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The planets are young: 1
Mercury and Venus


Published: 14 August 2019 (GMT+10)
Prof. Brian Cox

In May and June 2019, the BBC TV showed British audiences a five-episode series about our solar system, narrated by Professor Brian Cox and titled The Planets. It was aired in Australia by ABC-Channel 2 in July–August 2019. Our response is titled “The planets are young”. We shall discuss Cox’s claimed long ages and evolutionary origin of these planets vs recent creation for them as described in the Bible, and see which scenario fits the evidence the best. We start with the first episode, A Moment in the Sun—The Terrestrial Planets: Mercury and Venus.

The terrestrial (from Latin, terra = earth) planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. They are the four planets nearer to the Sun than the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, and the ice giants Uranus and Neptune. Concerning the formation of the terrestrials, Cox says:

“For the first few million years after the Sun formed there were no planets to see it rise. Just clouds of dust and gas, the leftovers from the birth of the Sun. Over tens of millions of years, the dust began to stick together and form the first rocks. Eventually, gravity assembled the rocks to create planetary embryos that in time formed the four planets closest to the Sun.”

This is the nebular hypothesis—the belief that our solar system formed from a nebula, or cloud of dust and gas that supposedly contracted or collapsed due to its own gravity. But it is not a property of gas to spontaneously condense into stars like our Sun, nor of dust to spontaneously form rocks. We all know from our experience with an aerosol spray that gas disperses. Cox offers no scientific evidence for his assertions. Rather, his aim is to tell viewers the evolutionary story. So, we shall evaluate his story according to the known laws of science, and in the process show that Mercury disproves the evolutionary nebular hypothesis for the origin of the solar system.

For a detailed critique of the nebular hypothesis revealing its many fatal flaws see:



Concerning Mercury, Cox says: “More than any other planet it has endured the unflinching glare of the Sun for billions of years. Temperatures at midday can rise to 430º Celsius on the surface, but at night, because it’s got no atmosphere, temperatures fall to minus 170º.”

Mercury was investigated by NASA’s Messenger spacecraft, which orbited Mercury from March 2011 to April 2015. Cox tells viewers that the data revealed that “Mercury’s core extends out about 85% from the centre of the planet to the surface. It’s almost entirely an exposed planetary core.” And he continued:

“The discovery of relatively large concentrations of elements like sulphur and potassium on Mercury’s surface was a huge surprise … because they are so-called volatile elements—they boil away easily—so you will only find high concentrations further out, in the colder reaches of the solar system. So Mercury is an enigma, and discoveries like these have forced us to completely rethink our theories about the formation of the planets.”

Be alert for comments such as this. Whenever you hear scientists speak of an enigma, or a surprise, and of the need to rethink their theories, realise they are alluding to evidence that shows their theories do not work. But they do not say this because they do not want to abandon their naturalistic assumptions. To explain this enigma of the relatively large core, and the presence of volatiles on it, Cox says: “We now think Mercury was born perhaps 170 million kilometres further away, close to the orbit of Mars.” Note that by “we” he means ‘we evolutionists’.

Bluish hollows on Mercury’s craters are thought to be due to volatile deposits escaping from the rocks. They indicate a young age, as such geological activity should have ceased eons ago, if the planet was old.

Cox continues:

“If Mercury began its life 170 million kilometres further away from the Sun, then it would have been in a region of space where young Mars was also forming. This region was full of scores of planetary embryos all fighting for position. Among the chaos, something large kicked Mercury inwards towards the Sun. Mercury collided with another embryo. A glancing blow saw much of its crust and mantle lost to space. If the theory is correct, then Mercury, now little more than a planetary core, continued towards the Sun and ended up in the peculiar elliptical orbit we see today.”

Cox offers no scientific evidence in favour of this anecdotal scenario, which evolutionists invented to rescue their nebular hypothesis. In fact, if the alleged impact was blistering enough to remove the crust containing the volatiles from Mercury but the volatiles are still there, then there was no large impact! So what is the reason for this impact story? Only that if it did not happen, Mercury would be a huge problem for the evolutionary theory for the origin of the solar system.

Cox appears to realize this. He admits:

“The theory does have problems. Any collision violent enough to do that, heats up the planet, and that boils away the volatiles. … So I think it’s fair to say that the precise nature of Mercury’s formation is still one of the great unsolved mysteries in planetary science.”

However, the problem is not a problem for the biblical account of how the solar system formed.

