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Noah's flood: global or local?


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#41 Owen Jones

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 11:22 PM

Let me clarify that by focusing on the typological, this does not refute or negate the literal/historical. And as any amateur naturalist knows, there is evidence of the sea having flooded the earth to relatively high altitudes at one point.

In one of the websites I read, the dating of carbon 14 is estimated to be + or - 50 years, not 50,000 years. They know with exactness the half life. One thing I ran across in my very cursory survey is that carbon 14 is a product of the effect of cosmic rays on stable carbon compounds. I didn't know that.

But I am having some difficulty understanding how a cataclysmic tectonic shift causing a global flood would have radically altered the rate of carbon 14 decay, thus throwing into doubt the foundational theory of carbon dating, that the rate of decay is a constant.

#42 Alec Lowly

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 11:31 PM

With some trepidation, I really must point out that creationist defenses of a literal Genesis betoken an evangelical Protestant phronema, not an Orthodox phronema ... and a distinctively American Protestant phronema, at that ... "The scriptures were written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go" (Augustine of Hippo) ...

#43 M. Partyka

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 11:44 PM

...as any amateur naturalist knows, there is evidence of the sea having flooded the earth to relatively high altitudes at one point.

Perhaps in this or that area, but all the earth at once? And in what geological timeframe?

In one of the websites I read, the dating of carbon 14 is estimated to be + or - 50 years, not 50,000 years. They know with exactness the half life.

I wasn't talking about the half-life (which probably is 50 years, like you've said). I was talking about how far back in time carbon-14 dating is considered to be relatively accurate. If, for example, carbon-14 dating is only accurate going back 50,000 years, then I expect there must be other arguments propping up the more common belief in a 3 to 4 billion year old earth.

But I am having some difficulty understanding how a cataclysmic tectonic shift causing a global flood would have radically altered the rate of carbon 14 decay, thus throwing into doubt the foundational theory of carbon dating, that the rate of decay is a constant.

A tectonic shift wouldn't have anything to do with radioactive decay rates from a naturalistic perspective. Supernatural causes are usually invoked when a change in radioactive decay is posited.

#44 M. Partyka

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 11:48 PM

With some trepidation, I really must point out that creationist defenses of a literal Genesis betoken an evangelical Protestant phronema, not an Orthodox phronema ... and a distinctively American Protestant phronema, at that ... "The scriptures were written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go" (Augustine of Hippo) ...

I think this speaks to the question which was asked earlier (and still waits to be addressed) about, "How would it affect your faith if, regarding the flood, <such-and-such> turned out to be true only 'in a sense' rather than true as literally stated (in addition to being true 'in a sense')?"

#45 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 12:06 AM

I think this speaks to the question which was asked earlier (and still waits to be addressed) about, "How would it affect your faith if, regarding the flood, <such-and-such> turned out to be true only 'in a sense' rather than true as literally stated (in addition to being true 'in a sense')?"


For me the only thing that would destroy my faith would be some sort of incontrovertible proof that Christ did not rise from the dead, since as St. Paul says:

1 Corinthians 15:17-19 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

#46 M. Partyka

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 12:22 AM

For me the only thing that would destroy my faith would be some sort of incontrovertible proof that Christ did not rise from the dead....

Let's play pretend for a moment. What if somehow it were incontrovertibly proven that the miracle in which Christ fed the five thousand with a few loaves and fishes never took place?

#47 Michael Stickles

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 12:36 AM

A tectonic shift wouldn't have anything to do with radioactive decay rates from a naturalistic perspective. Supernatural causes are usually invoked when a change in radioactive decay is posited.


Actually, I've seen plenty of discussions of the idea that radioactive decay rates can vary with natural causes, such as large cosmic radiation influx, large pressure differences, etc. The discussions can pretty much be broken up into two groups:

(1) It is well established that radioactive decay rates can vary due to natural causes;
(2) There is no evidence that radioactive decay rates can vary significantly due to natural causes.

I haven't found it worth my time to dig in and see who's more likely to be right.

