"To contemplate the universe is to stand even more abashed. For some how, at sometime, all that we see and touch and hear must have emerged from nothing."

- Sir Theodore Fox



Where did the earth come from?
1) according to secularism


For this is what the Lord says, he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited;

- Isaiah 45:18 NASB

"There is a coherent plan in the universe, though I don't know what it's a plan for."

- Fred Hoyle


9.1 How do planets form?

The scientific models for planet formation have by no means been proven by actually observing a planet come together. The models have been assembled through the observations of our sun and the various bodies in orbit around it. Added to these have been computer models, satellite data, observations made of other stars, nebulae, and elements outside of our own planetary system. Although there is general agreement on the basics of planet formation, theories range widely on details, estimates of the amount of time involved, and on estimates of our planet's age.

According to the Bible, God formed this planet and everything on it. The Bible does not just state this, it describes a specific order of events which God orchestrated to result in today's earth. This biblical account is what we will compare with modern scientific observations. The biblical account, 3,400 years old, was written by Moses who claims it was given to him by God. If Moses' account is identical with modern observations, and if those observations are indeed correct, it corroborates Moses' claim to have had access to a reliable source - the Creator himself.

The scientific details of planet formation will be examined first. Then the biblical version will follow with point by point and verse by verse comparison. Lastly, the more difficult question of the earth's age will be addressed.

Most scientists on the secular side of the field, right or wrong, generally state the following events as having resulted in our planet:

9.2 The secular scenario:


The beginning of the universe produced immeasurable amounts of hydrogen. The second most common element produced was oxygen, followed by trace amounts of other elements. The dispersion of this matter into the cosmos was not uniform and so, by gravity and magnetic attraction, individual particles began to be drawn together into nebulae (meaning vapor or clouds). These clouds sometimes appear red because of nearby stars that illuminate their massive hydrogen content. In actuality, cosmic clouds of particles are dark because they generate no light and are more often seen by the light they mask out.

This masking effect is most dramatically illustrated in the impressive Hale Observatory photo of the Horsehead Nebula. The dark silhouette in the shape of a horse's head is a cloud of gases and dust many light years in diameter that blocks out the light of the stars beyond it. Our star began as a similar dark cloud of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, sulfur, and other elements. The cloud may have been as much or more than two light years in diameter (as suggested by the remnant spherical reservoir of comets left around our solar system 1).

While the majority of the nebula's mass was collecting in its center to form the sun, other large bodies or planetesimals were simultaneously forming farther out. The entire solar system was being born in this sort of embryonic fluid of hydrogen, oxygen and other particulate matter.

Many researchers believe that the asteroid belt is a fossilized remnant of our own long-gone planetesimal population. In the belt, growth processes apparently were halted by the gravitational disturbances of nearby Jupiter. The existence of the asteroid belt supports the general theory of dust-grain accretion. The terrestrial planets, such as Earth and Mars, probably grew to their present size by this process. 2


One day, fusion finally ignited in the sun:

Stars and their accompanying planets are born in the gravitational collapse of a cloud of interstellar gas and dust. The collision of the gas molecules in the interior of the cloud heats it, eventually to the point where hydrogen begins to fuse into helium;... The star has turned on. The gravitational collapse of the prestellar cloud has been halted. The weight of the outer layers of the star are now supported by the high temperatures and pressure generated in the interior nuclear reactions. 3

The introduction of this incredible heat source abruptly dispersed the hydrogen, water, and light elements of our embryonic cloud:

Once the sun began to shine, the lightest atoms, moving the most rapidly, escaped from the vicinity of the four closest protoplanets (planets in formation). The four giant planets, on the other hand, managed to retain large quantities, if not all, of their original hydrogen and helium... The Earth's primitive atmosphere - the hydrogen and helium gases that once formed most of the local agglomeration - escaped as the sun began to shine. 4


By this time, the newly formed solar system had acquired rotation because of the contraction of the nebula and by what is known as the conservation of angular momentum. The earth was not yet habitable because radioactive elements such as potassium and uranium gave off great amounts of heat while decaying into other elements.

