©1986 by Paul D. Ackerman http://www.creationism.org/ackerman/
11 - The Top That Reeled
. . . The earth shall reel to and
Biblical creationists consider the Genesis account of the flood in the time of Noah to be genuine history. According to the Genesis record, the flood was worldwide in its impact and occurred around 2200 to 2300 B.C.
Christians have traditionally pointed to the extensive sedimentary-rock layers with their numerous fossil remains as being the principal evidence for the flood. Another line of verification that has been put forward is the reports over the centuries by explorers and adventurers who claim to have sighted the remains of the great ark still at rest on Mount Ararat. The present chapter reports on some exciting discoveries by an Australian astronomer that provide new evidence for the Genesis flood.
Evidence from the Ancients
An intriguing mystery began to unravel with some routine research work by the late Australian astronomer George Dodwell. The thread of the mystery would lead Dodwell from some puzzling astronomical observations recorded by ancient astronomers to evidence for a dramatic alteration in the earth's axial tilt in the recent past and a surprising confirmation of the historical trustworthiness of the Bible.
Astronomer Dodwell was examining lists of winter/summer solstice shadow measurements (length of sun's noonday shadow on the longest and shortest day of the year) as recorded and left by ancient astronomers from as long ago as three thousand years. The mystery begins with the well-known fact that there seems something is wrong with these measurements. An apparent inaccuracy is present in these data that is totally out of character with the well-documented meticulousness of the remainder of the ancients' astronomical records and observations. Although the recorded shadow lengths are correct in respect to latitude position, they are wrong in respect to what modern astronomers think should be the axis alignment with the sun. What makes the idea of errors in these measurements odd is the fact that the ancient astronomers saw a religious significance in their astronomical calculations and therefore took them very seriously. Errors in their work beyond those imposed by the limitations of ancient observing methods are extremely unlikely. Also, the correctness of the latitude measurements give credibility to the accuracy of the axis-alignment data. Dodwell thought the "error explanation" of these figures must be wrong.
As he pondered the data, a decision was made to graph the measurements recorded by the ancients and compare them to what modern astronomers suppose they should have been, based upon reverse projections from present-day planetary alignments and motions. When Dodwell did so, he found that the ancient measurements formed a distinct pattern of increasing discrepancy with modern projections as one went further back in time. The data also fit a curve with which Dodwell was quite familiar. It was the curve of recovery for a spinning top that is struck by an outside force. Dodwell began to suspect that the problem had nothing to do with the accuracy of the ancient recordings but rather with our modern conception of how the earth and sun were aligned in the past. A dramatic and recent change in that alignment must have occurred.
Even so, Dodwell was puzzled by what lay before him. What did it all mean? The calculations on his desk lay untouched for two years while he pondered that question. When their import was finally realized, the impact of the realization led Dodwell on a totally unexpected turn to a deeper commitment to Christianity and the historical trustworthiness of the Bible. These commitments were to occupy his time and energy through the remainder of his life. Dodwell's scientific efforts, stimulated by what he became convinced were not erroneous measurements by the ancients, were never fully compiled in his lifetime but fortunately are now being made known through efforts of the Australian-based Creation Science Foundation.1
Three Additional Mysteries
What did Dodwell discover? George Dodwell had caught hold of an intriguing puzzle. Isolated anomalies in the date calculations for various historical events began to fall into a surprising pattern. Dodwell's line of research led him to a consideration of three other well-documented dating enigmas relating to (1) the ancient astronomer, Eudoxus; (2) Stonehenge; and (3) the Egyptian Solar Temple of Amen-Ra. The common thread in these three cases is that, like the ancient solstice shadow measurements, they indicate there is something wrong with our modern assumptions of how the earth's axis aligned with the heavens in past times.
Eudoxus was a well-known Greek mathematician, geographer, and astronomer who lived from about 400 to 347 B.C. Among the astronomical observations made by Eudoxus is a careful description of the North Celestial Pole (the point in the sky around which the stars appear to rotate and thus the position marking the alignment of the earth's axis). The problem is that on the basis of reverse projections from modern measurements of the earth's axis, orbit, and so forth, the observations of Eudoxus do not fit the time of 350 B.C. (at which they were made) but rather a time some 1,600 years earlier, or about 1900 B.C. If Eudoxus did make his observations in 350 B.C., as he claimed, there is something seriously wrong with our present-day procedure of projecting directly back from current astronomical alignments to determine what the alignments should have been at particular times in the past.
Another excellent example is Stonehenge, an ancient man-made construction consisting of huge stone slabs arranged in circular patterns and situated on the Salisbury Plain in southern England. In ancient times Stonehenge was used for astronomical observations in the context of religious rites and ceremonies.
On the basis of archaeological evidence and considerations, Stonehenge was for many years associated with the ancient Druid cult and thus dated at about 350 B.C. Modern astronomical research, however, has upset the simple conclusion of associating Stonehenge with the Druids, and the dating for the monument is now set much earlier—between 1500 to 1900 B.C. The reason for the change in dating is that the astronomical solstice measurements, which Stonehenge was built to observe, would not—according to reverse projections from current planetary positions—have been possible in 350 B.C. but only at the earlier date.
