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Early this summer I had a student ask me a question by e-mail: “Do you think it is truly possible for someone to find the correct answer to the Drake Equation? If so, how would they prove it?”

After some research I gave the following reply:

“”The equation was written in 1961 by Frank Drake, not for purposes of quantifying the number of civilizations, but as a way to stimulate scientific dialogue…”(1) Therefore, the terms in the equation are considerations of what would have to be known in order to quantify (that is, count) civilizations. It is a thought experiment, and since we cannot go to many of those places (or probably any of them) because the distance is too great for even several lifetimes of travel [“Hey, grandkids, the goal of this mission when we started out 60 years ago was for you to visit two planets around the third star from our home star, Sun, to see if there is anybody living there. We’ll be there 40 years or so after your grandchildren are born.”], the whole scheme is pure speculation. In fact, I would go a step further and say that it is not even useful speculation.

So, to answer your question, no, it can neither be solved nor checked (proven). Based on my belief in the God of the Bible, I believe that it is not even a useful thought experiment. The Scripture says,”in as much as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28) Since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23), and since “Christ…offered once [died]”, then if any civilizations did exist, they would be without hope because God has not redeemed any of them. Instead, I think that it means they do not exist. And because of the distance we cannot know if they exist. The whole thought experiment becomes fruitless, a deceptive worldview way of avoiding the real truth about how [we got here and how] we “die once” and need that salvation.

A better thought experiment would be to explain how the rocks and ice we see confirm what God said about a worldwide flood in Genesis 6-9. Check out the “Lost Squadron” that landed on Greenland(2). Ask yourself some questions. 1) How deep were the “Lost Squadron” airplanes under the ice? 2) How long did it take for the ice to accumulate? 3) In how long of a time could the whole ice sheet have accumulated at that rate? 4) Has the rate of accumulation always been the same? 5) Is there any evidence for the rate of accumulation changing? 6) Comparing these estimates to the “declared age” of ice cores in Greenland, is there a problem with the present explanation of how the ice sheet got there?”

I think you will realize that the standard explanation for what the layers in the ice sheets means is flawed. Therefore, distractors are thrown up to keep us from seeing the logical fallacies of the ill-conceived conclusions masquerading as a scientific theory. There are many worthy thought experiments to be done. Einstein was particularly good at those, but much of today’s theoretical science is lacking in a creativity that adheres to truth as its basis, instead heralding false agendas and distracting from useful science. Let us be done with having any part of that.

1- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation

2- https://creation.com/the-lost-squadron

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I have been a Six Day Creationist for as long as I was read to from the first several chapters of the Bible. I became a much more informed one with the reading of “Scientific Creationism” by Henry Morris in 1977 when I was 17 years old. The more evolution I heard, by the grace of God, the more I rejected it as I got a Biology degree in college. I have made a lifelong study of the subject, finding nothing that evolution explains better than the Bible. On questions I could not answer I have always assumed that the Bible is true and the answer will be revealed, either in the Bible or by observational evidence. So far I have not been disappointed. I’ve been called foolish, ignorant, and blinded for believing the Bible over “science”. But Big Bang Theory, Origin of Life Scenarios, and Evolution by natural selection are worldview interpretations of evidence, not science. “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:4)

All that having been said, I have been encouraged by numerous people to see the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. I thought it might be nice to see but didn’t feel any compulsion or need to see it since I know where I stand and have a full range of evidence and had no opportunity until recently. One of my sons was going to a wedding near Louisville and wanted a traveling companion. He suggested that we go see the Ark Encounter and then go to the wedding. I convinced him to see the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter while we were in the neighborhood. I knew Answers in Genesis’ take on presenting the controversy and feared that I might be disappointed in the level of science presented. It certainly was a popularized version for the general public, but it was well done with serious attention to the science that was communicated. The presentation was aligned around the AIG’s 7 C’s of Creation: creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and consummation. I wondered at the outset how the salvation message would be presented. I was very impressed with the Gospel presentation.

