Solving Moon Origin Unsolves the Last Solution
The moon’s origin has been “demystified,” scientists are claiming. That’s what they said last time.
Headlines are floating around that the moon’s origin has been solved:
- Puzzle of moon’s origin resolved (Nature)
- Flying Oceans of Magma Help Demystify the Moon’s Creation (National Geographic)
- Multiple studies address riddles of the Moon’s origin (BBC News)
Astrobiology Magazine tells what the hubbub is all about. This “new view of the moon’s formation” fixes the old view of the moon’s formation with a model tweak. Someone turned up the power to get a better fit:
For almost 30 years, planetary scientists have been quite happy with this [impact] explanation–with one major exception. Although this scenario makes sense when you look at the size of the moon and the physics of its orbit around Earth, things start to break down a little when you compare their isotopic compositions–the geological equivalent of a DNA “fingerprint.” Specifically, Earth and the moon are too much alike.
The expectation has long been that the moon should carry the isotopic “fingerprint” of the foreign body, which scientists have named Theia. Because Theia came from elsewhere in the solar system, it probably had a much different isotopic fingerprint than early Earth.
Now, a team of scientists at the University of Maryland has generated a new isotopic fingerprint of the moon that could provide the missing piece of the puzzle. By zeroing in on an isotope of Tungsten present in both the moon and Earth, the UMD team is the first to reconcile the accepted model of the moon’s formation with the unexpectedly similar isotopic fingerprints of both bodies. The results suggest that the impact of Theia into early Earth was so violent, the resulting debris cloud mixed thoroughly before settling down and forming the moon.
So is this scientific progress, or a theory rescue device? They seem to have forgotten Bloch’s Law: “Every solution breeds new problems.” Now they’re going to have to consider the ramifications of an extremely violent impact. They have also just undermined the confidence that the media expressed the last time a solution was proposed. How long till this model suffers a similar fate?
Nobody saw the formation of the moon (except God, who told us he made the lesser light to rule the night). Secular scientists who dismiss such testimony rely on secular models (i.e., simulations, scenarios, stories) that are based on their materialist assumptions. Putting more punch into Theia may answer some questions, but raises others, like what was Theia, and where did it come from? It’s entertaining that they have given a name to an unknown object that “came from elsewhere” somehow. Where did that come from, and how did it form? Someone else will have to “model” that.
It also largely rules out the idea that the Mars-sized body was of similar composition, or that the moon formed from material contained in the pre-impact Earth. In both cases, it would be highly unlikely to see such a perfect correlation between Tungsten-182 and the amounts of material gathered by the moon and Earth post-impact.
“This result brings us one step closer to understanding the close familial relationship between Earth and the moon,” Walker said. “We still need to work out the details, but it’s clear that our early solar system was a very violent place.”
Another question the proposal raises is the fine-tuning of the solution. This game of solar billiards requires a shot so accurate in both direction and energy, it leaves behind a habitable planet in the habitable zone with a fairly circular orbit that keeps it within the habitable zone, while simultaneously supplying a large enough moon (at the right distance) able to regulate the earth’s tides and stabilize its orbit. Out of violence, does peace come? Does this explain romantic love on a moonlit night in a rose garden?
A philosophical gadfly might well ask whether such an improbable set of material conditions improves on the God hypothesis.
Whether this new proposal will keep the planetary scientists “quite happy” for a few more years matters little. Science is not about happiness, but truth and logical consistency. No one is so ignorant as the one on a dead end who thinks he is getting “one step closer” to the truth.
Tungsten-182 does not exist in a philosophical vacuum. It exists in an interpretive context. When your context is to explain everything without reference to design, it becomes a piece to the wrong puzzle. You can force it to fit, and call it a good fit, but there are an infinite number of other puzzles it will also fit.
We trust our readers are learning how to ask probing questions and not accept journalistic chutzpah as a substitute for unbiased, logical reasoning. Often that means stepping away from the celebration, sweeping away the bluffing fluff, and being willing to stand alone, acting as the unwelcome party pooper. Scientists forget that they need critics, not parties.