Genesis 1 and other passages such as Exodus 20:11 imply that everything in the physical universe was created in the six-day Creation week. Thus, like Earth, the solar system also is only thousands of years in age. Is there scientific evidence that our solar system is not billions of years old? Yes! And this evidence is posing a mystery for scientists who believe in billions of years.
Evolutionary theories propose that our solar system formed from a large spinning nebula in space.1
The nebula is believed to have flattened to a spinning disk of gas, dust, and ice known as the accretion disk. Over millions of years, gravity caused the planets and other objects to form from this disk, and then excess gas and dust dissipated and cleared away, leaving the solar system as we see it.
An important concept in this origins model is that all objects in our solar system, which are bound by gravity to our Sun, were made from the material in this original nebula. So, this nebula becomes the common source from which everything in our solar system formed.
However, this long-age view of our solar system involves many scientific problems, which can be listed in three categories, namely chemical change problems, heat problems, and dynamics problems.
Methane not missingOne of the chemical-change problems for long-age thinking is the presence of methane on Titan, a moon of Saturn. Titan has an atmosphere thicker than that of Earth, made up of nitrogen and a long list of organic gases, such as methane, ethane, acetylene, and others. After much study of Titan’s atmosphere and the recent Cassini mission probe landing on its surface, an interesting mystery remains.
The young Sun was too coolAn example of a heat problem for long-age thinking that affects Earth and the Sun is usually known as the faint young Sun paradox. Evolutionists believe the first living cell formed from chemicals on the early Earth about 3.8 billion years ago. At that time in the Sun’s life cycle it would have given off about 30% less light energy than today,8,9 and the Earth would have been much colder. Earth would likely have looked like a ball of ice instead of how it looks today. Thus life would not be likely to survive or evolve.
But this problem disappears when we interpret the evidence from a biblical perspective. In this view, the Sun was created essentially as it is today, and would not have changed much in 6,000 years. Thus God created the Sun with properties well suited to our needs, and it has been a very stable source of energy for us and for all life on Earth.
Io is too hot
Though scientists expected Io to be volcanic, the amount of heat coming from Io has been surprising. Consequently they have tried to explain the interior of Io and the amount of heat generated by all the volcanoes.
Jupiter is at least part of the cause of Io’s heat. Because Io has an elliptical orbit around Jupiter, and Jupiter is so large, massive tidal forces due to gravity squeeze Io and cause its shape to oscillate, generating heat inside Io—a process scientists call ‘tidal dissipation’. However, the amount of heat that Io gives off, that scientists have observed with infrared telescopes and spacecraft, is about 10 times the amount of heat generated by all known sources of heat, including tidal dissipation.10 The heat problem remains for the billion-year explanation.
However, the geology of Io is easy to explain when we assume there is heat left over from its creation and that Io is young. The processes proposed by scientists to explain Io are implausible over long time scales because they cannot continue the same way for billions of years. However the processes work well if the heat present after Io’s creation is simply used up and dissipates over several thousand years.
Short-period cometsAn example of a dynamics problem for long-age thinking concerns short-period comets, which orbit the Sun in elliptical paths. As they come near the Sun, comets lose material into space and give off a ‘tail’ called a coma that makes them beautiful to see. Short-period comets make an entire orbit in less than 200 years but long-period comets take more than 200 years.
It has long been known that comets can survive only a limited number of passes near the Sun because they lose some of their material every orbit. Short-period comets would eventually become invisible because they would eventually stop producing a coma—they would have no more material to lose.11
Estimates of the visible ‘lifetime’ of short-period comets are uncertain but are generally of the order of thousands of years. They could not last millions or billions of years. Thus, scientists who believe the solar system is billions of years old have proposed various means of supplying new short-period comets as the old ones ‘burn out’.
One popular view is that short-period comets come from the region beyond Neptune, known as the Kuiper Belt. A few hundred objects have been observed beyond the planet Neptune in roughly circular orbits. Though it is possible for Neptune or other planets to move these Kuiper Belt objects into short-period-comet orbits, this does not seem to occur frequently enough to resupply the short-period comets.12
Also, the Kuiper Belt objects we know of are actually much larger than comets.
It is simpler and more plausible that the solar system is young and that short-period comets are not being ‘resupplied’ at all. This avoids many difficulties with explaining where all the comets come from and what happened to them. Thus we can accept that the Earth and solar system are only several thousand years old.
