did the earth come from?
1) according to secularism
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;
is a coherent plan in the universe, though I don't know what it's a plan
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:
The secular scenario:
HYDROGEN TO FORMATION:
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
-- HERE COMES THE SUN
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
-- THE AIR AND THE SEAS
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
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
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
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.
-- THE CONTINENTS ARE FORMED
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.
-- VEGETATION APPEARED
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
-- THE ATMOSPHERE CLEARED FOR THE FIRST TIME
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
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
-- LIFE IN THE OCEAN APPEARED
LIFE ON LAND APPEARED
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>
PART TWO - The biblical scenario...
did man come from?
Do miracles really happen?