Earlier this month, astronomers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Astronomy announced they had captured an image of a baby planet — one that had only recently formed — using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT).
In that picture, there’s a dwarf star named PDS 70 at the center of the galaxy (which is blocked out by a circular disc so astronomers can see what’s happening around it). The bright baby planet, named PDS 70b, exists just to the right of it, about as far away from its star as Uranus is from our own.
“[Researcher Miriam] Keppler’s results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution,” comments André Müller, leader of the second team to investigate the young planet. “We needed to observe a planet in a young star’s disc to really understand the processes behind planet formation.” By determining the planet’s atmospheric and physical properties, the astronomers are able to test theoretical models of planet formation.
It raises an interesting question: How do Creationists cope with new evidence of planetary formation? After all, they think everything in the universe formed within six days a few thousand years ago.
Thankfully, the folks at Answers in Genesis have responded in the latest episode of their news-themed YouTube show. The discussion only lasted a few minutes, but they denied the scientists found what they said they found. It begins around the 8:30 mark.
The segment begins with Ken Ham rejecting the notion that planets can even be born since he thinks God ended Creation on Day 6. Dr. Georgia Purdom, a legit Ph.D., agrees and says she’s just the messenger.
How do they deny it?
In Ham’s view, because the image shows the planet, it must have already been there. That’s also what co-host Bodie Hodge says. They’re not watching it be born because it’s already been born. That logic makes as much sense as seeing a newborn baby and denying that anyone gave birth to it because there were no video cameras in the delivery room.
Says Ham: “Does it got a label on it saying, ‘Hi, I’m forming!’?” (Take that, astronomers!)
They don’t need labels. A new star creates a swirling pattern of gas and dust. When telescopes detect a deviation in those patterns, it’s a sign that a planet is forming. In this particular case, the research papers explain in depth how the astronomers knew what they were looking at.
So even if Ham doesn’t understand how science works, real scientists do.
Yet he continued on his rant:
… This is the teaching point. At school, for instance, students will be told, “Oh, here’s a planet being born. This is a planet being formed right here.” But wait a minute! They need to stand back and think, “How do they know that?” There’s something there that they see, and they’re assuming, because they believe that the whole universe is evolving, that a planet is being born. And they didn’t see it being born!
The astronomers know exactly how they “know that.” They’re not taking a random guess here.
The co-hosts are no better, acting like this is a mass conspiracy.
The best part? They quote resident Creationist astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner who told them, “There is no direct evidence that this is a forming planet. It’s possible this is already a fully formed planet that we’re investigating.”
Faulkner should take that up with the literally dozens of astronomers who were part of this research team.
The Creationists wrapped up by saying these are just stories. The scientists didn’t discover anything. They’re just making up an explanation for what’s already out there.
This is what they do every time. Instead of engaging with the research, they just dismiss reality because it’s too confusing and it doesn’t mesh with their worldview.