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US News and the Geophysics of God

By Gary F. Zeolla


A recent issue of US News and World Report had an interesting article titled, "Geophysics of God - A scientist embraces plate tectonics--and Noah's flood" by Chandler Burr (June 16, 1997, pp. 55-58).

The article is about John Baumgardner, "… the world's pre-eminent expert in the design of computer models for geophysical convection, the process by which the Earth creates volcanoes, earthquakes, and the movement of the continental plates."

One of the computer programs he designed in this regard is called Terra. Baumgardner also has a master's from Princeton in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in geophysics from UCLA.

In addition, Baumgardner "… is a fundamentalist Christian who believes, in accordance with the Bible, that the Earth was created by God less than 10,000 years ago. In fact, Baumgardner created Terra expressly to prove that the story of Noah and the flood of Genesis 7:18--"And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the Earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters"--happened exactly as the Bible tells it."

I found this article interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, it is often claimed that no "true scientist" believes in creation. But Baumgardner most definitely has the credentials to be called a "true scientist."

Second is the following paragraph from the article. It is discussing Baumgardner’s views on physical events surrounding the flood of Noah:

Terra proves that this is true--or, more precisely, that it could be true, provided one accepts certain assumptions. Run Terra one way, and you can watch Noah's flood take place before your eyes, mathematically calculated by a supercomputer. Run Terra another way, and you get the standard geological story of 4.6 billion years. The results obtained from the code are--as Baumgardner readily points out--dependent on the numbers fed into it in the first place.

So the assumptions one brings to empirical evidences can affects how one interprets that evidence. This is an important point to remember in the creation vs. evolution debate.

Burr is basically fair to Baumgardner’s position. But he does manage to give an evolutionary slant to the article. There is one point in particular that I would take issue with. It is the following claim, "Among geologists, there is universal agreement that Baumgardner’s views are simply wrong."

If Burr had said, "almost universal agreement" then this statement would probably be true. But the absolutist claim is overstating the case. Baumgardner is not the only geophysicist or geologist who believes in a young earth and Noah’s flood. There are others. A notable example is Steve Austin. He has a Ph.D. in geology from my alma mater, Penn State (Yes, Steve Austin is his real name, but he’s not the Six-Million Dollar Man!).

In any case, "Geophysics of God" is now posted on US News’ Web site. The page also includes links to both creation and evolution sites. If anyone is interested in checking it out, it is located at: Geophysics of God.

US News and the Geophysics of God. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.zeolla.org/christian).

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above message was posted on this Web site and in "talk.origins" Newsgroup in June 1997.

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