The Evolution of Planets

31 Jul
Nebular Hypothesis -- the theory of how our solar system evolved. (Image from Google Images)

Nebular Hypothesis — the theory of how our solar system evolved.
(Image from Google Images)

What the figure at the right expresses is the most popular theory of the formation of solar systems, i.e. how they evolved. It is known as the Nebular Hypothesis.Several billion years after the Big Bang was supposed to have occurred, gaseous clouds cooled enough for stars and then planets to form. The theory, first postulated near the end of the 19th century but rejected in the early 20th century over specific problems with the hypothesis concerning the Law of Angular Momentum, was again embraced after undergoing some changes to address the problems scientists had with it. Nevertheless, problems with the theory continue to arise.

Originally, the hypothesis required the sun’s rotation to be fast enough to account for the speed of the planets in orbit around it—similar to two children holding onto a stretched out rope. One child begins to spin around, and this forces the child at the other end of the rope to circle the other child at a pace proportionate to the spin of the child in the center. Such playful activity expresses the Law of Angular Momentum in a simple manner. The problem is the sun’s rotation is too slow to account for the speed of the earth’s orbit (and that of other planets). This is why the hypothesis was rejected in the early part of the 20th century.

Not having a better theory to explain the formation of our solar system, scientists looked at it again and postulated that the sun simply lost its high rotational speed. Nevertheless, they were unable to provide a good explanation for the process. Another explanation offered is “magnetic braking” caused by an interaction between the solar magnetic field and charged nebular particles. Nevertheless, this explanation also is not well supported, and a solution to the angular momentum problem seems to escape scientists even today. Notice:

“Except in the Earth-Moon system (which is exceptional in other respects as well), the primary [the planet] carries the bulk of the angular momentum, instead of the satellites… This circumstance aggravates the theoretical difficulty presented by the slow rotation of the Sun, for if the Sun has somehow managed to get rid of the angular momentum it would be expected to have, according to the nebular hypotheses, why have the planets not done likewise?” — David Layzer, “Cosmogony,” in McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Vol. 3, p. 564.

The theory has many more problems as can be seen in the backward rotation of Venus and Uranus. According to the Law of Angular Momentum, a body, orbiting another celestial body, tends to rotate on its axis in the same direction as the celestial body it orbits. Venus and Uranus, however, spin in the opposite direction that our sun spins.[1] How is this possible if they were formed billions of years ago from the very same nebula gas cloud that formed our sun and the rest of our solar system? This problem gets even more difficult when we consider the fact that some moons, like Neptune’s Triton, travel in a retrograde orbit around the parent planet. How could this be? Some scientists postulate that the planet captured another heavenly body’s satellite through its gravitational field and that body assumed a retrograde orbit. While this might be true (the suggestion requires no proof), it is becoming increasingly suspicious with the discoveries of more and more planets outside our solar system that orbit the parent star in retrograde orbits.[2]

Still, another challenge to the Nebular Hypothesis is the fact that, if the earth had its birth from the same gas cloud that formed our sun and its resulting solar system, as required in the theory, how did we come to possess so many heavy elements? The sun is composed of 99.9% hydrogen and helium. Where did we get all the nitrogen and oxygen, etc. that make up our atmosphere, and the heavier elements that make up the Earth’s crust? We are an anomaly in our solar system. No matter how one stacks up the evidence, it seems that the most popular understanding in the field of cosmology of how we got here needs a lot more work.

We aren’t left with much **evidence** for any other means of our existence except for a benevolent Creator-God. Belief in him is just as scientific as many of the naturalists’ models for our existence. According to them 96% of our universe cannot be detected, there is no evidence for supernovas that had to have occurred, laws of physics are done away with to keep their ideas afloat—the list goes on and on. Yet, none of this is necessary if we account for God. Isn’t it strange the lengths one will go to in order to retain a cherished ideology (worldview) in the face of the **evidence**— and remember it is Dr Richard Dawkins advice for us to ask: “What kind of evidence is there for that?”

[1] This doesn’t take into consideration that Neptune rotates at a 98 degree angle in respect to its orbital plane. This should not be true if the Nebular Hypothesis is accurate.

[2] Turning planetary theory upside down:


Posted by on July 31, 2013 in The Big Bang, theory of evolution


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2 responses to “The Evolution of Planets

  1. Vlad

    July 31, 2013 at 15:35

    “Well… it isn’t science if the evidence leads one to conclude that God exists. And if a scientist becomes a Christian as an outcome of the scientific investigation he’s not a real scientist”. This is kind of “scientific” arguments I’ve heard recently from anti-creationists.

    • Eddie

      July 31, 2013 at 16:51

      That’s true, Vlad, the discrimination is there for anyone with an open mind to see. All one has to do is click on a blog on evolution and read the comments. A creationist is simply not respected as a scientist no matter what his qualifications. What is just as bad is they have no idea that what they believe is true isn’t science at all but an ideology/philosophy just like Christianity. What is important is which ideology is more in line with the truth that can reasonably be proved logically.


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