Feedback archiveFeedback 2020

Too much heat in Noah’s Flood?

Published: 25 July 2020 (GMT+10)
ark

Did the physical mechanisms that operated during the Flood generate too much heat for Noah and the Ark to survive? Joseph R. from the United States writes:

I was debating someone about the Noah’s Ark and was asked a question that I could not find an answer for it on your website. An argument they had against the Flood was that marine animals could not have survived the Flood waters because they say that the energy created during such event would generate 3.65 octillion calories which would increase the water temperature to 2700 C. They received this information from the National Center of Science Education. I am just wondering if you have a good answer for that or what they are getting wrong.

CMI’s responds:

Whether that particular figure is right or not, there is most likely a severe heat budget issue for any purely natural explanation of what happened during the Flood.1 As such, there is no simple scientific answer to this issue. Indeed, there may not be one. However, this need not be problematic. Why? First, the biblical evidence casts considerable doubt on any notion that Noah’s Flood was a purely natural event.

Think, for instance, of the Exodus. Deuteronomy 4:32–36 says this concerning it:

For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.

Clearly the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea were not ordinary events, but involved supernatural activity on God’s part to some extent. Can we model this solely with science? Unlikely (The Red Sea Crossing: can secular science model miracles?). Now, consider also what God said to Noah after the Flood in Genesis 8:21–22:

Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

That suggests that some of these things, e.g. the seasons, may have been disrupted during the Flood. This sounds very similar to the sort of events surrounding the Exodus. The uniqueness of the Flood event, and the fact that God was behind it, shows that there is likely some supernatural activity embedded in the cause-effect narrative of the Flood (The Flood—a designed catastrophe?). But again, how do we model such an event solely with science? It seems unlikely.

Second, we seem to have some positive empirical evidence in the rock record that is difficult to explain naturalistically. On accelerated nuclear decay, consider this summary presentation of the primary evidence from Snelling:

So do we have physical evidence that radioactive decay has actually occurred? Yes, there are several evidences of this:
  1. The presence of daughter isotopes such as lead and helium present with the parent isotopes of uranium in the right proportions to have been derived by radioactive decay;
  2. The observable physical scars left by the alpha (α)-particles during radioactive decay as radiohalos; and
  3. The observable physical scars left by the nuclear decay of uranium atoms as they split or fission, which are known as fission tracks.2

However, Snelling also lists four features of radioisotopic systems that show a telling discontinuity between the radiometric ‘ages’ and the real age of the rocks:

  1. Young (6,000 years) helium diffusion ages of zircons in a granite that yield zircon uranium-lead “ages” of 1,500 million years;
  2. The concurrent formation of ubiquitous uranium and polonium radiohalos found together in biotite mica flakes in many granites around the world;
  3. The resetting of the uranium-lead radioisotope system by the intense heat generated by radioactive decay only within zircons within volcanic ash that were otherwise relatively unheated; and
  4. The consistent presence of measurable radiocarbon yielding young (<60,000 years) “ages” in coal and diamonds, that are supposed to be millions and billions of years old, respectively, based on radioisotope “dating”.3

The fact of millions of years’ worth of nuclear decay measured by today’s rates and the massive, systematic age discrepancies with other measurements of the same systems means that the discrepancy is best explained by one or more accelerated nuclear decay events. (For more information, please see Is there any evidence that the radioactive decay rate might not have been constant? and What is the current creationist thinking on radiohalos (formerly called ‘pleochroic halos’)?, and our resources Thousands … not Billions and RATE Vol. II.) Nonetheless, since the earth hasn’t been sterilized by the heat that would inevitably be produced by such accelerated nuclear decay, it appears we have a systematic pattern of ‘anomalous’ empirical traces in the rocks that are near impossible to explain except by intelligent agency controlling these processes for some high-energy ends. Creation Week and the Flood are the only candidate events into which this sort of data can legitimately fit. This would imply that if an accelerated nuclear decay event was associated with the Flood mechanism, then it was likely intelligently controlled by God to produce the intended effects. Creation researcher Dr Russell Humphreys has even suggested a means by which this sort of heat budget issue may have been managed by God.4

Notice the foundational role the Bible plays in such a response (Biblical history and the role of science). This is crucial. The heat budget issue is a scientific issue, but science can’t be the final determinant of what we consider a plausible account of the cause-effect narrative of the Flood. The Bible has to be. And when it speaks of miracles, we have to take that into account. Scientific considerations matter, of course. There are many facets of the Flood that likely are the result of natural cause and effect. But that means we have a complex question to answer: how do we explain the causal history of these confluence of physical traces from the Flood in a consistent, compelling, and biblically faithful way? See Historical science and miracles for more on the philosophical approach undergirding this analysis (as well as Modern science in creationist thinking and Flood models and biblical realism).

