Increases in Oxygen Prepare Earth for Complex Life

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Increases in Oxygen Prepare Earth for
Complex Life

June 30th, 2010

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink

One of Earth’s most remarkable attributes is the permanent oxygen component of the planet’s atmosphere.
Oxygen’s reactivity makes it an efficient energy source for
life, but it also means oxygen would disappear
quickly without a continuous resupply.

Atmospheric oxygen increased dramatically during two different periods
in Earth’s history. Yet these increases occurred only because of a complex and elegant interplay o
f geological,
astronomical, biological, atmospheric, and chemical processes.

For most of Earth’s history its atmosphere contained no oxygen. Then, just over two billion years ago, oxygen
gained a permanent foothold, though at a fraction of today’s concentr
ations. Even greater jumps in oxygen
content occurred between 600 and 800 million years ago. These jumps resulted in long
-
standing
consequences. First, they were often accompanied by intense ice ages where glaciers advanced close to the
equator. Scientists

believe these aptly
-
named
“snowball Earth” events

may have occurred because increased
oxygen levels converted methane, a strong atmospheric greenhouse gas, into the less
potent carbon dioxide.
As catastrophic as these snowball events were, the changes in Earth’s atmosphere were necessary to
compensate for the
Sun’s steadily increasing luminosity
. Fortuna
tely, aspects of biological activity
prevented
the glaciations from destroying Earth’s capacity to support life
.

Most importantly, the oxygen jumps ushered in a
dramatic rise in life’s complexity
. Previous research indicated
that changes in the plate tectonic activity

specifically
the first formation of tall mountains

increased the
supply of
molybdenum

to the oceans and that, in turn, boosted biological activity.

Now it appears that the changes in biolo
gical activity (both the increase in number and complexity) also
required a boosted phosphorous supply. According to
research recently published

in Astrobiology,
phosphorite

deposits across the globe correspond to Earth’s two great oxygenation events.
1

The model outlined in the
paper argues that tectonic processes produced a greater (and higher) continental landmass. The weathe
ring of
this landmass transported phosphorous to the oceans, causing a dramatic rise in primary biological production.
After the last increase in oxygen around 650 million years ago Earth could finally support complex, multicellular
organisms.

We at RTB ar
gue that any mechanism exhibiting complex, integrated actions that bring about a specified
outcome is designed. Studies of Earth’s history reveal highly orchestrated interplay between astronomical,
geological, biological, atmospheric, and chemical processe
s that transform the planet from an uninhabitable
wasteland to a place teeming with advanced life. The implications of design are overwhelming.

Endnotes:

1. Dominic Papineau, “Global Biogeochemical Changes at Both Ends of the Proterozoic: Insights from
Pho
sphorites,”
Astrobiology

10 (April 19, 2010): 165

81.

Too Much Oxygen in the Past

September 22nd, 2010

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink


Oxygen Spikes Jumpstart Life's Complexity
and Size

March 1st, 2010

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink

Since life first appeared on Earth, the

size of the largest organisms increased in size by a factor of 10
quadrillion (10
16

or 10,000,000,000,000,000). Two sudden bursts, each showing an organism volume increase
by a factor of one million (106), account for most this growth.
1

Both bursts occurr
ed after a significant change
in the quantity of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere. The latter oxygenation event
occurred just prior to the
Cambrian explosion
. Research into

the
timing

and
stability

of the first oxygenation event provides more
evidence supporting RTB’s creation model, which predicts that complex life would appear suddenly and early in
Earth’s history.

Timing of First Oxygenation Event

The geological column records the history of how life changed as time progressed. A number of geological
signatures indicate oxygen appeared as a permanent component in Earth’s atmosphere 2.4 billion years ago.
However, evidence shows that photosynthetic o
rganisms arrived on the scene at least 100 million years earlier.
Studies of nitrogen cycling may explain the delay.
2

The presence of oxygen affects how nitrogen interacts with its environment. Lacking oxygen, a specific ratio of
nitrogen isotopes is depos
ited on the ocean floor. Adding oxygen to the mix will increase the amount of
heavier nitrogen (
15
N) compared to lighter nitrogen (
14
N and
13
N). Around 2.7 billion years ago, the amount of
heavier nitrogen increased by a detectable amount, providing eviden
ce that photosynthetic organisms were
producing oxygen.

A second increase 150 million years later indicates that the nitrogen cycle changed again, thus demonstrating
some instability. During this latter increase the amount of
“fixed” nitrogen

decreased. Many organisms cannot
use atmospheric nitrogen (N
2
) for energy production but rely on “fixed” nitrogen, primarily in the form of
ammonia. The lack of fixed nitrogen then limits the productivity o
f the photosynthetic organisms, keeping the
amount of oxygen in the atmosphere low.

This research highlights how difficult it is to effect major changes in a planet’s atmospheric chemistry. Even
with the advent of oxygen producing organisms, a permanent co
mponent of atmospheric oxygen was delayed
hundreds of millions of years
––
suggesting that the agent of change was beyond natural.


Stability of First Oxygenation Event

Most geological signatures point to the arrival of eukaryotes (animals, plants, fungi) o
n Earth around 1.6

2.1
billion years ago. In contrast to the prokaryotes (bacteria, archaea) dating back to 3.8 billion years, eukaryotes
exhibit far more internal structure and can grow much larger. It was the advent of eukaryotes that accounts
for the fi
rst rapid increase of organism size.

Even though a growing body of evidence shows that Earth’s atmosphere contained oxygen starting 2.4 billion
years ago, more detailed studies hint at instabilities during its initial stages.
3

This instability may explain
why
the first dramatic increase in organism size and complexity did not occur for roughly half
-
a
-
billion years after
the first appearance of oxygen.

Evidence for this atmospheric oxygen instability comes from the same element that makes (old) bumpers shine

and steel stainless, namely chromium. In an atmosphere without oxygen, chromium remains locked in the
continental crust. In the presence of oxygen, chemical reactions extract chromium and lead to weathering
processes that then transport it to the ocean. A
dditionally, these processes alter chromium’s isotopic
composition in a way that can be used to trace the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere.

A team of scientists analyzed these chromium isotopes in ancient sea sediments. Their research revealed
chromium

isotope fractionation in formations deposited before the great oxygenation event around 2.4 billion
years ago. This find indicates that the oxygen levels rose for a geologically brief period of time (a couple million
years). However, in more recent format
ions, around 1.9 billion years ago, no fractionation occurs, pointing to a
lack of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere. Over the next hundred million years atmospheric oxygen permanently
increased, preceding the appearance of eukaryotic life and the associated fa
ctor of a million jump in body size.

If naturalistic processes triggered the formation of the more complex eukaryotic life, scientists would expect to
see some fossil traces of eukaryotes during the earlier increases in oxygen. Instead, eukaryotes don’t ap
pear
until oxygen gains a permanent foothold in the atmosphere. This exquisite timing is consistent with the notion
of a carefully designed plan to bring about a planet maximized for human habitability.

__________

1

Jonathan L. Payne et al., “Two
-
phase In
crease in the Maximum Size of Life over 3.5 Billion Years Reflects
Biological Innovation and Environmental Opportunity,”
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA
106 (January 6, 2009): 24

27.
http://www.pnas.org/content/106/1/24.full?sid=92f9f43c
-
f811
-
465e
-
a07c
-
903052793240

2

Linda V. Godfrey and Paul G. Falkowski, “The Cycling and Redox State of Nitrogen in the Archaean Ocean,”
Nature Geoscience
2 (October 1, 2009): 725

29.
http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v2/n10/full/ngeo633.html

3

Robert Frei et al., “Fluctuations in Precambrian Atmospheric Oxygenation Recorded by Chromium Isotopes,”
Nature
461 (September 10, 2009): 250

53.
http://www
.pnas.org/content/106/1/24.full?sid=92f9f43c
-
f811
-
465e
-
a07c
-
903052793240

Subjects:

Geophysical Design



“This fire needs more wood!” said my oldest daughter as we sat around the campfire after setting up in the
rain. I couldn’t agree more.

One of my fav
orite activities is roasting s’mores over the campfire in the cool of the evening. Everyone knows
you need graham crackers, chocolate squares, and marshmallows to make s’mores. But one essential
“ingredient” that often goes unnoticed is the atmosphere’s ox
ygen content. For the last 50 million years, this
important gas comprised 20 percent of the atmosphere. New research indicates that this value
fluctuated
dramatically in earlier
times
.

Attempts to measure Earth’s past oxygen content often give conflicting results. This difficulty arises because
scientists cannot directly measure the ancient atmospheric gases but must use
proxies

instead. Numerous
variables affect the geological record, oxygen being just one of those variables. However, a team of scientists
recently found a way to control for all the other va
riables by using coal as a proxy for past oxygen content.

Without oxygen, nothing burns

but with enough oxygen, even wet objects readily combust. Thus, the
researchers were able to use charcoal (burned organic matter) formed in water
-
rich environments as t
he
proxy. The amount of charcoal in coal depends primarily on the amount of gaseous oxygen available and coal’s
economic value means a large database of charcoal compositions already exists. The information in this
database demonstrates that even with dram
atic climate changes over the last few million years the amount of
coal remained relatively uniform. This matches the expectation that the oxygen content of the atmosphere
remained constant over the past 50 million years.


However, over the last
400

million years, the
oxygen showed dramatic increases and decreases compared to
current values
.
1

Past life on Earth may have been well adapted to these changes, but similar ch
anges today
would cause significant problems for humanity. Too much oxygen in the atmosphere leads to explosive and
destructive wildfires. Too little oxygen means less energy is available to fuel biochemical reactions inside large
-
bodied organisms, like hu
mans.

An increasing body of evidence shows that Earth’s environment changed numerous times in ways that altered
the kinds of life able to survive on the planet. Yet humanity arrived on the scene during a stable period when
the atmospheric oxygen met all th
e criteria that advanced life requires. Such fine
-
timing follows if a
supernatural Designer is preparing a place for human life.

Subjects:

Geophysical Design

More Evidence for the Design of Earthquake
Activity

August 18th, 2008

By Dr. Hugh Ross


Faultin
g, generated by active and widespread tectonics, allowed a youthful Earth to support diverse and
abundant life.

In the December 2007 issue of
Astrobiology

Stanford University geophysicists Norman H. Sleep and Mark D.
Zoback note that the
higher tectonic activity during Earth’s early history could have played a key role in cycling
critically important nutrients and energy sources for life
.
1

The production of numerous small faults in the brittle
primordial crust released trapped nutrients. Such faults could also release pockets of methane gas and
molecular hydrogen. The methane and hydrogen could then provide crucial energy sources for
nonpho
tosynthetic life. Finally, the production of faults could bring water to otherwise arid habitats, such as
rocks far below Earth’s surface.

Faulting, generated by active and widespread tectonics, allowed a youthful Earth to support diverse and
abundant life
. This enhanced diversity and abundance of life quickly transformed Earth’s surface into an
environment safe for advanced life. Also, the buildup of biodeposits for the support of human civilization
occurred more rapidly due to active tectonics.

The more r
apid preparation of Earth for humanity is critical. Without such rapid preparation, humans could not
come upon the terrestrial scene before the
Sun’s increasing luminosity would make their presence impossible

(due to excessive heat).
2

Thus, yet one more reason exists to thank God for His supernatural design of Earth’s
tectonics.

Subjects:

Biodeposits, Extrasolar Planets, First Life on Earth, Ge
ophysical Design, Habitable Planets, Natural
Disasters, Plate Tectonics, Solar System Design, TCM
-

Cosmic Design

Subduction Design

November 3rd, 2008

By Phil Chien

11/3/2008

by Dr. Hugh Ross

Stanford University geophysicist Norman Sleep has
outlined some new constraints on habitable planets
.
1

He explains how the possible existence of advanced life crucially depends upon a planet maintaining efficient
plate tectonics for billions of years. Without such plate tectonics several nutrient
-
recycling processes, critical for
advanced life, cannot be s
ustained. Efficient plate tectonics are also essential for transforming a planet’s
surface into a mix of oceans and continents.

Both the nutrient recycling and the development of continental landmasses require a high rate of subduction.
Subduction is the s
liding of one tectonic plate under another. For subduction to take place, the tectonic plates
need to slip in friction at the fault zones. Also, the lithosphere within the crustal slab that is slipping under
another crustal slab needs to bend with a specif
ied strain.

An overarching design requirement for advanced life, then, is that the rate of subduction must be fine
-
tuned.
Too low of a subduction rate would lead to inadequate nutrient recycling and inadequate buildup of continents.
(If the buildup rate is

much less than the erosion rate, the continents will disappear.) Too high of a subduction
rate would disturb the ecosystems of advanced life and challenge the development of global high
-
technology
civilization.

To sustain the subduction rate at the just
-
r
ight level that advanced life needs means that the sliding friction
between crustal plates at the subduction zones must be maintained at just
-
right levels. Also, the crustal slabs
undergoing subduction need to bend at the just
-
right levels and rates. All t
his fine
-
tuning adds to the growing
weight of evidence that a supernatural, super
-
intelligent Creator is necessary to explain all the characteristics
of Earth that must be present in order for the planet to be habitable by advanced life. It also implies th
at,
unless the Creator has intervened in other places in the cosmos, astronomers will not find advanced
-
life
habitable planets elsewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy or in any other galaxy.

