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The Flood caused an ice age (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (The Flood caused an ice age (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH590:

The great release of energy during the Flood caused much water from the new oceans to enter the atmosphere. This moisture fell at the poles as snow and caused the Ice Age.

Source: Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 126-127.

CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Adding heat to a system tends to make it hotter. The falling moisture would have been a hot rain, not snow.

  • Creationists invoke evaporation as a cooling method. They forget that all the heat lost to evaporation returns when the water condenses again, and then more latent heat is released in the freezing.

This claim is out of date. The current creationist model is that the air and land were cooled by post-flood volcanic activity blocking sun light, whilst the oceans would still be warm from the flood and there would still be an elevated level of geologic activity. The warm oceans would produce evaporation and the resulting moisture would be cooled by low atmospheric temperatures and fall as snow on to cool continents. This is similar to a so-called nuclear winter.

So Talk.Origins is relying on out-of-date information; evaporation is not invoked as a cooling method as they claim. It is volcanic dust that cooled things down, the warm oceans simply provide adequate evaporation to produce snow and ice.

In contrast, the uniformitarian model cools the entire planet, oceans and all, but that would reduce evaporation and dry out the atmosphere. Thus there would be hardly any moisture to fall as snow to get the snow needed for an ice age.


2. A proper ice age cannot fit into a young-earth timescale. For a continent-scale glacier to form, advance enough to change the landscape, and retreat takes centuries or more, not a decade.

Estimates for the advance and retreat of the post-flood ice age is estimated to have taken 1000-2000 years. Morris's book cited by Talk.Origins as a source makes no estimate of time. So this is just a Straw Man.

  • Cores from ice sheets reveal annual layers that date back 160,000 years in places. Volcanic eruptions recorded in the top few thousand years match historic records. The top 4000 or so layers have to be annual layers. It is unlikely that the other 156,000 layers were laid down in just a few years. [Brinkman 1995]

There is no reference to this in Talk.Origins' cited source, which in any case is from Talk.Origins and therefore is not an independent source. Nor does there seem to be any independent confirmation of this claim and without such it is a baseless claim.

The only basis for Talk.Origins' claim is that Brinkman indicates that volcanic eruptions are used to calibrate ice core ages. However, given the number of volcanoes in the world and the fact that many of them are in locations where there would be no historical record of their eruptions, it is likely that a coincidental match could be made for any historically recorded eruption based on any dating system.

3. The earth under the ice sheets is isostatically adjusted to the mass of ice. Even if 10,000+ feet of ice were dropped on Greenland and Antarctica in only a few years about 4000 years ago, it would take over 12,000 years to reach the observed (today) degree of adjustment. Scandinavia and Canada are still rebounding from the disappearance of glaciers covering them at the end of the last ice age [Strahler 1987, ch. 27]. It would have taken additional thousands of years for the weight of the ice to push them down in first place.

First of all there may have been some event connected to the Flood that caused some of the adjustment, possibly an impact.

Furthermore, the high level of geologic activity during and shortly after the Flood would have left the Earth more pliable so that the isostatic adjustment formed within 1000 years, by the end of the ice age. It would have been just enough beyond today's value that Scandinavia and Canada are still rebounding.

4. There are multiple lines of evidence for many glacial advances and retreats in the last 2 million years [Shackleton 2000].

  • Species of foraminifera vary with ocean temperature. The variation is recorded in deep ocean sediments, showing many long-term changes.

The so-called long-term changes are based on uniformitarian dating, so this is just a case of your theory does not work under my theory, so your theory must be wrong.

  • Oxygen isotope ratios (O-18/O-16) indicate when more water is held in glaciers (because O-16 evaporates more easily, and so is disproportionately common in snow). This ratio is recorded in carbonate shells in seafloor sediments; it shows the same sort of variation.

This just means that the variation has the same cause, such as isotopic fractionation. There are other possibilities as well:

The ice-core data readily fit a young-earth model, with the bulk of the ice sheet thickness having been deposited by the hurricane-like circulation in the relatively brief 500-year period following the Flood. In this understanding, the oxygen isotope variations, for example, do not represent annual seasons but individual storms from different directions depositing water evaporated from oceans differing in temperature.

  • Formations caused by glaciers on Mauna Kea show that the volcano experienced at least four glaciations. Lava flows between the formations show that the glaciations were separate.

This is simple. An eruption melts surrounding ice and snow. Ice and snow now return as the increasing global glaciation continues. Another eruption melts surrounding ice and snow, and the process repeats itself.

  • The water level of Lake Bonneville (of which Great Salt Lake is a remnant) rose in times of glaciation, leaving different fossil shorelines. Simultaneously, glaciers from the Rockies advanced, leaving superposed morainal material. Research on these deposits reveals glaciations at about 125,000, 200,000, 300,000, 400,000, and 440,000 years ago, plus several more cycles between 500,000 and 800,000 years ago.

The dates are based on uniformitarian dating methods so this just a case of your theory does not work under my theory so your theory must be wrong. All this shows it that there were fluctuations in the build up of the ice age resulting in several advances and retreats.

  • Furthermore, there is evidence for ice ages in the late Ordovician and in the late Carboniferous/early Permian. These ice ages would have had to occur in the middle of the Flood. They cannot be easily discounted because they are indicated by just the same kind of evidence that causes creationists (and mainstream geologists) to recognize a recent ice age.

This another case of your theory does not work under my theory so your theory must be wrong. These so called ice ages are based on ‘tillites’ found in rock layers labeled as late Carboniferous/early Permian. However a closer study shows they are more consistent with marine deposits making them entirely consistent with a global flood.

5. Changes in climate are correlated with Milankovitch cycles, long-term cycles in the Earth's orbit. [Lindsay 1997]

The actual data presented by Talk.Origins own source does not show any objective correlation between Milankovitch cycles and ice volume. In fact there is no consistent pattern relating peak in ice volume to calculated lows in summer sunshine. There are about as many places where a peak in ice volume coincides with a calculated peak in summer sunshine as with a low in summer sunshine. The same can be said for lows in both .

Furthermore, while D180.gif (a main indicator of climate change) seems to reach a peak negative near the 100,000 year peak in the eccentricity of the Earth orbit, closer scrutiny shows problems with this theory. First of all the D180.gif peak negative does not correspond to the variation in the size of the eccentricity peaks. That is, smaller eccentricity peaks should produce smaller D180.gif peak negatives, and larger eccentricity peaks should produce larger D180.gif peak negatives, but they don't. Furthermore, the change in eccentricity produces a change in solar radiation of only 1–2%, which is about that of the difference over a single 11-year solar cycle, and it is too small of a difference to account for the indicated degree of climate change. The result is that the apparent match-up between Milankovitch cycles and climate change is at best a coincidence.

Reference: The role of the sun in climate forcing