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Copyright 2002 by Creation Research Society. All rights reserved.

Extraterrestrial Bombardment of the Inner Solar System:
A Review With Questions and Comments Based On New Information

Carl R. Froede Jr

CRSQ Vol 38 No 4 pp 209-212 March 2002


The global Flood of Genesis involved more than just water. Although not reported in Scripture, there is abundant physical evidence in the form of impact craters and tektite strewn fields across the globe which support extraterrestrial bombardment occurring during this same period. It is unclear if any impact event that might have occurred on Earth before the Flood (i.e., during the Creation Week and/or antediluvian timeframe; Froede, 1995; 1998) could have remained recognizable following the Flood event as the surface of the Earth was completely reshaped by numerous forces of high-geologic energy (Froede and DeYoung, 1996; Reed, Froede, and Bennett, 1996).

Previously, Dr. DeYoung and I proposed that extraterrestrial bombardment of the Earth occurred with the onset of the Flood (Froede and DeYoung, 1996). We postulated that the rate of bombardment on the surface of the Earth occurred at an initially high rate but only for a short time, with the rate falling off dramatically (i.e., exponentially). We proposed that a possible source of extraterrestrial material that bombarded Earth during the Flood likely came from a former planet (i.e., Phaeton), which disintegrated and/or exploded within the region presently known as the Asteroid Belt. Our basis for the source planet being located in the region of the present Asteroid Belt was based upon the intelligent design displayed by the Titus-Bode Rule (Froede and DeYoung, 1996).

Thinking about the effects of bombardment on Earth during the Flood lead Mr. James Brelsford and I to speculate on the effects that this event might have had on the surface of the Antediluvian moon (Froede and Brelsford, 1998). In a short article we postulated that the Moon’s albedo likely decreased as the original white anorthite surface was lost to meteor impacts creating surface eruptions of large basalt flows and burial by darker igneous materials. Additional darkening of the Moon’s surface occurs even today as solar flares from the Sun creates a dark brown patina on the outer surface of the anorthite. All of this darkening of the cream-to-white colored anorthite has decreased the Moon’s original Antediluvian reflectance (i.e., albedo) providing less reflected light back to Earth after the Flood.

Dr. Williams and I reported on the Wetumpka Impact Crater in Alabama, and postulated that it formed near the close of the Flood in shallow marine conditions (Froede and Williams, 1999). The size of the crater (approximately 3.5 miles in diameter) suggests that a rather large-sized dense object penetrated through a thin layer of sedimentary strata deep into underlying igneous and metamorphic crust. This object would likely have been a stony meteorite as no iron or other metal has been found in association with this crater.

Uniformitarians recognize impact craters across the surface of the Earth and Moon. Their naturalistic model drives the age determination of each crater. They believe that Earth’s Moon was formed from the impact of a Mars-sized object early in Earth’s formation approximately 4.5 billion years ago (Ga). This event ripped away enough material from the Earth to form the Moon and place it into orbit around the planet (Kerr, 2000). However, the greatest period of extraterrestrial bombardment, for both the Moon and Earth, occurred later in their history according to uniformitarian scientists, who continue to discover new sources of information for age-dating this period in time.

Recent Investigations

Recently, several uniformitarian geoscientists examined and age-dated numerous lunar meteorites and Moon rocks collected both on Earth and on numerous past United States and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics space flights (Cohen, Swindle, and Kring, 2000). Using 40Ar-39Ar dating methods, these scientists determined that the Moon experienced its greatest period of bombardment, deemed the terminal lunar cataclysm, approximately 3.9 billion years ago (Cohen, Swindle, and Kring, 2000; Kerr, 2000). It was during the terminal lunar cataclysm that the Moon underwent massive bombardment based on the analysis of the over 1,700 large (12.5 to 750 mile diameter) impact craters on its surface (Cohen, Swindle, and Kring, 2000). Earth likely experienced over 17,000 large impact events during this same period of time (Cohen, Swindle, and Kring, 2000). Although younger age-dates for moon rocks have been found (suggesting later impact melt events), nothing older than the 3.9 Ga age was identified in the 43 samples of lunar rocks examined and tested (Cohen, Swindle, and Kring, 2000).

