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How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002


Alfven, Hannes, and Gustaf Arrhenius. 1976. Evolution of the Solar System NASA SP-345, National Space and Aeronautics Administration, Washington, D.C.

Aller, M. F. 1971. "Promethium in the star HR465" Sky & Telescope, vol.41, pp.220-222

Anderson, J. L. 1972. "Non-Poisson distributions observed during counting of certain carbon-14-labeled organic (sub) monolayers" Physical Chemistry Journal, vol.76, pp.3603-3612

Anderson, J. L. & G. W. Spangler. 1973. "Serial statistics: Is radioactive decay random?" Physical Chemistry Journal, vol.77, pp.3114-3121

Arata, A. A., and G. L. Harmann. 1966. "Fossil Ursus reported as early man in Louisiana" Tulane Studies in Geology. Vol. 4, no. 2, pp.75-77

Babinski, Edward T. 1986. Does the Bible Teach Scientific Creationism? 408 Halcyon Circle, Greer, SC 29650-2931 (self-published); 124 pages. (A fabulous coverage of the real ideas behind the biblical cosmos.)

Bailey, Lloyd R. 1989. NOAH: The Person and the Story in History and Tradition University of South Carolina Press, South Carolina

Banks, P. M. and T. E. Holzer. 1969. "High-latitude plasma transport; the polar wind" Geophysical Research Journal 74: 6317-6332

Barnes, Thomas G. 1973. Origin and Destiny of the Earth's Magnetic Field ICR Technical Monograph, No.4

................. 1981. "Depletion of the Earth's Magnetic Field" ICR Impact Series, No.100

................. 1983. Origin and Destiny of the Earth's Magnetic Field Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego, California

Barnett, James M. 1983. Sedimentation Rate of Salt Determined by Micrometeorite Analysis M.S. Thesis, Western Michigan University

Benningfield, Damond. 1990. "Where Do Comets Come From?" Astronomy, Vol.18, No.9 (September 1990), pp.28-36 Kalmbach Publishing Co., 21027 Crossroads Circle, P.O. Box 1612,Waukesha, WI 53187

Berra, Tim M. 1990. Evolution and the Myth of Creationism Standford University Press, Stanford, California

Braginsky, S. I. 1970. "Oscillation spectrum of the hydromagnetic dynamo of the earth" Geomagnetism and Aeronomy 10:172-181

Brown, Jr., Walter T. 1990. "A Second Response to Jim Lippard" Creation/Evolution, Issue XXVI (Winter 1989-1990), pp.34-54 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Brush, Stephen G. 1982. "Finding the age of the earth: By physics or by faith?" Journal of Geological Education, vol.30, pp.34-58

................. 1983. "Ghosts from the Nineteenth Century: Creationist Arguments for a Young Earth" In Godfrey, 1983, pages 49-84

Chaisson, Eric and Steve McMillan. 1993. Astronomy Today Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632, 700 pages

Chorlton, Windsor. 1984. Ice Ages (Second Edition) Planet Earth series (Thomas A. Lewis, editor) Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia

Chyba, Christopher. 1992. "The Cosmic Origins of Life on Earth" Astronomy, Vol.20, No.11 (November 1992), pp.28-35 Kalmbach Pub. Co., 21027 Crossroads Circle, P.O. Box 1612, Waukesha, WI 53187

Cole, J. R. 1985. "If I had a Hammer" Creation/Evolution, Issue XV, pp.46-47 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Conrad, Ernest C. 1981. "Tripping Over a Trilobite: A Study of the Meister Tracks" Creation/Evolution, Issue VI, (Fall 1981), pp.30-33 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

................. 1982. "Are There Human Fossils in the "Wrong Place" for Evolution?" Creation/Evolution, Issue VIII, (Spring 1982), pp.14-22 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Cook, M. A. 1966. Prehistory and Earth Models Max Parrish & Company, Ltd., London. 353 pages.

Dalrymple, G. Brent. 1984. "How Old is the Earth? A Reply to Scientific Creationism" Proceedings of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Volume 1, Part 3, edited by Frank Awbrey and William Thwaites, April 30, 1984, pages 66-131

.................... 1991. The Age of the Earth Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 474 pages

.................... 1992. "Can Earth be Dated from Decay of its Magnetic Field?" NCSE Reports, Vol.12, No.1 (Spring 1992), pp.16-17 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Davies, John K. 1986. Cosmic Impact St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010

DeYoung, D. B. 1976. "The precision of nuclear decay rates" Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol.13, pp.38-41

Dott, Jr., Robert and Roger Batten. 1976. Evolution of the Earth (Second Edition) McGraw-Hill, Inc., 504 pages.

Dunbar, and Waage. 1969. Historical Geology (Third Edition) John Wilely & Sons, 556 pages

Dutch, Steven I. 1982. "A critique of creationist cosmology" Journal of Geological Education, vol.30, pp.27-33

Elsasser, Walter M. 1946-1947. "Induction effects in terrestrial magnetism" Physical Review, series 2, vol. 69, pp. 106-116; vol. 70, pp.202-212

Ecker, Ronald L. 1990. Dictionary of Science & Creationism Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York 14228-2197

Ehrlich, P. R. 1971. The Population Bomb Pan Books, London

Eldredge, Niles. 1982. The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism A Washington Square Press publication of POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Emery, G. T. 1972. "Perturbation of nuclear decay rates" Annual Review Nuclear Science, vol.22, pp.165-202

Farrand, William R. 1961. "Frozen Mammoths and Modern Geology" Science, vol.83 (March 16, 1961), pp.729ff

Fairbridge, R. and J. Bourgeois (editors). 1978. The Encyclopedia of Sedimentology Dowden, Hutchinson, and Ross, Stroudsburg, PA, 901 pages.

Faure, G. & J. L. Powell. 1972. Strontium Isotope Geology Spring-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, and New York

Ferguson, C. W. 1968. "bristlecone pine: Science and Esthetics" Science, vol.159, pp.839-846

Fisher, R. M., Fuller, M., Schmidt, V. A., and Wasilewski, P. J. 1975. Proceedings of the Takesi Nagata Conference, Magnetic Fields: Past and Present, June 3rd and 4th, 1974. Greenbelt, Md.: Goddard Space Flight Center.

Finch, D. G. 1982. "The evolution of the earth-moon system" Moon and Planets 26: 109-114

Fornaca and G. Rinaldi. 1968. "Th-230/Th-234 dating of cave concretions" Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 5: 120-122

Gehrels, Neil; Carl Fichtel, Gerald Fishman, James Kurfess and Volker Schonfelder "The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory" Scientific American, December 1993, pp.68-77

Glock, W. S. and S. Agerter. 1963. "Anomalous Patterns in Tree Rings" Endeavor, vol.22, pp.9-13

Godfrey, Laurie R. 1981. "An Analysis of the Creationist Film, Footprints in Stone" Creation/Evolution, Issue VI (Fall 1981), pp.23-30 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

.................. (editor). 1983. Scientists Confront Creationism W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10110

Goldschmidt, V. M. 1954. Geochemistry Clarendon Press, Oxford. 730 pages.

Graves, Robert and Raphael Patai. (1964) 1989. Hebrew Myths Anchor Books; Doubleday, a division of bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103 First Anchor Books Edition 1989

Grieve, R.A.F. and P.B. Robertson. 1979. "The Terrestrial Cratering Record" Icarus, Vol.38, No.2 (May 1979), pp.212-229 Space Sciences Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6801

Hasen, M. C., and Bergström, S. M. 1997. "Ancient meteorites" Ohio Geology, Spring 1997

Hansen, Kirk S. 1982. "Secular effects of oceanic tidal dissipation on the moon's orbit and the earth's rotation" Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics, 20:457-480

Hayward, Alan. 1985. Creation and Evolution Triangle SPCK, Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone Road, London NW14DU

Hoffmeister, J. E. 1964. "Growth Rate Estimates of a Pleistocene Coral Reef of Florida" Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol.75, pp.353-358

Heide, Fritz. 1964. Meteorites Phoenix Science Series; published in German in 1957, translated and updated in 1964 by Anders and DuFresne. University of Chicago Press

Jacobs, J. A. 1975. The Earth's Core Academic Press, New York

Kaufmann III, William J. 1994. Universe (Fourth Edition) W. H. Freeman and Company, New York

Kuban, Glen J. 1986. "A Summary of the Taylor Site Evidence" Creation/Evolution, Issue XVII, pp.10-18 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Ladd, H. S. 1960. "Bikini and Nearby Atolls, Marshall Islands, Drilling Operations on Eniwetok Atoll" U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 260-Y

