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Conservapedia:Moon

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Arguments for a Recent Creation, Based on the Moon

This should be fun. These all come from - unless specifically mentioned - Conservapedia's "article" on the Moon.

The Truth

Let it set you free.

Size of its Disc - Uniqueness Implies Design[edit]

The Moon appears to have the same size as the Sun when viewed from Earth. This creates a unique symmetry and phenomenal solar eclipses. The odds of this occurring by chance are nearly zero.

Size of its Disc - No it Doesn't![edit]

This is an argument from awe, or an argument from wonder, of the worst kind. Frankly, we should expect better of six year olds. The fact that something is impressive, or remarkably coincidental, does not defeat a methodological, natural explanation. This is the exact same argument used to suggest that the pyramids were built by aliens (they're so amazing!), and it applies with no more force here. Mere natural coincidence does not imply design by a Creator. As much as the romantic notions of beauty and perfection have formed a foundation for poetry and expression, they have no scientific relevance.

Because both the orbits of the Earth around the Sun, and the Moon around the Earth, are not circular but elliptical (and not even in the same orbital plane! Sloppy design!), it is rare in the extreme during a solar eclipse that both the Moon and the Sun would have the same angular diameter and therefore the same apparent size. Instead we regularly have annular eclipses, where the Sun's apparent size is greater than the Moon and appears as an annulus. Of course we also regularly have the opposite of this, known as the total eclipse, where the Moon's greater apparent size completely obscures the Sun only allowing the solar corona to be visible.

As the Moon is receding from the earth, it was inevitable that at some point it would reach the distance at which the moon was the same apparent size as the Sun when viewed from the earth.

Rate of Recession[edit]

The Moon currently recedes from the Earth at a rate of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) per year[1], and is believed by mainstream scientists to be 4.6 billion years old [2].
The Moon could never have been closer than about 11,000 miles or it would have been broken up by tidal forces.[3]
If the rate of recession stayed constant at 3.8 cm per year, it would take 9.6 billion years for the lunar distance to migrate from 11,000 miles to the present distance of about 240,000 miles.
However, the rate of recession would not have been constant, but would have been greater in the past, so that extrapolating backwards in time results in the moon being in contact with the earth 1.37 billion years ago,[3] seemingly (if the assumptions stated above are correct) contradicting the view of an Old Earth promoted by atheists.

Rate of Recession[edit]

The tides, chiefly caused by the Moon's gravitational attraction and the orbiting of Earth and Moon about a common point, act as a brake to slow down the earth's rotation. The nearer tidal bulge, which carries the greater effect, runs slightly out of alignment of the Moon overhead; the gravitational interaction between it and the Moon serves to speed up the Moon in its orbit even as it slows down the earth's rotation. As it speeds up, the Moon moves to a higher orbit.

The effectiveness of this tidal brake on the earth's rotation strongly depends on the configuration of the oceans. Thus, we should inquire as to whether the current arrangement is an average value or not.


The present rate of tidal dissipation is anomalously high because the tidal force is close to a resonance in the response function of the oceans; a more realistic calculation shows that dissipation must have been much smaller in the past and that 4.5 billion years ago the moon was well outside the Roche limit, at a distance of at least thirty-eight earth radii
—(Hansen 1982; see also Finch 1982), (Brush, 1983, p.78)

Thus, our moon was probably never closer than 151,000 miles. A modern astronomy text (Chaisson and McMillan, 1993, p.173) gives an estimate of 250,000 kilometers (155,000 miles), which agrees very closely with Brush's figure. Thus, the "problem" disappears!
Above copied from Talk Origins

Origin Theories[edit]

Atheistic theories of the origin of the Moon, widely taught for decades despite lacking the falsifiability requirement of science (see Philosophy of science), have been proven false.[4] Lacking any other atheistic alternatives, some scientists assert that the Moon originated from a collision early in Earth's history which created an orbiting ring of debris from the iron-poor surface of the planet which eventually coalesced into the moon.[5] This theory, however, is contrary to key observations of the Moon, such as the relatively low levels of iron in the Moon's crust. Additional tests fail to support the atheistic theory.[6]
Biblical history records the Moon being created on the fourth day of Creation Week, along with the Sun.

Origin Theories[edit]

First, let's note the characterization error in the left column. The author (Conservative) says that any non-creation explanation of the moon's origin is "atheistic." Please note that, according to this definition (anything that goes against special 6000-year ago creation is atheistic), these branches of science are all atheistic. Folks, that's most of them.[7]

Now, onto the sources. The author hopes to prove the moon's special creation by demonstrating that the predominant scientific theory - the giant impact model[8] - is both unfalsifiable, and false. Let's take it piece by piece. First, is the "giant impact hypothesis" untestable? The author's own reference - a NASA document, cited here - says, no. It notes that, as of the time of the source's writing, a great many tests seemed to falsify the giant impact theory - one of them taking issue with the elemental content of the moon, viz. Earth. So, theory is falsifiable... but so falsifiable, that it's false, based on problems in lunar elemental composition. However, the very next cite in Conservative's argument explains away the chemical differential.[9] In sum, his arguments would be interesting if his sources didn't cut against him. And, to paraphrase the same author, "additional quote mines support the theory."[10]

Let's assume arguendo, though, that the "giant impact theory," and indeed all other scientific theories to date, actually fail to explain the origin of the moon. The author seems to do just this, and closes by stating that, therefore, the moon must be specially created. This is a God of the Gaps argument: "if we can't explain it now, it means God Himself did it." Errr... no. After all, if we're going to invoke falsifiability, let's invoke it consistently. It's possible that there are good arguments against the giant impact model, and other scientific explanations of the moon's origin. However, the argument to the left is not one of them!

