Monday, 13 February 2012

Mass for Creationists

According to the Bible, God once flooded the earth to a depth which covered the highest mountains (Genesis 7:20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered).  I expect a cubit was pretty big in those days because Everest's peak is 30,000 feet above sea level, so a cubit must have been 2,000 feet.

Moving on...

Now, let's assume an average depth of 15,000 feet of additional water above the former sea level.

Obviously that additional mass of water would have given Earth additional mass, which would have affected at least four or five things in the Sun-Earth-Moon system and to the inner planets.

BTW, I'm not a physicist so I'm happy to be corrected by someone who is. Hopefully, someone can do the sums and fill in the detail for me.

  • To conserve angular momentum, the speed of rotation of the Earth would have needed to slow down so days would have lengthened.
  • Similarly to conserve angular momentum in earth's orbit around the Sun, Earth would have needed to move away from the sun into a larger orbit to give a longer year.
  • As Earth moved out towards the orbit of Mars and away from Venus these would have been disturbed in their orbits which would need to adjust accordingly.
  • The additional mass of Earth would have pulled the Moon into a closer orbit.

So, to all you creationists who believe the science supports a literal interpretation of the Bible and the inerrancy of the Noah's Ark story, complete with global flood, and who keep telling us how you've all studied science and are experts in stuff like physics, these questions should all be answerable with ease.

Real physicists might like to have a go at this too, please. I'd love to know the answers myself. "A magic man did it by magic" seems such an unsatisfactory answer somehow.

  1. By how much would Earth's rotation have slowed down and how long would the days have been?
  2. How far out from the Sun would Earth have moved and how long would a year have lasted?
  3. How would the orbits of Mars, Venus, and maybe Mercury and Jupiter have been changed by the change in Earth's orbit?
  4. How much closer to Earth would the Moon have moved and why did it not get pulled into Earth to destroy both bodies in a catastrophic collision?
  5. By how much would the temperature have fallen on Earth as it moved away from the Sun and how did the water remain liquid at this low temperature so the Ark could float about?

Or would it be easier to conclude that the story is one of the least plausible in all mythology and could only have been made up by people completely ignorant of basic physics and astronomy?


  1. It is actually pretty minimal, an increase in mass of less 0.1%. Disastrous for the surface and may well drive the crust into the mantel but in terms of orbits not much effect. If my late night calculations are correct about a 10 minute change in the length of a day

    Getting that much water too and from the Earth would cause huge problems as well. As would the displacement of the atmosphere

    1. Thanks. That raises another question.

      At 30,000 feet few things can survive without special equipment due to low partial pressure of O2 and cold, but would that apply if the atmosphere had been displaced upward, effectively raising sea-level?

    2. I will do the calculations on change to orbit this evening

      I am not at atmospheric physicist so all this must be treated with caution. I think the pressure would be about the same, but the problem would be the churning up of the atmosphere. For example it may force the ozone layer to mix with lower denser layers which would not be good

      In terms of oxygen I think the bigger issue would be the sudden death of all land based plants and any in the sea which can't cope with the sudden change in salinity. A quick google suggests simple respiration won't deplete it quickly but I don't know what affect the water would have on the process of rotting. One guess given the darkness and pressure is not a lot happens until the water recedes and then goes mad (assuming the bacteria and fungi survive)

    3. Thanks. Bible says 'all living substance' was destroyed so can't assume survival of any living thing outside the Ark. No plants, no bacteria, no fungi, not even a rotifer or paramoecium :-)

  2. Well if my calculations are correct, my instincts were slightly off around where the most effect would be.
    Around 10 minutes on a day in terms of Earth's rotation
    Around 12 hours on a year in terms of Earth's orbit
    And only 3 seconds difference on a month (it goes with the sqrt of the Earth's mass but still this doesn't feel right to me but I can't see my mistake)

    The change in mass would have no noticeable effect on the other planets or the temperature of the Earth.

    If all the biomass did rot to CO2 that would double atmospheric CO2 almost over night and given the ice caps would have melted after being covered in warm water there would be run away greenhouse effect and nothing to absorb that carbon for the time it took the small handful of plants on the arc to spread across the world and evolve into all modern planets. In fact and I don't want to give creationists ideas but it may end up looking a lot like Venus

  3. Your article starts by assuming that mt. Everest was present before the flood.
    I have posted a tweet that found evidence of marine life in soil samples from mt. Everest's summit.

    1. Are we expected to believe that Everest has risen to 30,000 feet in just a few thousand years now?

      Have you any sensible arguments in support of your superstition or are you assuming everyone is abysmally ignorant?

    2. BTW, I see you avoided dealing with any of the questions. Are we expected to believe that you could have done so but chose not to?

  4. >Are we expected to believe that Everest has risen to 30,000 feet in just a few thousand years now?

    About 3m yrs from memory. The continent of India smashing into Asia has had an effect on global temperatures due to all that snow reflecting sunlight, and the CO2 sink resulting from monsoon rains on freshly broken rock.

    Here's a pic:

    Stupid article sorry.


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