July 15, 2019 | Jerry Bergman

Why Did God Create Jupiter?

Some Evolutionists Explain Our Solar System’s Unique Arrangement by Mimicking Velikovsky’s Ideas

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

A cover story in New Scientist on May 25 discusses the Juno spacecraft, an “audacious mission circling Jupiter’s poles” that arrived in 2016 and is schedule to orbit Jupiter until 2021. In this article, writers Leah Crane and Richard Webb give a remarkable role to the largest planet that has worked out for our benefit. They state that Jupiter is “the biggest and perhaps most important planet in the solar system…. And might even ultimately be responsible for life on the earth.[1] To understand why, we must look at the solar system as a functioning unit, and not as a haphazard grouping of planets independently operating separately. The study of the solar system as a system has increasingly supported the conclusion that life is not about just being in the “habitable zone,” but is intricately connected with the arrangement of all the other planets.

The most well-documented example of interdependence is the research indicating that our moon is required for life on Earth. There are many reasons for this. For example—unlike at Venus and Mars, which both lack a large moon—our moon’s gravitational influence helps to ensure that Earth’s spin axis is stable at an inclination of 23.5 degrees with respect to the plane of its orbit. This results in seasons. As a result, our climate variations have remained very modest throughout Earth’s history. Stabilization of the Earth’s rotation on its axis by the moon allows for a far more stable, life-friendly climate. The Earth’s tilt, called its obliquity, has not varied by much more than a few degrees for most of Earth’s recent history. Obliquity stability is necessary for climate stability, thus for human life.[2]

In 1994, Jupiter disrupted Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and then absorbed the impacts of all 23 fragments, which would have devastated Earth.

Jupiter as a Protective Shield

One theory is Jupiter, as is believed true of all of the planets, especially Saturn, Neptune and Uranus, helps to protect the Earth from damage caused by asteroids, meteorites and comets. Astrobiologist Kevin Grazier disputes this notion. “It has been widely reported that Jupiter has a profound role in shielding the terrestrial planets from comet impacts in the solar system, ….(a phenomenon often referred to as the ‘Jupiter as shield’ concept).”[3] Grazier’s own computer simulation has challenged this common assumption, but has noted another reason for Jupiter’s importance to Earth. He simulated the behavior of

10,000 particles in each of the jovian inter-planet gaps for the cases of full-mass and embryo planets for up to 100 My. The results of these simulations predict a number of phenomena that not only discount the “Jupiter as shield” concept, they also predict that in a Solar System like ours, large gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter had a different, and potentially even more important, roledelivering the volatile-laden material required for the formation of life.[4]

Simulation studies are problematic because they make many assumptions when designing the study, such as the need to consider all relevant conditions in the simulation that could influence the outcome.

Although Webb and Crane in the New Scientist article do not mention the theory that Jupiter protects Earth from impacts, they agree with Grazier that the planet may have been responsible for sending water to the Earth.[5] The Earth is known as the water planet because it contains far more liquid water than any other planet in our solar system. Nonetheless, many observers still prefer the shield theory for many reasons. One study of the planets finds that, although asteroids, meteorites and comets regularly crash into most of the planets, comparatively few large objects have struck the Earth since its creation. The ‘Jupiter as shield’ explanation argues that most objects that would otherwise strike the Earth are pulled away from the path that allows them to reach the Earth, deflecting meteorites and other large objects.[6]

As Crane and Webb correctly note, Jupiter is enormous, 140,000 kilometers across, or close to 11 times Earth’s diameter. It is not only the largest planet in our solar system, but, they claim, may even be one of the largest planets in the known universe that is very distant from its star. Although most extrasolar planets discovered so far tend to be gas giants, they are located very close to their star, unlike Jupiter. We must keep in mind that we have only explored a few planets around a few nearby stars, not the entire universe.[7] Furthermore, if the “Jupiter as shield” theory is correct, some of Jupiter’s 79 satellites contribute to the effect. One of them is larger than the planet Mercury (Ganymede) and two others,  larger than the Earth’s moon (Callisto and Io). As a result, even more objects are deflected or absorbed, causing them to miss colliding with the Earth.

