B Evaluation of the purported scientific evidence for recent creationThe recent-creationist community often charges the general scientific community with distorting and suppressing information, and refers to the bias of “secular science.” This certainly does occur, both in the scientific community and in everyday life. There are countless examples of our selective awareness of the facts. The human heart is deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9) and specifically rejects truth related to our own creation and God’s rightful honor and authority (Rom. 1:18-21). See ch. 3, V. However, this principle is a two-edged sword, and we Christians are not immune from bias ourselves. We are anxious to see those unbelieving scientists get refuted, but we must be careful not to have “itching ears” that too readily accept anything that seems to be what we want to hear (II Tim. 4:3). It is all too easy to get into a particular mindset, and very hard to get out of it. Our deceitful hearts will gladly be baptized into the service of some honorable cause that provides an opportunity for feeling superior to others, such as the Pharisees’ emphasis on God’s law, truth and honor in Jesus’ time. So we must scrutinize all the evidence presented by everyone in regard to the age of the universe, and how it is analyzed. That includes recent-creationists.
The following discussion responds to the points listed in sec. I, B.
Is the assumption of “dark matter” or “missing matter” in galaxies and galaxy clusters only a cover-up for the fact that galaxy clusters are in fact breaking up and could not exist for the purported 15-billion-year age of the universe? This issue needs a little background. There are actually several types of “missing matter.” One is in the universe as a whole. Theorists for various reasons would like to believe the universe’s average density is just exactly right to make its expansion slow down but never quite stop and reverse. The density of observable matter seems to refuse to exceed about one-tenth of that quantity, so the other nine-tenths is “missing.” Then there are the galaxy clusters that brought up our current discussion. Finally, galaxies themselves seem to have a lot of invisible matter, especially in the outer regions, based on the motions of stars in those regions.
Early (mid-20th century) mass estimates considered only luminous matter, in other words stars. That fell far short of the quantity required to explain the observed motions of galaxies and stars. But of course not all matter is luminous; that requires a fairly high temperature and density. We live on the surface of a sizeable chunk of non-luminous matter, and we ourselves are smaller chunks. Of course, we are luminous, just not in the visible wavelength range. At our low temperature, we shine in the far infrared. With the dawning of the space age and advances in detector technology, it became possible to observe the universe at these wavelengths, and sure enough far more matter became visible than that producing visible light. The advent of x-ray observations added more observations of matter at the other extreme, temperatures and energies so high that their radiation is mostly in that range. But all this still falls short of the required total. So are astronomers refusing to face the clear meaning of the facts, in clinging to the belief that there is more matter in some form?
There can easily be still more, in forms that do not emit an observable amount of radiation. It could be in objects in the size range between planets and stars; how many such objects might there be floating around the universe, and how could we know? We can’t go into all the details here, but several large research projects were carried out in the first half of the 90s, looking for exactly such objects, using the phenomenon of gravitational lensing to detect the effect of such objects on the light of stars beyond them. It was an impressive plan, using a computer to analyze thousands of pictures of the millions of stars in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Some lensing instances were observed, as well as a windfall of data on previously unnoticed variable stars. But the number of small objects fell far short of the number required for them to supply the missing mass.
Gravitational lensing occurs in other cases, on larger scales. In the mid 80s the steady progress of instrumentation produced the first observations of curious huge, thin, precise arcs of light around the edges of galaxy clusters. It took a couple of years to pin down the explanation; they are not a new type of object, but mirages, the stretched and distorted images of small bright objects, galaxies and quasars, far beyond the cluster. Hundreds of such arcs are now known, dozens of them visible in and around some clusters. Analysis of them determines the mass required to produce such bending of light rays, and the answer is in very good agreement with the mass required to explain the observed motions of the galaxies in the clusters. So this is an independent confirmation that that mass really is there. The only alternative explanation is to say that God’s creation of apparent age even went to the extent of creating light rays looking as if they had bent around galaxy clusters which those rays never actually passed by, and also those light rays were bent by amounts representing mass that does not really exist.
As long as we are talking about missing mass, we cannot omit its application to individual galaxies. Here recent-creationists seem to have passed up an opportunity, because if missing mass is a cover-up in galaxy clusters, why not in galaxies themselves? Why not say that the galaxies are actually flying apart, on an even shorter time scale than the clusters?
There is hope of a solution of the missing-mass problem for the universe as a whole. Several types of evidence indicate that there is actually a repulsive force in the universe, the return of Einstein’s cosmological constant, which counteracts gravity and supplies an energy density which also plays the role of missing mass. Also, it has become possible to observe molecular hydrogen directly, and there turns out to be much more than previously estimated. This is the status at the moment of writing this, late 2000. Watch for further developments.
About spiral galaxy arms, there are several possible explanations of their structure. For one thing, they are not necessarily fixed structures that would wind up with time as the inner parts rotate faster than the outer parts. They may instead be a wave disturbance passing through the matter of the galaxy. They may be a region of concentration of formation of a few bright stars, which dominate the brightness of the entire galaxy, and the density distribution is much more nearly uniform than the brightness distribution. Instrumentation is just now becoming adequate to make such detailed studies of the motions in other galaxies, so in a few years this question should be answered.
But even before that answer is in, it is certain that spiral arms are at least partly a wave structure, and it is suspected that they are not a long-lasting feature after all. Most spiral arms are observed to be in galaxies that give other evidences of recent (less than 1,000,000,000 years) disturbance by other nearby galaxies, just as our own spiral-armed Milky Way is closely surrounded and perturbed by several smaller galaxies. So recent-creationists probably are half right. Spiral arms could not exist for billions of years, but that does not prove the universe cannot be that old. In other words, to carry this logic to its extreme, the waves on the ocean could be used as proof that the universe is no more than a few hours old, because the interaction of wind with waves is not well understood and therefore must be rejected as the cause of waves.
Another evidence of the flimsiness of this argument is the fact that many flat-disk galaxies, which must be classified as spiral-type, have very tightly wound spiral arms or none at all, showing only a fairly uniform disk. By the recent-creationists’ own logic, this should be evidence that the universe is in fact at least many hundred million years old, for spiral arms to progress to such a state. So this is an example of selective awareness or presentation of the facts by recent-creationists.
As for star clusters dispersing, I cannot locate where I saw this claim. It is not frequently mentioned by recent-creationists, and perhaps the instances I saw indicated confusion about the previous two subjects. I have never heard of any such star clusters in my reading of astronomical literature.