1.

Norman Sleep, “Tectonics and Habitability of Super
-
Earths,”
Astrobiology

8 (April 2008): 395.

Subjects:

Geology and the Bible, Geophysical Design, Plate Tectonics

Earth Just Barely Large Enough

February 13th, 2008

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink


All the recent talk about global warming highlights one critical characteris
tic of Earth that makes the planet
habitable, namely plate tectonics.

As I discussed
two weeks ago
, Venus and Earth are remarkably similar in terms of their size and composition.
Both
probably

started out with large oceans of water. While Earth continues to maintain a global temperature
that supports a vital stable water cycle, the surface of Venus is
bone dry with temperatures near 800
o
F.

Unlike on Venus, Earth’s plate tectonics still operate and therefore perform the important function of removing
greenhouse gases from Earth’s atmosphere. Without plate tectonics, a dense life
-
suffocating carbon dioxid
e
atmosphere would surround Earth.

Research

presented at the 211th meeting of the
American Astronomical Society (AAS)

puts tight constraints o
n
how large a planet must be to sustain long
-
standing plate tectonics. Essentially, all rocky planets larger than
twice the size of Earth will experience plate tectonics. However, as a consequence of thinner tectonic plates
and greater geological stresses
these
“super
-
Earths”

would experience more
vigorous

plate tectonics.

Furthermore, the research illuminates two limits for habitable, tectonically active planets. First, any planet
larger than ten tim
es Earth’s mass will attract a dense hydrogen and helium atmosphere, like the
gas giants

in
our solar system. Consequently these planets cannot be habitable. On the other end of the spectrum, Earth is
barely large enough to sustain plate tectonics. Earth’s large, liquid water oceans and abundant interior water
both lubricate tectonic movements and give
Earth’s interior the nec
essary characteristics to support tectonic
activity
. Thus, for any planet closer to Earth’s mass, the planet must exhibit the facilitating properties of water.

This research implies that scientists will discover more potentially habitable planets. However,

the tectonic
activity on these super
-
Earths will be far more destructive than on Earth. Thus, RTB’s creation model predicts
that planets much larger than Earth will prove uninhabitable

or at least incapable of supporting human life.

Subjects:

Big Bang, Ea
rth/Moon Design, Multiverse

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

July 1st, 2007

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink


You’re Standing

on a Floating Plate This just in

ice floats in water! Unlike most materials, as liquid water cools
to near its freezing point, its density decreases and then expands as it freezes. Thus, colder water and any ice
float on the warmer liquid water below.

See
ms anticlimactic, doesn’t it? However, if water did not possess this unusual property, Earth’s habitability
would dramatically decrease. Ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and possibly even oceans would freeze completely
solid

not just on the surface

more regu
larly and take far longer to thaw after temperatures rise.

Amazingly, a similar phenomenon occurring deeper in the Earth may be responsible for enabling our planet to
maintain the long
-
standing plate tectonics so critical for enduring life. Recall that Ear
th consists of a shallow
crust, mantle, and an outer and inner core. Moving from the crust toward the core, most of the relevant
materials in Earth’s interior absorb water more readily (because both temperature and pressure increase with
depth). One materi
al, a mineral called aluminous orthopyroxene found throughout the Earth, exhibits peculiar
behavior in the upper mantle (just below the crust) called the asthenosphere. In this region, aluminous
orthopyroxene’s capacity to dissolve water drops dramatically
, but increases again at greater depths.
Therefore, the materials in this region of the mantle absorb less water than those above and below with the
consequence that a large abundance of “hydrous” melt exists in the asthenosphere. Think of a cracker
sandwi
ch with jelly (as the asthenosphere) in the middle.

Why does all this matter? The melt provides two important functions. First, it significantly weakens the
asthenosphere such that it becomes more malleable and fluid. Second, the melt absorbs a tremendous
amount
of water compared to the other mantle components and, consequently, it dehydrates the region above the
asthenosphere called the lithosphere (or crust). The lithosphere is comprised of the crustal plates that migrate
over the surface of the Earth. Ta
ken together, these two effects lead to a process

otherwise known as plate
tectonics

where the rigid crustal plates “float” on a weakened and malleable asthenosphere.

Another mineral called olivine constitutes the dominant component of Earth’s mantle, and
the solubility of
water in olivine and orthopyroxene is similar

at least in the absence of aluminum. Until recently, scientists
believed that olivine controlled the water storage capacity of Earth’s interior. However, the addition of
aluminum increases the

solubility of orthopyroxene nearly one hundred times. Consequently, scientists now
recognize aluminous orthopyroxene, with its unusual solubility characteristics, as the controlling material
responsible for Earth’s ideal tectonic activity.

This discovery
also implies constraints on planet sizes where plate tectonics can occur. On planets that are too
large (or small), the location of the asthenosphere will be too deep (or shallow) to permit the necessary crustal
plate movement. As the authors of the articl
e conclude, the existence of plate tectonics “is possible only in a
planet with a water
-
bearing mantle” (that also contains sufficient aluminum). Such results echo the words of
the Creator who fashioned Earth not as “a waste place, but formed it to be inha
bited.”

Subjects:

Geophysical Design

Plains, Minerals, and Mountain Building

August 1st, 2011

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink

Living in Missouri, family vacations often took us out west to Colorado and other Rocky Mountain states. After
a long, flat drive across Ka
nsas and almost half of Colorado, the Rockies
––

almost without warning
––
pop out
of the ground. I still remember the stark contrast of the majestic peaks against the spacious plains. It’s as if
some rocks are meant to form mountains and others remain flat.
But why? Recent research begins to answer
that question and also reveals how finely tuned tectonic activity plays a critical role in Earth’s habitability. Is it
all by lucky accident or divine design?

Eight major plates (and dozens of smaller plates) form
Earth’s crust. These plates slowly move around like
giant ice floes on a cold sea. If “crust is crust,” one might expect a different transition between the Rocky
Mountains and the Great Plains. As the North American plate drifts away from the African and E
urasian plates,
it continually collides with more western plates. The Farallon plate has almost slid completely underneath the
North American plate and the Pacific plate is beginning to do so.

This continual collision dissipates an enormous amount of energ
y that causes the plates to deform. Specifically,
the North American plate buckled over vast distances, thus forming the Rockies as well as the Sierra Nevada,
Cascades, and other West Coast mountain ranges. Collectively, the mountains running up and down t
he West
Coast of the Americas is referred to as the American Cordillera. One outstanding question is why the mountain
formation extended hundreds of miles toward the interior of the continent before abruptly stopping.

Quartz Builds Mountains…

Part of the a
nswer rests in the types of minerals that comprise different sections of the North American crust,
but isolating the specific differences is not trivial. Many factors contribute to how much stress geological
formations experience and how they respond to th
at stress. Some of the main contributors include rock type,
temperature, and the presence of unbound water. A pair of geologists found a way to sort out the differences
and isolate the influence of rock type.
1

One measurable quantity, the ratio of compress
ion and shear velocities (the rates at which seismic waves
move through the Earth), correlates strongly with rock type

specifically, quartz abundance

but weakly with
temperature. Thus, measuring this ratio will determine quartz content of a region of crust

regardless of its
temperature. Utilizing seismic receiver, gravity, and surface heat flow measurements from
EarthScope

for the
Cordillera, the researchers found a strong correlation of high quartz content with


i
ncreased temperatures and
deformation.

The most straightforward interpretation of this correlation means that the structurally weak (compared to other
crustal minerals) quartz gives way under stress and generates heat localized to the quartz
-
rich crust. Th
e
heating results in more unbound water and further weakening of the crust. This feedback cycle results in large
deformations (mountains) and heating in quartz
-
rich regions. Not only does this research help explain why
mountains seem to rise abruptly out o
f the plains, it also solves another long
-
standing observation. While
mountains grow and erode over geological timescales, they seem to repeatedly form in the same sections of
crust. If quartz
-
rich crust deforms more readily than other compositions, one wo
uld expect this observed
behavior.

…But Water Moves Continents

In order for mountains to grow, the crustal plates must be free to move around the Earth’s surface and collide
with one another. This requires a mechanism that (1) makes the plates rigid (like
the frozen water of an ice
floe); and (2) softens the upper mantle so that the plates slide easily (like the water underneath).
Furthermore, all this must happen at the proper depth or else the plates will be too thick or too thin for the
tectonic activity

to provide its life
-
essential functions.

Research continues to demonstrate how critically water facilitates these characteristics in Earth’s crust. Just as
quartz allows the crust to deform and build mountains, water’s interaction with the rocks and miner
als makes
the crustal plates more rigid and softens the top of the underlying mantle

known as the asthenosphere. And
on Earth, it does this at the just
-
right depth for the proper amount of tectonic activity.

Pressure and temperature increase when moving fr
om the surface toward the center of Earth. Normally, these
increases result in a greater capacity of the associated rocks and minerals to dissolve water. However, a team
of geophysicists noted how a major change occurs at the temperatures and pressures ass
ociated with depths
55 miles below the ocean floor or at the asthenosphere
-
crust (AC) boundary.
2

Rather than the crustal rocks dissolving more water as the temperature and pressure increase, the water
facilitates partial melting of the rock. Above this
depth, the water
-
containing minerals exhibit a stable phase
that makes them solid and rigid. Below this depth, the partial melting of the rocks means the asthenosphere
takes on a more fluid nature and allows convection to transport minerals from the lower
asthenosphere toward
the bottom of the crust.

This transport helps explain the composition of rocks measured in the mid
-
ocean ridges where the ocean
plates separate and new material from the asthenosphere fills the gap. The water content of this new rock
m
atches the value expected from the lab measurements simulating conditions of the AC boundary. These
results further affirm how important it is for a planet to be of the right size and to have the right water content
in order for
plate tectonics to operate properly
.

Implications of all this Movement

Without plate tectonics, Earth’s land would erode away and all the life
-
essential nutrients would reside far
below the ocean’s surface
. Eventually, Earth would
lose all its water
. Similarly, if Earth lost all its water,
plate
tectonics would grind to a halt
. This new research demonstrates that without sufficient quartz in Earth’s crust,
mountain formation might not happen or it might not build the tall mountains that
helped prepare for
advanced life
. And a growing body of evidence indicates that a planet must be of the just
-
right size so that the
boundary between the asthenosphere and crust occurs at the right depth for plate tectonics to operate at the
j
ust
-
right efficiency.

Significantly more tectonic activity would make advanced civilization far more difficult, if not impossible. Less
activity would not allow the continents and mountains to form quickly enough or to recycle the nutrients life
requires.
Yet, we live on a planet that meets all these conditions in such a way that advanced human
civilization thrives and does so with an abundance and diversity of life almost beyond comprehension. It seems
like Someone designed Earth for just this purpose. Tha
t’s something to ponder and be thankful for when a
mountain range, in all its splendor, is a part of your next trip.


1. Anthony R. Lowry and Marta Pérez
-
Gussinyé, “The Role of Crustal Quartz in Controlling Cordilleran
Deformation,”
Nature
471 (March 17,
2011): 353

57.

2. David H. Green et al., “Water and Its Influence on the Lithosphere

Asthenosphere Boundary,”
Nature
467
(September 23, 2010): 448

51.

Subjects:

Geophysical Design

The Concentration of Metals for Humanity's
Benefit

May 11th, 2009

By Dr. H
ugh Ross

Without concentrated ores of insoluble metals embedded into Earth's crust, human civilization would've never
advanced beyond a stone
-
age culture. Today we have the ability to glean unconcentrated metals from rocks,
soils, and oceans. The technolo
gy to do so, however, wouldn't exist without humanity's prior access to
concentrated ores.

Most of the concentration of Earth's ores resulted from bacterial activity. For example, over the course of
hundreds of millions (in some cases billions) of years, d
ifferent species of
sulfate
-
reducing bacteria

fed on
dilute soluble metal compounds, converting these compounds into insoluble forms. The decayed residues of
the bacteria yielded the co
ncentrated ores.

An international team of geologists recently
elucidated another metal
-
concentrating mechanism unique to
Earth, at least in its extent
.
1

This mechanism is the conce
ntration of metals in
hydrothermal solutions
.

Hydrothermal fluid flow moving through a mineralized part of Earth's crust will transport dissolved metals. If a
mechanism exists to
precipitate out these metals in insoluble form within a confined local region for a long
enough period of time, an economically mineable ore deposit will form. That is, hydrothermal fluid flow under
just
-
right conditions can scavenge metals at a low concen
tration level from a large volume of rock and then
concentrate those metals into a much smaller rock volume.

In their research paper, the team of geologists
proposed
2

a number of me
chanisms known to operate within
Earth's crust that could explain the precipitation. They then performed a set of experiments in which they used
"laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry" to determine the enrichment factors for these
mec
hanisms. They demonstrated that hydrothermal fluid flow could enrich the concentration of metals like
zinc, lead, and copper by at least a factor of a thousand. They also showed that ore deposits formed by
hydrothermal fluid flows at or above these concent
ration levels exist throughout Earth's crust.

