6. Flood Geology

Flood geology is an oddly named branch of YEC pseudoscience. I call it "oddly named" because it has no support whatsoever among real geologists. A more proper name would be "flood stupidity", but most scientists are too polite to use insults even though their foes call them liars, fools, and soulless pawns of Satan every day. There's an irony here about the fact that it's the scientists who are "turning the other cheek" while the religious zealots launch attack after attack, but I suspect most YECs aren't introspective enough to notice that. As for me, I don't believe in turning the other cheek, and I intend to call it as I see it.

Evolution started with the philosophy of "uniformitarianism," which says that all changes happened very, very slowly. No such thing as a worldwide catastrophe; can't be.

When will YECs finally admit that evolution and geology aren't the same field? The fact that their conclusions are compatible with one another is an interesting coincidence that merely reinforces the validity of both. Evolution didn't start with geological uniformitarianism. For the historically ignorant among you, Charles Darwin was trained in the divinities rather than the sciences. His interest in science was strictly personal but was cultivated through acquaintances and supercharged by his 5 year journey as a naturalist on the HMS Beagle. He made many interesting observations about geology during this trip which he published, but he also made many observations about flora and fauna which he initially kept to himself.

It bothered him that nature was so brutal, so cruel and unyielding and unmerciful to its victims, particularly since his religious upbringing led him to assume that this savagery was the design of a benevolent Creator. He also saw patterns in the physical structure of isolated island species, their environments, and their location relative to one another. But he lacked a mechanism to explain these patterns, so he refrained from publication for want of a mechanism and more evidence (it would be nice of YECs would also wait for mechanisms and evidence before publishing theories, because then we wouldn't have to hear from them any more). It eventually occurred to him that the savagery he deplored was actually the perfect explanation for the patterns he saw. In short, the savagery had a "purpose", and so the principle of natural selection was born. The principle of uniformitarianism had nothing to do with it. Darwin was undoubtedly aware of it, as were all scientists for the last two thousand years, but it was irrelevant to his theory.

Besides, our ignorant YEC friend hasn't been attacking evolution at all. He's been attacking geology and astrophysics, with this ridiculous "young Earth" nonsense that actually has nothing to do with evolution apart from his desperate desire to create conditions under which there wouldn't be enough time for evolution to occur. Like most creationists, he blatantly lumps numerous disciplines of science under the meaningless term "evolutionism" as if they're all the same discipline. Perhaps that's his method of dealing with the fact that multiple disciplines of science came to the same conclusions about the age of the Earth; he pretends they aren't multiple divergent disciplines of science, and that they really aren't distinguished from one another.

Except they have since needed to explain why the dinosaurs went extinct so suddenly. So now we have a worldwide nuclear winter caused by an asteroid hitting the earth. Worldwide changes in geography, topography, climate -- the works.

So why not a flood, which would do all the same things? Well, a flood is "unscientific" -- but a giant asteroid isn't! Huh?

Notice the abject ignorance of science which he displays here. The scientific method starts with an observation and then attempts to propose, explain, and support theories to explain that observation. Meteor impact theory started in precisely this manner, with Eugene Shoemaker's observations of similar meteor impact craters on Earth and the Moon in 1952. The similarity between craters on a living planet and a geologically dead moon conflicts with gradualist theories of crater formation, and it requires an explanation, hence Shoemaker's meteor impact theory (note that it had nothing whatsoever to do with dinosaurs, despite our YEC friend's ignorant assumption). Flood theory, on the other hand, started as a theory rather than an observation. Its proponents then went on to list observations which they thought to be consistent with it. Do you see the difference? It's not subtle; there's a huge difference between "this observation leads to the following theory" and "I have a theory and I can list some observations that are consistent with it". One is the scientific method and the other is not.

Charles Darwin and Eugene Shoemaker both started with an observation, and devised a theory to explain it. YECs start with a theory which is assumed to be correct, and then they selectively quote evidence to support it. They don't understand why the former is scientific, while the latter is not, even though the latter bears no resemblance whatsoever to the scientific method!

Another difference between meteor impact theory and flood stupidity is that meteor impact theory was adopted wholeheartedly by the scientific community in spite of the fact that it violated the principle of gradualism that YECs deride as "dogma". Why? Because unlike flood geology, it works. When YECs assume that all catastrophist theories are dismissed by the scientific community out of hand, they seem to delete the contradictory example of meteor impact theory from their minds in order to preserve their misconception that geology is dogmatic.

Meteor impact theory is a real scientific theory, unlike "flood geology". Meteors of the appropriate size and speed have been observed hurtling through our solar system. Simple Newtonian calculations of their kinetic energy indicate that they carry sufficient energy to cause the destruction that they have been theorized to cause. Fused material at meteor impact sites indicates a violent, high-temperature formation process. Experimentation on high-velocity impacts proves that a sufficiently energetic impact will pulverize and/or vapourize the impactor, thus leaving only the crater. The theoretical mechanism behind the global holocaust scenario has been verified in the global cooling effect that follows large volcanic eruptions.