Mike

#48 Alec Lowly

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 02:21 AM

Let's play pretend for a moment. What if somehow it were incontrovertibly proven that the miracle in which Christ fed the five thousand with a few loaves and fishes never took place?



An interesting choice of miracles, M. Partyka ... because it is recorded in all four gospels, the critics, by virtue of their own discipline, would have to concede that, well, ~something~ must have happened ... but if it could be proven that this miracle never happened, I would want to know, first, if the reports of this miracle are deliberate frauds ... if not, then what are we talking about ... ultimately, however, my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God and the only saviour of men is not based on any written document, even inspired scripture ... my ultimate faith is in the Word made flesh, not the Word made words ...

#49 Matthew Namee

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 04:22 AM

First of all, I'm perfectly open to the idea that the Flood might have been only a local phenomenon. I do believe it was truly global, but I'm open to being wrong.

As for my belief in Christ, it is based on indemonstrable faith, as I believe St. Clement of Alexandria put it. It's not based on some experience I've had or some text I've read. I cannot even conceive of what "incontrovertible proof" even means. Can anything be incontrovertibly proven? All "fact" is based on perception; absolutes exist, but it is impossible for humans to truly view anything "objectively." So I would consider the answer to be "null," something like zero divided by zero. Neither, however, can the truth of Christ be "incontrovertibly proven." It is ultimately based on faith, the first principle, or else it is based on something else which becomes our first principle, ad infinitum. In any event, the Genesis Flood is largely irrelevant to the more crucial matter of faith in Jesus Christ.

#50 Antonios

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 05:56 AM

I think you'll find that most Christians here would say that if we based our faith according to reason or science, then we would have rather chosen to become scientific explorers trying to find the 'fountain of youth'. Or perhaps bankers enjoying weekend trips with their yachts. Instead, our charge is one of sacrifice and works of repentance, begging the Lord for the same mercy He showed to his beloved servant Noah. As servants of our Master and Lord Jesus Christ, Noah is our brother, a sole survivor in all of God's good creation, and we pray for his intercessions before the Throne of Christ.

When we begin to shape our faith with what current scientific data propose, then we also begin to rely on Venn diagrams and pharmaceutical drugs to save us, when it is Jesus Christ Who does. Was the flood global? Was it only local? I don't know. Lord have mercy on me, a sinner, who never would have seen the ark...

#51 M. Partyka

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 07:46 AM

...ultimately, however, my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God and the only saviour of men is not based on any written document, even inspired scripture...my ultimate faith is in the Word made flesh, not the Word made words...

As for my belief in Christ, it is based on indemonstrable faith....It's not based on some experience I've had or some text I've read....It is ultimately based on faith, the first principle, or else it is based on something else which becomes our first principle, ad infinitum.

What I find interesting about these kinds of responses is the epistemological question they immediately raise: From where do our beliefs originate, or perhaps it's better put, how do we know what we know?

I personally think belief is the result of one of two ultimate sources: personal experience or trusted authority. Yet, responses like the ones above seem to reject both sources of knowledge, which leaves...what, exactly? If what you believe isn't founded upon your own personal experience or the account of a trusted authority, what is it based upon? If you reply, "Upon Christ Himself," you're being disingenuous, aren't you? Because what you're really saying is either (1) you've had a personal experience involving Christ or (2) you've believed what somebody else has told you (audibly or in writing) about Christ -- probably a mixture of both, I think most people would say.

According to St. Paul, faith isn't an irreducible first principle. Rather, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom 10:17) "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?...He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Gal 3:2,5) Before you can believe, you must have something to believe in, right? And from where do you get that something? Either from personal experience or from a trusted authority, I would argue -- unless there's some third source I'm overlooking.

#52 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 01:12 PM

From where do our beliefs originate, or perhaps it's better put, how do we know what we know? ... I personally think belief is the result of one of two ultimate sources: personal experience or trusted authority.


How about both?

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

First we are told, then we encounter for ourselves.

