Where did our moon come from?
In 1848 Édouard Roche [1820-1883] at the Paris Observatory wrote a paper that became known as The Roche Limit. It is still valid today and is defined as the distance between a planet's center and its satellite within which the satellite cannot approach [or leave] the planet without breaking up. This is caused by the difference in gravitational attraction that produces tension between the far side and the near side of the smaller satellite body.
Three theories have since been proposed for the origin of the moon:
- The Fission or Break-Away Theory proposed in 1879 by George Darwin, son of Charles Darwin. This theory says that very early in Earth's history the moon had spun off from the rapidly spinning molten earth. There were several difficulties with the theory but principally the molten moon would necessarily have had to pass through the Roche Limit and, like water from a garden hose, would have broken up into smaller "droplets." George Darwin should have known this, yet, although officially rejected, this theory is still trotted out to students.
- The Capture Theory. Introduced in the light of deficiencies with Darwin's Fission Theory, the Capture Theory argues that as it wandered through the solar system, the moon was captured by the Earth's gravitational field. Of course, this only removes the problem of the lunar origin beyond man's reach for it.
- The Nebular or Condensation Theory proposed in 1951 calls for an independent accretion growth of the Earth and moon from dust and gases in the same region of space. That is, gases in space are said to condense from, first a nebula and eventually a dense body. We might be reminded that this same explanation is offered today for the evolution of stars of which our sun is one. However, it is openly admitted that this theory is highly unlikely because the conditions must be so precisely balanced.
On July 21, 1969, part of mission 11 of the Apollo program was to place a box of mirrors on a flat surface of the moon for the laser-ranging experiments. A large telescope on earth was aimed at the mirrors, a pulse of laser light sent out and the time interval between leaving and returning gave a measure of the distance between the Earth and the moon. That distance was obtained to within a few centimeters, and the overall result is that the moon is steadily drifting away from the Earth by four centimeters, almost two inches, per year. In 1982, just over a century after Darwin's Break-away Theory, Stephenson concluded that at this rate of separation from the Earth, the initial break-away took place less than one billion years ago. Once again, the subsequent effect of The Roche Limit has been overlooked, but worse than that is the one billion years. According to every textbook, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and could not have been rapidly spinning and molten only one billion years ago!
The origin of our moon – and every other moon in our planetary system – is a total and confessed mystery to those who attempt to ascribe it to evolution. While no man was there to witness the origin of the moon, the Creator of every celestial body in the universe was there and has left us with His description. According to Scripture, the moon was created just three days after the Earth [Genesis 1:1 and 1:16-19] and less than ten thousand years ago.
Stephenson, R. 1982. Scientific American. Vol. 247 [October] p.173.