Lamb, Horace. 1883. "On electrical motions in a spherical conductor" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 174:519-549

Lippard, Jim. 1990. "A Further Examination of the Research of Walter Brown" Creation/Evolution, Issue XXVI (Winter 1989-1990), pp.17-33 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

............. 1990a. "A Final Response to Walter Brown" Creation/Evolution, Issue XXVII (Summer 1990), pp.28-36 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Loftin, Robert W. 1988. "Caves and Evolution" Creation/Evolution, Issue XXIII (Spring 1988), pp.21-23,24-28 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Matson, Dave E. 1993. Radiometric Dating and Woodmorappe's List of Bad Dates Monograph (March 21, 1993) National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Mayor, A. G. 1924. "Growth Rate of Samoan Corals" In Papers From the Department of Marine Biology of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, Publication No. 340, vol.19, p.53 and 58

McDonald, Keith L. and Robert H. Gunst. 1967. "An analysis of the earth's magnetic field from 1835 to 1965. ESSA Technical Report IER 46-IES 1 Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office

....................................... 1968. "Recent trends in the earth's magnetic field" Journal of Geophysical Research 73:2057-2067

McElhinny, M. W., and W. E. Senanayake. 1982. "Variations in the Geomagnetic Dipole I: The Past 50,000 Years" Journal of Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity 34: 39-51

McGeary, David and Charles Plummer. 1994. Physical Geology Earth Revealed, 2nd edition Wm. C. Brown, publishers, Dubuque, Iowa

Merrill, P. W. 1952. "Technetium in stars" Science, vol.115, p.484

Miller, Russell. 1983. Continents in Collision Planet Earth series (Thomas A. Lewis, editor) Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia

Milne, David H. 1981. "How to Debate With Creationists--and 'Win'" The American Biology Teacher, 43:5 pp.235-245, 266

Moore, George W. and Brother G. Nicholas. 1964. Speleology: The Study of Caves D. C. Heath, Boston

Moore, George W. and Nicholas G. Sullivan. 1978. Speleology: The Study of Caves Zephyrus Press, Inc., Teaneck

Morris, Henry M. 1974. Scientific Creationism (Public School Edition) Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego, California

................ 1974a. "The Young Earth" Institute for Creation Research, Impact series, No.17

................ 1977. The Scientific Case for Creationism Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego, California

Morris, H. M. and Gary Parker. 1982. What is Creation Science? Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego, California, 306 pages

Morton, Glenn R. 1995. Foundation, Fall and Flood DMD Publishing Company, 16075 Longvista Drive, Dallas, Texas 75248

Pannella, G., C. MacClintock, and M. N. Thompson. 1968. "Paleontological evidence of variations in length of synodic month since late Cambrian" Science, vol. 162, pp.792-796

Peterson, I. 1989. "Natural Selection for Computers" Science News 136(22); 346-348 (November 25)

Renfrew, Colin. 1973. Before Civilization Alfred Knopf, New York

Reynolds, J. H. 1967. "Isotopic abundance anomalies in the Solar System" Annual Reviews of Nuclear Science, vol.17, pp.253-316

............... 1977. "Isotope cosmochemistry: The rare gas story and related matters" Proceedings of the Robert A. Welch Foundation on Chemical Research Cosmochemistry (Houston, Texas, Nov.7-9, 1977), vol.21, pp.201-244

Riley, J. P. and G. Skirrow, (editors). 1965. Chemical Oceanography (Volume I) Academic Press, New York. 712 pages

Rybka, T. W. 1982. "Consequences of time dependent nuclear decay indices on half-lives" ICR Impact series, no. 106, pp.i-iv Institute for Creation Research

Schadewald, Robert J. 1986. "Scientific Creationism and Error" Creation/Evolution, Issue XVII, pp.1-9 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

..................... 1990. "Walter Brown and the Moon Dust" NCSE Reports, Vol.10, No.3 (May-June 1990), p.16 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Sheldon, W. R. and J. W. Kern. 1972. "Atmospheric helium and geomagnetic field reversals" Geophysical Research Journal 77: 6194-6201

Shinn, E. A. 1966. "Coral Growth Rate, An Environmental Indicator" Journal of Paleontology, vol.40, p.240

Shore, Steven N. 1984. "Footprints in the Dust: The Lunar Surface and Creationism" Creation/Evolution, Issue XIV (Fall), pp.32-35 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Slusher, Harold S. 1981. Critique of Radiometric Dating ICR Technical Monograph #2 (2nd edition) Institute for Creation Research

Sonleitner, Frank J. 1991. An Evolutionist Goes to the Creationist Movies 2 computer diskettes; 23 files National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

----------------. 1991a. What's Wrong With Pandas? A Closeup Look at Creationist Scholarship printout from diskettes in a binder National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Spratt, Christopher and Sally Stephens. 1992. "Against All Odds" Mercury The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Vol. XXI, No.2 (March/April 1992), pp.50-56

Stacey, Frank D. 1977. Physics of the Earth Second edition; Wiley, New York

Strahler, Arthur N. 1987. Science and Earth History Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York 14228-2197 552 pages (double column)

Stuiver, Minze. 1976. "First Miami conference on isotope climatology and paleoclimatology" EOS, vol.57, no.1, pp.830-836

The New Solar System. 1982. Edited by J. Beatty, B. O'Leary, and A. Chaikin (Second Edition) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and Sky Publishing Corporation, 49 Bay State Road, Cambridge MA 02238-1290

The Times Atlas of World History. 1978. Edited by Geoffrey Barraclough Hammond Incorporated, Maplewood, New Jersey 07040

Thwaites, William and Frank Awbrey. 1982. "As the World Turns: Can Creationists Keep Time?" Creation/Evolution, Issue IX (Summer 1982), pp.18-22 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

Tierney, Richard L. 1986. "Giants in the Earth?" The Journal of Faith and Thought, vol.4, No.1 (Spring 1986) First Baptist Church of Montclair, Church St. & Trinity Pl., Montclair, NJ 07042

Van Till, H. J. Davis A. Young and Clarence Menninga. 1988. Science Held Hostage InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515

Van Till, H. J. 1986. "The Legend of the Shrinking Sun" (Excerpts quoted by the editor of...) Creation/Evolution Newsletter (NCSE Reports), Vol.6, No.4 (Jul/Aug 1986), p.17 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

U.S. Government. 1994. Tree Rings: Timekeepers of the Past Department of the Interior / U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Distribution, P.O. Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225

Wakefield, J. Richard. 1991. "The Decay of Creationist Integrity on Magnetic Decay" OASIS Newsletter, vol.3.3 & 4.0, no.10 (Fall 1990 & Winter 1991), pp.4-7 J. Richard Wakefield, 385 Main Street, Beaverton, Ontario, CANADA L0K 1A0

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Weber, Christopher Gregory. 1980. "Common Creationist Attacks on Geology" Creation/Evolution, Issue II (Fall 1980), pp.10-25 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

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Wetherill, George. 1979. "Apollo Objects" Scientific American, March 1979

Wheeler, Thomas J. 1987. "More on Creationists and Meteoritic Dust" Creation/Evolution Newsletter (NCSE Reports), Vol.7, No.4 (Jy/Ag 1987), pp.14-15 National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

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Wonderly, Daniel. 1977. God's Time-Records in Ancient Sediments Crystal Press, Route 2, Box 9, Oakland, MD 21550

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Woosley, Stan and Tom Weaver. 1989. "The Great Supernova of 1987" Scientific American, August 1989, pp.32-40

Wszolek, P. C., and A. L. Burlingame. 1978. "Petroleum--origin and evolution" In Fairbridge and Bourgeois. 1978. pp.565-574

Yukutake, Takesi. 1971. "Spherical harmonic analysis of the earth's magnetic field for the 17th and 18th centuries" Journal of Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity 23:11-31

Young, Davis A. 1988. Christianity & The Age Of The Earth Artisan Sales, P.O. Box 1497, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

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A Fatal Heat and Radiation Problem for the Young Earth

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

Appendix II

(A fatal heat and radiation problem for the young-earth idea)

An inescapable dilemma awaits anyone who would be so foolish as to compress the Earth's geologic history into 6000 years.

Look around. Unless you happen to be standing on a vast stretch of limestone or in a salt mine, almost everything in sight has probably been HOT at one time. The reason we are not roasting right now is that this heat has been dissipated over billions of years.

