Around the Solar System with Jason Lisle

Last Saturday I attended a creation science conference at Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia and had the pleasure of listening to one of my favorite scientists, Dr. Jason Lisle. Dr. Lisle is Director of Physical Sciences at the Institute for Creation Research and holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics, and he delivered a presentation on our solar system.

Touring the solar system from the comfort of our own planet is always an enjoyable, entertaining and educational experience, but even more so when the tour guide is an expert in the field who brings a warm sense of humor, professional enthusiasm, and a desire to give God glory for the beauty and awe seen in his workmanship.

I’ll touch briefly on some of the points he made as we orbited each planet and analyzed the atmosphere and surface. We began our journey, of course, with Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. We see it contains a decaying magnetic field, but this is a real problem for evolutionists because, if Mercury were billions of years old, there should be no magnetic field remaining. Since a magnetic field still exists, however, this is evidence of a young solar system because there hasn’t been enough time for Mercury’s internal battery to die. Evolutionary explanations include the dynamo theory, which requires the planet to have a molten metal core so that fluid motions within can generate the field, but this explanation can’t be correct based on what we know about other planets in the Solar System. Uranus and Neptune, for example, disrupt the predictions of the dynamo theory; Uranus’s magnetic field and rotational axes are too great for dynamo theory predictions. Neptune also has a tilted magnetic field that is offset. Further, evolutionists believe Mercury’s core should have been frozen solid long ago.

Venus poses another problem for evolutionists because it rotates in the opposite direction from what is expected according to evolutionary beliefs about the formation of the Solar System. A planetary collision is the rescue agent for evolutionists.

Earth, as we know, is finely tuned for our existence, and the moon is a big contributor, shielding us from asteroid bombardments and cleansing the oceans via tidal forces.

Mars has some amazing features, such as the largest known volcano and biggest canyon in the solar system. The volcano, Olympus Mons, covers an area the size of Arizona, and canyon Valles Marineris is as long as the continental United States. There’s no liquid water found on Mars today because the atmosphere is too thin; like other planets, a catastrophic collision is thought to have stripped away the atmosphere. Despite the hostile environment, rovers have been sent there to analyze the planet and seek out life. To date we’ve received a wealth of information as a result these efforts, but scientists have found no evidence of life. Scientists have also detected magnetization in Martian rocks, indicating that the Red Planet once contained a magnetic field. This provides evidence of a young universe.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, has over 60 moons orbiting it in various directions. This planet is giving off nearly twice as much energy (mostly infrared) as it receives from the sun, but if it’s billions of years old, it should have run out of energy by now.

Saturn’s rings are made up of trillions of particles, rock, debris, dust and ice. But these rings would be gone if they were billions of years old, so they have to be relatively young. Saturn also has a strong magnetic field, which should have been depleted if billions of years old.

Uranus is another planet that gives off more energy than it receives- 2.6 times as much. And it also has a magnetic field. Both of these are problems for evolutionists who believe Uranus is billions of years old.

Finally, even though it’s no longer considered a planet, Pluto defies evolutionary predictions. This planet was expected to have no craters, features or geologic processes, but when New Horizons space craft flew by, we did find craters, geologic processes and all kinds of complex and diverse features.

Overall it was a fun evening. If you ever have a chance to hear Dr. Lisle in person at one of his events, be sure not to miss out. It’ll be worthwhile.

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9 thoughts on “Around the Solar System with Jason Lisle

  1. Unfortunately, my old pal Jason provided you with some highly misleading information. I’ll start at the inner solar system, like he did, and work my way out.

    Mercury’s magnetic field is not decaying. The MESSENGER and Mariner 10 probes both measured similar magnetic field strength and shape. The two Mariner 10 probes were high-speed flybys which could only vary roughly determine magnetic field dipole moment and measured it to be within 136 and 360 nT/R^3; the MESSENGER probe data, from repeated tight orbits of the planet, narrowed this to a range of 185-205 nT/R^3.

    Nor did scientists expect Mercury’s core to be frozen. Mercury has a very highly eccentric orbit around the Sun, producing extreme tidal forces which flex the entire planet each orbit, generating more than enough heat for the observed constant dynamo-derived magnetic field.

    “Evolutionary beliefs” do not require that Venus rotates prograde. While off-center collisions during the planetary formation period may have robbed it of significant angular momentum, it is more likely that the planet’s dense atmosphere acted like a gigantic ocean, producing tidal forces on the planet which tugged its rotation to where it is now. This would require some sort of planetary alignment, though. Surprise: Venus presents the same face to Earth every orbit, demonstrating that Earth’s tidal forces forced its current rotation over billions of years. The fact that all planets orbit in the same direction is a requirement and confirmation of the nebular collapse hypothesis.

