Thursday, January 22, 2009

Swirling Gas and Dust Forms Perfect Hexagon?

I remember back in high school being taught about how the solar system was formed, and I remember thinking what little sense it made. A big cloud of gas and dust, (the origin of which was never explained) swirling around our sun, eventually gathering itself into 9 distinct spherical bodies. I always thought it odd that a cloud of gas and dust--the same material throughout--could consolidate into 9 planets, each made of different materials. That made no sense. I rolled my eyes in much the same way as I did in 9th grade biology class when Mrs. Foxley would teach biology from an evolutionary perspective.

Well, I'm feeling somewhat vindicated today because astronomers have discovered something very unusual on the planet Saturn. Consider these quotes from an article at Discovery Channel's website here.

"Something downright weird has been sighted twirling over the north pole of Saturn: A long-lived double hexagon formed in the clouds."

Now we're told that science is all about predictions. Scientific theories need to be able to "predict" a particular outcome and that scientific theories are falsified (proven false) when those predictions fail, or perhaps when other things happen that were not predicted.

Well what does the above quote say about astronomers' theory about how the solar system was formed? They say something "weird" has been discovered. Does that sound like something anyone predicted? Would you use the word "weird" to describe something that you expected to happen? What about this quote:

"We haven't seen a (geometric) feature like this anywhere else on any other planet," said Cassini scientist Kevin Baines of the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It's unbelievable."

I love that last part… "It's unbelievable." And how about this one:

"It's perplexing," said Baines. "It's a bizarre pattern."

And here's a quote from a Science Daily article that's strange for two reasons:

[Saturn's polar cyclone] is surrounded by an odd, honeycombed-shaped hexagon, which itself does not seem to move while the clouds within it whip around at high speeds, also greater than 500 kilometers per hour (300 miles per hour). Oddly, neither the fast-moving clouds inside the hexagon nor this new cyclone seem to disrupt the six-sided hexagon.

Excuse me, but I have to pick on the journalism here for a minute. A honeycomb-shaped hexagon? What, is a normal hexagon shaped like a burrito or something? And again, at the end of the quote… a "six-sided hexagon". I mean come on… is there any other kind of hexagon? Alright, alright, enough of that…

So the hexagon appears to rotate with the planet, but wind-whipped clouds and weather patterns are unable to disrupt the hexagon. And don't forget that Saturn is a gas giant… there's nothing solid up there. Saturn is not a solid, rocky planet like Earth. This makes this hexagonal shaft even more difficult to imagine. At least rock has some structure to it such that it could hold a shape like that. But Saturn is nothin' but swirling gas. And this hexagon, by the way, has six sides and is shaped like a honeycomb. And did I mention it has six sides?

Sorry!! I just couldn't resist!

So, does this sound like something that astronomers predicted in their theory about how the solar system was formed? This came completely out of the blue, didn't it? But if you read further, you discover something else interesting… it may have come out of the blue, but it did so more than twenty years ago, and we're just finding out about it now!

"One of the unexplained hexagons was glimpsed obliquely before, by the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts more than 20 years ago, which is how scientists know it's a durable feature."

Translation: We saw this thing more than two decades ago, but we were hoping it would turn out to be some sort of fluke… a figment of our imagination, perhaps. That way we wouldn't have to try to come up with an explanation for it. But now that we see it in the images from Cassini in 2006, we are forced to deal with it. We didn't want to deal with in the early 80s because revealing to the public how truly clueless we are might have shaken the public's faith in science. We just hoped it would go away.

Well, look… I'm sorry to be so cynical, but can you really blame me? Is there any good reason why I never learned anything about this when I was in high school? Are astronomers now abandoning their idiotic naturalist explanations for the formation of the solar system in light of this bizarre phenomenon which their previous theory could not have predicted? I'm sure they will do no such thing. They are committed to the naturalist view. Rather than abandon their theory, they will do exactly what Darwinists have done in the face of recent discoveries which challenge their theory… they will simply shoehorn the phenomenon into their theory and claim that all is well. The global warming folks do this as well… we see weather patterns that run contrary to their predictions of warming, and so they invent ways to claim that these weather patterns are actually consistent with their theory. Is it any wonder why I'm cynical?

This brings to mind Proverbs 25:2 which says:

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."

From a Biblical perspective, it's clear that God reveals his creation to us in increments. It appears that He has designed nature in such a way that scientific discoveries are possible, but require certain efforts. In Romans 1:20, we're told:

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse"

God's existence is obvious, Paul says. So obvious that men who reject it are without excuse. However, God is gracious… and even though it was obvious way back when Paul wrote Romans and relatively little was known about biology and astronomy, God allows us to discover more and more and history marches on. In a sense, he's cranking up the heat on those who disbelieve. He's making his existence even more obvious, allowing us to peel back layer after layer and discover more and more about His marvelous creation. And as He does so, the pressure increases on those who insist on denying Him.

Apparently they're going to have another look in another year or so. It'll be fun to see what comes of that. I wonder if we'll have to wait another 20 years to find out.

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