#53 Owen Jones

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 02:10 PM

Back to the flood, and the web site cited. My impression is that the accuracy of carbon dating, especially through AMS spectrometry, is not questioned by the author. What he points out, as I understand him, is that there are no organic compounds that have been dated as having existed for more than 90,000 years or so. The scientists conducting the spectrometry attribute this to contamination of the samples. But he argues that after every known method of eliminating contamination, they still get the same results. I see nothing to suggest he is arguing that carbon dating is not accurate prior to 50,000 years. He says that if organic compounds were much, much older, they would get a carbon 14 reading of zero. But in all of the organic compounds being tested, they all show the presence of carbon 14. Therefore, all of the animals in the fossil record must have existed contemporaneously, he argues, and must have died at the same time due to some global cataclysm. He attributes this to the flood, (albeit, not 6,000 years ago). The fact that rocks date much much older he argues is due to his theory that the rate of carbon 14 decay is not a constant, that there was a dramatic shift during this tectonic catastrophe. That's where he loses me. But even if inorganic matter is much, much older, if there is a sound scientific argument that the anomalies in carbon 14 dating are not due to contamination, but actual proof that organic compounds have not been around longer than 90,000 years, this would destroy evolutionary theory. In any case, creationism often argues the wrong point, because Darwinism is not, and cannot ever be a theory of origins. It never attempts to explain why anything should exist at all. And if there is only a materialistic causality, they never deal with the problem of infinite regression, which is irrational.

#54 Owen Jones

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 02:16 PM

This is a summary from Dr. Baumgartner's web site. According to his bio, he has been at Los Alamos since 1988.

The online home of Dr. John Baumgardner's
work related to the Genesis flood.


MOST RECENT

Dr. Baumgardner
will be presenting the following papers during the 2003 International Conference on Creationism

Carbon 14

Catastrophic Plate Tectonics



(28 July 03) What conceivable mechanism could have produced the vast geological transformation of the earth evident all around us in a single year-long Flood event? Answering this question correctly has been a major focus of mine for the past 25 years.

My conclusion is that the Flood was one facet of a larger global-scale tectonic cataclysm. A key aspect of this catastrophe was the rapid sinking, in conveyor belt fashion, of the pre-Flood ocean tectonic plates into the earth's interior. The energy required for the process was derived from the earth's gravity acting on the excess weight of these cold ocean plates relative to the hotter and less dense mantle rock into which they slid. Decades of laboratory experiments attest to the fact that, under stress, mantle rock, at temperatures estimated for the earth's interior, can weaken by factors of billions or more. My work on this problem has primarily involved computer experiments that apply the properties of silicate rock, as measured in these laboratory experiments, to the setting of the earth's mantle. These calculations demonstrate that a catastrophic instability can indeed occur in a planet with the size and structure of the earth. This mechanism for the Flood cataclysm has become known as catastrophic plate tectonics. My latest modeling results are described in a paper presented at the Fifth International Conference on Creationism in August 2003.

The purpose of this website is to collect into one place
(1) a selection of the massive evidence that supports the reality of the Biblical Flood,
(2) a clear description of a tectonic mechanism for this cataclysm as well as current modeling results, and
(3) a collection of related materials that provide some of the context of the broader debate in which the issue of the Flood is only one facet.

It is true that evolutionists generally feel secure today, even in the face of compelling creationist arguments, because of their utter confidence in the geological time scale. Even if they cannot provide a naturalistic mechanism for macroevolution, they appeal to the 'fact of evolution,' by which they mean an interpretation of earth history in which they believe there has been a succession of different types of plants and animals in a drama spanning many hundreds of millions of years. The Bible, by contrast, paints a radically different picture of our planet's history. In particular, it describes a point in time when God catastrophically destroyed the earth with essentially all its life. The only consistent way to interpret the geological record in light of this event described so vividly in the Biblical texts is to understand that the fossil-bearing rocks are the result of a massive global cataclysm that occurred only a few thousand years ago and lasted but a year. This Biblical interpretation of the rock record implies the animals and plants preserved as fossils were all contemporaries, all living on earth at the same time prior to the cataclysm. This means trilobites, dinosaurs, and mammals all dwelled on the planet at once, and they all perished together in this world-destroying cataclysm. Since the time scale is such a key issue in the interpretation of the geological record, this site also gives considerable emphasis to compelling new radioisotope evidence for the planet's young age.