Kind regards,
Shaun Doyle
Creation Ministries International

References and notes

  1. Worraker, W.J., Heat problems associated with Genesis Flood models—Part 1: Introduction and thermal boundary conditions, Answers Research Journal 11:171–191, 2018; Heat problems associated with Genesis Flood models—Part 2. Secondary temperature indicators, Answers Research Journal 12:211–254, 2019. Return to text.
  2. Snelling, A.A., The Earth’s Catastrophic Past, Vol II, ICR, Dallas, TX, pp. 836–837, 2009. Return to text.
  3. Snelling, ref. 2, p. 846. Return to text.
  4. Humphreys, D.R., New mechanism for accelerated removal of excess radiogenic heat; in: Whitmore, J.H. (ed.), Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship, pp. 731–739, 2018; creationicc.org. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Thousands ... Not Billions
by Dr Don DeYoung
US $14.00
Soft Cover
Rocks Aren't Clocks
by John K Reed
US $15.00
Soft Cover
How Noah's Flood Shaped Our Earth
by Michael J Oard, John K Reed
US $17.00
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Gary H.
I hate to say it but this article neatly avoids answering the question by saying "God did it", then getting side-tracked into radioisotope issues. If it were my question, I would be disappointed by such an answer. It' not the kind of answer you give skeptics & atheists.

The 1st thing a creationist should do is question the data from the NCSE (National Center for Spamming Evolution) and search the real numbers. They are known for pushing anything they can think up to discredit creation - not for honesty.

I'm no expert in geology or floods but it seems to me that there are better ways to answer the question than "God did it" -even if he did intervene supernaturally. We don't KNOW that he did.
The water temp would have reached 2700 C? That's strange as water boils at 100 C and would have totally evaporated long before it was anywhere near that.

- Is there not reason to think the waters from fountains within the earth would have been extremely cold - as they are at great depths? Water in the aphotic, zone (>1,000m) would have no light at all. And the sun, hidden by heavy cloud coverage for at least 40 days would have raised the aphotic zone significantly - more cooling.
- Would not the gradual water coverage -not instantaneous- hinder such temp increases, given the constant input of lower near or below 0 C waters?
- Salinity, density, pressure and Ph also affect water temperature.
- ...
In other words, there are multiple factors to consider and the NCSE is not likely to have taken all variables into consideration.

I think CMI scientists should reevaluate this question and research more scientific answers, w/o removing the possibility of divine intervention.
Skeptics will instantly point out all "God did it" answers.

Just trying to help the creationist cause
Shaun Doyle
I didn't rely on the NCSE paper to say that the heat budget issue is something we can't easily explain away naturalistically. Rather, I relied on the much more thorough analysis by creation researcher William Worraker (which I referred to in my first reference) to make that point. Plus, I pointed out that Dr Baumgardner, the creator of the CPT model and one of the main participants in the RATE project, has always acknowledged these issues. This is the current state of play in the creationist literature. Does this mean that the NCSE article is basically correct in saying that there is a heat budget issue with Flood models? Yes. But the the most obvious mistake they make is thinking that we can only appeal to natural causes for the Flood.

And is the point of all this to provide an answer that will convince hardened skeptics like those at NCSE? No. The point is to get people to think biblically about these issues. Indeed, that's the main point of creation research into the Flood. Ultimately, it's not about showing that our model can compete on the 'scientific' turf of the dedicated naturalist. Rather, we're trying to find out what really happened in the Flood. To do that, we try to characterize the cause-effect mechanics of the Flood in a way that assumes the Bible is true and explain the physical traces as we find them. And this is the case whether the bast explanation is natural, supernatural, or a mix of the two.

But yes, creation researchers still have a lot of work to do, and there are many uniformitarian assumptions left to question. Still, the sheer magnitude of some of these issues (especially accelerated nuclear decay, but even the cooling of the oceanic lithosphere) makes it clear that these issues will not be easily resolved naturalistically, if at all.
Marc P.
A few comments raised the question but without getting a clear answer. What is the caloric energy inside the globe? Can we imagine that the heat released by the accelerated atomic disintegration has been transferred there? The earth was created cold, "established on water". How do we explain volcanic activity and high internal temperatures? Thanks!
Shaun Doyle
Even as we take the starting conditions of the earth to be completely water (Genesis 1:2, 2 Peter 3:5), we're really concerned more with the finished state of the planet at the end of Day 6 of Creation Week, and even more crucially the starting conditions of the planet with respect to Noah's Flood. Do we know that God didn't heat the interior of the earth as part of the creation process? No.