The necessary just
-
right precipitation conditions needed to yield such high concentrations demand
extraordinary fine
-
tuning. That such ore deposits are common in Earth's crust strongly suggests supernatural
des
ign. Evidently, the Creator used a variety of carefully designed mechanisms, both organic and inorganic, to
concentrate and preserve for humanity's benefit a bountiful treasure of concentrated insoluble ore deposits.

1.

Jamie J. Wilkinson et al., "Anomalously

Metal
-
Rich Fluids Form Hydrothermal Ore Deposits," Science
323 (February 6, 2009): 764
-
67.

2.

Robert J. Bodnar, "Heavy Metals or Punk Rocks?" Science 323 (February 6, 2009): 724
-
25.

Subjects:

Geophysical Design

Too Much Sulfur

October 6th, 2008

By Dr. Hugh

Ross


Recent studies conducted on Venus and Mars illustrate just how carefully fine
-
tuned a planet’s abundance of
sulfur must be for life to be possible.

Sulfur plays a crucial role in life chemistry. This fact became personal for me a year ago when I
was diagnosed
as sulfur deficient. Many protein functions crucially depend on sulfur. Fortunately, most agricultural soils
contain plenty of sulfur that vegetables, like onions and garlic, readily absorb. So, now that my sulfur
deficiency has been resolved
, my family has requested that I back off on the garlic.

Too much sulfur, however, can lead to consequences far more devastating than bad breath. Acid rain results
from industrial activity pumping too much sulfur compounds into the atmosphere. Many life
-
e
ssential metabolic
reactions are adversely affected by the acidic conditions brought about by sulfur pollution.

One reason life thrives on Earth is because of its low sulfur
-
water ratio. For Earth to have both such a low ratio
and a relatively thin atmosph
ere is nothing short of miraculous. Earth’s sister rocky planets, Venus and Mars,
help highlight Earth’s amazingly benign conditions for life. Venus, like Earth, is
sulfur poor,

but it has no water
and, despite being less massive than Earth, its atmosphere is ninety times more massive than Earth’s
. Mars
has a thin atmosphere but the
Mars Exploration Rover Missions,
Spirit

and
Opportunity
, have confirmed and
greatly extended the evidence for the dominant role of sulfur in Mars’ geochemical processes
.
1

Astrobiologists
now acknowledge that the high sulfur
-
water ratio on Mars is toxic, wh
ich rules out any naturalistic origin
-
of
-
life
scenario.

Astrobiologists now also understand how Mars attained its high sulfur
-
water ratio. For any rocky planet, its
crustal sulfur
-
water ratio is dictated by three factors: planetary accretion resources, the

degree of core
formation, and igneous evolution. Earth accreted less sulfur than Mars and most of the sulfur it did accrete

because of some
extraordinary mass collision events

got incorporated into the planet’s interior.
2

Those same
extraordinary mass collision events also explain how Earth, as massive as it is, ended up with such a thin
atmosphere.
3

The lander missions on Mars and Venus illum
inate a Christian apologetics principle. They demonstrate that the
more we learn about the physics and chemistry of other planets, the more evidence we accumulate for the
supernatural, super
-
intelligent design of Earth for the benefit of all life, both sim
ple and complex.

Subjects:

Extrasolar Planets, Galaxy Design, Geophysical Design, Habitable Planets, Life Design, Life on Other
Planets, Mars, Prebiotic Chemistry, SETI, Solar System Design, TCM
-

Cosmic Design, TCM
-

Life Design, TCM
-

Life's Origin

The
Creation of Minerals

April 20th, 2009

By Dr. Hugh Ross


The debate over creation and evolution has taken a significant evolutionary leap.

In this year that marks Charles Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his
book,
On the Origin of Species,
1

the debate over creation and evolution has taken a significant evolutionary
leap. An American
-
Canadian team of geologists and geophysicists recently
published a paper

in which they
argue that minerals on and in the crust of Earth have evolved.
2

They
make the claim

that, in a manner similar
to the history of life, new
minerals adapt or evolve with changing environmental conditions throughout
geologic time.
3

In their attempts to provide an evolutionary explanation for the mineral history of Earth's crust the research
team inadvertently delivers much new evidence for crea
tion. They point out that the dust particles in the pre
-
stellar molecular cloud from which the solar system formed contained only about a dozen different minerals.
Gravitational clumping within the molecular cloud led to the formation of a proto
-
Sun surrou
nded by a
protoplanetary disk
. Then, careful fine
-
tuning of the protoplanetary disk's characteristics resulted in the
meteorites ending up with 60 different mineral species, out of which Eart
h formed. Subsequent aqueous and
thermal alteration of the meteorites and asteroidal accretion and differentiation, under just
-
right conditions,
caused the 60 minerals to increase to 250.

Once Earth had fully formed with a stable crust and ocean in place,
biological processes produced explosive
advances in Earth's surface mineralogy. In fact, the research team demonstrated that with each big bang of
life (sudden, widespread radiation of new life
-
forms) a mineralogy big bang followed. They show that the most

dramatic biomineral explosion by far took place following the
Cambrian explosion

event some 543 million years
ago.

According to the research team life plays a crucial and unique role in Earth
's surface mineralogy. Unlike any
other chemical pathway, living systems can generate far
-
from
-
equilibrium conditions. Thus, the enormous
diversity and abundance of life throughout the past 543 million years resulted in an especially great variety of
far
-
f
rom
-
equilibrium chemical circumstances.

Thanks to the way life was introduced on Earth, the early 250 mineral species have exploded to the present
4,300 known mineral species. And because of this abundance, humans possessed all the necessary mineral
resour
ces to easily launch and sustain global, high
-
technology civilization.

RTB's creation model asserts that without the supernatural planning, design, and control with which the
Creator formed the planet and introduced and sustained life, humanity would have
been bereft of the
necessary mineral reserves, in addition to biological and biodeposit resources. Just as the long progression of
life on Earth from simple
-
to
-
complex
-
and
-
diverse testifies of the handiwork of a super
-
intelligent Creator rather
than just m
ere natural processes, likewise the growth in the number and complexity of mineral species on
Earth's surface over the past four billion years gives evidence for the work of the same Creator.
4

Subjects:

Biodeposits, Geophysical Design, Life Design

What If

There Were No Hurricanes?

January 1st, 2006

By Administrator

1/1/2006

by Dr. David Rogstad

Those who have suffered through the recent North Atlantic hurricane season would probably prefer nothing
more than an afternoon shower ever again.

High death toll
s, staggering property losses, and frightening devastation earn these tropical cyclones their
reputation as "acts of God." People everywhere wonder, "If God is so great and has designed the world, why
would hurricanes be a part of His good creation?"

This
question deserves a compassionate, thorough answer,1 but this short article briefly addresses one aspect
of such a complicated issue. What would life be like if Earth did not undergo hurricanes?

Scientific evidence suggests that Earth's rotation speed prob
ably has the greatest effect on the number and
intensity of storms the planet generates each year.2 If its rate were to change by as little as two hours per
day, slowing from 24 to 26 hours, the number of violent storms, including thunderstorms and hurrica
nes,
would certainly decrease. (On the other hand, a faster rotation rate would result in more numerous and far
more devastating storms.) Perhaps hurricanes might disappear altogether; so humans would live in a much
more benign environment
-
or would they? T
here is evidence that a planet without hurricanes, as devastating as
they are, may
not

represent an improvement.

Earth derives a number of benefits from massive thunderstorms (of which hurricanes are the most severe),
including these five:3

1.

Sufficient
rainfall to water the earth
. Major parts of the world rely on heavy storms to supply water for
life's basic needs.

2.

Plant fertilizer from lightning.

Nitrogen "fixing" by lightning converts some of the nitrogen in the air
into a form that plants can use for food. Without it, many plants could not thrive. And plants are the
foundation of humanity's food chain.

3.

Pruning of forests and prairies from lightn
ing fires.

Fires help maintain the diverse life
-
forms needed
for a stable ecology naturally, by clearing away old growth and spurring new plant growth required for
food.

4.

Pruning of forests by strong winds.

In addition to fires, winds uproot weaker trees an
d open up the
forest canopy for a greater diversity of plants and animals.

5.

Drought
-
breaking rainfall.

Severe storms such as hurricanes (called monsoons, typhoons, or cyclones
in other parts of the world) provide immediate, ample water supplies to end years

of drought.

Earth's rotation speed is fast enough to provide the just
-
right quantity and magnitude of thunderstorms to
sustain a rich diversity of life. But with that provision come occasional hurricanes in certain areas, storms with
locally tragic effect
s. Rather than charging God with poor design or asserting that He does not exist or care,
perhaps the best response would be to research and supply the ways and means to better protect people living
in hurricane
-
prone regions. (Check out the newspaper arti
cle written by RTB apologist Mark Ritter for some
additional thoughts.4)

References

1.

See Ronald H. Nash,
Faith & Reason

(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), 177
-
221; Kenneth Richard
Samples,
Without a Doubt

(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004), 239
-
53; Hugh Ross
,
The Creator and the
Cosmos
, 3rd ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001), 175
-
99; and Krista Kay Bontrager, "Good
God, Cruel World?"
http://www.reasons.org/resources/skeptics/goodgod.
shtml
, accessed 10/27/05.

2.

A. Navarra and G. Boccaletti, "Numerical general circulation experiments of sensitivity to Earth rotation
rate,"
Climate Dynamics

19 (2002): 467
-
83.

3.

Chuck Doswell, "Is there a
good

side to severe storms?"
http://webserv.chatsystem
s.com/~doswell/goodwx.html, accessed 10/27/05.

4.

Mark Ritter, "
Maybe there's some good in those 'canes
,"
North County Times
, October 2005,
accessed
11/15/05.

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design, Natural Disasters

Designed to Shake

April 1st, 2007

By Administrator

4/1/2007

by Dr. Hugh Ross

My family lives in one of the fastest
-
rising neighborhoods in the nation

not economically, but topographically.
Our home rises by an average of 9 millimeters (1/3 inch) per year. Sometimes the elevation gain (via
earthquake) seems a bit disturbing. Sometim
es it's destructive. Nonetheless, I tell my wife and sons we should
be thankful for all the uplift we get. Specifically, we can thank God for designing Earth for vigorous and
virtually constant plate tectonic activity. Why? Because such movement is essenti
al for life.

Earth has experienced robust plate tectonics for four billion years. Without it, our planet would possess no
continents, no mountains, no stable water cycle, and nothing like the diversity and abundance of life we
enjoy.1 In fact, without tect
onic activity, Earth would have no mechanism to compensate for ongoing changes
in the Sun's luminosity, and all life would be driven to extinction.2 Without such large
-
scale motions, nutrient
-
restoring cycles would fail to provide for life's basic needs3 a
nd humanity would lack the abundant biodeposits
(like coal, oil, natural gas) on which civilization depends.4

For some time now scientists have recognized the importance of plate tectonics, but only recently have they
discovered the degree to which Earth's

tectonics reflect exquisite fine
-
tuning. This understanding was greatly
enhanced when two planetary physicists, Diana Valencia and Richard O'Connell at Harvard University,
developed detailed models of the internal structure of massive rocky planets.5

Thei
r research showed that as the mass of a rocky planet increases, the thickness of its crustal plates
decreases, and so does its resistance to tectonic motion. Therefore, the greater the mass of a rocky planet, the
higher the probability for plate tectonic a
ctivity and the more aggressive that activity will be.

Valencia and O'Connell's study helps explain a solar system enigma

why only Earth, of all the planets in our
solar system, manifests plate tectonics. Liquid water is the key. If it weren't for Earth's
abundant surface
water, its crust wouldn't crack and move. Water lowers the yield strength of certain crustal minerals. For
example, water cuts in half the yield strength (resistance to crumbling) of olivine, a primary constituent of
Earth's crust.

For per
manent, strong plate tectonics to be possible on a dry rocky planet, the planet's mass would have to be
more than twice that of Earth. (At such a mass, the planet approaches the boundary between rocky planets
and gaseous planets.) And even though the prese
nce of liquid water lowers the mass boundary for strong and
ongoing tectonics, Earth's mass represents the lower limit, according to the Harvard team's calculations.
(Previous studies put the plate tectonics limit at one
-
third the mass of Earth, but such a

low mass allows only
for weak or ephemeral plate tectonic activity.)

This finding becomes especially remarkable in light of the fact that from a physiological perspective, Earth's
mass could not be any larger and still be suitable for life (specifically f
or respiration). The problem for a planet
more massive than Earth is its atmosphere. The more massive a planet, the thicker the atmosphere it
accumulates during its formation. And, the atmospheric thickness rises geometrically with a planet's mass. For
exa
mple, Venus, with seven times the mass of Mars, has an atmosphere more than 600 times thicker. In fact,
Earth's atmosphere would be too thick for breathing if it weren't for its low
-
velocity collision with a Mars
-
sized
object early in its history, a collis
ion that blew away most of the thickness.6

As Valencia and O'Connell's research points out, a planet's mass must be virtually identical to Earth's for that
planet to have a chance at sufficient
-
for
-
life tectonics. It also must be as wet as Earth but no wet
ter. (A wetter
planet would lack continents and critical nutrient cycles.) It seems the more researchers learn about planets,
the more evidence they find for the purposeful shaping of Earth for life.