(More about radioisotopes and the age of the earth)

#55 Matthew Namee

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 05:13 PM

What I find interesting about these kinds of responses is the epistemological question they immediately raise: From where do our beliefs originate, or perhaps it's better put, how do we know what we know?

I'd like to respond to that with St. Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, Book VIII, Chapter 3):

"In point of fact, the philosophers admit that the first principles of all things are indemonstrable. So that if there is demonstration at all, there is an absolute necessity that there be something that is self-evident, which is called primary and indemonstrable. Consequently all demonstration is traced up to indemonstrable faith."

Everything, excepting first principles, is based on something else. Without first principles, we would fall into infinite regress. Both personal experience and trusted testimony can be - and often are - challenged. Only faith which is itself the first principle, based upon nothing else, is unable to be overcome.

This is why I am always amazed at questions like, "If someone could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Christ did not rise from the dead, would your faith be shaken?" Such a position places far, far too much emphasis on the faculty of reason -- an emphasis which I would contend is foreign to the mind of the Orthodox Church. Did not Christ say, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3)? The author of Hebrews writes, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1). Faith is its own evidence, and as such, it is not shaken by various and sundry claims and "proofs," since it is not based upon claims and proofs to begin with.

#56 M. Partyka

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 05:53 PM

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

First we are told, then we encounter for ourselves.

I agree with you because these are the two sources of belief I mentioned: (1) Hearing or reading a trusted authority and (2) personal experience. Yet it was these two sources which were being denied above, especially in this quote:

As for my belief in Christ, it is based on indemonstrable faith....It's not based on some experience I've had or some text I've read....

My question is, if you deny personal experience and/or the testimony of a trusted authority as the sources upon which you base your beliefs, what's left?

#57 M. Partyka

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 06:54 PM

My impression is that the accuracy of carbon dating, especially through AMS spectrometry, is not questioned by the author. What he points out, as I understand him, is that there are no organic compounds that have been dated as having existed for more than 90,000 years or so....

I see what you're saying, but I still think it's important to note that scientists have validated the accuracy of C-14 dating back to 50,000 years. (See the research paper at http://ijolite.geolo... production.pdf.) That means the earth is at least 40,000 years older than most young earth creationists (such as Dr. Baumgardner himself) would allow. (Actually, the paper suggests that the earth is at least 100,000 years old based on annual varve deposits in Japan's Lake Suigetsu.)

It's also noteworthy that there is no catastrophic break recorded in any of the calibrative methods used to corroborate C-14 dating (e.g., varves, tree rings) occurring within the "few thousand years ago" that Dr. Baumgardner allows for the date of the global flood. Judging from the evidence, either we must conclude that Dr. Baumgardner is incorrect and the flood occurred earlier than 50,000-100,000 years ago, or we must accept (and hopefully prove) Dr. Baumgardner's assertion that all of the geological evidence we're looking at actually was laid down during the global flood -- i.e., we're wrongly interpreting the evidence.

But the latter possibility, that 100,000 varves were laid down in Lake Suigetsu is not just improbable -- it's impossible because of the way those varves are formed: once every year, algae bloom and then decay into a white layer at the bottom of the lake, which is then covered by darker sediment over the course of the following year, and the cycle repeats itself year after year. You can posit whatever flood dynamics you want, but you can't make the algae bloom more than once a year, which means that each of the 100,000 white layers in Lake Suigetsu represents approximately a one-year span of time. In short, a record of 100,000 layers of yearly algae bloom requires roughly 100,000 years to produce. If we have the record -- and we do -- then there must have been sufficient time for the earth to have naturally produced it.

Going back to the statements made on Dr. Baumgardner's web site's home page, then (apologies for the formatting errors):

1) The flood was global.