However, when we're looking at the main heat issue; i.e. accelerated nuclear decay during the Flood; the problem isn't likely to be solved by appealing to the Earth's interior as a heat sink. Why? Much granitic continental crust is most likely creation rock. See these exchanges between Dr John Baumgardner and Don Stenberg: Could most of the earth’s U, Th, and K have been in the mantle prior to the Flood? and Do radioisotope methods yield trustworthy relative ages for the earth’s rocks? I think Baumgardner points out some good reasons to think that the continental crust is Creation Week rock, and did not form during the Flood. But if that is the case, then the mantle can't serve as a sink for the heat of accelerated decay, since the decay relevant to the heating issue would be confined to the crust.
David A.
There are some pertinent points to add that might make a difference:
1. Talk of accelerated nuclear decay has not resolved any conclusive nor likely mechanism yet so it is not possible to speculate on heat produced or even if that happened.
2. Catastrophic plate tectonics (Baumgardner's theory) places mantle rock in contact with seawater which at casual assessment seems like it will create a lot of heat in the ocean however the specific heat of water is 4200 J/kg while that of mantle rock is around 1300 J/kg which means that it takes 4 times the heat in the mantle to bring the same volume of seawater to the same temperature (its not quite like that as the water does not start at absolute zero but this should prompt some thought).
3. Further, thermal conductivity of the mantle, and cooling crust, will greatly limit diffusion of heat into the seawater above such that a heat gradient in the oceanic crust rapidly stabilizes, reduces and spreads deeper after initial rapid plate tectonics. This heat gradient still exists today and it would be foolish to assume it is now constant. Indeed investigation into decay of the heat gradient over time would be a great 'creationist' research project. Thermal conductivity of rock is 2-7 w/(m.K) so 5000 to 20000 watts is needed to cool the first metre of mantle (2500 deg) to ocean temperature for each square metre of ocean - ie. equivalent of a typical 2400Watt electric jug operating for 2 to 7 seconds. Think of how much effect and electric jug has in just 7 seconds, then how effective is 1m of rock as insulation.
4. At the same time as heat transfer is high after the flood, atmospheric reflectance of solar radiation is increased by more cloud cover and, in time, ice cap caused by increased precipitation around poles.
Jeff J.
Did someone over estimate the amount of water being moved around and the manner in which it was moving? How could one possibly know how much water was above ground before the flood, how much below ground, and how much the crust was temporarily liquefied (soil liquefaction) to possibly sink under the surface before the plates started pushing things back up again?

Is it logical to assume that there just wasn't that much water changing hands in a fashion what would have heated things up to above boiling?
Shaun Doyle
The first major attempt to model the cooling of the oceanic lithosphere in a biblical timeframe ran into serious issues. As the researchers concluded:

The challenge is to produce a model consistent with observations and a biblical time scale.

We have demonstrated that this cannot easily be done on the hypothesis of removing heat from freshly-generated lithosphere over a period of less than a year. The underlying general reason for this is that at early times there is an inevitable near-surface thermal boundary layer which gives rise to high surface heat fluxes, even in the presence of a strong heat sink. Such boundary layers might potentially be avoided if more realistic initial conditions were used and hitherto missing geophysical effects included in our models.

[Worraker, W.J., and R. Ward. 2018. Modeling of Flood and post-Flood ocean floor cooling; in: Whitmore, J.H. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pp. 673–682, 2018; creationicc.org/abstract.php?pk=356.]


This is clearly not the last word on the question, but creation research still has a ways to go in explaining these sorts of heat issues. And this is true whether we adopt CPT or some other Flood model, since CPT is the most elucidated model there is at present.
Nathaniel G.
Dear Shaun Doyle,

do you think that the Heat Problem of the Flood Models could be solved naturally if we hypothesize that the rain in the first 40 days as mentioned in Genesis 7:17 was not just liquid water but snow, hail or ice?
This should decrease the temperature of the energy release from the water.
Is such a consideration helpful?

God bless you!
Shaun Doyle
No, I don't think this would work. As I quoted from creation researcher Bill Worraker in my response to Egil W., the heat generated by accelerated nuclear decay alone, if delivered in a short time like the Flood, is enough to melt granite several times over, and possibly even vaporize it. Natural mechanisms of heat transfer don't seem capable of handling this much heat in the short timeframe of the Flood. There is much more research to do, but this is where the research stands, at present. But, as I said, Bible believers shouldn't baulk at God doing something supernatural during Noah's Flood, since the Bible and not natural explanations is our ultimate foundation.
David J.
Would the heat problem be significantly reduced if the original continent was Pangaea, as Tim Clarey believes, as opposed to Rodinia?

Has the RATE team found that their evidence for accelerated nuclear decay is global, not merely localized?
Shaun Doyle
No, the eat issue wouldn't be reduced by Clarey's thesis. Clarey posits a Pangea-like configuration for the pre-Flood supercontinent which is actually similar to Pannotia, a supercontinent posited in the upper Neoproterozoic (i.e. late Precambrian). In other words, Clarey says that the major continental splitting didn't happen immediately when the Flood began, but rather that there were several megasequences that were deposited on the land by tsunamis during the 'Paleozoic' before continental breakup began in earnest. In other words, he believes most of the Phanerozoic was deposited during the Flood. The associated radiometric decay in his model would then be of a similar order of magnitude to Baumgardner's estimations. Starting with Rodinia would make the problem worse than what Baumgardner and Clarey assume as the starting contintental configuration for the Flood, since Rodinia is 'older', and would thus associate more accelerated nuclear decay with the Flood than Pannotia does.