Additionally, if the “Jupiter as shield” theory is valid, the entire massive set of bodies in the outer solar system plays a significant role in protecting the Earth. This supports Webb and Crane’s observation that Jupiter’s “origin and early history are of huge significance not just for understanding it, but also for the wider history of the solar system.[8] The moon’s surface area is only seven percent of the Earth’s surface area, and its effect is not as large as Jupiter’s, but because it is much closer to the Earth, its effect is not, by any means, insignificant.[9]

In short, if the shield theory is valid, the Earth is protected from meteorites, asteroids and comets by all of the five planets on the Earth’s far side (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune), plus the over 100  moons circling these planets, as well as the two planets on the side of the Earth facing the Sun (Mercury and Venus).  The charting of the orbits of the planets for decades, indicates that the Earth is in a protected zone, reducing enormously the number of potential extraterrestrial collisions.

Sun and planet sizes to scale. Jupiter outweighs all the other planets combined. Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Crane and Webb Had to Mention the Church’s “Persecution” of Galileo

When discussing astronomy, it seems mandatory to mention the persecution of Galileo. The New Scientist article is no exception. They write when Galileo “discovered four moons circling Jupiter… they were the first bodies conclusively shown to be orbiting a planet other than Earth. That … helped get Galileo into a lot of trouble with the religious authorities of his day.[10]

Read our biography of Galileo for more facts about the “Galileo affair.”

The “Galileo affair,” allegedly perpetrated by the Catholic Church, may not only be the most quoted example of “persecution” of science by religion, but one of the most misunderstood events in history. University of New Mexico History of science professor Timothy Moy correctly observed that

Unfortunately, Galileo’s trouble with the Church later became a popular archetype for the historical relationship between science and religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. For most of the medieval and Renaissance periods, and even stretching into the eighteenth century Enlightenment, the primary supporter of research and teaching in the sciences was the Roman Catholic Church…. the Church, in the aftermath of the Galileo affair, continued to promote research into evidence for heliocentrism, even to the point of turning entire cathedrals into giant pin-hole cameras to measure the apparent diameter of the solar disk at various times of the year.[11]

Galileo’s main problem, what Professor Santilana called his “fatal mistake,” was his “rash indiscretion, his insistence on throwing open to the common people, by writing in the vernacular, a question which was far from being settled.”[12] This year another book was published on this topic, this time by Fulbright scholar Dr. Michael Keas (PhD in the history of science from the University of Oklahoma). In chapter 5 of Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion, Keas quotes claims of persecution by leading atheists, showing their claims irresponsibly repeat common beliefs that do not comport with history.[13]

Yet, in spite of numerous scholarly studies completed by leading scholars and science historians, the myth of Galileo persists, as is illustrated by the misleading claim in New Scientist quoted above.[14] To many, watching the transit of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter across Jupiter’s surface with a telescope is a very lovely sight to scientists and religious people alike. Such evidence first witnessed by Galileo does not threaten their faith. The transit of Venus, a much rarer event, is both delightful and scientifically informative.[15]

The Solar System Designed for Life on Earth

The existing design of the solar system, with rocky planets near the sun and gas giants far away, is ideal for life to thrive on Earth. As far as is known, it is unique anywhere else in the universe. Thus, the Earth appears to occupy a privileged place in the solar system and, as far as known, in the universe as well.[16] The question is, how did it get that way? In attempting to account for the origin of Jupiter and the other planets, Crane and Webb, excluding intelligent design, decided the “only way we can explain the size and disruption of the planets as they now are is if they formed somewhere else and migrated to their current positions. To move whole worlds around you need something to give them a gravitational shove.”[17] This something, they conclude, could only have been the other planets.