I saw most everything that I wanted to see and read most things in a somewhat rushed fashion because of our time constraints, even taking a quick walk through the outside gardens and seeing the short movie, “In Six Days”. On the bottom floor was an amazing insect collection. There is much evidence based science at the museum, but I hope as they expand, the designers will delve even deeper. Enjoy a few pictures I took while there.

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Swinging Bridge in the Gardens

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Extensive, well kept gardens lead to the museum

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These are very diverse interpretations of the same facts. They cannot both be right. The horizontal lines about 1/3 of the way up on the “orchard” represent the Flood.

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“In Adam’s Fall, We sinned all” New England Primer

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“Christ crucify’d, For sinners dy’d” New England Primer

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In the Garden

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“Ebenezer”, Allosaurus fragilis, one of the best preserved skulls extant; approximately 30% of the skeleton is actual fossilized bones with the rest reconstructions from other specimen

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Very rapid burial!

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Models

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Noah and Son: They weren’t ignorant primitives (Genesis 4:17,20-22)

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In my years of teaching Earth Science, I have discovered that one concept seems to tie more physical phenomena together than any other. Frequently it is the cause of what is observed and often it is the connecting thread between interactions of matter and energy. So I thought to give a few examples of why it is so often the correct answer to questions in Earth Science:

Earth Science is all about density
What will go up and what will come down
That convective cell propensity

Uneven heating of the atmosphere
Solar gain and wind and pressure change
Forced aloft forms clouds, sinking air clear

Heat, salt, and wind stir up the oceans
Many upwellings from the great deep
Gyres and thermohalocline motions

Far below the roots of the mountains
Plates form rifts, volcanoes, and trenches
Float on plastic and magma fountains

In the stars war gravity and fusion
Caldera of rarified plasma
Spots and flares in boiling confusion

Thus mass divided by volume seen
In many small and grandiose ways
And from its study much knowledge glean

 

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Heat acts like an invisible fluid that washes over and penetrates through any barrier. The reason I thought about it this morning was the temperature in the house, the difference in temperature from outside, and the feel (comfort level) in the house.

The thermometer, placed on the counter in the center of the house, said 68 degrees, which is a reasonable indoor temperature. But should I start a fire in the stove? Ultimately, for most people, the answer to that question depends on comfort level. Ignoring the real psychological components of comfort level, comfort level depends on heat flow rate.

Heat flow rate is the reason for heat index and chill factor in weather reporting of temperature. An inanimate object feels neither extra hot when it is humid nor extra cold when the wind is blowing. The temperature at which it settles is determined solely by the average rate of vibration of its molecules (i.e. temperature). 

But when an object like a thermostated heater or warm blooded mammal or human is warmer than its surroundings and produces heat to maintain that difference, heat flow rate is crucial to comfort and even survival.

For a fuller understanding of this concept. let us posit two facts:

  1. Heat always flows from warmer to cooler.

  2. Heat Flow Rate is     Screen Shot 2018-12-08 at 6.05.10 PM,

where Q is heat, t is time, K is conductivity, dT is change in temperature, and l is length (distance or thickness) of heat flow, and the combination of dT/l is the temperature gradient.

Since in winter I heat with wood for the purpose of keeping us warm and feeling warm, I will consider the situation of heat flowing out of our bodies. Unless I am sitting by the woodstove, I am warmer than the room and heat is leaving me.

The greater the area (A) of my skin exposed to the surroundings, the faster I cool off. For this reason, you don’t expose flesh to the air on an extremely cold day because the heat flow rate is so great from any area of  your body that it can’t provide enough heat to prevent your flesh from freezing.

The greater the temperature difference (dT) between me and the environment cooling me, the faster I cool off. Our bodies are constantly radiating heat to the cooler surroundings. If you have ever worked in an unheated building with a concrete floor, you know that it is very hard to keep warm. You can feel the concrete zapping heat out of you (you radiating to it, in fact).