References:

1 Hugh Ross,
Creation as Science

(Colorado
Springs: NavPress, 2006), 129
-
38.

2 Ibid., 129
-
36.

3 Hugh Ross,
The Creator and the Cosmos
, 3rd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), 187
-
99

4 Ross,
Creation as Science
, 128
-
29, 140
-
41.

5 Diana Valencia and Richard J. O'Connell, "Inevitability of Plate T
ectonics on Super
-
Earths,"
Astrophysical
Journal Letters

670 (November 20, 2007): L45
-
L48.

6 Robin M. Canup, "Simulations of a Late Lunar
-
Forming Impact,"
Icarus

168 (April, 2004): 433
-
56; Robin M.
Canup, "Dynamics of Lunar Formation,"
Annual Review of Ast
ronomy and Astrophysics
, vol. 42 (Palo Alto, CA:
Annual Reviews, 2004), 441
-
75; M. Touboul et al., "Late Formation and Prolonged Differentiation of the Moon
Inferred from W Isotopes in Lunar Metals,"
Nature

450 (December 20, 2007): 1206
-
9; Kaveh Pahlevan a
nd
David J. Stevenson, "Equilibration in the Aftermath of the Lunar
-
Forming Giant Impact,"
Earth and Planetary
Science Letters

262 (October 30, 2007): 438
-
49; T. Kleine et al., "Dating the Giant Moon
-
Forming Impact and
the End of Earth's Accretion," Americ
an Geophysical Union Meeting 2005, abstract #P41E
-
04 (December,
2005).

Subjects:

Biodeposits, Earth/Moon Design, Extrasolar Planets, Faint Sun Paradox, Life on Other Planets, Plate
Tectonics, TCM
-

Faint Sun Paradox

A Carbon
-
14 Coincidence

March 7th, 2008


By Dr. David Rogstad


Why does the Moon have almost exactly the same apparent size in the sky as the Sun, so that it perfectly
blocks out the Sun in a solar eclipse?

A few weeks back I
mentioned

the benefits to scientific discovery provided by this coincidence. By using it,
astronomers learned about the Sun’s corona, were able to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and
determined the past rotation rate of the Earth, all at a time earlie
r than would have been otherwise impossible.
While there is no scientific reason for this remarkable coincidence, it suggests that God may have provided it
as a tool so that we could more quickly discover characteristics of His creation.

Another coincidenc
e has provided archeologists and paleontologists with an extraordinary
tool for dating

objects that contain carbonaceous material. I speak of carbon
-
14 with its just
-
right
-
for
-
dating half
-
life

of 5,730
years. This coincidence is remarkable because C
-
14, along with the inert C
-
12, not only is an important
component of fossils, but if C
-
14 had a longer half
-
life, it wouldn’tt provide the accuracy for more recent
fossils; if shorter, it wouldn’t w
ork for longer time periods.

In a paper published in the latest issue of
Physical Review Letters

(available in preprint
here

and as a news
summary
h
ere
), Jeremy Holt and colleagues note in their introduction that C
-
14 was not expected to have a
long half
-
life. Based on previous models, physicists expected it to have a similar half
-
life to that of C
-
11 at 20
minutes, or of oxygen
-
14 at 1 minute, or O
-
1
5 at 2 minutes, or that of nitrogen
-
13 at 10 minutes. Why does C
-
14 have a half
-
life of 3 billion minutes? This has been a mystery to theorists for half a century.

However, in a breakthrough discovery, Holt and his collaborators have performed a new calcul
ation that
includes the change of the meson mass as it travels through an atomic nucleus. Mesons are atomic particles
that are believed to mediate the force between two nuclei, and play a role in the radioactive process taking
place in C
-
14. From these cal
culations the authors were able to account for why C
-
14, but not the other nuclei,
has this long radioactive half
-
life.

Radiocarbon dating is a method that depends on the naturally occurring presence of C
-
14 in the material to be
dated. Every living thing
constantly exchanges C
-
14 with its environment as long as it lives. Once it dies, the
exchange stops. Consequently, scientists assume that a fossil’s C
-
14 content does not change once the sample
to be dated ceases to incorporate carbon, except for the amou
nt gradually depleted radioactively with its
5,730
-
year half
-
life. If the amount present when its activity ceased can be determined, then the ratio of the
initial amount to the existing amount is related to how long ago it was alive. While scientists must
account for
misuse of this technique and use proper calibration, in most cases it can provide a very accurate way to date
many fossil samples containing carbon.

Radiocarbon dating is an important tool that has yielded rich insight into the events and proce
sses in Earth’s
history. Because many of the key truth
-
claims of the Bible are rooted in history, this technique has also
provided support for their veracity.

Subjects:

Laws of Physics, Radiometric Dating Techniques, Universe Design

Some Like It Hot

Espec
ially the Continents

August 15th, 2007

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink

I ran across an interesting
article

in
Science Daily

a few weeks ago. The article’s authors point to evidence that
the vast majority of North America would reside under water if the rocks making up the continental crust were
cooled to the same temperature as some of the oldest crust underneath Canada. While

it is not surprising that
the oceans might cover coastal cities of New York, Miami, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, water hundreds of
feet deep would drown even mountain cities such as Denver and Salt Lake City.

Clearly
plate tectonics

plays a critical role in the formation and sustaining of continental crust. However, the
temperature of the rocks figures just as importantly in ensuring that continents remain above sea level. Adding
heat to rock mak
es it expand and, therefore, become less dense. Less
-
dense rock floats higher above the
denser surrounding crust, meaning the surface rock sits at higher elevations. In fact, the authors of the original
scientific article note that “temperature differences

within the Earth’s crust and upper mantle explain about
half

of the elevation of any given place in North America” (emphasis added).

The bulk of life’s diversity on Earth is found on the land and shallow seas of the continental crust. Less
continental cru
st provides fewer habitats for life and also limits the capacity of plate tectonics to regulate the
global temperature. (Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee’s book
Rare Earth

highlights the importance of plate
tectonics in maintaining a global temperature supportive of liquid water oceans.)

While studies for other continents remain to be done, we expect similar conclusions
since North American crust
exceeds the average density of continental crust across the globe. The heat content of Earth’s continents
appears to be finely tuned to ensure Earth’s habitability for human life.

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design, Geophysical Design

Petroleum: God's Well
-
Timed Gift to
Mankind

September 1st, 2004

By Dr. Hugh Ross


I am old enough to remember the days when gasoline sold for $.26 a gallon.

But, even at today's high prices, gasoline is a bargain compared to what it could cost if it were not so easily
and abundantly accessible. Recent research by geologists and physicists reveals that humans are living at the
best possible time

in Earth's hist
ory for harvesting petroleum
-
a resource that helped launch and sustain
advanced civilization. Without a series of just
-
right geophysical events and conditions, there would be no
complaining about pump prices, because there would be little or no fossil fuel

to complain about.

To appreciate this miracle of fuel's availability to humanity one needs to understand how petroleum forms and
is stored in the earth. First, sedimentation and plate tectonics bury organic material. This buried organic matter
is transfor
med by heat, pressure, and time into kerogen (high
-
molecular
-
weight tars). With yet more time and
heat a significant portion of the kerogen is converted into petroleum.
1

Through

still more time, however,
microbial activity works to degrade petroleum into methane (natural gas).
2

Certain kinds of organisms are much more likely upon death and burial to be transformed into kerogen than
others. The most efficient kerogen producers wer
e the swarms of small
-
body
-
size animals that inhabited large
shallow seas soon after the Cambrian explosion (so named because 50
-
80% of animal phyla "exploded" onto
the scene 543 million years ago). If the Creator's goal is to provide humanity with the ric
hest possible reserves
of fossil hydrocarbons, a fixed period of time must transpire between the epoch when efficient kerogen
producers were dominant on Earth (about 500 mya) and the appearance of human beings (some tens of
thousands of years ago). With to
o little time, not enough petroleum will be produced. With too much time, too
much of the petroleum will be degraded into methane.

There is more to the production of fossil hydrocarbon reserves than just the burial of particular organisms and
their progres
sive conversion into kerogens and petroleum. Certain sedimentation processes are needed to lay
down the porous rocks that will become reservoirs. Later, these rocks must be overlaid with fine
-
grained rock
with low permeability (sealer rocks). Finally, cert
ain tectonic forces cause appropriate caps under which fossil
hydrocarbons can collect.
3

Long years of specific sedimentary and tectonic processes are required to produce appropriate reservoir
structures for collecting and storing fossil hydrocarbons. And
yet too much time will lead to the destruction of
the reservoirs. Additional tectonic and erosion processes eventually cause the reservoirs to leak. If too much
time had transpired before humans came on the scene the fossil hydrocarbon reservoirs would hav
e emptied,
and the resources with which human beings were able to launch an industrial and scientific revolution would
have been missing or insufficient.

Both methane and kerogen play significant roles in sustaining modern civilization and technology, but
their
importance pales in comparison to petroleum, particularly in the plastics industries. While human technology is
now sufficiently advanced to consider and develop ways to get by without petroleum, it seems doubtful that
such technology would have aris
en without access to large amounts of petroleum to begin with.

Human beings indeed arrived at the optimal "fossil
-
hydrocarbon moment." Such optimized timing raises
reasonable doubt about any naturalistic model for life and humanity, but aligns perfectly wi
th what a biblical
creation model would predict.

Subjects:

Biodeposits, Earth/Moon Design, Geophysical Design, Life Design, TCM
-

Life Design

Bacterial Design for Recycling Phosphorous

March 20th, 2005

By Dr. Hugh Ross

A microbiologist and a geologist i
n Germany have found some amazing design features in a large sulfur
bacterial species that benefits all life.
Thiomargarita
namibiensis is a colossal bacterium (nearly 1 mm in
diameter) that thrives in surface marine sediments under both oxic (containing o
xygen) and anoxic conditions.
It periodically contacts oxic bottom water to take up nitrate. Such internally stored nitrate allows it to survive
for long periods under anoxic conditions. The bacterium’s prime energy source is sulfide oxidation. The sulfide

accumulates in anoxic marine sediments when sulfate
-
reducing bacteria there degrade organic matter. The
researchers discovered that aggressive sulfide oxidation by large populations of
T. namibiensis

is responsible
for phosphorite deposits in marine sedim
ents. Such deposits play a critical role in the life
-
essential phosphorous
cycle. The amazing, unique designs and behaviors of
T. namibiensis

that allow it to take advantage of sulfide
produced by sulfate
-
reducing bacteria so as to sustain Earth’s phosphor
ous cycle at an ideal rate for the
benefit of all life testifies of a supernatural, super
-
intelligent Creator.

Heide N. Schulz and Horst D. Schulz,
“Large Sulfur Bacteria and the Forma
tion of Phosphorite,”

Science

307
(2005): 416
-
18.

Related Resource

o Hugh Ross,
“Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity”

Product Spotlight

o
Journey Toward Creation
, 2nd ed., by Hugh Ross

GOE or Die: Earth’s Habitability No Sure
Thing

September 1st, 2009

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink

Jason Bourne lives life on the
edge. The protagonist of the Bourne spy fiction thriller series relentlessly pursues
the truth, with danger lurking at every turn. Regardless of the peril, he must continue. In ways, Earth’s history
demonstrates similar hazards. Starting from the most inho
spitable circumstances, numerous physical
transformations now enable Earth to teem with life. But many of those events brought the Earth

and its life
––
to the brink of extermination forever. One such change occurred roughly two
-
and
-
a
-
half billion years ago.

For the first two billion years, Earth’s atmosphere contained no free (uncombined with other elements) oxygen.
Although oxygen was present, it was tied up in molecules like carbon dioxide and water vapor. Yet anything
more sophisticated than single
-
celled

organisms requires free oxygen because of the energy oxygen releases
during chemical reactions.

Fortunately, photosynthetic organisms appeared on the scene at this time and began producing abundant
quantities of oxygen. Over the course of a couple hundred

million years, these organisms delivered a
permanent oxygen component to Earth’s atmosphere

although at levels much lower than today. Scientists
refer to this period as the Great Oxygenation Event (GOE). On the positive side, the permanent oxygen
componen
t generated an ozone layer in the stratosphere. Since the GOE, the ozone layer has protected life
from the harmful ultraviolet radiation emitted by the Sun.

Negatively, this permanent oxygen reservoir also began wreaking havoc with Earth’s temperature. The

dominant greenhouse gas before the GOE was methane (CH
4
). (While carbon dioxide receives a lot of press as
a greenhouse gas, methane is over 60 times more effective at trapping heat from the Sun.) Because of
oxygen’s high reactivity, during the GOE it rea
cted with the methane to produce carbon dioxide (CO
2
) and
water (H
2
O). Like turning off a thermostat in the middle of winter, Earth’s temperature would have plummeted.
In fact, an international team of geologists recently discovered evidence for extensive
glaciations
corresponding to this increase in atmospheric oxygen.
1

This was the first widespread ice age on Earth.

