Written by Jason Petersen
Hopefully everyone who lives on Earth knows that we have a moon. If not, I suggest getting outside more!(Particularly at night.) I remember when I was little and I had a big interest in space that my family would sometime go outside on clear nights and look at the moon through my Dad’s telescope. When I got a little older my parents bought me my own telescope so that I could view the moon whenever I like. Enough of the reminiscing!
The moon is a natural satellite(A Satellite is an object that orbits bodies such as planets or the sun. For example, the Earth orbits the sun. In this case, Earth is one of the sun’s satellites.) that orbits the Earth. In fact, it is the ONLY natural satellite that orbits the Earth.
Where did the Moon come from?
According to Genesis 1:14–19 God made the moon to be the lesser light to govern the night on the fourth day of Creation.(This is the same day that he made the sun and the stars.) Scripture made it clear that God made the moon with a specific purposes in mind.
How is the moon the “lesser light” at night? Doesn’t that mean that the moon gives off its own light? I thought that the moon reflects light.
The moon gives the Earth light at night by reflecting light from the sun. Some who do not believe The Bible attempt to make the argument that this isn’t what The Bible implies. However, taking a closer look at the Hebrew text will help us put what the Bible says into context. Let’s take a look at Genesis 1:14-18 for perspective:
“Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.”
It is interesting to note that the Hebrew text uses the Hebrew word “memshalah” (It means to have dominion.) The Hebrew word used for “give light” in this context is the word “owr.”(1) (This means to give light or cause light.) Given this, it is clear that the text does not imply that the moon produces light. Rather, it says that the moon provides light at night, just like the sun provides light in the day. No reference to how either the sun or the moon makes light is indicated in the text.
The Purpose of the Moon in a Designed Universe
The first purpose of the moon, which we already covered is to provide light for us at night. When we study the moon we can see that God made the moon just the right size for this purpose. The first advantage is that the moon is spherical. The most stable shape for a massive body is for all parts of the surface to be the same distance from the centre of mass, i.e. a sphere. The pressure inside the moon is ten times the crushing strength of granite, so any large unevenness would be crushed into shape. Such a sphere may bulge at the equator if the body is spinning fast enough.(2) The moon is about a quarter of the Earth’s diameter. If it were any smaller then it may not have provided enough light at night. This is actually a closer ratio than any other planet in the solar system, aside from the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon( Its moon is named Charon.)
The moon also affects tides. Below you can see a diagram of the position and phase of the moon in each tide.(3)
The earth’s gravity keeps the moon in orbit, and is so strong that it would need a steel cable 850 km (531 miles) in diameter to provide an equivalent binding force without breaking. The moon exerts the same force on the earth. But the force is somewhat higher on the part of the earth nearest the moon, so any water there will bulge towards it—a high tide. The part furthest from the moon is attracted the least by the moon, so flows away from the moon (and Earth’s center)—another high tide on the opposite side of the earth. In between, the water level must drop—the low tides. The moon orbits the spinning earth, there is a cycle of two high tides and two low tides about every 25 hours.(2)
Tides are vital to life on Earth. Tides cleanse the ocean’s shorelines, and help keep the ocean currents circulating, preventing the ocean from stagnating. They benefit man by scouring out shipping channels and diluting sewage discharges. In some places, people exploit the enormous energy of the tides to generate electricity.(4)
Where do the scientists who believe in an old universe think the moon came from?
There are four main ideas that are given that have significant problems.
1. Fission Theory- The Earth spun so fast that part of the Earth broke off and became the moon. This was proposed by George Darwin, which was Charles Darwin’s son.(2) This theory has been universally objected to by creationist scientists as well as scientists who accept an old earth. The consensus is that there is no way the Earth could have spun fast enough to allow a piece of it to break off. Another issue is that the moon’s composition of rocks is too different from Earth’s. It is also believed that the piece of the Earth that would of became the moon would have been destroyed in the process.
