A conversation with creationist John Baumgardner

I ran into John Baumgardner here at the American Geophysical Union meeting here in San Francisco. He was talking to a couple of people telling them that ‘we have new data showing decay rates aren’t constant’. They slinked away and John said ‘Can we chat for a moment? I’ve been reading your papers and thinking about how they apply to the flood story. I said please don’t misuse my papers and then I said, before we get to my stuff can I ask you a few questions. I list my questions and John’s responses:

1. John, I’ve always been critical of you for signing on to papers that discuss old earth mantle evolution or old moon. In my view these are completely antithetical to your beliefs and I think you are either a hypocrite or you are being deceiving. I know I would not co-author a paper that was so at odds with my own scientific views.

Baum: That has bothered me a bit. In some cases I’ve asked to be taken off, but my co-authors insist that the work could not have been completed without my input. So, I simply said to myself that ‘the physics used in the paper were fine’ and I agree with the physics in the papers.

2. But John, the physics in those papers are based on an old earth that you don’t believe.

Baum: Perhaps I should have been more careful.

3. It also bothers me that creationists like John woodmorappe (aka jan Peczkis) writes young earth articles under one name and old earth evolutionary articles under another.

Baum: That bothers me too.

4. Can I ask you a question that no young earth creationist will answer?

Baum: Sure.

5. Assuming that the geologic column was laid down in 6000 years, what deposits mark the onset of the flood, the peak flood and the post flood?

Baum: I think that we all agree that the flood started at the ‘great unconforrmity’? Somewhere around the Cambrian explosion of life.

6. John, it can’t be an explosion of life for you. It’s a death event right?

Baum: Right.

7. What about peak and post flood?

Baum: Peak flood would be Paleozoic and post flood is very hard to pin down.

8. I know that, but your group (young earth creationists) have had more than 150 years to figure this stuff out, what’s the problem? There are people like Jon Davison who argues that your onset is his post-flood recolonization.

Baum: Yes, I know. I don’t like that model.

9. Northrup argues for something in between Davison and your model.

Baum: I’ve talked to Northrup about that. It’s a shame we can’t agree.

10. The bible is your guidebook on the flood, surely the answer can be found there and there should be no need for such disagreement?

Baum: The flood story is only briefly mentioned. we have to fill in the gaps and that’s why it’s hard to answer your questions with specific.

11. So in fact, you don’t “all agree”. I have a different take on why nobody wants to answer these questions, there are things in the geologic record that are anathema to flood advocates. How do you explain the ubiquitous occurrence of paleosols in the geologic record (specifically in the Paleozoic since that’s your flood.)

Baum: I think paleosols have been misidentified.

12. On what basis?

Baum: I live in the southwest and I see a lot of rocks that remind me of a flood. Rocks like nowhere else in the geologic record.

13. Let’s get back to paleosols. What specifically makes you think that people like Greg Retallack has misidentified paleosols?

Baum: Well I’ve seen a lot of rocks.

14. So have I and so has Greg. Furthermore, both of us are trained as geologists and spend a lot of time looking at the same rocks you have. Paleosols (http://gondwanaresearch.com/hp/paleosol.htm) have burrow stuctures, root structures etc that make them hard to dismiss with a handwave.

Baum: There are rocks in the Paleozoic that are unlike any at any other time.

15. Ok, paleosols you are not going to answer. What rocks in the Paleozoic are unique?

Baum: Large bodies of sandstone that cover many many square miles.

16. Have you ever been to Mississippi, Louisiana and parts of Texas? The Mississippi river has left thousands of square miles of sand and silt in those states and in the gulf of Mexico. The rivers draining the Himalayas are creating absolutely huge plains of sand and silt (Gangetic plain and the Bengal fan).

Baum: Well, I’ve seen things that don’t look like anything else.

17. John, you’re a great geophysicist and Terra was a revolution in code-writing, but you’re not a geologist and perhaps a few courses in geology might help.

Baum: I’m not a geologist, but I see a lot in the southwest. let’s get back to the flood. Remember it’s going to be very fast movement. The oceans are going to open quickly with lots of eruptions and steam.

18. John, don’t you have a heat problem?

Baum: Yes, we know that.

19. John, it’s not a small heat problem.

Baum: Yes, we recognize that we have cooling problems to solve. Specifically how are we going to cool all that oceanic lithosphere.

20. I know John, I wrote up a small web page discussing the cooling profiles in the ocean floor that would be generated by your model (http://gondwanaresearch.com/oceans.htm. Have you seen it?

Baum: No, but I’ll have a look.

21. So how are you using my research?

Baum: Well, I’ve got a radical new idea.

22. John, flood geology is a very old idea (more than 200 years old at least), so nothing you propose can be considered radical. Creationists like Agassiz went out and studied the rocks and realized that a global flood was inconsistent with the biblical account.

Baum: Well, yes but think about going from your Rodinia to Pangea in a short amount of time. That’s just what inertial interchange true polar wander says.

23. Not really John but it sounds fascinating. Why don’t you send me your article and I’d be happy to critique it. I will obviously not agree with the premise, but I might be able to help you avoid some egregious errors in your analysis. It was nice to meet you and i’d be happy to chat further anytime.

Baum: Nice to meet you too.

Note: Any errors in recollection of these events is mine and mine alone. John also told me of some more ‘groundbreaking research’ coming from ICR, but I promised not to discuss it. I can tell you that it is neither groundbreaking or research. I also reminded him that he knows the science game really well and if he wants to be taken seriously he has to publish his models. He asked me if I’d seen his article in “New Scientist”. I haven’t, has anybody here? I mentioned that’s not exactly a peer-reviewed journal. Anyway, we parted there and i went to get another beer.


Joe Meert

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