Initially, our planet was a molten spheroidal mass with surface temperatures in excess of 80000C... As the earth cooled, a solid crust formed and the gases that had been dissolved in the molten rock were gradually released, a process called degassing... The principal components of this 'new' atmosphere were probably water vapor, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. 5 [emphasis mine]

The degassing of the earth was likely being expedited by countless volcanoes which, as David Attenborough points out,

often produces eruptions not of lava but of scalding water and steam... The seas, which had condensed from clouds of steam that surrounded this new planet, were still hot and water was gushing into them from volcanic sources deep in the crust. 6 [emphasis mine]

Thus, both a new atmosphere and the world's oceans were simultaneously born. The relatively smooth young earth became completely covered with water to a general depth of about two miles.7

It was not until later when tectonic motion would create enough ridges and fissures for the water to recede to today's condition of covering only two-thirds of the earth's surface; in some places more than seven miles deep.


When the cooling of the earth had hardened the outer crust, this thin shell was now essentially floating atop the still molten interior of the planet. Pressure and stress began to build up between the hot interior and the stationary, cooler, outer crust. The result was the fracture of the brittle crust into shifting plates - each thousands of miles wide. The slow, constant shifting of these plates transformed the relatively smoother character of the young earth into today's surface of deep fissures and high mountains. Plate motion, or tectonics, still continues; the vibrations of which are felt in what we call earthquakes.


The earth, even after its all-encompassing ocean was divided by the appearance of continents, may or may not have been ready for habitation. One theory suggests the possibility that sufficient amounts of oxygen were freed in the formation of the atmosphere and seas so as to create an atmosphere very much like what we have today. Another suggests that the air contained great amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) with little free oxygen molecules (O2). This latter theory attributes the young atmosphere's transformation into today's life-friendly one to

plants, working cooperatively, had made a stunning change in the environment of the Earth. Green plants generate molecular oxygen... The nitrogen in the Earth's atmosphere is much more chemically inert and therefore much more benign than oxygen. But it, too, is biologically sustained. Thus, 99 percent of the Earth's atmosphere is of biological origin. The sky is made by life. 8


Plant life had another effect on the planet. Carbon dioxide clouds the atmosphere and entraps heat. This is called the greenhouse effect. Sufficiently large amounts of CO2 result in a total and otherwise permanent masking of a planet's surface, as has apparently happened on the planet Venus. Earth could have been similarly masked as

The same processes may have occurred on Venus as on the earth, but the Venusian atmosphere retained a much higher concentration of CO2... Today, life itself plays a vital role in maintaining a rather constant low CO2 level in the earth's atmosphere. Plants, through the process of photosynthesis, convert CO2 to oxygen. 9

Through this conversion, plant life eventually cleared the sky of cloud cover for the first time since the sky had formed. The resulting sunlight paved the way for greater vegetation, which in turn provided oxygen, as well as a food source, for animal life.




In summary, this scenario of the formation of our planet has described earth's earliest moments just as though we were observing it through a telescope from some faraway planet. This is appropriate since telescopic observation is how some of the basis data was obtained.

The Bible, too, gives a very specific accounting of events of the earth's beginnings. However, the perspective Moses offers does not read as an observer light years distant to the event. The perspective he was given reads as though the observer was virtually centered in all the activities which combined to become our solar system and the earth itself. The perspective is different, but the events are the same: <continued>



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NEXT: PART TWO - The biblical scenario...

See also:

Where did man come from?

Do miracles really happen?

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The Bible contains an account of the creation of the earth, and verses which describe its earliest conditions.

Modern science, too, has a picture of the planet's formation.

Here is the secular interpretation of modern scientific data, including the likely sequence of events which resulted in today's earth. Note below how it parallels Moses' account.

(This has been researched from the writings of many well-known evolutionists.)

1. From H2O
2. Light
3. Atmosphere and seas
4. Continents
5. Vegetation
6. Lights in the sky
7. Life in the ocean
8. Life on land
9. Human life

1. From H2O
2. Light
3. Atmosphere and seas
4. Continents
5. Vegetation
6. Lights in the sky
7. Life in the ocean
8. Life on land
9. Human life