This massive bombardment event was not limited to the Moon, but extended throughout the entire inner solar system, including Mars (Cohen, Swindle, and Kring, 2000), and the Asteroid Belt (McSween, 1999). Previous age-dating of the “early heavy bombardment” period yielded dates ranging from 4.1 to 3.4 Ga (McSween, 1999). This new ressearch places the period of cataclysmic bombardment from 3.9 to 3.4 Ga with the rate of bombardment falling off sharply following the onset of the impact period (Cohen, Swindle, and Kring, 2000).

Possible Source Areas

What are the possible source areas for such a tremendous volume of extraterrestrial material to bombard the inner solar system at such an early period of time in its history? Some uniformitarians look to imaginary sources like the Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt—imaginary because they have never been detected, only postulated (Froede and DeYoung, 1996). These postulated areas are purported by uniformitarians to provide our solar system with the comets, asteroids, and extraterrestrial debris likely to explain the impact features observed within the solar system.

Kerr (2000) reported that researchers in Boulder, Colorado are proposing an idea that early in the development of the solar system newly forming Neptune and Uranus (orbiting between Jupiter and Saturn at the time, only to be thrown out to their present orbit later) could have generated both cometary and asteroid debris which was drawn inward in sufficient quantities to explain the impact craters found within the inner solar system. Theories like this one will continue to be proposed in an attempt by uniformitarians to explain a plausible source of extraterrestrial material necessary to account for the massive bombardment experienced by the inner solar system.

Although the asteroid belt is considered as a potential source of extraterrestrial materials by both Kerr (2000) and Cohen, Swindle, and Kring (2000) it is rejected due to the size of existing asteroids, because a planetary body within the asteroid belt never existed, or that the uniformitarian age-dating of the bombardment event does not match with the age-date model for the asteroid belt.

Young-Earth Creationist Interpretation

It has been proposed by several young-earth creationists that the Earth was bombarded by extraterrestrial materials initiated with the very onset of the Flood (Froede and DeYoung, 1996; Froede and Williams, 1999; plus references therein). There is abundant physical evidence both on the Earth and Moon as well as exhibited by other terrestrial planetary bodies and satellites within the inner solar system to support this concept. I believe that even if impact features formed on Earth or within the solar system during the Creation Week or antediluvian timeframes, they could not have persisted because of the destructive geologic forces in operation during the Flood.

However, some young-earth creationists disagree and invoke two cratering periods in Earth history. Dr. Faulkner postulates a major period of bombardment during the Creation Week with the source material being derived from debris associated with the creation of the Sun, Moon, and planets (similar in theory to the uniformitarian concept that asteroids and comets are merely debris left over from the formation of the planets; McSween, 1999), and a later minor period of bombardment during the Flood (Faulkner and Spencer, 2000). Personally, I do not believe that a pre-Flood (i.e., Creation Week or antediluvian timeframe) impact event on the Earth could be differentiated from the massive impact event experienced by the entire inner solar system during the Flood. I would like to see evidence in support of this position, along with some discussion about how to differentiate (based on the physical evidence) between the two periods.

Mr. Wayne Spencer has postulated that the solar system was visited by a swarm of celestial objects during the Flood (Faulkner and Spencer, 2000). I have problems with understanding the extraterrestrial bombardment models proposed by both Faulkner and Spencer, and ask for clarification on the following questions:

  • Where is the source(s) of all of the extraterrestrial materials which bombarded Earth at the Creation Week or later during the Flood (whether invoking a major or minor impact event)?
  • If this event only happened 4,500 to 6,500 years ago then why have astronomers not been able to locate this comet/meteor swarm still moving out in space with the advance telescopes we have in operation today (and have had for several decades)? The Kitt Peak National Observatory (Figure 1) presently has six telescopes in operation. Many of these telescopes have been operating for more than thirty years. Why have facilities like this one or the many others like it across the Earth not been able to identify a moving swarm of celestial objects as has been postulated by Faulkner and Spencer (2000)? It is likely because this “swarm” does not exist. I contend that the majority of extraterrestrial material which impacted the inner solar system during the Flood was probably derived from the Asteroid Belt.
  • DeYoung and I (1996) postulated a 4 to 5 month lag between the disintegration/explosion of Phaeton within the Asteroid Belt and the initiation of extraterrestrial bombardment of Earth at the onset of the Flood. How long did it take the proposed “swarm of celestial objects” moving in space to hit Earth (i.e., where is its point of origin and what is the traveling speed of the “swarm?”)? How far away in space would it exist from Earth at creation or in the universe today? With this knowledge young-earth creationists should be able to identify this swarm in space adding physical evidence to support the model.
  • Please explain the concept of how God’s creation week work is pronounced “good” if it is under extraterrestrial bombardment during this period of time? Did God create the heavens and the Earth before the Fall of man with a swarm of celestial objects moving toward Earth?

 

Figure 1 - The top of Kit Peak west of Tuscon, Arizona.

The lack of any physical evidence from a known source area, which could account for the “swarm of celestial objects” which impacted the Earth and inner solar system during the Flood, challenges both Faulkner and Spencer (2000) theories. Models are necessary but with no physical substance they become dead-end “stories.” Young-earth creationists need to be very careful in developing models which lack any physical basis. Model(s) must also comply with the framework of Scripture. Failure on either point should result in the rejection of any proposed model.

Apparently, the only problem that either Faulkner or Spencer (2000) have with the source material being derived from a planet (exploding or disintegrating) in the asteroid belt is with the amount of time that it would take to clear the inner solar system from the debris. Uniformitarians estimate that the time necessary to remove debris from the inner solar system ranges between 10 to over 100 million years (Kerr, 2000; McSween, 1999). However, it is acknowledged by naturalists that the celestial objects that presently travel through the inner solar system which originated from the Asteroid Belt would be of recent origin (McSween, 1999). Presently, no young-earth creationist has published an evaluation of the time necessary to remove extraterrestrial debris originating from the Asteroid Belt moving toward the inner solar system.

It has been estimated that there are over one million asteroids within the Asteroid Belt (McSween, 1999). Its origin remains a topic of debate. While DeYoung and I (1996) postulated that the Asteroid Belt represents the remains of a disintegrated or exploded planet, there are other possibilities. The Asteroid Belt could have been created in place without ever having been a planet (but the composition of the various asteroids fit well with the collective composition of a small planet not to mention that Types 1 and 2 chondrites experienced aqueous alteration, i.e., the minerals reacted with water inferring a planet with water [McSween, 1999]). It is also possible that the Asteroid Belt formed from the disintegration of a number of planetesimals. According to uniformitarians, the debris forming the Asteroid Belt dates to the same age as Earth (approximately, 4.5 billion years) and yet the number of objects crossing Earth’s orbit are few (Heide and Wlotzka, 1995). This suggests that the inner solar system has swept up much of the past debris ejected from the Asteroid Belt. It is widely recognized that Jupiter exerts such a massive gravitational effect on the asteroid belt that it can send asteroids toward the Sun even today. The existence of Kirkwood gaps in the Asteroid Belt suggests that Jupiter has had (and continues to have) a major effect on the existing asteroid belt, one that supports a viable source for extraterrestrial materials useful to bombard the inner solar system.

If we take the age of the Earth, Moon, and Asteroid Belt along with the period of bombardment postulated by uniformitarians as relative and not actual, and compare them to a Biblical framework for Earth history (e.g., Froede, 1995, 1998), it would be easy to correlate the period of greatest extraterrestrial bombardment to the Flood. If bombardment occurred during the Creation Week then we would expect age-dates to correspond to 4.5 Ga, the purported uniformitarian age of the Earth, Moon, and Asteroid Belt. However, what is reported is a period of heavy bombardment well after (i.e., 3.9 Ga) the formation of these space objects. I contend that although these uniformitarian age-dates do not provide any direct evidence in support of Flood bombardment, the relative ages supports the concept that bombardment occurred which could correspond to the Flood.

