I cannot presume that God—if It exists—is of a specific gender.) 

I’m offering something different from a “proof” of God’s existence. "Proofs " generally involve contemplating a natural phenomenon and arguing that logically the phenomenon could not exist without a supreme creator.

For example, recent thinkers have been theorizing that consciousness and mathematics, both of which are beyond the realm of the physical, are proofs of the existence of God.[1] [2] However, all it takes is a philosopher or scientist to present a logical explanation for how math or consciousness can exist in a Godless universe to refute these theories.

What I am presenting here is similar but reverse, more in the order of the Biblical story of a burning bush that magically does not get consumed, which God intentionally displays to Moses as a sign that It exists. Here I will be revealing a phenomenon that is either an incredibly mind-boggling coincidence or an amazing illusion of cosmic proportions performed by God as an intentional sign to man that It exists. It’s like It’s saying, “Hey, everybody, look at this neat trick! Only God can do this! I’m really here!” Weird as this may sound, I hope that scientifically and philosophically astute readers will contemplate this article and appreciate the amazing coincidences it presents. If you believe in God, I hope it will strengthen your belief, and if you are an atheist, I hope it will strengthen your appreciation of the coincidence that makes possible the most awe-inspiring of all natural phenomena.

To fully appreciate this article, I recommend you first watch the following Ted talk: You Owe it to Yourself to Experience a Total Solar Eclipse If you do, don't forget to come back to this article!

The basic premise

The idea presented here asks you to assume, at least for the few minutes it takes to read this essay, that God does exist, that It created the universe, that It created life, including intelligent human life, and that It would like its intelligent creatures to recognize and appreciate their maker. Many religious people do, indeed, hold these assumptions, and if a God does exist, the assumptions are reasonable.

Temporarily holding the assumption that God would like to be recognized by its intelligent creations, consider whether the idea presented here makes you think, "Wow, that is amazing! The sign has been right in front of my eyes and I can’t believe I never recognized it!"

The scientific quest to make contact with intelligent life

In recent decades, humans armed with advanced scientific tools have been attempting to detect or even contact alien intelligence. The effort is spearheaded by a department of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Association) called SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence).

One SETI activity involves searching for signs of life by detecting patterns of non-random energy waves from outer space, signifying that they must be produced by intelligent beings that have discovered the laws of mathematics. A less common and more controversial method is Active SETI, in which our planet constantly sends out simple but non-random signals that technologically advanced life forms would recognize as the product of intelligent beings and then try to contact us.

How might God proceed?

Let’s say God wanted to give all humans a continuous sign that It exists, one that would require advanced intelligence and mathematics to decipher. What might It do? Like Active SETI, It could send out an easily detectable signal that was simple but not random, meaning that it couldn’t be a mere coincidence, but the product of an intelligent being. The purpose of this essay is to reveal what that non-random message might be.

Two massive objects that everyone observes with awe

There are two massive, highly prominent objects that are observed by all human beings, all over the planet, almost every day. They are not the Pacific Ocean or Mount Everest or the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower.

What are these two massive objects? The sun and the moon! Of course there are countless stars that everyone also sees, and many of them are objectively far larger than our sun and moon. But for people looking up from the Earth, none rival the enormity of the sun and moon.

People have always been in awe of the sun and moon and recognized them as having special—even mystical—significance. Civilizations have worshipped them as gods or considered them to be ruled by gods. Even modern, scientific atheists recognize that they both make life on Earth possible. 

The Bible makes particular mention of the sun and moon as the creations of God, one to be the light for the day, the other for night.

The observed size of the sun and moon

To the naked eye, how big does the moon look compared to the sun? When I ask people, most say that they are close but the sun is bigger. But it’s hard for them to say exactly how close. We see the sun during the day and the moon at night. Even when the moon appears in the daytime, it’s not close enough to the sun to enable an accurate size comparison.

However, there is an event that actually makes the relative size of the sun and moon crystal clear. That event is the solar eclipse, when the moon’s path crosses the sun. That’s when we see how big one looks compared to the other.

And what is the relationship? An amazing one-to-one! During a total eclipse they look exactly the same. The moon perfectly covers the sun, and all you see is a halo of light around the moon. The truth is that this is not so for every eclipse because the orbits of the moon around the Earth and the Earth around the sun are elliptical, so the distances change and result in minute discrepancies in their apparent relative sizes. But the average of the eclipses shows the difference in relative observed size to be about one half of one percent, a discrepancy undetectable by our eyes. For practical purposes, they seem to be identical in size.

