What an Invisible Planet Can Teach Us About an Invisible God
Researchers at Caltech now have reason to believe in a planet no one has ever seen. Is it really so impossible to believe in an unseen God as well?
Great news, astronomy fans! We might have a ninth planet again!
Unfortunately, no, it’s still not Pluto, which astronomers downgraded to a dwarf planet in 2006. I know, I know—I don’t get it either. After spending more than 70 years as a planet, you’d think it would’ve at least earned tenure or something.
But I digress. If you haven’t already heard the news, researchers at Caltech recently announced findings that strongly imply the existence of a previously unknown planet lurking on the fringes of our solar system. It’s bigger than earth but smaller than Neptune, has a highly unusual orbit and circles the sun once every 10 to 20 thousand years.
There’s just one little problem:
No one has actually seen it.
Evidence of the unseen
Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin began to suspect the existence of Planet Nine, as it’s been nicknamed, after they turned their attention to the peculiar orbits of a handful of objects in the Kuiper Belt—a ring of ice and debris that exists beyond the orbit of Neptune.
The peculiar thing about those orbits is that, to put it simply, they don’t make sense. Not on their own, anyway. Given what we know about our solar system, it’s difficult to account for why those particular objects move the way they do.
For a year and a half, Brown and Batygin puzzled over the data. As an observer, Brown looked at how things are actually working, and as a theorist, Batygin looked at how physics says things should be working.
The odds of all those eccentric orbits occurring randomly are extremely small (about 0.007 percent), so the team set out to discover the missing piece of the puzzle. They plugged in different variables to the equation, from potentially undiscovered Kuiper Belt objects to a planet with a more traditional orbit—but it wasn’t until they explored the idea of a massive planet with an unusual orbit that their simulations started to explain the observed eccentricities of the Kuiper Belt objects.
In other words, Brown and Batygin believe Planet Nine exists, not because anyone has ever laid eyes on it, but because physics and observation both seem to insist that it must.
(Click here to watch Brown and Batygin discuss their research on Planet Nine.)
Ignoring the obvious
It makes sense. Imagine hearing a sound without seeing its source. You know the source has to exist, and the more you intently listen to it, the more obvious it becomes where the sound is coming from. The more attention Brown and Batygin paid to the Kuiper Belt, the more obvious it became that Planet Nine is out there somewhere, influencing those otherwise inexplicable orbits. Now it’s just a matter of finding it.
In that sense, God is like Planet Nine. We might not be able to see Him, but there are a lot of things that don’t make sense without Him.
For instance, the entire universe.
Most scientists believe that all of time and space came into existence at the moment of the big bang, which is fine. The problem for those scientists comes when they try to explain how it happened. If the big bang was truly the beginning of time and space, then whatever caused it had to exist outside of time and space—that is, outside of reality as we know it.
Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like God?
There are alternate theories, of course—there are always alternate theories—but they tend to be convoluted attempts to circumnavigate God out of the equation using unsupported, purely theoretical concepts like “imaginary time” or “swirling mathematical points” (Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, pp. 87, 80). We have no evidence for these theories—they exist primarily as a testament to the general refusal of scientists to allow a divine foot in the door.
In a sense, God is like Planet Nine. We might not be able to see Him, but there are a lot of things that don’t make sense without Him.Looking deeper
Things get worse for those scientists when we start poking around inside the universe itself. Pick a field or discipline, and you’ll find God’s fingerprints all over it. Physics reminds us of the hairline precision with which the forces of the universe are balanced. Chemistry highlights the slew of complicated chemical reactions necessary just to keep us alive. Biology is filled with irreducibly complex cellular mechanisms that evolutionists insist came together piece by piece over the course of millions of years.
Like the Kuiper Belt at the fringes of our solar system, nearly everything we can look at through a scientific lens screams out:
This didn’t happen on its own.
The apostle Paul knew it too. He wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
The universe is filled with reasons to believe in God, but the human heart is filled with reasons to resist Him. After all, “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). A God means rules; rules mean limits; and limits mean we can’t always do whatever we want, when we want. That’s the reason it’s so easy to embrace ideas like “imaginary time” without any evidence at all and still balk at the concept of God despite a mountain of evidence.
The greatest discovery
It doesn’t have to be that way. If, like Brown and Batygin, we’re willing to let the evidence take us where it will, we’ll find ourselves at the feet of a God who truly loves and cares for us, who wants the very best for us and who wants to call us His children.
His fingerprints are everywhere; His invisible attributes are clearly seen. This is not a God intent on not being seen by His creation—this is a God whose creation is intent on not seeing Him.
But there’s good news. To those who are seeking, He extends this promise: “You will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:12-14, emphasis added).
God doesn’t want to remain hidden from you. If He’s started to open your eyes to the evidence, then don’t stop now. Don’t shut your eyes to the things you’ve seen. After all, God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).
If you’re looking—if you’re groping—you are not far from God. He wants you to find Him, and what’s more, He’ll help you on that journey. We will too. Life, Hope & Truth is home to a wealth of information about God—the true God—and His plan both for you and for the entire world.
The ramifications of discovering another planet on the outskirts of our solar system are huge—but the ramifications of discovering a personal God who loves you are far, far greater. The Kuiper Belt may point to Planet Nine, but the entire universe points to God.
If you’re looking for God, don’t stop now. You’re on the verge of the most important discovery of your life.
For more on the evidence of God’s involvement in the universe, be sure to read “Intelligent Design: Can Science Answer the Question, Does God Exist?”
Photos by Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)