Sarfati's Global Flood
F. C. Kuechmann
More malarky from The True.Hogwash Archive (a comically irrational unaffiliated alternative to the Talk.Origins Archive).
The esteemed J. Sarfati and his boon companions at Answers In Genesis have gifted us with yet another pile of self-serving nonsense in the guise of Sarfati's petit opus Problems with a Global Flood?, whose purpose is revealed in the clever subtitle -- "(a rebuttal of Mark Isaak's Problems with a Global Flood FAQ in the Talk.Origins Archive)".
In typical YEC fashion Sarfati begins by uniting Talk.Origins, evolution, atheism, pseudo-intellectualism and apostasy. He continues by denouncing those who claim "that you can believe in God and evolution ... who are eager to assure inquirers that many Christians accept evolution." All else aside, an extremely large number of Christians do accept the reality of evolution; the creationist biblical fetish appears a tad egotistic in context.
Mark Isaak is initially denounced because he "displays his contempt for Scripture" when he questions the comically named "Noachian deluge".
Sarfati then, after accusing Isaak of feigning concern about biblical credibility, asks, somewhat less than merely rhetorically, "How do police investigators normally treat statements by witnesses who are blatantly dishonest? The clear implication seems to be that disputing biblical literalism is tantamount to criminal behavior.
We are then treated to the usual string of citations from and references to stock YEC literature. Perhaps most humorously we are repeatedly referred to John Woodmorappe's book *Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study*, which, Sarfati assures us, the "serious and objective student of ... (the Noachian deluge) ... would definitely find it worthwhile purchasing". Why do I often get the impression that YECs are always trying to sell me something (in addition to their nonsensical theology?). And Woodmorappe's book is little but an endless string of might haves, could have beens, etc. I'd think the Master of the Universe would've included at least some of Woodmorappe's details (e.g. the poop chutes and/or the animals doing their scatological business into buckets on command) in the Big Holy Book. Instead we're left with endless speculation and a horde of blathering creationists offering that speculation as "proof" of biblical literalist big wooden boat story veracity.
In the section "Isaak's Chemical Incompetence", Sarfati first quotes Isaak asking "How were hematite layers laid down? Standard theory is that they were laid down before Earth's atmosphere contained much oxygen. In an oxygen-rich regime, they would almost certainly be impossible.".
He next avoids direct response by resorting to ad hominem: "Isaak doesn't understand basic chemistry! Evidently the quality control on the Talk.Origins site leaves a lot to be desired. They obviously care more about bashing the creationary perspective than scientific accuracy." Then follows up by failing to distinguish between chemistry and geology.
"Hematite is a highly oxidised mineral (Fe2O3)! So its formation is a strong indication that there was lots of oxygen around, even in rocks dated by evolutionists at over 3 billion years old."
Sarfati ignores the fact that while hematite is highly oxidized from a chemical standpoint, that fact says nothing about the geologic conditions under which large deposits of it were formed. Isaak refers to "standard theory" regarding hematite formation and Sarfati responds by calling him a chemical ignoramus. Sarfati would be more credible if he were to offer convincing geologic evidence that either Isaak is in error concerning "standard theory", or that said theory is itself in error.
Instead he continues his misplaced attack by citing his chemistry pedigree: "When someone makes such crass blunders in areas that I can check (having a Ph.D. in chemistry), he has scarcely earned trust for himself in any other area." From my standpoint, when someone like Sarfati makes such crass blunders as to fail to comprehend the distinction between chemistry and geology, resorting to ad hominem instead of rational discussion of the subject at hand, he has scarcely earned trust for himself in any area whatsoever.
In the section "Isaak's Ignorance of Geology", Sarfati quotes Isaak: "How can a single flood be responsible for such extensively detailed layering?"
Answer: Isaak is evidently ignorant of the Mt. St. Helens volcano and sedimentation evidence of Berthault, et al., published in the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal. These show that the layers do not need to form slowly, one at a time, but can form simultaneously by a self-sorting mechanism as the differently-sized particles roll over each other. A recent Nature article on spontaneous multi-layer formation shows that the secular journals have finally caught up with the creationary scientists, who published evidence like this 10 years ago - so much for the bigoted evolutionists' claim that "creationists do no scientific research." See the CENTJ article, "Sedimentation experiments: Nature finally catches up". Isaak also seems unaware that Mt. St. Helens laid down 7.6 metres (25 feet) of finely laminated sediments in a few hours.
Isaak: "How do you explain the formation of varves? The Green River formation in Wyoming contains 20,000,000 annual layers, or varves, identical to those being laid down today in certain lakes. The sediments are so fine that each layer would have required over a month to settle.".
Sarfati's claims that "The self-sorting mechanism described above explains" varves in such locations as the Green River formation, demonstrate apparent complete ignorance of such varve characteristics as pollen consistently embedded in the upper parts, and only in the upper parts, of the dark, winter layers, where it was trapped each spring. The creationist self-sorting mechanism can't account for it. Annual layering can. Contrary to Sarfati's assertion that "It's simply nonsense that the layers would have to form slowly, and/or one at a time", there is convincing evidence that the alternating layers of dark organic material were deposited in winter, while the lighter layers were deposited by chemical processes in summer. Sarfati completely ignores the characteristic differences in appearance between slowly-formed and rapidly-formed layers. A good brief discussion of some these differences can be found in G.R. Morton's essay Age of the Earth at Young Earth Arguments: A Second Look.
In a manner all too typical of creationist non-science, Sarfati extrapolates the results of experiments demonstrating that rapid sedimentation can *sometimes* happen, arriving at the demonstrably ludicrous position that *all* sedimentation happened rapidly.
His assertion that "fish and other fossils ... would have decayed if they were on the bottom for thousands of years being slowly buried layer by layer" ignores the fact that soft tissue fossils are extremely rare. The Green River fish fossils are of hard parts that don't decay readily -- bony skeletons, scales and shells.
Sarfati continues "This applies even if the water was low in oxygen. (The excuse that alkaline conditions might have preserved them from decay is preposterous - we use alkali in our dishwashers because it breaks down organic matter!) See the Creation magazine article on the Green River Formation, 'Green River Blues'."
More distortions and half-truths. We use alkali to clean dishes because it cuts grease. Organic matter is then removed by physical forces -- a dishcloth in case of hand washing, a spray of water in an automatic washer. Mildly alkaline conditions might in fact protect the skeleton of a fish from both bacterial attack and softening from long-term immersion in water.
When Sarfati's rebuttal is fully dissected we find there is nothing there. There's no skeleton and the flabby meat is easily cut away.