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If Planet Earth is really God's handiwork, it must be a rough draft
If God made the universe, He didn't make it perfect.

Date published: 6/18/2005

KING GEORGE--James Smiley ["God keeps perfect order on Earth--including marriage," June 12] would be better off getting his science from textbooks instead of those little tracts you see lying around bus stations.

In praising what he sees as the divinely created perfection of the universe, why does he think that the "exact" 23-degree axial tilt of Earth is a blessing? (It is actually 23.45 degrees--not quite as tidy a number as Smiley apparently thinks--and Mars has just about the same tilt, whatever that is supposed to mean.) If Earth had no tilt, there would be a perpetual spring between the two arctic circles and the two tropics.

Over most of the inhabited parts of the globe, in fact, Smiley seems blissfully unaware that it is Earth's axial tilt and its consequent seasons--along with the Coriolis force created by the planet's fairly rapid spin--that is responsible for the great cyclonic storms that ravage our planet. These include the hurricanes that cost hundreds of lives and billions of dollars in damage every year. Yes, nice planning, indeed.

So what if Earth is a neat 93 million miles from the sun? This is not a magic distance--just about anywhere in a broad zone between Venus and Mars would be just as nice.

I have no idea what Smiley is talking about when he says that Earth would be flooded if the moon were at any other distance. True, there would be devastatingly large tides if the moon were closer, but if it were further away the tides would be smaller. (Tides have as much to do with the moon's mass as its distance from Earth--a smaller moon at the same distance as ours would create proportionally smaller tides.)

Speaking of the moon, the Bible says nothing about it having been created to produce tides--it says it was created as a sort of night light. The moon doesn't do this very well, though, being visible at night only two weeks out of the month. Two moons would have been better, and a ring like Saturn's, better yet.

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