Moreover, the radiohalo evidence for hundreds of millions of years worth of radioisotope decay at today's rates is found in Flood rocks from all over the world; from as disparate locations as Norway, the U.S., and Australia. See DeYoung, D., Thousands ... Not Billions, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, p. 90, 2005.
Egil W.
Just a little clarification of my former comment, which was a bit condensed and note-like. What I meant to point out was the possibility that much of the energy from a potentially accelerated radioactive decay, in the form of heat generation, may have helped solidify huge amounts of sediments produced by the Flood. Not just in areas we now have on land, but many kilometers (I believe it can be up to
10 km), with thick sediment layers on the continental shelves. After all, in ceramics, we use furnaces that are heated to over 1000 C to quickly transform wet, soft clay into hard objects. And this energy is absorbed by the clays. I do not imagine that the heat has been 1000 C or more everywhere, but has propagated through the layers of sediments, at about 200-350 C, and thus been absorbed / spent on solidification of huge amounts of sediments on a global scale.

So do we have a calculation - even if approximate - as to how much energy the total volume of wet/muddy sediments produced by the Flood would be able to absorb?
Shaun Doyle
Yes, we do. Worraker points out:

A rough idea of the magnitude of this problem may be obtained by considering the total radiogenic heat generated during the Flood year as a result of AND [accelerated nuclear decay] within typical granite, and comparing it with the heat needed to melt the granite. Taking the average present-day radiogenic heat production in granite as 1.05×10-9 W kg-1 (Table 3), the total heat generated by 6×108 years’ worth of radioactive decay is 1.99×107 J kg-1. Taking the granite melting point as its typical liquidus temperature of 1550 K, its latent heat of melting as 4.2×105 J kg-1 and its specific heat capacity as 830 J kg-1 K-1 (Stacey and Davis 2008, Table A.6), and assuming a starting temperature of 300 K (= 27ºC), the heat needed to melt it is 1.46×106 J kg-1. The predominant mineral component of granite, silica (SiO2) has a boiling point at 1 bar of 3177 K and an enthalpy of vaporization of approximately 1.2×107 J kg-1 (Kraus et al. 2012). Thus if delivered adiabatically (i.e. in a time short compared with the thermal diffusion time scale of the granite body, which would be the case for anything larger than ~5 m across) the AND heat load is more than 13 times enough to completely melt the granite, and may even be enough to vaporize it. Although this estimate is somewhat misleading (e.g. much granite was undoubtedly emplaced during rather than before the Flood, etc.), it suggests nevertheless that a powerful cooling mechanism operating at the same time as AND is needed. [Worraker, W.J., Heat problems associated with Genesis Flood models—Part 1: Introduction and thermal boundary conditions, Answers Research Journal 11:171–191, 2018.]


As should be clear from this quote, we're talking about heating solid granite, not merely sediments, well beyond ceramic limits. In fact, we're talking about sufficient heat to melt it all several times over, or even enough to vaporize it all. Natural mechanisms of heat transfer do not seem capable of handling this level of heating confined to to the crust.
Alf F.
Take a globe of the earth and just turn it over a few times, look at the amount of (visible) water and the comparative (to global surface area) flatness of the continents. If one could hold a real globe of water, revolve it and disturb that revolution, how easily the oceans will wash right over the land. Like a child's fragile project, it would be ruined in a moment. That's how easily a global flood can occur, without even the six weeks of rain and the springs that opened. I do not see the crust flowing around like water to massively rearrange the global continents in a period if 150 days. That would have created waves the Ark could never endure. Nor could the sinking of mountains or the raising of valleys, which the Psalms say happened, flat as they are compared to the amount of water, have ever created heat enough to worry the majority of water life except in localised events. Even the big lava sheets are really insufficient to do much (in my lay opinion).

I guess I just don't agree that the continents have moved appreciably since our very recent creation, nor do I see the possibility of great heat generation in an event which was mostly about masses of cold water, not so much about tectonics.
Shaun Doyle
While there are some creation researchers who would tend to agree with you, I tend to agree with the majority of creation geologists that the geological evidence for continental drift and plate tectonics is strong enough to require us to make it a part of our Flood models (Empirical data support seafloor spreading and catastrophic plate tectonics).
Michael D.
It's good to remember that the "National Centre for Science Education" is an organisation whose " stated mission is to educate the press and the public on the scientific and educational aspects of controversies surrounding the teaching of evolution and climate change, and to provide information and resources to schools, parents, and other citizens working to keep those topics in public school science education." (Wikipedia). So although their title sounds very "scientific" they most definitely have an "anti creationist" agenda and can hardly be expected to give an objective view. I have heard this same argument advocated by Hugh Ross in support of long ages and a local flood. It would be good to hear a creationist calculation regarding this issue. But when God is at work in the Creation, the Flood, the Red Sea Crossing, the resurrection of Christ, etc., can we really expect all the regular laws of nature to have to be obeyed? So as Christians, if we really believe that God was able to raise Jesus from the dead, in defiance of all the "normal" laws of nature, do we then turn around and demand that he obey all the laws of nature in his other historical acts? Of course this answer would never please a materialist, but as believers shouldn't our faith be encouraged by His working in history?
Michael S.
I have faced this in debate quite a few times, it's hard to know how to see this issue. If you are an evolutionist you will naturally think that creationists are just invoking the miraculous because they don't have an answer for the heat that would be generated by the flood. If you are a creationist you see the evolutionist as creating a strawman fallacy by attempting to make out the flood should be a purely naturalistic event with only natural answers.