On to supernova remnants. They are expanding at a rate on the order of a thousand kilometers a second. M1, the remnant of the 1054 supernova, is already several light-years across. At this rate, they disperse very rapidly, which means within a few tens of thousands of years at most. At least they would fade from visibility in visible light. Recent-creationists claim that they should remain conspicuous for radio telescopes. I have not pursued this claim down to its details. But I do have several comments. One is that the universe, especially the neighborhood of large stars that become supernovae, is a busy, crowded place. Beyond a few light years at most, there are bound to be a lot of other clouds and stars which will strongly affect the expanding debris. There is simply not enough empty room for it to go on expanding in undisturbed isolation. Another comment, related to this, is that there are some observed structures, sometimes called super-bubbles, that are several thousand light years in diameter. Their explanation is still uncertain. The currently preferred one is that they are the accumulated effect of a whole spurt of supernovae during a few thousand years in a relatively small area. Another possibility is that there are explosions even far larger than supernovae, which are still not well understood. Stand by for further developments. Be that as it may, the purported lack of, say, million-year-old supernova remnants is not at all a closed case. Furthermore, it would be strangely inconsistent if God created a universe in which there are no “old” supernova remnants with apparent age, but did create the universe filled with so many other examples of apparent age in this range and far older.
It should also be noted that this argument by recent-creationists implies the assumption that we are seeing all these supernova remnants virtually instantly, at distances up to several hundred thousand light years. The light-travel-time factor is totally ignored. This is discussed in sec. C.
If recent-creationists really understood supernovae, they would not draw attention to them. A supernova is the explosion of a large star, which is also a short-lived star. It does not last long enough to travel far away from its place of formation. All large stars, and supernovae, are observed to be in the neighborhood of dense nebulae capable of forming stars. If all the stars were in fact created fully formed and functioning, and God wanted to give us proof that that is what He did, then He could create large stars and even expanding supernova remnants in isolated locations far from any other large stars and dense nebulae. We of course cannot assert that that is what He must do. But it is significant that He passed up that opportunity to display His method and power, if recent creation is in fact true.
Star formation is discussed further in sec. C.
The shrinking Sun story created a great stir in the recent-creationist world in the 80s. It was based on observations of the Sun carried out over a century or more, which seemed to show a slight shrinkage, which if projected over a time span of billions of years would have the Sun initially as large as the Earth’s orbit. For now it is sufficient to note that those observations were right on the edge of the observational uncertainty of the measurements made a century ago. And that is precisely how the astronomical community considered them; they were not confirmed by any other observations, such as the very precise observations of the edge of the Sun during total eclipses. It was only recent-creationists who thought this carried any great significance, which was being covered up by the secular community. Attaching such significance to this is an instance of the error of unjustified extrapolation and uniformitarianism, an error which recent-creationists are experts at pointing out when evolutionists commit it. Even if it were true that the Sun shrunk noticeably in the past one hundred years, that does not mean it has been going on at a constant rate for millions of years. It could be some previously unknown small oscillation on a period of a few centuries. This has mostly been dropped from newer recent-creation presentations, but it lives on in older materials, and continues to be propagated from those materials by the uninformed.
The solar-neutrino shortage has stood as one of astrophysics’ puzzles since the early 70s, but may be near a solution. Newer and larger neutrino detectors, able to observe far more and different kinds of neutrinos than the early one, confirm the deficiency. But in 1998 an experiment also detected traces of a mass in the neutrino, which according to theory would mean that the three types of neutrinos can change from one to another. Thus by the time they reach the Earth, the initial number of neutrinos in their original type would be reduced to, guess what, one-third! This remains to be verified, but this paragraph is probably the most dated one in this book. By the time it passes through the publication process and reaches circulation, this problem will either be resolved or confirmed to be even more puzzling than ever. Whatever the outcome, it is not a crucial evidence either way on the age of the universe, hardly sufficient to discredit everything else that is relevant and more certain.
Is the assumed existence of the Kuyper Belt and Oort Cloud only a cover-up for the clear implication of the existence of short-lived comets? It could be. Once again, this issue does not stand in isolation; there are the many clear evidences for an age at least several digits beyond ten thousand years. This is an argument based on lack of information; small objects at those distances are at present impossible to observe. In the 90s it has become possible to detect some smaller objects in the vicinity of Pluto and slightly beyond; at present (2000) several dozen are known and this number can be expected to continue rising rapidly for a long time. And it is very reasonable to assume that the objects detected are the largest in a huge number of such objects. Pluto is only the king of the Kuyper Belt.
Some recent-creation books go into great technical detail to explain why meteoroids, in the size range of a fraction of a millimeter, are gradually falling toward the Sun due to their interaction with sunlight, the Poynting-Robertson effect. This is common knowledge among scientists. But recent-creationists fail to give more than passing mention to what is known of the source of these particles, which is of course the crux of any consideration of whether this tells us something about the age of the solar system. These particles come from two primary sources. One is comets. The other is ongoing collisions in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Infrared satellite observations have confirmed the existence of streams of dust in the asteroid belt. Unlike the Kuyper Belt and Oort Cloud, the existence of the asteroids is known by direct observation. Thus there is no proven problem in accounting for the continuing present of meteors in the inner solar system. Recent-creationists must produce a detailed study of the sources and prove them inadequate if they want to claim this as an evidence for recent-creation.
The “moon-dust problem” continues to receive strong emphasis in some creationists’ presentations and literature, though others have dropped it. Its brief listing in my summary in sec. I does not do justice to the prominence it receives in the creationist movement. It received great attention in the early days of the moon landing program, when the space program planners were worried that they might find the surface of the Moon covered with a thick layer of dust into which the landing spacecraft and astronauts would vanish without a trace. So recent-creationists can cite professional scientists who published articles about this in professional journals; but notice the date of those articles, the latest being in the early 60s. No one but recent-creationists has mentioned it again since. Recent-creationists who have dropped this issue say they drop it because early estimates of the influx of meteor dust turned out to be far too high, and the actual rate is low enough that this is inconclusive as an evidence against several billion years. But this still fails to grasp the really serious blunder in this argument.
That blunder was realized in the mid-60s by professional scientists, which is why it was never mentioned again, and they were embarrassed by their earlier articles on the subject. Meteors strike the Earth and Moon at speeds of several tens of kilometers per second, many times the speed of an artillery shell. Such objects, from tiny specks up to many kilograms, are burned up by friction high in the Earth’s atmosphere, but on the airless Moon they directly strike the solid surface. Both from experiments with newly-developed high-velocity guns, and from simple calculation, scientists in the 60s realized that particles colliding with a solid surface at such speeds are totally vaporized; their kinetic energy is more than enough to accomplish this. This is so obvious that it was embarrassing they had not realized it earlier. An object that almost instantly becomes high-temperature and high-pressure gas is ordinarily called a bomb, and its explosion produces a crater typically ten times as large in diameter as the object that produced it. It is not merely analogous to a bullet hole, and it is futile to dig underneath the hole in hopes of finding the original object. This realization finally ended the centuries-long debate over whether the Moon’s craters, and also the Barringer Crater in Arizona, are volcanic or impact-produced.