2) The flood occurred within the last 6000 years. (This puts it within the usual Young Earth Creationist boundaries.).
3) The flood lasted for one whole year.
4) When God flooded the earth, he destroyed all life on earth save that which was preserved in Noah's ark. (Question: Does this include plant life? What about fish, both freshwater and saltwater varieties?)
5) All fossils in existence, both plant and animal alike, were created during the flood year. Therefore, all the plants and animals preserved in the fossil record were in existence on earth a few thousand years ago when the flood began.

Statements 2 and 5 have clearly and certainly been falsified by the evidence. That leaves us with:

1) The flood was global.
3) The flood lasted for one whole year.
4) When God flooded the earth, he destroyed all land-based life on earth save that which was preserved in Noah's ark.

This all conforms perfectly with the story of the flood in Genesis, but does in conform to the geological and fossil evidence? This is what we have yet to determine.

#58 Michael Stickles

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 07:03 PM

The fact that rocks date much much older he argues is due to his theory that the rate of carbon 14 decay is not a constant, that there was a dramatic shift during this tectonic catastrophe. That's where he loses me.


After going back through that, it looks like what he's saying is that all rates of radioactive decay are not constant. He postulates that the long-half-life isotopes like U238, Rb87 and K40 underwent drastically accelerated decay rates both during creation and during the flood, which makes the ages calculated using those isotopes way too big. I think he also assumes that C14 decay was greatly accelerated, but since he also postulates that the C14/C ratio was much smaller right after creation - and also underwent an increase through C->C14 generation via cosmic rays -- the resulting difference in C14 levels is within his uncertainty as to pre-Flood C14 levels.

What he doesn't provide (unless I completely missed it) is any proposed mechanism for super-acceleration of radioisotope decay rates. If a mechanism could be identified and accelerated radioisotope decay could be reproduced experimentally, then he might be on to something worth investigating.

Mike

#59 M. Partyka

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 07:13 PM

Both personal experience and trusted testimony can be - and often are - challenged. Only faith which is itself the first principle, based upon nothing else, is unable to be overcome.

But faith in what? That's what I'm asking here. If you're not basing your faith on either personal experience or trusted testimony, what is your basis for faith?

This is why I am always amazed at questions like, "If someone could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Christ did not rise from the dead, would your faith be shaken?" Such a position places far, far too much emphasis on the faculty of reason -- an emphasis which I would contend is foreign to the mind of the Orthodox Church.

But it's a valid question, to which I would suggest that any sane Christian would have to answer, "Yes, absolutely, because if Christ didn't rise from the dead, then everything I believe is based on a lie!" Now, you could also respond that there is no way one could reasonably prove that Christ did not rise from the dead, but that's avoiding the question rather than answering it.

Did not Christ say, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3)?

How does this verse have bearing on the question of epistemology? All this means is that children tend to accept what they're told by their parents without question because they trust their parents to do what's best for them. And why do they trust this? Usually because that's been their experience up to that point. However, if a child experiences abuse up to that point, he or she will not have that trust because that trust hasn't been formed through the child's personal experience of loving parental behavior.

The author of Hebrews writes, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1). Faith is its own evidence, and as such, it is not shaken by various and sundry claims and "proofs," since it is not based upon claims and proofs to begin with.

I'm sorry, but it really sounds to me like you're talking nonsense here. Faith is nothing without an object of faith. What is that object of faith, and through what means have you come to know that object of faith?

#60 Andrew

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 07:29 PM


I'm sorry, but it really sounds to me like you're talking nonsense here. Faith is nothing without an object of faith. What is that object of faith, and through what means have you come to know that object of faith?


Radiowaves pass through your body without you having any tangible experience of them. But a radio is able to pick them up. The same is with perception of God, and communion with Christ. He is there, and by grace our hearts are opened to know Him to varying degrees, an ontological knowledge, not a mere psychological knowledge. If you have not personally experienced this faculty of the heart, then you have no ability to comment on it as one ignorant. And it is ludicrous to try to get someone to explain the mysteries of the heart in language that is not compatible with it, just as it is hard to describe color to someone who is blind.




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