Theory of Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins

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Theory of Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins » Astronomy & Cosmology and God » The moon, essential for life on earth

The moon, essential for life on earth

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1 The moon, essential for life on earth on Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:13 pm


The moon, essential for life on earth

How did the Moon form ? 3

Scientists have offered several major theories to account for the origin of the Moon. All have drawbacks, but the favored theory that emerged from the Apollo missions was the Giant Impact Hypothesis (sometimes called the Big Splat ). This states that our Moon was created by a collision between Earth and a Mars-sized object some 4.5 billion years ago. There are a number of variations and alternatives, including captured body, fission, formed together (condensation theory), planetesimal collisions (formed from asteroid-like bodies), and collision theories. All of the theories have been challenged, and none satisfy all questions. NASA scientist Dr. Robin Brett sums it up best: “It seems much easier to explain the nonexistence of the Moon than its existence.”


If Earth had no Moon, we wouldn’t be here. First, consider a little-known fact: A large moon stabilizes the rotation axis of its host planet, yielding a more stable, life-friendly climate. Our Moon keeps Earth’s axial tilt, or obliquity—the angle between its rotation axis and an imaginary axis perpendicular to the plane in which it orbits the Sun—from varying over a large range. A larger tilt would cause larger climate fluctuations.At present, Earth tilts 23.5 degrees, and it varies from 22.1 to 24.5 degrees over several thousand years. To stabilize effectively, the Moon’s mass must be a substantial fraction of Earth’s mass. Small bodies like the two potato-shaped moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, won’t suffice. If our Moon were as small as these Martian moons, Earth’s tilt would vary not 3 degrees but more than 30 degrees. That might not sound like anything to fuss over, but tell that to someone trying to survive on an Earth with a 60- degree tilt. When the North Pole was leaning sunward through the middle of the summer half of the year, most of the Northern Hemisphere would experience months of perpetually scorching daylight. High northern latitudes would be subjected to searing heat, hot enough to make Death Valley in July feel like a shady spring picnic. Any survivors would suffer viciously cold months of perpetual night during the other half of the year. But it’s not just a large axial tilt that causes problems for life. On Earth, a small tilt might lead to very mild seasons, but it would also prevent the wide distribution of rain so hospitable to surface life. With a 23.5-degree axial tilt, Earth’s wind patterns change throughout the year, bringing seasonal monsoons to areas that would otherwise remain parched. Because of this, most regions receive at least some rain. A planet with little or no tilt would probably have large swaths of arid land. The Moon also assists life by raising Earth’s ocean tides. The tides mix nutrients from the land with the oceans, creating the fecund intertidal zone, where the land is periodically immersed in seawater. (Without the Moon, Earth’s tides would be only about one-third as strong; we would experience only the regular solar tides.)  Until very recently, oceanographers thought that all the lunar tidal energy was dissipated in the shallow areas of the oceans. It turns out that about one-third of the tidal energy is spent along rugged areas of the deep ocean floor, and this may be a main driver of ocean currents. These strong ocean currents regulate the climate by circulating enormous amounts of heat. If Earth lacked such lunar tides, Seattle would look more like northern Siberia than the lush, temperate “Emerald City.” 

The Moon’s origin is also an important part of the story of life. At the present time, the most popular scenario for its formation posits a glancing blow to the proto-Earth by a body a few times more massive than Mars. That violent collision may have indirectly[/size] aided life. For example, it probably helped form Earth’s iron core by melting the planet and allowing the liquid iron to sink to the center more completely. This, in turn, may have been needed to create a strong planetary magnetic field, a protector of life. In addition, had more iron remained in the crust, it would have taken longer for the atmosphere to be oxygenated, since any iron exposed on the surface would consume the free oxygen in the atmosphere. The collision is also believed to have removed some of Earth’s original crust. If it hadn’t, the thick crust might have prevented plate tectonics, still another essential ingredient for a habitable planet. In short, if Earth had no Moon, we wouldn’t be here. If a planet’s moon were farther away, it would need to be bigger than our Moon to generate similar tidal energy and properly stabilize the planet. Since the Moon is already anomalously large compared with Earth, a bigger moon is even less likely. A smaller moon would have to be closer, but then it would probably be less round, creating other problems. As for the host planet, it needs to be about Earth’s size to maintain plate tectonics, to keep some land above the oceans, and to retain an atmosphere. To maintain a stable planetary tilt, a planet needs a minimum tidal force from a moon. A larger planet would require a larger moon. So indirectly, even the size of Earth itself is relevant to the geometry of the Earth-Sun-Moon system and its contribution to Earth’s habitability. In short, the requirements for complex life on a terrestrial planet strongly overlap the requirements for observing total solar eclipses