Thus it is no wonder that the dust has not piled up on the Moon’s surface; it all vaporized on impact. What we should expect therefore is a surface covered to a depth of many tens of meters with a layer of shocked and compressed rubble mixed and plowed by impacts of all sizes. This is exactly what there is. The samples the astronauts returned are classified as breccias, which means compressed rubble.
If recent-creationists really understood this at all, they would avoid mentioning the Moon. Notice the shape of the hills in the background in the pictures of the astronauts walking on the Moon; they are gentle rounded shapes. There is no process that produces new mountains in that condition, except perhaps a shield volcano, which the Moon’s mountains certainly are not; fault-block motion or a fresh crater rim are jagged. The mountains have become rounded because the original jagged contours have been sand-blasted off through eons of time by the impacts of countless particles of all sizes. So recent-creationists choke on half an inch of dust, and swallow many meters of rubble, craters over 100 km in diameter, and whole rounded-off mountains. It is a classic example of not seeing the forest for the trees.
Craters occur not only on the Moon; they are observed on every solid surface of planets and satellites in the solar system, except a few which show clear evidence of rapid replacement, such as Jupiter’s moon Io. On some parts of some surfaces, including the Moon’s, the surface consists entirely of craters on top of craters. There is no reason why objects would have particularly targeted these regions, so the only reasonable conclusion is that these are the oldest remaining surfaces, and that every spot on every surface was impacted many times in its early history. On many of the planets other processes have also left their mark, producing a complex surface of overlapping and interleaving craters in all conditions from jagged-fresh to smooth-old, fault lines, and cracks, telling a story that cannot be compressed within less than many many millions of years. And on those objects there is no evidence of a single global hydrological Flood which might compress all that story into a brief time period. Mars shows evidence of large regional floods, but Mercury and the Moon are airless and waterless and could not have ever been otherwise.
The Earth is especially important to us. It now recognized to have over 100 impact craters of various ages, and sizes up to several hundred kilometers. The Earth’s surface is subject to erosional processes that rapidly erase and/or cover up craters with time, so these are just the last few most recent ones. The formation of each one of the larger craters was certainly a global catastrophe. Most of these craters are so nearly obliterated that they were not recognized until large-area satellite photos became available.
A few asteroids, in orbits between Mars and Jupiter, have been observed by passing spacecraft, and they too have cratered surfaces, and turn out to be low-density porous flying rock piles, not solid chunks. So they too bear testimony to a long and violent history at least several digits longer than 10,000 yr.
How can all these craters throughout the solar system be explained in the recent-creation model? When in the six 24-hour days of creation, or the Flood, were these craters formed, including the ones on the Earth? If the Moon and planets did not even exist until the fourth day, then it has to be then or after. A vast sequence of violent events must be accommodated sometime between then and now. If the other planets were all being blasted, the Earth could hardly escape, except by miraculous protection. The Earth was already covered with plants on the third day, and was inhabited by animals on the fifth day; it would not be habitable during a heavy episode of bombardment, or for quite a while (at least years, probably centuries) afterwards. The only other possible time for all these impacts is during or soon after the Flood, and in fact Flood geology requires that, since it teaches that the present surface of the Earth, which contains numerous craters, did not exist before the Flood. But that would make the Earth uninhabitable at the time these craters formed, with frequent mile-high tidal waves and global climate catastrophes. Perhaps the reason Noah could not see the mountains for so long was because the impacts produced dust clouds that made the world dark! And perhaps the biggest miracle of all is that he and the rest of the inhabitants of the Ark were not directly hit by any of the impacts, and did not freeze to death during the following dark-induced “winter.”
But any attempt to compress this process of impacting into a time as short as the Flood year runs into impossible difficulties. The solar system at present is delightfully clean and calm, yet impacts still are inevitable occasionally. The average lifetime of small objects in the vicinity of the Earth is on the order of many millions ofyears. The final stages of cleaning up the solar system are still unfinished and progressing very slowly, and new small objects are still being produced by collisions in the asteroid belt.. A glance at the night sky shows that the planets are very tiny targets in the celestial shooting gallery, and their progress in removing small stray objects is like scrubbing the Great Lakes with a toothbrush. Projecting this condition backward in time points to a period of intense bombardment that slowed down about four billion years ago. Heavy bombardment by objects orbiting the Sun must have continued on for at least several hundred million years, the final stage of the formation of the planets.
The only way that recent-creationists can possibly shorten this time-period to fit into their framework is to postulate that a tremendously dense cloud of objects existed throughout the solar system for a very brief period of time, at most a year or two, beginning at the beginning of the Flood. This model has numerous fatal flaws, which I introduce briefly.
One serious question is not quite fatal. As already mentioned, protecting Noah and the Ark during and after such a bombardment would require truly miraculous intervention.
The next question is the source of such a cloud of objects. It must be either inside or outside the solar system. If it is within the solar system, it would be either an explosion or collision of one or more tremendously massive planets. There is no known or proposed mechanism for such an explosion. I emphasize tremendously massive, because the planets and satellites are mere specks in the vastness of interplanetary space, so only an infinitesimal fraction of flying debris would strike one of them in the short time of a year or two. Yet they all indicate having been totally plastered with impacts, probably many times over.
If the objects came from outside the solar system, again there is no known or proposed source. Such a cloud of objects has never been observed, nor can any explanation be given of how one would be formed, other than the always-ready ace-in-the-hole of miraculous intervention.
The next, overlapping, question is the disposal of such a cloud. Where did they all go within a few short months? They must have all been moving at a high enough speed to escape from the solar system, not remain in orbits within it. This virtually eliminates the model of an exploding or colliding planet, which would produce fragments moving in all directions at a wide range of speeds. Virtually all of it would be at speeds low enough to remain in orbit around the Sun, so after the passage of a mere few thousand years it should almost all still be here, and the bombardment still continuing ferociously. Obviously, and fortunately, it is not.
The alternative is an extremely dense cloud passing through the solar system from outside. This would enter from one direction and continue onward out of the solar system. But even in this case we should expect a small fraction of the objects to be deflected by close flybys to the planets, especially Jupiter, and enter closed orbits remaining within the solar system. Nearly all of those objects would still be around a few thousand years later, but we see no such population of objects in the solar system.
Thus there seems to be no feasible scenario of a brief, recent episode of saturation bombing throughout the solar system. Even if the passing cloud theory were conceivable, it is inconsistent for recent-creationists to believein such an imagined unexplained cloud, and at the same be so skeptical about the existence of the highly plausible Oort Cloud and Kuyper Belt.
Most recent-creationists are blissfully unaware of this problem. Even a recent-creationist book devoted entirely to the origin of the Moon failed to mention the origin of craters at all, except one passing reference to the fact that they exist. One article raising this question in CRSQ received exactly zero response at the time (by William S. Parks, vol. 26 pp 144-6, March 1990). There have been a few articles in the late 90s mentioning the subject of craters and their origin, giving a few unsuccessful guesses on the subject and still not acknowledging what a serious problem this is for them. But it is an extremely serious, possibly fatal one.
