Dr. Walt Brown, Director of the Center for Scientific Creation, recently announced a new figure for his astronomical fix for the Global Flood. Like his earlier fix, he based this one on a common close-approach date for comets. But the new fix uses true orbital periods, not the hypothetical periods in the cometary catalog.
New date for the global flood
The new date for the Global Flood is 3290 BC, give or take seven years. This is fifty-four years more recent than his first figure of 3344.5 BC (give or take one).
Brown explained the change, and the new evidence, to this correspondent by telephone yesterday. Before, he selected the five comets, with at least three recorded apparitions, having the longest periods listed in the 2008 Catalogue of Cometary Orbits. But he realized that the Cometary Catalogue publishes hypothetical periods that would never hold for a real orbit.
Any comet, or any other object, is always in an orbit it might follow, if no other body had any influence on it except for being part of the hypothetical “primary point mass.” (That mass includes the actual primary and any other body in orbit around it, that lies inside the object in question.) Astronomers call this orbit the osculating orbit, or literally the kissing orbit because it kisses the true path.
But of course, no object ever follows the osculating orbit. The real orbit is the path it follows. And that path will never be a perfect ellipse.
For a planet (or dwarf planet), the difference is barely enough to consider. Not so for a comet. And: the osculating orbit can never be constant. It changes with every second, because other objects always change its course. So the period of a comet (time to make its closest approach, or perihelion, from one orbit to the next) is never the same.
This does not mean no one can ever calculate the true period. The problem: the Cometary Catalogue publishes the period of the osculating orbit. Because those orbits are never real, using them to project a comet’s course forward or backward in time will always introduce an error.
Two clock-like comets
Page 157 of the Catalogue has a long list of comets with fairly long periods. Of these, two have periods that change the least: Comet 1P/Halley and Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle:
|Comet||Earliest known perihelion||Perihelion Distance||Inclination||Earliest known period||Expected error in predicting launch date, as σ√N|
|Halley||1403.80 BC||0.586 AU||162.3°||69.86 years||8.14 years|
|Swift-Tuttle||702.30 BC||0.9595 AU||113.45°||129.33 years||13.31 years|
Both are retrograde. And earlier investigators have projected each one hundreds of years before Christ. See Yeomans and Kiang, 1981, and Yau, Yeomans and Weissman, 1994. According to those sources, those two comets changed their periods not more than three years for Halley and five for Swift-Tuttle. The calculated changes yield expected errors of 8.14 and 13.31 years for the two comets.
Brown shared with this correspondent a spreadsheet showing how the two comets’ periods changed since their earliest calculated apparition. Swift-Tuttle shows a larger error for two reasons: fewer apparitions (because the periods are longer), and greater changes. Even so, Yeomans (see above) said Swift-Tuttle’s period changes were smaller than his team expected.
Even with only two qualified comets, Brown says the case for cometary convergence is “stronger than ever.” He assigns ninety-eight percent confidence to it.
What this means
The new figure validates the Septuagint (LXX), and specifically the Codex Alexandrinus, as the most likely text for the ages of the patriarchs in the eleven generations after the Global Flood.
This correspondent calculated twenty-four possible dates for the Global Flood, based on alternative theories for:
- The chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah following Solomon’s reign,
- The chronology of the Sojourn in Egypt,
- The chronology of the life of Terah, father of Abraham, and
- The use of three different manuscript sources of the ages of the Patriarchs.
The closest match to 3290 BC is 3283 BC. That date assumes:
- A long chronology for the Hebrew kings (and hence a longer chronology for the Assyrian Empire, using about fifty missing years according to Martin Anstey),
- A long chronology for the Sojourn in Egypt,
- An early birth date for Abraham (when Terah was 70 years old, not 130), and
- The LXX as the best manuscript source.
Note: the 3290 BC date could also be consistent with a calculated date of 3293 BC. That date assumes a late birth of Abraham, and that Nahor the Elder (Terah’s father, as distinct from Terah’s other son) was twenty-nine years old when Terah was born – not seventy-nine as the LXX says. The two ages for Nahor the Elder at the birth of his son are fifty years apart between the LXX and the Masoretic Text – an extraordinary number, since in every other disputed case, the ages are 100 years apart. This correspondent plans further research on this point.
The Hydroplate Theory of the Global Flood predicts that all comets, if one could adequately calculate their true periods to a year approaching the fourth millennium BC, would seem to have perihelia in the same year. In that year, the theory says, the Global Flood event launched one percent of the total mass of the earth into space, as water, rock and mud. Some of this water, once beyond earth’s gravity, accreted to form the comets. Thus 3290 BC (or seven years earlier or later) is the most likely launch date.
Brown also feels the Patriarchal ages, in all manuscripts of Genesis chapter 11, might have rounding error. This error might mean the calculated date is off by twelve years. But this would not apply to the length of the Sojourn in Egypt, the interval between the Exodus and the groundbreaking of the Temple (I Kings 6:1-2), or the interlocking chronologies of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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