Earth’s magnetic field: Testament to more than a young earth

by / December 8, 2015

Saturn has its beautiful rings. Diamonds are often photographed adorning the fingers or the necks of beautiful women.  Both Saturn and diamonds are testimonies to a young earth (which I wrote about here and here). The earth’s magnetic field is also a testament to a young earth – but it’s more than that; it’s a powerful testimony that God created it. But being invisible to the naked eye, earth’s magnetic field is at a distinct disadvantage in this visual age .  It has but a single recognizable reminder – the northern lights a view of which is depicted above. But make no mistake, the magnetic field around the earth is one of the most powerful testaments to a carefully and lovingly designed young earth  that you’re likely to find. And what it lacks in glamour, it makes up for in the power of its evidentiary support of Genesis 1.1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Here’s why:

Evidences Gleaned from Earth’s Magnetic Field

1. Young earth

Old earth proponents will tell you that the earth is about 4 1/2 billion old. That means the magnetic field should also be about 4 1/2 billion years old. If that were true you would expect to have a magnetic field that’s very stable, not changing  much over time – since we’re talking about a lot of time: not merely hundreds of years, or thousands or even millions of years, but billions with a “b”.  The problem with that supposition is that it doesn’t match the observed measurements. It has been known for some time that the earth’s magnetic field is decaying. As geologist and creationist John D. Morris put it:

“The strength of the magnetic field has been reliably and continually measured since 1835. From these measurements, we can see that the field’s strength has declined by about seven percent since then, giving a half-life of about 1,400 years.”1

Obviously that’s a problem. A field decaying that quickly will last only a few thousand years not a few billion. And it’s gotten worse for old age earth believers:  scientists have recently discovered that the field has begun to decay even faster:

“Previously, researchers estimated the field was weakening about 5 percent per century, but the new data revealed the field is actually weakening at 5 percent per decade, or 10 times faster than thought.”2

This does not bode well for the old earth explanation of a magnetic field that is billions of years old. Their explanation up to this point has been the field is created and maintained by a “dynamo”, a natural generator. Magnetic fields are created by the movement of electrons – a current flow. Scientist posit that the rotation of the earth and convection (movement due to heat) is sufficient to produce a current from the molten iron/nickel of the earth’s outer core, which they believe would create a self-sustaining field generating dynamo. The problem with the theory is that “Scientists have not produced a workable analytic model, despite 40-50 years of research, and there are many problems.”3

Creation Theory is Better Science
Contrary to claims that Creation Science is not really science because it makes no predictions and has no objective data that can be tested,  creationist scientist Russell Humphreys has offered an alternative theory to the creation of the magnetic fields surrounding the planets in our solar system. He also made bold predictions as to what their field strength would be. He based his calculation on a literal interpretation of the Bible that says that God created the earth out of water, and the physics of a dipole magnetic field.4 His theory suggests the magnetic fields were generated when God created the planets in a manner such that:

“… many of the Earth’s original atomic nuclei [had] their spins pointing in a particular direction. The small magnetic fields of so many nuclei would add up to a field large enough to account for the Earth’s magnetism.”5

That would create a static field (not a generated one) that steadily decreased over time:

 “The electrical resistance of the interior would then cause the current and field to decay steadily over thousands of years down to the size they are today.”6

With this as a base for his science how did Humphreys do with his predictions?

“Humphreys made predictions about the magnetic fields of Mercury, Mars, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, well before those magnetic fields were measured by spacecraft.

As of July, 2012, the first five have turned out to be “right on,” whereas the expectations of evolutionists were not fulfilled.  The last prediction concerns Pluto, which won’t be visited by the NASA New Horizons spacecraft until July, 2015.7

The data from Pluto is still being analyzed. Based on his record, I expect Humphreys will be right on again. Even if he’s off on the last one, creation science has already beat evolutionary science in predictive power of planetary magnetic fields. But there’s a larger issue we’ve only alluded to that puts the nails in the coffin of evolutionary theory with regards to earth’s magnetic field.

