Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IX: In Which We Read a “Research Paper”

Did you think sea level would be a topic even Christianists can discuss without controversy? Ha! HA, I say! O ye of little faith in their ability to give the simplest subjects a bizarre religious twist. Of course they can make sea level controversial! Earth Science 4th Edition certainly delivers. And you are going to choke on your tasty beverage when you see what their idea of a quality research paper is, so I advise you spit-take proof your machine right now.

Actually, the main text itself is fine. They describe the different types of sea level without pulling a Bill O’Reilly. We’re introduced to local sea level (LSL) and mean sea level (MSL). They even admit MSL is rising! And that it’s been happening over the last hundred years! They go so far as to say that “this recent change suggests something new must be affecting MSL”! And they admit “most scientists think global warming is causing the increase,” and tell us why that would do it (melting glaciers and ice caps, plus water expands as it warms). Of course, they quickly add that “[m]any other things can increase ocean volume, so climate change may have only minor influences on MSL.” Uh-huh? We’re told we’ll learn “about climate change in Chapter 21.” (Oh, will we ever. You remember how they triggered all my rage buttons with their bullshit on that, right?)

Very clever of them to keep their fuckery cryptic there at the beginning. But it’s not cryptic at all in their informational textbox “Flood waters From Magma?”

A recent Flood geology study suggests that global volcanism and basalt eruptions during the Genesis Flood were significant. They could have liberated enough water vapor from magma into the atmosphere to produce more than half a meter of rainfall per day for the 40 days of the active period of the Flood. This water alone could have raised sea level 21 m (70 ft)!

Of course they don’t reference the study, don’t be ridiculous. Kids might look that shit up! But they do name the study in the teacher’s edition, so we have the dubious pleasure of being able to eyeball it our own selves. The paper is called “Volcanism, ‘Fountains of the Great Deep,’ and Forty Days of Rain,” by Hamilton Duncan, P.E., P.G. Before you get terribly excited about the important-looking letters after his name, settle down: They just mean “professional engineer” and “post-graduate.” But I’m sure they help church groups think he’s extra-special.

His “study” is more like a bunch of number-crunching wankery vomited on the pages along with a copious number of Bible verses, and then lapped up and regurgitated by the Creation Research Society Quarterly. This is not a paper properly understood as scientific. You can tell right off this isn’t a write-up of scientific data and investigation, because the entire introduction consists of babbled Bible verses, followed by the abrupt conclusion that volcanoes musta been responsible for all that rain. My darlings, this is creation “science” at it’s finest: sit in an armchair, Bible in one hand, cherry-picked facts in the other, mush the two together, proclaim science has been done, shout “Amen!” and blow actual scientists a raspberry. This, then, is the quality of the creationist research that backs the bogus science presented in ES4.

“Rainfall,” Duncan assures the fundamentalist faithful, “can be sustained indefinitely by sufficient volcanism.” The quality of his, er, reasoning is thus: “Since the Bible makes it clear that Earth was made out of water (Genesis 1, 2 Peter 3), the empirical values indicating high water contents [of magma from Large Igneous Provinces] should align with the water contents calculated from sampling.” Alas for him, reality is recalcitrant: “Why are calculated values lower than the empirical values?” he asks. He does some handwaving, hoping to cover up the problem. The Bible is infallible, y’see, and so the problem can’t possibly be that his interpretation of creation myth as science fact is utter bollocks.

Duncan’s paper assumes that all Large Igneous Provinces [LIPs] on Earth were erupted during the Flood. So that’s at least 201 LIPs, all the size of Iceland or much larger, mostly composed of super-duper-hot basalt, all erupting in less than a year – in fact, if they’re supposed to supply the water, they’d be erupting within forty days. But that’s not all! Duncan also includes all kimberlite and diatreme volcanism. Hate to tell him this, but he can’t have all his H2O without all the CO2 and H2SO4 volcanoes erupt. That much volcanism would have released enough sulfuric acid to melt the Ark. Even just 11 LIPs erupting at once would cause a quarter of the atmosphere to become sulfuric acid. People, I don’t care how fabulous Noah and his boys were at building Arks. Nothing wooden is going to survive that acid bath.

That’s ignoring the fact the oceans would’ve boiled completely away. Ya can’t float yer boat if the water’s all been heated to a gas.

