Is the Earth Young?

A List for Blue Lightning

This is a list of 24 examples of "evidence for creation", posted to the TruthTree Evolution Board by Blue-Lightning, 11/26/2001 19:40:00. I will examine all 24 of these items, with respect to three criteria of validity: (1) Is the claim factually correct? (2) If correct, is it relevant to the evolution vs creation debate? (3) If both correct and relevant, is it reasonable to interpret the item as being either "evidence for creation" or "evidence against evolution"? The referenced source is the Pathlights webpage. Indeed, their Creation-Evolution Encyclopedia carries hundreds of alleged reasons why the universe cannot be "old". You can guess the value of the whole collection, based on what you will see is the value of the list I examine here.


Table of Refuted Arguments

  • Star clusters
  • Large stars
  • High energy stars
  • Binary stars
  • Hydrogen in the Universe
  • Shrinking sun
  • Solar neutrinos
  • Comets
  • Comet Water
  • Solar wind
  • Solar drag
  • Erosion on Venus
  • Erosion on Mars
  • Composition of Saturn's rings
  • Bombardment of Saturn's rings
  • Other planetary rings
  • Jupiter's moon Io
  • Moon dust
  • Lunar soil
  • Lunar isotopes
  • Lunar radioactivity
  • Lunar gases
  • Transient Lunar Phenomena
  • Lunar recession



    BL: 1 - Star clusters. One type of galaxy in outer space is the star cluster. There are many of them; and, within each one, are billions of stars. Some of these clusters are moving so rapidly, that it would be impossible for them to remain together if the universe were very old.

    Not an auspicious beginning. A star cluster is certainly not a "type of galaxy". Rather, a star cluster is a much smaller gathering of stars, either embedded within a galaxy, or orbiting around a galaxy. Galaxies do have billions of stars in them, but star clusters do not. The largest clusters may have about 1,000,000 stars, but even the largest will fall short of 10,000,000 stars. It does not bode well for the creationist, that they start out at the very beginning, making very elementary mistakes like that.

    Setting aside the rather poor start, there are indeed star clusters, the stars of which are moving such that the clusters themselves cannot be billions of years old. Those particular kinds of clusters are called "moving groups". The Pleiades, a well known open cluster, are also a moving group (On the evolution of moving groups: an application to the Pleiades moving group, R. Asiain, F. Figueras and J. Torra, Astronomy and Astrophysics 350(2): 434-446, October 1999; The formation of a bound star cluster: from the Orion nebula cluster to the Pleiades, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 321(4): 699-712, March 2001). It may well be that most open clusters are in reality also moving groups.

    Just becasue the universe as a whole is thought to be as much as 15,000,000,000 years old, this does not mean that everything we see in the universe must be the same age. New structures, new stars, are constantly forming. The Pleiades. for instance, is a relatively young cluster, probably about 100,000,000 years old, and the relative motions of the stars in it are such that it will probably not last as a cluster beyond about 250,000,000 years from now. This is no surprise. The shear induced by the rotation of the galaxy would be expected to break up a cluster like the Pleiades, and maybe even to create new but temporary clusters along the way.

    One might expect this kind of temporary existence for an open cluster, but not so for the globular clusters, which are larger and older than open clusters (open clusters have from a few hundred to a few thousand stars, globular clusters have from several thousand to a million stars, no clusters have even one billion stars, let alone the plural "billions" of stars, in the creationist statement). While open clusters are small enough to be broken by galactic flows, globular clusters spend most of their time away from the shear of the galactic flow, and are far larger. The larger number of stars, and larger self gravity, means that the globular clusters will last much longer. While open clusters may last on the order of a few hundred million years, globular clusters will last for billions of years, and represent the older stars in the galaxy and in the universe, close to 15,000,000,000 years old (The age of the galactic globular cluster system, D.A. VandenBerg, M. Bolte and P.B. Stetson, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 34: 461-510, 1996)

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? Aside from the sloppy mistakes about what's a galaxy and what's a cluster, the main point is factually correct. There are star clusters which cannot be billions of years old.
    Is the claim relevant? No, it is not. There is no reason to assume that everything in the universe has to be as old as the universe, and no reason to assume that everything in the galaxy must be as old as the galaxy. The false assumption by the creationist, that this must be true, renders the claim irrelevant.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation, or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 2 - Large stars. Some stars are so large, and radiate energy so rapidly, that they could not have contained enough hydrogen to radiate at such fast rates for long ages, because their initial mass would have had to be too immense.