Rotation and Revolution[edit]

The Moon presents the same side to Earth at all times. That means that the rotation of the Earth offsets the separate effects of the revolution of the Moon. Physical explanations rely on tidal locking, asserting that tidal forces on Earth caused a bulge on the Moon, thereby creating a drag on the rotation of the Moon until its same face always presents to the Earth.[11] In fact, current tidal forces exerted by the Earth on the Moon cannot account fully for its bulge or egg shape.[12]

Rotation and Revolution[edit]

What? The difference between the polar and equatorial diameters of the Moon is less than 5km. The Earth has a "bulge" over twice that size, relatively speaking. In other words, if you were to scale the Moon up to the size of the Earth, the Earth would be over twice as "flattened".

Giant Impact + Moon Composition[edit]

(ed. note: from another article).

This...theory fail lacks testability and falsifiability, which are essential aspects of science as explained by Karl Popper.

Scientists did find that none of three proposed tests are "supportive of the Giant Impact model."[13]

Another article noted that the Moon is lacking in siderophilic elements (Au, Co, Fe, Ir, Mn, Mo, Ni, Os, Pd, Pt, Re, Rh, Ru) found on Earth, and this indicates that the Moon was not formed by materials broken off of Earth, thereby falsifying the theory.[14]

A third study found that "the bulk composition of the Moon differs significantly from that of the terrestrial mantle" and that "[t]he high bulk FeO content of the Moon rules out the derivation of the proto-lunar material from any but a small fraction of the terrestrial mantle."[15]

Nearly two decades after the Giant-Impact Model was embraced at the Hawaii convention, Scientific American observed that:[16]

Unfortunately, researchers have had trouble getting the giant-impact model to work without the contrivances that scuttled earlier theories.
Four facts and three parameters is a recipe for contradiction. To explain the moon's low iron content, you need to avoid a grazing collision (corresponding to a large impact angle), lest too much of the impactor's iron spill into orbit. Then, to explain the angular momentum, you need to compensate for the smallish angle with a hefty impactor. Then, to explain the moon's mass, you need to adjust the proto-Earth's mass. In the end, you might find that the total mass is incorrect.

Scientific American concluded:[17]

Considering all the twists and turns in lunar science, nobody claims that the models are complete just yet.

Giant Impact + Moon Composition[edit]

As the CP article itself admits, the Giant Impact model is far from "untestable", and the presence of criticism of it shows that it's apparently not as unfalsifiable as claimed.

Let's start with the nice quotemine that kicks off the section: "None of these is supportive of the Giant Impact model, but neither do they disprove it." (Same source as CP, emphasis mine)

Regarding bulk composition, it has been pointed out that the impactor also contributed a large share of the base material that formed the Moon, so its bulk composition can be expected to be different than that of the terrestrial mantle. This led to the problem of the lack of siderophilic elements that should be present in such a case.

And lastly, Scientific American. Another case of selectively quoting only the apparent problems without paying attention to the suggested solutions. Yes, the calculations do rely on many factors (making the calculations not exactly trivial), and it's possible to end up at required masses that are too low or too high. However:

Canup and Asphaug argue that the fault lies not in the stars but in our simulations. The calculations rely on a technique known as smoothed-particle hydrodynamics, which subdivides the bodies and applies the laws of physics to each piece. Early runs tracked 3,000 pieces--leaving the iron core of the moon to be represented by just a single piece. Even the slightest computational imprecision could vastly overstate the iron content, in which case the computer compensated by reducing the impact angle. The result was a bias toward heavy impactors and light proto-Earths. Because Canup and Asphaug use 30,000 particles, they get by with a much smaller impactor. Everything--mass, iron, momentum--clicks into place.

What is true that the Giant Impact model has been criticized and that it still needs to explain certain things. However, it's still far too early to declare it to be disproven because of this, and it's certainly false to claim that there is "no direct evidence for this theory".

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. NASA Measuring the Moon's Distance, LPI Bulletin, No. 72, August, 1994.
  2. NASA, Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, Chapter 15.2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sarfati, Jonathan, The moon: the light that rules the night, Creation 20(4):36–39, September 1998.
  4. Planetary Science Institute: The Origin of the Moon
  5. http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=2198
  6. J. H. Jones: Tests of the Giant Impact Hypothesis
  7. The author asks that you forgive him for using the Schlafly-popularized "folks."
  8. The theory is exactly what it sounds like.
  9. See!?
  10. Again!
  11. The same theory suggested that the planet Mercury had a similar locked rotation due to gravitational forces from the sun, such that the same side of Mercury always faces the sun. In fact, that is false. Mercury's tidal locking is incomplete and it does not always present the same face to the sun.
  12. http://physics.fortlewis.edu/Astronomy/astronomy%20today/CHAISSON/AT308/HTML/AT30803.HTM
  13. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/origin98/pdf/4045.pdf
  14. http://www.ias.ac.in/jessci/dec2005/ilc-3.pdf
  15. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc97/pdf/1070.PDF
  16. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=5&articleID=000A90B0-C919-1C6E-84A9809EC588EF21
  17. Id.