Updates – 6 June

There  haven’t been any DpSU’s for some days, and the only thing new on the ICR’s Daily (pseudo)Science Updates page is a rather belated piece called “Louisiana Academic Freedom Challenge Deferred“, about which much has already been written by others some time ago

As for the Flood stuff, I’ve decided to make the one article on the ICR’s opinion of the Flood many. Here’s an (incomplete) list of all the articles on the ICR site that need covering:

You see why it’s necessary to do it in sections?..

As I say, the list is still incomplete – there’s some stuff about dinosaurs that I haven’t managed to track down yet, for example.

Flood ‘Evidence’ Raises More Questions Than It Answers

Yes, I thought I’d try and see if I could come up with a DpSU style headline myself, and I reckon I did pretty well…

I was (almost) lead to believe that we’d be reviewing the evidence for Catastrophism in general in this article (it was titled Worldwide Catastrophic Evidence is Everywhere after all), but, as I expected, it’s all (yes, all) about the flood. Which is odd, considering the next article is entitled “Much Evidence Exists for a Worldwide Flood“. This is not surprising, really, considering that most of the stuff that is making geologists blend Catastrophism into their explanations are rather unpalatable to Creationists. The K-T impact wouldn’t really help their case, you understand.

To go over the meat of the article:

Fault surfaces that contain zones characterized by microbreccias and pseudotachylite are evidences for rapid displacements.

And why is this evidence? You need to explain this, rather than tossing out science-sounding words… I’m guessing they’re talking about sedimentary layers containing breccia, which is apparently a bit like concrete with rocks in it, where the pseudotachylite” here is presumably the concrete (It is also associated with impact craters, but I doubt that’s what they’re talking about here).

Beveled surfaces below, within, and above thick strata sequences provide evidence of rapid flood and post-flood erosion. Sheetform beveled surfaces below and within thick strata sequences provide evidence of widespread sediment sublimation during a global flood (e.g., the paraconformity between Coconino Sandstone and Hermit Shale on Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon).

According to wikipedia, “A beveled edge refers to an edge of a structure that is not perpendicular to the faces of the piece.” What “sediment sublimation” is supposed to mean I don’t actually know – search for it in google in quote-marks and this article is top of the list! Paraconformity is “a type of unconformity in which strata are parallel; there is little apparent erosion and the unconformity surface resembles a simple bedding plane.” (source)

What the author seems to be saying is that the flood caused rapid laying down of sediment and it’s partial erosion, followed by more sediment. This isn’t evidence for the Flood so much as interpreting the evidence from the perspective of the Flood having happened, a key difference. None of this can’t explained by other means.

As further evidence for the worldwide nature of the flood, ancient human cultures across the globe appear to possess legends recounting a great global flood.

Classic argumentum ad populum here – just because lots of people believe it, doesn’t make it true. See wikipedia on the potential origins of the Flood myths of the world.

I’m going to combine the next few articles together with some “Related Articles” to comprehensibly cover (or thereabouts) the ICR’s position on the flood. As I alluded to in the title of this post, there are a few questions I want answered about the flood (in no apparent order):

  • Where did all the water come from?
  • Where did it go?
  • How high was the water?
  • If the water completely altered the landscape, why does Genesis 2 talk about the Euphrates and Tigris, which presumably did not exist at the time?
  • How do they explain sediments that have been turned and then had more sediments put on top of them?
  • How long did the planet take to dry out after all that time?
  • How did the flood erode the grand canyon but fail to erode the entire earth?
  • How come fossils are generally consistent with regards to their position in the geologic record
  • It is sometimes said that animals were initially not carnivorous before the flood – does the ICR believe this and what is there explanation for dinosaurs fossilised with their dinner inside them?
  • How are there different layers in sediments if they were all laid down largely together?
  • Why do some places have different layers than others?
  • What was the salinity of the flood-waters?
  • What happened to the oceanic currents during the flood?
  • Why isn’t there sediment from the Flood all over Antarctica?
  • Why can’t we see the flood as a major disturbance in ice core samples?
  • How permafrost formed between the Flood and now when it is thought to take far, far longer?
  • Why there isn’t huge amounts of DNA in fossils, far more than the measly specks that Brian Thomas is so fond of seizing on?
  • Why Dendrochronology (tree rings as gauge of climate) can extend back for more than 10 thousand years without noticing any global flood?
  • How you get footprints in the Coconino Sandstone mentioned above? It’s neither the top nor bottom layer in the sequence – I presume that it was still under water (I’m talking about Lizard footprints here).
  • How all that extra Iridium got into the K-T layer, but not any of the others?
  • Why don’t we have a layer of petrified wood at the bottom of the sediment, but nothing of that nature above it?

And probably a few million more also, which I can’t think of right now.

I also have a few questions about the Noah’s Ark aspect, some of which I have mentioned before:

  • The whole the-whole-thing-couldn’t-actually-float-if-made-from-contemporary-materials thing?
  • What they fed the animals on?
  • How a colony of bees is supposed to recover from a population of a single queen and a useless drone? \
  • How small flightless birds such as the kiwi are supposed to have gotten from the far corners of the earth to Mesopotamia in time to catch a boat, and then back again?
  • What all the trees were doing at the time?
  • Where did they put all the faeces?
  • Are Dinosaurs “Birds of the Heavens” and therefore require not 1 but seven pairs of each “Kind”? Where do you draw the line?
  • Do you really believe all this stuff about dinosaurs and dragons?
  • Define “Kind” anyway…

And so on. I don’t mean to Gish Gallop, I just want to see what is left by the end…

The Global Catastrophic Model

Yes, the flood is coming soon… But give them a moment to build up to it.

Basically, in order to provide basis for the occurrence of the Great Flood, the creationists are attempting to revive the old model of Catastrophism.

The history is this: in the good old days (ie before Darwin and the like) people thought that the world’s features were created by large-scale catastrophes (like really big earthquakes, floods etc). As time passed, a more Uniformitarianist view emerged in the geological community. They now thought that there was very little effect on the environment by catastrophes, and that the processes that caused all of the geological formations on earth were the same as what can be seen to be taking place at present. (A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is wonderful on this topic, btw). However, over the last few decades, it has been found that there is evidence for both Catastrophism and Uniformitarianist, and that both have a role.

The attractiveness of Catastrophism over Uniformitarianism to creationists goes without saying. With pure Catastrophism, you have no need for vast expanses of time, and you can get in the Biblical Flood via the back door (more on that in a few posts). It could come as no surprise then to hear that whoever wrote the “Earth Sciences” section is advocating that “Geologists must deliberately and unabashedly discard outdated uniformitarian thinking and adopt, without reservation, a global catastrophic model”. Rarely is it rue that science decides in favour of one two arbitrary ends of a spectrum (evolution vs creationism being an exception as far as I am aware – they don’t seem easily combinable). Science is nuanced and is never simple, especially in a case like this. The current model still requires long periods of time, punctuated by the occasional catastrophe, like the various asteroid impacts over the millennia. Floods, however, do not figure prominently here, however, and I have a feeling that we are about to see a classic bait-and-switch (they’ll reel you in with volcanoes and asteroids, and then change to the Biblical Flood), as well as the straw man we are already seeing (they’ll demolish the position of pure Uniformitarianism that nobody holds any more).

There’s nothing much here about the model itself, however, which is a pity. I also object to the statement that “History is not open to scientific testing”. You can still make predictions and falsify them, for example you can search for transitional fossils.

Next: The evidence (although ominously the URL for the page is /worldwide-flood/).