Did Earth’s axial tilt originate at Noah’s Flood?
Tom writes in, and CMI’s Joshua Howells responds, interspersed:
Thank you for your Ministry. It has been very important helping me wade through all of the lies the world’s system of science present. I have searched through your database of articles and could not seem to find the answers or I probably asked the wrong questions during the search. Two questions relating to planets:
Thanks for your email.
1) Planet Earth is tilted on its axis. I understand that there is a probability that the tilt may have happened during the catastrophic explosions and shifts causing the flood and destroying all life on earth except all that were in the Ark. Are all planets tilted on their axis like our earth?
Earth’s axial tilt, the angular difference between its rotational axis and its orbital axis (a line perpendicular to its orbital plane around the sun) of 23.5 degrees is necessary for the seasons we experience on earth.
Although the amount of axial tilt on earth varies (very slightly) over time it is kept stable by the moon’s relatively strong gravitational pull on the earth.
Therefore, the earth’s axial tilt has likely remained unchanged since Creation Week. If the tilt did alter during Noah’s flood, it would probably not constitute a significant change. This is because the earth’s massive angular momentum strongly resists such changes, and the tilt itself is a crucial design feature. Indeed, Genesis 1:14 mentions seasons—indicating the tilt has been present from the beginning (for a discussion on the Hebrew word for seasons, ‘moed’, see the question from Andrew L. and subsequent answer in the comments section). To get an idea of how important the earth’s tilt is, it is instructive to know that Mars’ higher rate of change of axial tilt has been suggested to be the reason why it has lost all its surface water!
If we were to imagine a 0 degree tilt, as most clearly predicted by the naturalistic story of solar system formation, the nebular hypothesis, there would be no seasons, therefore a lot of crops would not be able to grow. The equatorial regions would be permanently hot, and polar regions permanently cold. The earth would be far less fertile – discounting global wind cells, only the green banded areas in figure 2 would be temperate. For an idea of how ecosystems would change, see the image in this article, where climatologist, Robin Smith has simulated an earth with 0-degree tilt.
If the earth had a tilt of 90 degrees, similar to Uranus, the northern hemisphere would experience sunlight for half a year, while the southern hemisphere would endure darkness for an equivalent period. This scenario would result in six months of continuous light followed by six months of perpetual darkness. The prolonged exposure to light would deplete humans of melatonin, potentially causing depression. Additionally, some inland temperatures could soar beyond 100 °C, the boiling point of water. The elevated sea temperatures could instigate severe hurricanes.
However, more critically, during the six months of darkness, green plants would be unable to survive (without artificial light). This inability to undergo photosynthesis would lead to a severe lack of oxygen, resulting in the death of the majority of life forms. The consequences would be catastrophic for the earth’s ecosystems.
Although the nebular hypothesis predicts that the sun and all solar system planets would spin in the same plane, they do not. See this list below:
Axial tilt with respect to the earth’s orbital plane
The nebular hypothesis would also have all the planets spinning in the same direction, but Venus spins in the opposite direction, as does Uranus. Note the axial tilt of Uranus in the table above – Uranus spins on its side!
The naturalistic explanation for these discrepancies is that past asteroid impacts have knocked them all off 0 degrees, but this seems unlikely since the orbital eccentricities should reflect such a massive disturbance.
2) Why is it that whenever we look at a full moon, we always see that familiar ‘man in the moon’ face? Isn’t it constantly rotating like other planets so that it would be hit or miss to see that face?
The moon is tidally locked to the earth, meaning that we do, indeed, always see the same face of the moon. The gravitational force of the moon on the earth causes two tidal bulges to form on the earth, one on the side facing the moon and the other on the opposite side. The gravitational force of the moon is stronger on the near side of the earth than on the far side, which causes the water on the near side to bulge out towards the moon, creating a high tide. On the far side of the earth, the gravitational force of the moon is weaker, which allows the water to bulge out away from the moon, also creating a high tide. Similarly, the gravitational force of the earth on the moon causes two tidal bulges to form on the moon, one on the side facing the earth and the other on the opposite side. As a result of these bulges, a slower or faster spinning moon (than the current one spin per earth orbit) would experience a torque from the gravitational force of the earth on the tidal bulges, thereby speeding up or slowing down the rotation of the moon, until the point of tidal locking. However, it may be that the moon was created already tidally locked to the earth.
I pray often for your great ministry and support when possible.