By this time the pattern was becoming clear to Dodwell, and he was beginning to see that the problem was with modern astronomical dating. A dramatic event had occurred, which was not being accounted for in the calculations. Dodwell now believed that the archaeologists had been right all along in dating Stonehenge at about 350 B.C.
Egyptian Solar Temple of Amen-Ra, Karnak
A final and apparently conclusive piece of the puzzle is found in connection with the Solar Temple of Amen-Ra at Karnak in Egypt. This temple was built during the time of the Pharaohs near or some time after 2000 B.C., and it was the site of a most impressive religious ceremony known as the "manifestation of Ra" (sun god).
The Egyptian Pharaohs claimed to be divine, and the once-a-year ceremony at Amen-Ra was designed to emphasize the point. At the center of the temple was a darkened sanctuary filled with gold and other magnificently jeweled decorations. Connecting to the outside from the sanctuary was a long narrow hallway. As the ancient summers drew near, the days grew longer and longer. The sun was positioned in the sky a little more northward each day, until it reached the most northerly position of its annual progression, marking the summer solstice and longest day of the year. On that longest day and only on that day, the setting sun was far enough north to shine down the long corridor of Amen-Ra and flood the sanctuary with light.
On that glorious day, the priests and other important persons would gather along the corridor, while Pharaoh stood in the darkened inner sanctuary. As the sun sank, it shone down the long corridor, and Pharaoh was suddenly swallowed up in the blinding brilliance. The sun god Ra and the god Pharaoh had become one—a most impressive ceremony, except for one tiny problem.
According to modern astronomical calculations, during the time of the temple's historical use, the sun would not have reached far enough north to shine down the corridor and into the sanctuary. Yet we know from ancient hieroglyphic writings that the sun did indeed shine into the sanctuary. Obviously there is something wrong with our modern astronomical calculations, according to which you would have to go back to at least 4000 B.C. for the manifestation-of-Ra ceremony to be possible.
That Strange Curve of Observations
When George Dodwell sought to solve the mysterious discrepancy between historical records and modern astronomy, he reached some startling conclusions. Earlier it was pointed out that he made a graph of the solstice shadow-length observations recorded by the ancients. When he constructed a mathematical curve to fit the observations, he made some important discoveries.
First, the curve had a point of origin dating at about 2345 B.C. He concluded that something dramatic must have occurred at that time.
Second, the curve determined by Dodwell cross-checked with the proper archaeological dates for Eudoxus, Stonehenge, and the Solar Temple of Amen-Ra. Dodwell's astronomical curve gave correct dates for these instances, thus tending to validate his calculations.
Third, as previously stated, Dodwell recognized the pattern of the curve. He realized that the path of the curve matched to a remarkable degree of detail the recovery path of a spinning top that is struck from the outside and returns to a new position of spinning equilibrium.
The realization of these factors stunned Dodwell, for they indicated that something had happened to the earth in 2345 B.C. to cause it to tilt from its axis. Following that sudden and dramatic tilt, the earth began to wobble like a spinning top and gradually recovered to a new axial tilt. Our modern reverse projections give inaccurate historical dates because they fail to take this fact into account. Most important in all this for Dodwell was the recognition that the 2345 B.C. date for the tilting of the earth's axis coincides with the historical date of the Genesis flood, as based upon the study of biblical chronologies.
Dodwell compiled an impressive body of data in support of the possibility that a heretofore unknown change in the tilt of the earth's axis occurred around 2345 B.C. Unaware of this change in the earth's rotational axis, many modern astronomers have been unable to match date estimates based on reverse astronomical projections with verified historical benchmarks. The calculations were thus flawed and gave date estimates for ancient events that are much too early. On the basis of Dodwell's research, it will now be possible to correct these astronomical dating procedures so that they yield valid results.
More importantly for us, Dodwell's discoveries provide evidence for the truth of the biblical record of world history. His findings support not only the historical fact of the flood but its occurrence at the time indicated by the Bible. In addition, Dodwell's research indicates that at the time of God's judgment on Noah's generation, there was a major realignment of the earth's axis. As to what might have caused such a tilt, Dodwell was not certain, but he came to believe that it was caused by the impact of an asteroid in what is now the Pacific Ocean.
The notion of such an impact is difficult to confirm and presents some nasty difficulties. Regarding this idea, another Australian astronomer, Barry Setterfield (see chapter 8), has remarked to the effect that if such a massive asteroid did, in fact, hit the earth, "the miracle is not that all of humanity perished in the great flood but that Noah and his family survived." It nevertheless remains an intriguing possibility and might explain some otherwise puzzling mysteries in the fossil record.