    Indeed, there are stars of all sizes, from miniscule red dwarf stars, through to immense supergiant stars, with our sun somewhere on between. Massive stars use up their nuclear fuel vary quickly, and will last only a few million years. Our sun will last, as a main sequence star, for about 10,000,000,000 years. A tiny 0.08 solar mass, minimal red dwarf star, will last as a main sequence star, for an astonisihing 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) years!

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? Yes, there are stars that are so large, and use up hydrogen so quickly, that they could not be billions of years old.
    Is the claim relevant? Once again the answer is no, for the same reason as stated in response to argument (1). Indeed, this is really just another way of making exactly the same claim, and it fails for the same reason. There can easily be stars that are much younger than the universe or the galaxy.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 3 - High-energy stars. Four types of stars radiate energy too rapidly to have existed longer than 50,000 to 300,000 years.

    Well, to begin with, the argument is false as stated. There are no stars I know of that are doomed to live such short lives. Even the brightest and shortest lived stars will hardly perish in less than 1,000,000 years. However, we can lend the creationist the benefit of noticing that 1,000,000 years is still much less than billions of years, and we see in argument (3) the shadows of argument (1) and argument (2). Indeed, the brightest stars are bright because the are massive. The brightest stars are also the most massive stars, so that this argument is a thinly disguised duplicate of argument (2).

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? Yes, there are stars that are so bright, and radiate so much energy, that they could not be billions of years old.
    Is the claim relevant? Once again the answer is no, for the same reason as stated in response to argument (1) and to argument (2). Indeed, this is really just another way of making exactly the same claim, and it fails for the same reason. There can easily be stars that are much younger than the universe or the galaxy.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 4 - Binary stars. Most stars in the disk of galaxies are binary stars (two stars revolving about one another); yet, frequently, one is classified as very old and the other very young. This cannot be.

    Perhaps it cannot be. But more to the point, it isn't. There are no binary stars in which the two are classified as being of different ages.

    This claim is probably based on an elementary misinterpretation of stellar evolution. There are numerous binary pairs, like Sirius (the brightest star visible in the night sky) and it's companion star Sirius-B. While Sirius is a bright blue/white main sequence star, about twice the size of the sun, its companion is a white dwarf star, slightly smaller than Earth! The white dwarf represents a more evolved state, and it would be a typical (but still elementary) mistake to argue that the white dwarf must be the older star. But not so, it was simply more massive than is Sirius, and so it went through its life cycle faster. Star life times are very sensitive to mass, because more massive stars have hotter cores, burn brighter & faster, and evolve faster. This is probably the mistake the creationist has made.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? It would have been, if it were true.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 5 - Hydrogen in the universe. Hydrogen cannot be made by converting other elements into it; therefore, if the universe were as old as the theory requires, there would now be very little hydrogen in the universe.

