That break lasted longer than I thought, but less than I feared. Longtime readers will have noticed that posting tends to slow or vanish entirely around this time of year due to the start of school: it’s only the second week of university now,* which isn’t so bad. It’s also the start of US daylight saving time this week, which helpfully brings typical ICR posting time to a slightly more manageable hour.
Nothing has visibly changed in Dallas in my absence. Today’s Creation Science Update is by Brian Thomas, and called “Asteroid Medley Challenges Naturalistic Origins.” I’ll admit that I had to look that word up to see whether it has a meaning beyond the realm of competitive swimming, but it seems so.
Thomas’ sole source for this article is a review paper in Nature from the 29th of January called “Solar System evolution from compositional mapping of the asteroid belt,” which I cannot find a pdf of for you. All claims made can therefore be assumed to have come from one of his internal organs and cannot be blamed on any other creationist who might know slightly more about the subject at hand. His argument is simple: the asteroid belt cannot (yet) be explained “nationalistically” in its entirety, therefore goddidit 6000 years ago. We’ve all heard that one before.
This leads to some very strange conclusions. For example, he says:
However, secular astronomers have not yet explained how less common asteroids mixed so thoroughly with more common types. DeMeo and Carry wrote, “The rarer asteroid types, such as the crust and mantle remnants of fully heated and melted bodies, are seen in all regions of the main belt.”
But his own explanation of this kind of evidence is of course:
A better way to explain the unique arrangement of rare and common, large and small asteroids is that God put them there in the beginning. If so, they have been around since creation took place only thousands of years ago. Do the asteroids look more like they are thousands of years young or billions of years old, cold, and dead?
The problem is that these “crust and mantle remnants of fully heated and melted bodies” imply either significant time in their own right or that Thomas’ god created them with the appearance of age. It may be that we don’t know everything about asteroid distribution, but we can at a stroke refute the notion that they in some way appear young.
It has been relatively recently discovered that planets are not fixed in their orbits over the history of the solar system, and this helps explain the modern distributions of both the planets and the asteroids relatively well, though of course not perfectly. The Nice (as in the French city) and Grand Tack models have been proposed to deal with various eras of planetary migration, but Thomas thinks they’re flawed:
Yet, like many grand astronomy concepts, the Grand Tack model seems to create more problems than it solves. What massive force could have moved giant Jupiter in toward the sun, and why didn’t that force destroy Jupiter, other planets, or the asteroids themselves? And then what powerful agent slung Jupiter outward to its current, stable orbit? It’s as though researchers need Jupiter’s gravity to act as a magic hand that mixed and placed asteroids near to where we see them today—in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Now, a few weeks ago the cosmologist Sean Carroll debated the Christian apologist William Lane Craig on the subject of cosmology. I didn’t watch it, but Jason Rosenhouse wrote a summary on his blog. I quite liked this part, and think it’s applicable here:
Carroll was eloquent in pointing out that this was all just nonsense. The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem does not have the awesome consequences Craig wants to draw from it (what abstract theorem could?). With regard to his own model he retorted, “I’m the first one to say that it has problems. None of the problems that it has are the one’s that Dr. Craig raised.” Zing!
“Zing” indeed. Similarly, the Grand Tack may have issues of its own, but in his incredulity at the very notion of Jupiter’s migration Thomas has apparently avoided naming a single one. I suggest he look at one of the pages I already linked if he wants to learn about the mechanisms that would cause it to occur.
Thomas also says:
The Nature study authors wrote, “Planetary migration ends well within the first billion years of our Solar System’s [assumed] 4.5-billion-year history. The asteroid belt, however, is still dynamic today. Collisions between asteroids are continuously grinding the bodies down.” Why do asteroids still exist after grinding each other down all this supposed time? If the main belt were that old, it would contain nothing more than dust remnants of the active bodies that once orbited there.
Isn’t it interesting how he cannot resist interjecting the woefully inaccurate “assumed” into the quote? He gives two footnotes. First:
The main belt asteroids would have been ground to dust and then swept away by solar radiation.
No calculations are attached to show that we should expect billions of years to be enough to produce an empty asteroid belt – this is taken on blind faith.
His second reads:
Ironically, this very process of grinding refutes the nebular hypothesis, which asserts that dust coalesced into planets and the sun. In reality, dust particles bounce off of one another far more readily than they adhere.
Planetesimals can collide and break up, sure, but they can also clump together. That under present conditions there is too little matter available for clumping relative to the amount breaking apart does not in any way refute the notion that this might be a little different in a nebula full of gas and dust.
Thomas concludes by reiterating that the only way to understand anything is to see it through the lens of his restricted worldview – no surprises there. What else have I missed then?
*Before you ask: intro to biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, and linear algebra.