For me it boils down to (pardon the pun) whether God's knowledge of science is on man's level, which of course it isn't, it is way above and beyond, like Isaiah says, "My thoughts are higher than your thoughts" (paraphrase). In another place it is written; "Trust in the Lord, and lean not on your own understanding."

For me that is where the answer lies; so many places in the bible imply human understanding is just not good enough compared to God's, and we can find it easy to forget that in a scientific age. The real germane question is a logical one which is this; "Is the God that created all things, including the laws of thermodynamics and all physical forces, NOT going to be capable of dissipating heat so that the animals HE CREATED don't get cooked?"

The question is loaded but rightly so, for it would be an ABSURD contradiction to suppose the one with the wisdom to create the finely balanced science of earth's atmosphere would be foxed by His own flood.
Shaun Doyle
Well said. This is exactly the issue with this question.
Reuben F.
You claim that seasons and the day/night cycle ceased during the flood. This seems odd since time during the flood was measured in days and months. How do you explain this contradiction?
Shaun Doyle
Good catch! Thanks for pointing this out. I didn't mean to imply that the day/night cycle ceased during the Flood. Months could've still been counted by the day-night cycle. I meant to say that perhaps the seasons were disrupted to some extent by the Flood. I have amended the text to say this.
Joel L.
Stipulating what is noted in the article, are there any 'scientific' resolutions to this question being pursued in the Creation science community( even if as with isotopic decay only that of particular discontinuities from the normal operations of natural law)? And if so, what has been proposed and how is it being researched?

Given the progress of creation cosmologies over the last two decades, I am loathe to surrender any event to the bin on insollubility.
Shaun Doyle
Fair enough. While I think at present Worraker is convinced that the heat budget issue is real, he is investigating the matter quite thoroughly. The two articles of his I mention in my first reference in this article are merely the first two parts of a much longer projected article series examining all these sorts of questions, with a view to providing research avenues for creation researchers to pursue. The issue is that in the past everyone has been somewhat 'shooting from the hip' in these calculations. Worraker is probably the first to attempt to thoroughly categorize and quantify the issues. Personally, I look forward to seeing more of his work. Indeed, another lesson in all this is don't expect easy answers to hard and complex research questions. Research takes time and effort. Watch this space!
Don S.
My answer to the heat problem is:
1) ~95%+ of the heat was absorbed by raising the temperature of the core and mantle to its present temperature from an initial cool state and
2) The rest was removed from the surface of the earth by the intense global rainfall - steam condensing at very high altitudes would fall as rain at ~30 C cooling off the ocean surface where Noah’s ark was. Just because some parts of the earth’s crust, mantle, and deep ocean were very hot doesn’t mean everywhere was - especially the ocean surface.
Raymond S.
If after Creation week the Earth was a relatively cold solid inside, with its atomic spins lined up to produce a maximum protective magnetic field, maybe most of the excess heat went into melting the outer core and heating the mantle/aesthenosphere to cause accelerated plate tectonics. Perhaps the same thing happened throughout the universe to heat the interiors of all the planets and produce activity like we see on Pluto, or the volcanic reworking of the surface of the planet Venus. It would be interesting to explore the quantity of heat that it would take to heat the Earth's interior to its present temperatures if it started out as a cold solid after Creation week.
Philippus S.
The worldly people forget they are dealing with an Ineffable God the Creator of all heavens and Earth. Their lack of Spiritual awareness signify their foolishness.
Stephen S.
Wow. 2700 degrees Centigrade H20 Water . really. ??? And these people are scientific? Magma from volcanoes can be as High as 1200 degrees Celsius ( centigrade.) Water . even in a vacuum the highest temp would be 1200 deg Cent. who ever made this up has not idea what they are talking about and absolutely no knowledge of Physics?Chemistry
Shaun Doyle
They're not saying that water would still be water at 2,700 degrees Celsius. Rather, they say that this shows that the heat of the new oceanic crust from CPT deposited so rapidly would vaporize the oceans. As creation researcher Worraker notes:

... the heat load of ~3.9×10^14 Jm-2 of fresh ocean lithosphere due to material surfacing at MORs (Furlong and Chapman 2013) is enormous, more than 30 times enough to boil off the oceans if deposited very rapidly. [Worraker, W.J., Heat problems associated with Genesis Flood models—Part 1: Introduction and thermal boundary conditions, Answers Research Journal 11:171–191, 2018.]
John H.
The Bible seems to indicates that, during the Prediluvian Era, which was ended by the Flood, Earth’s climate was temperate (Gen 2:25) and Earth’s flora was watered by morning dew, not rain (Gen 2:5-6). A number of creationists have mentioned the possibility that Earth (a) was surrounded by a vapor canopy at the time and (b) ice arriving from interstellar space might have precipitated the moisture in the vapor canopy, thereby causing a global deluge.
The Ancients called the Antediluvian Age both (a) the Golden Age and (b) the Age of Kronos (Saturn), and they associated its end with the dismemberment of Saturn, which they considered the preeminent god (planet) at the time. A well-known catastrophist has suggested that Saturn might have become a nova and exploded, thereby (a) ejecting pieces throughout the Solar System and (b) causing “the light of seven days” to which Isaiah referred (Isaiah 30:26).
If Saturn broke into pieces, and God used one of them in the form of a body of ice or a cloud of ice-chunks to precipitate the moisture in Earth’s vapor canopy, would heat have been a major factor in the resulting flood unless God suppressed it supernaturally?
Shaun Doyle
It is of course hard to draw a line from ancient Greek mythology to Flood modeling, although I do admit that their 'Golden Age' ideas seem to mirror the pre-Flood era. How we deal with this is interesting, but I'm not sure there's much fodder here for Flood modellers to latch onto. At any rate, the 'no rain before the Flood' idea and the vapour canopy model have generally been eclipsed in the creationist literature; we recommend people avoid using those ideas (Arguments we think creationists should NOT use).
Thomas R.
Whatever sort of origins model one subscribes to, it seems that the overtly obvious error of long agers is the idea that 100% of daughter elements in any given sample is attributed solely to decay of the parent element.

This is logically absurd as a blanket starting point.

However one imagines uranium, for example, was first formed, why would anyone think that a portion of daughter element wasn’t also formed at the same time from essentially the same process?

And if the daughter element was also formed at the same time, then how could anyone pretend that a dating model could possibly be built from the ratio of parent / daughter pairs?

(YEC) Creationists have the same issue.
Meaning we have no obligation to explain radio active decay that yields aledged long ages - or high energies, because it is impossible to know the initial conditions, let alone possible decay accelerations as mentioned in the article.

And besides all that, is it not reasonable to imagine that the atmosphere could have “decompressed” somewhat during the Flood?
Possible mechanisms for this being asteroid bombardment, volcanic spewing, or an axial wobble of the planet?
And if so, then such decompression (i.e. sudden loss of atmospheric mass) would also have a quick cooling effect.
I’m certainly not against the idea that energy levels could have been directly managed by the Lord for the preservation of His creation, but I do think that reconstructing the physics is much more complicated than theoretical models can accommodate.

To the skeptic: you can’t even explain the existence of radioactive elements, so you sure can’t get hung up on a problem you have no idea even really exists or not.
Paul R.
Heat issues at the flood are many and unique. In addition to the accelerated decay - there is the issue of heat from Hydrolysis - as lime stone was formed during the flood.

On the negative side - is the possible temperatures of the falling water for 40 days.

The upper atmosphere is filled with super-cooled water that needs a particle to form droplets on - the height of that moisture's origin and the temperature at the top of the atmosphere (-50 degrees F?) is another possible way to cool things down . . . I think ?

I seems to me this could be a Hailstorm/Thunderstorm on steroids - and be perfectly in keeping with GOD's control of nature . . .
Egil W.
Interesting topic. Water is easily heated, rocks or mud, not quite as easy. I wonder how much energy the total volume of sediments created by The Flood would have absorbed (solidify), how much heat be reduced by sediments then to be passed on as much lesser heat either to higher or lower sediment deposits? How much energy may have gone into forming minerals fusing H2O (water) with other chemicals to create watery mineral structures, now found deep in Earth? I also wonder how much Uranium, close to a state of undergoing spontaenous decay, would have been produced by high-speed formation of stars on Day 4 of Creation. Do we know enough about subatomic elements behaviours’ (quarks), to rule out that Earth 1600 years after Creation, would have lots of Uranium in it, on it, in its atmosphere, - a very high presence of severely matured parent-isotopes being present on Earth by the time of the Flood? What physics may term ‘random’ today, may indeed be very mechanical. And if God created Stars in 1 day, what extreme forces may have thus been at work in star cores even to spread highly matured parent-isotopes throughout all of Space, including above the atmosphere of Earth. And what then, if the atmosphere, during the Flood-year was severely disturbed to let in highly matured parent-isotopes close to undergoing spontaenous decay? Or what if such highly matured isotopes were present in the great deep of the Earth, and was spread throughout the atmosphere by bursting opening of the ‘fountains of the deep’?
Lots of questions. I’m merely thinking out loud here. Pondering possibilities. Its actually quite an interesting question the questioner posted. Whether the answer lies in the supernatural or in a better understanding of subatomic forces, may be an important research-area for YECs.
Samuel M.
Isn't this big enough of a problem to make CPT and accelerated nuclear decaying not true
Shaun Doyle
No. That would only be the case if we had to explain all the physical traces associated with Noah's Flood naturalistically. But we don't. And as I've pointed out elsewhere in this article, Dr Baumgardner has always been aware of this issue with CPT (just has Mr Oard with respect to his Impact/Vertical Tectonics model), and always suggested that we can't restrict ourselves to a purely naturalistic picture of the Flood. Rather, the Bible is our foundation, and we try to explain the physical evidence as best as we can in that context. See Flood models and biblical realism for more information.
Daniel T.
Good morning, CMI

God bless you.