Fine-tuning of the moon and its orbit 2

Our Moon is like no other. The ratio of its mass compared to the mass of its host planet is about fifty times greater than the next closest known ratio of moon to host planet mass. Plus, our Moon orbits Earth more closely than any other known large moon orbits its host planet.

Thanks to these unique features, Earth, unlike the other solar system planets, possesses a stable rotation axis tilt, which protects it from rapid and extreme climatic variations that would otherwise rule out advanced life. The Moon also slowed Earth’s rotation rate down to the value at which advanced life could thrive and generated tides that recycle nutrients and waste efficiently.

Only recently have astronomers had any clue how such a special Moon could form. Over the past 15 years, astronomer Robin Canup has developed and improved models that demonstrate that the Moon resulted from a collision between a newly formed Earth (which, at the time, had a pervasive and very deep ocean) and a planet about twice the mass of Mars (Mars = 0.107 Earth masses). This collision took place at an impact angle of about 45 degrees and a very low impact velocity of less than 12 kilometers per second.1 In addition to forming the Moon, this highly fine-tuned event brought about three more changes, each significant for advanced life: (1) it blasted away most of Earth’s water and atmosphere;2 (2) it ejected light element material and delivered heavy elements; and (3) it transformed both the interior and exterior structure of the planet.

In a review article published in a December 2013 issue of Nature, Canup complains, “Current theories on the formation of the Moon owe too much to cosmic coincidences.”3 Indeed, the required “coincidences” continue to pile up. New research reveals that the Moon has a chemical composition similar to that of Earth’s outer portions, a result that Canup’s models cannot explain—unless the total mass of the collider and primordial Earth were four percent larger than the present-day Earth, the ratio of the collider’s mass to the total mass was between 0.40 and 0.45, and a fine-tuned orbital resonance with the Sun removed the just-right amount of angular momentum from the resultant Earth-Moon system.4

Astronomers Matija Ćuk and Sarah Stewart found another way to explain the similar composition. In their model, an impactor about the mass of Mars collides with a fast-spinning (rotation rate = 2.3–2.7 hours) primordial Earth.5 The planet’s fast spin generates a disk of debris made up primarily of Earth’s own mantle material from which the Moon forms, thus accounting for the similar chemical composition. As with Canup’s most recent model, a fine-tuned orbital resonance between the Moon and the Sun is needed.

In an article published in the same issue as Canup’s recent review, Stewart concludes, “In the new giant-impact models, lunar material is derived either from a range of depths in the proto-Earth’s mantle or equally from the entire mantles of two colliding half-Earths.”6 Either way, she adds, that while “each stage of lunar evolution is plausible,” she wonders “with the nested levels of dependency in a multi-stage model, is the probability of the required sequence of events vanishingly small?”7

In her review, Canup suggests that perhaps a small collider (Mars-sized) model can be retained without so much of the added fine-tuning of the Ćuk-Stewart model if the collider’s initial chemical composition were more Earth-like rather than Mars-like. However, extra fine-tuning may be needed to explain this required initial composition.

In yet another article in the same issue of Nature, earth scientist Tim Elliott observes that the complexity and fine-tuning in lunar origin models appears to be accumulating at an exponential rate. The impact on lunar origin researchers, Elliott notes, is that “the sequence of conditions that currently seems necessary in these revised versions of lunar formation have led to philosophical disquiet.”8 What is the cause of this “philosophical disquiet”? May I submit that it stems from the fact that there is now more than sufficient evidence for the supernatural, super-intelligent design of the Earth-Moon system for humanity’s specific benefit?  

1. THE PRIVILEGED PLANET Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards, page 6
3. Modern Mysteries of the Moon What We Still Don’t Know About Our Lunar Companion, Vincent S. Foster , page 45

Yet More Reasons to Thank God for the Moon

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