The most obvious case is that of solidified lava, found in great abundance throughout the geologic record. Huge deposits of lava, large enough to seriously affect the world's climate in their time, are known in India and Russia. Volcanoes have been active since the Earth began, laying down lava here and there throughout the geologic column. All of it was once red-hot and molten. Nor should we overlook the vast quantities of ash, which accompany major volcanic explosions. It is quite hot when it leaves the volcano. The geologic record is full of thick seams of volcanic ash.

The world's ocean floors, beneath all their accumulated sediment, are made of once-molten rock! At the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, we can see the process going on today as new ocean floor is created from molten intrusions. Think of all the heat released from this source alone. Do not neglect to count the past oceans as well, which no longer exist because they have been consumed by plate tectonics. There was an "Atlantic" ocean before the present one, not to mention the worldwide ocean during the time of the single super-continent, Pangaea. Indeed, we now know that there was a super-continent before Pangaea! It has been named "Rodinia." (See the January 1995 issue of Scientific American). All of these ancient ocean floors, long since compressed into mountains or consumed into the depths of the mantel, were, at various times and places, molten. The total amount of heat released from just the ocean floors, past and present, is staggering.

Shifting our attention to the continents, Every bit of granite, as well as the other forms of igneous rock, were once red-hot and molten. Consider the batholiths, which easily cover hundreds of square kilometers where exposed. Really large batholiths exist in the Sierra Nevada, Alaska, and British Columbia. They may cover thousands of square kilometers and are often composite -- showing multiple phases of emplacement. Huge plutons and immense layered complexes of igneous rock must also be accounted for. Vast amounts of heat must have been liberated as this material cooled to its present state.

Another tremendous source of heat is metamorphic rock. The roots of all the great mountain chains are a prime source of metamorphic rock. Every cubic inch of metamorphic rock, the world's supply of marble being but one example, once seethed in heat and, in the more extreme cases, was even molten. Metamorphosed rock often began as igneous rock or an earlier form of metamorphic rock, which means that a large percentage of today's metamorphic rock is responsible for several loads of heat during its lifetime!

Even the sedimentary rocks, with some exceptions, carry evidence of a once-hot past! Sandstone, which makes up a huge part of the geologic record, is composed of cemented sand grains, which, in turn, are usually made out of quartz or other igneous material. Each of those sand grains once glowed red-hot as part of newly forming igneous rock. All of the world's sandy beaches, except for sand made from shells or limestone, contain sand grains that were once extremely hot. A good deal of this sedimentary rock has also been converted into metamorphic rock, thus being the source of more than one load of heat. Even mud, minus the organic content, is often nothing more than extra-fine sand grains. Thus, much of the world's mud is made up of silicon or other igneous material, which once glowed red-hot when the parent rock was formed. (Deposits of silica mud in the ocean, however, are usually made up of tiny silica shells of certain plankton. )

Vast quantities of heat (and destruction) have been liberated by ancient asteroid impacts. Huge, fossil craters are found throughout the geologic record, and scientists now know that they are only the tip of the iceberg! (See pages 16 and 17). Based on studies of the Moon, Mars, and Mercury, all of which are much smaller targets than the Earth, statistics indicate that our planet has been struck about 5 times by asteroids large enough to boil away the world's oceans!! As far as we can tell, life began on Earth (and became successful enough to be detected) at about the time this heavy bombardment ended.

How long does it take a vaporized ocean to recondense and cool down to its present temperatures? How would a large vapor canopy affect this process?

There is yet another major source of heat! We have overlooked radioactivity. Whether or not you believe in radiometric dating (more than 40 different methods!), the fact remains that about half of the uranium-238 has decayed away since the Earth was formed. Almost all of our uranium-235 has expired. These lost elements have been used up in the radiation process! Keep in mind that nuclear reactors generate their energy by making use of the intense heat produced by radioactive decay. Elaborate systems have been devised to keep nuclear reactors from overheating. Without such controls, the nuclear fuel (and a lot more) would melt from the heat produced. Indeed, they would probably melt right through the concrete floor and into the earth!

Think of it. More than half of the world's supply of uranium-238 and almost all of its uranium-235 have already expired through radioactive decay! Now, that's a load of heat, and it's mostly released deep within the rocks where there is no quick escape. But, even that counts as little or nothing compared to the heat that was released by radioactive aluminum-26!

Ordinary aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust, and we now know that its radioactive counterpart, aluminum-26, was also extremely abundant when the Earth's elements were first synthesized in one or more supernovas. The distinguished Dr. Wasserburg identified Al-26 as the main source of radioactive heat responsible, to a large degree, for melting the interior of the Earth and other bodies down to about 15 kilometers in diameter! Studies of certain crystals showed that a tremendous amount of the Al-26 was around. All of it (having a half-life of only 720,000 years) has long since decayed into magnesium-26, which is an isotope not naturally occurring on Earth.

In certain aluminum-rich inclusions in some meteorites we find a lot of this Mg-26, and the more aluminum present the greater the abundance of Mg-26. "...the conclusion seems inescapable that the Mg 26 has been produced in this manner [from the decay of Al-26]."1 That is, the radioactive aluminum-26 is gone now, but, because of its chemical similarity with ordinary aluminum, more of it should have been present wherever more ordinary aluminum is found today. And, when we find a proportional increase of magnesium-26 as well, that being the Al-26 decay product, it clinches the matter. The magnesium-26 we see today on Earth is, indeed, the daughter element of aluminum-26. Using modern methods, astronomers can now detect vast amounts of aluminum-26 throughout our galaxy. It is a routine product of supernovas.

In conclusion, the only reason we are not immediately roasted to a crisp is because the incredible amount of heat that has been generated on this planet has had billions of years to leak away. Gradually, and by little chunks, here and there, this vast amount of heat has leaked away. Small portions of the Earth were destroyed at any given time, here and there, even as occurred around Mt. St. Helens, but time soon healed those wounds. Larger disasters, such as that which exterminated the dinosaurs, also occurred. But in the vastness of time they have missed us! They, too, have been all but swallowed up in time. There is even good evidence that the Earth was destroyed by a Mars-sized collision during the earliest phases of its life. However, time can heal that also. The total amount of heat released on Earth (and the accompanying destruction) is just incredible, but incredible stretches of time have allowed it to be sensibly dissipated.

Trying to squeeze all that generated heat into a 6000-year slot is like trying to squeeze all the heat generated in your kitchen over a lifetime into one hour. Short of burning down the entire neighborhood with a ball of fire, there is just no way to do it. Even worse, if that is possible, is the idea of compressing a large chunk of the Earth's history into the year of Noah's flood. If 4.5 billion years of Earth's history can't be squeezed into 6000 years, then trying to squeeze the 700 million years of strata containing complex fossils into the one year of Noah's flood is even worse -- about 900 times worse!

The radiation delivered by all of those radioactive isotopes, which are now-extinct or partially depleted, is another insoluble problem for the young-earther.2 Trying to squeeze all that radiation into a 6000-year slot is like turning up the average rate of radioactivity 750,000 times! Only, it would have been far worse since the great bulk of radioactivity would have been concentrated at the time of creation. It is precisely then that all of the short-lived, radioactive isotopes would have been active, in addition to the rest. Adam and Eve would have fried! The whole Earth would have sizzled with radioactivity!

Young-earth creationists have spun a dense cocoon about themselves to keep reality out. The guardians of the faith continue to write their books, which reinterpret all of science, and exercise their oral skills in the public forums. They are fighting a war, not conducting a search for truth. They seek out ammunition, not objective facts. They ignore those data and reasoning that don't fit in with their biblical viewpoint.

A number of arguments in this book are absolutely fatal to their viewpoint, but you will never get anything like a careful, reasoned response, for these matters cannot be deeply probed without exposing the bankruptcy of their beliefs. When the superficial, canned arguments run out, they will switch the subject, declare that they have 101 other things to do, or even attack you for "wasting their time." You will get silence. After digging your way past the canned arguments, you will get silence. It's as predictable as gravity.

A leading creationist once bought several of my books for the express purpose of sending them to other noted creationists. (How unusual!) After that, silence! Not one peep did those recipients direct my way. They would rather write their books and ride the debate circuit, where plenty of smoke and canned arguments make life safe. In that respect they are very much like their flat-earth brothers, who are also fighting a war to protect their flat-earth Bible beliefs.

How strange! People, who have devoted their entire lives to fighting for the truth, never seem to have the time or inclination to see these important arguments through. If I were in their shoes, I would never rest until every serious challenge had either been eliminated or confirmed. You couldn't pry me loose from someone who was willing to devote his or her time freely in a serious exploration of such points! I would make the time, if need be, to see those matters through. But, then, creationists aren't really interested in the truth; they are fighting a war for their truth. As is true in real wars, truth is often the first casualty.