    Notice that the statement is in the form of an assertion, but without any supporting evidence or argument. The simplistic creationist approach is to argue that the hydrogen "should have been used up" because no new hydrogen is being formed. But is that a sensible argument? At what rate is hydrogen actually being converted into helium in stars? That is what will determine how much of the hydrogen "should" have been used up by now. Our own sun converts mass into energy, in fusion reactions, at the rate of about 4.3 x 109 kg/sec (or about 4,200,000 tons per second, for fans of English units). Yet, even at this prodigious rate, the sun will lose only about 0.071% (0.00071) of its total mass into energy. But the sun is about 73% hydrogen, and 25% helium on average, and if we assume that all of the mass lost is hydrogen (it's not, but the difference is too small for us to worry over here), then the sun uses up about 0.097% of its total hydrogen content. So, despite what you might think, you can see that converting hydrogen into helium through nuclear fusion in stars, is not a very efficient process. Reality shows not that we expect very little hydrogen to be left in the universe, but that we expect very little hydrogen to have been used up in the universe.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct?No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? It would have been relevant, had it been true.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 6 - Solar collapse. Our sun is gradually shrinking at a steady rate. It is occurring fast enough that, as little as 50,000 years ago, the sun would have been so large that our oceans would boil. In far less time in the past (25,000 years or so), all life on earth would have ceased to exist.

    The sun is neither shrinking nor expanding at any observable rate. The false claim is carelessly based on the premise of a paper that was once read as a meeting abstract, but was withdrawn by the authors before publication, when they discovered that they were in error. It's bad enough that the creationist argument is wrong, but it shows a sloppy and careless approach, that the entire argument is based on a paper that was withdrawn for good reasons. The webpage linked below will provide a more detailed refutation.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? Even if true, it would have been irrelevant. Even if the sun were observed to be shrinking, there would be no reason to assume that it must always have been shrinking in the past.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 7 - Solar neutrinos. The sun is emitting hardly any neutrinos. This, coupled with the fact that the sun is shrinking, points to a recently created sun.

    We have already established that the sun is not shrinking. As for solar neutrinos, how are we supposed to know what "hardly any" means? The sun emits neutrinos, but is the number too small to explain or not? The claim is poorly stated, since it is not clear what the problem is supposed to be. But we can make a guess.

    Creationists, and other pseudoscientists, continue to describe the solar neutrino problem in the same way it was described 30 years ago. When the solar neutrino deficit was first discovered, the detectors could only see neutrinos at a single energy. That experiment detected fewer neutrinos than expected, and this led some scientists to question the reality of nuclear fusion in stars, since those fusion reactions create the neutrinos. However, advances in neutrino detecting technology have changed the picture. We now know that nearly all of the neutrinos expected from the main proton-proton fusion reactions are detected. The ones that fall short are from side reactions that must take place, but generate little energy. The creationist has stated the problem as it was understood 30 yearts ago, not as it is understood now, leading to the conclusion that the creationist has not bothered even to find out what the solar neutrino problem really is, before deciding to expound upon it in expert tone.

    Recent events in the study of neutrinos in general, and more specifically of solar neutrinos, have shed much light on the issue. It is now known that neutrinos have a small mass, whereas it was previously thought that they had none. The fact that neutrinos have mass allows neutrinos to change from one to another of the 3 types of neutrinos, in accordance with the rules of quantum mechanics. If we apply those rules of quantum mechanics to the flux of neutrinos that we expect the sun to emit, we can recover the flux of neutrinos that is actually measured. In other words, theory and experiment agree, within the limits of uncertainty allowed to both.

    So it is asserted by the astrophysical community that the solar neutrino problem is in essence solved. Much remains to be understood, but the basic solution to the problem is now known. It would have served the creationist well to figure this out before declaring that the problem was not only unsolved, but unsolvable.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? The claim of "hardly any" neutrinos is too ambiguous either to verify or falsify. But the interpretation that the sun must be young is clearly false, since a fully applicable solution from standard physics is already on the table, which does not include a young sun.
    Is the claim relevant? Even if true, its relevance is questionable. What is the connection between the age of the sun and its neutrino output? Even a very young sun, if powered by nuclear fusion, would have to emit the expected neutrino flux. And a very old sun, powered by some other source, could easily emit far fewer neutrinos than expected. Without additional information, the issue appears to be irrelevant in any case.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 8 - Comets. Comets circle the sun and are assumed to be as old as our solar system. Since they are continually disintegrating, and a number are known to have broken up, evidently all of them self-destruct within a relatively short time period. It is estimated that the comets cannot be over 10,000 years old.

