All posts by waynespencer

Earth was Made by God

I have begun a new research project on the formation of Earth.  I feel this is an important issue and no creationist has seriously dealt with this topic to my knowledge.  Creationists as well as Intelligent Design proponents have written often about the design of the Earth for life.  But the real issue is what or who do we attribute Earth formation to?  Do we thank God and give him glory for it or do we attribute its existence to natural processes?  The Old Testament is very emphatic about God creating the Earth (see for instance Isaiah 6:3, 44:24, 45:18, & 1 Samuel 2:8).  It has often been argued that Earth is designed because it is the right distance from the Sun, has the materials needed for life, etc.  These are basics and I certainly agree with this.  But there is a need to go farther and critique the theories of Earth formation.  There is now a large body of research on how Earth allegedly formed by known natural physical processes.  The theory for this has been developed based on research on our solar system and its origin, on the general theory of planet formation, and even on theories about extrasolar planets orbiting other stars.  Ideas put forward to explain other solar systems with exoplanets have been applied to our own solar system in recent years and they are now being applied to explaining Earth.  Planetary science is coming home.  But creationists have not had an answer to many aspects of these theories.

I began studying this topic to prepare for the International Conference on Creationism in 2013.  But after delving into it some I became convinced I was not ready to do a paper on it yet.  I haven’t done a blog entry for a while because of focusing on my study of Earth formation.  So I backed out of doing my ICC 2013 paper.  It saddens me to do this because I have presented at the ICC for the last 4 conferences.  I won’t be presenting anything in 2013.  I hope to attend though.  But not presenting doesn’t mean I’m not doing research, I just wanted more time and flexibility in approaching it.  I collect technical material sometimes for years before writing something, especially on major topics that are important.  I don’t want to address something on a technical level until I feel I can adequately support what I’m saying.  I hope that my technical papers will stand the test of time.  Below is a short version of the story scientists are believing today when they do not believe the Biblical account of God supernaturally creating Earth in six literal days.

There are some surprising things in the theories of Earth formation that scientists accept today.  The early Earth is a place you would not recognize, according to the scenario scientists believe about how our planet formed.  By early I mean the first few hundred million years of Earth’s existence by the accepted naturalistic or evolutionary ideas.  Scientists would say Earth is about 4.55 Billion years old.  You could think of it as in three stages, I would say.  The first 10 million years after the beginning, then the next 45 million, then the next 100-200 million.  Earth’s rapid accretion stage is the first 10 million years.  This stage is about 10 million years (or less) because its believed that the disk of gas and dust that Earth formed from would be most conducive to forming planets and other objects during this time.  After about 10 million years the gas and other material in the disk would dissipate and objects like planets or moons or asteroids would grow more slowly.  Many objects drifted around the solar system for a long time, and Earth (and other planets) grew in size from impacts of small bodies.  At the end of the 10 million years Earth was not yet full size, one estimate would say it was about 60% of its present mass.  Also Earth was not separated into layers as it is today.  Scientists call this differentiation, where the planet has a metal core in the center, with a mantle and crust outside that.  A differentiated planet (or asteroid or moon) will be in neat layers with the most dense material in the core, with less dense material in the mantle, and the least dense material in the crust.  This structure in a planet may make it more stable and makes a magnetic field possible.

