The creation scientists at Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis (AIG) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — never give up. They keep recycling their ancient clunkers.
They’ve been posting a series of articles under the general heading of “10 Best Evidences From Science That Confirm a Young Earth,” most of which we’ve ignored. Today’s offering is #8 Short-Lived Comets. It’s not much, but it’s in their Top Ten, so it’s a good example of the best they can do. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A comet spends most of its time far from the sun in the deep freeze of space. But once each orbit a comet comes very close to the sun, allowing the sun’s heat to evaporate much of the comet’s ice and dislodge dust to form a beautiful tail. Comets have little mass, so each close pass to the sun greatly reduces a comet’s size, and eventually comets fade away. They can’t survive billions of years.
That’s true. If a comet’s orbit regularly passes close to the sun, its ice will eventually evaporate. Their article continues:
Given the loss rates, it’s easy to compute a maximum age of comets. That maximum age is only a few million years. Obviously, their prevalence makes sense if the entire solar system was created just a few thousand years ago, but not if it arose billions of years ago.
Gasp! Our professors lied to us! Well, maybe not. This creationist claim has been around for a long time. It’s included in the Talk Origins Index to Creationist Claims, where they say:
The comets that entered the inner solar system a very long time ago indeed have evaporated. However, new comets enter the inner solar system from time to time. The Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt hold many comets deep in space, beyond the orbit of Neptune, where they do not evaporate. Occasionally, gravitational perturbations from other comets bump one of them into a highly elliptical orbit, which causes it to near the sun.
Isn’t that good enough to satisfy AIG? No, they’ve anticipated that answer and they have a response. AIG says:
Evolutionary astronomers have answered this problem by claiming that comets must come from two sources. They propose that a Kuiper belt beyond the orbit of Neptune hosts short-period comets (comets with orbits under 200 years), and a much larger, distant Oort cloud hosts long-period comets (comets with orbits over 200 years).
Yet there is no evidence for the supposed Oort cloud, and there likely never will be.
Well! How about that? Do the creationists win? Is the universe really young? Perhaps not. TalkOrigins has a response to that also, which you can see here. It says:
As of June 2000, more than 250 objects in the Kuiper Belt have been observed directly (Buie 2000), and it alone can be the source of short-term comets.
The Oort cloud has not been observed directly (although Sedna, a planetoid discovered in March 2004, might be in the Oort cloud), but its [the Oort cloud’s] presence is well supported based on observations of long-period comets.
If there were no source for new comets to come from, all comets would have the same age. They do not. Some are young and have lots of gasses; others are little more than gravel heaps.
So there you are. By the way, although TalkOrigins doesn’t mention it in this context, we ought to point out that there’s more evidence for an old universe than claiming that new comets come from the outer solar system. How does AIG explain the fact that the Earth appears old, and so does the Moon, and Mars, all of the other bodies in the solar system? And then there are the stars, billions of light-years away, yet their light has had enough time to become visible to us.
Maybe AIG discusses those things in other articles. As we said, we haven’t been paying much attention. We’re confident, however, that their arguments are no better than what they have to say about comets. Given a whole universe of evidence, we won’t worry too much about AIG’s Top Ten list.
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