    Comets do indeed disintigrate, and probably last about 100 trips around the sun. For Comet Halley, which has an orbital period of 76 years, 100 orbits means 7600 years. However, for long period comets, it means a lot more. Comet Hyakutake came in with a period of 17,500 years, and went out with a period of 29,500 years (comet periods can change radically by approaching a planet closely), so 100 orbits could be 1,750,000 t0 2,950,000 years. The period for Comet Hale-Bopp shrank, from 4306 to 2380 years, but so 100 orbiots could be 430,600 ot 238,000 years. Hence the claim, "it is estimated that comets cannot be over 10,000 years old", aside from the deficit of failing to mention by whom it is estimated, applies only to short period comets, and not to long period comets (there have been comets observed with computed orbits as long as 500,000 years, which stretches 100 orbits to 50,000,000 years).

    While a relevant argument, it does suffer from a major flaw. The conclusion, that this constitutes evidence of a 10,000 year old solar system, requires the unspoken assumption that there is no source for new comets. If there is such a source, then the claim is vacuous. Theory has held for some time that the Kuiper belt and the Oort cloud would act as resupply populations for both long and short period comets, though both the belt & the cloud were unobserved. However, we now know that the Kuiper belt is there, where it was expected to be. Observation indicates that it is not as extensive as previously thought, but it is there, and has the capacity to act as a resupply population, at least in principal. The fact that the Oort cloud remains directly unobserved certainly does not mean that there cannot be one, and indirect evidence does in fact imply the presence of the Oort cloud. For an example of this indirect evidence, see The Kuiper Belt, P.R. Weissman, Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics 33: 327-357, 1995. Figure 2, page 336, shows the observed distribution of orbit inclinations and semi-major axes for short period comets, compared with the distributions that are produced by dynamic simulations of capture from the Kuiper belt and an Oort cloud. The comparison here is quite striking, and represents a powerful, though indirect argument, in favor of the presence of the Oort cloud.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? The claim that "comets cannot be more then 10,000 years old" is clearly false, since we know of specific comets that are certainly older than that. The claim that there is an incompatibility between the known population of comets and an assumed "old age" for the solar system is most likely false in principle, and certainly false as stated by the creationist here.
    Is the claim relevant? In principle, yes. Given the proper circumstances, there could be a problem with maintaining comet fluxes over a long time. But observation indicates that this is nto the case.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 9 - Comet water. Comets are primarily composed of water. So many small comets strike the earth that, if our planet was billions of years old, our oceans would be filled several times over with water.

    The reference is to the claim of Louis Frank's, that the earth is being bombarded by very small mini-comets at a steady rate, much more so than previously thought (On the Influx of Small Comets into the Earth's Upper Atmosphere - I: Observations, L.A. Frank, Geophysical Research Letters 13(4): 303-306, April 1986). In numerous papers published since 1986, Frank has supported his claim, while a number of papers have presented observational evidence in contradiction (example, An Optical Search for Small Comets, R.L. Mutel & J.D. Fix, Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics 105(A11): 24907-24915, November 1, 2000; the authors conduct an optical telescopc search for the small comets and report none seen, contrary to expectation if the claim is valid).

    It is important to note that the claim from Louis Frank remains quite controversial, but has been presented by the creationist as if it were an established fact. This would appear to be either a matter of deception on the part of the creationist, or simple ignorance, neither of which puts the creationist on good ground. But even if the comets are really there, who is to say that Earth has always been bombarded by such comets, continuously for billions ot years? How much water does each comet carry, and how much of that water would make it to the surface of Earth? Where is the connection between the age of Earth and the comet flux?

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? The claim remains controversial and unverified. Most space scientists reject the claim.
    Is the claim relevant? Relevance is questionable to be sure, since there is no obvious connection between the flux of comets seen today, and the age of Earth.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 10 - Solar wind. The sun's radiation blows very small particles in space outward. All particles smaller than a certain size should, millions of years ago, have been blown out of the solar system. Yet these micro-particles are abundant and still orbiting the sun. Therefore our solar system is quite young.