Regardless of how it was generated, scientists acknowledge that the earth’s magnetic field is decreasing. And evolutionists have not dealt with the implications of a steadily decreasing magnetic field based on a current generated field. Recall the half life of the field is about 1400 years.

“Calculating back into the past, the present measurements indicate that 1,400 years ago the field was twice as strong. It continues doubling each 1,400 years back, until about 10,000 years ago it would have been so strong the planet would have disintegrated–its metallic core would have separated from its mantle. The inescapable conclusion we can draw is that the earth must be fewer than 10,000 years old.”8

This conclusion is of course anathema to evolutionists. It proclaims a young solar system and thus declares both the Big Bang and Darwinian evolution invalid and impossible. Evolutionists (of both types) will never admit that of course, though they can’t help but acknowledge they have no idea how the earth’s magnetic field could last for billions of years. David Stevenson at the California Institute of Technology admits:

“Right at this moment, there is a problem with our understanding of Earth’s core and it’s
something that’s emerged only over the last year or two. The problem is a serious one. We do not now understand how the Earth’s magnetic field has lasted for billions of years. We know that the Earth has had a magnetic field for most of its history. We don’t know how the
Earth did that. We have less of an understanding now than we previously thought we had a decade ago of how the Earth’s core has operated throughout history.”9

For creationists, the problem is a simple one: The magnetic field was created at a set level about 6,000 years ago when God created the earth and has been steadily decreasing every since to the level it is today.

2. Fine Tuning

When scientists discuss the amazing confluence of factors that allow life to exist on our planet, they refer to it as the earth being in the “Goldilocks” zone of our solar system – where everything is “not too hot, not to cold, but just right”. For example the planet is  not too close to the sun, and not too far;  the planet itself is not too big, and not too small; etc. This is referred to as fine tuning in the universe and includes not only planetary factors but all factors in the universe that allow for life, like the constants in the equations that describe the various forces such as the the gravitational constant “G” in the equation for the force of gravity so that gravity is not too strong nor too weak.

The list of finely tuned parameters varies from source to source from a couple of dozen to more than a couple of hundred items. But in everyone’s list, the existence of a magnetic field with the properties of the earth’s appears high in the list. That’s because the field is necessary to protect life. Without it, dangerous emissions from the sun such has charged particles,  radiation and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) would bombard the earth and  kill all complex life on the planet. 

Earth’s magnetic field also protects the atmosphere from being blown away by the solar wind, a fate that many scientist believe befell Mars which  currently has no atmosphere and no magnetic field, though it once did. Thus a magnetic field of the proper strength is a requirement to protect both from charged particles from the sun, as well as to protect the finely tuned Nitrogen/Oxygen/Carbon dioxide atmosphere that supports life on the planet. As such finely tuned “coincidences” pile up, one begins to see the hand of a loving God who carefully prepared the creation for his creatures.

Incidentally, Mars’ missing magnetic field  presents a problem for those supporting the “dynamo” theory of field generation. According to the theory, though the planet is small (which could explain the missing atmosphere – the associated field would be too small to protect the atmosphere from the solar wind, so it just blew away), the dynamo should still be working – like the supposed one for the earth. That fact that it’s not has caused scientists to come up with some far fetched reasons why it isn’t.10  Dr. Humphreys’ theory of a static field steadily decreasing over time, initially generated by the way in which the planet was created is not beset which such problems and conundrums. And as mentioned above the strength of the field at the present time was correctly anticipated by his theory (for multiple planets) before the it was actually measured.


3. The Design Inference

Consider the Global Positioning System (GPS).  Extra-terrestrial aliens don’t exist, but for the sake of this hypothetical thought experiment, let us suppose an intelligent space alien examined our GPS system (the whole system, not just the device in your car), its components, and how it worked. What might he conclude? Consider first what he would observe:  a system consisting of:

  • satellites generate electromagnetic signals that can be detected around the globe
  • Complex devices that can receive those signals with their own embedded map
  • Vehicles moving across the surface of the earth guided by the complex devices with the built in map that are receiving electromagnetic signals that allows them to navigate by the signals

Based on these observations he would be justified in inferring that the GPS system was designed by an intelligence who intentionally created the various components to work together, and embedded the needed intelligence appropriately (maps, ability to receive and interpret the signals, location of destination points, etc.) to allow the system to work.