  1. Joseph Silk. 1980. The Big Bang: The Creation and Evolution of the Universe W H Freeman & Company, San Francisco, CA (p.271)
    See also:

    The New Solar System. 1981. edited by J. Kelly Beatty, Brian O'Leary and Andrew Chaikin Sky Publishing Corporation and Cambridge University Press

  2. One can always invoke God's power to "solve" the problem. However, this is just rank speculation having nothing to do with science. The skeptic's reply is, "How do you know what God has done? Is the Bible really God's book? Prove it." We can't teach theology of any kind in the science classroom, let alone personal theology based on rank speculation.

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Another Fatal Problem for the Vapor Canopy

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

Appendix I

(Another fatal problem for the vapor canopy idea)

The "vapor canopy," invented by desperate creationists who needed a large source of atmospheric water for Noah's flood, is subject to yet another fatal problem. Nor does it matter whether we are dealing with a vapor canopy supported by the atmosphere or ice crystals in orbit. In either case, carbon-14 dating proves fatal. (I am indebted to Paul Farrar and Bill Hyde for making this point in their Talk.Origins article "The Vapor Canopy Hypothesis Holds no Water.")

A large canopy, be it ice or vapor, would either block out the cosmic rays (needed for the production of carbon-14) or dilute the available nitrogen (a necessary ingredient for the production of carbon-14). C-14 atoms form high in the atmosphere when energetic cosmic rays slam into stray atoms and send out showers of particles, including energetic neutrons. Some of those neutrons collide with the nuclei of ordinary nitrogen, transforming some of them into a radioactive form of carbon. I.e., the neutron is absorbed and a proton is kicked out; one of the orbiting electrons goes with the departing proton, making it a hydrogen atom. Thus, we go from N-14 (ordinary nitrogen, which makes up about 75% of our atmosphere) to C-14 (a radioactive isotope of carbon, which occurs in trace amounts).

If we seek enough water to flood Mt. Everest, then we need to add roughly 900 times the present atmosphere in the form of water vapor! If we adopt Henry Morris' model of the flood, we can do with a more modest figure, say 100 parts of water vapor per 1 part atmosphere. (As pointed out on page 85, pressurized reservoirs, the other source of flood water used by creationists, cannot contribute diddly-squat towards flooding the high mountains.)

If the vapor canopy is attached to the atmosphere, we can see that the atmospheric nitrogen will be diluted about 100 times. It is the best scenario that the creationist can hope for. Consequently, only about 1/100 of the usual carbon-14 would be produced. Therefore, everything dated during those pre-flood times would have a built-in age added to its real age. The amount of this built-in age would be the time it takes for carbon-14 to decay to 1/100 of itself. Well, how long does that take? Given that the half-life of C-14 is 5730 years, and that it takes between 6 and 7 half-lives to get down to 1/100 of the original amount of C-14, we have at least a built-in age of 35,000 years!

In the case of ice crystals in orbit, they would provide a shielding roughly equal to their equivalent depth of water. Here, that means roughly one-half mile of water. I doubt that there are many, if any, cosmic rays that can penetrate half a mile of water! The built-in age factor would be even worse than above.

What all this means is that we have a perfectly good scientific test for Henry Morris' vapor canopy hypothesis. As we date older and older objects, at some point going from post-flood items to pre-flood items, we should see a dramatic and sudden leap of age. Do the ages obtained suddenly jump by an extra 35,000 years or so at some point? No, they do not. Thus, we have scientific proof that there never was any such thing as a vapor canopy during the last 40,000 years or so.

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Burden of Proof on Evolutionists

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

Dr. Hovind (I): The burden of proof is on the evolutionists if they expect all taxpayers to fund the teaching of their religion in the school system.

The topics of evolution (descent of life with modification) and the old age of the Earth are not scientific controversies begging for proof! They are facts of life. If you look at the last 50 issues of any of the world's leading scientific journals, such as Nature or Science, you will not find any debates in progress about the fact of evolution or the old age of the Earth! You might find a debate over the explanation of those facts, or of specific dates or rates, but never over the facts themselves. If you look into our best universities, you will not find any scientific debates in progress on those subjects. Standard reference works, such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, treat them as facts. They are regarded as facts by knowledgeable people who are not fettered with extreme religious prejudice.

We taxpayers owe it to our children to expose them to the best that science offers. Of course, philosophical speculation should be clearly labeled as such. On that point I would agree with Dr. Hovind. Jumping from the facts of evolution to a non-theistic universe is not a proper conclusion of science. Science does not speculate on the supernatural.

That some religious groups aren't living in the real world should not be allowed to dumb down our public schools. If you want to believe that the Earth is 6000 years old, that's your business. If it becomes your religion and you teach it to your children, that's your error and their injury. If you turn it into a crusade and try to force it into the science classrooms, that will be your Waterloo!

Try to understand. Suppose that a flat-Earth religion became very popular and books appeared defending the flat-Earth hypothesis. Flat-Earth parents, of course, would be very unhappy to find that the public schools were teaching a round Earth. Some of them would move their children into private schools that taught flat-Earth theory. Others would campaign against the "brainwashing" of their children in the public schools. They might demand equal time for their flat-Earth views. How would you handle that potato?

It would be irresponsible, of course, for you to allow the flat-Earth view into the geography curriculum. Time spent on the evidences for a flat-Earth is time robbed from serious learning. There are many excellent subjects that could (or should) be covered in a geography class, subjects that get left out for lack of time. Furthermore, it would be intellectually dishonest to leave the impressionable student with the idea that the flat-Earth view is a serious contender. It isn't. The student is there to learn, not to be confused or to defend some home-spun version of geography.

Education is much more than learning and memorizing facts. An education, a wise man once said, is what you have left after you have forgotten all those little facts. Students must learn to think by wrestling with subjects where many legitimate positions can be defended and criticized, where no easy answers exist. That some of this material may offend certain groups is to be expected. An educational system that seeks to accommodate the feelings of every group will wind up dumbing down its material to the lowest denominator. Just the reverse is needed. We must raise students to the highest levels that can be reached. They must learn by exploring the unknown, by designing and participating in scientific experiments. However, they must first have a foundation of solid facts.

Your choice to teach the round-Earth hypothesis would surely not depend on popularity polls! Nor would you allow the flat-Earth view to be injected into the geography classroom under the premises that it would be fair to present all sides of the issue. It is not a valid "side" of geography no matter how popular it might be among flat-Earth believers. Such clear thinking on your part would make those flat-Earth folks very unhappy, and they might even get you fired. But there is no other responsible choice.

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Each Proof is Described in Detail

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?

A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims

by Dave E. Matson

Copyright © 1994-2002

Dr. Hovind: Each of these evidences of a young Earth is described in great detail in the books referred to at the end of each line.

The book's authors read like a Who's Who in the creationist world! I guess it takes a creationist to explain these things, because I sure don't know any reputable scientists who would accept these young-Earth arguments! By now you should have some inkling as to why respectable scientists reject such claims.

Dr. Hovind: Those who believe the earth is billions of years old will typically try to discredit one of the above arguments and then mistakenly think that they have successfully proven the entire list wrong.

I certainly don't know of anyone who would do that!

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Only One Proof Needed for Young Earth

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

Dr. Hovind: Let's imagine we are exploring an old gold mine. Suppose we find a Casio Databank watch half buried in the mud and, upon closer inspection, still keeping good time. Perhaps the watch is a 1000 years old. No, it can't be, because this particular entrance to the mine was dug 150 years ago. Maybe, then, it is 150 years old. No, it can't be, because the model was marketed only 12 years ago. Could it have been there 10 years? No, the batteries are only good for 5 years.

We might not be able to pin down the precise age of that watch, but each of the above arguments establishes a maximum age. Any estimates giving an older age than 5 years may be ignored as irrelevant. If we found a 30-year-old shoe near the watch that would not override our 5 year maximum estimate. The minimum date takes precedence.

The same logic can be applied to finding the age of the Earth. If several factors limit the age of the Earth to within the last few thousand years, the Earth cannot be older than that! Even if a few indicators seem to show a greater age for the Earth, it only takes ONE proof of a young Earth to prove the Earth is young. Below is a list of arguments that limit the age of the universe and Earth to within the last few thousand years.

