Should Pluto be a Planet

Should Pluto be a Planet? Conclusion, part 1


By Clint Bishard

Jesus Created Ministries

I have spent eight weeks worth of articles discussing evidences for the Biblical worldview found in the solar system. This series of articles started by posing the question of whether or not Pluto should be considered a planet – after the IAU demoted it to a “dwarf planet.” I then made the case for a supernatural creation of the solar system in the articles discussing the sun-earth-moon system, Venus, and the mathematical formula that predicts the orbital distances for most of the planets in our solar system. Additionally, I stated why I believe Ceres and the asteroid belt represents the remains of an exploded planet, and not left over debris as predicted by the secular nebular hypothesis for the formation of our solar system. Finally, today we will discuss Pluto and conclude this series next week!

For those who have followed this series of articles, you will know that one of my (and many creationists in general) criteria for determining Pluto’s planetary status will depend on whether or not it fits a pattern of design found in the solar system instead of possible remnants of catastrophe (the reason Ceres and the fragments in the asteroid belt should not be planets). For example, does Pluto follow the exponential mathematical formula that predicts the spacing of the planets? This would be an evidence for original design. Well, in fact, it does. The orbital distance of Pluto matches the 9th place in the formula. Therefore, the orbital distances of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres (& the asteroid belt), Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto all very nicely fit the predicted position as found by the formula. As a result, we might easily conclude that Pluto most definitely should be a planet. However, several factors cloud this conclusion as follows:

·        The anomaly of Neptune: as discussed several weeks ago, Neptune does not follow the formula and match the pattern of design for the planets in our solar system. Is Neptune then excluded from being a planet? Surely not, it is the third-largest planet by mass and the fourth-largest planet by diameter in our solar system. In fact, as a creationist, I would expect Neptune to fit the 9th place in the formula, not Pluto. But instead, Neptune’s orbit is 22.5% smaller than the 9th position as predicted by the formula.

·        Pluto is very small and one of many objects in the orbital region: Pluto has a mass of less than 1% of the earth and is not much larger than many objects in the same region. Over 100 objects have been identified with the same average distance and orbital period as Pluto’s 248 year orbit.[1] This area of objects is known as the Kuiper Belt.

·        Pluto is not in the plane of the planets: Pluto is tilted 17 degrees from the ecliptic, significantly more than any of the other planets.

We will continue this discussion next week as we conclude this series on astronomy.


Go to part 10, the final article of this series

[1] The Inside Story of Pluto’s Demotion, Owen Gingerich, Sky & Telescope, Nov. 2006, pg. 36.

Jesus Created Ministries (JCM) - Page last updated January 13, 2007