Young Lava Conflicts with Lunar Age
The Japanese found what the Americans and Russians didn’t: young lava on the far side of the moon. “Volcanoes shook up the far side of the moon for far longer than scientists thought,” reported National Geographic News on photos from the Japanese Kaguya (Selene) spacecraft (11/15/2007).
Crater-count dating estimates the lava flows at 2.5 million years – far younger than the ancient times when volcanism was supposed to have stopped. “Until recently, the prevailing belief was that lunar volcanism started soon after the moon formed, about 4.5 billion years ago, and ended about 3 billion years ago.” Volcanism was supposed to have stopped earlier on the far side of the moon than the near side.
A member of the team said, “The finding will lead the scientific community to reconsider the early geology of the moon.” Volcanism will have to be considered as a recurrent feature over a much longer period. “The thermal history of the moon is certainly more complex than originally thought,” another commented.
A scientist from the Lunar and Planetary Institute said that crater-count dating is generally reliable (but see 10/20/2005, 06/08/2006, and 03/25/2008; also 05/14/2003). “But without samples to constrain the calculations,” he admitted, “they are just estimates.” Others rejoiced that a feast of new quality data is coming from our nearest celestial neighbor after a “data famine” for decades.
Update 11/14/2008: A reader pointed out that a similar article on Space.com says 2.5 billion, not 2.5 million. Assuming 2.5 billion is the intended estimate, the original commentary below has been rewritten. The major point, however, stands: features are much younger than previously thought.
It’s important to understand the significance of reports that show features much younger than expected. Evolutionists and old-earth creationists (OEC) are quick to retort that the data “still” show the earth to be far older than Biblical estimates. Granted; young-earthers cannot, and do not, claim that things like the younger moon lavas prove the moon is young in the range of 10,000 years. Is this a stand-off, then, where both sides have problems? No: it opens up new questions we should be asking.
What the astronomers and OECs fail to notice is that dates as young as even 100 million years cause the whole evolutionary yarn to unravel. Creation does not require 6,000 years – many Bible-believers have learned to be comfortable with billions – but evolution absolutely requires vast ages. If it becomes evident that the earth, the moon, and the solar system cannot be as old as claimed (notice this says cannot be as old rather than is younger), then evolution is dead. The dating methods that evolutionists have relied on are also dead. Dead, also, are the props that support the OEC comfort zone.
To visualize how serious this is, imagine a rope 45 feet long that represents the assumed age of the solar system (4.5 billion years). How long is 2.5 billion years, the estimated dates of the lavas on the lunar far side? Half of that length. Do the believers in vast ages really expect us to believe that a solid body like the moon, which should have cooled to inactivity long ago, was erupting that recently? The problem is exacerbated by orders of magnitude when considering that other reliable reports have found evidence the moon is still active today (08/28/2007 bullet 6, 08/04/2007 bullet 1, 07/12/2007 bullet 5, and especially 11/09/2006).
As we have stated before, it is easier to set upper limits than lower limits when dealing with ages. To set an upper limit, you can look at a known process and extrapolate it back in time a reasonable amount. You can take the known rate of mass loss on a comet, for instance, and calculate how long it would take to disappear. The comet could be a lot younger – but you would be reasonably confident it could not be much older. How can anyone set a lower limit? It would require knowing all the possible histories for a phenomenon – something humans can never know. It used to be commonly assumed, for example, that the formation of giant planets required millions of years. This was touted as refuting young-earth beliefs. Then, lo and behold, other scientists postulated that giant planets could form in a few hundred years (05/07/2001, 05/16/2003, 03/21/2006). In any case, setting upper limits is more scientifically justifiable, because the observation to assumption ratio is lower (05/14/2003). It avoids the “reckless drafts on the bank of time” that annoyed Lord Kelvin (07/02/2007).
If the moon lavas were an isolated instance, perhaps the old-earthers could come up with a rescuing device. They could suggest there was more initial radioactivity in the core than previously thought. But the solar system is filled with phenomena that call the consensus date into serious question (e.g., 07/31/2008, 06/19/2008, 05/21/2008, 05/05/2008, 02/15/2008). If the age of the moon were significantly reduced, even if just by half, it would ripple like dominoes throughout geology, planetary science and biology. The evolutionary edifice at the end would topple over. It would sweep the field clear of naturalistic, evolutionary explanations. It would require a serious look at creation.