The problem of Mercury’s magnetic field

Another problem for evolutionists is that Mercury has a magnetic field, which evolutionists say originates from the dynamo effect created by the rotation of its liquid iron-nickel core. Evolutionists claim that Mercury is so small its core should have frozen solid eons ago, i.e. it can’t have a liquid core. So, according to evolutionists, it can’t have a magnetic field—but it does have a magnetic field.

NASA’s Messenger spacecraft found that Mercury’s magnetic field is decaying, with a half-life of ~320 years. This is strong evidence of an origin for Mercury of just a few thousand years ago, not billions of years ago, as its magnetic field would have been impossibly strong just a million years ago.

Mercury’s north-pole water-ice

These occasional areas (shown in yellow) at Mercury’s north polar region are thought to contain deposits of water-ice.

Towards the end of this episode, Cox tells viewers that the Messenger spacecraft detected “hundreds of billions of tonnes of frozen water-ice scattered in the permanent shadows of the polar craters” of Mercury. And he says that “ice could be stable in those polar regions that are permanently shadowed for billions of years”.

We suggest that the shorter biblical time frame of a few thousand years is a much more plausible time frame for this ice to have continually existed than the evolutionary time frame of billions of years.

Conclusion re Mercury

Mercury’s formation and content is not a mystery to Bible-believing scientists. It, and the other planets, were formed by God on Day 4 of Creation Week as asserted in God’s Word, the Bible (Genesis 1:14–19). It is only a problem, and an enormous one, for evolutionists who deny the Creator and claim it formed by natural processes.

The Apostle Paul’s comment on the ‘wisdom of the world’ of his day, certainly applies here also: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

For more on Mercury see:



Cox introduces Venus as a planet which “at first sight has the potential to be far more Earth-like [than Mercury]”, and he poses the question, “Where did it all go wrong for Venus?” By way of answer, he tells viewers: “3.5 to 4 billion years ago, the Sun was fainter” than now, and he continued:

“Within a few million years of its formation, the surface of Venus had cooled. The planet now found itself at just the right distance from the faint young Sun for Venus to experience a sight familiar to us here on Earth. The heavens opened. Great torrents flooded the surface. Rivers of water flowed. Venus became an ocean world. The planet’s atmosphere allowed it to hold on to the oceans by acting as a blanket, keeping the surface temperate, thanks to the greenhouse effect.”

Then, “Gradually, over 2 billion years, the young Sun grew brighter, temperatures began to rise … Venus’s moment in the Sun was over. Its cracked surface today is even hotter than Mercury’s, making Venus the hottest of all the planets.”

So what should we make of all this?

The surface of Venus is a hot, inhospitable place, incapable of supporting life.

The cooler Sun is called the ‘faint young Sun’ from the evolutionary idea that, over millions of years, as the Sun gets older, it ‘burns’ hotter and hotter as it shrinks, and so shines more brightly as it ages. However, there is no evidence that the Sun was fainter at any time in Earth’s history. Astronomers call this the ‘faint young sun paradox’, but it is no paradox at all if the Sun is only as old as the Bible says—about 6,000 years.


Venus is a planet of extremes. Its surface is covered in lava flows, but these appear to be fresh with no evidence of erosion over billions of years. The best explanation for them is that Venus is as young as the Bible says—about 6,000 years.

Venus’ retrograde rotation

Most planets rotate on their axis anti-clockwise or prograde. Venus rotates the opposite way, clockwise or retrograde, contrary to evolutionary theory.

We suggest that Cox could have used his TV time better to discuss the huge problem Venus poses for the nebular hypothesis. To an observer on Venus, the sun would rise in the west and set in the east. This contradicts the nebular hypothesis, which predicts that as the nebula spiralled inwards all the resulting planets would rotate on their axes in the same direction, i.e. anti-clockwise, called prograde. However, Venus rotates on its axis in the opposite direction, i.e. clockwise, called retrograde. Hence the anomalous sunrise and sunset. See: Venus: cauldron of fire.

