The Creation Explanation
|Design in the Universe|
The Age of the Solar System
Scientists who believe that the solar system evolved from a gas cloud need much time for their scenario to unfold. Therefore, they are always seeking indicators of great age. Most of the dating methods depend upon the decay of radioactive elements contained in rocks or sediments. Such radiometric dating procedures and the associated difficulties are considered in Chapter-8. We will now briefly consider some of the indications that the solar system is not billions of years old.
1. Comets, one of the components of the solar system, are loose clumps of rock, ice, and frozen gases which orbit the sun in elliptical trajectories. Some of the orbits of comets are highly elliptical and carry them far out, even beyond the farthest planet, requiring hundreds of years for one cycle. Short-term comets are those having periods of 150 to 200 years or less. Each time a comet approaches the sun on the near part of its orbit, the sun's radiation warms and drives away part of the gases, dust and frozen water it contains, perhaps 1/200th of its mass on each pass. Moreover, the strong gravitational force near the sun partially disrupts the solid chunks making up the core of the comet. Ultimately, these effects of the sun cause the comet to disintegrate and disappear, and this has actually been observed to happen.
Careful studies of comets by British astronomer R.A. Lyttleton and other have led to the conclusion that all of the short-term comets should have disappeared in about 10,000 years. Yet many such comets still remain. The reasonable conclusion is that the solar system is about 10,000 years old.22
This problem of mortality among comets has led astronomers to construct hypotheses designed to make available a continuous supply of new comets. Jan Oort propose that the source is a distant cloud of comets surrounding the solar system, from which comets are occasionally perturbed and drawn into closer orbits by the influences of passing stars and of he larger planets. Recent analysis of this theory shows that it predicts 40,000 fewer comets than actually are observed.23 The other major contending theory, due to Lyttleton, suggests that interstellar material picked up by the sun continually agglomerates to form new comets.24 However, this theory would require that a preponderance of comets be observed approaching from the direction of the constellation Hercules, and that some of them should have hyperbolic orbits. Unfortunately for the theory, these requirements are not supported by observation.
Thus the two major theories of cometary supply are negated by the observational evidence as are, in fact, all of the other theories thus far proposed. Comets remain a powerful argument in favor of a young solar system.
2. The surface temperature of the planet Venus was measured at 900°F by the Russian Venera 9 lander. Photographs of the surface showed sharp rocks and little evidence of erosion, though the atmosphere is 90 times as heavy as that of Earth and 200 mph winds circulate in the upper thick cloud layers These facts seem to agree with the view that Venus is a young object which has not had time to undergo the erosion that billions of years of weather activity would produce. Radar studies of the planet-s surface have revealed many large craters up to 100 miles in diameter. An interesting question is how meteors were able to get through the dense atmosphere without burning up. It would also seem that atmospheric erosion should long ago have worn away the craters. Recent high definition radar mapping of Venus by an orbiter yielded stunning images which look like photography. Some mountains on Venus are very high and feature extremely steep slopes. It is unlikely that with such high surface temperatures these steeply sloped mountains could last for billions, hundreds of millions or even millions of years. Perhaps Venus is not four or five billions years old after all.
3. The Mariner satellites orbiting the planet Mars have returned high definition photographs of the surface. Many craters and volcanoes pock the surface, and a dust storm lasting months was observed. A significant feature of many of the craters is the sharpness of their edges. More than a few thousand years of the kind of weather activity now observed in the Martian atmosphere should have eroded the sharp edges a great deal more than is actually the case. Long-term erosion should also largely have wiped out the strong differences in color still visible on the surface of Mars.
In addition, the small amount of water on Mars should long ago have been dissociated by the powerful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, leaving considerable oxygen gas in the atmosphere after the hydrogen from the split water molecules had escaped from the planet. But though considerable hydrogen is now observed to be escaping from the planet, there is very little oxygen there. All of these facts lead to the conclusion that Mars is not billions of years old.25
4. Rocks brought by Apollo teams from the moon have been dated by various radiometric methods which give conflicting results when all of the reports are considered. Moreover, it is of interest to note that the content of radioactive elements in the moon rocks is so high that if the moon were actually millions of years old, the heat produced by radioactive decomposition would have melted the moon.26
5. The Poynting-Robertson effect upon particles orbiting the sun results from a particle's absorption of energy from the sun and the re-radiation of this energy in all directions. The effect is to slow down the particle in its orbit and cause it to fall into the sun. Calculations indicate that in two billion years this process should have swept all particles less than three inches in diameter from the space extending as far out as the planet Jupiter. Solar radiation pressure, capture by planets, and other effect increase the rate of removal of interplanetary dust. Debris from decaying comets or dust from outside the solar system cannot make up for these losses, yet large quantities of such materials still remain in orbit. The conclusion is that the solar system cannot be billions of years old.27
6. British geophysicist R.A.Lyttleton pointed out that the surface rocks of the moon are unprotected from continual bombardment by X-rays, ultraviolet rays, and energetic charged particles from the sun. He estimated that this radiation would cause perhaps 1/10,000th of an inch per year to spall off of the surface rocks. In 4 billion years this rate of dust production would result in a layer of dust about six miles deep! Even if this dust caused by radiation erosion collected at a rate only one percent of Lyttleton's estimate, 300 feet of dust would be produced in 4 billion years. The fact that only a couple of inches or less is found in most locations on the moon supports the view that the moon is not billions of years old. One explanation which might be offered by the secularist scientists is that any such dust formed on the surface is continually mixed in with the debris from meteoric impacts, forming a layer of what is called regolith. Of course these several interrelated processes are inferred, not observed, so the argument may be considered a draw or not, depending upon one's presuppositions.
When these and other problems stemming from the long time-scale(required to make evolutionary schemes for the solar system look feasible) are added to the manifold evidences of intelligent, purposeful design, it appears to many that the weight of evidence lies not with cosmic evolution, but with creation.
22. Lyttleton, R.A., Mysteries of the Solar System (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1968), p. 110
23. Joss, P.C., Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 271-273, reported in Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 11, Dec. 1974, pp. 161-162.
24. Lyttleton, R.A., (ref. 22), p. 134.
25. Read, John G., The Search for Extraterrestrial Life, filmstrip and printed text (Creation-Science Research Center, San Diego, 1973); Barth, C.A., and A.L. Lane, Science, Vol. 175, p. 309; Masursky, H., et al., ibid., p. 294.
26. Hays, James Fred, (ref. 14); Science, Vol. 176, 1972, p. 975; Nakamura, et al., ibid., Vol. 181, 1973, p. 49.
27. Slusher, Harold S., Age of the Cosmos (Institute for Creation Research, San Diego, 1980), pp. 55-64.