Lunar eclipse, loony offerings
Published: 4 September 2007 (GMT+10)
The latest lunar eclipse (of which many people in eastern Australia had a very good view on the evening of 28th August 2007) brought forth a swag of loony offerings.
By that we don’t mean that we saw people offering sacrifices to a ‘moon god’.
Rather, certain newspapers and other dubious publications alerting readers to the impending eclipse warned that you could expect an imminent ending of things, e.g. relationships, or even that investments in the stock market would suddenly turn sour.
However, we must admit that we were somewhat taken aback that Australia’s taxpayer-funded national broadcaster, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), on its website’s Question-&-Answer page about the eclipse,1 unashamedly put up the following offering:
Qu.: So why doesn’t it [the lunar eclipse] happen every full moon?
Ans.: If intelligent design existed maybe it would. But whoever flung the planets into orbit was off the mark by about 5 degrees when it came to lining up the moon with the earth. So most times when there’s a full moon the moon completely misses the earth’s shadow—it passes above or below it. The sun, earth and moon only line up properly a few times a year.
What an offering! Or rather, we should say, an accusation (against God)—an accusation that the Creator didn’t line up the heavenly bodies ‘properly’. And then, in the same breath, the ABC website implies that this means that intelligent design therefore does not exist!
There are a number of points to be made about this.
Note that the anti-God brigade at the ABC have clutched at the lunar eclipse as an opportunity to denigrate the Creator. In one sense, if only more Christians could be as alert. That’s because the Bible counsels us to be alert for, and make the most of, every opportunity (Colossians 4:5, NIV) to proclaim the One by whom, and for whom, all things were made (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16). And they were indeed made; and if we consider the way that the sun, earth and moon move relative to one another, it makes a lot of very practical sense—evidence that they were designed that way.
For starters, the anti-God ‘offering’ reproduced above blatantly ignores the great design feature of being able to have total eclipses at all! See Danny Faulkner’s article The angular size of the moon and other planetary satellites: An argument for Design.2
Also, who’s to say that design must be restricted to circular orbits and not elliptical ones? And why insist (unreasonably) that for the solar system to have been designed it must exist all on the same plane? To say what a Creator would or would not do is really a theological argument, not a scientific one—i.e. they are claiming that a designer wouldn’t design something like this. But how would they know that? In fact, doesn’t it require more intelligence to create a sustainable three-dimensional movement of the orbiting bodies, with elliptical orbits, rather than restricting it to two dimensions, and purely circular orbits?
And note this. If the Moon’s near circular but non-axis-aligned-with-the-Earth orbit was not off by 5 degrees and the Earth’s axis was not off the ecliptic by 23 degrees then the northern or southern bays and inlets of our planet would not get flushed out by the tides as the tides would only be strong around the equator. Thus only the equatorial bays, gulfs and inlets would be regularly ‘washed’. But as things are, the whole planet’s ocean shorelines are nicely flushed regularly with fresh, aerated seawater. Seems like design to us, and very good design at that.
It seems that sceptics just can’t resist resorting to ‘bad design’ arguments at every opportunity, no matter how illogical. (See, e.g. Where are the emperor’s clothes?, and The good, the bad and the evolutionary—evolutionists designing (their arguments) badly.) One wonders if they’ve read 1 Timothy 1:7b: ‘They don’t understand either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.’
Their behaviour reminds us of a famous (rather, infamous) Australian race horse from the 1920s known as ‘Drongo’.3 Try and try as he might, in 37 starts poor Drongo didn’t win a single race. The bad design argument appears to be flogging Drongo; not only a dead horse but one that could never win.
Post Script: ABC intelligently removes anti-ID ‘offering’
A reader has advised us that the ABC has now very intelligently edited out its criticism of ‘intelligent design’ in their lunar eclipse Q&A feature page. It now reads:
Qu.: So why doesn’t it [the lunar eclipse] happen every full Moon?
Ans.: If you could draw a straight line between the Sun and the Earth, the Moon’s orbit would seem inclined to it by about 5 degrees. So most times when there’s a full Moon the Moon completely misses the Earth’s shadow—it passes above or below it. The Sun, Earth and Moon only line up exactly a few times a year.
(For those readers who’d like to see the ABC web page as it was originally, we have saved a snapshot of it here.)
Irrespective of whether it was because the author (ABC science journalist Bernie Hobbs) had a change of heart, or whether it was at the editorial hand of a more senior colleague, we applaud and congratulate the ABC for taking that action. However, we have one criticism though, there’s no mention of this text having been updated since the publication date, specified as 23rd August, despite the fact that the content has been very significantly changed. (It could hardly be considered a ‘minor edit’.)
- ABC Science Online, Features—Eclipse of the moon August 2007, www.abc.net.au/science/features/lunaeclipse2007, accessed 28 August 2007. Return to Text.
- Originally published in Creation Research Society Quarterly 35(1):23–26, June 1998. Return to Text.
- ‘Drongo’ is also an Australian slang term for ‘fool’ or ‘idiot’. See: slll.cass.anu.edu.au/centres/andc/meanings-origins/d. Return to Text.
- The lunar eclipse, as seen in Eastern Australia on 28th 2007. The process took 3 hrs 33 mins. Return to Text.