The shorter the distance (l) for the heat to flow to reach the cooler temperature, the faster I cool off. The thickness is the reason thicker insulation works better. More thickness of a substance that slows heat flow rate slows it more. Insulation, be it pink or down or quilt is really just a function of how much non-convecting air is trapped in the insulating layer. Air is an excellent insulator, which brings us to the next component.

And the better the material is at conducting heat (thermal conductivity (K)) off of me, the faster I cool off. Conversely, the reason air is poor conductor of heat is the distance between molecules. On the other hand, since it is a fluid, it is a decent convector (heat transfer by flow of a fluid), and it provides little resistance to radiation, since there is less matter than most materials to absorb or radiate back the heat. When you put a warm hand on a cold, wooden table it won’t feel very cold, but on a cold, metal appliance it will. This increased flow happens because the metal has a far greater thermal conductivity than an insulator like wood.

Soooooo, back to my question. Should I start a fire when the core of the house is 68 degrees? Considering this situation, I ask myself several questions. What is the temperature outside? Is there a strong wind cooling the house? Is there cloud cover to prevent cooling at night or prevent warming during the day? Is there a temperature trend up or down from the present reading of 68 degrees because of internal or external changes to the house? About this time, those of you who have thermostats that do all of this “thinking” for you should stop taking it for granted. It is a relatively old technology, but not an altogether simple or trivial one.

In terms of comfort level, it can be 68 degrees in the core of the house and feel quite chilly because the outside is removing heat rapidly. This situation will result in the peripheral (near the outside walls) temperature being several degrees cooler.  I used to have my indoor/outdoor thermometer on a window sill. It consistently read cooler than the one I have now. My new thermometer wouldn’t fit on the sill. It would probably be easier to not think about it if I had a thermometer in the center of the house and on the window sill. Then I would have an approximation of the heat flow rate out of the house, but that would make me less truly aware of my surroundings. I have to walk past the central thermometer and past the window to get to the refrigerator and the stove to make my breakfast anyway, so I feel the temperature difference from core to periphery. I do not, however, usually think much about the various components of heat flow rate, because I am only barely awake at 5:15 in the morning.

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Not time for a fire, yet (I need to reset the clock.)

P.S. If you read this far, I surmise that you are either a science geek or a particular friend. Either way, thanks for reading, and glory to God for His ordered universe and minds to make sense out of it.

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About five years ago one of my classes built two bluebird boxes to put just out the window of two classrooms at the school. One lasted one year and then got taken by vandals. The other one outside my window could be destroyed but not so easily taken because of the wiring that runs out the bottom of pipe pole, through concrete, underground, through the wall into my classroom and to my computer. I realize that wireless cameras exist, but this is what my students could afford. It is color, works at night by shining infrared lights, and has sound. At one time you could record segments of video, but the school techs lost the software that has to be reinstalled every year due to computer re-imaging.

There are two problems with the present set-up. Even with retreating the wood, five years is considerable weathering, so the roof piece is bowed and lichen encrusted, though still functional. The other problem is a matter of rushed planning on my part when it was built. The students were excited about the camera arriving; the box was already built; we quickly installed it and began observing nesting soon afterwards. The camera, however, was mounted too close to the subjects so that it has always been blurry. The new box has a ceiling below the roof where the camera will be installed and not susceptible to moving when the side panel is opened to clean out last year’s nest. The distance is increased sufficiently to enable in focus viewing.

Since there are three eggs in the present box now, the installation of this new box will wait until Fall or later. I had the time to build it now and the availability of the school shop, so I did. I may put a roof shingle on the top when I install it so that it will last more than 5 years.

Students totally love to see the progress of the birds building a nest, laying eggs, hatching, feeding, growing, and leaving the nest. They are amazed when they here the chirping, chagrinned when there is a runt that is underfed because the others poke their heads up faster and more consistently, and curious about gestation and developmental timings. We have 2 to 3 nesting each Spring. One year the bluebirds and tree swallows fought violently over which pair could nest first. At one point two males (one bluebird and one tree swallow) were rolling around on the ground, clawing and pecking. The students flew to the window to see what was happening. We have never been able to observe the hatching of the birds. It seems to always happen on the weekend or in the early morning. I have left at 5 PM and arrived at 7 AM the next morning to find several birds hatched.