Can genetic variability be explained by the Toba eruption instead of Noah's flood? I think it is an objection that is around.
Shaun Doyle
This is only posited for humans and a a few mammals; secular scientists obviously wouldn't use it to explain much of the diversity of life; microbes-to-man evolution fills that role. However, the post-Flood Ice Age would've had volcanic activity, and consequent climatic effects, to dwarf the Toba eruption (Flood processes into the late Cenozoic: part 6—climatic and other evidence). Indeed, the Toba eruption probably occurred toward the end of the Ice Age era in the biblical framework.
Tim L.
It would seem that this article is missing an important reference to the hydroplate theory, which does not have a heat budget problem. Yes, there are some who have argued it does (e.g. Baumgardner, Faulkner, etc.), but they fail to take into account the role of directed energy in expelling the vast majority of the energy outside the atmosphere. So while it is true that the miraculous should not be ruled out, it is also true that the Flood is fundamentally different from the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea in that the latter were explicitly mentioned as being miraculously accomplished whereas with the former, the only thing identified as being explicitly miraculous is the initiation of the Flood. Any other miracle must be assumed, and is therefore less than ideal scientifically. That is not to say that the hydroplate theory is infallible. Oard has pointed out some interesting issues with its explanation regarding the wooly mammoths, and Faulkner has pointed out that determining the timing of the Flood by looking at when comets line up with earth is not possible since the uncertainty of the measurements has been vastly underestimated. But it is also true that no theory is without weaknesses, and one of the hydroplate theory's strengths would seem to be that it does not have to appeal to the miraculous nearly as much as other theories (particularly with regards to the heat budget). Though I'd also add that one of its weaknesses would seem to be that it downplays the miraculous initiation of the Flood, which is clearly stated in Scripture.
Shaun Doyle
Yes, creation researchers like Baumgardner and Faulkner have argued quite extensively that hydroplate theory does have heat budget issues that require miracles to solve (see Hydroplate theory: the strongest theory? for more information). And I hesitate at the idea that their objections can be dismissed with a simple appeal to 'directed energy'. At the very least, if their errors really were that basic, then it shouldn't be hard (for someone with the relevant training, of course) to demonstrate quantitatively.

Moreover, the heat issues of hydroplate theory arise not merely in terms of generating too much heat, but also in terms of the mechanisms that are posited for the origin of radioactive elements in the earth's crust not being sufficient to generate them.

But here's the difficulty at present: their objections to hydroplate theory have gone unanswered in forums designed to deal with these disagreements (e.g. The Flood Science Review: injesusnameproductions.org/flood-science-review) and the peer-reviewed creationist literature (of which there are several venues run by different groups: Journal of Creation, Creation Research Society Quarterly, Answers Research Journal, as well as the International Conference on Creationism). I'm not saying definitively that there are no answers to these objections; I clearly can't say that, given the current state of play. But we really need substantive responses to these issues easily accessible to the broader creation research community for the debate to move forward, as Oard pointed out in his Analysis of Walt Brown’s Flood model.
Steve W.
I find Walt Brown's Hydroplate Theory quite compelling on this topic. This postulates that the Flood processes generated heavy elements first from lighter elements, which then decayed rapidly thereby giving an overall net heat gain of zero. Even if this were true I do not think this means that God did not "manage" the Flood outcome, as the net heat gain of zero would only be true on average. So, there would no doubt be local variations from the average which would still be destructive to life in the seas.
Shaun Doyle
There is debate as to whether the mechanisms posited in Hydroplate theory are able to explain the origin radioisotopic patterns in the Earth's crust (see Analysis of Walt Brown’s Flood model and Hydroplate theory: the strongest theory? for more information).
Joshua M.
I'm not a scientist, but this point seems a bit much. If all they can raise in opposition to the flood is an allegedly too hot water temperature, then the flood model is doing great. I also find it rich that certain scientists think they can accurately calculate such a temperature, as though they knew literally everything it would trigger.

Perhaps the survival of the fish is strictly miraculous, perhaps not. Just off the top of my head perhaps some explanations could be:
1) better genes,perhaps meaning better heat resistance
2) cooler spots in the ocean(s) , there is a lot of water after all
3) the lack of knowledge as to all the processes in play during a global flood
4) nature's knack for being resilient
5) science’s tendency to have to readjust

