Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Wonder
I watched the full lunar eclipse last night. It's one of those things that have to be appreciated with your mind more than your eyes, because the process is quite slow and except for a rather subtle difference of curve, the shadow looks pretty much the same as the normal phases of the moon's own shadow. Still, since it's not due to coincide with the winter solstice for another five hundred years or so, I thought I should take a look.
One thing that seems odd to me is that the earth's umbral shadow is so close in diameter to the diameter of the moon, which I have to assume is coincident on the respective sizes and distances of the three bodies. I should probably do some googling on this subject, since it's so much easier than going to the library that there's almost no excuse, but I'm afraid I might lose my train of thought, which has barely left the siding, and I already needed to see what the experts had to say about some of the other celestial oddities that I have come to regard as Hashem's Hints.
If the earth were closer or more distant to the Sun, or if the earth's axis was not tilted, or if the period of earth's rotation was, like the moon's, equal to it's period of revolution, or if our atmosphere wasn't precisely what it is in terms of composition or thickness, or if large meteors were, as in the past, regularly crashing into the earth, or if probably any one of hundreds of conditions weren't just so, life would not exist. I'm of average intelligence and not a scientist or mathematician, so I don't really understand the statistics of infinity, and I salute anyone who claims to, although I'll doubt their claims, in spite of, or even because I am unable to understand their proofs. I am a skeptic even of skepticism; my life's experience is that everyone has an agenda and is either wrong or lying or both, unless I trust them in my gut, based on experience.
Like many, my faith is weak, I don't know G-d, regard humanity with loathing and run from any hint of the supernatural or transcendent, and yet the existence of life "seems" far too unlikely to result from random coincidence. I'll have to take Pascal's wager, even if some smartypants closed that off. Like Ned Flanders I'm even keeping kosher, just to be on the safe side.