Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Sometimes you read something that is so absurd that you think that’s just as bad as it could possibly get. Then you go down a level and find out that they can top it. To borrow a phrase from Hindu mythology, it’s stupidity all the way down. Such is the case with Kelly Hollowell, intrepid Worldnutdaily columnist and two-time winner of the Robert O’Brien Trophy (formerly the Idiot of the Month Award). Her latest column on the recent tsunami and the Noahic flood is stunningly stupid. First, she absurdly contrasts mainstream plate tectonics with “catastrophic plate tectonics”:


However critics would like to dismiss the Bible as allegory or fable, this present disaster impresses upon me biblical truth. The obvious and relevant example is given in the days of Noah. In this account of a global flood, the sources for the floodwater were the fountains of “the great deep” and the “flood gates of heaven.”

The “floodgates of heaven” obviously refers to rain, while a careful study of Scripture suggests that the “fountains of the great deep” are oceanic or possibly subterranean sources of water. In the context of the flood, it could mean both. This idea has given birth to a now popular theory called “catastrophic plate tectonics.”

According to the standard version of plate tectonics theory, the earth’s crust is composed of a dozen or so plates, each approximately 30 miles thick. Normally, these plates move with respect to each other, at about an inch per year ? the rate a fingernail grows.

Continents and oceans ride on top of these plates. And sometimes a continent such as North America is on more than one plate. For example, different parts of North America separated by a fault running up through California, are constantly sliding past each other.

In the theory of catastrophic plate tectonics, movement in the plates can produce changes in pressure and cracks in the earth’s crust. These events combined with sporadic volcanic activity can produce a massive earthquake and associated tidal waves like those devastating the Indian Ocean coastline.

The problem here is that there is no distinction between plate tectonics and “catastrophic plate tectonics”. There is no non-catastrophic plate tectonics, as seismologists obviously recognize that earthquakes are catastrophic in nature. Plain old plate tectonic models include the idea that “movement in the plates can produce changes in pressure and cracks in the earth’s crust”. What is missing here is any actual evidence for this alleged global flood. Surely a global flood that killed off virtually every animal on the entire planet except those that could fit in a single ark would have left behind enormous amounts of evidence. We should see a single stratagraphic layer around the entire globe filled with the fossils of the most astonishingly huge global extinction that the world has ever seen. But no such thing exists. We can identify isolated local events that resulted in animal killoffs, such as the enormous bonebed of 10,000 hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs) discovered by Jack Horner in Montana. They were killed by a volcanic eruption that led to a river flooding and washing this enormous herd down into what became their burial place. Those events would have been dwarfed by this global flood by several orders of magnitude, yet it apparently left no evidence of such a killoff behind. But wait, here’s the best part:

Proof of a world impacting earthquake is seen by the Mid-Oceanic Ridge. That is a mountain range 46,000 miles long that wraps around the earth and is strangely located at the bottom of the ocean floor. One portion of this underwater mountain range is called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and is centered between Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Imagine, if you can, a massive earthquake and the flooding splash made when this mountain range fell into the waters of the deep. It would be like a fat man jumping into a bathtub of water. The displacement would be so great, it could easily cause worldwide tidal waves and flooding.

Yes, dear readers, the good Dr. Hollowell actually imagines that this mountain range fell off the continental landmass and into the ocean, presumably coming to settle on the bottom where it now lies. Holy stupidity, Batman. The mountains of the mid-atlantic ridge are volcanic and they are part of the oceanic crust, they didn’t fall off the surface and settle to the bottom. The mid-atlantic ridge is a divergent boundary, which is a boundary where two plates are spreading apart and new crust is formed. To posit that this mountain range fell off the surface and into the ocean, causing the global flood for which there is no evidence to begin with, is nonsense on roller skates. This is the sort of thing that makes even the likes of Kent Hovind sound rational, and that’s not an easy thing to do. If Hollowell keeps up this level of sheer idiocy, I’m going to have to create a hall of fame for winners of the Robert O’Brien trophy and make her the first inductee.

Comments

  1. #1 RBH
    January 3, 2005

    “Catastrophic plate tectonics” (www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/tectonics.asp) is the invention of John Baumgardner, a creationist geologist who (paradoxically) has done good work in modeling geophysics. Until his recent retirement Baumgardner worked at Los Alamos, and was the original author (among others) of a major geophysical model, TERRA (www.resonancepub.com/terra.htm), in 1985. Very briefly, “catastrophic plate tectonics” differs from regular plate tectonics in the speed of continental drift, with Baumgardner positing that in the old days the plates experienced “lithospheric runaway,” and sped along at rates orders of magnitude faster than inferred by “orthodox” geology.

  2. #2 Dan
    January 3, 2005

    At least she’s got a testable hypothesis: “I predict that if a fat guy jumps into a bathtub, it will make a big splash.”

