Creationists’ “Faint Young Sun Paradox” Solved

We recently wrote Jason Lisle Explains the Sun — Biblically, in which Jason, the young-Earth creationist astronomer, said:

[I]f the sun were billions of years old, it would have been 30 percent fainter in the distant past. But if the sun were that much fainter, then Earth would have been a frozen wasteland and life would not have been possible.

We responded with a reference to the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims,where we found an entry for the faint young sun paradox. They say it’s not much of a problem at all.

But now we found a news article at the website of the University of Colorado Boulder, titled: CU study shows how early Earth kept warm enough to support life. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Solving the “faint young sun paradox” — explaining how early Earth was warm and habitable for life beginning more than 3 billion years ago even though the sun was 20 percent dimmer than today — may not be as difficult as believed, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

How embarrassing for Jason. Let’s read on:

In fact, two CU-Boulder researchers [Eric Wolf and Brian Toon] say all that may have been required to sustain liquid water and primitive life on Earth during the Archean eon 2.8 billion years ago were reasonable atmospheric carbon dioxide amounts believed to be present at the time and perhaps a dash of methane. The key to the solution was the use of sophisticated three-dimensional climate models that were run for thousands of hours on CU’s Janus supercomputer, rather than crude, one-dimensional models used by almost all scientists attempting to solve the paradox, said doctoral student Eric Wolf, lead study author.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Sorry, Jason. We continue:

[Wolf said:] “Our models indicate the Archean climate may have been similar to our present climate, perhaps a little cooler. Even if Earth was sliding in and out of glacial periods back then, there still would have been a large amount of liquid water in equatorial regions, just like today.”

Here’s more:

Scientists have been trying to solve the faint young sun paradox since 1972, when Cornell University scientist Carl Sagan — Toon’s doctoral adviser at the time — and colleague George Mullen broached the subject. Since then there have been many studies using 1-D climate models to try to solve the faint young sun paradox — with results ranging from a hot, tropical Earth to a “snowball Earth” with runaway glaciation — none of which have conclusively resolved the problem.

Unresolved problems are the stock in trade of creationists like Jason Lisle. They never try to solve such problems because they “know” there is no solution — except Oogity Boogity. What do they do when the problem is solved? They ignore the solution and keep repeating their dogma.

Skipping some details you can read for yourself, we come to this:

“Even if half of Earth’s surface was below freezing back in the Archean and half was above freezing, it still would have constituted a habitable planet since at least 50 percent of the ocean would have remained open,” said Wolf. “Most scientists have not considered that there might have been a middle ground for the climate of the Archean.”

One last excerpt:

Has the faint young sun paradox finally been solved? “I don’t want to be presumptuous here,” said Wolf. “But we show that the paradox is definitely not as challenging as was believed over the past 40 years. While we can’t say definitively what the atmosphere looked like back then without more geological evidence, it is certainly not a stretch at all with our model to get a warm early Earth that would have been hospitable to life.”

Will Jason Lisle reconsider his claim about the impossibility of life in Earth’s past? He could, but somehow we doubt that he will.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Creationists’ “Faint Young Sun Paradox” Solved

  1. That’s the same college Lisle got his PhD from

  2. UC Boulder article reports:

    The key to the solution was the use of sophisticated three-dimensional climate models that were run for thousands of hours on CU’s Janus supercomputer, rather than crude, one-dimensional models used by almost all scientists attempting to solve the paradox

    Pish and pshaw! What’s a Janus supercomputer compared to the Word of God???

    /cretard mode off

  3. waldteufel

    The delicious irony here is the The University of Colorado is where Jason Lisle did his Ph.D.
    He’s shown to be a fool again.

  4. I must say I’m really impressed by the title” young-earth creationist astronomer” it’s up their with unicorn whisperer.

  5. Will Jason Lisle reconsider his claim about the impossibility of life in Earth’s past?


  6. Scientists keep working on possible solutions,and workable theories. They acknowledge the limitations and probabilities within their own experiments as well. On Earth today life survives in methane rich underwater environments,lemurs eat the tips of leaves that have the most cyanide in them,specialists eat scorpions and spiders whose venom would kill other species etc. For forms of life to survive when the sun is less powerful,so to speak,with a co2 blanket isn’t that difficult to imagine.

  7. Good catch on the sun, Sensh.

  8. The earth is 50% closer to the sun than Mars, yet we know Mars had liquid water on it’s surface in it’s early history – it’s written all over the surface of the planet. Whatever the temp on Mars, logically, the earth would have been warmer.

    The key is to figure out why the two planets were warm when the sun was less bright, not to waste time trying to deny that they were.

    I believe it was a combination of internal heating (Mars has numerous volcanoes and lava flows, evidencing same) and greenhouse gasses in their atmospheres to retain the heat. (Mars atmosphere is almost completely CO2)

    A more interesting question to me is what happened to Venus… was it always like it is today, or did it have milder conditions in the past?

  9. To Ed re. Venus
    We can’t look thru heavy sulfuric acid in the atmosphere,so not much visual data. I’m not aware of any probe landings and pictures or video feeds either,so I wouldn’t say there are none. The solar winds reacting with the atmosphere provide most of the magnetic field,without the poles effect Earth has. The tilt of Venus is approx 15deg smaller also causing less magnetism,with a possibly less reactive core. 462c temp,worst planet with greenhouse effect,carbon dioxide being the most common surface and air components. The heavier(than Earth) crust can be insulating the layers below,which supports the more sluggish cooler temp below the surface. But just a theory,not ready to the theory of gravity in importance. Sorry for the long post,hope that helped.

  10. Venus is also the only planet with retrograde (albeit very slow) rotation. It must have an interesting history.

  11. Why it would’ve been dimmer to begin with is what I’m wondering. But yeah, if we can find liquid water on europa all bets are off.