If the conclusion of design is warranted in the above system, would it not likewise be warranted in an analogous system? The earth’s magnetic field is part of such an analogous system. Scientists have recognized that many animals such as some birds11 and some fish and eels12 navigate using the earth’s magnetic field field. All the components analogous to those in the above system can be identified in this system of which the earth’s magnetic field is a part:

  •  the earth generates a magnetic field that can be detected around the globe
  • complex creatures (birds, fish, eels, etc.) with their own embedded maps receive those signals
  • These complex creatures move across the surface of the earth guided by the complex programming in their brains (which includes maps) which allow them to navigate by the magnetic field

If you doubt the creatures have a built in map, let me give you a similar task to what they do that might convince you. Allow a friend to drive you while you’re asleep to a place far away. Allow him or her to let you off somewhere – you don’t know where –  with only a compass to guide you. Now take your compass and without modern marvels such as GPS, smart phone, internet, etc. and navigate to my house. Wait – you say? You need more information? You need to know where you are, and where you’re going? And a map? Precisely. That is my point precisely. The fact that these creatures are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field is just one marvel among a number of awe inspiring marvels. Being sensitive to the magnetic field while amazing, is not enough. They must also have a built in map that allows them to determine where they are, knowledge of their destination, and where it is on the map in order for them to arrive at their destination, as scientists have concluded:

“Navigating by magnetism includes several steps. Birds have to have a way to detect a magnetic field, and some part of the brain has to register that information; it seems likely that another part of the brain then compares the incoming information to a stored map.”13

Thus both systems – GPS and magnetic field navigation – are working in the same manner. If you believe design can be inferred from a preponderance of the Global Positioning System, then it is consistent to believe design can be inferred from a preponderance of the evidence of our finely tuned earth which includes the magnetic field, and all the complex creatures who use and benefit from it.

Conclusion

The facts are undisputed: 1. Earth’s magnetic field is decreasing; and lately even more quickly than before. 2. Scientists currently have no workable theory that can explain how to sustain a planetary magnetic field for the billions of years evolution and the big bang requires. 3. Life on earth could not exist without the protective magnetic field acting as a shield against charged particles; and 4. keeping the solar wind from blowing the atmosphere away. 5. As complex a feat as it is, the magnetic field is used for navigation by a number of creatures that live on the earth. These are the facts. They are undisputed.  And I would add: 6. It is known that information only originates from an intelligent source. This is true in spite of the fact that naturalist scientists would have you believe that the information needed to achieve a feat they still do not completely understand – navigation using the magnetic field –  evolved from unintelligent, unguided, lifeless forces.

The facts are clear. The only thing in dispute is the worldview used to interpret the facts.  Are  the above undisputed facts better explained as an act of a God who as part of his grand design carefully put them all in place for his beloved creatures? Or are they better explained by unintelligent, undirected, unguided forces? If the latter, you remain without an explanation for how the earth’s magnetic field has existed for the duration of its existence, and where the map information came from that creatures use in conjunction with the magnetic field to navigate over the surface of the earth. To support a billions year old “dynamo” and evolution evolved maps, you must necessarily argue from ignorance.

Which is the more rational explanation?


Footnotes 

1 Based on work by Dr. Thomas Barnes in 1971, referenced from: John D. Morris, Earth’s Magnetic Field, ICR, accessed 9/28/2015 http://www.icr.org/article/earths-magnetic-field/
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2 Kelly Dickerson, Earth’s Magnetic Field Flip could Happen Sooner Than Expected, Scientific American, 7/9/2014, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-s-magnetic-field-flip-could-happen-sooner-than-expected/
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3 Jonathan Sarfati, The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution Atlanta, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2010 p210
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4  D. Russell Humphreys, The Creation of Planetary Magnetic Fields, Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal, CRSQ Volume 21, Number 3 (December 1984), http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles/21/21_3/21_3.html

“The strength of a dipole field’s source is called its magnetic moment. It is proportional to the amount of current circulating in the source and the area encircled by the current. The dipole magnetic moment of the earth today is 7.9 x 1022 joules per Tesla (1 J/T = 1 Ampere-meter2 = 1000 Gauss-cm3).

