by Bill Nugent
I was amused recently when I read a deeply flawed attack on the young age of planet earth. The article attacked the creationist position that the decay rate of the earth’s magnetic field indicates a recent creation of planet earth. Like many such attacks this one would sound convincing to the casual observer but a scholarly analysis would quickly show the weakness of the old earth position.
Creation scientists have long argued that the decay rate of the earth’s magnetic field is one of many indications that the earth is young. The strength of the earth’s magnetic field has been measured and it is decreasing at an exponential rate. If you project the field strength values back in time 10,000 years, the earth’s magnetic field would have been strong enough to melt the earth. This indicates that the earth was created considerably less than 10,000 years ago.
The old earth evolutionist, in the article I read, attacked the early writings of physics professor Dr. Thomas Barnes. Dr. Barnes was a specialist in electromagnetism and wrote several well regarded textbooks on the subject. Barnes, in his early writings, did not accept the fact that the earth’s magnetic field had ever reversed polarity. (Polarity reversal would mean that your compass would point south rather than north.)
In the 60s and 70s evidence that polarity reversals did in fact occur became overwhelming and is now accepted by all. The evolutionist criticized Barnes unmercifully for his early denial of reversals. The article seemed to take a clear “straw man” approach. Barnes was set up as the straw man, as if his early views represented the whole of the creationist position. He was drawn and quartered. No writing of his after 1983 was cited.
The old earth evolutionist either ignored or was unaware of the work of physicist D. Russell Humphreys Ph. D. whose clarification of Barnes’ model has made a virtually unassailable case for magnetic field energy decay and by extension, young earth. Humphreys’ model not only explains polarity reversals but explains how they could happen quickly.
The old earth magnetic field model claims that polarity reversals take place over a very long period of time. Researchers Robert Coe and Michael Prevot found indisputable evidence of rapid polarity reversal from a lava layer that had cooled in a 15 day period during the ancient past. A polarity shift of 90 degrees was recorded in that lava. A 90 degree polarity shift in 15 days stunned the evolutionary community but was totally compatible with Humphreys’ young earth model. The old earthers were hoisted by their own petard!
Additionally – and curiously – the old earth magnetic field model regards polarity reversals as having been 100% efficient with no net loss of energy. This is absurd on its face as it violates the second law of thermodynamics – the law of entropy. In any electromagnetic system much of the energy is dissipated as heat. The old earthers have to assume 100% polarity reversal efficiency since they assume the earth is billions of years old! Their presupposition warps their model.
The old earth magnetic field model relies on the old 1940s era Elsasser dynamo theory that regards the earth’s core as being able to continuously generate electric current which in turn produces magnetism. They claim the earth’s core is essentially an electric generator. But it takes a continuous input of energy to run such a generator and the old earthers have no reasonable source for such energy. It certainly would violate many laws of physics to claim the earth’s core is a perpetual energy generating machine. Their theory is hypothetical, loaded with jargon, sounds sophisticated but doesn’t explain the facts. Its complexity is due to the fact that it must be jerry-rigged and stretched to try to explain inconvenient facts.
Humphreys’ young earth model regard’s the earth’s core as having a set amount of electromagnetic energy at its creation and this is in turn lessens over time in accordance with the law of entropy. The young earth model also neatly explains why the sun’s magnetic field is steadily decaying and how the sun’s polarity is able to reverse itself rapidly every 11 years during sunspot activity.
In 1984 Humphreys predicted the strength of the magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune. Old earthers also made predictions based on their dynamo model. The Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past these two planets in 1986 and 1989. The field strength measurements were just as Humphreys predicted. The old earthers estimate was off by over 100,000%!!
Old earthers make much of the fact that magnetic field intensity can increase in parts of the magnetic field at times. Humphreys is quick to point out that field intensity is not the same as total energy in the field. Field intensity can increase in one part of the field while decreasing to a greater extent in other parts of the field. From 1970 to 2000 very accurate measurements of the earth’s magnetic field were taken. The International Geomagnetic Reference Field data clearly show a net loss of energy from the sum of all observed parts of the field. The rate of loss confirmed the creationist position that the earth’s magnetic field loses half its energy every 1,465 + or – 166 years. This gives an upper limit of the earth’s age as being less than 10,000 years. This is in accord with biblical chronology. The magnetic field decay model still stands tall and proud as solid proof for young earth.
My main source for this article was “The Earth’s Magnetic Field: Evidence That the Earth is Young” by Jonathan Sarfati Ph. D. available at answersingenesis.org.