Our solar system is youngThese are a few examples of scientific evidence that pose problems for those who claim the solar system is billions of years old. This evidence suggests our solar system is young, and other evidences could be mentioned. There are always alternatives to the long-age naturalistic theories that are accepted by most of the scientific community. Biblically, the Earth and the universe are roughly 6,000 years old. As the exploration of our solar system continues, more and more evidence is discovered that points to a young solar system, consistent with the time scale recorded in the Bible. Our solar system is young.
- For problems with the model, aside from the age considerations in this article, see Sarfati, J., Solar system origin: Nebular hypothesis, Creation 32(3):34–35, 2010. Return to text.
- Mitri, G., Showman, A.P., Lunine, J.I. and Lorenz, R.D., Hydrocarbon lakes on Titan, Icarus 186:385–394, 2007. Return to text.
- The Missing Methane, Astrobiology Magazine, 17 March 2005; Saturnian surprises, Creation 27(3):7, 2005. Return to text.
- Michael, M., et al., Ejection of nitrogen from Titan’s atmosphere by magnetospheric ions and pick-up ions, Icarus 175:263–267, 2005. Return to text.
- Sillanpaa, I., et al., Hybrid simulation study of ion escape at Titan for different orbital positions, Advances in Space Research 38(4):799–805, 2006. Return to text.
- Science News, 24 June 2011; Coppedge, D., Wrong again: planetologists embarrassed, crev.info/content/110623-wrong_again_planetologists_embarrassed, 23 June 2011. Return to text.
- Clayton, R., Planetary Science: The Earth and the Sun, Science 332(6037):1509–10, 24 June 2011 | DOI: 10.1126/science.1206965. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Our steady sun: a problem for billions of years, Creation 26(3):52–53, 2004, creation.com/faint_sun; Samec, R., The sun in time, Journal of Creation 18(3):8–9, 2004. Return to text.
- Faulkner, D., The young faint Sun paradox and the age of the solar system, Journal of Creation 15(2):3–4, 2001. Return to text.
- Spencer, W., Tidal dissipation and the age of Io, Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, Ivey, R.L. Jr., Ed., Creation Science Fellowship, pp 585–595, 2003. Return to text.
- Faulkner, D., Comets and the age of the solar system, Journal of Creation 11(3):264–273, 1997, creation.com/comet; Sarfati, J., Comets—portents of doom or indicators of youth? Creation 25(3):36–40, 2003; creation.com/comets. Return to text.
- Newton, R., The short-period comets ‘problem’ (for evolutionists): Have recent ‘Kuiper Belt’ discoveries solved the evolutionary/long-age dilemma? Journal of Creation 16(2):15–17, 2002. Return to text.
- Napier, W.M., Wickramasinghe, J.T. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., Extreme albedo comets and the impact hazard, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 355:191–195, 2004. Return to text.
by Ron Samec
November 27, 2007Psalm 19 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. But what do the heavens declare about the age of the universe? Recent observations confirm that the universe is only a few thousand years old, as the Bible says.
The Existence of CometsComets are small, low density, icy “asteroids” that orbit the sun. But their lifetime is limited. As they come near the sun, some of their icy material is vaporized and blown away—forming a “tail.”
The actual body of the comet, called the “nucleus,” is very small, ranging from 1 to 30 miles (1–50 km) in diameter. It also has very low density, certainly less than that of water. Earth-based observers cannot see the nucleus. Instead they see only the gases and dust particles that come from the nucleus, including a large glowing gas ball, called a coma, and the ion and dust tails. The gas (ion) tail is blown away from the sun by solar wind, and the dust tail is forced back by the pressure of photons. The presence of tails and comas tells us that comets are constantly losing mass.
Anatomy of a Comet
Death of a Comet
Many comets have been observed to break up or at least partially disintegrate. In 1852 Comet Biela was observed to divide in two, and in 1872, a meteor shower appeared in its place. Indeed, nearly all meteor showers are linked to the disintegration of known comets.
It is apparent that comets are temporary. And from their orbits, we find that comets do not just fall in from interplanetary space. They appear to be true members of the solar system, and so they are limited in number. If the solar system were 4.6 billion years old, our complete supply of comets should have been exhausted long ago. Instead, comets are plentiful.