Conclusion re Venus

We suggest that many of the problems that confound the long-age evolutionary theories for a naturalistic origin of Venus would disappear if scientists would work with a biblical perspective. Mostly, Venus is the way it is because that’s the way God made Venus during the Creation Week, but it has been modified by subsequent solar system catastrophes connected with the global Noachian Flood.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Max O.
Can you please give me the reference for the statement that Mercury’s magnetic field is decaying, with a half-life of ~320 years? I have looked for it, but cannot find it.
Jonathan Sarfati
The explicit mention of this half-life is in Dr Russell Humphreys’ paper Mercury’s crust is magnetized—more evidence for a young solar system. To justify this, he refers to his earlier paper Mercury’s magnetic field is fading fast—latest spacecraft data confirm evidence for a young solar system. This is based on secular papers on the measurements of Mercury’s magnetic field that have shown a marked decrease in only a few years. And since dynamo theories are especially problematic for Mercury because it is so small that it should not still have a liquid core after the assumed billions of years, and exponential decay from its last addition of energy is a normal type of decay in nature, it was reasonable to work out a decay constant from the measurements. That is, from measurements of the field (Bt) at different times (t, starting from the field at an arbitrary zero time B0), the standard formula incorporating a decay constant (k) is:

Bt = B0e–kt

And half-life (t1⁄2) is easily related to the decay constant (k) by:

t1⁄2 = ln(2)/k
Philip G.
Dr Sarfati’s response is probably on the right track with regard to widespread catastrophism in the solar system. The Bible only records the consequences on Earth.
The cratering of the inner planets and moons, is enigmatic if one considers meteorites. All the craters are roundish, indicating that all the meteors fell to the surfaces, with their trajectory towards the center of the planet or moon. There are no glancing craters. They are all roundish.
My conclusion is, that craters are not all formed by meteorites. The actual shape of the craters is roughly hexagonal, with a small raised center, which is atypical of impacts.
The shape is however, typical of electrical arcs.
My thought is that the cataclysm of the flood period, was more widespread than planet Earth. It seems that the whole solar system was affected. Even Pluto has evidence of cratering. Our solar system is heliocentric, so whatever happens to the sun, affects the whole system. Witness that it is not just the earth’s climate that is warming. It is all the planets that we can measure.
Similarly, when God warned Noah of a flood to come, was He about to change the other planets as well? I believe so. Earth as we know it today, is vastly different to the pre-flood world. If we could visit Earth in Noah’s time, it would no doubt be unrecognisable to us. Everything changed dramatically.
Mercury and Venus too, I surmise, are very different to their pre-flood forms.
Andrei A.
If Mercury’s orbit was changed from a higher orbit to the lower one closer to the Sun as we see today, wouldn’t that mean that Mercury needed two impacts? One to change the orbit to an elliptical one with the periapsis closer to the sun and then another slow dow to bring the apoapsis to where it is today?

