In 2010, Dark Canopy published a brief discussion of the “Faint Young Sun Paradox.” (Read the original article here.) The paradox, a complex problem that has been discussed by Sagan and a host of other scientific legends, simply states that on the one hand, about 3.5 billion years ago the Sun should have been between 70-75% fainter than it is today. Under modern conditions, that would result in frozen salt water oceans among other apocalyptic consequences. On the other hand, the fossil record when viewed through the lens of the evolutionary model demonstrates that the Earth was flourishing with slowly evolving life about 3.5 billion years ago. Needless to say, the two scenarios are mutually exclusive … hence the paradox.
I bring up this fascinating problem for Big Bang cosmologists and evolutionary thinkers because a new solution to the problem has been suggested at a recent conference. Purdue University’s David Minton says that the solution is simply to move the Earth.1 No big deal.
“I calculated to keep the Earth from being frozen over at the beginning of its history, it would have to be 6 or 7 percent closer to the sun than it is now,” Minton said. “It’s a few million miles, but from an orbital mechanics standpoint, it’s not that far. The question is what could make a planet move from one location to another?”
A fine question indeed. One million miles is 1,609,000,000 meters. To travel that distance in 3.5 billion years (or 1.1 x 10^17 seconds), you would need to average only 0.0000000145 meters/second. Given that the Earth’s mass dials in at a hefty 5,972,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg, it would take something like 2,760,000,000 Newtons of force exerted over the course of a year to accelerate the Earth to that nominal speed. It takes about one Newton of force to hold a small apple in your hand, so if we could just find some cosmic force equal to dropping about 2.76 billion apples, we are in business! Add to that the fact that my math is rusty and I used one dimensional inertial reference frames instead of a spinning non-inertial orbit as would actually be the case, and I’m sure that a clever physicist could find a mechanism to move the Earth a bit. Right?
“You have a huge time scale range from 1 billion to 10,000 years ago to work with,” Minton said. “While most theories can be ruled out, planet-planet scattering is not ruled out. When a planet system or solar system forms there is no knowledge of how long they will be stable. They form and then they can go unstable in some time scale, and that time scale is set arbitrarily. Most of the instabilities happen early, and the longer you go in history, the more rare instabilities become. But rare does not mean never, and rare events can happen.”
Well maybe it isn’t so easy. First, many of the convenient mechanisms are ruled out because they do not fit the Big Bang model timeline. Second, you have the daunting fact that the solar system looks pretty stable. It requires an argument from ignorance (“there is no knowledge of how long they will be stable”) to conclude that a planet might have moved a few million miles. Third, such movements are admittedly rare. But never fear, “rare does not mean never.” So do we have a proposal for what caused this admittedly rare instability?
Minton speculates two proto-Venus planets existed at one point and went into a chaotic and unstable phase, crossing the Earth’s path and boosting us to our familiar orbit. The two proto-Venus planets then collided, forming the planet Venus that exists today.
Thus, to explain the Faint Early Sun Paradox, we are now willing to invent two other planets, have them slam together to form one known planet, and hope that the resulting chaos might have wobbled the Earth enough to push it into its new location.
Again, I am fascinated by the willingness of scientists to postulate the existence of unseen planets and theorize cataclysmic events while at the same time mocking Christians for believing in an unseen God and the recorded events of the Biblical record. The double standard is telling …