I sincerely wish that I could do more of this kind of teaching, what I call “affective science”. Students need an emotional connection to what they are learning to prick and increase curiosity. I could give many reasons why this is not happening, but I’m not in the mood to wax political or negative, so I will leave that to your imagination. I recorded some aspects of the box build, but many details are also left out. I hope that you enjoy the pictures, but even more, I hope you will observe the world around you and give thanks to our Creator for its utter beauty and utility.

If you hover over the pictures, you can see the captions.

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I have long been curious and fascinated by Biblical chronology. It is right that I should be so, since I believe that the Bible is true and all other truth claims are to be interpreted in light of its meaning. It is not, however, a straight forward pursuit since various factors have obscured the truth that is contained therein. Various people deal with this problem in various ways, but it seems to me that the main procedure that they use, on some level, is to discount  the validity of the Scriptures. So, while I believe and can confidently say based on Scripture and corroborating scientific evidence that the Earth was created recently, perhaps six to eight thousand years ago, I can equally confidently say that no one knows the exact number of years ago that “God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Others refuse to explore these issues and say, ‘What difference does it matter?’ I believe that it matters for at least the following reasons:

•An old Earth laced with death means death is not a result of Adam’s sin.

•If Adam’s sin did not bring death, then there is no need for a Savior.

•If we cannot place the Flood in the correct time where it fits with what else we know of history, we cannot apply logic to see how the modern Earth has resulted.

It is this latter idea that I want to explore on an admittedly shallow level and give my opinion. My musings here will not resolve the problem, but they will help me to clarify what I have come to suspect and perhaps stir some readers to consider different legitimate perspectives.

As a kind of introduction to the problem, has it ever bothered you about how rapidly post-Flood changes took place? Nations of peoples in a very few generations, Tower of Babel, Ur, and most of the planet settled in 300 years? And all of these people came from three women who came off of the ark. (It does not say that Noah had other sons and daughters, but it does say “These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.” (Genesis 9:19)) Abraham could have known Shem who “ was one hundred years old, and became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; and Shem lived five hundred years after he became the father of Arpachshad” (Genesis 11:10-11). 500 years after the flood would be long enough for him to be alive when Isaac was born. Noah and Abraham could have even known each other because “Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood.” (Genesis 9:28)

What I have not told you is that this chronology and the resulting seemingly odd consequences come from the Masoretic Text (MT) of Scripture. The Septuagint (LXX for 70 scholars who translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek.) extends the date of the Flood earlier by about 900 years (exact numbers are not really possible for many reasons). This extra time easily and neatly fits many historical and scientific claims.

I come across examples of how the LXX chronology fits with what we know about the world every now and then. Following are a few examples that I can remember. The first Egyptian Dynasty is said to have begun around 3150 B.C. (1) Now if it were said that Egypt was around in 4500 B.C. or some such date, I would not accept that because it clearly contradicts Scripture by any reasonable, straight-forward reading of the text. Even the dates they do give could be skewed, but they seem reasonable.

Bristlecone Pine ring cores have dated Methuselah at 4845 years old and Prometheus, which was cut down, at just over 4900 years old. And more recently one unknown, purposefully hidden specimen was dated at 5062 years old. (2) Even with a number of double rings (two sets of rings grown in one year), these trees would have sprouted before the ~2400 B.C. of the Masoretic Flood date.