The second stage is from 10 million to about 55 million years after the “beginning.”  During this stage, Earth is not totally solid but much of it is melted from the frequent impacts and from great heat from radioactive decay from various elements.  So the Earth is covered in what is called a magma ocean, which is a few hundred miles deep.  The magma ocean is essentially partially molten or largely molten rock.  Impacts from space continue to add more matter to the Earth.  Earth’s atmosphere during this time is very different from today also.  There are different proposed models of what the atmosphere was composed of but the main idea is that it was extremely dense.  It is an atmosphere much thicker than even Venus’ atmosphere is today.  One model says the mass of the early atmosphere was about the same as the mass of the early Earth.  One approach looks at Earth’s atmosphere as similar to Venus, mostly Carbon Dioxide and Water.  Another model thinks of it as more like the gases in Jupiter, which has hydrogen, helium, and some organic gases.  The key idea in Earth’s early atmosphere is that it has a strong greenhouse effect that keeps the surface hot enough to melt most metals.  This way the surface stays molten for tens or hundreds of millions of years.  In Earth’s formation it is important that the surface be molten so that materials that come from space via impacts can mix into the Earth.  As material rains down on the Earth from impacts, metals and minerals are separating by density in Earth’s interior.  So by the time you get to about 55 million years after the beginning, some iron (and small amounts of other dense materials) has sunk into the center to form part of the core.  Between 10 and 55 million years, the impacts become less frequent but the impacting bodies average larger and larger in size.  Earth’s atmosphere changes perhaps multiple times in this period because large impacts blow some of it away and gases add to the atmosphere from the impacting bodies themself as they are vaporized by the impacts.  Note that some of Earth’s liquid water could have come from vaporized impacts from asteroid like objects and some comets.  However today scientists only believe that about 10% of Earth’s water got on the surface from late impacts in this way.  Scientists also believe it is possible life could have evolved multiple times in this period, only to be wiped out by the harsh conditions or destroyed by the large impacts.

At about 55 million years, a really big object hits the Earth.  This was an object that was about the size of Mars.  This object has come to be referred to by scientists as Theia, a name from Greek mythology.  The Theia impact melts a big part of the Earth and ejects a lot of material into orbit around the Earth.  This material then forms into our Moon.  Most of the core of the Theia object sinks into Earth, merging with Earth’s core.  This leaves the Moon with materials that are very similar to Earth’s mantle but the Moon is only left with a very small iron core of its own.  After the Theia impact, the impacts from space continue but decrease in frequency.  As these impacts slow down, the surface begins to cool.  While impacts were continuing gases were released from Earth’s interior.

As metals and various minerals form and separate inside the Earth, water and other gases are released from Earth’s interior, sometimes by the melting of rock and sometimes by chemical reactions. So water accumulates on the Earth and Earth’s atmosphere changes its composition over millions of years.  Oxygen gets in Earth’s atmosphere largely from water vapor in the atmosphere that dissociates from the heat and from strong ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.  When water dissociates it essentially splits into hydrogen and oxygen gases.  As Earth cools the gases remain in the atmosphere and the liquid water remains on the surface.  Some gases in the early Earth atmosphere are lost to space and some disolve into the liquid water on the surface (the forming oceans).  Some of the gases in Earth’s atmosphere are organic (such as methane, hydrogen cyanide, and others) and thus they contribute to the evolution of life from chemicals in “warm little ponds” scattered across Earth’s surface.  Life is believed to have got started when the first living cell evolved from chemicals sometime between 3.5 and 4.0 billion years before the present, which would be several hundred million years after the beginning.  It is generally believed that life could not get started until impacts from space mostly ended and Earth’s surface had cooled off.

These are the main ideas of the naturalistic formation of Earth according to planetary scientists and Earth scientists.  Which is more miraculous, this story or Genesis 1?  I’m not sure!  Though scientists would not like me calling the above scenario miraculous, I think you could argue it is, practically speaking.  It would be an amazing series of accidents that caused Earth to form as a beautiful blue habitable planet by natural forces alone.  Would you rather believe in natural processes doing all the above over millions of years, or in an all powerful God who could form the Earth in six days?  I choose to believe the latter, but I don’t believe it irrationally.  I’m beginning the process of investigating the naturalistic models of Earth formation so I can honestly evaluate them scientifically.  It is rational to choose to believe God created as Genesis describes, because the God of the Bible can do it.  It is very debatable whether natural processes can do it.

Who Defines Marriage?

