Spacecraft illustration — SOHO was launched in December 1995 by an Atlas Centaur rocket and became operational in March 1996. SOHO weighs about two tons and with its solar panels extended stands about 25 feet across. It was launched in December, 1995. SOHO will continue operating well past the next solar maximum in 2001. (Image credit: Alex Lutkus)
We have condensed information from two articles from the Institute for Creation Research website. The first one, “The Sun Is Shrinking,” begins with a “disclaimer” of sorts which is included here in its entirety.
“The Sun Is Shrinking”
by Russell Akridge, Ph.D.
Since publication of this article in 1980, studies of the sun’s size have yielded different results. Currently, scientists are not united enough concerning any broadscale trends to support age estimates based on the size of the sun. In his 1998 article “The Young Faint Sun Paradox and the Age of the Solar System,” Dr. Danny Faulkner provided an updated perspective that is more consistent with the relevant solar data. Other studies do provide ample evidence for the youth of the solar system and earth, such as the studies cited in the Evidence section “Many Earth Clocks Indicate Recent Creation.”
It may seem at first that ICR is backing off its position on whether this article is accurate or not. More likely they are simply acknowledging that this article is somewhat dated, saying they do not currently have writers working in this particular field of study, and instead offering other young creation articles in support of the position. (We will also deal with Dr Faulkner’s article in this review.) Our position is that the information in this article and Dr. Faulkner’s are both accurate and present uniformitarians with real dilemmas which they are probably unwilling to address.
The following quotation appears near the beginning of the Akridge article.
“John A. Eddy (Harvard -Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and High Altitude Observatory in Boulder) and Aram A. Boornazian (a mathematician with S. Ross and Co. in Boston) have found evidence that the sun has been contracting about 0.1% per century…corresponding to a shrinkage rate of about 5 feet per hour.”
Dr. Akridge explains the significance of this statement.
“A creationist, who may believe that the world was created approximately 6 thousand years ago, has very little to worry about. The sun would have been only 6% larger at creation than it is now. However, if the rate of change of the solar radius remained constant, 100,000 years ago the sun would be twice the size it is now. One could hardly imagine that any life could exist under such altered conditions. Yet 100,000 years is a minute amount of time when dealing with evolutionary time scales.”
In his article, Dr. Akridge presents a formula for calculating the size of the sun in the past based on this current shrinkage remaining consistent. His conclusion is that if uniformitarianism is true,
“It is amazing that all of this evolutionary development, except the last 20 million years, took place on a planet that was inside the sun. By 20 million B.C., all of evolution had occurred except the final stage, the evolution of the primate into man.”
He points out that it is much more reasonable to simply say that at 100,000 BC the sun would have been twice its present size. Further calculations can be presented based on “a balance of solar forces” and assuming a constant shrinkage rate. In fact, figures indicate that the sun’s rate of shrinkage would actually have been greater in the past, making the 20 million years figure still too far in the past.
Dr. Akridge’s article presents calculations to explain whether a 2.5 feet per hour contraction of the solar surface would be enough to liberate all the solar energy measured as being present. His conclusion is that there is far more than sufficient contraction taking place to produce the observable energy output. He says that gravitational self-collapse certainly accounts for at least some of the sun’s energy. According to Dr. Akridge, when uniformitarians calculate the evolution of the sun, “all of those calculations attribute practically 100% of the sun’s energy over the past 5 billion years to thermonuclear fusion.” We have read many articles where the uniformitarians dismiss the solar shrinkage argument simply by saying the sun is so big a little shrinkage doesn’t matter. Others claim there are cyclic variations and any shrinkage would be offset. But, as Dr. Akridge points out, “This (cyclic) claim is made in spite of the evidence that the shrinkage rate of the sun has remained essentially constant over the past 100 years when very accurate measurements have been made on the size of the sun. Less accurate astronomical records spanning the past 400 years indicate the shrinkage rate has remained the same for the past 400 years.”
Dr Akridge’s historical background explains that the Kelvin-Helmholtz Contraction theory was considered the most likely explanation of the sun’s energy production up until the 1930’s, when “the theory of evolution began to dominate the scientific scene. Then Helmholtz’s explanation was discarded because it did not provide the vast time span demanded by the theory of organic evolution on the earth. The substitute theory was introduced by Bethe in the 1930’s precisely because thermonuclear fusion was the only known energy source that would last over the vast times required by evolution.”
This second article is presented on the ICR website as being a more updated study than the previous one.