So why did meteor impact theory survive the firestorm of peer review while flood geology did not? Because it satisfies any sensible requirements for acceptance. It has an underlying mechanism. It is consistent with fundamental laws of physics. Many of its effects can be experimentally reproduced on a small scale. It has predictive capabilities, and its predictions match observation. How does this compare to the YEC joke known as "flood geology?" Let's see ...

Does flood geology have a mechanism? Absolutely not. While meteor impact theory completely describes the physical mechanisms by which the impactor creates a crater, fuses material at the impact site, sends out shockwaves and thermal radiation, and hurls a plume of sub-micron particles into the atmosphere, flood geology explains none of its mechanisms. It merely asks you to believe that a flood would occur (and create the world's geological features) without explaining how. This is hideously unscientific; it's not enough to point at the sky and mumble that the water could have been hiding invisibly, somewhere above the clouds. It's not enough to point at the ground and say that the water could have been hidden in enormous underground deposits. It's not enough to point at the Grand Canyon and say "yup- could have been caused by a flood". You must answer the question "how?", and YECs cannot do that.

For example, flood geology requires a source of sufficient water to cover all of the Earth's land masses, up to the highest point (many "vapour canopy" advocates speak of a mere forty feet of water, but anyone who thinks that will cover the continents is on drugs). Let's say it's a 2 km thick global deluge (which still wouldn't be enough to cover the mountains); you would need to come up with more than 1E21 kg of water (that's a million trillion tons, in case you don't like scientific notation). Where is all of this water supposed to come from? No feasible source exists, and pathetic creationist attempts to provide one are uniformly ridiculous:

Flood geology also requires a mechanism through which a flood would create all of the world's geological features, such as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. Every creationist simply says "yes, it could cause those things" without even attempting to explain how, and after more than a century of evasions, the game has grown quite tiresome. The phrase "put up or shut up" comes to mind. Geologists can explain their mechanisms but the YECs can't. Is it any mystery that the former are accepted while the latter are not?

Is flood geology consistent with fundamental laws of physics? Once again, absolutely not. Not only do its proposals for a water source violate the concepts of buoyancy, gravity, and opacity, but they also ignore the laws of thermodynamics. While meteor theory depends on the laws of thermodynamics (the kinetic energy of the meteor must be converted into work and heat in order to generate the global holocaust scenario), flood geology ignores those laws by neglecting the energy involved in the storage and/or movement of all the water:

Can its effects be reproduced experimentally on a small scale? Yet again, absolutely not. Any experiment involving the dumping of enormous quantities of water onto loose debris will show that the effect is highly entropic, and will tend to disrupt sorting patterns rather than creating them. If a creationist could produce an experiment to show that a chaotic deposition of water could actually create fine-grained, thinly layered strata of carefully sorted sedimentary rock, we would most certainly have heard about it by now. If a creationist could produce an experiment to show that receding waters on a flat plain could preferentially cut the ground into deep grooves in certain spots such as the Grand Canyon, or create plate discontinuities such as Niagara Falls, or erode one set of obstructions much more than another (eg. the Appalachians vs the Rockies), we would most certainly have heard about it buy now. But we hear nothing of the sort, do we? Instead, we just hear the same insistences, repeated decade after decade that it "would" happen even though they lack theoretical mechanisms, consistency with thermodynamics, or experimental evidence.

They've done none of the work required to substantiate their theory, they've done nothing to address serious questions raised by peer review (even those questions that were raised more than a century ago), yet they act as though we should all be shocked that their unsupported, thermodynamically impossible, half-baked, half-assed theory hasn't gained scientific acceptance yet! It must be that damned global conspiracy again, eh?

Does it have predictive abilities? Actually, it does, although YECs are mysteriously quiet about those predictions. That's not an oversight; they are quiet because they know that its predictions aren't even remotely compatible with observation. Some of the consequences of a year-long global flood would be:

Geologists would have no problem accepting a theory once somebody shows that it actually works, even if it contradicts gradualism. The example of meteor impact theory leaps to mind, which is a bit ironic since he mentions it himself, yet fails to see that it disproves his implicit claims about geologist dogma. Here's a miscellaneous grab bag of other problems with flood geology (it's not comprehensive, but it's a start):

The really sad thing is that I'm just getting started. The stellar Talk.Origins website has a far more detailed description of serious problems with flood geology, but I hope my brief list is informative enough to provide YECs with food for thought (if they're capable of opening their minds just a crack, to let the light in) and their opponents with ammunition for debate. The Great Flood isn't just unlikely; it's impossible, by virtue of casually violating the laws of thermodynamics (the real laws of thermodynamics, not the butchered misrepresentations being publicized by YECs) and many other scientific principles.

Continue to 7. Conclusion

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