The Ghost of Velikovsky Returns

Although Crane and Webb do not mention him for good reasons, they presented an idea eerily similar to one of the most derided theories in astronomy— that proposed by Immanuel Velikovsky.[18] Velikovsky’s most well-known book Worlds in Collision was first published in 1950. The book postulates that around the 15th century B.C., the modern planet Venus was ejected from Jupiter and passed near the Earth, ending up where it is today. On its trip to where it is today, Venus altered Earth’s orbit and axis, causing innumerable catastrophes. The details of Crane and Webb’s theory are very different than Velikovsky’s account, of course, but the basic idea is similar. It invokes “Jupiter’s gravitational bulldozing” planets into different positions from where they formed. They call this idea astronomers’ “best guess” for how the planets moved around, producing the solar system existing today.

Velikovsky’s idea of the solar system’s formation was treated so poorly in the 1950s and 1960s that the leading American science organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, agreed to hold a session on Worlds in Collision, in which Velikovsky was able to take part.[19] Nonetheless, most all of the papers presented at the session were very negative towards his catastrophic views. Velikovsky’s work is frequently cited as a canonical example of pseudoscience.[20] Yet, a team of leading cosmologists at a conference in Nice, France proposed a catastrophic theory of planet formation that is now widely accepted, including drastic rearrangements of planets that led to our present solar system. It reminds one of Velikovsky’s basic theory![21] What goes around comes around.

Conclusions

The Galileo mission (1989-2003) orbited Jupiter and sent a probe into the atmosphere, but raised even more questions.

The main findings of the space probes Pioneer 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2, which gave scientists their first looks at the outer solar system, is that the more we learn about the universe, the more we realize “we are learning a lot about Jupiter … but it’s raising even more questions … [and showing there are] real mysteries still to be revealed….” This is a common reaction in most areas of science, especially astronomy where most of what scientists do is observe and discover, not run repeatable lab experiments like biochemists can. It is becoming clearer as research progresses that the intelligent design explanation, accepted for most of Western history, fits the facts better than the problematic materialistic explanations, which depend on luck.

References

[1] Leah Crane and Richard Webb. 2019. “Hey, Big Splendour!” New Scientist. 242(3231):34-38, May 25-31. The online version was titled “By Jupiter! How the solar system’s giant made Earth ripe for life.”

[2] Ward, Peter and Donald Browenlee. 2000. Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. New York, NY: Copernicus Books.

[3] Grazier, Kevin R. 2016. Jupiter: Cosmic Jekyll and Hyde. Astrobiology  16(1):1-20. January.

[4] Grazier, 2016. Abstract. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ast.2015.1321.

[5] Crane and Webb, 2019, p. 37.

[6] DeYoung, Don and John Whitcomb. 2003. Our Created Moon: Earth’s Fascinating Neighbor. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 82.

[7] Crane and Webb, 2019, p. 35.

[8] Crane and Webb, 2019, p. 36.

[9] Gonzalez, Guillermo and Jay Richards. 2004. The Privileged Planet. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, p. 115.

[10]  Crane and Webb, 2019, p. 35.

[11]  Moy, Timothy. 2001. “Science, Religion, and the Galileo Affair” Skeptical Inquirer. 25(5):43-49, p. 45.

[12] Santillana, Giorgie de. 1955. The Crime of Galileo. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press,  p. 18.

[13] Keas, Michael. 2019. Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion. Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Chapter 5 Gagging Galileo.

[14] Ronald Numbers (Editor). 2009. Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion. Cambridge,   MA: Harvard University Press. Myth 8, pp. 68-78.

[15] Lomb, Nick. 2011. Transit of Venus. 1631 to the Present. New York, NY: The Experiment, pp. 46-47.

[16]  Gonzalez and Richards, 2004.

[17] Crane and Webb, 2019, p. 36.

[18] Bergman, Jerry. 2014. “Immanuel Velikovsky and the Worlds in Collision.” Investigator. No. 154, pp. 41-45, 25. January.

[19] Sagan, Carl. 1977. “An Analysis of Worlds in Collision” in Scientists Confront Velikovsky, Ed. by Donald Goldsmith. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

[20] Gordin, Michael. 2012. The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

[21] Crane and Webb, 2019, p. 37.



Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology at several colleges and universities including for over 40 years at Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored, are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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