Our “Designed” Solar System
The Sun and the Moon are among the signs of Allah. They are there so that we can contemplate His wondrous and incredible creation. The eclipse is one of the greatest signs of Allah. Do you not see how the moon perfectly covers the sun? The moon is the perfect size to block out the light of the sun. Allah made the universe in perfect proportions. Will you then not believe?
I found this quote from a Muslim creationist on a BBC discussion board about an eclipse back in 1999. It’s a claim I often hear from creationists whenever the topic of the solar eclipse comes up. To a creationist, everything marvelous (or even curious) is proof of design.
It’s an interesting coincidence, though, isn’t it? The moon does perfectly cover the sun! Except when it doesn’t.
This diagram (from The Dome of the Sky) shows how things line up during a total eclipse:
And this photograph (from Astropix) shows what it looks like from Earth:
That’s Godly perfection! I’m going to have to burn my copy of Origin of Species. Oh wait! What’s this? Jerry Lodriguss of Astropix wants to throw cold water onto my bonfire. Here’s what he says about this “perfect” size match:
However, for those who see more than mere coincidences in things, it isn’t always like this. Because the moon’s orbit is not perfectly circular, sometimes it is a bit farther away from the earth and it does not completely cover the sun’s surface even when the orbits exactly coincide. This is called an annular solar eclipse.
Bummer. Maybe that means God only exists during a total eclipse.
Here’s a diagram (from The Dome of the Sky) that shows how things line up during an annular eclipse:
And this photograph (from Mr. Eclipse) shows what it looks like from Earth:
To further rub salt in God’s wound, Jerry Lodriguss adds:
And, it hasn’t always been like this in the past, and it won’t always be like this in the future. Millions of years ago, the moon was much closer to the Earth, and due to the transfer of angular momentum from the Earth to the moon, the Earth slows down in its rotation while the moon moves farther away. Millions of years from now, the moon will be farther away and will never completely cover the sun’s surface.
Oh, no, God! You almost got things perfect.
And the Year Isn’t Perfect Either
Then there’s the problem of the length of the year. If our solar system is so perfectly designed that the moon exactly covers the sun, then you’d expect that other measurements would also be perfect.
Why, then, is the year such an awkward length? Why do we need leap years? Why are the rules for calculating the leap years so convoluted? Phil Plait explains in torturous detail here all about leap years. The bottom line is that the year is 365.242190419 days long. What sort of crappy design is that?
Another question to ask is why the moon’s cycle isn’t perfect. Why is it 29.53 days? Why isn’t it 29 or 30? In fact, shouldn’t the cycle be 28 days or some other multiple of 7? Shouldn’t it reflect the perfect week, which is how long it took Magic Man to create the universe?
That would make our months exactly four weeks. That would give us 13 months of 28 days each. Uh-oh! That doesn’t work out either! The year should have been exactly 364 days long. I guess God screwed up again.
There’s nothing especially Biblical about four weeks. It would be better if the moon took 49 days to go through its cycle. That’s 7 times 7. Then the year could be 7 months long, or 343 days. God’s blowing it right and left.
Instead of a perfectly-designed solar system where everything lines up in perfect harmony, all I see is a random collection of numbers. There is no design apparent in these facts.