Today is International Asteroid Day. June 30 was chosen for this observance, because it was on this date in 1908 that the Tunguska event took place. What was the Tunguska event? A small solar system body, probably a small comet, slammed into Tunguska, a remote region of Siberia (comets and asteroids, though similar, are not the same things). As far as we know, no one was killed by the Tunguska event, but it wreaked havoc on the uninhabited landscape. If such a thing were to happen today near a populated area, the death toll and damage could be immense. The purpose of International Asteroid Day is raise awareness of this possibility (as if we could do anything about it!). But it’s also an opportunity to talk about asteroids in general. It’s also a good time to discuss a recent item in the news related to asteroids.
Whence Came Water?
It all starts with the mystery of the earth’s oceans. For a long time, many scientists assumed that most of earth’s water was primordial, that the earth formed with the water it has. However, over the years evolutionary scientists came to realize that if their ideas were correct, then the water that the earth was born with would have boiled off via several mechanisms. These mechanisms include the formation process, early violent geological activity and early solar activity. To solve the problem of where earth’s water came from, planetary scientists assumed that after these mechanisms dissipated, impacts of comets delivered sufficient water to account for earth’s oceans. But then we learned that the water in comets contains more deuterium, a heavier form of hydrogen, than the water on earth. This realization caused evolutionary scientists to consider impacts from asteroids, because asteroids have deuterium abundances closer to that of earth. Secular scientists are especially interested in C-type asteroids, which tend to have more water than most asteroids. However, there was the question of whether the water could survive the fiery impacts of asteroids with the earth.
A paper recently published presented the results of experimental high-velocity impacts using a powerful gun. Researchers found that depending on the speed and angle of impact, significant amounts of water initially in an asteroid could survive the collision and remain on earth. If the history of man’s understanding of this issue is any indication, this hardly will be the final word. It is almost certain that competing and contrary claims will emerge, and the scientific world will move toward the next new thing in this saga.
The Biblical Answer
Does the Bible say anything about where the earth’s water came from? It’s easy enough to miss, but the Bible tells us that water on earth is primordial. Genesis 1:2 mentions water twice (“the deep” and “the face [surface] of the waters”). Apparently, the initially created earth was a watery mass. On day two, God placed a separator, the rāqîa‘, in the waters to divide the waters below from the waters above. On day three, God made the dry land appear in the midst of the waters. Second Peter 3:5 explicitly states that the creation was in water and of water. And the Psalms mentions water in conjunction with creation several times (Psalm 24:2, 104:3, 136:6). Therefore, biblically, water is the original stuff of creation. Hence, we can conclude that biblically, water on earth is primordial.
Biblically, water is the original stuff of creation.
Man’s ideas change, but God’s Word doesn’t change. We can use the firm foundation of the Bible to interpret all things, including science and how the world came to be. Therefore, creation scientists assume that there has been liquid water on the earth from the very beginning. Perhaps one day secular scientists will come to this realization too.