I believe the Universe and Earth, in particular, where complex life like us can exist—are so creatively designed that perhaps the Intelligent Design movement isn’t quite on track: Creative Design better gets at the heart of God’s involvement with his own creation. I marvel that it takes a whole Universe (most or all of which is not suitable for supporting life) to allow this one, special planet to support complex life. The laws of physics–which are the same on Earth as they are in the most distant galaxy–must be precisely optimized (“finely tuned”) for life to occur on Earth. As a planetary scientist, I see complex, interacting natural systems all across space and Earth that suggest joyful creativity on the part of the Creator.

Consider the Heavens, the Moon and the Stars

Planets were created from the complex interactions of many systems. Before a would-be planet exists, its host star has to form. Stars can get their start in many ways, but all star formation involves the collapse of dense regions of gas. When large stars reach the end of their lives, they can explode as Type II supernovas. These immense explosions can briefly shine brighter than the star’s host galaxy of 200 billion stars!

The shock wave travelling out from an exploded star fuses light elements into every other type of element on the periodic chart—including every element represented in our human bodies. The shock wave compresses regions of gas together within the galaxy, which can lead to new stars partly composed of the heavier elements made by the first star. However, not all the gas and dust gets incorporated into the star: much of it goes into orbit around the new star forming a ring, much like the rings of Saturn. The clumpiness within the dusty ring can lead to the collapse of certain ring regions, ultimately leading to planets.

Knowing that planets are formed from a collapsing region of gas teaches us a great deal about God’s creativity. He follows many interdependent steps when creating a planet. In times past, no one could have had the intelligence to know that planetary formation could require the previous destruction of a massive star. While David recognized that he personally was fearfully and wonderfully made, now we know this is true of the entire universe. God is infinitely creative, and we are his masterpiece.