The dramatic nature of this cooling likely resulted in glaciers covering the entire surface of Earth. Such a state,
if it persisted, would dr
ive life to near extermination. However, it appears the same process that initiated the
covering of Earth with glaciers also helped remove the glaciers. Cooler oceans dissolve more oxygen. This
dissolved oxygen then reacted with the carbon remains of previ
ous life that rested on the ocean floor. The
abundant carbon dioxide released further enhanced the greenhouse heating, leading to a warmer Earth.

By itself, either event (the cooling induced by the GOE or warming caused by the reaction of dissolved oxygen
with carbon remains) had the potential to render Earth uninhabitable. The fact that both occurred concurrently
suggests that a supernatural Designer
––
like a spy thriller novelist who knows where the plot’s going
––
orchestrated both events in order to prepar
e Earth for the arrival of human beings.

Reference:

1

Qingjun Guo et al., “Reconstructing Earth’s Surface Oxidation across the Archean
-
Proterozoic Transition,”
Geology
37 (May 2009): 399

402.

Subjects:

Geophysical Design

The Measurability of the Universe


a
Record of the Creator’s Design

October 1st, 2000

By Guest Author

by Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez

If the universe were not
measurable,

scientific study would be impossible. Astronomy, biology, chemistry,
cosmology, geology, physics, and the other disciplines of science would be no less quixotic than alchemy or
astrology. Science would not

could not

shed much light in the cosmic darkness.


Most scientists take the measurability of the physical realm completely for granted: It is measurable because
scientists have found ways to measure it. Scientists (myself included) may take pride in our ability to make
measurements
––
especially those meas
urements requiring ingenuity, persistence, and skill
––
but why take the
universe’s measurability for granted? Is there any deep significance to the measurability of the universe? The
answer springs from the very foundations of science, from the philosophica
l assumptions


(chiefly drawn from
the Judeo
-
Christian Scriptures
1
) on which scientific endeavor rests. These assumptions include, among others,
the existence of a theory
-
independent external world, the existence of order in the external world, the reality

of truth, the validity and reliability of the laws of logic and mathematics, the basic reliability of sense
perception, and the adequacy of the human mind to comprehend the universe.
2

The Judeo
-
Christian vision of
reality predicts a unique correspondence

between the physical universe and the human mind.

By identifying the aspects of measurability humans
cannot

influence or control, one can determine (at least
roughly) whether or not the measurability of the universe requires supernatural fine
-
tuning, and if so, to what
degree. This study begins with a look at the nearby cosmos and from there moves outward in sp
ace, backward
in time.

The Measurability of the Earth

One of the characteristics that makes Earth such an ideal “recording device” is its built
-
in set of time markers


cyclical rhythms on time scales of days, months, seasons, years, centuries, periods, er
as, and eons. Humanity
could have found itself in a far less measurable place. The Moon, for example, does not have active weather,
seasons, or tectonics, and therefore offers few time markers. The Moon looks ancient, yet ageless. Jupiter and
the other gas

giants have active weather, but they lack any solid surface on which to record their rhythms and
events. The thin crust of the Earth provides not only a safe and comfortable place for living creatures of all
kinds, but it also serves as the planet’s infor
mation storage space. The deep, hot interior of the planet, the
atmosphere, and the oceans are all too fluid to preserve much of the past.

Earth’s cycles provide the steady beat of time markers, with other, more subtle, fluctuations superimposed.
Because o
f seasonal changes in weather and plant life in a given locale, growth and deposition phenomena
leave easily distinguishable (and measurable) features. Growth rings in trees not only yield information on the
rain and temperature for a given season, but the
y also provide a unique tool for measuring the carbon
-
14
content of the atmosphere, which is modulated, in turn, by the sunspot cycle. Research on tree rings gives
astronomers information about solar variations on a wide range of time scales, from decades
to millennia.

Snow deposits in Greenland and Antarctica have created a four hundred
-
thousand
-
year record of the
composition of Earth’s atmosphere.

3

Ancient air bubbles trapped within these deposits allow us to measure the
concentration of carbon dioxide a
nd other gases in past eras. The snow deposits give us a measure of ancient
dust levels, which are indicative of large volcanic eruptions or very dry conditions. They also enable us to
measure the ratios of three oxygen isotopes, which indicate the mean gl
obal temperature in past epochs.
According to a very recent study, nitrate spikes in Antarctic ice deposits may help us trace supernova events
(gigantic star explosions) of the past thousand years.

Certain features of the ocean floor allow us an even longe
r
-
range view, hundreds of millions of years back into
Earth’s history. At the mid
-
ocean ridges (“spreading centers”), new sea floor is produced when molten rock
upwells from the hot mantle below. When the molten rock solidifies it records the state of the
earth’s magnetic
field at that time. By studying these sea
-
floor records at varying distances from the spreading centers,
oceanographers can “read” the history of fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field. A phenomenon so subtle as to
be unnoticeable in every
day life is reliably recorded and preserved for later discovery and deciphering.

Ancient “tidalites” (tidal sediment layers) and coral, mollusk, and stromatolite growth layers record the lunar
and solar tidal cycles, giving us unique data on the length of
terrestrial days and lunar months in ancient times.
Such data tell us that 500 million years ago, a day was about 20 hours long and a month was about 27.5
(present
-
epoch) days.
4

Meteorites that have hit the earth provide another treasure trove of data (pre
served for billions of years)
waiting to be unlocked. Many meteorites come from the asteroid belt, where collisions between asteroids send
shards hurtling throughout the inner solar system (planets from Mars inward) and occasionally to the earth.
Fragments

falling on the ice fields of Antarctica are the best preserved ones, and their dark appearance makes
them easy to distinguish against the uniform blue
-
white background. Today, a meteorite’s individual grains,
each measuring less than a millimeter in width
, can be separately analyzed. These grains yield invaluable clues
to the sources of short
-
lived (now extinct) “radionuclides” present in the gas
-
and
-
dust cloud from which our
sun and solar system formed. They also give us clues to the timing of certain key

events in the formation of
neighboring planets.

Even more amazing is the discovery that meteorites carry what appear to be individual interstellar dust grains,
each from a different star that existed before the Sun. These dust particles give us rare and i
mportant data on
the chemical history of the Milky Way. It appears that as part of God’s grand design of the cosmos, He has
provided a method of collecting, preserving, and delivering to our doorstep tiny bits of distant (both in the
spatial and temporal s
ense) stars. What more could an astronomer ask for?

On a less grand scale, small bits of the moon and Mars have been blasted to the earth by large impacts. The
most famous of these is the Martian meteorite, ALH 84001 that stirred much media attention a few

years ago.
The Moon probably contains a rich reserve of unaltered planet shards from the early history of the solar
system. One might think of the Moon as the earth’s attic, where ancient artifacts are stored and forgotten,
perhaps to be retrieved one day
.

The Measurability of the Sun

Total eclipses of the Sun as seen from the surface of the earth may be described as both “useful” and
“exceptional.”
5

Apart from the deep awe they inspire in every people group from remote tribes to
astrophysicists, these ecl
ipses allow us to study the Sun’s corona, test general relativity, and calculate the
slowdown of the earth’s rotation. They are exceptional in that they are nearly “perfect;” that is, the earth and
Moon are similar in size, the solar and lunar profiles on
the sky are nearly perfect circles, and the Sun appears
to be larger when it is viewed from Earth than when it is viewed from any other planet with moons. The
likelihood of finding this combination of features is remote. Of the roughly 65 natural satellite
s (moons) in the
solar system, none even comes close to producing such clear and spectacular eclipses.

What’s more, humans live at a special time with respect to the observability of total solar eclipses. Since the
Moon is spiraling away from Earth and the

Sun is swelling due to its changing internal structure, such eclipses
are possible only for a relatively brief time span. They will continue only for about 250 million years. That may
seem like a long time, but it constitutes only approximately 5% of Eart
h’s history.

The Sun’s radiation conveys a wealth of information. By observing its spectrum, researchers learn about the
Sun’s composition, surface temperature, and surface gravity. This “readable” spectrum is not unique to the
Sun, but the Sun’s spectrum
is nearly optimal in terms of measurability and the number (and abundances) of
chemical elements it reveals.

This optimal quality of the Sun’s measurability derives from characteristics other than its proximity to Earth and
the large number of photons arri
ving at Earth
-
based instruments. In comparison to the spectra of other stars
with similar “signal
-
to
-
noise ratio” (data quality), the Sun’s spectrum contains more extractable information.
The Sun’s particular surface temperature and its relatively low lumi
nosity allow for the extraction of more
information. The remarkable convergence of these just
-
right characteristics maximizes its readability.

The Astronomical Realm

The light sent to Earth from sources outside the solar system contains a wealth of informa
tion about stars,
nebulae, galaxies, and even the intervening matter. Using various techniques and instruments, astronomers
have used that light to map out most of the Milky Way disk, clearly delineating its spiral arm structure.

The measurement of the thr
ee
-
dimensional space motions of stars in the Milky Way is possible only because
stars can be treated as if they were mathematical points. This feature allows astronomers to measure the
relative positions of stars very precisely, and it means that stars can

be used as simple probes of the Milky
Way’s gravitational field. If stars were larger and the distances between them smaller
––
like nebulae, for
example
––
then the mathematics would be much more complex. Stars’ positions and other features would be
far less

measurable, because their light would be spread over a larger volume of space. Also, if the Milky Way
contained fewer stars, it would yield fewer and more obscure clues about its history and structure.

Astronomers have discovered that certain light source
s are particularly useful as “standard candles” (see
sidebar). Examples of standard candles are Cepheid and RR Lyrae variable stars. The pulsation period of a
Cepheid variable is related to its intrinsic luminosity in a simple way. By measuring the period
and mean
apparent brightness of a particular Cepheid variable star, one can easily calculate its distance. Because of the
simplicity and consistency with which these objects operate, they provide invaluable reference points, or units
of measure. Astronomer
s rely on this important data to reveal some of the fundamental constants of the
universe.

The cosmic microwave background radiation, first detected in 1965, has enabled cosmologists to extract
information on enormous size
-

and time
-
scales. With the launch

of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE)
satellite in 1989, astronomers were able to make measurements precise enough to confirm several predictions
of the Big Bang theory (a theory consistent with the Bible) and effectively kill both the Steady State hyp
othesis
and the oscillating universe hypothesis. Atheistic cosmologists as a way to avoid a beginning for the universe
had favored these hypotheses. Two upcoming space missions, the NASA Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP)
and the European Space Agency (ESA)
Planck Surveyor, promise orders of magnitude improvement over the
measurements the pioneering COBE satellite recorded. The background radiation is sufficiently intense that we
can measure it precisely with modern instruments, but not so strong that it is u
naffected by processes shortly
following its creation. Therefore, we can learn about certain parameters of the universe at very early times,
constrain some aspects of fundamental physics, and garner a glimpse at early large
-
scale structure and
formation.

A
s the universe ages, the background radiation will become less measurable. First, the continued expansion of
space
-
time will cause it to become less intense and more redshifted. Second, as stars continue to form in the
Milky Way, they will contribute to gr
eater foreground contamination, resulting in greater difficulty in measuring
the ever
-
fading background.

Teleological Implications

In terms of its mass, the Sun is among the top 10% most massive stars in the solar neighborhood.

6

Aside from
obvious questio
ns of habitability, what if humans were attempting to scan the skies from a planet orbiting one
of the less massive stars, one of those among the 90% majority? What would they be able to detect and
measure? The most fundamental ruler in their astronomical
“tool chest” would be less effective. It is the
method called stellar parallax. Earth’s inhabitants can use the changing position of the earth in its orbit around
the Sun to detect the apparent reflex motion of nearby stars relative to distant background s
tars. By this
method they can measure the distance from the earth to those nearer stars.

M dwarfs are the most common type of star in the Milky Way. The habitable zone comprises the place around
a star where liquid water can exist on the surface of a terre
strial
-
like planet continuously. The estimated
diameter of the habitable zone around an M dwarf is only about 10% that of the zone around the Sun, the
zone in which Earth resides. Therefore, for a planet orbiting an M dwarf, the effectiveness of the stella
r
parallax method would be severely diminished. In fact, astronomers on such a planet would be able to observe
only one
-
thousandth the volume of space Earth
-
bound astronomers can observe. The distances to many rare
types of stars, such as O and B stars, an
d Cepheid and RR Lyrae variables, would remain a mystery, and
information they provide would be inaccessible. Clearly, M dwarfs would be less hospitable for life, and the
cosmos far less measurable from their environs.