It takes only one real contradiction to overthrow a theory. Craters do exist. If they could not possibly be reconciled with a young Earth, then the Earth is not young. Recent-creationists can only cling to the fact that is has not been reconciled yet. How long can they cling?
One of the best attempts so far is “Impact Events Within the Young-Earth Flood Model” by Carl R. Froede Jr. and Don B. DeYoung, CRSQ vol. 33, pp. 23-34. The references list is two pages long, which represents an impressive amount of research in the literature. But even this article can do no better than propose the exploding-asteroid model, and admit the cause of the explosion is unknown. And even these authors, with such a high degree of competence, don’t seem aware that the disposal of the debris is a problem; they happily assume it was all swept up within months and is now vanished without a trace. And they even still consider the possibility that at least some of the craters elsewhere in the solar system were created. If that is really an option, then there is nothing left to discuss. There are also at least two articles by W. R. Spencer in the proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Creationism, 1998. He also places the bombardment during the Flood.
The argument about slumping Moon mountains has not been widely circulated, so we need not devote much attention to it here. It is sufficient to note that if rocks on the Moon should flow perceptibly in its one-sixth gravity, then sheer cliff faces on the Earth should be oozing quite perceptibly. But Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and countless other scenic wonders show no such behavior.
The argument based on the Moon’s recession is also often emphasized by recent-creationists. The Moon is currently receding from the Earth at about 4 centimeters per year, an estimate based on the observed rate of slowing of the Earth’s rotation, which is such that a day is about 0.001 sec longer every century. This slowing is caused by its tidal interaction with the Moon, so the angular momentum removed from the Earth’s rotation must be transferred to the Moon’s orbital motion, enlarging its orbit. This results in a figure of 4 cm/yr. This can be confirmed by laser ranging to the reflectors left by the astronauts. That ranging is accurate to a few cm., but the Moon’s distance from the Earth varies in a very complex way over a range of nearly 40,000 km, so it requires truly heroic analysis to measure a 4 cm change.
The Moon’s present distance of 384,000 km, divided by 4 cm/year, gives a time of about 10,000,000,000 years, which no one considers too short. The problem is that this speed has not been constant, but would be much faster when the Earth and Moon were closer together. Various estimates of this effect bring the time required to reach the Moon’s present distance, assuming it started out very near the Earth, somewhat below the usual estimate of the age of the Earth, 5,000,000,000 years. This seems to be a conflict.
However, this is not necessarily a serious problem. It would be a problem if the answer were, say, five or six digits, or even seven, instead of nearly ten. It would have to differ from the Earth’s estimated age by at least a factor of 10 to be a serious problem. But in fact the time estimated from the Moon’s recession is at least half of the estimated age of the Earth, and a factor of two is pretty close in something with such large uncertainties. The tidal interaction between the Earth and the Moon is very complex, consisting mostly of the ocean’s tidal motions and the interaction of the tides with the continental coastlines. The present distribution of continents on the Earth is apparently more complex than it has been through most of the Earth’s history. It seems that at earlier times the continents were mostly combined into one large mass, leaving the rest of the globe one large ocean. Thus the tidal friction effect could have been considerably smaller than it is now, and the time required for the Moon to recede to its present distance becomes acceptably close to 5,000,000,000 years. This is no fatal flaw in the standard theory of the origin of the solar system.
An IBRI tape describes fossil corals, dated to be several hundred million years old, in which annual, monthly, and daily growth cycles are all visible, and it indicates more months and days per year than at present. There is no reason to think the length of the year has changed, so this means the month and day were shorter, and by an amount accurately consistent with the transfer of angular momentum from the Earth to the Moon, and also with the 8-digit geological age estimated for these fossils. It is difficult to imagine a recent-creationist alternative explanation of these facts.
The amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere is determined by its rates of both production and removal. Production is from cosmic rays producing reactions in nitrogen-14 nuclei in the upper atmosphere. Removal is by being removed from the atmosphere into the ocean or land, or radioactive decay converting it back to nitrogen-14. Decay is a process determined by the principles of nuclear physics, with a half-life a little over 5000 years. With such a short half-life, this is not one of the dating methods relevant to the age of the Earth. It is an observed fact that at present the rate of production is greater than the rate of decay, so the amount is increasing. The question is why. Recent-creationists assume that this means that there has been a major disruption which reduced the carbon inventory of the atmosphere. They propose both creation and the Flood as such disruptions.
But there is at least one other very good possibility,
which is that the rate of production is variable. Once again the recent-creationists
are extrapolating far beyond the available data, or in other words being
too uniformitarian, a fault which they frequently criticize in evolutionists.
It is not known where cosmic rays come from, though in recent years a consensus
is growing that they are produced by supernova explosions. This may or
may not be confirmed by further research. Be that as it may, the cosmic
ray intensity could very well vary considerably with time, even within
a few centuries. Observations have not been accurate enough long enough
yet to answer this question.
There is perhaps an experimental test of the recent-creationists’ proposal. Even assuming the Earth was initially created with no carbon-14, some should have accumulated by 1600 years later, the minimum time from creation to the Flood. If most of the Earth’s carbonate rocks, limestone and others, were formed at that time, and that was at most about 5,000 years ago, then they should still contain at least a trace of carbon-14. If, as is usually assumed, they formed many millions of years ago, then they would not. I am not aware of any recent-creationist consideration of this possibility, or attempts to check it out. Of course, they can always say that for various reasons the carbon-14 content of these rocks is imperceptible, and thus evade this falsification of their model.
The geomagnetic field (and the much larger magnetic fields of the four planets from Jupiter to Neptune) is also a favorite topic of recent-creationists. The argument is that since the Earth’s magnetic field is produced by a large circular current loop in the Earth’s liquid conducting core, this can be analyzed by the principles of electromagnetism. It is basically an inductance (L) and resistance (R), and a simple freshman physics problem is to determine the rate of decay of a current in an L-R circuit. Determining the L and R of the Earth’s core is not trivial, but it still is a good problem for a smart freshman. The result is that the current should decline by a half in a little over 1000 years. The measured strength of the field for past century or so indicates a slow decline at precisely this rate. This obviously cannot have been going on every 1000 years for the past 5,000,000,000 years, because that gives an utterly impossible figure for the original magnetic field.
This is true enough so far. The question is, once again, extrapolation; recent-creationists are again making unfounded uniformitarian assumptions. Is there nothing that can happen but dissipation and decline of the field? The usual explanation of the field is that the current in the Earth’s core is generated by a dynamo effect, similar to any electrical generator. The dynamo is driven by radioactive heat and the Earth’s rotation. Recent-creationists object that such a dynamo effect in the Earth’s core has never been proven true, or adequately explained in detail. This is true. However, it also is true that it has never been proven impossible. It violates no known physical principles. It is simply complex beyond the present capabilities of computers to calculate all that is happening. The core of the Earth is a rotating, gravitating, heated, conducting liquid. Its explanation is virtually the most complex problem imaginable in classical physics, using all that was known previous to the twentieth century. It is an electromagnetothermogravitohydrodynamic problem. No wonder it has not been solved yet. But beginning in about 1995, some computer modeling research has begun to produce results that at least resemble in principle the behavior of the Earth’s core, including generation and occasional reversal of the magnetic field. These models are still too simple to claim actual equivalence to the Earth’s core, but they are progress. Stand by for the results from the next generation of super-computers.
