This summer is a good one for movie fans, with major blockbusters opening nearly every week. Though most movie-goers don’t walk into action-adventure/superhero films expecting more than spectacular special effects and epic battles, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find quality storytelling in this season’s fare.
Likewise, one would expect a real-life asteroid pelting to provide little more than awesome explosions and destructive chaos. But would you be surprised to learn that such events helped make life possible on this little blue planet? Intuition tells us that large and/or copious quantities of impact events would be detrimental to life—but scientific research tells a different story. Such events actually provided essential benefits for Earth’s residents, humans in particular.
Shortly after Earth formed over 4 billion years ago, a Mars-sized object collided with our planet. Rather than obliterating both objects, the impact occurred at the just-right speed and angle to bring about the following positive results.
- Debris from the collision eventually coalesced to form our Moon.
- Earth’s initial ocean was turned into superheated steam, which cleared the atmosphere.
- Earth’s core was infused with heavy elements that contributed to the planet’s high density and huge metallic core, thus allowing Earth to maintain a magnetic field and plate tectonics.
Between 3.8 and 4.1 billion years ago during the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB), Earth endured collisions with thousands upon thousands of asteroids and comets. As with the Moon-formation event, the LHB helped prepare Earth to support life.
- Specifically, this event cleared excess debris out of the solar system—hence, preventing life from experiencing too many collisions during the millennia that followed.
- As more data becomes available, scientists continue refining their view of this event and what it tells us about life’s origin.
This may be difficult to process, but research reveals good purposes behind the collisions that likely wiped out the dinosaurs as well.
- The fossil record shows, from a theistic perspective, that every time God wipes out a set of creatures, he replaces them with animals better-suited to handle the Earth and solar system’s dynamic conditions (such as the brightening of the Sun or changing atmosphere).
- The deaths of animals like dinosaurs contributed greatly to biofuel deposits that power human civilization.
- The relatively sudden reappearance of new life-forms following the mass extinctions caused by the impact better fit within a theistic creation model than with a naturalistic view. Psalm 104:29–30 even alludes to the cycle of extinction and creation, declaring, “When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”
Emotionally, it’s sometimes hard for us to grasp how God could use destructive events for good. Yet, in addition to the benefits mentioned above, asteroids and comets are responsible for delivering many of the metals and nutrients and much of the water necessary for life to survive and flourish on Earth. Without these collisions, we wouldn’t be here.
Like blockbusters with engaging stories, there’s more to impact events than meets the eye.
Resources: In Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, astronomer Hugh Ross provides great insight into God’s possible purposes in designing our universe the way he did. Hear the book’s highlights on the free companion podcast. For a lay-friendly approach to God’s purpose in design, check out the Impact Events study guide series by astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink and Ken Hultgren.
Bonus Blockbuster Review:
- Thor: Surprisingly well-crafted, this superhero epic brings us one step closer to the much-anticipated Avengers film.
- X-Men: First Class: A classy prequel to the X-Men trilogy with great acting, awesome special effects, and poignant drama.
- Green Lantern: The critics hate it, but I thought the latest DC Comics hero to hit the big screen is worth the ticket price.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon: It’s highly unlikely this metal-crunching, gear-grinding action flick will surprise anyone with a good storyline—but, hey, it’s about the robots, not the plot.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: The most anticipated movie of the summer. I’ve already purchased my ticket and you can bet Sandra will pay tribute to Harry’s last adventure in an upcoming Take Two post.
- Captain America: The First Avenger: A superhero taking down Nazis? Sign me up!
How about you? What makes your list of must-see movies this season?