14. No Place Like Home
“The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all it contains, You have founded them.” Ps 89:11 (ESV)
Earth testifies to its youth in many ways. Some are vague—requiring something less than billions of years—while others much more emphatically demand a maximum age of just a few thousand years. The popular scientific community conveniently ignores much of this evidence, but the glory of Creation cannot be silenced. Jesus said that if we were silent the stones would testify (Lk 19:40).
It takes 24 hours for Earth to make one rotation. We call this period a day and we mark each day with a date on our calendar. It takes a little more than 365 days for Earth to make a complete orbit around the sun. Earth’s orbit is only slightly oblong. Earth’s axis for rotation lies about 23 degrees off the ecliptic plane. From the Northern hemisphere, the axis appears to point almost directly at a star we call Polaris, the “Northern Star,” which can easily be found at the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. Earth has an atmosphere—breathable air—composed mostly of nitrogen and oxygen with a small amount of carbon dioxide and traces of other gasses. Water (mostly liquid) covers about 2/3 of the surface with dry land covering the remainder. Heat from the sun and tidal forces from the moon maintain the water cycle—evaporation, transportation, condensation. Landmasses are associated with tectonic plates. Earth has large areas of hot liquid in its interior. Some of the molten material reaches the surface through volcanoes. Polar regions are cold, but support limited life. Most plant and animal life thrives in the temperate and equatorial zones. Earth has a strong magnetic field. The Creation model predicts most of these characteristics directly or indirectly. The Materialist model fails to make most of these predictions and in some cases strongly predicts something very different.
There’s a law in science that says an object in motion tends to remain in motion until acted on by another force. This applies to spin as well as straight-line motion. Our planet is a large spinning object. As described above, it takes 24 hours for Earth to rotate one time. There are two forces that drag against Earth’s rotation. The major drag is tidal force, but our magnetic field interacting with solar wind also produces a small amount of drag. Over time, the drag from these forces slow our rotation. The amount of drag is very small, but over an extremely long period it would have a major affect on our planet.
In the late 19th century Lord Kelvin calculated that the tidal effects alone would decelerate Earth’s rotation rate by half over roughly 7 billion years. In other words, a day would have been 12 hours long a few billion years ago. Doubling the rotation rate would cause four times the centrifugal force as present. Kelvin figured this much force should cause the equator to bulge 86 km more than at the poles (sea level is today 21.5 km higher at the equator). If the earth had cooled and consolidated as much as 1 billion years ago the land masses should be several miles above the sea at the equator and all the water should drain to the poles. What we see is relative symmetry of continents and oceans with one continent being at the South Pole. This suggests Earth cannot possibly be more than a few hundred million years old. Drag created by solar wind and motion of fluid regions inside the earth mean the earth is almost certainly slowing faster than Kelvin calculated. This further reduces the upper limit for Earth’s age. A related problem for an old Earth is the fact that some continents run North and South rather than East and West as would be predicted by an old Earth, even had it cooled relatively recently. The size, shapes and locations of continents demand a relatively young Earth (compared with the popular theory of billions of years). Over a few thousand years the difference in the length of a day and the amount of bulging would be negligible.
Earth’s orbit is only slightly elliptical. A relatively circular orbit provides relatively consistent heat and radiation. Extreme variations would make life extremely difficult or impossible. Earth is closest to the sun when it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere and farthest away when it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Oceans dominate the Southern Hemisphere. Air over water tends to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in winter. The result is that the temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere are much more stable than they would be if it were dominated by land like the Northern Hemisphere. The Northern Hemisphere is closer to the sun in winter and farther away in summer. The effect causes more stable temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere where there is much more dry land. Earth’s orbit seems “engineered” for high performance. The quality of appearing engineered is predicted by the Creation model, but seems to beat the odds in the random chance model.
Perhaps it is only a convenience that Earth’s axis points almost exactly toward Polaris, the Northern Star. Perhaps it is merely good fortune that Earth tilts enough for seasons, but not so much that livable regions are in total light or darkness for half the year. More tilt and the polar freezing would extend much closer to the equator during winter and the poles would tend to melt during summer. Less tilt and seasons would be less pronounced or nonexistent. The change of season is important for the air and water cycles. Any change in tilt would impact animal life and would radically affect plant life. Is Earth’s tilt the product of extraordinarily good fortune or good design as predicted by Gen 1:14?
Gravity is one of the least understood forces in nature. Newton showed that gravity is related to the density of a body of matter. Einstein took it further by showing light and space are affected by gravity. Any change in Earth’s mass would cause a change in the amount of Earth’s gravitational force. Gravity affects Earth’s orbit rate and the rate and distance of the moon’s orbit. Even a small change in our gravity would have a profound impact on our atmosphere resulting in an atmosphere either too toxic or too thin for life as we know it. The precision of our gravity is yet another finely engineered universal quality.
The composition, density, and layering of Earth’s atmosphere is ideal for life as we know it. Too much oxygen, for example, and the atmosphere could spontaneously burn. Not enough oxygen and most life could not exist. More or less carbon would radically impact the CO2 levels. CO2 levels impact the ability to form water droplets, thus clouds, in the lower atmosphere. Cloud cover directly impacts heat capture or reflection in the lower atmosphere. The ozone layer and upper atmosphere chemistry interact with Earth’s magnetic field, solar wind and cosmic radiation to regulate radiation and temperature on the surface along with cloud formation and overall weather patterns.
