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Regarding the Re-Classification of Pluto

September 10th, 2006

“And God said, Let there be lights
in the expanse of the heavens…”

(Genesis 1:14; Ezek. 32:7,8)

Pluto has an extremely eccentric orbit. It is sometimes closer to the sun than to its neighbor, Neptune. Discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, Pluto has most recently (2006) been re-classified based upon two fundamental pieces of information: (1) Its mass is too small to be equated with the other planets. For example, it is only 1/500 Earth’s mass; 1/20 Mercury’s mass; and, 1/300 the mass of Jupiter. (2) Its diameter is also too small. It has only 9% the diameter of Neptune; 90% the diameter of Ganymede (Ganymede is a moon of Jupiter, the largest satellite in our solar system). So, it is not surprising that the likes of Sir Patrick Moore (and others) have recently re-classified Pluto, reducing the number of Milky Way Planets from nine to eight.

What are Christians to do with this new information? First, the Lord has never said that there would be either nine or eight planets in our solar system. Secondly, we can  still appreciate the similarities which Pluto shares with other planets: (1) At least one moon (charon) (2) A thin atmosphere of CH4 Methane, and (3) A density of about 1.0 g/cm3 (Jupiter and Uranus = 1.3). Thirdly, we are once again brought face-to-face with science needing to revise its thinking. Our faith does not rest on the laurels of science. We do appreciate scientific data, but we must also realize that it is subject to revision when and where it is inaccurately being affirmed.

Jesus once said to the intellectuals of his day, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matt.  6:3). Thank you Pluto!

– Robert M. Housby

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