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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Is the Moon's Size and Position Signs of a Designer?

I am presently reading The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. It provides a solid overview of six areas where some scientists claim that there is existing and growing evidence of design. These areas identify evidence for design in cosmology, physics, astronomy, biochemistry, biological information and consciousness. In the chapter on astronomy, there is a section sub-titled "Our Life Supporting Moon" which points to the possible uniqueness of planet earth as a life supporting planet results from the size and distance of our moon.

In this subpart, Guillermo Gonzales, Ph.D., makes a very interesting series of observations:

  • The moon stabilizes the tilt of the earth's axis which, in turn, stabilizes our climate.
  • The moon helps to increase our tides which, in turn, flush nutrients from the continents to the oceans which keeps them more nutrient rich than they otherwise would be.
  • Lunar tides also help keep large-scale ocean circulation going which, in turn, keeps the temperatures of the higher latitudes relatively mild.
  • If the moon were more massive, the tides would be too strong.
  • If the moon were more massive, it would slow down the earth's rotation which, in turn, would result in longer, hotter days, and longer, colder nights.
  • The moon appears to have been formed as the result of a rare collision between earth and a Mars-sized body which makes a moon/planet combination like earth's rare (not that other planets don't have moons, but the size and distance of our planet with a moon may be very, very rare).


  • The website Evidence for God from Science points out how the formation of the moon led to a slowing of the earth's rotation that made life possible.

    Soon after the formation of the moon, the Earth was rotating on its axis every eight hours. Such a rapid rotational period led to winds in excess of 500 mph. The moon, which was less than 10,000 miles from the Earth at the time, exerted large gravitational forces that slowed the rotation of the Earth to its current 24 hours. Likewise, the gravity of the Earth slowed the moon's rotation so that it now matches its revolution around the earth (29 days). It the moon did not exist, the Earth's rotational rate would still be too rapid, which would lead to high winds and conditions that were unsuitable for advanced life forms.

    Interestingly, Dave Waltham, Ph.D., of Royal Holloway University in London, a geologist who specializes in all aspects of mathematical and computer modeling in geology and geophysics [in particular, research has concentrated upon forward modeling of seismic waves, forward modeling of sedimentary processes and forward modeling of tectonic processes], has recently published a paper in Astrobiology entitled "Anthropic Selection for the Moon's Mass" wherein he discusses how the moon seems designed to support life on the Earth. Here is the abstract from the publisher's website:

    This paper investigates whether anthropic selection explains the unusually large size of our Moon. It is shown that obliquity stability of the Earth is possible across a wide range of different starting conditions for the EarthMoon system. However, the lunar mass and angular momentum from the actual EarthMoon system are remarkable in that they very nearly produce an unstable obliquity. This may be because the particular properties of our EarthMoon system simultaneously allow a stable obliquity and a slow rotation rate. A slow rotation rate may have been anthropically selected because it minimizes the equatorpole temperature difference, thus minimizing climatic fluctuations. The great merit of this idea is that it can be tested using extrasolar planet search programs planned for the near future. If correct, such anthropic selection predicts that most extrasolar planetary systems will have significantly larger perturbation frequencies than our own Solar System. Astrobiology 4, 460468.

    So, here is a Ph.D. who has noted the design (anthropic) qualities of the moon, and who is proposing an idea that he claims can be tested. Interesting.

    Thanks to Reasons to Believe for finding this article. For more on-line information on the anthropic principle, I recommend reading Reason to Believe's "Design and the Anthropic Principle" by Dr. Hugh Ross.

    8 comments:

    Next time someone says, I have never witnessed a miracle. Tell them, "just look at the moon" and explain to them the miracle they are witnessing.

    "The moon stabilizes the tilt of the earth's axis which, in turn, stabilizes our climate."

    Yes, and isn't it incredible how the Seine managed to flow so perfectly under the bridges of Paris?

    You're normally pretty logical, Layman. Why the sudden 50 IQ point drop when evaluating these asinine arguments from IDiots?

    On the other hand, nice blog, Layman. I like the layout very much. Very professional and attractive. And the blog itself, within the constraints of your confessional commitments, is quite informative. Kudos to ya.

    Not that I agree with your assesment or insults, please know that I post here - as elsewhere -- as Layman. There are other contributors to this blog. And one of those, my friend BK, authored this piece.

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    First, as Layman pointed out, I authored the piece, not him.

    Second, thank you for the compliments on the blog. I did the layout and author about half of the blogs.

    Third, of course you realize that the reason that the water flows so perfectly under the bridges is because the bridges were designed to go over the water. Maybe I'm missing some subtly in your response, but you seem to be affirming the logic of ID.

    Fourth, I am happy to compare IQs with you. :)

    P.S. I deleted the prior comment due to a rather embarrasing typo.

    Apart from the uncalled for hostility and unfortunate analogy, there is also the problem that this article doesn't appear to come from an "ID IDiot" as you so cleverly called Intelligent Design supporters.

    The author appears not to have anything to do with the ID movement and is published in a scientific journal; not an apologists website. It's sort of like calling Martin Rees an idiot because he writes about anthropic coincidences.

    Of course some have latched on to the anthropic coincidences as evidence of design, and I assume it's them that you intended to insult. Perhaps you as an English teacher can do what professional physicists and scientists have been unable to do; which is come up with a more believable explanation for them than design. Otherwise, I don't see any justification for attacking their intelligence.

    Bk,

    Did you see the moon last night? It was spectacular ... which you must admit, whether you are an IDiot like me or not ;-)

    Killer Monkey -- right on.
    Dawn Treader -- yup, I thought is was spectacular. Since beauty in Physics is one of the things which is driving physicists to become ID advocates, then I certainly think that the beauty and majesty of nature can be another argument for design.

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