Do heavily cratered planets and moons demand an old age for the solar system? [8/99 DRAFT - Rev 3/2001]

Solar System Evolution theories assume the sun and planets formed over 4.5 billion years ago. In the next 600 million years or so heavy cratering of the solar system is said to have occurred from the debris left over from the original formation process. In a few more hundred million years the cratering rate had tapered off, leaving the solar system largely as we see it today.

What alternatives do "young-age" creationists have for such a scenario?

One alternative is that an interstellar cloud of comets and asteroids passed through the solar system producing catastrophic cratering of the planets, their moons, and existing asteroids and comets [1, 3, 5, 6]. In recent years NASA has discovered that today there are microscopic-sized interstellar dust particles passing through the solar system, but nothing large-scale; so this speculated Creationist scenario would have been a one-time widespread catastrophe affecting the entire solar system only thousands of years ago.

A second alternative is called the exploded or impacted planet model , first proposed by Heinrich von Olbers over 200 years ago. The discovery of the asteroid Ceres and the entire Asteroid Belt was the result of a search for a "lost planet" between Mars and Jupiter. Such a planet was predicted by Bodes Law in 1772. This law predicted the spacing of the planets as one moves away from the sun. The model claims that this lost planet exploded, broke-up or was shattered by an impact creating the asteroids and comets [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. A variant of this idea places the exploded planet beyond the planet Neptune [5]. What is wrong with this idea?  Dr. Danny Faulkner notes that most of the explosion debris would miss the earth, our moon and the other planets. It should still be flying around, but we don't find much of it. [8]

A third alternative is Dr. Danny Faulkner's directed giant comet model . In this the planets and moon were initially cratered in the process of their formation or after the fall of man. Then, as part of the Flood judgment asteroids or comets were directed at the earth. Faulkner proposes this occurred in a very short period of time, producing  many earth impacts during the Flood. We possibly see evidence of this event on the moon. The side facing us underwent huge impacts producing lava forming the lunar seas or maria.  If this heavy bombardment had lasted over two weeks the back side would have also been affected due to the rotation of the moon. The bombardment abruptly ceased because very few craters are found on the maria after the lava flows from the impacts subsided. [9]


Add pics of moon showing heaving cratering contrast producing  maria on front in contrast to back side) here.


In any of these three Creationist scenarios most of the asteroids and comets begin arriving at the earth just before, during, and shortly after the Genesis Flood judgment. They greatly contributed to that judgment and to its destructive power. Asteroid and comet impacts would have produced giant tsunamis or tidal waves which laid down many layers of rock strata over land areas being inundated and in shallow water environments. In deep water where Noah's Ark is assumed to have been for its own protection by God, there would have been relatively little disturbance unless an impact occurred close to the Ark.  Wayne Spencer estimated that 100 impacts of large 1 km diameter objects would pose only a 3% probability of the Ark being within one of their 161 km radius risk zones [7].

Today we can see evidence of over 150 impact craters on the surface of the earth. When you consider those buried on the ocean bottoms, those underneath the surface (such as Chicxulub, Mexico, the supposed impact that killed the dinosaurs), others yet undiscovered, and compare the battered appearance of the moon, it appears that thousands of various-sized impacts must have occurred during this period.

The Bible appears to predict impacts in the future during a period termed The Great Tribulation. We find these in the first four trumpet judgments of Revelation chapter 8 [6, 10, 11].


What evidence exists today on the moon favoring a short cratering period of the creation models (a few years, tens, or hundreds, rather than millions of years)?

We observe that innumerable impacts have covered the moon with craters. Toward the end of the heavy impact period proposed by evolutionists, several large impacts penetrated into the moon's molten core, causing an outflow of molten magma which produced the darker-colored lunar "maria" or "seas".  These include Mare Tranquilitatis (Sea of Tranquility), Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity), Mare Imbrium, (Sea of Rains) and others.

The rather smooth lunar maria surface has much fewer craters. Some of its craters are partially-buried by the maria lava flows.  These are called "ghost-craters" (see NASA Apollo photo - click to enlarge).  Evolutionists assume a much slower cratering rate than do the creation models. They calculate that to have enough time for the ghost crater impacts to form, as much as 500 million years must have passed before the magma erupted from the large impacts.

Ghost Crater This doesn't seem reasonable.  If 500 million years had elapsed since the large impacts, then the heat from the those impacts would long ago have been dissipated. Thus, no energy would remain from the large impacts to produce the magma flows and maria that exist on the moon today.

Ghost craters had to have formed in a very short period (minutes, hours, days, or a few years at most) between the time of the large impacts and the resulting outpouring of magma. The relatively smooth surface of the maria show that relatively few craters have hit since their formation. This all agrees with Creationist rapid but brief catastrophic cratering models of the earth and moon during the Genesis Flood [12, 13, 14]


  1. David Unfred , "Asteroidal Impacts and the Flood Judgment," Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 20 (September 1984), pp. 82-87. [up]

  2. William S. Parks, "The Role of Meteorites in a Creationist Cosmology," Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 26 (March 1990), pp. 144-146. [up]

  3. Wayne R. Spencer, "The Origin and History of the Solar System," Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Robert E. Walsh, Editor, Creation Science Fellowship (1994), pp. 513-523.

  4. Drs. Don De Young and Carl Froede, "Impact Events Within the Young-Earth Flood Model," Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 33 (June 1996), pp. 23-34

  5. Wayne R. Spencer, "Revelations in the Solar System," Creation Ex Nihilo, Volume 19, No. 3 (June-August 1997), pp. 26-29. [An expanded version in two parts is on his website.][up]

  6. Wayne R. Spencer, "Catastrophic Impact Bombardment Surrounding the Genesis Flood," Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism, Robert E. Walsh, Editor, Creation Science Fellowship (1998), pp. 553-566.[up]

  7. Wayne R. Spencer, "Geophysical Effects of Impacts during the Genesis Flood," Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism, Robert E. Walsh, Editor, Creation Science Fellowship (1998), pp. 567-579.[up]

  8. Dr. Danny Faulkner, personal communication, summer 1999.[up]

  9. ICR talk by Dr. Danny Faulkner, summer 1999.[up]

  10. Hal Lindsay, Apocalypse Code (Western Front, Ltd., 1997) pp. 138-146.

  11. Thomas H. Henderson, Asteroid & Comet Impacts (2000 unpublished talk)

  12. E-mail communication from Danny Faulkner to Tom Henderson, July 10, 1998.[up]

  13. Dr. Danny Faulkner, Origins 98 Conference at Bryan College,

  14. Penny Fryman, "Ghost Craters in the Sky", Creation Matters (Feb. 1999), p.6

Author: Thomas H. Henderson, Christian Answers Network.

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