Since the close of the Bill Nye v. Ken Ham debate two nights ago (February 4, 2014: 9:30 p.m.), many creation advocates, besides Answers in Genesis, have spoken out about it. Yesterday your correspondent conversed by telephone with Walt Brown, one of the lesser known scientific talents in creation science.
Col. Walter T. Brown, Jr., USAF (retired), earned his PhD in engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Beginning in the 1970s, he developed his own comprehensive theory of the Global Flood. He called this theory the Hydroplate Theory, after its key assertion. The earth’s crust, he says, rested on pillars over a subcrustal ocean ten miles beneath the ground and three quarters of a mile deep. On the day of the Global Flood, a seam opened in the crust and released this subcrustal ocean. This water, supercritically hot and under tremendous pressure, broke the crust into “hydroplates” that slid away from, or crashed into, one another. The seam persists today as the Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. Most of the mountain chains of the world, which run north to south, formed as the hydroplates crashed to the old subcrustal chamber floor. But one, the Himalaya chain, formed when three hydroplates crashed into one another.
For more information on his theory, Brown released his richly detailed book, In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, in on-line form.
Along with 500,000 other people on the Internet, Brown watched the Bill Nye v. Ken Ham debate. The next morning, at 10:45 a.m., he telephoned your correspondent to discuss what he had watched.
Bill Nye and Ken Ham: both weak on science
Brown called the debate “a sorry performance.” He referred to Bill Nye and Ken Ham both.
Bill Nye is weak on science, but is a professional showman. Ken Ham is even weaker on science, and is a promoter, not a performing artist.
To Ken Ham’s weakness Brown attributes Ham’s failure to call Bill Nye on the scientific and logical errors he made.
Bill Nye, of course, asserted a greater than six-thousand-year age of the earth from conventional dating methods, and from others most people hadn’t thought of. Inevitably he mentioned radiometric dating. Ken Ham referred briefly to the answer that the Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth (RATE) Group has: no one can confidently assert that radioactive decay has proceeded at the same rate (averaged over four and a half billion seasonal cycles) since the earth formed. But Brown has an answer that Ham did not mention.
“Bill Nye does not understand the origin of radioactivity,” he said. That origin is in the magnitude-10-to-12 earthquakes, the deformation of the quartz in the earth’s crust that occurred as a result, and the “breakdown voltages” that turned tons of heavy elements into plasma. That plasma fused into superheavy elements, which then split to form the trans-lead elements we know today.
Bill Nye also mentioned the bristlecone pines of Island, southern California, and other regions. But (as this Examiner reported yesterday) he failed to mention that bristlecone pines exist as communal entities, and that dating a bristlecone colony is extremely hazardous. The oldest single bristlecone pine, in the White Mountains of California, likely sprouted in 3051 BC. The Flood, Brown believes, occurred within a two-hundred-year range that centers on 3290 BC.
About midway into the debate, Bill Nye happened to mention that asteroids seem to be all the same age. He gave this age at 4.5 billion years. He did not say where that age came from. Brown laughed openly. Bill Nye, he suggested, relied on conventional theory that said meteorites are fragments from collisions between asteroids and other objects. In contrast, Brown holds that asteroids, meteoroids, and comets (the “Mavericks of the Solar System”) all formed from water, rock and mud that escaped into space when the subcrustal ocean broke confinement at the Mid-Oceanic Ridge.
Brown especially criticized Bill Nye for citing limestone deposits as prima facie evidence of an old earth. “So much limestone cannot be biotic,” he explained. “Coral does not deposit limestone without also liberating carbon dioxide. And to lay down that much limestone, that coral would have released enough carbon dioxide to kill us all.” How? By suffocation, from driving out the oxygen. And also by “Venerifying” the earth, that is, thickening its atmosphere and trapping enough of the Sun’s energy to make Earth almost as hot as Venus.
Ken Ham’s strategic error
Of course, Brown criticized Ken Ham for not mentioning any of these things. But he also said Ken Ham made a “strategic error”:
He opened the Bible, in a debate before an audience likely consisting half of unbelievers. When you do that in a scientific debate, you open many rabbit trails, and you can never resolve them all.
Brown has a long-standing challenge to anyone, creationist or evolutionist, who thinks he can attack the Hydroplate Theory. Anyone so inclined can recruit a team of PhD-level scientists and produce material for a book-length defense of evolution, and he will defend the Hydroplate Theory.
This debate challenge has several rules. The strictest rule: Neither side will mention the Bible at any time. To Brown, the Bible is a valuable Historical Record. As such certain passages in It serve as evidence, like a deposition or a written answer to an interrogatory. But the Bible is not a Scientific Treatise, and Brown does not treat It as such. He seeks to show the truth of the Global Flood by extrabiblical observation. Such observation, he believes, can convince many more people who might otherwise reject the Bible out-of-hand. (This Examiner can attest to that. The typical atheist view of the Bible is “a collection of fairy tales from ignorant men seeking to explain what they could never understand.”)
Bill Nye said repeatedly that any scientist who discovers something that can shift the paradigm of origins (or anything else) can find an open-arms welcome from his fellow scientists. “Nonsense,” says Brown. He cites his own experience of people largely ignoring his insights. Then he issued this specific challenge to Bill Nye:
If he wants to recruit a team of PhDs and accept my written debate challenge, I’ll show him a hundred paradigm shifts. Then he can test whether they will find welcome, and from whom.
He would not speculate on the effect the Bill Nye v. Ken Ham debate will have on people’s belief in creation or evolution. Today he is awaiting the third apparition of another comet, so he can further refine his astronomical fix for the launch of the comets, or at least the material that formed them.
He closed with this reminder. Bill Nye also accused creationists of not being able to predict anything with their theories. Brown’s book has many predictions, and many notes of their fulfillment. The most recent example: the finding of large amounts of water vapor on the dwarf planet Ceres.
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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