In the political arena there has been much discussion of Gay marriage lately, as President Obama has changed his position in support of Gay marriage.  I do not want this blog to be political, but the issue of Gay marriage comes up from time to time.  It is an issue that exposes what peoples real values are.  It also tends to make Christians make up their mind about what’s important for our society.  I believe that the Bible is the revealed word of God to all mankind.  The morality from the Bible about sex being within marriage between a man and a woman is a moral absolute that applies to all people.  It is not something that becomes out of date because it is not man who defines marriage.  God’s word has the authority to define absolutes for all people to live by.  There may be various legal definitions of marriage.  They can be either right or wrong because God sets the moral standard and laws should be based on the moral standard.  The laws should be based on the Biblical moral standard because that is healthier for society and for individuals by God’s design.  You could also look at it in a pragmatic way related to child rearing and argue that it is a good means of raising children, totally apart from what people believe about the Bible.  Most religions in the world have a similar concept of marriage to what the Bible teaches, with some exceptions.  So you could argue that traditional marriage is a cross-cultural global societal norm and be correct for most people in the world.  Thus, traditional marriage should not be abandoned or devalued.  In an evolutionary atheistic world view, marriage would be something that was merely invented for practical convenience sake in raising children.  If marriage is something man invented, then why wouldn’t it be something man could reinvent to be something different?  This is a logical question.  There has been resistance to God’s definition of marriage and the morality that goes with it all through history.

Human beings have always tried to come up with some kind of substitute for God’s standard of marriage.  People tend to attempt to lower the moral standard to make it seem easier for them to live by.  But the substitutes for marriage all have problems.  God’s design is best.  Multiple wives was perhaps the first variation (polygamy).  This was allowed by God in ancient times but was not really recommended.  Genesis shows some of the complications and conflict that can arise from the practice.  A more modern substitute for marriage is living together, where two people do not have to make a life-long commitment to each other.  Gay marriage is another kind of substitute for God’s standard.  American society used to frown on people living together but not any more.  Divorce has become so common that some have proposed that marriage be changed into a contract that is only in effect for a limited number of years.  One man wrote a book arguing that in about 50 years robotics technology would advance enough that people would be marrying robots.  There are still religious groups that practice polygamy, mostly Muslims in certain Arab nations.  The practice is illegal in the United States, even though there are occassionally Mormon or religious cult groups that engage in the practice.  I fear that in coming years we will see a variety of efforts to redefine marriage.  Gay marriage may only be the first of these movements.  Christians have to stand up for the truth of traditional marriage and for what is healthy for society in times like these.  Man’s efforts to invent substitutes for marriage have a way of exposing over time the wisdom of God’s design, though most people do not recognize this.  Unfortunately some people’s lives end up going through much pain before they turn around and find the right way.  I wonder what the prevailing opinion in society will be toward Gay marriage, say 40 years from today?  What will children who grew up in Gay households think of it when they are adults?  Society values tend to swing back and forth over generations sometimes.  Perhaps values can swing back to the right, in time.

There are many who think of the opposition to Gay marriage as discrimination and they present the issue as a civil rights issue.  But this is a fallacy because a moral argument against homosexuality is not related to discrimination.  God determines right and wrong, not human beings.  If the laws approve of something which God does not approve of, the legal status (and social acceptance) does not take away from adverse consequences of the immoral lifestyle.  God is completely nondiscriminatory in applying the standards of morality.  This is true whether people “believe” it or not.  All people have reason to acknowledge right and wrong about sex and marriage from their own experience.  If I make a moral argument against homosexuality, that is not about discrimination.  It is saying that a kind of argument exists that the homosexuals deny.  They do not accept a moral argument because they don’t accept biblical morality.  They do not accept a moral absolute that applies to all people the same way.  So they don’t agree with me, but that does not give them a basis for saying that I am encouraging discrimination.  Discrimination is something different than a moral argument against homosexuality.  When I was 20 or 30 years younger, the gays had a legitimate issue over discrimination in the work place.  But that was different than the present situation in our society and it is not the same as what they are trying to accomplish about marriage.  Gays want states, and the nation, to redefine marriage just for them.  I say this is wrong because gays do not have the right to redefine marriage.  In fact, it seems to me it is odd for gays to want something similar to traditional marriage but allowing for their lifestyle.  With so many giving up on marriage anyway, why are they trying to have something similar to the traditional institution?  In a way they are trying to be traditional, but in a manner that is not allowed by biblical morality.  I believe God’s design for marriage is healthier for society and for individuals.