If we are going to consistently reject anything that is not yet fully explained, then we must refuse to believe that rain or lightning exist, or for that matter that tomorrow’s weather will occur. The atmosphere is complex beyond complete analysis, despite performing before our very eyes every day, and being observed and analyzed with all the ground-based, flying, and satellite technology and computational facilities the world’s scientists can produce and governments can buy. The same is true of the Earth’s core, except it is far less accessible for detailed observation.
Helium currently escapes from the top of the atmosphere into space considerably slower than it is observed to be entering the atmosphere from the surface of the Earth. The primary source is presumably radioactive decay of uranium and a few other heavy elements, producing alpha particles which are just helium nuclei flying around loose. The current helium abundance and rate of accumulation results in an estimated accumulation time of a few million years, much more than 10,000 but much less than 5,000,000,000.
Once again the recent-creationists’ error is uniformitarian extrapolation. The escape rate is controlled by the temperature in the outer reaches of the atmosphere. This at present ranges from about 500 to 1500 C, controlled by the degree of sunspot activity of the Sun, which produces high-energy radiation which is absorbed at those high altitudes. But the long-term limits of the activity of the Sun are not known; we have only been observing it scientifically for a few centuries. By the recent-creationists’ own estimates, a temperature of 2000 C or more would raise the escape rate sufficiently to balance the input rate. This does not seem to be hopeless beyond the presently observed range of variation. Furthermore, other factors may be significant as well. Supernovae produce not only visible light, but a blast of energy clear across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. A supernova within a few hundred light years would have significant effects clear down to the surface of the Earth, and one much further than that could drastically affect the tenuous upper atmosphere for at least several years. This should happen at least once every few million years. It at least erases the contradiction between this fact and a billion-year age of the Earth and its atmosphere. Furthermore, in the last few years satellites have discovered objects called gamma-ray bursters, that also significantly affect the outer atmosphere. They emit within a few seconds as much energy as a supernova does in many months. Their nature is not yet certain, but the best guess currently is that it is the merger of two neutron stars to form a black hole. It is not yet known how frequently these occur.
While we are discussing escape rates, the atmosphere consists of about 1% argon, which like helium is also still entering the atmosphere from the surface, presumably as the product of the decay of radioactive potassium. Argon is a much heavier gas, with no hope of escaping at any possible temperature of the upper atmosphere. If anything ever happens to the Earth that causes the argon to begin escaping, that will be the least of our problems! The observed rate of input would produce the observed composition in a few billion years, nicely in agreement with the usual estimate of the age of the Earth. Recent-creationists have noted this fact, and commented that it merits further research! This principle of escape rates will also briefly come up in connection with the vapor canopy theory.
Recent-creationists delight in mentioning examples of rapid formation of stalactites and stalagmites. This is true. But it does not necessarily prove that all stalactites in all caves formed that rapidly, nor does it prove recent creation or Flood geology. Observed stalactites formed in a few years are at most a foot or two long, and formed under very special circumstances. How does this transfer to a natural cave environment, and to stalactites a hundred times as long and with thousands of times the volume?
And now at long last we dive into the deep subject of Flood geology.
The first important comment is that this is not directly connected to recent creation. It amazes me how often someone begins a discussion on the age of the universe and very quickly starts talking about rocks. Many people seem to think that the only evidence about the age of the universe is found on the surface of the Earth. The stars and the rocks are two different subjects. Even if Flood geology turns out to be a correct model, that only proves there was a recent catastrophe on the surface of the Earth, not recent creation of the entire universe. And even how recent the catastrophe was is debatable.
There are six separate issues of age: the ages of the universe, of the Earth, of rocks in general, of life, of fossils and the rocks containing them, and of the human race. If evidence means anything, then each one of these is an upper limit for one or more of the next ones. Of course, the concept of apparent age denies that evidence is meaningful, so we can believe for instance that the Earth was created before the rest of the universe. In this way recent-creationists collapse the upper limits for the universe, Earth, life, and humans into one, or at most allow a few days between them, Flood geology places the fossils less than 2000 years later. Thus the age of fossils becomes equivalent to the age of the universe.
So, within these limitations, what does Flood geology tell us about the age of the present surface of the Earth?
Recent-creationist geologists can list an impressive number of facts that seem unaccountable by the standard geological interpretation. Most of these were listed in the summary of recent creation. As a layman in this subject, I can only conclude that the geological community has a lot more work to do, and this probably will produce some major revision of their current theories. The recent-creationists may serve a gadfly function in requiring them to take all the data into account. But I can’t help wondering if recent creation’s being associated with so many strange and mistaken notions has been more of a help or a hindrance to its intended positive influence on geologists.
On the other hand, this does not mean that recent creation is the correct answer. Their arguments are classic examples of selective presentation of details. They too fail to account for all the data. Somehow they overlook many facts which sound to me impossible to account for within a one-year Flood, or even a few centuries of settling down after a Flood. So I can only hope that the dialogue between recent-creationists and others goes on and someday develops a theory consistent with all the data.
Here are some facts which seem incompatible with Flood geology. Much of this is based on information in Dan Wonderly’s book (see bibliography). If only 1/10 of this book is valid, Flood geology is washed up. And it is unlikely that that little is valid. There may be errors, and valid responses to some of it, but it is difficult to imagine that it can be totally reconciled with the Flood geology scenario.
There are buried soil layers, paleosols, in the midst of the long sequences of layers attributed to the Flood. There is apparently some controversy over the identification of these layers, but the strongest statement I can find in recent-creationist comments is that if standard geology is correct it is surprising that there are so few such buried soils. But they seem unable to deny that there are at least a few. Even one soil layer in the middle of purported Flood layers is fatal to a one-year Flood explanation. Also, if it is acknowledged that most of the rock layers were formed in some sort of sudden catastrophic events, rather than in gradually rising and falling land and water levels, then soils would easily be mostly removed and dispersed, so that explains why there are not more buried soil layers. The Flood is not the only explanation for their scarcity.
Both buried fossil coral reefs and present-day coral reefs seem impossible to account for within a recent-creation time-scale and Flood geology. I have seen recent-creationist articles claiming that fossil coral reefs did not actually grow in place but were washed there during the Flood. This is an argument over details between experts on which I am not able to judge. But it seems it still would be a problem to grow that much coral in 1600 years before the Flood, and strange to account for its being gathered together in that way rather than scattered. Giving the recent-creationists the benefit of the doubt, this may be an inconclusive point.