If you were trying to date some mountain range, then the uranium-lead age of a certain layer of rock which made up part of that mountain would yield, at most, a maximum age in accordance to the above analogy. Thus, if we found another layer of rock in that mountain which, by the potassium-argon method, yielded half the previous age, then the younger age would stand. The watch analogy is wrong because creationists are trying to date the entire Earth, not some fixture on it! They are trying to date the mine, not the watch! Each of the objects, then, would give a minimum date, a lower bound. The largest reliable date would take precedence. Therefore, we need only one good argument yielding an old age for the Earth!

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Evolution is a Religion

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

Dr. Hovind: Evolution is a religion, not part of science.

Evolution does not postulate a creator or involve itself in supernatural concepts. Though it may help explain the existence of moral behavior, it offers no guide to moral living. It has neither a temple of worship nor a priesthood. It contains no sacred dogma which may not be challenged by new evidence. It is open to all who have the intellectual qualifications. Dr. Hovind, how in the world do you turn it into a religion?

"Scientific creationism," on the other hand, has been proven in a court of law to be nothing more than a thinly veiled religion. U.S. District Court Judge William R. Overton in 1982 ruled unconstitutional an Arkansas law which tried to sneak Genesis into the schools under the guise of science. Let me quote Ronald Ecker to sum up a few of Judge Overton's points.

In finding for the plaintiffs, Overton, drawing heavily from the experts' courtroom testimony, gave no quarter to the creationist defense. "Evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology," he wrote, and any student deprived of instruction "as to the prevailing scientific thought" on such topics as the age of the earth, geology, and relationships among living things "will be deprived of a significant part of science education." Science, Overton said, is defined as that which is "accepted by the scientific community"; science is "what scientists do," and "creation science" as defined in Act 590 "is simply not science." ... The creationists' two-model approach is "a contrived dualism which has no scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose."

(Ecker, 1990, pp.137-138)

Evolution meets all the criteria of a good science; scientific creationism fails as science. In the U. S. Supreme Court case of Edwards v. Aguillard a remarkable friend-of-court brief was submitted by 72 Nobel laureates, seventeen state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations which exposed "scientific creationism" as a fraud. I know of no other document of belief supported by so many Nobel prizewinners!

Let's compare real science to "scientific" creationism.

  1. Real scientists, as did Darwin, usually spend some time pointing out the possible weaknesses they see in their theories. This is done not only to highlight areas which need further study but in order to strike a balanced presentation that will not mislead the reader. Truth is the overriding goal. Creationists usually minimize or ignore the weaknesses in their theories unless the cat is out of the bag. Inserting their views into the public educational system is usually their goal.

  2. Real scientists publish scientific literature, which can be very unorthodox, in refereed journals. This serves as a clearing house for ideas as well as a common testing ground.

    Creationists, who apparently have nothing worth saying to the scientific community, invariably write for the layman. They have found it necessary to publish their ideas in special "creationist journals" because none of the hundreds of legitimate scientific journals find their work acceptable. Creationist journals mostly serve as a rallying point for the faithful, rarely as a means for criticizing their fellow believers.

  3. Real scientists are quick to criticize their colleagues if they suspect an error. (Remember the cold fusion flap?) Catching errors improves their status in the scientific community even as it improves the level of science.

    Creationists have a fortress mentality, and they are quick to circle their wagons. To admit error is considered bad form among creationists, and most of them must literally be smoked out before admitting any errors whatsoever. With no effective mechanism for weeding out error, errors are passed down like the family jewels. Today, one can buy many creationist books containing errors that should have been eliminated 20-30 years ago!

  4. Real scientists are quick to test promising new ideas (however unorthodox) and those which don't pan out quickly disappear from the literature. Fame and fortune await any scientist who successfully advances a novel idea.

    Creationists are largely concerned with protecting their dogma, not advancing new ideas that might question that dogma. Rejection is the likely lot of any creationist who questions the central dogma. Creationist arguments having serious errors, including arguments based solely on obsolete data, circulate indefinitely in the creationist literature.

  5. Real scientists are often involved in meaningful laboratory and field work. They are looking for new data which might clarify, overturn, or confirm their views.

    Creationists spend most of their time combing through books and technical journals for quotes with which to snipe at evolution, geology, astronomy, and other areas of science which challenge their central dogma. When they're not doing that, they can usually be found out on the stump drumming up support among the uneducated public.

  6. Real scientists base their theories on the available evidence. They are not immune to the effects of prejudice, but they all understand that the facts dictate the conclusion. Conclusions are subservient to the data; data are not subservient to conclusions.

    Creationists take their science straight from the Bible. Many creationist leaders have publicly stated, often in print, that any evidence at variance with their literal interpretation of the Bible should be rejected out of hand. Their a priori conclusions dictate what data are acceptable. That's not science!

  7. No self-respecting scientist would ever think of signing an oath of allegiance to Darwinism as a condition for employment. Evidence is "king" in good science, and there is no room for competing loyalties.

    Many creationist societies actually require a "loyalty oath," which is tantamount to an admission that their minds are closed! Such minds are slammed shut and rusted tight!

  8. All good scientists admit that they might be wrong, that absolute certainty is not part of science. Scientists long ago recognized that our knowledge of the physical world is largely a product of inductive reasoning. In principle, inductive reasoning can yield a high degree of confidence, but it can never confer 100% certainty. The uncertainty of inductive reasoning follows from the fact that any set of observations can be explained, in principle, by an infinite number of hypotheses! One can never rule them all out no matter how much data one has. Thus, the proper scientific attitude includes a touch of humility no matter how great one's success.

    Except for trivial details, creationists cannot conceive of the possibility that they are in error as that would take down their concept of biblical inerrancy. Since "scientific" creationism is really a branch of Bible apologetics, there is no room for compromise. "Scientific" creationism is there to defend the faith, not to probe the unknown.

  9. Real scientists are often found in the great universities, where real science is done and advanced. None of those institutions take creationism seriously.

    Creationists are usually associated with creationist societies. Those few "universities" where creationism is featured have either failed to get full accreditation or have done so only through the pulling of political strings. What discoveries have they made? Name their Nobel laureates!

  10.  Scientists build upon previous knowledge accumulated over the years, and only rarely participate in great, revolutionary breakthroughs.

    Creationists fancy that they are in the process of overthrowing modern biology, geology, astronomy, anthropology, linguistics, paleontology, archaeology, oceanography, cosmology, physics, and numerous other branches of science. Some creationists (the flat-earth societies) would add the "grease-ball" theory of round-earth geography to that list. Anything that doesn't conform to their interpretation of the Bible is suspect and in need of revision.

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Evolution is Merely a Theory

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

Evolution (descent of life with modification) is a fact of life! That is to say, it may be deduced from the facts with near certainty. The fact of evolution is debated in the scientific community about as often as the roundness of the Earth! Both issues have been settled scientifically long ago. If you don't believe me, scan the world's leading scientific journals, such as Nature or Science, and tell me how many articles in the last 24 issues challenge the fact of evolution. After you have answered that question, then note how many articles are based on the fact of evolution. Thus, you will get some feeling as to what's going on in the real world of science. Legitimate scientific disagreement is not over descent with modification, but rather over how best to explain descent with modification. The better explanations constitute the theories of evolution. It is there we find the legitimate scientific debate which creationists are so fond of quoting, often out of context.

In the scientific world theory does not mean guesswork or speculation but rather a well tested concept which gives order and scientific meaning to a great many facts. (Reread the second paragraph of Topic 0 if you will.) Saying that evolution is only a theory is like saying that a car is only a Cadillac! It is a scientific compliment.

In the United States the chief opposition to the fact of evolution comes from a noisy, minority religious crusade cloaked in scientific jargon, whose ultimate goal is to enforce the teaching of fundamentalist doctrine in our schools.

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Structures Cannot Evolve by Chance

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

Dr. Hovind : How could many of the marvelous structures evolve by chance?

Things don't evolve by chance alone! Natural selection, the key to evolution, is not a random chance process. The environment applies very specific pressures. In that way, Mother Nature selects for certain characteristics. In a desert, for example, certain strategies for plant survival are favored while others are selected against. Since major environments often last a long time, their effect on evolving life is not random. In the desert, the edge goes to plants with better and better adaptations for reproducing despite the heat and lack of water.

Mutations may be thought of as random, but mutations are not the same thing as evolution. They merely enrich the gene pool whose diversity natural selection acts upon.

Did you know that if the principles behind natural selection are fed into a powerful computer we can create complex engineering designs?

With the availability of fast, powerful computers and computer simulation techniques, even engineers (the prototypical intelligent designers!) are using the creative powers of natural selection to aid them in their design efforts. The technique of "genetic algorithms", pioneered by computer scientist John H. Holland at the University of Michigan, simulates the mechanism of Darwinian evolution, involving mating, genetic recombination, reproduction, selection and mutation to design jet engines, integrated circuit chips, scheduling work in a busy machine shop, operating gas-pipeline pumping stations and recognizing patterns [Peterson, 1989].