    BL: 11 - Solar drag. Small and medium rocks circling the sun are gradually drawn by gravity into the sun. Careful analysis reveals that most would have been gone within 10,000 years, and all within 50,000 years. There is no known source of rock or particle replenishment.

    There are several arguments in the list that are very similar, but I have thus far handled them separately. But this time, arguments 10 & 11 are really simply alternative descriptions of exactly the same effect, so I will treat them together.

    The begin with, the solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected by the sun and is in fact not reponsible for the phenomenon of small particles being pushed out of the solar system. The true culprit in this case is sunlight (yes, the light from the sun pushes harder than the solar wind because it transfers momentum more efficiently for particles of this size).

    Particles with radii between about 0.06 and 0.5 microns are actually blown out of the solar system by radiation pressure and never get a chance to fall into the sun. For smaller particles, the time scales for falling into the sun range from about 30,000 years for particles as small as 0.01 micron radius, up to about 300,000 years, for particles just below the 0.06 micron threshold for radiative ejection. On the larger side, the time scales range from about 1,000,000 years for particles just too big for ejection (just over 0.5 micron radius) to just over 10,000,000 years for the biggest particles considered, those with a radius of 1 millimeter (The Kuiper Belt, D. Jewitt & J. Luu, A chapter in "From Stardust to Planetesimals", ASP Conference Series, vol 122, 1997; Pages 335-344).

    The time scale for loss of dust is seen to be anywhere from 30,000 to 1,000,000 years, and not strictly limited to the 50,000 year assertion from the creationist. But the creationist assertion that there is no source of replenishment for dust and small particles is incorrect. Collisions between asteroids and smaller objects in the solar system are frequent enough on such large time scales, to provide a fresh supply as quickly as the old dust is ejected (The Kuiper Belt, D. Jewitt & J. Luu, A chapter in "From Stardust to Planetesimals", ASP Conference Series, vol 122, 1997; Pages 335-344; Origin and Evolution of The Kuiper Belt, L. Dones, A chapter in "From Stardust to Planetesimals", ASP Conference Series, vol 122, 1997; Pages 347-365).

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? The claim that dust & small particles can remain in the solar system for only relatively short periods of time is true. The claim that there are no known sources of replenishment is false.
    Is the claim relevant? The issue is relevsant, since the absence of replenishment would expose a contradisction.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 12 - Temperature and erosion on Venus. High surface temperatures on Venus (900 degree F (482 degree C)), combined with other of its surface features, support a young age for Venus. If the planet was 4 billion years old, as taught by the theory, its dense atmosphere should long ago have worn away all the craters.

    Once again the creationist presents us with an assertion, but no supporting argument. Why should the surface of Venus have been worn down long ago? A study of the physics & chemistry of the surface of Venus, reveals that this is simply not true. The crust of Venus is well thick enough to support the observed topography without slumping, and chemical erosion at the surface is nowhere near fast enough. The atmosphere at the surface hardly moves at all, the high winds in the Venusian atmosphere are very high up. (Venus Revealed, David Grinspoon, Addison Wesley Publishing, 1997). A more detailed supporting argument is presented in the article linked below.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? Yes, in that it would be hard to explain a "young" Venus with an "old" Earth (unless one chooses to go the way of Velikovsky).
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 13 - Erosion and water on Mars. Only a few thousand years of the type of harsh dust storm weather occurring on Mars should have seriously eroded its many craters and volcanoes. Long-term erosion should also have obliterated the strong color differences on the surface. The small amount of water on Mars should long ago have been split apart into hydrogen and oxygen by solar ultraviolet rays. The hydrogen should have escaped and the oxygen should be in the atmosphere, but this is not so.

    Just about everything this claim is wrong. We are told that dust storms should have seriously eroded craters & volcanoes, but there is no mention of a time scale. How long does this kind of erosion take? Remember that, although the wind may blow on Mars, the atmosphere has a density of about 3/1000 that of Earth's atmosphere, and so erosion due to wind will be much slower. If you look at the surface of Mars, you see that many craters and volcanoes are indeed well worn, and many are not. The older ones are, the younger ones are not. This kind of erosion simply does not go as fast at the creationist thinks.

