Michael Strauss: Our Unlikely and Opportune Moon

Experimental particle physicist Dr. Michael G Strauss discusses the amazing moon that orbits our planet, as well as the implications of its ability to regulate tides and seasons in order to facilitate life on this planet.


This is a good article on the moon, right up to the part where Michael says that this is the way God did it. Micheal is just making a special pleading based on his personal beliefs. Michael Strauss is beginning to sound like Hugh Ross - he is explaining up to the moment scientific discovery like the new result that Theia was from the outer solar system and then saying it was already revealed in the Bible. This time in the New Testament! What Strauss forgot to mention, is this event may have brought water to the Earth. Without water, there is no life on Earth. So yes, this event was a key event in our planet’s history. And no, it was not fined-tuned for life as Micheal claims.

Strauss and Ross need to realize that science is NEUTRAL on what God did or didn’t do. So as science learns more about the Moon and OOL on Earth, nowhere will that inquiry reveal the hand of God. It can’t. Science is neutral on what God did or didn’t do and whether God exists or not.

I do feel that this is another example of Christians actually diminishing the work of both Christian and non-Christian scientists. The authors of this paper should be congratulated for their work and an important piece of knowledge to the story on how we got here.

@Patrick I agree that he is doing so, and I believe that @MStrauss would also agree that he is. This being a blog post from his site deals with the relationship between science and religion. The science he is reporting on is something that he, and many others too, believe to have been affected by God. I would agree with you that there would not be evidence of such meddling, per se, but that the unlikely and fortuitous nature of the event could be an indication of such meddling.

I don’t know how this blog post in any way diminishes the work of scientists of any belief. The suggestion that God may have been involved does not change the discoveries or analysis.

I’m curious what you specifically mean when you say this;

All that I have read and seen indicates that it was a just so collision in many ways.

You can believe this but believing it doesn’t make it true. Science is neutral. There is a danger ascribing divine action to a specific scientific result. Next month or next year, these results could be falsified, changed, confirmed or modified. What then, God didn’t do the work correctly? But instead did it according to the new and revised results? Truth in science is always provisional. If you link God to any provisional truth that comes out, all you are doing is moving God around the chessboard.

The bible describes the origin of the moon. Everyone else is guessing about very past events.
Science is about conclusions. its not neutral therefore on bible/God conclusions of origins. how could it be???
Science should lead towards accurate understanding that proves the bible is true. likewise God is proven by the glorious compexity and diversity of the universe.
If science is neutral then its just incompetent people. not the science.

No guessing involved. It’s called evidence.

No guessing involved. Science is about evidence.

The many devout Christian theologian-philosophers over the centuries who created the foundations of modern science strongly disagreed with you.

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Thanks Patrick, this is a very thoughtful response. I agree with you that there is danger in ascribing such an event to God. But you must also admit, that the events are truly just so and leave open the interpretation that God may have been involved. Must, if you are fair, I would say. That said, I agree also that it is not “proof” of God and that there is no proof that these unlikely events were, indeed, assisted by God. But I think that this meaning is implicit in what was said in the blog post. Dr. Strauss did not say, as some do, that this is overwhelming proof of the “hand of God” or any such thing. He merely looks at the evidence seen and suggests that God could have been involved in this. For Christians who respect God’s word and the creation narrative, this is the kind of thing that resonates with us. Again, it is not proof positive of the existence of God, nor is it a scientific journal that has been co-opted for some evangelical effort.


The danger is in using the Sharpshooter fallacy. I can fire a rifle at a group of abandoned houses 2 miles away, and upon striking a house I can draw a bullseye the size of a quarter around the bullet hole. Hitting a bullseye the size of a quarter from 2 miles away is an impossible shot, is it not? Strauss is drawing the bullseye around the bullet hole in the same way.

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Sure. I probably don’t appreciate this as much as you do, because I’m not a scientist. I also am careful to say things like “indicates” and such to convey any theological significance. That said, it would seem, conversely, that any unlikely chain of events could be unfairly described as run-of-the-mill. So there should be balance and understanding on both sides. I’d love for @MStrauss to jump in because he is incredibly knowledgeable in terms of the subject matter, as well as a respected scientist. So he can surely avoid any fallacies that I might tend toward.

Excellent article @MStrauss.

Is it possible that the weak anthropic principle explains some of theses observations?

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First off, every run-of-the-mill event or occurrence is in itself unlikely. Bias enters when we give some results more importance than others. You may think shuffling a deck of cards and laying them out one by one will give a run-of-the-mill result, but the odds of those cards being in that order are astronomically small.