(Sonleitner, 1991a, p.31)

Thus, we have engineers using some of the key principles behind EVOLUTION to help them work out complex engineering solutions. That can be anything from designing better bridges to working out efficient routines for complex scheduling problems. Clearly, this would be impossible if natural selection, the key to Darwinian evolution, involved nothing more than random chance. Natural selection serves as a powerful creative element in evolution, and that power is now being harnessed by computers for our benefit. Who says evolution doesn't work!!

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How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

Dr. Hovind (B): Modern textbooks on evolution, in effect, tell us that FROGS + TIME = PRINCE.

Wrong! FROGS + TIME does not equal people! Historically speaking, certain early amphibians gave rise to all of the higher life forms today, including man. Frogs are a modern day branch tip on the evolutionary tree, even as humans are, not a section of a limb through which life evolved.

Secondly, if the clock were rewound, humanity would not likely evolve again. Primitive life forms + time MAY equal something complex if the environment is right and if chance factors work for the best.

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A Young Universe and Evolution

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

I will round out this work with some miscellaneous arguments which, with one exception, are from Dr. Hovind's notebook.

Dr. Hovind (A): If the universe is not billions of years old, then we need not bother with the other arguments supporting evolution.

The presently accepted history of evolution on Earth would be in trouble if the universe were not billions of years old. Significant evolution, however, can occur in as little as 10 million years. Thus, even if complex life were created on Earth a mere 10 million years ago that would not, in itself, rule out significant biological evolution!

Just the other day Jeffrey Bada and Stanley Miller, both highly respected scientists, presented a new theory of the origin of life to the scientific community. It answers many of the problems plaguing earlier models. Regarding how long it might take for life to evolve, Stanley Miller had this to say:

"We have been adding up the time it might take for life to develop," Miller said. "The whole process could take place in 10 million years or less."

(Los Angeles Times, February 21, 1994, A1,A16)

Forget about evolution requiring billions and billions of years to evolve life! It is now believed that life may have evolved a number of times on the early Earth, only to be wiped out by gigantic asteroid impacts. (Of course, the evolution of complex creatures, such as monkeys or dinosaurs, would require more time.)

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Supernova SN1987A and the Speed of Light

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

A6. The Distance to Supernova SN1987A and the Speed of Light

When supernova SN1987A exploded, a fair amount of ultraviolet light was given off in addition to the usual, visible light. About a year after the explosion, the light struck a ring of gas some distance from the star, illuminating different parts of it at different times. "Its absolute diameter was determined based on the timing of ultraviolet spectral lines, where observed light curves are fitted to models. The angular size on the sky is known from Hubble telescope measurements." (Ron Ebert, Internet, 5/20/98). (The angular size is roughly how big something appears to you. I. e., your small fingernail, held at arm's length, has about the same angular size as the moon viewed without instruments.) It turned out that this ring of gas is titled about 43 degrees to our view. Knowing the actual diameter and the angular diameter, the distance is easily calculated using a simple, trigonometric formula, and was done with an error of less than 5%.

Distance equals the actual diameter of the object divided by twice the tangent of half the angular size

Figure #4

No matter how a perfect circle is viewed in space, the longest line across it from our viewpoint will give the true, angular diameter. Knowing the real size of an object (say, in miles) and how large it appears (in degrees), one can calculate the distance. The distance formula falls right out of the definition for the tangent function. Take the moon, whose diameter is 2160 miles, whose angular size is 0.5 degrees. That yields a distance of 248,000 miles, which is quite decent. (If you are not familiar with trigonometry just skip this.)

Many creationists would have you believe that the speed of light was once very high and has been slowing down ever since. The motivation for this reasoning is to keep the age of the universe at about 6000 years while accounting for the fact that we can see the distant stars. As I will later show you in detail, if there is any truth to that claim, then the light we now see from SN1987A must have been traveling considerably faster when it left the vicinity of that supernova. That means our telescopes today would see things happening there in slow motion! As it so happened, by studying changes in the light levels, astronomers were able to calculate the half-lives of the cobalt-56 and cobalt-57 created in the aftermath of that supernova explosion. Far from exhibiting a slower decay rate, their decay rates matched the cobalt-56 and cobalt-57 decay rates measured in our laboratories. Therefore, the light leaving the vicinity of SN1987A was traveling at its normal speed, and that means we are seeing things almost 200,000 years ago!

Still, the creationist has one ace up his sleeve. What if the cobalt-56 and cobalt-57 created by SN1987A was actually decaying much faster, a rate that only appeared normal in our telescopes because of the slow-down factor? We might be seeing a slow motion replay of fast decay rates, or we might be seeing a normal replay of normal rates. It would appear to us, either way, that no change had occurred. Does this sound confusing?

To this one might say, "Get an education!" Relativity is central to modern science and the speed of light is a fundamental constant. Light can't go faster than about 186,000 miles a second and that's that. One could then recite volumes of laboratory studies, experiments, and observations to impress the reader with the power and reliability of special relativity. However, that approach might seem rather dogmatic to someone lacking an education in the sciences. Thus, I will pretend that light once traveled much faster in the past (as might be imagined in Newtonian physics) and work out some of the consequences.

My first point is based on a straightforward observation of pulsars. Pulsars put out flashes at such precise intervals and clarity that only the rotation of a small body can account for it (Chaisson and McMillan, 1993, p.498). Indeed, the more precise pulsars keep much better time than even the atomic clocks on Earth! In the mid-1980s a new class of pulsars, called millisecond pulsars, were discovered which were rotating hundreds of times each second! When a pulsar, which is a neutron star smaller than Manhattan Island with a weight problem (about as heavy as our sun), spins that fast it is pretty close to flying apart. Thus, in observing these millisecond pulsars, we are not seeing a slow motion replay as that would imply an actual spin rate which would have destroyed those pulsars. We couldn't observe them spinning that fast if light was slowing down. Consequently, under the reasonable assumption that if light slowed down in a fundamental way, it would have slowed down everywhere, we can dispense with the claim that the light coming from SN1987A might have slowed down. Therefore, the decay rates observed for cobalt-56 and cobalt-57 were the actual decay rates and we are seeing things as they were 170,000 years ago.

A more quantitative argument can also be advanced for those who need the details. Suppose that light is slowing down according to some exponential decay curve. An exponential decay curve is one of Mother Nature's favorites. It describes radioactive decay and a host of other observations. If the speed of light were really slowing down, then an exponential decay curve would be a very reasonable curve to start our investigation with. Later, we will be able to draw some general conclusions which apply to almost any curve, including those favored by creationist Barry Setterfield.

We want the light in our model to start fast enough so that the most distant objects in the universe, say 10 billion light-years away, will be visible today. That is, the light must travel 10 billion light-years in the 6000 years which creationists allow for the Earth's age. (A light-year is the distance a beam of light, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, covers in one year.) Furthermore, the speed of light must decay at a rate which will reduce it to its present value after 6000 years. Upon applying these constraints to all possible exponential decay curves, and after doing a little calculus, we wind up with two non-linear equations in two variables. After solving those equations by computer, we get the following functions for velocity and distance. The first function gives the velocity of light (light-years per year) t years after creation (t=0). The second function gives the distance (light-years) that the first beams of light have traveled since creation (since t=0).

V(t) = V0 e-Kt

S(t) = 1010(1 - e-Kt)

V0 = 28,615,783 (The initial velocity for light)
K = 0.00286158 (the decay rate parameter)

With these equations in hand, it can be shown that if light is slowing down then equal intervals of time in distant space will be seen on Earth as unequal intervals of time. That's our test for determining if light has slowed down. But, where can we find a natural, reliable clock in distant space with which to do the test?

As it turns out, Mother Nature has supplied some of the best clocks around. They are the pulsars. Pulsars keep time like the Earth does, by rotating smoothly, only they do it much better because they are much smaller and vastly heavier. The heavier a spinning top is the less any outside forces can affect it. Many pulsars rotate hundreds of times per second! And they keep incredibly precise time. Thus, we can observe how long it takes a pulsar to make 100 rotations and compare that figure to another observation five years later. Therefore, we can put the above creationist model to the test. Of course, in order to interpret the results properly, we need to have some idea of how much change to expect according to the above creationist model. That calculation is our next step.