Just like the comets that come close to the sun but they are never slowed down and captured into a low Sun orbit as their speeds shoot them back up. When we send a spacecraft to another planet we do need to slow it down to enter a stable orbit. How did Mercury slow down after the initial ‘burn’ that sent it closer to the sun?
Errol B.
Regarding the solar system’s cratered bodies, including the Moon. I’ve noticed the increased brightness reflected by these areas. Genesis 1:16 reads; “God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.”
I’m curious as to how much different the solidified lava beds aka maria or ‘seas’, are compared to the cratered areas. Could it be that Genesis 1:16 speaks of a design to assist ‘Man’ at night? If the moon was completely void of craters, how much less visibility would there be during a full moon?
Jonathan Sarfati
Actually, the lunar maria are solidified flows of basalt lava, and basalt is a dark, sometimes black, rock.
Pratha S.
Once again, we have evolutionists saying that the planets—indeed the whole universe—is old. The Bible is clear that this is simply not the case—and God would certainly know better than man would. Like the evolutionists saying everything is old—those very arguments are ‘old’.
Gerry T.
I find Dr Cox’s comment interesting. He claims for the first several million years of the sun's existence there were no planets to witness its rise. According to his view the planets arose slowly over the next several million years due to the constant colliding and accumulation of dust into rocks and the resulting rocks into the planets of the inner solar system. As Dr Cox is obviously an intelligent man one would assume he is aware that the constant colliding of rocky particles is going to result in erosion not accumulation. Instead of going from dust to rocks this process would result in rocks going to dust. I’m curious as to how intelligent people come to hold so strongly beliefs which are counter to observable evidence?
Gerry T.
I would have thought Dr Cox was intelligent enough to know the sun does not actually rise, it only appears to do so for observers on a rotating planetary body.
Jonathan Sarfati
Of course he knows that. But remember this next time a biblioskeptic attacks the Bible for allegedly teaching absolute geocentrism for using exactly the same type of reference-frame (or ‘phenomenological’) language. Also, sometimes Scripture uses a different reference frame from earth, e.g. Acts 27:27, where the Greek literally says, “toward the middle of the night the sailors began sensing some land to be drawing near to them” (Berean Literal Bible, the most literal translation that keeps the Greek accusative and infinitive construction), a nauticocentric reference frame.
We need to recognize that Cox was merely appearing as a spokesperson for a much larger ‘science’ community of writers because he could read the script well. And, they put the words in his mouth that they thought was wanted to be heard. A soothing bedtime story, not real science. And, when we as a Christian community believe him, we have believed fairy tales.
But, we also need to consider that many fossil layers on earth are tied up in sediments that appear to be associated with cratering deposits, like the Morrison Formation, the largest source of dinosaur fossils in the US. It centers on an apparent crater in southern Wyoming, Bridger Basin, and its boundaries of deposition are limited by circular formations that resemble impact produced events.
Raymond S.
If accelerated nuclear decay was God’s mechanism to generate heat to power accelerated plate tectonics and produce the Flood, that would affect every celestial body, perhaps causing bodies made of a mix of ice and rock to explode and create bombardment. Every rocky planet shows signs of four phases: formation, bombardment, recovery, and modern conditions. For Earth that would be Creation, the Flood, the Ice Age, and the present. For the Moon, it is formation (lunar highlands), bombardment (massive craters), recovery (maria lava flows), and the present.
Kirk B.
Brian Cox is a great storyteller with a rich imagination. He should perhaps transfer to a position in creative writing.
I have thought of the same possible scenario during the Flood, that could have impacted the other planets making them uninhabitable. Did God perhaps have ideas for man and these other planets before this Judgment on earth occurred? This is probably unknowable, but it makes me smile to think of all the possibilities that the Lord is capable of doing. USA
Frank B.
As a Creationist myself, I have sometimes wondered how Mercury, Venus, and our moon all look remarkably alike when seeing a cratered surface on all three, although Mars seems to be the exception concerning rocky planets. The usual explanation which is given by secular astronomers and scientists is meteor impact, although we hardly see any of that at present, at least not with the intensity which would have given the surfaces as they look now.
But looking a the surface of these spheres, I can't help get the impression that these craters are actually “burst bubble rims”—something I have seen when cooking a viscous liquid such as a sauce on the hob. When bubbles rise and burst, they do leave momentary rims on the surface of the liquid resembling these craters.
Therefore may I put for this idea, that during the fourth day, when God created these bodies, it was in molten lava form, which surfaces rapidly cooled within hours? Just a thought.
Doug B.
Thank you for your comments on recent ABC and BBC programs. As you know, they won't show sensible programs on these subjects but continue to push out the evolution nonsense. On ABC radio there was news about something that had been found in Australia this week that was 160 M years old with no explanation of how they knew this.
Melvyne C.
Good article and a good reply to Heather with ref to Dr Faulkner.
My belief is that cratering occurred at Day four, and to some extent maybe when the earth was formed. That is, because meteorites may themselves helped form the planets and moons. This hypothesis clearly needs work, always limited due to human understanding of how miraculous powers work. Some centripetal force bringing meteorites together, themselves, first an ascending order of particles were miraculously delivered in order to build bigger bodies?
Heather S.
I don’t follow your last sentence. How exactly was Noah’s Flood a solar system-wide thing? I was under the impression that the Flood was an Earthwide thing. Why would anything stemming from a massive amount of rain on Earth, the release of the waters of the deep on Earth, volcanic activity on Earth etc. affect Venus (or the Sun, or Neptune, or anything else in the wider solar system) at all?
Jonathan Sarfati
You raise a very fair question. The answer lies in explaining the timing of the cratering we observe throughout the solar system. About 20 years ago, Dr Danny Faulkner proposed:

The cratering patterns observed on the moon were formed during two distinct impacting episodes. The abundant small craters on the lunar highland surfaces were caused by meteor impacts around the time of the Fall or perhaps during Creation Week itself. The large impact basins and resultant maria were formed at the time of the Flood by a narrow, intense, swarm of meteoroids travelling on parallel paths. The meteoroids were likely comets or fragments of a large comet.

I.e. just as the Fall had cosmic scope, cursing the whole creation, so perhaps the universal judgement of the Flood had wider effects than the earth. Not that other bodies were affected by the eruptions of the fountains of the great deep or the windows of heaven opening, but that catastrophic events were not confined to the earth.

The proposal led to fruitful discussions among creationist astronomers. All the same, this was mainly confined to the earth and moon. More recently, Dr Faulkner has developed his idea about cratering during creation week to explain the cratering elsewhere in the solar system, arguing that most happened on Day 4. This would not violate the pre-Fall goodness of creation because no nephesh chayyah would be hurt.

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