October 23, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Lunar Tunes: Dreaming for Theory Rescue

Oh what a tangled web they weave when they assume things have to be billions of years old to give Darwin time to evolve life by accident.

The Earth has a magnetic field that protects us from the ravages of space. To creationists, it cannot be that old, because it is decaying rapidly. That is a conclusion based on 140 years of observations. Without a source of energy, it will not get stronger. Evolutionists, though, who are committed to billions of years, have developed elaborate theories to maintain magnetic fields for long ages so that life could evolve slowly and gradually. The “dynamo” theory is the most popular idea.

Among the challenges facing evolutionists is a serious one of their own making. Their dynamo models expect the early earth’s magnetic field was too weak to protect our planet when life was trying to get a start. Simultaneously, the “faint young sun” was also more active, blasting the early Earth with excess radiation. At The Conversation, Jon Mound and Christopher Davies at the University of Leeds explain,

The habitability of a planet depends on many factors. One is the existence of a strong and long-lived magnetic field. These fields are generated thousands of kilometres below the planet’s surface in its liquid core and extend far into space – shielding the atmosphere from harmful solar radiation.

Without a strong magnetic field, a planet struggles to hang on to a breathable atmosphere – which is bad news for life as we know it. A new study, published in Science Advances, suggests that the Moon’s now extinct magnetic field may have helped protect our planet’s atmosphere as life was forming around 4 billion years ago.

The Moon and Mars have lost their magnetism; consequently, the Moon has only negligible gas around it and Mars has a very thin atmosphere, 1% of Earth’s. The sun’s barrage of solar wind strips away atmospheres over time. This is happening on Titan, at Saturn’s distance. Without a protected atmosphere today, it would indeed be “bad news” for life. Ask Mars all about it. The Maven mission provided estimates about how much of that planet’s atmosphere was lost to space.

The Maven team estimates that the amount of oxygen lost from the Martian atmosphere throughout its history is equivalent to that contained in a global layer of water, 23 metres thick.

That figure depends on assumptions of starting values and long ages. While they appeal to observations about present-day escape rates and magnetization levels, the models are all based on circular reasoning. They assume billions of years, and then rescue their theories when their assumptions run into problems. Why did the Moon start out with a stronger field than the Earth? Why was the sun faint when it was young? How did everything turn out just right for the arrival of intelligent, complex beings like us? This sounds like special pleading.

Nevertheless, loss rates measured at the current time are scary. When an atmosphere like that is lost, it is never coming back.

Bow shock (blue) with Van Allen Belts inside (pink).

Update: The harshness of space (10/23/20): That red Tesla Roadster with a mannequin driver that Elon Musk launched as a stunt last year is most likely having a hard time in the space environment without the Earth’s magnetic field to protect it. Live Science reported on March 20,

At this point, if you were to go look at the Roadster, it probably would look pretty different. As Live Science reported in 2018, the harsh solar radiation environment between the planets would probably have wrecked all the exposed organic materials (red paint, rubber tires, leather seats and the like), breaking the carbon bonds that hold them together. And without Earth’s protective atmosphere and magnetic shielding, even the robust plastics in the windshield and carbon fiber materials would start to disintegrate. Over the course of decades or centuries, the car should be reduced to its aluminum frame and sturdiest glass parts — assuming none of them get destroyed in impacts with passing space rocks.

Imagination to the Rescue

Meanwhile, back on the early Earth, how can evolutionists rescue habitability for life? To incubate the building blocks of life as they were trying to organize and evolve, Earth needed more magnetism billions of years ago. The new idea, published by Green et al. in Science Advances on October 14, is that the Moon was closer to Earth in the past and shared some of its magnetism with its bigger buddy.

The existence of the process modeled here means that there was an epoch of early Earth-Moon history, during which the combined magnetospheres protected primordial volatiles on these two worlds from being stripped away by the solar wind, and this epoch coincides with the era of the “faint young sun.” Previous work from modeling and simulations along with observations of younger sun-like stars indicate that during times of the faint young sun, the space weather of the solar system was much more extreme, with many more frequent coronal mass ejections that carried 10 to 100 times more solar mass than the solar wind is capable of ejecting in a given time. The age relationships shown on Fig. 1 indicate that the epoch of Earth-Moon coupled magnetospheres lasted for hundreds of millions of years, from ~4.1 to ~3.5 Ga ago. Our modeling shows that the joined magnetospheres can protect even against this more active early Sun and provides a more realistic explanation of the results from Ozima et al. [i.e., that some of the Moon’s nitrogen may have come from Earth’s atmosphere than from the solar wind.]

How the Moon got that magnetism, and why its massive tides did not wipe out life, is a problem for someone else to figure out. Davies & Mound are relieved to have a story to tell, though. “Life on Earth: why we may have the Moon’s now defunct magnetic field to thank for it.”

Yes, go bow down and howl at the moon, if you must. The rest of us will thank the Lord.

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18)

illustration courtesy Santa Clarita Magazine

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