There are many other evidences of long time periods in the midst of the layers. There are buried surface contours complete with erosion patterns and drainage systems of branching river channels. There are caves filled with material from layers above that layer. There are buried bird nests and footprints. There are harder objects enclosed in softer layers, and those objects show erosional conformity to the surface of the softer layer.
To account for some geological features, recent-creationist geologists resort to the concept of “sheet erosion,” water flowing rapidly over a large area and eroding off a layer leaving a flat surface. Is this possible? Is there any observed instance of this in the world or in the laboratory? Water flow is inherently unstable, amplifying small irregularities into large ones, which is why gullies and canyons form. If this concept of sheet erosion is necessary to reconcile recent creation with the geological facts, then recent creation may be in trouble.
Cyclic sediment series are particularly significant, with alternating layers of finer and coarser particles, and perhaps also different composition. There are examples that go up to several million such layers. The usual interpretation is that these represent annual surges of deposition on a lake floor. In reply, recent-creationists point to examples where such deposits are observed several times a year in some lakes. However, to produce several million layers in a year (the Flood) requires a layer every few seconds or less (a year is a little over 31,000,000 sec), and in fact this whole sequence is usually above and below many other layers that are also attributed to the Flood, so its time allotment must be even further compressed. Recent-creationists also point to examples at Mt. St. Helens, and in experiments, where material containing a mixture of sizes of particles is all deposited suddenly, and spontaneously sorts itself into alternating layers of finer and coarser material. This has hopes of eliminating the impossible time constraints, but I still would have to be convinced that such deposits match in every detail the geological examples.
Evaporite sequences are especially important, where the chemical composition varies exactly in the sequence in which salts would precipitate out of an evaporating lake. There are instances of at least many thousands of such layers, and I have seen no recent-creationist attempt to account for this. But that does not prove there are none. The question is whether they are successful, and success should be measured by the ability to reproduce rapid formation in the laboratory. If this had been achieved, I am sure the recent-creationist literature would give it great prominence, so it must not have been done yet.
Recent-creationists claim much evidence that the Grand Canyon was actually formed rapidly and recently, soon after the Flood, in the catastrophic draining of a huge lake. They may be right at least about the rapid part. But if so, such a large-scale sudden erosional event should have dumped a huge conspicuous layer of sediment downstream along the lower Colorado River and out into the Gulf of California and the nearby Pacific Ocean. But recent-creationists seem to make no mention of this, nor claim to find such a layer. They actually make a virtue of its absence, claiming this proves the canyon is mostly the result of a splitting of the surface, not erosion. Is there any other known instance where fault-line motion produces a wide V-shaped valley? So I have not yet heard a satisfactory answer to the question of where all the eroded material went.
Also, if all this happened soon after the Flood when all the layers were still fresh and soft from formation during the Flood, it would not leave tall vertical cliffs. Hard rock will stand in such a formation, but soft mud will not.
Incidentally, ICR’s book on the Grand Canyon contains a chapter on meteorology, which makes the passing comment that the reason the sky on Mars is red is because of the CO2 in its atmosphere. This is ridiculous; Venus contains nearly 10,000 times as much CO2 in its atmosphere, and is not red. I was kindly given a pre-publication copy of the book in 1991, and mentioned this error in a letter to the editor, along with many other matters. This is a trivial detail, unrelated to any issue of recent-creationism, yet it remained in the book when it was published in 1994. Such slipups reflect poorly on the competence of the authors.
There is the matter of cementation or lithification of rock layers; hard rock is not just dry mud. It consists of particles or grains cemented together by crystalline material filling the spaces between them. This comes from water seeping through those spaces, carrying dissolved minerals that crystallize to produce cementation. This seems to require a very long time to occur. It is reported that there are rapidly-formed layers at Mt. St. Helens; are they cemented? Even if so, how does the process scale up from a formation, say, 100 ft thick and a mile or two wide, to a formation 1 mile thick and 1000 miles wide?
In summary, I as a bystander with no personal experience or expertise in field geology can only wonder whom to believe, and hope the experts will keep working on it. It seems no one has a really good answer yet. But it does seem certain that there are fatal obstacles in the way of acceptance of a model that tries to explain all, or even most, of geology in terms of a single-year Flood a few thousand years ago.
Astronomers have gotten the geologists’ attention, and everyone else’s, with their accounts of the effects of the impact of an object several hundred meters in diameter or larger. An impact on land would within seconds sterilize an area extending up to several hundred kilometers, and produce atmospheric effects over the whole planet for months. An impact in the ocean, which covers the majority of the Earth’s surface, would similarly affect the atmosphere, and create monstrous tidal waves that would obliterate every coastline they reached. Mile-high waves could race at nearly the speed of sound hundreds of kilometers inland, even easily sloshing across mountain ranges. This would do a lot more than just get everything wet. It would also fill inland basins in minutes, and take many centuries to evaporate dry. The geology community has not even begun to really consider what this would do to the surface, and how much of the existing layer structure must be reinterpreted in terms of such occasional events. This should also account for many of the facts that recent-creationists emphasize in their critique of conventional slow-and-steady geological interpretations.
Could the Flood of Noah all be the result of an asteroid or comet impact, tidal waves, climatic disruption, perhaps shift of the Earth on its axis? An impact on the deep ocean, especially at a low angle, could leave no crater, evaporate a huge volume of water suddenly, cause immediate tidal waves, and perhaps even produce a slight shift of Earth’s rotation. The tidal waves and climatic disruption would be global, and perhaps could explain for the Biblical account of the event, but not require rearrangement of the surface of the Earth on the scale envisioned by Flood geology. There is no known evidence of such a recent event, but perhaps it just has not been correctly interpreted. It is certainly not on geoscientists’ conceptual framework.
Rapid formation is not necessarily recent formation. For years recent-creationists seemed to consider it sufficient to point out evidence of rapid formation, and only in recent years have they realized this is not enough to prove recent creation. They are attempting to respond, with the claim that the layers do connect up in a continuous series. But it will take a lot more and detailed work yet to prove that all such events can be stitched together into a single global catastrophe.
Geologists’ dating of fossils is based on the assumption of an evolutionary history of life on the Earth. This dating primarily employs index fossils, which means fossils which they believe they have found to have lived over a fairly brief time period. Many other fossils occur in many layers, which is assumed to mean they lived during a long time period and therefore cannot be used as a precise index of the age of the layer in which they are found. These index fossils are the subject of John Woodmorappe’s massive review, which he feels throws the whole conventional dating system into doubt by dismantling the sequence in the standard geological column. I am not qualified to judge this. But it is interesting to note that if Mr. Woodmorappe is correct, then intending to find support for recent creation, he may have unintentionally resolved one of the purported problems with long-age progressive creation, by eliminating the conflict between the sequence in the Genesis account and the sequence in the fossils. At least he has undermined its importance as a recent-creationist objection to long ages.