Let's start by considering a pulsar which is 170,000 light-years away, which would be as far away as SN1987A. Certainly, we can see pulsars at that distance easily enough. In our creationist model, due to the initial high velocity of light, the light now arriving from our pulsar (light beam A) took about 2149.7 years to reach Earth. At the time light beam A left the pulsar it was going 487.4686 times the speed of light. The next day (24 hours after light beam A left the pulsar) light beam B leaves; it leaves at 487.4648 times the speed of light. As you can see, the velocity of light has already decayed a small amount. (I shall reserve the expression "speed of light" for the true speed of light which is about 186,000 miles per second.) Allowing for the continuing decay in velocity, we can calculate that light beam A is 1.336957 light-years ahead of light beam B. That lead distance is not going to change since both light beams will slow down together as the velocity of light decays.

When light beam A reaches the Earth, and light is now going its normal speed, that lead distance translates into 1.336957 years. Thus, the one-day interval on our pulsar, the actual time between the departures of light beams A and B, wrongly appears to us as more than a year! Upon looking at our pulsar, which is 170,000 light-years away, we are not only seeing 2149.7 years into the past but are seeing things occur 488.3 times more slowly than they really are!

Exactly 5 years after light beam A left the pulsar, light beam Y departs. It is traveling at 480.5436 times the speed of light. Twenty-four hours after its departure light beam Z leaves the pulsar. It is traveling at 480.5398 times the speed of light. Making due allowances for the continual slowing down of the light, we can calculate that light beam Y has a lead in distance over light beam Z of 1.318767 light-years. Once again, when light beam Y reached Earth, when the velocity of light had become frozen at its present value, that distance translates into years. Thus, a day on the pulsar, the one defined by light beams Y and Z, appears in slow motion to us. We see things happening 481.7 times slower than the rate at which they actually occurred.

Therefore, if the above creationist model is correct, we should see a difference in time for the above two identical intervals, a difference which amounts to about 1.3%. Of course, the above calculations could be redone with much shorter intervals without affecting the 1.3% figure, being that the perceived slowdown is essentially the same for the smaller intervals within one day. As a result, an astronomer need only measure the spin of a number of pulsars over a few years to get definitive results. Pulsars keep such accurate time that a 1.3% difference--even after hundreds of years--would stand out like a giant redwood in a Kansas wheat field!

So, what are the results of this definitive test? Many pulsars have been observed which show nothing remotely close to a 1% change in their rotation rates over a five year period. Although we have technically disproved only the above model, we have, nevertheless, thrown a monkey wrench into the machinery for decaying light-speed. Every such scenario must have the slow motion effect described above. Furthermore, the slow motion effect is directly related to how fast the light is moving. If a model requires light in the past to move one hundred times faster than observed today, then, at least for some interval of time measured in that part of space, we would observe things moving one hundred times as slow.

That's the fatal point which no choice of light-velocity decay curve can wholly remedy. The creationist model, in order to be useful, must start with a high velocity for light so that objects ten billion light-years away can be seen in a universe a mere 6000 years old. Consequently, such a universe must appear, in general, to be slowing down more and more the farther we look into the depths of space. And the farther we look, in general, the more dramatic the perceived slowdown should be.

Such a slowdown shouldn't be confused with the legitimate slowdown calculated on the basis of special relativity. Einstein showed that if an object is moving away from us at a significant fraction of the speed of light, we would see events on that object slowing down noticeably. It would not be an illusion as is the case for the creationist scenario with its absolute, Newtonian time frame. Thus, we would see a dramatic slowing down at cosmological distances, where galaxies are moving away from us at a significant fraction of the speed of light. However, this legitimate cosmological effect is important only for really great distances, and it plays no significant role in our calculations. At 170,000 light-years, for instance, the effect would be virtually nil.

It might seem that if we started out with a fantastically high velocity for light, which then decayed precipitously, we could reduce the problems. In the extreme case, light might start out at "infinity" and suddenly drop to normal values. Certainly, that would allow us to see the most distant parts of our universe while keeping it only 6000 years old. It would also preserve normal light speeds over the last 6000 years. Unfortunately, astronomers would not be able to see anything further than 6000 light-years away! We would not see supernova 1987A at all! The last photon leaving SN1987A under the "infinite" speed would already have reached us instantly. The next photon to leave would be traveling at a normal speed, and it would still be out there in space on its way to us. Consequently, we could not see anything further than 6000 light-years away. Since we don't have that kind of problem, we may "can" that extreme case!

In a less extreme case, we might start with a very high velocity for light, which rapidly decays to normal. Thus, the decay curve would have near-normal speeds for most of the years between t=0 and t=6000 (Figure #5). Historical measurements of the velocity of light would not detect any change, which is the actual case. However, the effect relative to our calculated model (which is represented by Figure #6) would be to move the latest departure time of light beam A (from the supernova) closer to the time of creation and to jack up its speed. (Compare the light speeds at t=x and t=y, Figures #5 and #6). That is, because the velocity of light decays so rapidly (Figure #5), any light leaving the more distant objects in the universe would have to get an earlier start so as to cash in on that speed before it's gone. After all, we do see those objects, meaning that the light had to travel the full distance in less than 6000 years. The drawback (Figure #5) is that when the light leaves the supernova its speed is changing rapidly (a steeper slope on the decay curve). That means the pulsars would appear to keep very poor time as observed today over a period of a few years.

Figure #5
"Suppose the speed of light was initially very high, and that it decayed to today's value rather rapidly. An object 177 thousand light years away could be seen today if the area under the decay curve plotting speed of light versus time is equal to 177 thousand. Where the slope is steep there will be uneven pulsar spin rates."

Two curves for exponential decay of the velocity of light in a vacuum.

Figure #6"Suppose the light curve decays less rapidly. An area of 177 thousand fits with a time (t) that is further to the right (more recent). That allows a less steep slope when the supernova explodes at t equals y."

Two curves for exponential decay of the velocity of light in a vacuum.

Suppose, then, that we took a much less extreme case of the above. Pretend that Figure #6 is the graph of a much more moderate light decay curve. While this curve is more in accord with the fact that pulsars keep good time, the problem is by no means solved. Pulsars keep such good time that even a little deviation, as predicted by this latter model, would show up dramatically. Astronomers don't find that kind of deviation for every pulsar, if any. Furthermore, in choosing a model that allows the speed of light to decay more slowly to its present value, we are left with another problem. Historical measurements would clearly reveal that light was faster in the past (Figure #6). The slower light decayed to its present speed, the more obvious that latter problem becomes.

We might even try a flat curve that doesn't decay at all, except for a rapid drop in historical times. Such a curve is a bit contrived, but it would be in accord with the historical measurements as well as with the fact that pulsars keep good time (flat slope). However, in order to see objects 10 billion light-years away in a 6000 year-old universe, the light speed for that curve would have to be set at 1.6 million times the present speed of light! The spinning pulsars we see would have flown apart! That is, their actual rotational speeds would have to be so much greater than observed as to present a physical contradiction.

Having surveyed the extreme cases, as well as the middle ground (the case with the calculations), we may confidently reject the claim that the velocity of light started out fast and then decayed to its present value. Every possible decay curve, save the kind of impractical curiosities a mathematician might construct, is ruled out by simple observations. Consequently, when we look at a supernova that is 177,000 light-years away, we are looking 177,000 years into the past. When astronomers observe a galaxy billions of light-years away, they are looking billions of years into the past.

There are other good reasons for rejecting the claim that light once had a much higher velocity. It is a fundamental constant tied to energy by the equation E = mc2. If we could somehow monkey around with the speed of light, the whole universe would be radically altered! It's not just another pretty number!

I will not pursue this matter beyond the above disproof. However, let me leave you with a few references for further reading:

  • Ebert, Ronald. 1997. REPORTS of the National Center for Science Education, "Does the Speed of Light Slow Down Over Time?" Vol.17 No.5 (Sept./Oct.), p.9-11 P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477

A few creationists have argued that the universe really isn't that big. In particular, Slusher, working for the Institute for Creation Research, argued in 1980 that the universe is based on a Riemannian space which allowed no point to be more than 15.71 light-years away. The great distances observed would be an illusion based on mistaking the Riemannian space for Euclidean space.

This model, however, requires that the distance to supernova SN1987A be measured at less than 15.71 light-years in contradiction to the 170,000 light-years actually measured. Unexploded versions of SN1987A would be seen at the same time, one of them being at a perceived distance of 170,000 light-years! A few decades later, the light from the explosion would circle around again, thus causing us to see SN1987A explode all over again! This is madness, not science! See Strahler (1987, pp.114-116) for a thorough debunking of this Riemannian space nonsense. (George Friedrich Bernhard Riemann, 1826-1866, was a German mathematician whose work on curved space proved helpful to Einstein, but not with the absurd radius of curvature assigned by Slusher!)