Ancient human beings took the existence of God/gods for granted. To them, it was clear that the sun and moon had the same maker, as expressed, for instance, in the Bible. Like light bulbs from the same manufacturer's mold, one is high wattage and the other is low wattage.

The absolute relative size of the sun and moon

So the sun and moon look the same size to our eyes. But are they the same size in reality? While ancients might have said yes, modern scientists realize that the sun is much larger.

What is the actual ratio of the size of the sun to the moon? 400 times by diameter! By volume, the sun is 1.3 million times larger! It's like a pilates ball to a marble!

So it’s only an illusion that the sun and moon are the same size. What causes this illusion?

If you know math, the answer is obvious. The sun is 400 times farther from the Earth than the sun. Thus, they look the same to us.

Sounds like a simple explanation. The sun is 400 times wider than the moon, but it is also 400 times farther away. No mystery!

A remarkable coincidence

But how did that happen? How did the moon get to be just the right distance from the Earth so that it looks the same size to us as the sun? There is no law in physics that requires a moon to have an inverse relationship between its size compared to its sun and the distance from its sun. Astronomers know of no other moon for which this is true, certainly not in our solar system.

Astronomers consider this fact to be “pure coincidence.”3 In other words, there is no logical or scientific explanation.

Can it be simple coincidence? Contemplate what is going on in a total eclipse. The sun, 92 million miles away, casts a conical quarter-million mile long shadow from the 2,000 mile wide moon that converges on a mere 60 to 70 mile pinpoint on the 8,000 mile wide Earth.

Let’s say I suspend a 100-foot-diamter orb in the air, and a mile away I suspended a basketball. You have the ability to float in the air, and I give you a baseball and ask you to place it just at the right distance so that when the orb is lit, it will cast a pinpoint shadow of the baseball on the basketball. Can you perform this feat? Only if the orb is lit. Like focusing a magnifying glass, you progressively move the baseball back or forth until the dot appears on the surface of the basketball.

But could you find the right distance if the light were off and you had no measuring tools? Even though you are intelligent and can understand the mathematics involved, your most intensive efforts to place the baseball at the right distance would fail. Yet scientists tell us that the moon got in the right place by mere chance!

Multi-layered coincidences

To appreciate the magnitude of coincidence, it is necessary to consider the numerous layers of meaning involving in the phenomenon.

The eclipse itself, which reveals the relative observed size of moon to sun, has always held special significance for people. Before scientists could explain the phenomenon, it was a sinister event in which the moon appears to be swallowing the sun, portending the possible end of the world, and thus inducing dread and panic among humans. Furthermore, this “magic trick” is not something that takes place in some remote region and needs to be searched for. From time to time, it gets to be seen by everyone in the world. It is an “in your face” event, and in everyone’s face.

The sun and moon are circles, considered to be the “perfect shape.” According to Hermes Trismegistus, “the circle represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, God ('God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere').4

This amazing illusion of the sun and moon is therefore performed on the most meaningful of all shapes.

It could be argued that statistically the universe must contain moons that appear to be the same size as its sun as observed from the surface of its planet, so this illusion is to be expected and therefore not special. But this illusion does not happen on Mars or Jupiter. It happens to occur on the only planet on which there are: 1) life forms that can observe it, and 2) intelligent beings that have acquired the mathematical tools to figure out how this “Heavenly magic trick” works.

Furthermore, the illusion of equal size is not eternal and should not be taken for granted. The moon is moving away from the Earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches per year. This means that hundreds of millions of years ago, before humans existed, the moon looked noticeably bigger than the sun. Hundreds of millions of years from now, when humans will no longer exist, or all least not in our present form, it will look noticeably smaller. The timing of the illusion, therefore, converges with the evolution of mathematically intelligent human life on Earth.

Another amazing fact about the eclipse

As mentioned earlier, there are thinkers that consider both consciousness and mathematics to be proofs of God’s existence, because they are both real yet not part of physical existence. Top mathematicians have been awed by the fact that the physical universe obeys the laws of math, though math has no real existence and is only possible with consciousness. Thus, to mathematicians, it can seem that God used the laws of math to create the universe. This is also a basic premise of mysticism, including Kabbalah.