I was listening to a video with students about a month ago on the subject of the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964. The USGS geologists studying this 9.2 megathrust earthquake took soil cores from the zone near the inter-tidal zone where barnacles were suddenly thrust up out of the sea about 8 feet in 4 minutes. When they drilled down deep, they found the sudden occurence of land based plants at nine places in the core, going back about 5500 years, based on the C-14 dating. The researcher said that this suggested that the average time between large quakes was about 630 years.  (3)

These examples may seem random and anecdotal with respect to biblical chronology, but they have one thing in common. All three examples originated in the range of 3500 to 3000 B.C., meaning that the events would have happened after the Flood as recorded in the LXX text of Scripture. I don’t think that experience and “scientific” and “historical” evidence mediates Scriptural discussion. In fact that is what has gotten us into the unbelieving mess we are in now. But when multiple lines of evidence line up with what the Scriptures say, it lends some credence to the argument.

Tell me what you think. Have you read or heard evidence from secular or Christian sources that suggest that the Flood happened before 3000 B.C.? Or do you have a well thought our reason to remain with the 2400 B.C. date? If you begin to explore these ideas, be aware that there is a boat load of information. It is not worth getting swallowed up by, but it does merit some curiosity, particularly if it pushes you to examine Scripture for more truth. Let me know what you think.

(1) https://www.ancient.eu/First_Dynasty_of_Egypt/

(2) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-one-man-accidentally-killed-the-oldest-tree-ever-125764872/

(3) http://www.earthquakenewz.com/1964-quake-the-great-alaska-earthquake-5/

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Science is a great tool for exploring the world. It saddens me that it has so much been commandeered for purposes contrary to the truth of God’s Word. Many of the processes discovered and described by scientists accurately align with observable reality, but particularly on the subject of time scales, their tomes do not ring true to what is verifiably true from Scripture or nature. I choose to believe what the Bible says over the faith system based on time, chance, matter, and energy. I think that it takes greater faith to worship these inanimate gods. So, I like to discuss weathering, for instance, but I reject uniformitarian time scales based on my faith and the field ‘evidence’ tendered (see 4th paragraph of “Four Singularities”; 3rd paragraph of “Amazing, Credible, Scientific Point of View”; “Many Grand Canyons”).

While teaching Earth Science, we discuss weathering at length. As with any study, teachers and students categorize subject matter. This frequently separates ideas that would naturally be together if organized in another way. For instance, is weathering a subject to be initiated and discussed in geology, hydrology, meteorology, or oceanography? It should be discussed in all of these areas of study, including astronomy (evidence of erosion on Mars, for example) and ecology (interaction biotic and abiotic factors in soil formation and fertility, for example). Where it is initiated is a bit harder. Do you begin during discussion of the rock cycle, or when you explain formation of soils, or when the main agent, water, is acting upon rock? I have chosen to mention it during oceanography, hydrology, and minerals and rocks units, but devote a separate unit to weathering and erosion by fleshing out the details of “WETS”: weathering, erosion, transportation, and sedimentation, and also soil formation. I repeat these concepts many times during the day and from semester to semester. Along with the hazards of plate movements, I guess the ocean part of change got to me, resulting in the following poetic outworking:

Wave upon wave upon the coast breaks
Battering and bludgeoning the shore
Each grain of sand that it takes
Builds a beach or a bar or seafloor

Longshore currents carry sediments
Outsourced from the rivers and headlands
Man-made wall impediments
To the flow of the nourishing sands

In deltas and mangrove swamps land grows
Protected from tidal surge and wind
Barrier isles resist flows
From storm surges and tsunamis that rend

Estuaries were once rivers
Where now the brackish waters are mixed
Fjords formed where one shivers
By ice scouring hard rock once fixed

Island arcs form in convergent zones
Some are explosive in the extreme
Subducting ocean plate groans
Hydrothermal vents with strange life team

From hot spots and boundaries they grow
Deep under water, volcanic mounts
Up from the mantle below
Convective cells produce magma founts

Some seamounts are flat on top
Belying once shallower sea wave
Blue hole a flooded cave drop
Once air filled, now a watery grave

Mid-ocean ridges build ocean crust
Plates transform by seismic shear stress
Others earthquake megathrust
Oh, so much crustal strain and duress

So much building up and tearing down
Reveal beautiful changing landforms
Hard to see, so much is drown
But wear, change, and movement are the norms

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