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Sarfati's Global Flood (NAiG)

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Sometime in 1998 Mark Isaak published an article called "Problems with a Global Flood". It showed 11 different sections detailing a "refutation" of the Flood. Also in 1998, Jonathan Sarfati wrote a rebuttal of the article, clearly showing that Isaak was wrong in several areas.

F. C. Kuechmann then wrote a counter-rebuttal to Sarfati's article on the No Answers in Genesis website.[1] The following article is a reply to his silly and at times serious charges.

Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study

We are then treated to the usual string of citations from and references to stock YEC literature. Perhaps most humorously we are repeatedly referred to John Woodmorappe's book Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, which, Sarfati assures us, the "serious and objective student of ... (the Noachian deluge) ... would definitely find it worthwhile purchasing". Why do I often get the impression that YECs are always trying to sell me something (in addition to their nonsensical theology?). And Woodmorappe's book is little but an endless string of might haves, could have beens, etc. I'd think the Master of the Universe would've included at least some of Woodmorappe's details (e.g. the poop chutes and/or the animals doing their scatological business into buckets on command) in the Big Holy Book. Instead we're left with endless speculation and a horde of blathering creationists offering that speculation as "proof" of biblical literalist big wooden boat story veracity.

Kuechmann's comments regarding John Woodmorappe's book seems somewhat lacking. At no point does he tell us WHY the book is wrong nor does he understand the point of the study. Feasibility studies are theoretical and attempt to answer the question of whether something is possible. Kuechmann completely forgets this.

Also, the Bible gives very little information of the construction and the care of the Ark. So the absence of Woodmorappe's ideas from the Bible is no problem.

See also All kinds could fit, Juveniles of large animals were taken aboard, Average land animal is the size of a sheep, Crew could feed and care for animals, Many animals don't require fresh or live food, and Animals' exacting needs could have evolved after the flood for defenses of Woodmorappe's ideas.

Hematite

Sarfati ignores the fact that while hematite is highly oxidized from a chemical standpoint, that fact says nothing about the geologic conditions under which large deposits of it were formed.

Kuechmann is completely over simplifying the issue. Most chemists do interpret hematite as being formed with a high degree of oxygen around, but several theories that offer different ideas and they often involve volcanism (which is something Kuechmann could never accept).

To quote John C. Walton, Lecturer in Chemistry, University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland:

Vast quantities of magnetite and hematite are present in Precambrian iron formations, which would require an immense amount of oxygen for their formation from reduced iron compounds. Where could all this oxygen come from if not directly or indirectly from the atmosphere(28)?[2]
Isaak refers to 'standard theory' regarding hematite formation and Sarfati responds by calling him a chemical ignoramus.

Kuechmann is just dancing around the issue. He knows Isaak made a mistake, but is completely unwilling to admit it.

Sarfati would be more credible if he were to offer convincing geologic evidence that either Isaak is in error concerning 'standard theory', or that said theory is itself in error.

First, Sarfati's article was about refuting Isaak and was far from a detailed rebuttal.

Second, Kuechmann should read John C. Walton's paper, though it is admittedly old. It contains a good summary of the issue. To quote him again:

Geological evidence indicates that rocks from the earliest Precambrian are lithologically quite normal and have similar modern counterparts. Weathering, transportation and sedimentation appear to have taken place essentially as at present. Certain sediments containing minerals in reduced form can readily be accounted for in terms of local reducing conditions, such as are found in many areas today, or they are found to be stable in their lower oxidation state sufficiently long enough for erosion, transportation and deposition. There appears to be no persuasive evidence that the atmosphere has ever differed substantially from its present composition. The presence of oxygen in the earth's original atmosphere would, of course, have a dramatic inhibitory effect on the synthesis and accumulation of organic molecules and would virtually rule out the possibility that life arose in this way.[2]
Instead he continues his misplaced attack by citing his chemistry pedigree: "When someone makes such crass blunders in areas that I can check (having a Ph.D. in chemistry), he has scarcely earned trust for himself in any other area." From my standpoint, when someone like Sarfati makes such crass blunders as to fail to comprehend the distinction between chemistry and geology, resorting to ad hominem instead of rational discussion of the subject at hand, he has scarcely earned trust for himself in any area whatsoever.

Let us get down to the issue. Sarfati has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry (his thesis was "A Spectroscopic Study of Some Chalcogenide Ring and Cage Molecules"), he coauthored many papers on high temperature superconductors, selenium-containing ring, and cage-shaped molecules. When he was 22, he coauthored a paper in the world famous journal Nature. He is undeniably an expert on the question at hand.

Kuechmann is a computer programmer with no scientific qualifications, just like Mark Isaak. Whom are you going to trust?

Morton's pollen data

Sarfati's claims that "The self-sorting mechanism described above explains" varves in such locations as the Green River formation, demonstrate apparent complete ignorance of such varve characteristics as pollen consistently embedded in the upper parts, and only in the upper parts, of the dark, winter layers, where it was trapped each spring. The creationist self-sorting mechanism can't account for it. Annual layering can. Contrary to Sarfati's assertion that "It's simply nonsense that the layers would have to form slowly, and/or one at a time", there is convincing evidence that the alternating layers of dark organic material were deposited in winter, while the lighter layers were deposited by chemical processes in summer. Sarfati completely ignores the characteristic differences in appearance between slowly-formed and rapidly-formed layers. A good brief discussion of some these differences can be found in G.R. Morton's essay Age of the Earth at Young Earth Arguments: A Second Look.


Despite Kuechmann's contention, the pattern may just be due to hydrological sorting[3], which Kuechmann denies as being a viable mechanism but experiments disagree with him, and the same patterns for diatomite[4] is produced regardless of the rate of sediment accumulation.

Kuechmann's article makes it sound that this pollen pattern is somehow global and is found at many different sites. However, this is VERY misleading. Morton article only refers to one location, Interlaken, Switzerland. This is dishonesty on Kuechmann's part.

Alkali

Kuechmann's ignorance of chemistry is shown in this statement:

We use alkali to clean dishes because it cuts grease. Organic matter is then removed by physical forces -- a dishcloth in case of hand washing, a spray of water in an automatic washer. Mildly alkaline conditions might in fact protect the skeleton of a fish from both bacterial attack and softening from long-term immersion in water.

Sarfati updated his article to refute Kuechmann on this point. To quote Sarfati:

This person doesn’t even know why alkali 'cuts grease'—it is by catalyzing the hydrolysis (breaking up) the ester linkages in the fat molecules (incidentally soap is produced this way), and alkali also catalyzes the hydrolysis of the amide bonds in proteins. In fact, alkali is more dangerous than acid in the eye, for example. So the idea of tissues being preserved by alkali is indeed preposterous.[5]

To add to Sarfati's criticisms of Kuechmann, Kuechmann at no point cites a reference for his alkali fantasies. Where on earth did he get such an idea?

References

  1. Sarfati's Global Flood, by F. C. Kuechmann, undated, No Answers in Genesis
  2. 2.0 2.1 THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF THE EARTH'S ORIGINAL ATMOSPHERE, John C. Walton, Origins 3(2):66-84 (1976). [Hosted by Geoscience Research Institute]
  3. Major stages of the laboratory research : 1. Lamination, archived from http://geology.ref.ac/berthault/fusion/lamination.htm, original dated 16 Dec 2003
  4. Experiments on lamination of sediments, by Guy Berthault, Journal of Creation (formerly TJ) 3(1):25–29, April 1988
  5. Problems with a Global Flood?, Sarfati, TrueOrigins, 1998