To resolve this challenge, uniformitarian astronomers believe that long-period comets arise from the Oort cloud, a hypothesized cloud of comet nuclei with a radius of about 50,000 AU (an astronomical unit is the average distance between the earth and sun). Evolutionists Carl Sagan and Ann Druvan admit in their book entitled Comet, “Many scientific papers are written each year about the Oort Cloud, its properties, its origin, its evolution. Yet there is not yet a shred of direct observational evidence for its existence.”
Likewise, the shorter period comets are believed to come from the Kuiper belt, a disk of icy asteroids beginning at the orbit of Pluto (40 AU) and extending out to about 55 AU. But such objects have different characteristics from the comets, so they cannot explain the wealth of comets we see today.
The Moon is Still Alive . . .The moon is very much alive, geologically speaking. Ever since telescopes have been available, observers have been reporting many color changes, bright and colored spots and streaks, clouds, hazes, veils, and other phenomena on the moon. Since these phenomena are short lived, they are called Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLP). These speak of geologic activity.
Aristarchus Region of the Moon
As early as March 1787, William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus and an ardent lunar observer, reported, “I perceive three volcanoes in different places of the dark side of the moon. Two of them are either extinct, or otherwise in a state of going to break out. . . . The third shows an actual erupt ion of fire, or luminous matter.” The next night he continued, “The volcano burns with greater violence than last night. I believe the diameter . . . to be about three miles.” More than 300 TLP’s have been seen in the Aristarchus region alone. This and hundreds of similar observations point to the youthfulness of the moon, as the Bible tells us.
Jupiter and Neptune are Still So HotWe have been taught that solar system bodies shine only by reflected light. Is this true? No, not for the Jovian gas giants, Jupiter and Neptune. In fact, the power excess for Jupiter is 3 x 1017 watts.1 Jupiter actually radiates nearly twice as much power as it receives from the sun, but mostly in the infrared. That’s enough power to continuously burn three million-billion 100-watt light bulbs. Saturn puts out half the energy but is one-quarter the mass, so it produces twice the energy per unit mass than Jupiter. Neptune gives off well over twice as much energy as it receives. Uranus’ energy production is somewhat in doubt, but even it appears to give off slightly more than it receives. This means that each of these three planets has an alternate energy source. What is it?
Jupiter puts out nearly twice the energy it receives from the sun. This makes sense if the planet is only thousands of years old.The usual explanation for Jupiter’s extra energy is that it is shrinking. This converts gravitational energy into internal heat and radiation. Can this explain the extra energy? No. Shrinkage alone does not produce enough energy. Others have said that helium is raining down on the core, releasing additional gravitational energy. While that may be the explanation for Saturn and Uranus, whose surfaces are helium depleted, observations of the vibrations of the surface (asteroseismology) have shown this is not correct for Jupiter.2
Researchers3 have hypothesized that nuclear reactions are occurring in the core of Jupiter as a result of burning deuterium (heavy hydrogen). This requires a core temperature of 160,000 K, some 8 times hotter than the present models of Jupiter. Will this produce the extra energy? To make this work, most of the deuterium available throughout Jupiter had to simultaneously descend to its core when Jupiter formed so the deuterium would be hot enough to ignite. Once it ignited, it would burn happily for 10 billion years or more and keep Jupiter hot. This would give us a hot Jupiter like the one we see today. At first, this solution appears to be ingenious. The snag is that the deuterium layer has to assemble itself at just the right time and at the right place to sustain Jupiter’s core temperature. The same unlikely event must be repeated on Neptune.
The definition of a star is any large, self-gravitating gaseous sphere with continued nuclear reactions in its core. Our sun is a star. It burns hydrogen in its core. But if Jupiter and Neptune have nuclear reactions in their cores, then they are dwarf suns. There would be three suns in our solar system.
There is a simpler explanation. God created the Jovian planets. The heat energy comes from the creative work of God and any gravitational energy produced since then. Since they are young and quite massive, the Jovian planets have not had time to cool down. Are hot Jovian planets a problem to creationists? Absolutely not! They are only a problem to evolutionists.
- Spiral galaxies rotate much too quickly for an old universe. They would be twisted beyond recognition if they were really as old as secular astronomers claim.
- The magnetic fields of planets and moons in our solar system are consistent with their age of a few thousand years, but are much too strong for an age of billions of years.
- The debris shed by disintegrating comets is what causes meteor showers. Since earth intersects such a debris field once each year, most meteor showers are annual.