That conflict may only be apparent anyway. There is some room for flexibility in the Genesis story. It does not even mention ocean plants, or insects (creeping things?). There is the possibility that the days are overlapping ages, or even that the sequence is topical more than chronological, mentioning only the predominant new life forms at each step. From the geological side, the sequence of fossilization need not necessarily be the same as the sequence of creation. That too could help account for the difference in sequence.
If the fossils were in the same order as the Genesis account, that would be evidence for long-age creation and against Flood geology. But the fact that they are not is not evidence for recent creation or Flood geology.
Fossils are undeniably found in clearly-defined groups. Mr. Woodmorappe’s alternative to the usual chronological geological interpretation is that these groups represent different ecological regions in the pre-Flood world, which he has attempted to map. This may have some validity. But critics point out that it still does not explain why, for example, reptiles and mammals which now occupy the same environments are not found together as fossils. So this too is an uncompleted study.
With so many unknowns, the fossil sequence seems to prove little more than a tendency to progress upward from simple to increasingly complex. This seems most naturally explained in terms of slow formation of some layers which do not contain fossils, with occasional regional catastrophes of various sizes forming other layers and nearly all the fossils. These events could include spurts of plate tectonic movement, large impacts, shifts of the Earth on its axis, etc. Ecological catastrophes could also be caused by nearby supernovae or gamma-ray bursts. Probably all the competing theories contain part of the truth.
On to the vapor canopy. There is not yet any adequate scientific model of such a canopy. This is not for lack of trying. Jody Dillow’s attempt in the late 70s was a heroic compilation of information. He made some preliminary computations. Since then Larry Vardiman at ICR has inherited the concept and pursued computational investigations. Early results showed that a vapor layer produces a strong greenhouse effect, such that much more than the equivalent of two or three feet of water would raise the surface temperature above the inhabitable range. However, this neglected the effects of clouds, which reflect much of the incident sunlight and thus offset the greenhouse heating. Models with this included may be more promising. But if the pre-Flood Earth was almost totally cloud-covered, then what use were the Sun, Moon, and stars for measuring times and seasons?
However, all these models neglect some problems that seem fatal to the entire concept.
First, its very existence. Water vapor condenses when its density exceeds a limit that rises rapidly with temperature. Perhaps that sounds technical, but we are all familiar with condensation on a cold glass of water on a warm humid day. The same thing would happen in a dense layer of water vapor. For pure water vapor at one atmosphere of pressure, that temperature is what we call the boiling point, 100° C or 212° F. Doubling the density raises this temperature about 10° C. A layer of water about 10 meters deep, or 32 ft, has a pressure of one atmosphere at the bottom. So a layer that contained enough water to be a significant source of the Flood, say at least several hundred feet of liquid water, would be many atmospheres, and require a fairly high temperature to remain in the vapor state. Early versions of the canopy theory suggested it had this much water, but failed to consider this factor or anything else quantitative. Dillow and Vardiman reduced the quantity to a few feet of water at most, so that this is no longer playing the role of a source of the Flood, and reduces its density low enough not to condense immediately.
Second, stability: How could such a nonuniform composition be maintained in the atmosphere, with a layer of mostly water vapor on top of our present atmosphere? It needs to persist for at least 1600 years from creation to the Flood. It faces threats to its continued existence from both above and below.
From below, any slight turbulence in the lower atmosphere would mix it with the water layer above, and steadily dilute and dissipate that layer. I am sure this mixing from below would destroy such a vapor layer within a few years. I have no precise basis for this opinion other than the present state of continual chaos in the troposphere, the bottom 10-15 km of the atmosphere that is featured in the evening weather report. The stable stratosphere above exchanges with the troposphere on a time scale of a few years, far shorter than the 1600 years from Adam to the flood. Even if the Earth once had a more uniform climate and therefore milder circulation patterns in the troposphere, it still is difficult to believe a strongly nonuniform composition could persist for many centuries.
Jody Dillow proposed a phenomenon called Couette flow, which occurs in a fluid between two solid cylinders, one rotating and one at rest or at least at a different speed, and both exerting viscous forces on the fluid flow. This is fatally inapplicable to a vapor canopy, because the top of the canopy is of course outer space, not a solid surface capable of exerting the indispensable viscous force.
From above, water vapor exposed to raw solar radiation would rapidly be dissociated by solar ultraviolet rays into hydrogen and oxygen, and the light hydrogen would rapidly escape into space. I cannot estimate the speed of the escape of hydrogen; perhaps this would not be significant in 1600 years, perhaps it would. No recent-creationist has evaluated this yet. The only reason this is not a problem in the present atmosphere is because the temperature at the base of the stratosphere is so low, minus 60° C or even colder. This condenses almost all the water out of the air, leaving it very dry there and thus from there on up. This is the effect used in a “cold trap” in a vacuum system. If the high atmosphere had the same water content as the air near the surface, the water would rapidly dissociate and the hydrogen would escape to space.
A fact mentioned in support of a pre-Flood canopy and the (supposedly) associated uniform worldwide climate is the occurrence of tropical fossils in rocks found near both poles. There are several possible explanations of this besides a uniform climate. It should also be pointed out there are glacier-type scratches on rocks in the African tropics, which to be consistent would be evidence against a uniform climate. Or should we propose that the poles were once hot and the equator cold?
However, there are other possible explanations. Continental drift must be taken into account, meaning that fossils that are now in polar regions were not necessarily in polar regions when they were formed, but have been transported there. Similarly, the glacier scratches now in the tropics were not necessarily in the tropics when formed. Another possibility is the shift of the Earth on its axis, so that present polar regions were once not near the poles. Such a shift could place the ancient poles in open oceans, say in the North Pacific and South Atlantic. Our present frigid polar climates are possible only because the Arctic Ocean is land-locked and the south pole is in a continent. If ocean currents could reach clear to the poles, this would greatly moderate the temperature variation with latitude. The present location of the poles gives a degree of symmetry to the Earth, with continents surrounding the North Pole and a continent centered on the South Pole. Another somewhat symmetric arrangement would be with a pole near the center of the Pacific, the other in or near Africa. This is an alternative explanation for those glacier markings in Africa.
Recent-creationists’ confidence in the canopy theory far exceeds the evidence, both Biblical and scientific, to a degree that is matched, but still not exceeded, only by evolutionists’ confidence in evolution. It is a nonexistent solution to a nonexistent problem.
The leakage rate of high-pressure oil and gas deposits is another subject on which I am unqualified to judge, and sounds to me like a good question worth pursuing. I find it hard to believe that the entire geological community would have failed to notice if this is a real problem, but then we all have blind spots. One possible solution is that natural gas, methane, is not the product of the same organic material that produces coal and oil, but is diffusing upward from the deeper interior of the Earth. This would provide a source to resupply the gas and the pressure. This suggestion remains unverified but as far as I know it is not disproven either.