Conclusion

Young-earth creationists and uniformitarians agree that the Earth, Moon, and inner solar system experienced tremendous extraterrestrial bombardment in the past. New age-dating using 40Ar-39Ar on lunar rocks and meteorites by uniformitarians has served to refine the time when this event occurred. They postulate that the lunar impact cataclysm occurred early in the history of the Moon with confidence that the entire inner solar system was also effected by extraterrestrial impacts. The source of the extraterrestrial materials remains a mystery as uniformitarians look to nonexistent fields of comets in deep space or debris created with the origin of planets.

Although uniformitarians acknowledge that the asteroids within the asteroid belt make an attractive source of materials readily available for the bombardment of the inner solar system, they reject it for the 3.9 Ga bombardment period based on various model-driven reasons.

Young-earth creationists apparently have several models from which to choose when attempting to explain the impact craters observed on the Earth, Moon, and inner planets. The problem presently is locating a source of material that meets the time frames and physical evidence necessary to support the Bible-based young-earth Flood framework. I contend that the most likely source for extraterrestrial materials is from the Asteroid Belt as it continues to supply bombardment materials to the inner solar system. To invoke other source areas requires some basis of physical substantiation and explanation within the Biblical framework.

The origin of the Asteroid Belt will always be a subject of discussion; whether it formed from a single exploding/disintegrating planet or series of planetesimals, from the collision of multiple space objects within the region, or possibly even as an asteroid belt original to the Creation Week. I believe that the Asteroid Belt likely provided the “celestial objects” which impacted all the terrestrial planets (and satellites) within the solar system during the global Flood of Genesis (which can be viewed as occurring on the scale of at least the inner solar system). To invoke another source for massive extraterrestrial bombardment either before or during the Flood requires some defense in the form of physical evidence—none of which has been offered to date. Thus, I contend that the Asteroid Belt provides a plausible and defensible source of materials for the bombardment of the inner solar system with the onset of the Flood.

Acknowledgments

I am grateful for the review provided to me by Emmett Williams. John Reed also provided helpful assistance in getting this document in acceptable shape for publication. I am thankful for the support I continue to receive from my wife Susan. Glory to God in the highest (Prov 3:5–6).

References

CRSQ: Creation Research Society Quarterly

Cohen, B. A., T. D. Swindle, and D. A. Kring. 2000. Support for the lunar cataclysm hypothesis from lunar meteorite impact melt ages. Science 290:1754–1756.

Faulkner, D. and W. Spencer. 2000. Reply to Biblically-based cratering theory. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 14(3):75–77.

Froede, C. R., Jr. 1995. A proposal for a creationist geological timescale. CRSQ 32:90–94.

   . 1998. Field studies in catastrophic geology. Creation Research Society Technical Monograph No. 7, Creation Research Society Books, St. Joseph, MO.

Froede, C. R., Jr. and J. Brelsford. 1998. Speculation regarding the albedo of the Antediluvian Moon. CRSQ 35:166–167.

Froede, C. R., Jr. and D. B. DeYoung.1996. Impact events within the young-earth Flood model. CRSQ 33:23–34.

Froede, C. R., Jr. and E. L. Williams. 1999. The Wetumpka Impact Crater, Elmore County, Alabama: An interpretation within the young-earth Flood model. CRSQ 36:32–37.

Heide, F. and F. Wlotzka. 1995. Meteorites: Messengers from space. Springer-Verlag, New York.

Kerr, R. A. 2000. Beating up on a young Earth, and possibly life. Science 290:1677.

McSween, H. Y., Jr. 1999. Meteorites and their parent bodies. Second edition. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Reed, J. K., C. R. Froede Jr., and C. B. Bennett. 1996. The role of geologic energy in interpreting the stratigraphic record. CRSQ 33:97–101.




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