Creationist Cosmology Issues

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Development Notes

Here I present some of my notes for active and future project development along with requests for pointers to specific datasets. Anyone wishing to adopt any of these projects, or pursue co-authorship with me in an eventual paper is certainly welcome. Feel free to contact me with with your comments and suggestions. This page will probably undergo frequent revisions.

For a quick summary of many of these claims and an introductory rebuttals, see the Astronomy and Cosmology Section of the Index to Creationist Claims at  My list is far from exhaustive, just a simple summary of some issues I've experimented with.

There is a list of arguments published by Answers in Genesis which they believe Creationists should not use. Note that some of these arguments are listed below, but this is not to imply the claim should be ignored.

Did James Clerk Maxwell "Disprove" the Nebular Hypothesis of Solar System formation? Was he a Creationist?

A few years ago, I came across the claim, on the website of the creationist organization, Answers In Genesis, that the physicist James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) was not only a creationist, but had also disproved Laplace's nebular hypothesis of solar system formation. After encountering this, I made several attempts to track down the original paper of this alleged proof, but could find no evidence of its existence.

Recently, I discovered that someone had indeed explored the origin of this creationist claim. Charles Petzold had researched this question and has published the results on his site, in the article "Maxwell, Molecules, and Evolution". This analysis discusses not only the possible origin of the claimed 'disproof' of the nebular hypothesis, but also the shameless quote-mining of Maxwell's "Molecules" lecture by creationists[1]. Mr. Petzold traces the creationist claim back to a high school textbook, Physical Science for Christian Schools (Bob Jones University Press, 1974). Mr. Petzold also provides detailed references to original sources, not just of the creationist textbooks but to the writings of scientists themselves.

I now see the reason for the fruitlessness of my original search. The creationist 'references' were so distorted from the originals that there was no possibility of verifying them without casting a much wider net for the search.

[1] The text of "Molecules" by James Clerk Maxwell (Nature (Sept. 1873): pp. 437-441), is available on the VictorianWeb.

The Lunar Recession Argument

See The Recession of the Moon and the Age of the Earth-Moon System

I did a simplified analysis of this some years ago. Anyone care to clean it up with some better parameters and approximations?

Entropy and Star Formation

Entropy and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics are commonly invoked by creationists claiming that various processes cannot happen in a "naturalistic" way. These claims often include not only the formation of life (Second Law of Thermodynamics and Information Theory), but of cosmological structures (stars & galaxies) as well.

Many modern stellar process simulations track entropy and its flow. Here's some references of interest:

Lunar Dust Accumulation Argument

See Meteorite Dust and the Age of the Earth as well as Moon Dust on

The TalkOrigins page has this analysis in excellent detail and probably needs only a little fine-tuning to integrate it into classroom use.

Spiral Galaxy winding problem

  • "Ripples in a Galactic Pond" by Francoise Combes. Scientific American, October 2005, pg 42-49.
  • Possibilities for a fairly simple simulation program and corresponding write-up.
  • Also see Spiral galaxies staying sprial on

Planetary and satellite Prograde vs. Retrograde Orbits

See Retrograde planets and moons on

Lots of freeware/shareware N-body simulators out there. Can anyone set up sample systems to demonstrate these types of orbit changes? (see Science Tools)

Last Modified: Tue Nov 24 23:41:16 2009