Yet another idea, advanced by Henry Morris and others, is that star light was created in situ during the Genesis creation week. However, we have now left the realm of science for theology. There is no scientific way to separate star light from its origin in a star. Not only is it theology, but it's bad theology. God creates a universe which forces him to be a deceiver! It goes beyond the need for any reasonable appearance of age as a result of functionality. There is no need, for example, to see supernovae explode before their time. An observer would ultimately see the supernova leap back together and explode all over again when the light from the real explosion finally arrived! It makes God out to be an idiot.

When the creationist smoke screen finally dissipates, the debate hall falling silent at last, the young-earth advocate finds himself back on square one. He is looking at stars many millions of light-years away, stars putting out light which takes many millions of years to reach us! Attempts to speed up the velocity of light or to shrink down the universe have come to naught. What does remain is prime evidence for the old age of our universe.

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The Ice Age

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

A5. A Couple of Ice Age Problems

Dr. Hovind believes that there was only one ice age which began sometime after Noah's flood ended, that being around 4300 years ago by his reckoning. Thus, the world moved from a warm, tropical climate to an ice age only a few thousand years ago. There are fatal problems with that view.

First, we now know that there were at least 7 ice eras lasting on the average some 50 million years apiece. Each ice era was, itself, composed of numerous ice epochs which lasted about two or three million years. They, in turn, were composed of ice-age cycles which often lasted around 100,000 years. Thus, there have been numerous fluctuations between warm and cold climates. (Chorlton, 1984, pp.20-21). The more recent advances and retreats of the glaciers have resulted in sea level changes which, in turn, have affected the heights of coral reefs, the oxygen isotope ratios in sea floor sediments, and shorelines around the world. Several levels of terraces were carved in the world's shorelines by recent fluctuations in the ocean level, each lasting many thousands of years. I don't have the space to explore this issue, but numerous facts fit together to document the existence of many "ice ages." Regarding one ancient ice era, we have a remarkable coming together of different facts:

The theory of continental drift led to one of the most remarkable discoveries in ice age studies. During the 1960s, scientists analyzed the magnetic orientation of rocks from many parts of the world and concluded that North Africa had been located over the South Pole during the Ordovician period, about 450 million years ago. If they were correct, there should be traces of ancient glaciation in the Sahara. At about the same time, French petroleum geologists working in southern Algeria stumbled on a series of giant grooves that appeared to have been cut into the underlying sandstone by glaciers. The geologists alerted the scientific world and assembled an international team to examine the evidence. The team saw unmistakable signs of an ice age: scars created by the friction of pebbles incorporated into the base of glaciers; erratic rocks that had been transported from sources hundreds of miles distant; and formations of sand typical of glacial outwash streams.

(Chorlton, 1984, p.141)

In some places in the Sahara the grooves made by glaciers can be traced for hundreds of miles (Chorlton, 1984, p.144). How do creationists explain glaciers in the Sahara?

Second, we have a problem with permafrost. Chorlton informs us that the building up of a 100-foot deep layer of permafrost takes thousands of years of freezing weather to accomplish. The bad news for creationists is this:

About 20 per cent of the world's land area remains permanently frozen -- in some cases to depths of almost a mile.

(Chorlton, 1984, p.30)

Thus, we have direct evidence that some of the frozen parts of our world have been frozen a lot longer than a few thousand years! Try a few million years! (Forget about super-cold snowballs crashing into the Earth and instantly freezing thousands of feet of earth. They would have vaporized upon impact.)

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Mammoths: Were They Quick-Frozen?

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

A4. Mammoths: Were They Quick-Frozen?

The claim that mammoths were quick-frozen goes back at least several decades as an old Reader's Digest article will testify. It has no merit whatsoever.

To begin with, mammoths were adapted for severely cold weather as their heavy fur, complete with a thick, insulating underwool, and a thick layer of fat attest. Their four-toed feet and smaller size, compared to the European mammoths, was better for marshy tundra pasture. A little extra ice from space, assuming that it could even reach the ground without being vaporized, would hardly have bothered them! Obviously, the Arctic area was cold, though possibly a tad warmer and moist than today, before Dr. Hovind's iceberg-from-space arrived!

Take the frozen Berezovka mammoth, for instance. In its stomach were found arctic plants like conifers, tundra grasses, and sedges. Its flesh was really rather putrefied. "The excavators found the stench of the partially rotted Berezovka mammoth unbearable; even the earth in which it was buried stank." (Weber, 1980, p.15). Ancient predators had a chance to get at the carcass, which proved there was no instantaneous freezing. The unfortunate animal seems to have fallen from a river buff, possibly by getting too close to the edge and causing a slump, and broke many bones. In the muck of the floodplain below his carcass was soon frozen in (Strahler, 1987, p.381).

William R. Farrand, writing in 1961, pointed out that only 39 mammoths had been found with some of their flesh preserved. Out of those only four were found more or less intact, including the Berezovka mammoth. All of them were rotten to some extent and the evidence showed that most were somewhat mutilated by predators prior to freezing. Such things as grasses, sedges, other boreal meadow and tundra plants, a few twigs, cones, and pollen traces from high-boreal and tundra trees are typical of what was found in their stomachs. Evidence indicates that some of these mammoths had died in cave-ins or had drowned. The Mamontova mammoth was probably caught in a bog while grazing the floodplain of the ancient Mamontova River. Another apparently died on a floodplain, possibly falling through river ice, and rotted mostly away before natural burial. The upright nature of many mammoth finds suggest "that they perished when a rapid thaw melted the permafrost and turned the tundra into a huge bog." (Chorlton, 1984, p.70).

A more recent find, that of a calf dated at about 40,000 years, was retrieved whole in 1977 from a creek bed in eastern Siberia. Apparently it had fallen through a thin layer of frozen turf into a channel cut by melting water. Evidence, sorry to say, indicates that the animal starved to death. The hole was soon filled in and the mammoth was preserved for thousands of years by the cold and by a high tannic acid content from decayed vegetation. Eventually a shifting channel of a river exposed the mammoth. (Chorlton, 1984, p.71)

Getting bogged down in a marsh, falling into "riparian" gullies, getting mired in sticky mudflows, falling through the thin ice of a lake, and getting caught in river bank cave-ins of river ice are some of the hazards mammoths would face. Judging by what they were eating, it appears that the time of death was usually late summer or early fall, precisely the time when melting and solifluction would have been at a maximum and travel most dangerous. Most of their remains are associated with river valleys and fluviatile and terrestrial sediment. There is no direct evidence that any mammoth simply froze to death (Farrand, 1961).

All of this evidence points to a routine life on the arctic tundra.

It is interesting to note that only the mammoths and wooly rhinoceri are found frozen in Siberia (Weber, 1980, pp.15-16). If a sudden disaster overwhelmed the entire area, don't you think that we would find a whole range of preserved animals?

Dr. Hovind, I think that you have been had by that fellow on the North Slope. I doubt very much that he choked down a piece of putrid mammoth meat! It's probably a favorite tall-timber tale of the North.

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Coal and Oil

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002

A3. Coal and Oil

The amount of coal and oil existing today greatly exceeds what could have been produced by decaying plants and animals in a few thousand years. It is naive to think that today's coal and oil came from the buried remains of Noah's antediluvian world. Most creationists simply have no idea how much raw material would have been required, especially for the oil deposits.

Because coal and oil are important economic resources, geologists have worked hard to estimate how much of these resources exist. The creationist writer Morton cites data published by Hunt indicating that the carbon in the coal alone is 50 times that in the entire present biosphere!...And the carbon in all oil deposits is 666 times that in the entire present biosphere! That in oil shales and other sedimentary rocks (which Morton doesn't mention!) is 40,000 times that in the present biosphere. And that doesn't count the enormous quantities of carbonates, much in the form of fossil shells. The Livingstone Limestone in the Canadian Rockies contains at least 10,000 cubic miles of broken crinoid plates!

(Sonleitner, 1991,

Just how thick did Dr. Hovind say that antediluvian vegetation was?

In doing your math, be sure to allow plenty of open space for grasslands, so that the buffalo, horses, and numerous other grazers, past and present, have plenty of space for their herds. Be sure to have plenty of deserts or near-deserts for your reptiles. Most of them require a dry environment. You will also need plenty of marshy tundra pasture for your mammoths and other pre-flood, cold-adapted grazers.

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