    Mars’ diffuse atmosphere is not the result of a planetary collision, but of the planet’s low escape velocity. It is much less massive than Earth, and as a result of this decreased gravity, the upper atmosphere receives enough solar heating that the lighter gas molecules gradually achieve escape velocity and are lost to outer space. Scientists predicted that water found on Mars would have an unusually high concentration of heavy hydrogen because water molecules with ordinary hydrogen would have been lost first. Sure enough, the landers have shown that Martian water has lost most of its ordinary hydrogen, a process which would have taken billions of years.

    It is correct that Mars once had a magnetic field but now does not. This, however, is not evidence for a young universe. A dynamo magnetic field can only be produced in a planet with a molten core, and Mars is the only planet with a core that has frozen solid, a process which must have taken…you guessed it…billions of years.

    Jupiter releases heat due to the Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism; as it slowly collapses, the hydrogen it comprises is compressed and heats up. This process can last for a terrifically long time; ironically, creationists once claimed that this was how the sun produced heat, before it was proven that the sun’s heat came from nuclear fusion.

    There is no reason why Saturn’s rings could not be substantially younger than the rest of the solar system. We do, however, witness the ongoing shepherding of these rings by Saturn’s moons, demonstrating that the process could preserve them for billions of years.

    The magnetic field of Uranus is not a dipole magnetic field, as “predicted” by Russell Humphreys’ “model”, but a combined quadrupole and octopole field resulting from upper mantle interactions.

    You may want to check what Lisle said about Pluto, because the initial claims were exactly the opposite. Creationists insisted that “evolutionists” should expect craters, but didn’t find any. Now apparently Lisle is saying that “evolutionists” didn’t expect craters but did find some. In any case, mainstream planetary geologists had a wide range of expectations, and the New Horizons flyby revealed both regions of active geologic activity and regions of high cratering, confirming those expectations.

    • David, thanks for your comments.

      I’ll have to disagree that Jason’s comments were misleading. As for Mercury, you claim that scientists didn’t expect its core to be frozen, but apparently S.R. Taylor did in “Destiny or chance: our solar system and its place in the cosmos” (p.163), 1998. So it’s misleading to deny this point.

      Mercury’s magnetic field is decaying, and to say otherwise defies logic. Everything runs down, including the sun, the earth’s magnetic field, and Jupiter’s heat. Here’s a secular article indicating that Mercury’s magnetic field was stronger in the past, and the only way that’s possible is if it’s decaying.

      http://www.techtimes.com/articles/51887/20150509/mercurys-magnetic-field-might-have-been-as-strong-as-earths-before-why-this-matters.htm

      It’s interesting that evolutionary explanations for why the planets behave the way they do require catastrophic events. Whether it’s an explanation for planetary rotation, a lack of atmosphere, or some other phenomena, planetary collisions are the norm. The evidence is dependent upon these rescue factors. Whether you consider it “more likely” that tidal forces forced Venus’s rotation, the creation model doesn’t require improbable events that cannot be substantiated.

      Of course Mars’ atmosphere can be explained by different secular models, depending upon which evolutionist you ask, and how creative they are. So if you reject a planetary collision that affected Mars’ atmosphere, then you’re still supporting Jason’s conclusion of some kind of catastrophic event. Other sources refer to volcanic eruptions, massive collisions and solar wind.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/space/10190424/The-search-for-the-lost-atmosphere-of-Mars.html

      I also find it interesting that you admit Mars has lost its magnetic field, even though you believe Mercury’s field isn’t decaying. Nonetheless, after billions of years, we shouldn’t be able to detect any magnetic field at all.

      Of course you believe Jupiter’s heat can last for a “terrifically long time” because that’s what is needed to maintain your belief system.

      All the secular explanations you proposed are speculation based on long age assumptions and not fact. As time continues we’ll see if any of these theories are substantiated. I’m looking forward to see if you’re proven correct or not.

      • I’m assuming that you haven’t actually read that passage in Taylor’s book, since you’re just quoting a citation you’ve seen in creationist literature. I wasn’t able to find that page online, but I do know that Taylor’s book preceded data from MESSENGER, so it’s hardly valid to cite it as an authority on Mercury.