2. Capture theory—the moon was moving through the solar system, and was then captured by Earth’s gravity. One issue with this theory is that the chance of two bodies passing close enough is very small. In order to make the odds more reasonable the moon would have had to have been “flung” to be within close proximity of Earth so that it could be captured. However, such an event would cause the moon to have a more elliptical orbit similar to that of a comet. But the chance of two bodies passing close enough is minute; the moon would be more likely to have been ‘slingshotted’ like artificial satellites than captured. Finally, even a successful capture would have resulted in an elongated comet-like orbit. The observation that the moon’s orbit is circular flies in the face of this theory.
3. Condensation theory—The moon originated from a dust cloud that was pulled in by Earth’s gravity. However, there is no dust cloud that is thick enough to create a moon that is 1/4 of Earth’s diameter. Another issue with this theory is that the moon has a low iron content.
4. Impact theory— the currently fashionable idea that material was blasted off from Earth by the impact of another object. Calculations show that to get enough material to form the moon, the impacting object would need to have been twice as massive as Mars. Then there is the unsolved problem of losing the excess angular momentum.(5)
Other Issues with Impact Theory
Even by some standards of those who believe the universe is old, the first three theories have BIG problems.(6) Thus, we will focus on the “widely accepted”(7) but far from proven theory known as the “Giant Impact Theory.”
Computer models have been constructed to simulate such a giant impact. Although such computer models are simplified and depend too much on initial conditions, the results have strained the hypothesis to the breaking point. One of the new dynamical results is that the debris from the collision would rain back down onto Earth instead of remaining in orbit and forming the moon.(8) Of course, these are just computer models. It’s hard to imagine how they would be able to accurately guess the initial conditions regarding the moon’s formation, especially since the moon was created about 6,000-10,000 years ago. Since that is the case, how would they ever come to the correct conclusion? They wouldn’t be able to because their presuppositions are false.
In fact, there is increasing doubt on the giant impact theory’s current form. Secular scientists are starting to think that they may need to change the giant impact theory.(9) One of the main reason why these thoughts have surfaced is due to the excessive amounts of water on the moon which make it incompatible with the current version of the giant impact theory. Of course, they are quick to use a rescuing device to try explain why the evidence does’t collaborate with their theory.(10) Their response: It doesn’t mean that the giant impact theory is invalid, we just have to change it a little.(9) They say that the giant impact theory has just another layer of complexity. Creationist scientists are often accused of trying to use science to prove what The Bible says.(The creationist position is actually that science is consistent with what scripture says when interpreted properly. ) I suppose then, by the logic of those who support an old earth, they would have to acknowledge that they have this problem if they want to remain logically consistent.
It’s important to note though, that there are influxes of articles about this theory that come out quite often. Some are considered positive things for the giant impact theory, others are considered to be problematic. It seems that this theory has been on a roller coaster ride of sorts in the past 10 years. Many of the positive articles for this theory contradict each other. This is due to the different competing models for how the moon supposedly formed from an impact. I say this because when atheists and evolutionists don’t have answers they normally run to Google and find any article that they think supports the theory, regardless of whether or not the article contradicts what they have already said until that point.
In the future, we will be doing an article that shows very strong evidence that the moon is young.
4. Fred Pearce, ‘Catching the tide’, New Scientist 158(2139):38–41, June 20, 1998.
5. Shigeru Ida et al., ‘Lunar accretion from an impact generated disk’, Nature 389(6649):353–357, September 25, 1997; Comment in the same issue by J.J. Lissauer, ‘It’s not easy to make the moon’, pp. 327–328.
6. Lissauer, J.J., It’s not easy to make the moon, Nature 389(6649):353–357, 1997.
8. Anonymous, Recipe for a moon, Discover 18(11):25–26, 1997.
11. John C. Whitcomb and Donald B. DeYoung, The Moon: Its Creation, Form and Significance, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1978
12. Featured photo credit: Wikipedia