A new lunar crescent is a sight to behold, but most folks miss it because it is low in the sky around sunset. Observing during the first few days of the lunar cycle (usually day 3 to 6) permits observation of craters in high contrast that are less obvious when more of the disk is apparent. These early lunar cycle days, because there is some light from the sun that is still present, also permit terrestrial background to be recorded along with the moon for eyes-only or binocular observing, and recording a sketch is easier with some ambient light.
My observation caught a pair of relatively famous craters that show up in the waxing (getting bigger) crescent stage with good contrast during day 3 to 5 of each moon cycle. The problem during this observation period is that one is also looking through low angles through lots of atmosphere, so fine detail is tough to see.
The questions always get asked by children: “Where did the craters come from? How did the moon get there?” As we have said, it all depends on your worldview — not science. Science observation is interpretted based on worldview assumptions. Scientists and engineers that believe in the Biblical creation worldview take quite a different worldview, so the answers are different that those who say it all came about by itself, which is called “naturalism”. While naturalism is not claimed by most people to be a religion, it is, since a large body of people hold to it in a religious way…..by faith believing that curent processes are responsibile for everything we see, including our origin…or the origin of the moon.
If the worldview is naturalistic, then the key principle is uniformity, where everything happens slowly and gradually by chance. The present, in this case, is the key to the past. Everything starts with some sort of “bang”, little tiny pieces turn to bigger pieces, bigger pieces turn to those that are really big, the solar system forms in the process, excess gases disappear, undirected energy causes a vast array of elements, undirected energy combines and yields tiny life, tiny life gets bigger and more complex, information gathers by itself and is written on the developing life, and eventually it yields us. So the moon is somewhere in the accidental undirected process. For short, it is a “bang” to lots of particles to elements to a goo to the zoo to you over an incomparably long time. With this worldview, the the moon is billions of years old; the craters happened somewhere/somehow during that process. Way, way, way back, the moon’s “ancestors” and ours are the same.
However, when the worldview based on an Eyewitness (God), He says creation took place (Genesis is the first scripture record on creation) at His command. The Genesis record says that the moon was created on the 4th day; we came on day 6. The moon was given size and orbit characteristics at its creation At the end of the 4th day (like the others), God comments that it was “good”. All this occurred about 6000 years ago as part of His master plan, of which an important part was to create man. Then, throughout the ages, we each have opportunity to believe Him or not. The heavens, which would include the earth’s atmosphere and things in outer space, are designed for us to discover. They point to Him as Psalm 19:1-4 states — like a repeating signpost, except the language is silent but the message is clear: the heavens point to His attributes and power.
Shortly after creation, His created man rebelled (said that he knew better), and God adjusted the creation a “bit” so death entered the scene. We have been sinning ever since. So now the creation is beautfiful in some ways but it is also broken, running down, and will have an end. The time scale (for us) is set on finite terms and people’s response to him.
There is another wrinkle: Shortly after the fall of man, man got so evil God put an end to everyone (except Noah and his family on an ark) and all land dwelling/air breathing life (except those on the ark) with the flood of Genesis (also called the Noah flood). That is why we find maritime fossils all over, evidence of catastrophe that ranges from tectonic plate movement to graveyards of fossilized bones to soft tissues of animals locked in ice. During this same event, it is estimated (by believing scientists and other technical people that believe the Bible) that the heavy cratering probably took place on the moon and other bodies in the solar system. Impacts may have also affected or been a part of the earth catastrophe and flood period (Genesis 5-9).
So it is not a surprise that the lunar landscape is filled with evidence of catastrophe that includes craters filled in with lava (“ghost craters”), younger craters on top of them, and some scarps from faulting that probably occurred a little later as the overall moonscape shrunk just a bit after the catastrophic period as things cooled down.
The short answer for the child’s question: moon age is less than 6000 years old and the craters somewhat less. The craters could have been formed from impacts around the fall of man or during the flood of Noah, as mentioned above. Both events changed our surroundings in several ways. Most Biblical-creation believing scientists think the cratering occurred during the flood period.
With that in mind, here is a quick observation of Atlas and Hercules craters with a half buried crater on the “right” side of Atlas.
For more information on the moon, see www.creation.com/moon . And, get outside yourself and enjoy the many parts of its cycle that we can see with our eyes, binoculars, or a telescope.