Since measurability is not a requirem
ent for habitability, one cannot invoke the Anthropic Principle
7

to make the
remarkable measurability of the universe seem less remarkable. Evidence suggests that the universe was
designed not only for human habitability but also for human measurability an
d comprehensibility. The same
processes and features that make Earth habitable also make and preserve a record of activity and provide a
means for measurement. Those very places in the Milky Way that would be most dangerous to humans (e. g.,
the galactic c
enter, globular clusters, and spiral arms) also offer the poorest visibility and opportunity to make
measurements. Does it seem a mere coincidence that Earth’s location in the Milky Way affords an optimal view
of most of the universe? Humanity’s home plane
t is a comfortable porch from which curious humans can gaze
out to the ends of time and space.

This argument allows us to ascribe purpose to any fine
-
tuned, measurable aspect of the universe, such as stars
and galaxies, earthquakes, neutrinos, and the Moon
. If anyone asks, “Why are there so many stars and
galaxies in the universe?”


One can respond with double impact: Not only is a universe as big as this one
required for any kind of life, but only a vast number of stars and galaxies permits intelligent cre
atures to
measure (reliably) the basic parameters of the universe. Earthquakes are important not only because life needs
the effects of plate tectonics but also because they allow us to probe the internal structure of the Earth, which
could not be done any

other conceivable way. Neutrinos give us a way to measure the temperature of the
sun’s core and to study the details of neutron star formation in supernovae explosions. The Moon records some
of the early history of the solar system and takes part in produ
cing wonderful eclipses. And so on.

Of course, this consideration brings us to the deeper, theological question: Why would the Creator make the
universe so measurable? What’s the point of allowing humans to measure the characteristics of the universe?
To
those who hold a Christian worldview, the answer is clear. In fact, the Bible explicitly states it: “For since
the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen,
being understood from what has
been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19
-
20).

Sidebar: Standard Candles

Astronomers employ some types of stars as “standard candles.” These are stars that have luminosities that are
in some way standard. As a simple everyday example of a sta
ndard candle, consider an ordinary 100
-
watt light
bulb. Because a light bulb has a constant luminosity (or intrinsic brightness) we can estimate its distance from
us if we can measure its apparent brightness. This technique only works if we have good reaso
n to believe the
luminosity of a given light source is some standard value. For a distant light bulb, one can verify its luminosity
by observing it with a telescope and looking for the phrase “100 watts.” Of course, this does not work with
stars, but the p
rinciple is similar.

References:

1.

See Stanley L. Jaki,
The Savior of Science

(Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1988).

2.

J. P. Moreland,
The Creation Hypothesis

(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 17.

3.

J. R. Petit, et al., “Climate and Atmospheric Hist
ory of the Past 420,000 Years from the Vostok Ice
Core, Antarctica,”
Nature
399(1999): 429
-
36.

4.

C.P. Sonett and M.A. Chan, “Neoproterozoic Earth
-
Moon Dynamics: Rework of the 900 Ma Big
Cottonwood Canyon Tidal Laminae,”
Geophysical Research Letters


25 (1998
): 539
-
42.

5.

Guillermo Gonzalez, "Wonderful Eclipses,"
Astronomy & Geophysics
, (June 1999): 3.18
-
3.20.

6.

Guillermo Gonzalez, “Is the Sun Anomalous?”
Astronomy & Geophysics
40 (October 1999): no. 5, 25
-
29.

7.

Hugh Ross,
The Creator and the Cosmos

2d ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1995), 92, 121
-
25,
128.

Subjects:

Atheism, Constants of Physics, Earth/Moon Design, Einstein / Relativity, Galaxy Design, Geophysical
Design, Laws of Physics, Solar System Design, TCM
-

Cosmic Design

Vital Poisons

July 1st, 1999

By Phil Chien

7/1/1999

by Dr. Hugh Ross

Perhaps you have noticed the addition of Food and Drug Administration warnings to packages of dietary
supplements sold in drug and health food stores. If not, please do. These warning labels subtly
announce
dramatic new evidence for the divine design of life

and of the earth for sustaining life.

Research has identified many dietary essentials, in addition to the familiar one, iron, to be harmful, if not
deadly, in certain amounts. Such elements as ch
romium, molybdenum, selenium, and vanadium, for example,
are essential for building proteins, and proteins serve as life’s molecular “factories.” Yet each of these elements
is toxic in any but the “just right” amount.

A finely
-
tuned balance of such element
s in organisms’ external environment also proves necessary but risky.
Molybdenum, for instance, though it can be harmful plays a crucial and unique role in “nitrogen fixation,” the
process by which nitrogen from the atmosphere attaches to chemicals that ca
n be assimilated by plants. This
particular process, without which land life cannot exist, is impossible unless a certain “right amount” of
molybdenum resides in the soil.

For many years, we have recognized the devastating effects of iron deficiency or iro
n overabundance in the
diet of humans and advanced animals. Year by year, however, the list of lethal yet essential substances grows.
Currently that list includes arsenic, boron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, manganese, nickel,
phosphorus, po
tassium, sulfur, tin, and zinc, in addition to the four mentioned above.
1

At the same time, our astronomy research reveals that the earth’s crust differs significantly from the crusts of
other solar system bodies. One difference lies in the relative abunda
nce of various life
-
essential elements.
Earth’s crust contains “just right” quantities of all the elements necessary for the existence and sustenance of
advanced land life. This finding can be viewed as a remarkable (more accurately, an
impossible)
coincid
ence or
as a wondrous indicator of design. To reach for a sound bite, I would say that the gastronomical and
astronomical evidences favor purposeful planning and preparation.

Reference:

1. John Emsley,
The Elements
, third edition (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Pr
ess, 1998), pp. 24, 40, 56, 58, 60, 62,
78, 102, 106, 122, 130, 138, 152, 160, 188, 198, 214, 222, 230.

Subjects:

Geophysical Design, Life Design, Speciation Events

Earth’s Ancient Magnetic Field

March 24th, 2010

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink

Not only are magnets fun to play with, they play prominent roles in humanity’s just
-
right habitat. Magnetic
fields affect the way stars and galaxies form, provide navigational landmarks for human and animal travel, and
ensure Earth retains its water for mo
re than four billion years. But has Earth’s magnetic field existed for most
of the planet’s history?
Recent research

addresses this question.

The main difficulty of studying Eart
h’s ancient magnetic field is finding materials that record its strength.
Usually, geophysicists use long
-
solidified crustal rocks. The magnetic field affects the formation of certain kinds
of rocks in such a way that allows scientists to determine the fie
ld’s strength and direction. While finding these
ancient rocks is difficult enough, other factors impact researchers’ ability to extract information from them. For
example, any significant heating of the rocks removes the original information recorded abou
t the magnetic
field. Also, researchers must keep in mind that a steady stream of charged particles impacts the top of Earth’s
atmosphere, inducing a magnetic field. In order to determine the characteristics of the magnetic field
generated by the planet co
re, this atmospheric contribution must be accounted for.

A team of international scientists recently
developed a technique to carry out the necessary measurements
.1
They started wit
h
dacite

rocks found in South Africa dating from 3.4 to 3.45 billion years ago. These rocks
contain magnetic inclusions that record information about Earth’s core
-
generated magnetic field (along with
atmo
spheric magnetic noise) from this time. By carefully selecting inclusions meeting specific criteria, they
isolated a pristine sample of small quartz crystals to analyze for magnetic field information. Using a
SQUID
magnetometer
, the scientists determined that 3.4 to 3.45 billion years ago Earth’s magnetic field was 50 to 70
percent of today’s values.

Three aspects of these results warrant further note. First, this measurement provi
des the earliest measurement
of Earth’s magnetic field

besting the previous value by 200 million years. Second, the field strength measured
here indicates that scientists are finding evidence from near the time when Earth’s rotation
-
driven dynamo first
sta
rted gaining significance. If so, even more ancient measurements will provide important insights into the
process of core formation and dynamo generation.

Third, and perhaps most important, these measurements identify a critical period for maintaining habi
tability
on Earth for the next 3.5 billion years. A smaller magnetic field means that the solar wind interacts more
directly with Earth’s atmosphere. The key interaction consists of radiation breaking water into hydrogen and
oxygen and the hydrogen escapin
g into space. This reaction results in loss of water. If our planet had
experienced a stronger solar wind and weaker magnetic field for the first billion years of Earth’s history, water
would have been rapidly stripped from the early Earth. This situation
may explain why Earth has
the just
-
right
amount of water today (and not as much as models predict)
.

As crucial as water is to life, it must come in the right amounts. This research of quartz crystals from South
Africa adds to a
growing body of evidence that multiple, divers
e processes (astronomical, geophysical,
atmospheric, and biological)

must all interact precisely to ensure Earth has the right amount of water. Such
finely
-
tuned interactions point to a divine Designer.

Endnotes:

1. John A. Tarduno et al., “Geodynamo, Sola
r Wind and Magnetopause 3.4 to 3.45 Billion Years Ago,”
Science

327 (March 5, 2010): 1238

40

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design

Why Does the Earth have Oceans?

November 18th, 2009

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink


A few weeks ago, I posted a TNRTB describing the special circumstances in Earth's early history that ensured
we had an adequate supply of osmium and iridium with which to develop a technological civilization.

Further developments indicate that the careful
ly orchestrated events on early Earth played an even more
critical role in establishing this planet's habitability. Without those events, Earth would not enjoy an abundance
of liquid water or the life
-
essential plate tectonics it facilitates.

Consider this

brief description of how the solar system formed. A gas cloud began collapsing, resulting in a disk
of material around the protosun at the center of the cloud. As the particles in the cloud interacted, they grew
in size. At some point, these particles beg
an to gravitationally attract other material from the disk until they
became planet
-
sized. The last step of planet formation occurred when these planet
-
sized objects merged to
form Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. The gas giants formed in a similar fashion

except they grew rapidly
enough to gravitationally attract a sizable fraction of hydrogen and helium before the solar wind blew these
gases out of the solar system.

Until recently, scientists believed that the oceans that currently cover Earth (similar to

the water that once
covered Mars and Venus) arose when water in the formation material escaped to the surface. However, a
growing body of evidence now indicates that these Earth
-
forming materials did not contain enough water to
form the oceans. This is be
cause Earth resides inside the
snowline
, locations closer to the Sun than the
asteroid belt. Inside the sno
wline (indicated by the red region in the image
-
link below) high temperatures kept
any ice from forming within the materials that made up Earth. Consequently, the solar wind would have driven
all the water from this region before it could be incorporated i
nto the planets.


This new evidence meant astronomers needed to modify their model to explain why Earth has abundant liquid
oceans. The simplest modification added a period of asteroid bombardment at least a hundred million years
after Earth formed. A sui
tably large number of asteroids that originated outside the snowline could deliver
enough water to account for the oceans and the water inside Earth. As with any good model, additional data
must support the model's predictions.
A review article

in
Nature

provides data to support this updated model.

Here are some of the results the paper presents:

1.

The amount of zinc a
nd potassium (compared to uranium) in terrestrial material and Martian
meteorites falls well below the carbonaceous chondrites that represent the primordial material in the
solar system. These elements condense at lower temperatures than uranium but at hig
her
temperatures than water. Thus, if the material that formed Earth is depleted in zinc and potassium, it
was certainly depleted of water also.

2.

The depletion of heavier isotopes of zinc matches the depletion of the lighter isotopes. If the volatile
materials were lost during the accretion stage, the heavier isotopes would show less depletion
compared to lighter isotopes because the Earth's gravity would bind them a little more tightly.

3.

Analysis of the radioisotopes hafnium and tungsten indicate that
the impactor that formed the Moon
occurred around 30 million years after Earth started forming. Additionally, rocks from the Moon exhibit
less water than Earth's mantle. If Earth had a significant amount of water at the time the Moon
formed, the moon would

have ended with much more water.

4.

Analysis of xenon and lead isotopes indicate that most of these elements arrived at least 100 million
years after the solar system started condensing. This is consistent with a model predicting a
bombardment of asteroids t
hat brings Earth its water.

5.

Without water, plate tectonics does not operate on a planet Earth's size. Without the addition of
substantial water after the moon impact event, all of Earth's water would have been buried deep in
Earth's interior (like the fate

of Venus' initial water supply). However, a late verneer of water arriving
from asteroid impacts would ensure that Earth's surface remains covered in water even after 4.5
billion years of plate tectonics. During that period, roughly half the water would b
e subducted into
Earth's interior, matching measurements that indicate roughly an oceans' worth of water resides inside
Earth.

So what is the bottom line?

Without an event that brought an abundance of asteroids from the outer regions of the solar system cr
ashing
to Earth, our planet would not have maintained a stable water cycle. Had this bombardment occurred too
early, the water would have ended up buried deep inside the Earth instead of forming a life
-
essential liquid
ocean. Only by the proper timing of t
his asteroid bombardment did Earth become habitable. Advances in our
understanding of how our home developed continue to support the idea that a super Intellect worked to
provide a place for humanity to reside.

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design

The Age(s) of th
e Continents

August 6th, 2008

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink

The Hebrew phrase
“tōhū wābōhū”

provides the first description of Earth given in Genesis 1. Many English
Bible translations render this description as
“formless and void (or empty)”
. The Hebrew words imply that
Earth’s surface was a desola
te, undistinguishable ruin. Genesis 1:3 through Genesis 2:3 delineates how God
transformed this wasteland into a variety of habitats teeming with life.

