Should Pluto be a Planet?
By Clint Bishard
Jesus Created Ministries
Now that all of
the hype is gone and the media has moved on to bigger stories than Pluto (pun
intended), I thought I would provide a creationist viewpoint concerning whether
Pluto should be considered a planet.
status has been a source of debate within astronomy circles since it was
discovered in 1930. The debate stems from its relatively small size, as well
as the lack of a set standard for what constitutes a planet by the scientific
community. The debate was finally unavoidable when a more distant Eris
(initially known as Xena or 2003 UB313) was discovered in 2005 and
revealed a size slightly larger than Pluto. Initially, it looked like the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) decision would be
to keep Pluto; and we would also add Eris, Pluto’s largest moon (Charon),
and the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt (Ceres) as planets (an even dozen).
However, in the end the IAU decided that eight was enough and Pluto’s status
was changed from a “planet” to a “dwarf planet”. Therefore, our acronym is now
reduced to “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine” – Mercury, Venus,
Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
So, what should we
think of the IAU’s decision? From a creationist's perspective, 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: 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: 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. 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.
From the list of
reasons above, I am inclined to exclude Pluto from planetary status. Instead,
from a design perspective, I think that Neptune was originally created at the 9th
predicted orbit and has somehow moved slightly inward to where it now lies.
This would leave Pluto and the other Kuiper Belt objects as a remnant of
whatever happened to cause this move of Neptune from its original position.
recent study has found that of the four gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus,
& Neptune), the first three have a consistent ratio of the total mass of
their moons to the mass of the respective planet. Specifically, the total mass
of Jupiter’s moons is 1/10,000 of the mass of Jupiter itself, and this is the
same ratio for Saturn and Uranus. However, Neptune does not follow this pattern. Instead, Neptune has one very large dominating moon,
Triton, that even some secular scientists believe was somehow captured by
Neptune and disrupted its previous moon system.
Maybe Pluto and
the other Kuiper Belt objects are the remnants of Neptune’s destroyed moon
system. This past event could have been the cause of Neptune’s move away from its
original position. It could even be that Triton is a lost moon or fragment of
the planet that blew up in the past. Additionally, the fact that Triton
rotates in a retrograde motion around Neptune may be an additional indicator
that it is a captured satellite of Neptune after its creation. Lastly, if all
of the gas giants, including Neptune, where originally created with a moon to
planet mass ratio of 1/10,000th, this would be consistent with the
God of order and purpose described in the Bible and another indicator of the
I must caution
that this proposed past relationship between Neptune and Pluto should not be
taught dogmatically – along with many aspects of historical science. Instead,
it only points to the great need for more people to be actively studying God’s
creation from a Biblical perspective to help clarify the picture of our solar
system in light of God’s revelation. For too long, we have let science be highjacked
away from its Biblical roots and into the abyss of philosophical humanism that
denies the historical record of the Bible.
this creationist’s viewpoint is that God did originally make nine planets in a
once perfectly created solar system. Unfortunately, one of the original nine
planets appears to have exploded in the past, and Pluto is likely a result of
catastrophe rather than one of the originally created planets. So for those
Pluto sympathizers wanting planetary status for Pluto – they have little
support from this creationist – as if anyone in the scientific community is
listening to this creationist anyway!