To calculate the magnetic moment of a planet at creation, we must know the original material. In the previous article I presented Scriptural evidence that God originally created the Earth as a sphere of pure water. One of the Scriptures is the last part of 2 Peter 3:5 (NASB): “. . . and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” Shortly after that, God must have transformed much of the water into other matter, such as iron, silicon, minerals, and rock.”

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5  D. Russell Humphreys, The Creation of Planetary Magnetic Fields
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6 D. Russell Humphreys, The Creation of Planetary Magnetic Fields
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7 D. Russell Humphreys, The Creation of Planetary Magnetic Fields
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8 John D. Morris, Earth’s Magnetic Field
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9 Cited in: Folger, T., Journeys to  the Center of the Earth: Our planet’s core powers a magnetic field that shields us from a hostile cosmos. But how does it really work?
Discover, July/August 2014
Referenced from: Jonathan Sarfati,  The earth’s magnetic field: evidence that the earth is young, 3/1988
updated 8/2014 http://creation.com/the-earths-magnetic-field-evidence-that-the-earth-is-young
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10 Scientists initially came up with the idea that a cosmic collision like one that supposedly created earth’s moon hit Mars and disrupted the field. Then it was thought that one strike wouldn’t be enough, the dynamo should still work, so the collisions went up to 5. Now there’s a theory that states it would take up to twenty cosmic collisions to kill the theorized dynamo that they suppose generated the missing Martian magnetic field.

Did Mars’s Magnetic Field Die With a Whimper or a Bang?, Science Magazine, 4/30/2009 http://news.sciencemag.org/2009/04/did-marss-magnetic-field-die-whimper-or-bang

Lisa Grossman, Multiple Asteroid Strikes May Have Killed Mars’ Magnetic Field, Science, 1/20/2011 http://www.wired.com/2011/01/mars-dynamo-death/
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11 Birds, particularly Homing Pigeons are well known for their navigational abilities. Scientists have long suspected they use the earth’s magnetic field due to their ability to navigate without visual references, and now they are finding evidence to support that theory. See: John Gorman Study Sheds Light on How Birds Navigate by Magnetic Field, NY Times, 4/26/2012 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/science/study-sheds-light-on-how-pigeons-navigate-by-magnetic-field.html?_r=1
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12 Less well known are the navigational abilities of water creatures such as salmon and eels, also by means of the earth’s magnetic field. See: John C. Ogden & Thomas P. Quinn, Migration in Coral Reef Fishes: Ecological Significance and Orientation Mechanisms, NOAA, 2012 http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/general/lib/CREWS/SaltRiver/salt_river38.pdf
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13 Gorman, Study Sheds Light on How Birds Navigate by Magnetic Field
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Image: The Aurora  over Australia. The polar lights are caused by charged particles from the solar wind bouncing off the earth’s magnetic field.

Credit: Aurora australis 20050911” by NASA – IMAGE Spacecraft Pictures Aurora : Image of the Day. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

 

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Duane Caldwell
Duane holds a B.Sc. in Aeronautics and a M.Div. from Trinity International University. A former pastor, one of his favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 11.9: "...for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Until that day arrives Duane is distressed to see the glory due God given to false ideas like Evolution and the Big Bang. He is likewise distressed to see those deceived into believing that science contradicts the Bible or has solved all problems apart from God. He considers his current ministry to be demonstrating why the Christian worldview is the only true worldview, and why science does not contradict it or the Bible. He blogs on numerous topics touching the faith at Rationalfaith.com.

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