Consider the significance of the eclipse in the following modern story. Einstein, the most revered and groundbreaking mathematician since Newton, was seeking a unified theory for all of existence. He had developed a theory of relativity that did away with the scientific orthodoxy that held that matter and energy are separate, and instead indicated their unity. His mathematics were impeccable, and when he published his theory in 1905, the scientists and mathematicians of the world were ecstatic. Even the general public was thrilled by the possibility of a revolution in the understanding of existence. The world was hoping that Einstein’s theory would be validated.

The problem was that scientists knew of only one possible event by which the theory could be tested. Want to guess what that event is? That’s right! None other than the total eclipse of the sun! According to the theory, large bodies like the sun would bend light waves coming from stars. The problem is that when the sun is shining, starlight cannot be seen. During the total eclipse of the sun, it can. So they needed to send scientists with their equipment to the eclipse sites.

Total eclipses occur on average only about once every year-and-a-half, and only on small swaths of the Earth. So the scientists would have to be in a very specific location at a very specific time and hope there are no snags, such as clouds, to interfere with their observation.

An attempt to test the theory in 1913 in Crimea, during World War I, failed because the scientists were deemed to be spies and put in prison. Finally, successful trials were conducted in 1919, and Einstein’s theory was validated. The world rejoiced as the story made headlines on the world’s leading newspapers!

What a coincidence that the event that proved the correctness of Einstein's theory, unifying existence and changing the understanding of the nature of the universe, was none other than the eclipse of the sun and the moon!

A final coincidence

The eclipse had a mystical effect upon the ancents. Yet even today it inspires human awe like no other event on the planet and has become the focus of the most massive pilgrimage in the world, far eclipsing the numbers of Muslim pilgrims to the Hajj in Mecca. Even atheists, who insist that the eclipse is nothing more than a meaningless coincidence, expend great amounts of time and money to be in the right place at the right time to bask in the majesty of this cosmic phenomenon along with millions of other like-minded human beings. It is an event that even arouses in atheists a spiritual experience of such intensity it would make believers in God envious. To see what I'm talking about, watch the Ted talk I mentioned earlier, if you have not already done so. David Baron, an avowed atheist, talks even calls himself an evangelist for the eclipse: You Owe it to Yourself to Experience a Total Solar Eclipse

Many atheist readers of this article have ridiculed it. But if the hypothesis of this article is correct (and remember, this is only a hypothesis, and one that is unprovable), that God made the sun and moon appear the same size as a sign that It exists, God might be having the biggest laugh: These highly intelligent humans have made science their religion and ridicule the possibility that I exist, yet they devote their time and effort to "worship" together at this amazing illusion I performed as a sign to them I that I do!

Summary of coincidences

To summarize, here are the coincidences regarding the sun and moon:

1. They are the most monumental objects in our experience

2. They are the only two objects that everyone in the world sees

3. An amazing coincidence makes them appear to be the same size to living beings on the earth

4. This size illusion exists on no other planet we know of

5. This illusion exists on the only planet we know of that contains life

6. This illusion exists on the only planet with living beings possessing the intelligence to understand how the illusion is possible

7. The sun and moon are circles, considered by mathematicians to be "perfect shapes," representing unity

8. The eclipse was necessary to prove Einstein's theory of relativity, changing the way we understand the nature of the universe and unifying matter and energy

9. The eclipse has always aroused intensely religious feelings

10. Even today, the eclipse spawns the largest pilgrimage in the world, arousing religious-like feelings and behavior even in devout atheists

An opportune year for the eclipse in the US

This year, 2017, is ideal for observing the total eclipse in the US. It will occur on August 21, for the first time in 26 years, and be visible in a 70-mile swath spanning from the East Coast to the West. Of course, it will be observable worldwide on electronic media. To learn more, click here.

Again, what is presented here is not meant to be proof of God’s existence. However, could it be that, as Einstein said, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe,” but that God does perform magic tricks with it?

When you observe the eclipse this year, ask yourself whether it is a meaningless accident of nature, or whether it is an intentional performance by a conscious, mathematically savvy Heavenly magician meant to amaze Its conscious, mathematically savvy Earthly creations.

Which is the more believable option?

[1] Does God Exist? Some Scientists Think They Have Proof

[2] Why God (very probably) exists 

[3] The eclipse is pure syzygy: the moment when the Sun, Moon and Earth line-up – with you

 [4] A circle with the center everywhere

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