One critical transformation involves breaking up the formless deep to form land upon which humans will l
ive.
On the third day of the creation week, Moses, the likely author of Genesis, declares that waters below the
heavens were
“gathered into one place”

in order to
“let the dry land appear”
. In RTB’s creation model, this
declaration means that scientists should find that the formation of a large, permanent continental landmass
occurred within a definite time window (or burst) in Earth’s history. Additionally, that

time window must close
before the
Cambrian explosion

(which occurred around 540 million years ago), when complex multicellular life
appeared on Earth.

Past research

on
zircons

revealed that most continental land dated to either 1.2, 1.9, 2.7, or 3.3 billion years
ago. The clustering around these dates indicat
es that continental growth did occur in bursts. However, such
clustering would also result from preferential preservation of crust that grew uniformly.

More recent researc
h

adds further support to the idea that continental growth occurred in bursts. For
continents to grow, regions of the mantle must melt and differentiate in order to provide the additional
continental material. One particularly useful way to measure the mel
ting of mantle material is the
Rhenium
-
Osmium radioactive decay channel
. A team of scientists using this decay channel discovered that mantle
melting events also clustered around

1.2, 1.9, and 2.7 billion years ago. (No materials dating older than 3
billion years were used in the study.)

The clustering of the continental ages and the mantle melting events around the same ages is extremely
unlikely. Therefore, taken together, these

results argue that the bulk of continent formation occurred in a time
window between 3.3 and 1.2 billion years ago. Thus, these discoveries demonstrate a way the Creator could
have “let the dry land appear” and add to the body of evidence supporting RTB’s

creation model.

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design

Another Benefit for Life in Earthquakes

December 7th, 2007

By Dr. David Rogstad


Earthquakes are not particularly welcome by those who experience them (and Reasons To

Believe would
respond in a different manner in the event of a catastrophic event), nevertheless there are a number of very
important benefits the planet derives from the processes that result in temblors.

Earthquakes are a byproduct of
plate tectonics
, a theory in geology developed in recent years for explaining
motions near the surface of the Earth. One of the benefits from plate tectonics is that Earth maintains the right
level
s of carbon dioxide (CO
2
) in the atmosphere to compensate for the Sun’s increasing luminosity. This is
accomplished by what is called the
carbonate
-
silicate cycle
. CO
2

is removed
from the atmosphere through
weathering. The weathered products are eventually drawn into the Earth’s interior via plate tectonics.
Processes inside the Earth’s interior release the CO
2

back into the atmosphere via volcanoes. While all aspects
of this mecha
nism are not yet fully understood, it has been instrumental in providing a stable environment for
life on the Earth for billions of years.

New research provides yet another component that appears fine
-
tuned for life. In a
letter

in the September 27,
2007 issue of
Nature

together with a corresponding news release from the University of Bonn, Arno Rohrbach
and his colleagues have discussed another mechanism similar to the ca
rbonate
-
silicate cycle. It also depends
on plate tectonics but, in this case, the mechanism controls the amount of oxygen on the surface of the Earth.

Oxygen becomes bound up in various oxides which are then drawn into the Earth’s interior, where various
p
rocesses result in its being incorporated into an exotic mineral called majorite. The results reported in this
letter established that majorite functions as a kind of “reservoir” for oxygen, and when the majorite ascends
nearer to the surface of the Earth
it breaks down and releases its oxygen. Some of this oxygen also binds with
hydrogen released from the interior of the Earth to form water. The authors have referred to the whole
process as an “oxygen elevator.”

They go on to say that “without the ‘oxygen
elevator’ in its mantle the Earth would probably be a barren planet
hostile to life. According to our findings, planets below a certain size hardly have any chance of forming a
stable atmosphere with a high water content.”

This research confirms the existe
nce of one more finely tuned mechanism that depends on plate tectonics and
contributes to an environment that can support life. It also gives humans one more reason to be appreciative
rather than dismayed when we experience an earthquake that breaks some p
recious possessions beyond
repair.

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design

A Planet’s Magnetic Field Protects Its Water

January 30th, 2008

By Dr. Hugh Ross

Disaster movies seem to be a staple for Hollywood. One such disaster movie that I found enjoyable (enough to
watch it four times on my way to Japan) was
The Core
. The movie opens by showing some
(unrealistic)
consequences of Earth’s magnetic field disappearing (caused by a stoppage of the rotation of Earth’s core).
The remainder of the movie details how a team of scientists attempt to restart Earth’s core and save the
planet. While the film abound
s with scientific inaccuracies and impossibilities, its premise highlights an
important characteristic of Earth’s habitability, namely a strong magnetic field.

Venus and Earth are remarkably similar in composition and size. Venus has 81% of Earth’s mass, a
nd its radius
and density are only about 5% smaller than Earth’s. Due to their forming in a similar section of the solar
system, both Earth and Venus likely started covered with water and had essentially identical atmospheres.
While these two “sister plane
ts” began similarly, they could not be more different today in terms of their
habitability.

Earth’s atmosphere

consists of mainly nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%), with trace amounts of other

gases
like carbon dioxide and helium. Additionally, abundant clouds of water vapor fill the skies. In stark contrast,
Venus’ atmosphere

is comprised of mostly carbon dioxide (96%) and nitrog
en (3%) with dense clouds of
sulfuric acid! Earth’s atmosphere causes surface temperatures around 70
o
F, Venus’ surface sits around 800
o
F.
What caused this difference?

Many factors contribute to the disparity between Earth and Venus, but recent results from

the
Venus Express

satellite highlight one of the more important differences. Because Earth rotates once every 24 hours, this
motion causes its iron core to generate a strong magnetic fie
ld. This magnetic field shields Earth from
cosmic
rays
, in addition to protecting Earth’s atmosphere from the solar wind. Venus rotates only once for every 243
Earth days. Consequently, Venus has no s
ignificant magnetic field to shield its atmosphere from the solar wind.

Without a magnetic shield, the solar wind strips away all the water from Venus’ surface. Ultraviolet radiation
from the Sun breaks water molecules down into two hydrogen ions and one o
xygen ion (atoms with an electric
charge due to an extra electron or a deficiency of an electron). The charged particles in the solar wind
accelerate these ions and strip them from the atmosphere. However, Earth’s magnetic field deflects the solar
wind aro
und the atmosphere so the ions are not stripped off into space. The
results published in
Nature

from
the
Venus Express

mission demonstrate that the ions coming from Venus
match the composition expected if
water is being stripped from its atmosphere. The water currently being stripped from Venus arises from recent
small comet impacts that deposit water in Venus’ atmosphere (similar processes occur on Earth also).
However, th
e solar wind has also stripped away all the water that Venus started with over four billion years
ago.

These findings highlight how a habitable planet must not only be similar in size and composition to Earth, but it
also must have a strong magnetic field.

Thus, one must read
optimistic announcements such as this

with a bit
of caution.

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design

Earth’s Primordial Atmosphere Must Be
Fine
-
Tuned

March 14th, 2011

By Dr. Hugh Ross

An adult human can last 40 days without food, a week without any sleep, three days without water, but only
five minutes without air. Yet nothing is more taken for granted than the air we breathe. However, not just any
air will do

it must
be exquisitely designed to meet our needs.

Too little oxygen in the atmosphere will kill us, as will too much. The same kind of fine
-
tuning needs apply to
atmospheric nitrogen, carbon dioxide, ozone, and water vapor.

A team of eight planetary scientists re
cently discovered that
Earth did not always possess its present
-
day
atmospheric composition
.
1

(Table 1 lists the different chemicals and their relative abundances for the present
-
day atmosph
ere.) The team also found that differing atmospheric compositions throughout Earth’s history
played crucial roles in enabling our planet to support life for several billion years and in particular to make
advanced life possible.

Table 1: The Composition of

Earth’s Present
-
Day Atmosphere



Gas Component


Percent Abundance by Volume



nitrogen


77.77



oxygen



20.86



argon


0.93



water vapor


0.40 (1

4% at surface)



carbon dio
xide


0.039



neon


0.002

(all other gas components combined measure less than 0.001)

To determine the impact of the Sun’s radiation on Earth’s
atmosphere during the Sun’s first 800 million years,
the planetary science team took advantage of astronomers’ detailed knowledge of the Sun’s properties during
that epoch (see figure 1). They showed that if Earth’s atmosphere were the same then as it is n
ow, the solar
wind and ultraviolet radiation would have completely removed the planet’s atmosphere within a few million
years or less. Since this removal did not happen, the team concluded that Earth’s primordial atmosphere must
have differed substantially

from its present one.


Figure 1: Level of Solar Flaring throughout the Sun’s Burning History



The intensities of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, flaring activity, and wind started off at very high levels,
subsided to minima when the Sun reached 4.6 bil
lion years old (its present age), and then will gradually
increase hereafter.

Image credit for background image: NASA

The team then produced calculations demonstrating that the only reasonable scenario for explaining why the
Sun’s radiation did not remove

Earth’s primordial atmosphere was that the early Earth’s atmosphere was at
least a hundred times richer in carbon dioxide. Such an extremely carbon
-
dioxide rich atmosphere, the team
proved, would have confined our planet’s upper atmosphere to within Earth
’s
magnetosphere
. (The
magnetosphere shields Earth’s atmosphere from destructive damage by solar radiation.)

The extra carbon dioxide in the primordial atmosphere serves another benefit for Earth’s

life. It trapped much
more of the Sun’s heat. Since the Sun was about 15 percent dimmer at the time (see figure 2), such enhanced
heat
-
trapping capacity enabled life to exist at that time. With the Sun getting progressively brighter throughout
the past 3.
5 billion years, it then became crucial for life’s ongoing existence that Earth’s atmosphere lose
carbon dioxide progressively. Such losses posed no problem for the preservation of the planetary atmosphere
because as the Sun brightened, its radiation also
became progressively less destructive.


Figure 2: The Sun’s Brightness throughout Its Burning History

The luminosity or brightness levels are all relative to the Sun’s present luminosity (dotted line).

Image credit for background image: Hugh Ross

Though
not mentioned in their paper, the planetary science team’s research adds to the already overwhelming
evidence for the rare Earth doctrine. Not only must the various constituents that make up Earth’s present
-
day
atmosphere be carefully fine
-
tuned, those con
stituents must vary in highly specified ways throughout all of
Earth’s history. The team’s research provides yet one more example of how the more scientists learn about
Earth’s properties the more evidence they establish that our home planet was supernatur
ally designed for life
and especially for human beings and their global, high
-
technology civilization.

Endnotes:


1. H. I. M. Lichtenegger et al., “Aeronautical Evidence for Higher CO2 Levels during Earth’s Hadean Epoch,”
Icarus

210 (November 2010): 1

7.

S
ubjects:

Earth/Moon Design, Extrasolar Planets

Elemental Evidence of Earth’s Divine Design

March 1st, 2010

By Dr. Hugh Ross


The familiar adage “You can’t have too much of a good thing” doesn’t hold true for planet Earth.

Too much water, for example,
or too much carbon would destroy Earth’s ability to support advanced life. On
the other hand, too little of certain “bad” things, elements generally considered poisonous to life, would also
ruin Earth’s chances to serve as a life site. Many of these elemen
ts must be present on Earth in “just right”
quantities or we wouldn’t be here.

When Carl Sagan and others first claimed that among the billions and billions of stars in the universe we’d be
sure to find millions (or more) of life sites, they gave the impre
ssion that our home is just an ordinary, not
-
really
-
unusual planet. The past few decades of research, however, have shown us just the opposite: in its
array and abundances of various elements and compounds, Earth is, in fact, extraordinary. Given its size
and
distance from the Sun, Earth holds an unusual and unexpected quantity of virtually every element and
compound researchers can measure and compare

and especially in the case of elements and compounds vital
to the existence of advanced life.


Figure 1:
Cosmic Abundance history of Uranium and Thorium

Supernovae deliver uranium and thorium to the interstellar medium. However, the supernovae eruption rate
declines as the universe ages. Eventually the delivery rate fails to keep pace with radiometric decay.
For Earth
to receive a maximal amount of uranium and t horium it must form when the cosmic abundance of those
elements reaches a peak. (Credit for background image of the galaxy NGC 6217: NASA/ESA/Hubble SM4 ERO
Team)

Astronomers have begun to gain some un
derstanding as to how Earth came to be so different. It starts with
the timing of the solar system’s origin. For example, as I often mention in my talks, our solar system formed at
that moment in cosmic history when uranium and thorium reached their peak a
bundance (see Figure 1). Since
that time, their production through supernova eruptions (the only cosmic source of uranium and thorium) has
failed to keep pace with their radioactive decay. So their availability for incorporation into newly forming
planets
has decreased. The significance of this timing is that uranium and thorium are essential elements for
driving Earth’s plate tectonics. Thanks to the timing of Earth’s formation and a number of subsequent events in
the Sun’s and Earth’s early history (which

will be described below), Earth was supplied with enough uranium
and thorium to sustain strong, and enduring plate tectonics, which in turn provide for a just
-
right balance of
oceans and continents

critical surface features for the recycling of nutrients
and the existence of advanced life
(see Figure 2).