Be that as it may, this point alone is certainly not sufficient reason to disregard all the evidence for long time periods. See the following comments on the catastrophic plate tectonics model of the Flood.
Ocean salts (this includes many dissolved chemicals besides the familiar and predominant sodium chloride) are given great emphasis by recent-creationists as evidence against a multi-billion-year age for the Earth and its oceans. This is based on the available data on the rates at which these salts are currently added to and removed from the ocean. At present the estimated addition rate is several times faster than the removal rate, and the difference would, for different chemicals, produce the observed concentrations of the various salts in times from a few hundred million years down to a few years. Recent-creationists produce quotes from experts stating that this state of affairs is very surprising and puzzling.
It is an interesting topic. However, recent-creationists also have a hard time accounting for all the details. They must assume of course that the accumulation has not been uniform but was greatly affected by the global Flood. Another variable is the question of the composition with which, in the recent-creation scenario, God originally created the ocean, so this is linked to created age. So with a Flood and miraculous beginning included in their model, recent-creationists have enough variables at their disposal to explain anything, which is equivalent to explaining nothing. Why was it created in that particular way? But of course their emphasis is not on claiming that they can explain it but that long ages cannot.
I feel that the estimated rates of addition and removal are probably subject to larger uncertainties than even the experts seem willing to admit. Both addition and removal are major effects, and small errors in estimates of those effects leads to large errors in the estimated difference.
There are several important processes. One of the largest is removal of water from the oceans in the form of spray droplets. Unlike evaporation, this takes all the salt along with the water. It seems to me that the global total of this effect is impossible to estimate more accurately than a factor of two or three. It would be concentrated in violent weather such as hurricanes, in which accurate measurements are impossible. Such uncertainties place a solution of the problem within reach. Also, as discussed in the next point, the rates at present may in fact be much faster than the long-term average.
The present rates of erosion on land and sedimentation in the oceans have less room for such uncertainty. However here it seems that the recent-creationists have once again committed the uniformitarian error of extrapolation from the present too far into the past. They have exposed an objection to a strong uniformitarian assumption, but that does not equal proving recent creation.
It is interesting to relate this question to the catastrophic plate tectonics model of the Flood. The model is a fascinating suggestion. I am not competent to comment on it, but Dr. Baumgardner’s credentials are convincing, and the computer modeling program is a product of a professional research team at Los Alamos, which is not dominated by recent-creationists. I do not imply by that that the model would be unacceptable if it were so dominated. The model reportedly indicates that the subduction of crustal plates into the Earth’s mantle can become unstable and suddenly accelerate greatly, even to the extent of providing a model for the cataclysm of the Flood year.
I am skeptical that this really could explain our present world in terms of a one-year overturning of the entire previous surface of the Earth, but it seems that perhaps they have unintentionally solved all the problems of ocean salts, erosion rates, oil and gas leakage rates, and sedimentation rates. Their model may demonstrate that the motions of the Earth’s mantle and crust do not occur at a slow steady rate on a time scale of hundreds of millions of years, but in short spurts of faster motion separated by long periods of relative calm. There are countless examples of such behavior, from earthquakes on fault lines to a bow on a violin string. Thus the present world may not represent a long-term average state, but instead still be in the recovering aftermath of a spurt of tectonic plate movement and mountain-building. I will not even venture a guess about how long ago that spurt was or how long it lasted. I am open to major revision of the geologists’ current standard time scale of the formation of the Earth’s layers and mountains; I have no commitment to their time scale. Perhaps spurts last, say, a million years, separated by intervals many times that long. This suggestion easily fits in with the pattern of God’s providential preparation of the world for habitation, including the present environment for these brief few thousand years of human history. If true, this would be only one more item in the long list of such provisions (ch. 6, II).
This model may not long remain untested. It should soon be verified or refuted by the rapid progress in the world seismic network, producing increasingly precise data on the internal structure of the Earth. If there was in fact a catastrophic overturning of the entire surface of the Earth only a few thousand years ago, then the interior should still have major inhomogeneities due to variations in temperature and composition of slabs which recently sunk from their previous location in the crust. If no such patterns become apparent, then this would be catastrophic to the plate tectonics Flood model. We should know within a few years.
Pleochroic halos are formed by the radiation from small radioactive crystals in granite and sometimes other minerals. Robert Gentry claims that the pattern of some of the halos indicates they are from radioactive elements whose half-lives are on the order of seconds or even less, which is impossible if the granite cooled and crystallized slowly for thousands of years. He claims this is evidence that the rocks were created instantly in their solid form. For now I can only suspend judgment on these claims; there are articles raising questions about the identification of the halos and the source of the rock samples.
It would be very strange if God chose to produce this one tiny evidence of instant creation, when He otherwise went to such lengths to cover His tracks and disguise a young universe as an old one. It makes much better sense to assume the universe really is old, and there is some other explanation for the halos. It is a pity that Dr. Gentry sacrificed his career for the sake of defending his conclusion from the halos.
For many years recent-creationists widely publicized the discovery of human and dinosaur footprints together in the shale layers of the Paluxy River in Texas. Films for Christ made a movie of it. If true, this requires a drastic revision of the usual timetable of the existence of dinosaurs and of humans. There were of course already many people who objected to these claims, basically questioning whether the footprints are really human. They are considerably larger than present humans. But in the mid-80s weathering of many of the prints uncovered a few years earlier began to reveal toe marks in front of the purported footprints, indicating that the footprints in fact are made by the heel of a dinosaur. Films for Christ withdrew the film, and ICR officially stated that the footprints for now must be set aside. In the years since then there have been claims of human and dinosaur footprints together at sites elsewhere in the world, but none has gained the publicity and acceptance the Texas ones once had.
A related issue is the apparent description of dinosaurs in the Bible, especially Job. These descriptions are interesting, perhaps puzzling, but less than conclusive. A very large crocodile might fill the bill. More recent reports of dinosaur sightings, including medieval European and Chinese dragons and the Loch Ness Monster, are still unverified. But the most important point is that this point is irrelevant to recent creation. Even if true, it proves nothing. It would be fascinating to find some dinosaur species still living, especially a large one. But that would not overthrow the entire geological and evolutionary framework. Similar things have already occurred, such as the famous discovery of the coelacanth fish which was thought to have been extinct for many millions of years. This discovery was simply accepted as proving that creatures can exist for long periods without leaving abundant fossils, which no one doubted in the first place.
Flood legends have already been discussed in connection with the widespread occurrence of evolutionary concepts.
The rate of human population growth obviously could not have been a continuous exponential curve multiplying every few hundred years or less for a million years or more. Once again, recent-creationists are extrapolating too far, committing the uniformitarian fallacy. Over the long term, disease and predators would maintain a steady population. There are simply too many unknowns to allow any firm conclusions on this basis.