Feedback archive Feedback 2013

Saturn: not so young after all?

NASA Saturn

R.N. from Australia writes:


This is in relation to the Young Saturn article. I sent the link off to a colleague who believes in an old universe and he came back with this:

Yeah I have been following Cassini and Huygens since launch in 2004.

  1. Enceladus: The water eruptions is due to the stretching on the moon from Saturns gravity. The little moon is literally squeezed due to Saturns massive gravity. This type of effect is not uncommon. Io, a major moon of Jupiter is extremely active with volcano’s due to Jupiter’s massive gravitational effect. There is also a moon around either Uranus or Neptune that has geysers erupting. Basically it’s heat generated by friction on a massive scale.
  2. The Main rings: If you goto ref No.5 from the Creation.com article, saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/newsreleases/newsrelease20071212 is actually strongly arguing for a much older ring system (previously proposed as 100 million years) to billions of years. It mentions the contamination issue but I think it is fair to say the creation.com article is taking that grossly out of context.
  3. Faint Rings: The summary seems to be pure conjecture and a wild interpretation. I don’t think it’s really evidential.
  4. Saturn Magnetosphere: Not sure what point is being made here. Every planet has different axis angles. Some are more dynamic. Eg Uranus is almost 90 degrees! So it’s polar region is facing the sun. Yes, Saturn’s magnetosphere defies “earth” evolutionary dynamo theories. Saturn is vastly different. We think there may be a rocky core or it could be liquefied hydrogen. It’s a gas giant and different dynamo effects are ensured to happen. It’s like comparing an apple to an orange. Again, the point about ions from Enceladus—it’s an interpretation that means little.
  5. Iapetus: I notice the article is referencing creationsafaris.com article (ref No.18). Without further study, I think a few young creations assume constant rates over time for many things. This is one reason the size of the sun argument is debunked and possibly the dust on our own moon argument as well. You cannot take a “sample” and assume it’s a constant without further supporting evidence. It’s funny how many young creationists use this exact same “assumption” argument against proponents of an old universe when it comes to things like radioactive dating (for eg). The difference usually is the assumptions made by proponents of an old universe are generally very tested and cross checked with other evidence from different fields.
  6. Titan Atmosphere: Yes well 10 million years is still a long time but a simple answer to this is we are experiencing the period in Titan’s history where it has this atmosphere. Quite simple really. It’s the same with how we are witnesses to the giant red spot in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Just because we see it now does not mean these things always were. Planets and their satellite systems are dynamic, not static.
  7. Titan’s surface: Again same point as before but also adding that once again a constant is assumed (as before). It’s conjecture based on assumptions that cannot be proven by the young creationist. In fact, to be honest, they are assumptions been based on hope.
Now I’ve had many conversations with this person and as his interest is in astronomy (I have no clue about this really) it is very difficult to discuss this with him, I have referenced many, many articles to him not just from you guys but he always come back with something else. I’m kind of at a loss as to how to show him that what the Bible says is 100% true. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

David Coppedge responds:

Some quick points.

  1. There’s not enough tidal flexing to account for the activity on Enceladus.1,2 “There is no possible combination of parameters that allow for a thermally stable ocean” under Enceladus’ crust (see Hopes Die for Enceladus Longevity at creationsafaris.com).
  2. The most Larry Esposito can stretch the age out to is 1 billion years, about 1/5 the assumed age … and that’s just for the B-ring, the densest one. The other rings are much more vulnerable, esp. the F-ring, and E-ring that has to be constantly supplied by Enceladus or it would vanish in decades. The problem is so severe that another ad hoc theory was proposed more recently: See Keeping Saturn Old at crev.info.3 The rings of Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are also very tenuous.
  3. So who’s guilty of conjecture and wild speculation here?
  4. Ditto. (Stay tuned for CMI’s soon-to-be-published new solar system book about magnetospheres.)
  5. Bluffing and unsupported assertions. The critic has apparently not read the literature referenced in my article. I was not making assumptions; I was using theirs. Their own assumptions show that Iapetus cannot be as old as claimed, and so ad hoc hypotheses must be added to keep it old. “The difference usually is the assumptions made by proponents of an old universe are generally very tested and cross checked with other evidence from different fields”—bluffing and glittering generalities.
  6. Leading Titan scientists like Jonathan Lunine and Sushil Atreya treat these as big problems. The guy is dodging the observations, pretending they are not serious. 10 million years is 1/450th the assumed age of the solar system. The process of ethane production and methane depletion is irreversible. They predicted a global ocean of ethane kilometers deep—it wasn’t there, instead sand dunes all over the equatorial latitudes.
  7. Empty speculation that rates are not constant. Evidence?

The problems I listed in my article (and many more around the solar system) were all surprises to planetary scientists—not predictions. It’s not that evolutionary scientists are unable to concoct ad hoc scenarios to rescue old ages. It’s that the data require a story to fit their belief.

Dave C

Published: 4 July 2013


  1. Meyer, J. and Wisdom J., Tidal heating in Enceladus, Icarus 188(2):535–539, 2007. Return to text.
  2. Roberts, J.H. and Nimmo, F., Tidal heating and the long-term stability of a subsurface ocean on Enceladus, Icarus 194(2):675–689, 2008. Return to text.
  3. Moskvitch, K., Giant moon collision ‘may have formed Saturn’s rings’, BBC news, bbc.co.uk, 6 October 2010. Return to text.