Figure 2: Growth of Continents on Earth's Surface:

The Vertical axis shows the percentage of Earth's surface area comprised of continents. As the graph indicates,
landmasses grew rapidly around the 2
-
bil
lion
-
year mark and have increased gradually since then. The Current
coverage of Earth's surface by continents is ideal for the efficient recycling of nutrients and for the support of
global human civilization. (Credit for background image of Earth: NASA)

T
he solar system formed not only with the best possible timing but also, simultaneously, in the best possible
location for the sake of humanity. Both time and place influence the relative quantities of particular metal
isotopes in early Earth’s composition.

As British planetary astronomers Jamie Gilmour and Ceri Middleton
noted, the exceptionally high ratio of aluminum
-
26 to aluminum
-
27 (4.5
-
5 x 10
5
) at the solar system’s origin
site is “difficult to produce in models of star formation.”
1

In other words, it’s highly unusual and unexpected.

Four astronomers at the Universities of Hawaii and Colorado determined how the primordial solar system
became so exceptionally enriched with aluminum
-
26.
2

A prior generation of giant stars formed near en
ough to
the giant molecular cloud from which the Sun and planets later emerged to shower it with aluminum
-
26 and
other important isotopes (via “Wolf
-
Rayet” winds). If either the timing or location of the solar system’s
formation were adjusted ever so sligh
tly sooner or later or nearer or farther relative to these massive stars, the
forming solar system would have been destroyed (or severely damaged) or would have been inadequately
enriched with aluminum
-
26.

And yet without this high ratio of aluminum
-
26 to
aluminum
-
27, there would have been no “thermal processing
of planetesimals,”
3

to use the words of Gilmour and Middleton. This would mean no heat pulse to drive off the
dangerously high (for advanced life) quantity of volatile gases

carbon dioxide, carbon m
onoxide, nitrogen
oxides, water, etc. from the primordial solar system. As the researchers pointed out, without this heat pulse
Earth would have retained far too much water for continents to be possible and far too much carbon for an
atmosphere to be breat
hable.

Meanwhile, to acquire sufficient quantities of other elements essential for advanced life, the emerging solar
system had to form at the just right location and time relative to two different types of
supernovae

as well as
to several objects called
“asymptotic giant branch stars.”
4

All the requirements described thus far mandate that the Sun and its planets begin to form in a lar
ge and
dense star cluster. However, once it’s appropriately enriched with the uranium, thorium, aluminum
-
26, and
other essential elements, the solar system must be ejected from this cluster because advanced life cannot
tolerate close encounters with other
stars.
5

Earth, itself, demands special circumstances during its formative years. One of the most stunning was an event
described in 2004 by Robin Canup. Her theory stated that a planet slightly more massive than Mars (Mars =
0.107 Earth masses) collided wi
th the newly formed Earth

at an impact angle of about 45 degrees and impact
velocity of less than 4 kilometers/second.
6

This low
-
velocity collision brought about four significant
-
for
-
advanced
-
life changes: (1) it blasted away most of Earth’s water and atmo
sphere; (2) it ejected light element
material and delivered heavy elements; (3) it transformed both the interior and exterior structure of Earth; and
(4) it led to the formation of Earth’s exceptionally large Moon.
7

(Canup improved her model in 2008, concl
uding
that a somewhat larger collider impacted a retrograde rotating proto
-
Earth, while further confirming her
original findings.)
8

Approximately 650 million years after that collision, yet another pivotal (for advanced life) event occurred. An
orbital
resonance between Jupiter and Saturn disrupted the asteroids and comets of the Kuiper Belt, triggering
an episode called the Late Heavy Bombardment
9

(see Figure 3). Over a period of less than a hundred million
years, some 17,000 impactors smashed into Eart
h, together depositing 200 tons of material on every square
yard of Earth’s surface.
10

Many of these impactors pierced through Earth’s crust. In the final analysis, this
intense period of bombardment, as hellish as it may seem, brought about a chemical tra
nsformation, both
interior and exterior, that favored the elemental needs of later advanced life.


Figure 3: The Late Heavy Bombardment

Thousands of asteroids and comets pummeled Earth within a relatively brief time period some 3.9 billion years
ago. This

bombardment chemically transformed both Earth’s interior and exterior.

(Credit for images of asteroids and comets: NASA; credit for the deep space background: NASA/ESO;
remaining artwork is the author’s.)

For a more complete list of Earth’s extraordinary quantities of chemical elements and compounds, see the table
below. As you read it, be aware that every one of Earth’s exceptional abundances discovered to date has
proved crucial for the support of life

ad
vanced life, in particular. The evidence for the supernatural, super
-
intelligent, super
-
intentional design of Earth continues to mount.


Figure 4: Earth’s “Unobtainium,” Uraninite

Uraninite, also known as pitchblende, is the most uranium
-
rich ore on Earth
. Uranium is more abundant on
Earth than tin, antimony, or cadmium. Its exceptionally high abundance makes possible nuclear fission power
plants. One kilogram of uranium
-
235 can yield up to 80 trillion joules of energy. And, because of its density,
hardnes
s, ease of use in machining and casting, and low cost, depleted uranium finds a wide range of
industrial applications. [Photo Credit: Joachimsthal, Bohemia, Czechoslovakia Creative Commons
(http://minerals.no
-
ip.com/Minerals/html/Pichblende1.html)]

Table:
Earth’s Anomalous Abundances

The twenty
-
five elements listed below must exist on Earth in specific abundances for advanced life and/or
support of civilization to be possible. For each listed element the number indicates how much more or less
abundant it is
, by mass, in Earth’s crust, relative to magnesium’s abundance, as compared to its average
abundance in the rest of the Milky Way Galaxy, also relative to the element magnesium. Asterisks denote “vital
poisons,” essential elements that if too abundant woul
d be toxic to advanced life, but if too scarce would fail to
provide the quantities of nutrients essential for advanced life. The water measure compares the amount of
water in and on Earth relative to the minimum amount the best planet formation models wou
ld predict for a
planet the mass of Earth orbiting a star identical to the Sun at the same distance from the Sun.
11



carbon*

1,200 times less



cobalt*

5 times less



nitrogen*

2,400 times less



selenium*

30 times less



fluorine*

50 times more



yttrium

50 times more



sodium*

20 times more



zirconium

130 times more



aluminum

40 times more



niobium

170 times more



phosphorus*

4 times more
12




moybdenum*

5 times more



sulfur*

60 times less
13




tin*

3
times more



potassium*

90 times more



iodine*

3 times more



calcium

20 times more



gold

5 times less



titanium

65 times more



lead

170 times more



vanadium*

9 times more



uranium

16,000 times more



chromium*

5 times less



thorium

23,000 times more



nickel*

20 times less



water

250 times less

__________

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design, Extrasolar Planets

Questions about this topic?

Big Collision, Beautiful Moon

November 1st, 2006

By Administrator

11/1/2006

by Dr. Jeff Zweerink

A demolition expert surveys the building designated for destruction. With one swing of the wrecking ball, he
must bring down the building without scattering the debris off the property. Such a precise operation requires
the
right size wrecking ball hitting at just the right speed. Hitting too high only removes the roof; too low and
the ground absorbs all the wrecking force. The possibilities for a failed demolition far exceed the ways to
succeed. After exacting calculations,
the wrecking ball scores a direct hit, transforming the building into an
easily cleaned
-
up pile of debris.

About 50 million years after the formation of the solar system, a similarly fine
-
tuned collision between Earth
and a Mars
-
sized body occurred. Howeve
r, instead of destroying Earth, the collision provided raw materials for
the formation of Earth's moon. The collision ejected debris into orbit that eventually coalesced into the Moon.
Recent high
-
resolution simulations of the impact event1 confirm the fin
e
-
tuning of the impact to insure the
survival of Earth, formation of the Moon, and transformation of Earth's atmosphere.2

The simulations show that the debris ejected from Earth must have consisted primarily of solid or liquid
material
-
not gas
-
or else the
debris disk would have dissipated too quickly to coalesce into a Moon
-
sized
satellite. A larger impactor would have generated more energy during the collision and, consequently, more
vaporized, gaseous material in the debris disk. However, a smaller impact
or would not enrich Earth with the
necessary heavy elements to drive long
-
standing plate tectonics nor provide sufficient energy to completely
eject Earth's life
-
suffocating primordial atmosphere into space. (This gas does not become part of the debris
dis
k, but is completely removed from the Earth
-
Moon system.) Thus, if the impactor were larger or smaller, the
capacity of Earth to support advanced complex life (like humans) or abundant, long
-
standing microbial life
rapidly diminishes. Additionally, the aut
hors note that if a planet is too large, it cannot have a moon formed by
a giant impact event. The Moon
-
forming impact requires a just
-
right
-
sized impactor striking Earth at the just
-
right speed, at the just
-
right location, with the just
-
right angle, and a
t the just
-
right time.

Just as the demolition expert must carefully prepare his work in order to avoid failure, so the Moon
-
forming
impact required a number of just
-
right factors in order to succeed. As scientific advances continue to reveal
more fine
-
tuni
ng factors, the idea that the impact happened purely by chance seems less and less feasible. On
the other hand, such fine
-
tuning comports well with RTB's biblical creation model, in which a supernatural
Creator intervenes to ensure Earth's long
-
standing ha
bitability in preparation for humankind.

References

1.

Keiichi Wada, Eiichiro Kokubo, and Junichiro Makino, "High
-
Resolution Simulations of a Moon
-
Forming
Impact and Postimpact Evolution,"
Astrophysical Journal

638 (2006): 1180
-
86.

2.

Kevin Zahnle, "Being There,
"
Nature

433 (2005): 814
-
15; Hidenori Genda and Yutaka Abe, "Enhanced
Atmospheric Loss on Protoplanets at the Giant Impact Phase in the Presence of Oceans,"
Nature

433
(2005): 842
-
44.

Subjects:

Earth/Moon Design

Planet Formation: Problems with Water,
Carbon, and Air

January 12th, 2009

By Dr. Hugh Ross


Thanks to a study from two MIT planetary scientists, the rare planet doctrine now finds additional support.

This is the conclusion that Earth has many unique, apparently designed features that enable

it to support life
and, in particular, advanced life. The reseachers
model degassing during the accretion phase of planetary
formation for planets ranging in mass from 1 to 30 times the mass o
f Earth
.
1

Their study was motivated in part
by the recent discovery of several
“super
-
Earths,”

planets outside the solar system ranging in mass from 3 to
10 times Earth’s mass.

These scientists begin

by pointing out that planets in general possess three different opportunities for gaining
an atmosphere: capture from the protoplanetary disk surrounding their primordial star, degassing during the
planetary accretion process, or later degassing resulting

from the planet’s tectonic activity. While capture from
the protoplanetary disk certainly is the dominant means for the buildup of atmospheres around the gas giant
planets, planetary scientists are still uncertain of the degree to which such capture plays

a role for planets the
size of Earth or a few times larger. Thus, the MIT team decided to consider only the role of degassing during
the planetary accretion process.

They based their models on measurements of the bulk compositions in the most primitive me
teorites found in
the solar system. These ancient remnants of the solar system’s protoplanetary disk represent the material from
which Earth formed. They contain up to 20 percent of water by mass. The team used the range of water and
carbon found in such m
eteorites and modeled how much of it would be retained in the formation process by
Earths and super
-
Earths. The scientists determined that degassing during accretion alone would result in water
and carbon compounds making up to 20 percent and 5 percent of
the mass of Earths and super
-
Earths,
respectively. They found, too, that using even modest estimates of water and carbon in the meteorites resulted
in Earths and super
-
Earths ending up with very deep oceans and very thick atmospheres.

Both results pose maj
or problems for potential habitability. Due to deep oceans, no conceivable amount of
plate tectonic activity would ever produce continents. Without continents there would be no possibility for land
life. Additionally, many important nutrient
-
recycling mech
anisms would be absent. Thick atmospheres loaded
with carbon compounds would trap tremendous amounts of heat, and would result in atmospheric pressures
that would make lungs inoperable and block out so much stellar light as to impede photosynthesis.

This s
tudy underscores just how anomalous our Earth is. For a planet as large as it is and as far away from its
star, Earth is miraculously water
-

and carbon
-
poor. Water makes up just 0.02 percent of Earth’s mass; carbon
just 0.003 percent. While water and carbo
n are essential for life, too little or too much proves deadly,
especially in the case of advanced life. Earth possesses the just
-
right amount of each.

Furthermore, the report demonstrates that Earth, like all planets its size and distance from its star, s
tarted off
with a huge amount of water and carbon. Thanks to an
exquisitely designed collision event early in the planet’s
history, Earth los
t just the right amounts of water and carbon. This event also led to the formation of the
Moon
.
2

The MIT team’s research study illustrates a Christian apologetics principle. It shows that the more we learn
about the physics of extrasolar planetary systems,

the more evidence we accumulate for the supernatural,
super
-
intelligent design of the Milky Way Galaxy, the solar system, and Earth for the benefit of all life on Earth,
both simple and complex.