Held every four years, the International Conference on Creationism has become the preeminent gathering on young Earth creationism and flood geology. Recent meetings have improved substantially, thanks to a team of reviewers working with the Creation Science Foundation of Pittsburgh (sponsors of the conference). Indeed, one of the trends in contemporary creation science is a movement toward peer-reviewed consensus, and away from lone guns producing idiosyncratic theories.
At present, the best flood model draws on the proposals of John Baumgardner (plate tectonics), Michael Oard (ice ages), and Russell Humphreys (magnetic field). In brief, this model begins with a catastrophic subduction of cold, pre-flood ocean floor, initiating volcanism and mountain building along the plate margins. At the same time, new sea floor builds up at the mid-ocean ridges. This influx of hot rock displaces ocean water, causing massive flooding on land. Warm ocean water promotes evaporation, leading to copious quantities of rainfall. Rapid cooling of landmasses at high latitudes, combined with high precipitation rates, leads to snow build up and, ultimately, ice sheets. Catastrophic subduction leads also to a cooling of the core and mantle, and rapid decay of the Earths magnetic field. Cooling of the ocean floor expands the ocean basins, causing water to retreat from the continents.
Several papers this year made small, but important, contributions to this framework. For instance, Larry Vardiman used standard climate models to confirm the effects of heated water over mid-ocean ridges on precipitation in polar regions.
Mark Horstemeyer addressed one problem with Baumgardners catastrophic subduction model. Simulations suggested massive amounts of heating from rapid crustal deformation. A miraculous intervention would be needed to prevent the Earth from melting. Of course, that was an option, but it seemed too much to ask, especially when the model lacked this problem when spread over longer time scales. Horstemeyer has removed this sticking point by inserting a more realistic understanding of material behavior into Baumgardners model.
Not all aspects of geology are as well developed. For instance, we still lack a coherent model for radiometric dating. We do not know why dating methods consistently overestimate the length of time for decay when compared to the biblical chronology. Having said that, it is exciting to see new contributions based on hard data gathered by Andrew Snelling and Steven Austin. Their studies show significant discrepancies in potassium-argon dating that are better explained by geochemistry than geochronology. This may turn out to be true for other dating methods as well. All we can say right now is that isotopic ratios used in radiometric dating may, in fact, reflect some sort of geological phenomenon other than the passage of time.
A great deal of work remains, but this conference showed progress in several areas. Fortunately, the papers are published in a Proceedings volume, which is available from CSF for $34.95 plus $4 for shipping within the U.S. (send payment to P.O. Box 99303, Pittsburgh, PA 15233-4303).
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