        The data from MESSENGER used to evaluate the possibility of past changes in Mercury’s magnetic field were based on the hypothesis of impacts taking place over a long period of time. Each craters records the strength of the magnetic field when the impact took place. By citing this data, you’re admitting that this model is correct, which is impossible in a young universe.

        By the logic you advance, it is impossible for a pot of water to boil on the stove, because everything is “running down”. Mercury’s magnetic field is energized by tidal forcing due to its orbital interactions with the sun; thus it can remain constant while the specific orbital energy is gradually depleted. As regards Jupiter, you’re correct; when it formed, it was twice its current radius and produced dramatically more energy. Earth’s magnetic field is maintained partly by tidal forces due to the moon and partly by radiometric decay; both will run out eventually but that is far in the future.

        The article you cited suggested that when Mercury originally formed, its magnetic field could have been the same as it was now, or it could have been much larger. This is not the same as Humphrey’s claim that it has been decaying linearly for 6,000 years. This is far, far from that.

        “It’s interesting that evolutionary explanations for why the planets behave the way they do require catastrophic events.”

        Why is this “interesting”? Creationism is actually one of the most uniformitarian models imaginable, as it claims that all of geology was uniformly the result of a single global deluge. Mainstream geologists, on the other hand, accept the existence of many, many local catastrophes over time.

        Nor is the hypothesis of catastrophic impact to Mercury a mere assumption or a just-so story. Catastrophic impacts predict mascons. Guess what MESSENGER found? Mascons.

        “the creation model doesn’t require improbable events that cannot be substantiated”

        Except, you know…creation. And the global flood. And hyperevolution. And literally every other component of the creation model.

        Why didn’t you respond to my point about the Martian heavy-water ratio? That is a predicted smoking gun for deep time. You seem intent on ignoring all the confirmed predictions of mainstream science in pursuit of sectarian dogma.

    • I haven’t read the citation from Taylor’s book, although I did attempt to find it as well, but I have no reason to deny its validity. But the bigger question is, who gets to decide the validity of sources on Mercury? Is it only those sources in agreement with you?

      As for the data from MESSENGER, my point is that even some secular scientist admit Mercury’s magnetic field may have been stronger in the past. It’s not just a creationist thing. You may believe its field is not decaying, but there’s evidence that says otherwise. Here’s another secular source citing that Mercury’s magnetic field may have been 100 times more powerful in the past, and that computer models indicate Mercury’s core should have cooled and solidified long ago. All this substantiates Jason’s claims, regardless of secular assumptions.

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/mercury-s-magnetic-field-kicked-in-4b-years-ago-study-shows-1.3065578

      I think my logic regarding Mercury’s decaying magnetic field is spot on, and even your analogy with the boiling pot demonstrates this. Everything runs down. I pointed out examples in our own solar system for which you haven’t disputed (sun, earth, Jupiter). But somehow you want us to believe Mercury is an exception? By my logic, we could have a boiling pot of water, but by your logic, a boiling pot would boil forever. Keep in mind that at some point the water would be emptied, and eventually the stove would stop giving off energy, and we’d expect the same for Mercury over time.

      Nonetheless, I personally think if there’s some kind of dynamo or other effect keeping planets magnetized, I think that’s further evidence for God’s creative ingenuity and design, and less of a rescue agent for evolutionary long ages.

      The demand for planetary catastrophic events is interesting precisely because evolutionary assumptions deny a global catastrophic flood covering the earth which produced the major geologic features we see today. Creationism is anything but uniformitarian. Evolutionary appeals to many local catastrophes is closer to the realization that uniformitarian assumptions have failed. And I’m fairly certain if it weren’t for religious events recorded in the Bible, scientists would promote a global flood on earth because the evidence is so strong. But the scientific bias is so great that they cannot.

      I’m not sure how the prediction of mascons proves planetary collisions are responsible for anomalies in planet’s orbits, atmosphere or magnetism. Nobody is denying that impacts occur, which would result in mascons; we’re saying such collisions aren’t reasonable explanations for these assumed catastrophic changes. The success of mascon predictions doesn’t harm creation models, nor does it require long age assumptions. It tells us more about how people interpret data than it does about which cosmological model is correct. We expected there to be mascons on Mercury and other planets when they were discovered on the moon in 1968.

