Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the editor
"The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch"
by D. W. Patten
K. J. Touryan
Supervisor of Reentry Research
Albuquerque, New Mexico, Member ASA
From: PSCF 20 (September 1068): 125-126.
Two articles that appeared in recent issues of the ASA Journal prompt me to write this letter. The first is the excellent article by B. H, Bube in the March 1968 issue where he outlines a program of "rapprochement" between ASA members and the general scientific community. The second concerns a honk entitled "The Biblical Flood & The Ice Age" by D. W. Fatten reviewed by A. O, Ramsley in the December 1967 issue of the ASA Journal.
In his outline, Bribe underscores the importance of high caliber scientific publications by ASA members that deal with historical or scientific reliability of the Scriptures. Needless to say, this is an issue of paramount importance to ASA's image as a legitimate scientific as well as Christian organization. Therefore, as part of ASA's high standards the organization must carefully screen biblical-scientific publications, such as the recent book by D. W. Patten, which appear on the market from time to time. A. O. Ramsley gives a comprehensive and reasonably critical review of Patten's book but fails to mention several serious errors and misrepresentations in Patten's analysis.
A colleague of mine, Professor C. W. Cross (a reputable geophysicist) and I reviewed Patten's book entitled "The Biblical Flood & The Ice Age" for local publicity. In spite of the fact that we both accept the possibility, of a global biblical flood as a legitimate historical event, we were both appalled at the superficiality of the arguments presented in the book and the obvious scientific inaccuracies in several of Mr. Patten's fundamental explanations.
We have discouraged local publicity of the book and would suggest you do the some, after reviewing our enclosed comments.
A Review of the book.
"The Biblical Flood and The Ice Epoch" is an interesting book which
rises an unconventional astrophysical approach in an attempt to
explain a global
biblical flood. Had the book actually portrayed its intended prtrpose, namely
to present eatastroplsism as is well thought-nut, scientifically
it would have made an entertaining as well as' ',s thought provoking reading.
However, the author fails to do so for the following reasons:
In an attempt to be comprehensive arid "scientific," the author undertakes the herculean task of plowing through an awesome array of scientific disciplines, such as astrophysics, geophysics, anthropology, etc., without adequate scientific training in any of these fields.
This is evident from the fact that in most of his hypotheses he fails to analyze available geological information and omits significant factors which would otherwise completely invalidate his hypotheses.
For example, the author states that the Ice Epoch was caused by millions of cubic feet of ice that fell on earth from an astral visitor over a very short period of time. However, he forgets that even a piece of ice one cubic mile in size will completely evaporate by frictional heating in the earth's atmosphere before it impacts on earth.
Furthermore, according to Professor G. W. Gross, geophysicist at New Mexico Mining Institute, who also reviewed the book, the author completely ignores the evidence on the age and different stages of glaciation" based on radioactive age determinations of plant and animal remnants, as well as on layered deposits of glacial lakes ("varves")
He also ignores the evidence on the age of geological formations obtained by the same methods. Therefore, his geological time table (pp. 302-304) is unacceptable. The overwhelming evidence is that our present picture of the geological sequence is basically' correct (although it is undoubtedly' wrong in many details). Geophysical age determinations may well be, and often are, in error. But if so the author has failed to prove it. As a matter of fact, the author does not so much as mention them. These methods are not based on any geological hypothesis (such as uniformitarianism), but on physical theories that are among the most solidly grounded concepts of science. (If, indeed, we accept that there is such a thing as certain knowledge; but if not, there is no reason in discussing the problem at all.)
There are no calculations to support his massive tide theory, neither does he properly investigate the consequences of a large astral visitor from considerations of orbital mechanics. The latter shows constraints imposed by Newton's law of universal gravitation on celestial bodies which makes the author's "visitor" theory highly suspect.
There is no need to go any further. It is the reviewer's opinion that this book be treated at best as science fiction and by no means an authentic, scholarly document because, if used and quoted indiscriminately, it will be violating one of the basic tenets of Scripture, namely, that of sticking to the truth, and can thus become a detriment to the authenticity of the Scriptures. Dr. K. J. Touryau
Supervisor, Reentry Physics Group Sandia Laboratory
Albuquerque, New Mexico
P. S. Both Professor Gross and I would like to make it clear that we do accept the possibility of a global biblical flood as stated in the Scriptures.