Water on Mars: A Creationist Response

A response by Dr Russ Humphreys

I’m delighted with Pathfinder’s reaffirmation of a global flood on Mars. I say ‘reaffirmation’ because those of us with some slight memory of the 1970’s can recall news stories saying there was once a lot of water on Mars [‘Mars in Focus,’ Science News, 109:366–370, June 5 & 12, 1976].

The first reason for my delight is that it helps people imagine the Genesis flood. After all, if a planet which is presently dryer than the Gobi desert could once have been covered with water, then how much more possible would such a deluge be for the Earth—whose surface is three-quarters covered with water two miles deep?

The second reason is that it supports the Bible’s implication of a water origin for all things [Genesis 1:2, 6–10; 2 Peter 3:5]. Water (often as ice) is everywhere in the solar system: in comets, planetary rings, on moons of the large planets, possibly on the asteroid Ceres and at the poles of the Earth’s moon, formerly on Venus [Science News, ‘Venus: The Waters of Yesteryear’, 120:372–373, Dec. 12, 1981], presently on Earth and deep in its rocky mantle, and in the polar caps of Mars. Water, as falling chunks of ice, may have pounded out many of the craters we see everywhere in the solar system. God asks, ‘…have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of distress …?’ (Job 38:22, 23, NAS). Readers of my book, Starlight and Time, will know that I have built both a young-world cosmology and a theory of solar system magnetic field origins on the Biblical suggestion of water at the beginning.

Where did the water on Mars come from? Probably both from space and from the interior of Mars. Many creation scientists [for example, Wayne Spencer, ‘The Origin and History of the Solar System’, 3rd ICC, 1994, pp. 513–523] have suspected that the Genesis flood was a catastrophe which affected the whole solar system, not just the Earth. If high-velocity chunks of ice made the craters on Mars, the ice would turn to water vapor upon impact. The very large Martian vocanoes (Mons Olympus, etc.) would have belched out huge volumes of water vapor (even the smaller volcanoes of Earth do that). Just today two creation scientists here in New Mexico, John Baumgardner and Roger Lenard, both suggested that possibility to me. John has previously pointed out the evidence for a global ‘resurfacing’ event on Venus at precisely the time his theory says the tectonic plates on Earth were plunging into the mantle to produce the events of the Genesis flood [Austin, Baumgardner, et al., ‘Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: A Global Flood Model of Earth History’, 3rd ICC, 1994, pp. 609–621].

How could liquid water exist beneath the normally low-pressure atmosphere of Mars? If the water vapor from ice impacts and volcanoes were produced over a very short period of time, a few days or weeks, much of the vapor would form a temporary atmosphere of water vapor with enough pressure to retain liquid water beneath it.

Where did the water go? Probably much of it evaporated into space. Some of it may have chemically combined with minerals on Mars’ surface. Some of it may have soaked into the ground and become frozen ‘permafrost’. For sure, some of it formed the polar ice caps of Mars.

Thus, Pathfinder is confirming the Genesis account of a very destructive deluge, a catastrophe which extended beyond the Earth into the whole solar system.

Published: 13 August 1997