Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education X: Wherein We Go Walkies Under the Sea

After the dumbfuckery of Duncan’s “the volcanoes made all the floodwater!” paper, it’s almost relaxing to imagine ourselves stuffed into the disturbing-looking “deep-sea mechanical walking vehicle” the authors of Earth Science 4th Edition wish us to imagine. It is at least more plausible than every single volcanic eruption ever to occur before modern times happening at once, and yet not vaporizing the Ark.

Image is a painting of a red-orange machine that looks sort of like an old diving helmet on robot legs. It has fat rings sticking out horizontally from its top, like ears. Its legs bend backwards at the knees. It looks like it's drunkenly dancing in the surf on a deserted tropical island. It is frightening.
Figure 13-5 from BJU’s ES4. Our chariot awaits…

Good lord, what are those shooter-dealies sticking out of its private area? Did the creationists want to make sure their drunken diving bell ship is definitely perceived as male? Is it about to leave a bunch of fish severely psychologically traumatized, babbling about probes? Are we really supposed to imagine exploring the ocean in this thing?!

It appears so. Ah, well. Hopefully, there won’t be too much creationist nonsense happening as we have a look at ocean basin topography.

As we tromp from the beach to the continental shelf in our hideous machine, things are relatively straightforward. We don’t run into creationist crap until we reach the continental slope. These folks often go cuckoo for canyons: submarine canyons really seem to excite them.

These canyons are common around the world. A few of them appear to be continuations of large rivers we can see on land today. But most submarine canyons do not seem to be extensions of river channels. Young-earth oceanographers believe these canyons were carved by currents of water full of sediment flowing off the continents late in the Flood. That much water and sediment moving fast could easily have carved out these underwater scars.

Uh-huh. Cool story, bro. You know what actually carves those canyons? Turbidity currents and submarine landslides. Those are processes we can watch doing the deed even today. We’ve even got fossil submarine canyons in Ediacaran formations. According to Flood geologists, that would be pre-flood strata. Uniformitarianism: 3. Flood Geology: 0.

Image shows a geologic timescale chart set up by era, period, and millions of years ago. I've drawn a yellow box around the "Creation Week," which is rocks before the Paleozoic era. I've added Ediacaran in red in the Period column to show it falls within "creation week," just before the Cambrian. I've drawn a blue box round the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and most of the Cenozoic, representing the "Flood strata." And I've placed a thin green line at the top to show the supposed "Post-Flood" deposits, which make up a teeny fraction of the Quaternary period.
The Creationist geologic timescale. Note where the Ediacaran is. Legit timescale from the USGS, modified by moi.

Since that’s the case, mebbe the students can ignore the text box that asks them to identify the most probable theory of submarine canyon formation from a Flood geology viewpoint.

The topography of the abyssal plain is given a miss in this adventure due to running out of imaginary air. I like to think of this failure as a metaphor for creationism more generally: it always comes up short. Also they seem to have lost track of their own story. In the beginning, we had enough air, water and food for a week. But the journey seems to have taken mere hours, for we never paused to eat, and surfaced in time for lunch on board the support ship. Creationists fail at everything, including imaginary journeys.

At this point, you may want to find a stick to bite down on; or perhaps a pillow to muffle your outraged shrieks. They’re about to be on about tectonic features of the ocean floor, and the creationist crap gets thick, people.

They begin with a dodgy definition of mid-ocean ridges: “They formed when the mantle pushed up on long, faulted sections of sea-floor crust that line both sides of the plate margins.” Really, it’s not so much pushing up as welling up into areas being pulled apart by subduction.

The real wrong begins with seamounts, which present rather insurmountable problems for creationist models. See how they try to handwave them away:

Some seamounts have flat tops and are called guyots. Most geologists think that guyots were once volcanoes that grew into islands above a much lower sea level, perhaps during a glaciation period. Waves eroded the still-soft tephra flat and then sea levels rose. Their tops are now an average of 1.5 km (1 mi) below sea level. However, a Flood model suggests that the volcanoes formed over a short period of time when the sea basins weren’t as deep during the Flood. After forming islands, the strong wave action eroded the volcanoes level with the ocean surface. Then sea level rose as the basins sank into the mantle toward the end of the Flood.

Yes, that’s right. They’ve got the more than 100,000 guyots and seamounts, all 65,000+ kilometers of mid-ocean ridge, forming during the Flood. Most of those volcanic mountains, according to their models, would have formed within the first 40 days. They’d had to have done, in order to be covered by the Flood waters, as the Bible assures us every mountain was. Guyots had to be formed early enough to poke above the waters and get their heads planed off. They’ve got mind-boggling amounts of volcanism happening all at once, and as we discovered last time, they haven’t found a way to deal with the massive amounts of heat and acid produced by such prodigious magmatism.