There is a lot of marine life in the fossil record, perhaps the cause of some of their death was heat, but I have a hard time believing we could scientifically, and positively kill All of them via mathematical pondering of a one off event thousands of years ago.
Shaun Doyle
All the variables you mention are things that are often not taken into account by modellers, whether creationist or skeptical. However, there is creationist research that does take much of this into consideration, and still concludes that there is a significant heat issue for any purely naturalistic explanation of the Flood. See creationist Bill Worraker's papers in Answers Research Journal (mentioned in reference 1 of this article) for more information. But as I said, since the Bible say God caused and controlled this one-off event, there's biblical reason for us to think that natural causes alone won't suffice to explain what we observe regarding the Flood.
Brian S.
I think that it's also worth pointing out that modelling a one-off event like the global flood is very difficult, and that heat may be a problem for a specific model (not inspired) but that even if a model turns out to be wrong, the fact that the flood happened is beyond question (See 'Hanging loose': What should we defend?). It's possible that the Catastrophic Plate Tectonic model is wrong in its current form, or completely and will be discarded (as was the Canopy model), and further research will come up with a better model, maybe something like the Hydroplate model, or something completely different. Evolutionists often say something to the effect of, "We know that x happened, scientists are just arguing over the mechanism" when challenged, so Creationists making the same appeal is valid. Numerous problems with the evolutionary view of history doesn't stop them from believing that it happened, so there's no reason that our current inability to answer every objection should lead us to stop believing that the global flood happened.
Shaun Doyle
Well said. Scripture is our fundamental commitment, not models of how events like the Flood may have unfolded. And modelling a one-off catastrophe like the Flood is very difficult, especially since we don't really have any clear analogues to anything like it today. CPT (catastrophic plate tectonics) or any other Flood model should be held to tentatively, always with an eye to improving our understanding.

Regarding CPT, I think many lay creationists like it because of the impressive computer modelling Dr Baumgardner has done over the last few decades to show how the crust can under certain circumstances undergo rapid subduction. However, this is not why he or most creation geologists believe some form of CPT must form at least part of a cogent Flood model. It has to do with things like the fit of the continents, heat and magnetic patterns in the oceanic crust as one moves away from esp. the mid-Atlantic ridge, geochemical and fossil matches across the Atlantic, as well as GPS data that seems to confirm the idea that there are coherent lithospheric plates that move. Combine this with the seismographic evidence that there are 'cold slabs' of lithosphere that extend through the mantle right down to the mantle-core boundary, and we have evidence that suggests coherent lithospheric plates have moved thousands of kilometres rapidly in the recent past. Even if CPT is only a part of a full-orbed Flood model, that doesn't undercut this evidence for coherent lithospheric plates having moved thousands of kilometres rapidly in the recent past. See Empirical data support seafloor spreading and catastrophic plate tectonics for more information.

Now, there are some creation geologists who think that much of what I've cited as 'data' for CPT is actually 'uniformitarian interpretation'. This is a disagreement that has been in the creationist literature for a couple of decades, now (see Forum on catastrophic plate tectonics). However, I personally think this card gets overplayed, since some cases I've put forward (such as magnetic patterns, fossil and geochemical signatures, heat profiles, the physical fit of continents, and a huge 'baseball seam' along the ocean floor) are simply observational realities, and even where interpretation is involved (e.g. the seismographic data) the interpretation offered is based on meaningful data, and it doesn't conflict with Scripture. This data needs to be explained, and CPT seems to offer a coherent and compelling explanation for it. At the very least, it looks like any Flood model that excludes any notion of CPT (which is different from a Flood model that makes CPT only a part of the model) needs to explain all these features better than CPT does. To my understanding, none at present do. That doesn't make CPT true, but it makes it the most actionable framework for explaining the data within biblical constraints at present. I think that's a good thing, since if we have such a framework, we have something to work with, tweak, and maybe even overhaul as needed. It we just go back to pre-theoretical data collection 'within biblical observational assumptions', I think that ignores too much of what has been achieved in the last couple of centuries in terms of descriptive geology.
Will S.
We often talk about volcanic activity after the Flood subsided, contributing to a post Flood Ice Age...I wonder if there could have been worldwide volcanic activity as part of the beginning of the Flood, fountains of the deep etc; which would have blanketed the earth in ash during the Flood itself, therefore creating massive cooling & offset any excess heat generated. Is this a stupid idea?
Otherwise I think there must be some mistakes in the NCSE calculations. I'd investigate that before assuming it has to be entirely miraculous/supernatural intervention. Usually these organizations misrepresent the figures; why accept them on face value? Can someone from CMI figure out what the actual heat generated from the Flood would be (as it's described in Scripture, not some Atheistic scientist's imagination)?
Shaun Doyle
This is why I cited not the NCSE article but creationist William Worraker's two-part article on the Flood heat budget issue in Answers Research Journal. Creationists have done the calculations, and the heat budget issues remain, at least at present. Indeed, Dr Baumgardner himself was aware of the heat issues of the Flood from the first time he published his Catastrophic Plate Tectonics model in the creationist literature:

Finally, it seem evident that the Flood catastrophe cannot be understood or modeled in terms of time-Invariant laws of nature. Intervention by God in the natural order during and after the catastrophe appears to be logical necessity. Manifestations of the Intervention appear to include an enhanced rate of nuclear decay during the event and loss of thermal energy afterward. [Baumgardner, J.R., Numerical simulation of the large-scale tectonic changes accompanying the Flood; in: Walsh, R.E., Brooks, C.E. and Crowell, R.S. (Eds), Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism, Vol. II, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 17–28, 1987; creationicc.org/1986_papers/ICC86V2-2.pdf.]


Comments are automatically closed 14 days after publication.