We also have to keep track of cause and effect and try not to get them mixed up. The classic example is being in awe of how the Earth is able to form a hole in the ground that is the exact same shape as the water that fills it. For this topic, the Earth is the hole and we are the water. Life evolved to fit the conditions found on Earth, and not the other way around.

But it may be unlikely. Unlikely that it happened randomly in that way. As in a coin toss that goes heads 100 times in a row.

Yes, I understand that any given order is the result of the probability associated with that specific event or events.

Have the water fill the hole in a completely different shape and that would be exceptional. Many events occurred that seem to be exceptional, all working together to make life possible here. Water filling a hole is expected. These events are not expected and I believe them to be exceptional.

True, life did evolve fitting the conditions found on the earth. But I’m speaking of the conditions found on earth that allowed for life to evolve vs. conditions that would not have allowed life to evolve. Life did not evolve on the sun, moon, Mercury or Venus. They did not evolve on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto. It is not an equal opportunity universe (or solar system.) Is the earth exceptional, yes. Was it caused to be exceptional, who knows?

Any order of heads and tails in 100 throws is equally unlikely. Also, it would be trivially easy to take any combination of heads and tails in 100 throws and find some unlikely correlation, perhaps using H&T as 0’s and 1’s to produce a binary number that magically match something that I find afterwards.

@MStrauss hasn’t shown that. We simply don’t know if complex and intelligent life needs a planet with a large moon like Earth’s. For all we know, there is another intelligent species out there in the universe that couldn’t have evolved like it did if the planet it lives on had a large moon.

Correlation is not causation. Intelligent folks have to apply logic to what has happened to determine if it fits within what is normally possible on its own. The issue is not if any order of heads or tails is equally unlikely. I agree that they are all unlikely if you are looking for one particular pattern.

The point is not the order in which these events occur, it is the likelihood of the number of heads vs. tails. The potential results (50h/50t, 49h/51t, etc.) would fill a normal bell curve distribution. As one approaches the extreme ends of the set (2h/98t, 1h/99t, 0h/100t, etc.) the odds decrease to the point where their occurrence becomes a virtual impossibility… or so many standard deviations from the mean that it would never happen.

What I’m saying is that the events that occurred in the history of the earth are akin to 2h/98t. You can claim that that’s a sharpshooter fallacy, but I disagree with you. In the sharpshooter fallacy, one looks at any given result, after the fact, and declares that it is exceptional. The difference here is that you cannot prove that the unlikely target was hit dead center, as intended. I admit that neither can I. So I take the humble approach and say that this indicates to me intervention.

I agree with you. But a planet with permafrost or one that is tidally locked is a very unlikely candidate for complex intelligent life. This planet seems to be built for not just life, but quality of life. I never said that he had shown that this was proof. Here’s what I said:

Which is precisely the weak anthropic principle.

Remember all our observations are conditioned on the fact that there is intelligent life (us) to observe it. Therefore anything we observe required for intelligent life is not low likelihood, but high likelihood. Ergo, a planet that appears tuned for intelligent life is exactly what we expect to see, even it is not specifically tuned.


I don’t understand this and maybe never will. But please tell me this. In your opinion, apart from what you said above and whether or not this event fostered intelligent life, was the collision (including its mass, angle, contact point, and timing) that simultaneously removed a heavy atmosphere, added water, accounted for the seasons and resulted in our moon a high likelihood or low likelihood event. Speaking of just pure probability of this sing event happening in this way.

So it’s the not-very-accurate shooter fallacy?


If we lived on a planet that did not appear to be tuned for intelligent life, with no indications of how we and other living things came to be there and managed to survive, that would be evidence of outside intervention.


What I meant to say was this: The difference here is that you cannot prove that the unlikely target wasn’t hit dead center, as intended.

I admit, and did many times above, that it is not proof of meddling, but it is a possible indication of meddling. And this meddling cannot be falsified nor proven.

We would need to see the probability calculations for this. @MStrauss hasn’t calculated them, nor have I seen anyone else calculate them. We also need to keep in mind that there are billions of stars per galaxy and billions of galaxies. What are the odds that a planet capable of producing complex intelligent life will exist among all those planets? We don’t even know all the types of possible planets that could give rise to complex life, so I don’t see how we could even calculate this.

That is wrong. In the Sharpshooter fallacy you look at the results after they are created, and proclaim that this was the only possible outcome and is therefore unlikely. It is the act of calculating the odds of something happening after it has happened which gives rise to the fallacy.