    Also note that not all of the surface features on Mars must be as old as the planet, a conceptual error we have seen before in this list. Mars is geologically active, and we expect to see an array of both older and younger features. The younger ones will be less worn than the older ones. For an example of scientific discussion of wind related erosion on Mars, see, for instance, Wind Related Modification of Some Small Impact Craters on Mars, R.O. Kuzmin et al., Icarus 153(1): 61-70, September 2001)

    As for the water being split apart, it is, but only the water that is exposed at the surface (water below the surface is immune). But the oxygen, like the hydrogen, should escape into space, not hang around on Mars, which has too little gravity to hold it.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? Since Mars has a geologically active surface, it is hard to see a real connection between the age of surface features on Mars, the details of Martian erosion, and the age of Earth (or the solar system). I would say that relevance is questionable.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 14 - Composition of Saturn's rings. Trillions of particles in Saturn's rings are mainly solid ammonia. Because of its high vapor pressure, it could not survive long without vaporizing into outer space.

    The particles of Saturn's ring system are made up mostly out of water ice, organic compounds, and silicates (i.e., rocks). There is little, if any, solid ammonia. However, even if there were, the argument is false. The vapor pressure in this case is not relevant because the molecules are frozen to the surface and have to be knocked off. If this argument were carried to its logical conclusion, then we would also expect rocks and steel spacecraft to evaporate into space too. They do not. The argument is not only false, it does not even make sense.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? No. Even if true, there is no reason to believe that the rings of Saturn must be as old as Saturn, or as old as Earth.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 15 - Bombardment of Saturn's rings. Meteoroids bombarding Saturn's rings would have destroyed them in far less than 20,000 years.

    Not hardly. The rings of Saturn can stand up to meteoroid bombardment for at least 100,000,000 years (Compositional evolution of Saturn's rings due to meteoroid bombardment, J.N. Cuzzi & P.R. Estrada, Icarus 132(1): 1-35, March 1998).

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? No. Even if true, there is no reason to believe that the rings of Saturn must be as old as Saturn, or as old as Earth.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 16 - More ring problems. Rings found on Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune indicate that they too have a very young age.

    Since the argument is evidently meant to rest on the same laurels as the arguments concerning Saturn's rings, we must assume that it is false for the same reason that the supporting argument is false.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? No. Even if true, there is no reason to believe that the rings of Saturn must be as old as Saturn, or as old as Earth.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 17 - Jupiter's moons. One of Jupiter's largest moons, Io, ejects large amounts of material through volcanoes. Although quite small, it has the most active volcanoes we know of, and must be quite youthful.

    Wrong. The high internal heat of Io, which boosts volcanic activity, is not best interpreted as a sign of youth. Rather, it is a well established fact that Io is subject to heavy mechanical flexing due to tidal stresses. This flexing produces a heat flux for Io that is 40 times that of Earth, and this active internal heating is directly responsible for the activity of Io (Io on the eve of the Galileo mission, J.R. Spencer & N.M Schneider, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 24: 125-190, 1996).

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? It would be if true, if one could establish that Io were really "young".
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 18 - Moon dust. Ultraviolet light changes moon rocks into dust. It had long been predicted that a thick layer of dust (20-60 miles [32-96.5 km], caused by ultraviolet radiation on the moon's 4-billion-year-old surface, must cover the moon's surface. But scientists were astonished to learn that there is not over 2-3 inches [5.08-7.62 cm] of dust-just the amount expected if the moon was only a few thousand years.

    Ultraviolet light certainly does not turn rocks into dust, not on the moon, and not anywhere else either. It was thought at one time that there would be more dust on the moon, because of preliminary data for dustfall onto the Earth. However, it soon became apparent that the dust layer should be quite small, and scientists were rather more expectant than astonished, when this turned out to be the case. The creationist claim is built around the old urban myth that scientists expected spacecraft to be buried in dust, which was never true.

