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Earth
Blue Marble.jpg
Symbol Earth symbol.svg
Orbital characteristics
Order from primary 3
Physical characteristics
Mass 5.976x1024 kg
Diameter 12,756.28 km[1]
Number of moons 1
Composition Rock
Albedo 0.37

The Earth is a planet in the Solar System, orbiting Sol. Earth is the only known planet capable of supporting life, containing water, reasonable levels of oxygen, and a stable temperature range. Geometrically speaking, Earth is the largest of the terrestrial (rocky) planets in the solar system.

People disagree about when and how the Earth was created. The three most popular ideas are:

  1. That God created the Earth several hundred generations ago, as recounted in Genesis. By adding years and other time indications in the Old Testament chronologies, one can calculate the age of the Earth as approximately 6,000 years (see Date of creation and Young Earth Creationism).
  2. That God created the Earth billions of years ago (see Old Earth Creationism and Theistic Evolution).
  3. That the Earth came into existence billions of years ago, but entirely through natural processes and without any intervention by God

Clashes between adherents of these ideas have gone on since time immemorial (see origins debate), though the last theory has only been fully developed in the last 200 years.

Physical Description

Within the solar system, Earth is the third planet from the Sun. It is approximately 8,000 miles (13,000 km) in diameter, which means that its equatorial circumference (measured around the equator) is 24,901 miles (40,075 kilometers), and the polar circumference is slightly less at 24,809 miles (40,008 km).[2] The reason its metric circumference is so close to the "round number" of 40,000 is that the kilometer was defined (by the French) as 1/10,000th the distance from the equator to the North Pole.

Its surface area is approximately 4·π (4000 mi)2 = 200 million square miles (510 million km2). It has been said that Earth should really be called "water", as the larger part of it—about 70%—is covered by water. In fact, the Pacific and Indian oceans alone cover about half of the Earth's surface.

The Earth orbits at an average distance of about 93 million miles (150 million km) from the Sun in an almost circular orbit. It takes light (and other forms of electromagnetic radiation) approximately 500 seconds to travel from the Sun to the Earth, i.e. the distance can also be stated as "500 light-seconds." The distance to nearby stars is made by measuring the stellar parallax between observations when the earth is at opposite ends of its orbit, so the earth's orbit itself is a measuring stick for astronomical distances, and is known as the astronomical unit (A. U.) It is worth noting that if the Earth were slightly closer to the Sun, it would be too hot for life (just as Venus is) while if Earth were slightly further away from the Sun, water would freeze and life would be impossible.

Young Earth Creationist view

Formation and Age

Followers in Young Earth creationism have a different set of beliefs about the Earth. The Bible states in Genesis that the entire earth was formed in six days. Young Earth creationists believe, as Biblical chronology suggests, that the Earth was formed in 4004 B.C. Mainstream scientific journals discriminate against this point of view for "lack of evidence", despite large amounts of Biblical evidence backing this theory.[3][4][5][6]

In addition, most scientists also believe believe that the earth formed by natural processes instead of being supernaturally created. However, as one scientist recently noted, “... most every prediction by theorists about planetary formation has been wrong.” [7]

Shape of the Earth

Some Young Earth Creationists and Biblical literalists also dispute the shape of the earth, saying that according to the Bible, the earth is flat rather than spherical (presumably square, given that it is described as having "four corners" (Revelations 7:1)). However, no credible organization has ever expressed support for this theory.[8] Some Biblical literalists also dispute the idea that the earth rotates around the sun.[9]

In Revelations 7:1 it is stated:

"And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth..." (Revelations 7:1)

A sphere has no corners. The four corners are also mentioned in Isaiah 11:12. This is often accepted to be a figure of speech.

It is also stated:

"Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:35)

AND

"Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:" (Daniel 4:10-11)

AND

"Behold, [Jesus] cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him" (Revelations 1:7)

AND

"Once again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world [cosmos] in their glory." (Matthew 4:8)

Apologist JP Holding's take on this is that this may have been a vision. [10]

Position of the Earth

In the view of the Bible the Earth is fixed, and the sun revolves around it. This can be found in several passages:

"He has fixed the earth firm, immovable." (1 Chronicles 16:30)

"Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm ..." (Psalm 93:1)

"Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken." (Psalm 104:5)

"...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast..." (Isaiah 45:18)

See Also: Geocentric theory

Christianity and the Earth

Christian Literalism

Bible scholars have estimated the age of the earth based on the Creation account in Genesis and the genealogical accounts in Numbers and other books of the Pentateuch. One famous estimate was published in 1650 by James Ussher Archbishop of Armagh in a book called Annals of the World, in which he estimated the Creation to have occurred on 23 October 4004 B.C. Other Biblical scholars maintain that there are possible gaps in the genealogies, often using the ideas of the 19th century Calvinist theologian Benjamin Warfield on the issue. [11] However, James Barr, regius professor of Hebrew at Oxford University, wrote in 1984 the following: "… probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: … the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story.’" [12] Furthermore, it should be noted that Barr himself rejects supernatural Christianity, and so is not a priori biased in favor of creationism. [13]

Many Christians believe that the Earth is the perfect distance away from the Sun and take this to be evidence of God's existence. [14] Secular scientists, however, reject this reasoning using the anthropic principle[15].

Christian Non-Literalism

Many mainstream Christian denominations believe the story of Genesis is not meant to be read literally, and believe that the age of the Earth is on the order of millions or billions of years, not thousands of years. [16]

Scientific Uniformitarianism

Uniformitarian scientists believe that the earth is beyond 4 billion years old.[17] They also refute that the Earth is only 6,000 years old by quoting older human societies dated by their dating method as older than that.[18]

Evolutionary view

Estimates by geologists of the age of the Earth give about 4.55 billion years. This estimate is primarily based on radioactive dating of meteorites. The extreme majority of scientists conclude that the Earth formed by natural processes, specifically by the accumulation of debris orbiting the sun billions of years in the past. Indeed, astronomers have detected dust lanes around other stars that indicate planet formation is a common and ongoing process.

References

  1. http://www.solarviews.com/eng/earth.htm
  2. http://geography.about.com/library/faq/blqzcircumference.htm
  3. http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2005/0822sternberg.asp 1
  4. http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/538.asp 2
  5. http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53400 3
  6. http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=3833&program=DI%20Main%20Page%20-%20News&callingPage=discoMainPage 4
  7. http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/ReferencesandNotes43.html
  8. http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/crea-fe.htm
  9. http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/febible.htm
  10. http://www.tektonics.org/af/earthshape.html#globe
  11. http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/primeval_chronology.shtml
  12. http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1606/
  13. http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/pca_creation_study_committee_report.shtml
  14. http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
  15. http://www.anthropic-principle.com
  16. http://webusers.xula.edu/cporter/2000n/evolution_and_religion.htm
  17. http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html
  18. http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/