      • Sigh. I’m afraid it is hard to know where to start, simply because you’ve demonstrated a really glaring lack of understanding about…well, pretty much everything here. That’s not a personal attack; it’s just a fact. But unless you’re willing to accept the possibility that the information you’ve received from creationist apologists might be horribly, terribly, categorically wrong, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

        You claimed, based presumably on Jason’s lecture, that “evolutionists believe Mercury’s core should have been frozen solid long ago.” To start with, that’s wrong because “evolutionists” don’t exist, and evolutionary biologists don’t really make predictions about planetary geology (besides, who would listen to them if they did?). Citing a passage from a book you haven’t read is not a defense of this. While it is of course possible that some planetary geologists at some point might have expected a planet like Mercury to have a fully-solidified core, this would never have been a necessary prediction of any aspect of mainstream planetary formation models. Creationists like Jason seemingly want to suggest that any change or update to our understanding of the universe somehow calls the whole validity of the scientific enterprise into question. They, and their followers, need to be disabused of this preposterous notion.

        You say Jason asserted (in keeping with Humphreys’ categorically false claims) that we observe a decay in the magnetic field of Mercury, and that this decay is a problem for mainstream models. We do not observe a decay. The possibility that Mercury’s magnetic field could have been stronger in the past is a prediction of those very mainstream models, making this claim utterly vacuous and wholly misleading. It is quite true that without an external source of energy, an all-iron core the size of Mercury’s would have likely frozen by now; the fact that Mercury’s highly eccentric orbit provides just such an external source of energy in the form of tidal flexing seems lost on you. Literally everything Jason said (as far as you quoted) was wholly misleading.

        “my logic regarding Mercury’s decaying magnetic field is spot on”

        Mercury does not have a decaying magnetic field, so no.

        Your attempts to rescue Jason’s claims by creative rabbit-trail into the laws of thermodynamics are noble, I suppose, but ill-conceived. The energy to sustain Mercury’s magnetic field comes from tidal flexion, just like the energy to sustain the Earth’s magnetic field comes from radioactive decay and the energy to sustain Jupiter’s infrared emission comes from gravitational collapse and the energy to sustain the sun’s heat comes from its nuclear fusion reactor. Eventually, all of these run down, but their power outputs are not proportional to their remaining potential, so even though the source of energy is running down, we do not expect the power output to decay linearly. And none of this has any chance of rescuing Jason’s assertions.

        “if there’s some kind of dynamo or other effect keeping planets magnetized, I think that’s further evidence for God’s creative ingenuity and design, and less of a rescue agent for evolutionary long ages.”

        First off, you clearly don’t know what a magnetic field is, because planets are not “magnetized”. Second, why would God need the magnetic fields of planets apart from Earth to maintain their strength? There’s no life to be shielded. Finally, there are no such things as “evolutionary long ages”. Christian geologists recognized that rock layers were utterly inconsistent with a single recent global flood, and they recognized this long before Darwin was even born. Deep time is not a conseq

      • (continued:)

        …consequence of the theory of evolution.

        You should also realize that if mainstream astrophysicists were able to simply make things up, they could easily propose a recent origin for planetary magnetic fields (such as some sort of yet-unobserved solar magnetic flare). They arrived at the dynamo model because that is where the evidence led.

        “demand for planetary catastrophic events is interesting precisely because evolutionary assumptions deny a global catastrophic flood covering the earth. Creationism is anything but uniformitarian. Evolutionary appeals to many local catastrophes is closer to the realization that uniformitarian assumptions have failed.”

        The creationist flood model is wholly uniformitarian. A global flood of the sort described by creationists (assuming it had a mechanism, which it in fact does not) would cover the entire planet in a uniform bed of randomly-mixed mud without pattern, layering, or any of the other intricate details we observe. Proponents of flood geology must continually propose new mini-mechanisms by which the flood deviated from this uniformity.

        In contrast, the “uniformitarian assumptions” you talk about never existed. What you’re thinking of is called “gradualism”, a discredited notion which was never accepted by mainstream geologists. The model actually accepted by geologists is the theory that cycles of deposition and erosion across deep time have been punctuated by consistent catastrophes. This was the whole model from the very beginnings of modern geology; there was never any “crisis” or “failure” of uniformitarianism. It was, in fact, the observation of angular unconformities which originally unseated the notion of a single uniform flood.

        “if it weren’t for religious events recorded in the Bible, scientists would promote a global flood on earth because the evidence is so strong. But the scientific bias is so great that they cannot.”

        That may be the most ridiculously nonsensical hogtripe I have ever heard.

        If this was the case, why did Christian geologists abandon the uniform-flood model in the first place?

        “I’m not sure how the prediction of mascons proves planetary collisions are responsible for anomalies in planet’s orbits, atmosphere or magnetism…we’re saying such collisions aren’t reasonable explanations for these assumed catastrophic changes.”