    The actual observed dustfall rates do not present any problem with an old Earth, old moon, or old-anything-else. A detailed refutation is provided in the article linked below.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? Even if true, it would be hard to establish a connection between lunar surface dust and the age of the moon (or Earth), since there are so many variable processes involving dust in the solar system. I would say that relevance is questionable.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 19 - Lunar soil. The dirt on the moon's surface does not show the amount of soil mixing it should have, if the moon were very old.

    Since the moon has a minimally tenuous atmosphere, and no farmers, why should the soil at the lunar surface be "mixed"? A most curious claim, which makes no sense at all.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? Even if true, it would be hard to establish a connection between lunar surface soil and the age of the moon (or Earth), since the lunar surface is exposed to so many time variable effects. I would say that relevance is questionable.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 20 - Lunar isotopes. Short-term radioactive isotopes (uranium 236 and thorium 230) have been found in the collected moon rocks. These isotopes do not last long and rather quickly turn into lead. If the moon were even 50,000 years old, these short-life radioisotopes would long since have decayed into lead. The moon cannot be older than several thousand years.

    The half-life of 230Th is 75,380 years. The half life of 236U is 23,420,000 years. We can expect measureable amounts of anything to hang around for about 10 half-lives, which pushes 230Th to 753,800 years, and 236U to 234,200,000 years. These are both in considerable excess of the 50,000 years asserted by the creationist, so they are already on factually weak ground.

    However, it gets worse for them from there. The vast majority of the uranium in nature is 238U, which decays through a process that generates bunches of different nuclei along the way, until it finally winds up as lead (206Pb). The short lived isotope 230Th is one of those produced in the 238U decay process. The creationist rashly assumes that the thorium had to be there all along, missing the point that it is continuously being created by the decay of 238U, which has a half-life of 4,468,000,000 years, more than long enough to be compatible with an old moon.

    The next most abundant isotope of uranium is 235U, about 0.72% of the total natural uranium. It has a half life of 703,800,000 years. Using the 10 half-life criterion, measureable amounts should hang around for about 7,038,000,000 years, once again more than long enough for a 4,500,000,000 year old moon. The surface of the moon is not protected from direct exposure to the solar wind and other sources of cosmic rays. 235U will turn into 236U by the absorption of a single slow neutron, which can be supplied directly by the solar wind, or as a by product of a solar wind proton colliding with the lunar surface. Once again, the explanation is that 236U is being continually created by the cosmic ray flux on the exposed lunar surface.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? The claim that the indicated isotopes are found in lunar rocks is true. However, the claim that this indicates youth is false.
    Is the claim relevant? It could be relevant, if one were to show that the short lived isotopes were not replenished over time.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 21 - Lunar radioactive heat. Moon rocks have relatively high radioactivity, indicating a young moon, because of the large amount of heat generated.

    Relatively high radioactivity is the direct result of short half-life isotopes, so this is really only a repeat of argument (20) in different words. It is wrong for the same reason that (20) is wrong; the lunar surface is exposed to the solar wind and cosmic rays. The increased energy of short lived isotopes is fueled by input from the solar wind and cosmic rays. This is not evidence for creation.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? The claim that the indicated isotopes are found in lunar rocks is true. However, the claim that this indicates youth is false.
    Is the claim relevant? It could be relevant, if one were to show that the short lived isotopes were not replenished over time.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 22 - Lunar gases. Small amounts of several inert gases have been found on the moon. At today's intensity of solar wind, the amount of inert gases found on the moon would reach their full amount in less than 10,000 years-and no longer.

    The only thing this means (if true) is that it will take about 10,000 years for the concentration of these inert gases to reah equilibrium. After all, the gases don't hang around; they are created by interaction with the solar wind and solar ultraviolet on the lunar surface, and then they fly away. So, after about 10,000 years, the rate of creation equals the rate at which they fly away. All this "proves" is that the moon cannot be younger than 10,000 years, but can be any age older than 10,000 years. This actually looks like a better argument for evolution than for creation, so we are obliged to wonder if the creationist is not a tad confused?