Earth’s surface temperature is at or near equilibrium. Our planet gives off about as much heat as it receives from the sun. The interior of our planet is hot, but the crust is an excellent insulator. Very little of the interior heat is conducted to the surface. If the surface of the earth was once molten, as the Big Bang / Uniformitarian model predicts, its excess heat would have radiated into space. Once the surface cooled enough to form solid rock, the surface temperature would have dropped rapidly. The rate of cooling is relatively easy to calculate using known thermal laws and coefficients. Working backward from the thermal gradient in crust rock today, Lord Kelvin calculated that the entire surface of our planet would have been molten rock no more than 24 million years ago. This calculation has never been seriously challenged. Some scientists have supposed that radiation inside the earth accounts for the thermal gradient, but neither Kelvin’s own calculations nor any other scientist since has been able to show how this could account for the small but measurable thermal gradient observed today. The Evolution model requires vastly greater than 24 million years of equilibrium planetary surface conditions—or their estimates for the evolution of life must be very wrong. The Creation model predicts solid “dry” surface rock along with liquid surface water and atmosphere on the third day of Creation only a few thousand years ago (24 million years is a maximum, not a minimum).
Earth has a powerful magnetic field. Our magnetic field shields our atmosphere from dangerous levels of cosmic and solar radiation. Data collected for well over a century indicate Earth’s magnetic field is decaying. Analysis of the data shows Earth’s magnetic moment has a half-life of 1400 years. Since energy is a square of moment, the energy is decaying with a half-life of only 700 years. Working backward, then, we can calculate the strength of earth’s magnetism in the past. At 10,000 years the earth’s magnetism approaches that of a magnetic star. A nuclear engine powers the magnetism of magnetic star. There is no known geophysical means of energizing such a magnet inside the Earth within the last 10,000 years. The only logical conclusion is that the upper limit of Earth’s age is 10,000 years and whatever force that started up the magnetic field must have acted on the earth at its development at the time of creation.
Circulating electrical currents in the core of the planet produce Earth’s magnetic field through an effect called electromotive force (EMF). The magnetic field produced by the current forces the electrical currents to decay. At present Earth’s magnetic moment is about 8 x 1022 ampere-meter2. About 6 billion amperes of circulating currents in the core create this field. Electrical energy is decaying at a rate of 813 million Joules/second and this electrical energy is not being resupplied. Knowing the half-life of the energy source is 700 years, and knowing the strength of the field now, we know the magnetic field will be completely depleted in less than 2000 years. The magnetic field does not cause the electric current and there is no known mechanism to store the energy of the circulating currents. This means that once the field collapses, there is no known mechanism for restarting it. Some scientists theorize that earth’s magnetic poles “swap” every few thousand years. This theory is based on blind faith in evolutionary theory: the field has a maximum and it collapses, but Earth is billions of years old, therefore the field must cycle back and forth like the magnetic field of a transformer. A transformer is an electromagnetic device that takes electrical current in one wire to create a magnetic field which induces an electric current into another wire in the same field. Even in a transformer, the magnetic field requires a constant flow of electricity into the source wire. When the source electricity is removed, the field immediately collapses and can no longer produce useful output. For Earth to have a cycling magnetic field it must have some sort of alternating current generator. No such generator is known to exist in the core of our planet.
Not only does our solar system exhibit incredible order and complexity, the physical constants governing it are perfectly tuned. To have the correct combination of gravity, atmosphere, temperature, water, minerals, radiation and radiation shielding, solar characteristics, lunar characteristics, and so forth requires a lengthy list of measured constants to be in perfect alignment. Suppose you had only ten constants that had to be a certain value for life to be possible. Suppose each of these constants only had 10 possible values each, but there is only one correct value each. Try rolling 10 ten-sided dice. What would be odds of getting a 10-die Yahzee on any given roll? The answer is one in 10 billion. There are a lot more than 10 constants to consider and most of those constants, if changed by even 1 percent, would rule out the possibility of life as we know it on earth. All observations of nature from cosmic to nuclear, taken together, suggest our existence is unimaginably unlikely without a designer. If there is a designer then once again we are faced with those nagging questions materialists do not want to ask.
The Creation model predicts Earth is only a few thousand years old. The Materialist model—Evolution, Big Bang, Uniformitarianism—predicts Earth to be a few billion years old. The evidence of Earth’s magnetic field, equilibrium surface temperature with solid crust, and the amount of “bulging” at the equator at our present rotation rate all point to Earth being far too young for the Materialism model, but not too young for the Creation model. The extremely fine tuning of constants like gravity, atmospheric composition, mineral content, ozone, solar and lunar characteristics, orbital period, rotation, axis tilt, continent placement, surface water, and other dozens of other variables point to purposeful design by an intelligent mind rather than incalculably good luck. Application of the first and second laws of thermodynamics requires a prime source of energy and organization present in the Creation model, but lacking from the Materialist model.
Related Topics: Creation