Columns

Where's the moon dust? 2016.02.03

BY DAVID GREEN

It all started with a story in an Alaskan weekly newspaper about a science class at the local high school. Now it’s become the biggest letter-to-the-editor exchange since Morenci residents traded some friendly opinions on the matter of recalling council members.

No, it isn’t quite that big, but the newspaper in Homer, Alaska, has filled plenty of inches ever since a story appeared in early December about a science teacher who presented both evolution and creationism in his classroom.

He teaches what has become the prevailing scientific theory over the past several decades—that the Earth has been around a few billion years and during that time life has evolved into the unusual forms that we now see when we look out the window and into the mirror.

He also allows a preacher to visit the class and give his opinion about why evolution couldn’t possibly have occurred. The pastor teaches from a book that claims the Earth is less than 6,000 years old.

And then the letters started:

Side 1: How can scientific study be placed on an equal standing with a religious belief? The role of religion has a place in social science classes, but not in a science class. Courts have agreed that creationism definitely isn’t science. If you’re going to bring religion into biology class, you’re going to have to bring in a multitude of other established religions.

Side 2: He’s not teaching religious doctrine. He’s offering two popular accounts of life on Earth. It’s fine to present both sides of the issue. Creation started with God and it’s supported by a lot of facts. Down the road most schools won’t be teaching only “evilution.”

Whew! I don’t want to get into that one. Somebody might break into the house and steal my 250 million-year-old fossils. One of them is probably my great-great-great-great-grandfather547.

But what I want to get into is moon dust. Judging by some letters to the editor, moon dust plays a key role in modern creationism theory. And it’s also part of modern government conspiracy theory.

According to the letter, Neil Armstrong expected he might sink deep into moon dust when he took that famous first step onto the big rock. Why? If the moon and Earth are really billions of years old, there would be one heckfire of a lot of dust on the moon.

But everyone knows what happened: there are human footprints on the moon, but there was barely enough dust to even plant a flag. Therefore, the Earth and moon are young and there hasn’t been enough time for evolution, wrote the letter-writer.

This is the first I’ve heard of the deep-dust theory. Since the earlier moon probes didn’t sink into the celestial dustbin, I don’t know why Neil Armstrong thought he would. But there’s a reason why I’ve never heard this before. According to the writer, the government wasn’t eager to publish this fact. It’s only recently been released to the public.

At least that writer accepts that a moon landing occurred. Some people still think it was all a hoax filmed in a secret Hollywood studio.

Another Alaska writer figured it doesn’t take much dust to support a flag pole on the moon. No atmosphere, no wind, about one-sixth the gravity of Earth. She figures it takes about the same amount of dust as she has under her couch.

That led her to the obvious conclusion that the moon is about the same age as her house, which she claims “is definitely not enough time for the evolution of intelligence.”

No dust on the moon? All those moonmaids probably just sweep it onto the dark side where no one’s going to see it.