        Where are the peer-reviewed scientific publications demonstrating that collision events do not provide sufficient mechanism for the “anomalies” you’re claiming?

        If there aren’t any, then this is just a made-up fantasy. Claims made without evidence may be dismissed in like manner.

      • P.S. One thing I missed earlier — you said that if planets do have dynamo magnetic fields, this is “evidence for God’s creative ingenuity and design”. So…if planets like Mars no longer have any magnetic field, this is evidence against God’s creative ingenuity and design? If only half the terrestrial planets managed to hang on to their magnetic fields, that’s not a particularly reliable design.

    • Well David, it does come across as a personal attack, but I’m used to that. It comes with the territory.

      When I used the term “evolutionist,” I’m using that term to describe scientists who believes a secular cosmology and history. It’s easier to use that term than say, “Secular scientists that believe in billions of years.” Or such. Evolutionists inherently believe in the secular history of the universe, so the term applies in a broad sense to describe those that believe what you believe. But I think you probably understood this without me having to explain it. Scientists routinely refer to the evolutionary cosmology of the universe, so don’t act so indignant and confused by the term evolutionist.

      I think Jason’s point was that secular beliefs about Mercury (or any other planet or moon) was conjecture, and any apparent contradiction demonstrates the uncertain nature of science and its inability to ascertain the truth with complete accuracy. This means we’re under no obligation to accept conclusions that must be accepted by faith. We’re free to propose and accept alternative explanations for the available evidence. He was not calling into question the validity of science.

      Yes, Jason does assert Mercury’s magnetic field is decaying, despite your insistence that it’s not. If you take issue with Jason’s claims, then I suggest you engage him personally.

      And you clearly missed my point when you deflected it with scorn. Yes, I do know what a magnetic field is. I’m sorry that I didn’t take the time to proof read every sentence, but you can be a little less smug. How about you exert a little less ego and stop acting like your beliefs are infallible. I don’t know why God created planets with magnetic fields, but clearly he did so. Maybe he thought of something we humans weren’t smart enough to think of. Maybe it was part of his creative ingenuity and invisible qualities (Romans 1:20).

      Mainstream astrophysicists arrived at the dynamo theory to explain the existence of the magnetic field.

      Call it nonsensical hogtripe if you wish, but there’s overwhelming evidence for a global flood on earth. You just refuse to acknowledge any type of bias.

      Coming up with computer models that give you the answers you want is not evidence that planetary collisions could account for our current observation of planets.

      • It’s unfortunate you feel you are being personally attacked. I know from personal experience how much it can impede getting a good look at evidence.

        Obviously, I wasn’t confused by your use of “evolutionists”, but it’s also unfortunate that you want to keep engineering this false dichotomy between “secular history” and your beliefs. Secular history is not a thing.

        “Jason does assert Mercury’s magnetic field is decaying, despite your insistence that it’s not. If you take issue with Jason’s claims, then I suggest you engage him personally.”

        That’s called an appeal to authority. I have known Jason personally for many years. I also happen to know that when he claims Mercury’s magnetic field is decaying, he is citing a specific paper by Russell Humphreys which makes this claim. I also know that this specific paper is incorrect, because the very data cited by Humphreys shows no strength change between Mariner 10 and MESSENGER. So no, its magnetic field is not decaying.

        “How about you exert a little less ego and stop acting like your beliefs are infallible. I don’t know why God created planets with magnetic fields, but clearly he did so.”

        I’m sorry, but this is an ad hominem argument. You’re also subtly affirming the consequent there.

        You claimed that planetary magnetic dynamos, if they exist, would be evidence that God set everything up to last a long time. But this implies that if certain planets had dynamos which ground to a halt eons ago, God DIDN’T set it up to last a long time. I’m just pointing out that you can’t have it both ways.

        I questioned whether you are familiar with how planetary magnetic fields work because you referred to planets being “magnetized” which suggests a very inaccurate view of magnetic fields. Wasn’t trying to be condescending; I have a degree in physics but I had to study magnetic fields extensively and re-learn quite a bit of my E&M stuff (even to the point of writing my old college professor and asking him to walk me through it) before I was able to pick out the flaws in Humphreys’ paper. It’s not very intuitive stuff.

        “Coming up with computer models that give you the answers you want is not evidence that planetary collisions could account for our current observation of planets.”

        Actually, it is. It’s very good evidence that they could account for observations. It’s not evidence that they did, though, which is perhaps what you meant.

        In order to get evidence that they did, we’d need to make testable predictions based on the collision models. Of course, we did. And they were tested and found accurate.

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