Image shows the Moon being pounded by incoming asteroids. There's a huge explosion to the bottom left. The whole thing is bright shades of orange and red. This is basically what the Earth would have looked like, too.
This is basically Earth during the Flood, if this paper is correct. Nothing lives. Detail of Artists impression of the moon during the Late Heavy Bombardment by Tim Wetherell – Australian National University. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Later in the paper, Duncan assures us it’s “reasonable to assign LIP and diatreme formations” to the Flood cuz it’s “the one great geologic catastrophe in Biblical history.” And he thinks Genesis 7:11 is saying all these eruptions happened on Day 1 of the Flood, possibly caused by a bunch of meteors all striking the planet at once. So not only is every huge volcanic event ever going on IN ONE DAY, he’s got Noah & Co enduring a bombardment that must have looked like the Late Heavy Bombardment on fast-forward – and he handwaves away the colossal amounts of heat released from all that by pretending meteorite impacts don’t release heat. And hey – that heat woulda been localized to LIPs and diatremes! And anyway, all that lovely SO2 released by the volcanoes woulda “helped to offset any atmospheric temperature increases from condensation…” Dude, that ain’t how it works! It doesn’t absorb existing heat – it blocks incoming solar radiation!

Image is an animated gif of a dark-haired woman lying in bed, grabbing a pillow, and screaming furiously into it.

He never does deal with the heat. He just leaves eight people and millions of animals floating on a molten planet, breathing sulfuric acid air, and assumes that volcanic dust and sulfur dioxide solve everything. This is the quality of thinking you would expect to find in a freshman college student who’s dropped a near-lethal dose of acid (lysergic, not sulfuric) and then attempted to write a science essay.

And it’s the “science” ES4 offers us, putting it forth as the cutting edge of creation research.

No wonder creationists are so desperate to keep their kids away from the secular classroom. Ten minutes of sound scientific instruction is all it takes to sink their silly Ark story.

Image shows a field of lava at night. There are dark red cracks converging into firey orange fountains.
Kilauea Volcano at Mauna Ulu. This is basically what the Flood would’ve looked like. Image courtesy National Park Service/D.W. Peterson
Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IX: In Which We Read a “Research Paper”

9 thoughts on “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IX: In Which We Read a “Research Paper”

  1. 1

    But of course no one thought to write it down. Volcanoes and impacts everywhere, molten Earth, acidic air, but it was the rain that was really worth documenting…

  2. rq

    I’m just thinkin’ ‘water from volcanoes’ and… it’s probably not the kind of flood even the creationists would want. I really don’t understand how they can believe that volcanic activity can actually produce rain (of water). That whole ‘rain of fire’ bit – well, nobody thinks that’s a good thing, really (sorry that one’s not volcano-induced).
    Anyhow, here’s a musical interlude: one and two. Set fire to the rain of fire, yeah, and let’s have a flood, godbot-style!

  3. 4

    All the witnesses were on the Ark, which clearly was in a location that didn’t see any of those effects. Providing an environmental bubble around the Ark would be only a minor miracle.

  4. 5

    And he thinks Genesis 7:11 is saying all these eruptions happened on Day 1 of the Flood, possibly caused by a bunch of meteors all striking the planet at once.


    And just what sort of mechanism is supposed to have caused this?

    Oh…and 21m? That’s yer flud?

  5. 6

    I really don’t understand how they can believe that volcanic activity can actually produce rain (of water).

    I imagine they are thinking of this, but it probably would take a whole lot longer than they think to add enough water for a Noachian-sized flood, and then where did the water go when it receded?

  6. 8

    Flood, n. A superior degree of dampness. Specifically, a great storm described by Berosus and Moses, when, according to the latter’s rain gauge, there was a precipitation of moisture to the depth of one-eighth of a mile in twenty-four hours for forty days. The former does not measure, apparently, for he merely explains (in pretty good Greek) that it rained cats and dogs for a good while. The learned author of the cuneiform inscriptions from the Mesopotamian mounds draws a number of carpet tacks on a brick to signify that it was “quite a smart shower considering the season.”

    –Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary

  7. 9

    Flood geology is absolutely smashing stuff. Now that the creationists over at the ICR have admitted that plate tectonics is actually a thing, and that there was once a super-continent that broke up, they are now saying that it all happened catastrophically at super-fast speed at the time the Flood happened. So the Atlantic Ocean opened up in, what, 40 days? That would be over 3 meters per second at its narrowest point, with corresponding subduction rates elsewhere, presumably at the margins of the Pacific.

    To account for the distinctive pattern of magnetism in the cooled oceanic basalt, they posit that the subducted oceanic plate dove all the way to the core and interfered with the earth’s magnetic field, causing it to rapidly reverse back and forth. I kid you not!

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