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The horsepower of 208,000 Corvettes

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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This artist concept provided by NASA shows the rocket design, called the Space Launch System (Credit: NASA)

What has the horsepower of 208,000 Corvette engines, costs $35 billion, and can take you to Mars? The world’s most powerful rocket, a plan unveiled yesterday by NASA. They call it the Space Launch System. The rocket will stand 400 feet tall, weigh 3,250 tons, and be able to carry as much as 165 tons into space. By comparison, the space shuttle rocket could haul 27 tons.

This must be the day for space news: European astronomers have announced their discovery of a planet that could potentially support life. It orbits a star about 35 light-years from Earth in the constellation Vela. Since gravity on this larger-than-Earth planet is about 1.4 times what we experience, those who live there would probably be shorter and squatter than us. In case you’re thinking about moving to the new planet, consider one of its most attractive features: it orbits its sun every 60 days. My boys would have enjoyed Christmas and birthdays every two months.

Reading about our new, potentially hospitable neighbor, the thought occurs to me: why have we not yet found life on other planets? Scientists continue to discover planets that occupy the “Goldilocks zone,” a term used to describe planets that are neither too hot nor too cold to support liquid water. And yet none has life we can detect.

A professor of evolutionary science thinks he knows why. He suggests that intelligent life must emerge in four stages: single-celled bacteria, complex cells, specialized cells allowing complex life forms, and intelligent life with an established language. He calculates the odds of each step occurring as 10 percent or less, so the chances of intelligent life emerging are less than 0.01 percent over four billion years.

My point is not to debate evolution vs. creation this morning. Rather, it is to highlight the uniqueness of your life and mine. Bill Bryson, in his fascinating bestseller A Short History of Nearly Everything, makes my point well: “Every one of your forebears has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result—eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly—in you.”

Our planet of six billion people didn’t really need one more inhabitant. You exist because God wanted you to exist. He has a purpose for your life that no other person can fulfill. How can you know it today? Here’s a good prayer to begin your Thursday: “I desire to do your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8).

If you will do his will, you will know his will. This is the promise, and the invitation, of God.