    Brilliant.

  3. #3 Liz Ditz
    January 3, 2005

    1. couldn’t sign on w/typepad, says you haven’t signed on.

    2. Surely a global flood that killed off virtually every animal on the entire planet except those that could fit in a single ark would have left behind enormous amounts of evidence. We should see a single stratagraphic layer around the entire globe filled with the fossils of the most astonishingly huge global extinction that the world has ever seen.

    Surely not fossils? That is to say, the flood is alleged to have occured some time in the past that included modern humans with advanced civilization capabilities–building huge boats, for example–which is too recent for fossilization.

    Other than that, yes, Hollowell is a remarkably feeble thinker.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    January 3, 2005

    “Catastrophic plate tectonics” (www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/tectonics.asp) is the invention of John Baumgardner, a creationist geologist who (paradoxically) has done good work in modeling geophysics. Until his recent retirement Baumgardner worked at Los Alamos, and was the original author (among others) of a major geophysical model, TERRA (www.resonancepub.com/terra.htm), in 1985. Very briefly, “catastrophic plate tectonics” differs from regular plate tectonics in the speed of continental drift, with Baumgardner positing that in the old days the plates experienced “lithospheric runaway,” and sped along at rates orders of magnitude faster than inferred by “orthodox” geology.

    Yes, Baumgardner is quite the paradox. On the one hand, he created the TERRA program, which is enormously valuable for geophysicists in modeling such events; on the other hand, he has no problem with feeding absurd starting points into his model and invoking miraculous events to explain away the difficulties (heat in particular, as much faster rates of movement means much more heat released in a much shorter period of time).

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    January 3, 2005

    1. couldn’t sign on w/typepad, says you haven’t signed on.

    Typepad’s commenting service appears to be about as stable as Liza Minelli’s marriages. Sometimes it works just fine for people when they leave comments, other times it says I’m not signed up. I signed up with them over a year ago. I’ve also sent them emails about it, with no response at all.

    Surely not fossils? That is to say, the flood is alleged to have occured some time in the past that included modern humans with advanced civilization capabilities–building huge boats, for example–which is too recent for fossilization.

    Ah, but the young earth creationists also argue that fossilization occurs very rapidly too (everything has to have happened in only the last few thousand years). If it really occured only a few thousand years ago, not only were there be no fossils, there would be no sedimentary rock either, only soft sediments that had not yet hardened. There is nothing more amazing than watching young earthers try to explain geology.

  6. #6 Dave S.
    January 3, 2005

    Sometimes you read something that is so absurd that you think that’s just as bad as it could possibly get. Then you go down a level and find out that they can top it. To borrow a phrase from Hindu mythology, it’s stupidity all the way down.

    Or to borrow another phrase, she’s reached the bottom of the barrel, and now shows signs of digging.

    There is nothing more amazing than watching young earthers try to explain geology.

    Most in my experience completely ignore trying to explain geology with a positive creationist theory (perish forbid they provide a single piece of physical evidence for a 6-10,000 year old Earth), and instead focus on what they see as shortfalls in mainstream geology.

  7. #7 ~DS~
    January 3, 2005

    Ed I’m going to have to steal the ‘nonsense on roller skates’ metaphor. Sorry, but it’s just too damn good.

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    January 3, 2005

    DS-

    Okay, but I get royalties every time you use it.

  9. #9 Bucky
    January 3, 2005

    Once laughably absurd ideas become thinkable, then plausible, then doctrinal.

  10. #10 Liz Tracey
    January 3, 2005

    Kelly Hollowell is one of those people who makes me wish that scientific degrees could be withdrawn by institutions when their holders go out and embarass themselves (and the university they studied at) with such a poverty of knowledge (or willful mangling of science to fit an agenda.)

  11. #11 Les Lane
    January 4, 2005

    I suspect that wingnut readers find Hollowell highly insightful. She should write for “Pseudoscientific American”.

  12. #12 Bill Ware
    January 4, 2005

    Mountains can fall into the sea, Ed. They slide down that proverbial “slippery slope” that folks like these are always warning us about.

  13. #13 mist
    January 4, 2005

    Been away for a good bit, and just got back.

    One thing I think kelly should consider is that, even with the massive earthquake and tsunami, the vast majority of the damage was extremely localised. Outside of Sumatra and Sri Lanka, you can walk inland just a few hundred yards and see virtually no evidence of the disaster.

    If a 600 mile 9.0+ earthquake and resulting tidal wave did so little to cover the earth, imagine the size of the tremor it would have take to sink the world.

    Of course, anyone who believes that a huge mountain range tripped and fell into the ocean like a fatman, probably won’t have too much trouble imagining that…

  14. #14 Bill Ware
    January 5, 2005

    Welcome back. You have been mist.

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