“The Young Faint Sun Paradox and the Age of the Solar System”
by Danny Faulkner, Ph.D.
Dr. Faulkner gives an illustration of the unique position of the Earth for sustaining life by comparing it with conditions on Venus and Mars, making the point that the Earth’s position in relation to the sun assures it is neither too hot nor too cold for life. Dr. Faulkner rehearses the standard evolutionary theory about the origin of the solar system. He points out the commonly accepted belief that gravitational compression probably explains the early history of stars and their planets. Most uniformitarians even grant that this accounts for the sun’s method of generating energy in its infancy. At some point, “conditions in the center of the Sun permitted the conversion of hydrogen into helium through nuclear fusion. While theoretical and observational questions remain, it can be assumed for purposes of discussion, that this model approximates the truth.”
Faulkner goes on to explain how this thermonuclear theory of the sun’s energy production works. “Calculation shows that it is capable of supplying the Sun’s current luminosity for about ten billion years.” If, as evolutions claim, the sun was formed 4.6 billion years ago, that puts the sun at its halfway point of life and energy use. “This means that about half the hydrogen in the core of the Sun has been used up and replaced by helium. This change in chemical composition changes the structure of the core. The overall structure of the Sun would have to change as well, so that today, the Sun should be nearly 40% brighter than it was 4.6 billion years ago.”
Evolutionists, however, agree that temperatures and luminosity would need to have been relatively consistent for life to evolve as it has. Faulkner suggests a theory, which he calls “naive,” that perhaps “Earth began cooler than it is today and has been slowly warming with time. But this is not an option because geologists note that Earth’s rock record insists that Earth’s average temperature has not varied much over the past four billion years, and biologists require a nearly constant average temperature for the development and evolution of life.”
Faulkner presents the theories evolutionists propose to explain how this paradox could be justified. The theories explain that early atmospheres of the planets were very different from today. “Hydrogen was quite abundant. Much of the oxygen present would have been in the form of water. With time these atmospheres followed different evolutionary paths to become the current secondary atmospheres. The prime characteristic of the secondary atmospheres is that they are oxidized, that is, most of the hydrogen has escaped, which has forced the oxygen to recombine to form other compounds.” Explanations are offered for the differences between Mars and Venus and Earth, based on the effect their relative positions and gravity would have had on this evolution of atmosphere. When it comes to Earth, however, the story gets stranger, according to Faulkner’s retelling of evolutionists’ claims.
“Early life forms are supposed to have introduced free oxygen into the air and regulated the amount of other gases, such as nitrogen. As new forms of life evolved, the mix of gases in Earth’s atmosphere gradually changed. Evolution proposes that the early atmosphere contained a greater amount of greenhouse gases (such as methane) than today. This would have produced average temperatures close to those today, even with a much fainter Sun. As the Sun gradually increased in luminosity, Earth’s atmosphere is supposed to have evolved along with it, so that the amount of greenhouse gases have slowly decreased to compensate for the increasing solar luminosity.”
Faulkner makes the very understandable statement that “The precise tuning of this alleged co-evolution is nothing short of miraculous … Thus the incredibly unlikely origin and evolution of life had to be accompanied by the evolution of Earth’s atmosphere in concert with the Sun.” We have stated many times that Secular Humanism is a religion of mythology, so it is not surprising they demand we believe in their miraculous evolutionary processes. The problem is that they claim to be factually and scientifically correct but they produce no evidence to support this claim.
“The physical principles that cause the early faint Sun paradox are well established, so astrophysicists are confident that the effect is real.” Some physicists have actually ventured theories about the biosphere being a unified, living organism capable of sustaining and adapting, though this is not a popular theory. Others try to propose a kind of symbiosis with the Sun, also unlikely. There is in some scientific circles the idea that a “life force has directed the atmosphere’s evolution through this ordeal. Most find the teleological or spiritual implications of this unpalatable, though there is a trend in this direction in physics.”
“Of course, there is a third possibility. Perhaps the Earth/Sun system is not billions of years old and so there has not been a 40% increase in solar luminosity. If Earth were recently created and designed to have the kind of atmosphere that it has now and the Sun has not changed appreciably in luminosity, then the young faint Sun paradox has been resolved. While the early faint Sun paradox does not tell us that the Solar System is only thousands of years old, it does seem to rule out the age being billions of years.”
* Dr. Faulkner is Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.
Faulkner, D. 1998. “The Young Faint Sun Paradox and the Age of the Solar System.” Acts & Facts. 27 (6).