And really, why are they even trying to disguise their religious malarkey as science? They even admit they can’t do without miracles!

If the Flood model of tectonics is accurate, the crust moved rapidly over the mantle during the early stages of the Flood. This would have created broad regions of molten rock beneath new, very thin oceanic crust. The magma could have easily erupted through the crust in many places, forming the volcanoes near where we find them today. Remember that we just don’t know how God caused the Flood. We cannot tell in the present the difference between the results of God’s miraculous works and those of natural processes during the Flood. [emphasis added]

That right there? That’s where every pretense at science stops. That’s where the BJU writers admit that what they’re doing ain’t science, it’s religion. The only way their models work is through miracles, and they know it. Alas for them, miracles aren’t science. Double alas, it doesn’t take a miracle to explain what we see on the ocean floor. Just plain science. Natural processes and plenty of time get the job done just fine.

Image shows the Emperor Seamounts and Hawaiian Islands. The bend in the conga line is very clear.
The trail of the Hawaii Hotspot. Image courtesy Ingo Wölbern.

The creationist models don’t make sense of what we see. They can’t predict, much less explain, the orderly progression of seamount chains. Plate tectonics explains why the Hawaiian Islands and the Emperor Seamounts get progressively stubbier and older the further you get from Hawaii itself. It explains why there’s a kink in the conga line. It makes perfect sense when you see a plate moving slowly over a hotspot, carrying the volcanoes gradually away, where they erode as they age and gradually end up beneath the waves. A change in the direction of plate motion caused the kink. But all Flood geologists can tell us is that they “think that these features give evidence to the devastating effects of the Flood during a relatively short period.” How? What about the Flood model would predict such things? How does this model explain the radiometric dates of the older seamounts? How does it explain away all of the evidence of age?

It doesn’t.

The most pathetic failure comes at the end of the section, where coral reefs are described – but they’re too cowardly to explain how bloody long it takes for corals to grow. They admit that most corals need sun light and shallow water to live and grow, and fail utterly to explain how corals formed immense reefs like El Capitan in the deep, dark, sediment-choked waters of the Flood. How could atolls form in such a minute amount of time? Their silence thunders, like the colossal roaring of every volcano erupting at once.

Things like coral reefs and atolls are impossible during a year long, worldwide flood. Yet the young earth creationists demand we believe, though none of their Genesis-based notions even come within a standard astronomical unit of explaining what we see. Either their god doesn’t exist, or he never meant Genesis to be used as an earth science text – or he enjoys making his most devoted book readers look like utter fools.

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Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education X: Wherein We Go Walkies Under the Sea

5 thoughts on “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education X: Wherein We Go Walkies Under the Sea

  1. 3

    The quote” “We cannot tell in the present the difference between the results of God’s miraculous works and those of natural processes during the Flood.” denies Charles Lylell’s theory which of course underlies all of geology. Once you admit that god can work miracles then anything goes since god is all powerful. God could for example have created the coral reefs after the flood essentially as they are now, God could have created radioactive ratios such that rocks appear to be far older than they are, … In this environment anything is possible,
    It is just a subset of the argument between revelation/faith and reason that has troubled at least Christianity and Islam for 1500 years. I am reading a book on the enlightenment period of Central Asia (from the Islamic conquest till shortly after Tamerlane) Towards the end of this period Revelation/faith became the way to understand the world, and as a result the society stagnated. Interestingly for a period in the 12th century the city of Merv in Turkmenstan today was the largest city in the world.
    Along with the revelation reason controversy came the Mongol invasion (many cities were put to the sword) the destruction of the irrigation systems, and the black death, so that there was no sufficient population to rebuild the systems.

  2. 4

    When it comes to ocean geology – and it seems ocean story telling too – the creationists really are fish out of water aren’t they?

    The topography of the abyssal plain is given a miss in this adventure due to running out of imaginary air. I like to think of this failure as a metaphor for creationism more generally: it always comes up short. Also they seem to have lost track of their own story. In the beginning, we had enough air, water and food for a week. But the journey seems to have taken mere hours, for we never paused to eat, and surfaced in time for lunch on board the support ship. Creationists fail at everything, including imaginary journeys.

    How heavily were breathing and just what were they doing in that thing to run out of air so quickly? Add editing to the list of things they’re failing at – you’d think it would be really easy to catch and fix that sort of basic error here.

  3. 5

    In the beginning, we had enough air, water and food for a week. But the journey seems to have taken mere hours, for we never paused to eat, and surfaced in time for lunch…

    This displays the same problem with adventure stories as Asimov noted in Foundation: designers tend to leave out facilities for bladder-emptying.

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