    Look to the answer to number 18, above. Ultraviolet light does not turn rocks into dust, but it does constribute to Photon Stimulated Desorption (PSD) of minerals from the rock surface, as it knocks individual molecules loose. These molecules will fly off into space, only to be replaced by the next batch. The PSD based "atmosphere" of the moon is unsurprisingly in equilibrium with the solar flux of ultraviolet radiation at the lunar surface. (Photon-stimulated desorption as a substantial source of sodium in the lunar atmosphere, B.V. Yakshinskiy & T.E. Madey, Nature 400(6745): 642-644, August 12, 1999).

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? The claim concerning inert gases being found is correct. The claim that it would take only 10,000 years to reach the current concentration may well be correct too.
    Is the claim relevant? Totally irrelevant. Even if the argument is exactly true as stated, it only establishes the time it takes to reach equilibrium. There is no logical connection to what happens after that, and no logical connection to the age of the moon.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 23 - Lunar phenomena. Transient lunar activity data (moonquakes, lava flows, gas emissions, etc.) reveals the moon is still remarkably active, showing it is quite young.

    There are indeed lunar transient phenomena (LTP), but exactly what they are is unknown, and they are not so well documented as one would like.

    The moon is quite substantial, and is subject to internal heating, by decay of radioactive isotopes, and by tidal flexing. But the resultant heat flow will not be large. If the creationist assertion that the list of LTP included "lava flows" were correct, we would indeed have a problem. But it does not. There are no known active lava flows on the moon, non reported, and nobody has claimed lava flows associated with LTP. There is evidence for LTP as local & internal, such as gas emissions (Lunar transient phenomena: What do the clementine images reveal?, B.J. Buratti et al., Icarus 146(1): 98-117, July 2000; Langrenus: Transient illuminations on the Moon, A. Dollfus, Icarus 146(2): 430-443, August 2000

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? The claim that there are transient lunar phenomena is correct. The claim that these include lava flows is false.
    Is the claim relevant? Probably not. What is the connection between small transient phenomena and the age of the moon?
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    BL: 24 - Lunar recession. The moon is already far too close to the earth. It is now known that, due to tidal friction, it is gradually moving farther away from us. Based on the rate of recession, the moon cannot be very old. If it were even 20,000 to 30,000 years old, it would at some earlier time have been so close-it would have fallen into our planet!
    The moon currently moves away from the Earth at a hefty 3.820.07 cm/year. The current Earth-Moon distance is 38,440,000,000 cm (384400 km). If we boldly assume that this rate of recession has held constant for 4,500,000,000 years, the moon would have moved 17,190,000,000 cm, about 44.7% of the overall distance. This does not seem at all consistent with the creationist claim, which would have the moon sitting on Miami.

    In fact, the motion of the moon relative to the Earth is rather more complicated than that, and deserves a serious study. It was thought by scientists at one time that there was a severe problem with the Earth-moon distance and lunar recession (say in the mid 1960's). However, it has been known for over 30 years now that a realistic analysis of the system eliminates the problem. A detailed examination (and refutation) are found in the article linked below.

    Verdict:
    Is the claim correct? No, the claim is false.
    Is the claim relevant? Probably not. Even if the dynamic age of the Earth-Moon system is younger than the physical age of either Earth or the moon, it might only indicate that the moon was captured into orbit at some undetermined time in the past.
    Does the claim constitute evidence for creation or against evolution? No, it does not.


    That's 24 tries, and 24 failures. In all 24 cases we see that the creationist assertion is either simply wrong, or at best ambiguous. None of the 24 claims presented actually constitute "evidence for creation".

    Appendix
    Many of the arguments listed here are also addressed by other authors, especially in Dave Matson's extensive collection.


    Page last updated December 12, 2001

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