The Mammoths of the Northern Tundra
Among the most curious of archaeological mysteries are the vast beds of perfectly preserved fossils frozen in the northern tundras. Buried beneath the northern tundras of Siberia and Alaska lie the remains of thousands of frozen animals, including the now-extinct mammoth. In some cases the carcasses are preserved to such a degree that their flesh is still edible, usually only by bears and wolves but in a few reported instances by men. Today these northern tundras are cold and barren wastelands, but we know that in the past the climate was much warmer. Fossil evidence has been found of plants that grow today as far south as Mexico. At one time these tundras were covered with lush vegetation.
It is a mystery how so many mammoths and
other animals could have been rapidly buried and preserved in cold storage,
for the climate was warm at the time they were living. One such perfectly
preserved carcass was found near the Beresovka River in Siberia in 1901.2
Well-preserved plant fragments were found in the mouth and between the
teeth of the mammal, indicating the suddenness with which it met its death.
Inside the mammoth's stomach, twenty-four pounds of excellently preserved
vegetation was recovered. The mammoth's remarkably preserved state indicates
that at the time of death there was a cataclysmic occurrence that produced
both a rapid burial of the creature and a sudden and permanent drop in
the temperature. Recent studies of the temperature parameters required
to account for the state of preservation of the Beresovka mammoth reveal
that "the animal must have frozen to death in mid-summer by being suddenly
overcome by an outside temperature below —150° F."3
. . . for the Beresovka mammoth, some violent climatic upheaval is the only explanation for these remains. The animal was peacefully grazing on summer buttercups in late July and within one half hour of ingestion of his last lunch, he was overcome by temperatures in excess of —150° F. . . . whatever climatic upheaval caught him, permanently changed the climatic conditions of the tundra.4
In an attempt to relate the remarkable tundra fossils to Dodwell's concept of asteroid impact, Carl Wieland of Australia writes as follows:
Even the evolutionists have sought to suggest that impact from outer space has been responsible for extinctions such as that of the dinosaurs. They have even produced theoretical models which predict that if a large object did smash into the ocean, a massive jet of superheated steam would be shot into the upper atmosphere, where it would be superchilled to form a layer of ice crystals which would block out the sunlight, and produce catastrophic climatic effects.
But this impact idea helps explain other more puzzling features. In order to push the earth's axis into its present position, the asteroid had to be coming from a particular direction. The snap frozen mammoths of Alaska and Siberia are right in the path of the jet of spray which would have been shot high into the atmosphere to supercool below freezing and fall to earth in these places, in addition to freezing effects of sunblocking mentioned earlier. The North Pole (which, as the world's driest spot, was not formed by snow falling slowly over time) is also in the path of any ice dump from this effect. World cooling would have followed this to produce widespread glaciation which has been melting back since that time.5
Continental Plates, Precipitates and Diatoms
Certain geologic features and characteristics might also be more clearly understood if Dodwell's suspicion of asteroid collision were proved to be tenable. Such impact on a scale large enough to tilt the earth's axis would result in a good deal of fracturing of the earth's crust. This fracturing could account for the recently discovered continental plates, which are apparently not existent on Venus and Mars.
Asteroid impact with subsequent crustal
fracturing might also account for some of the puzzling precipitate deposits,
such as were mentioned in chapter 9. Deep crust fracture would result in
a lot of molten intrusion from the earth's interior. Such massive heated
intrusion into the oceans might well result in rapid deposition of such
minerals as limestone as cooling occurred. Massive and virtually pure limestone
beds are difficult to explain on the basis of any known process operating
– UPDATE 2002 - Added for the Web Version –
Putting It All Together: The Great Flood
Genesis 7:11 tells us that the great worldwide flood was initiated on a single day when, “in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” At the 1994 International Conference of creationism a team of six scientists study presented a global flood model called Catastrophic Plate Tectonics (CPT).6 According to CPT the “breaking up” of the fountains of the great deep refers to the eruption of volcanoes on the pre-flood ocean floor. The ocean floor was thus shattered and huge slabs began to rapidly sink into the earth's mantle along thousands of miles of the coastline of a single pre-flood continent. Resulting turbulence in the underlying mantel caused the pre-flood continent to break apart creating the several continents we have today. The high mountain ranges on the continents and in the oceans of today were ultimately created by this event.
The cool oceanic floor sank into the hot mantel at runaway speeds of feet-per-second and descended deep in the earth to the top of its iron core. The resulting temperature imbalance produced convection currents in the core and mantel creating rapid reversals of the earth's magnetic field every week or two. As the cool, pre-flood floor sank, the hot, underlying mantel welled-up to create new ocean floor. The new, hot floor raised the ocean level so as to flood the land surface. Huge tidal waves came and went creating the earth's sedimentary rocks. Lush habitats were swept away and entombed creating the coal, gas, and oil deposits as well as the fossil record. In the ensuing years, hot ground water produced vast mineral deposits and eroded extensive cave systems.
The volcanic upheaval in the ocean depths on the first day of the flood produced torrential rains over the entire world which lasted for forty days according Genesis 7:12. The hot, newly forming ocean floor and resulting warming of the ocean water contributed to producing the deluge. Later in the flood year, as the new ocean floor cooled, it contracted allowing the ocean level to lower once again exposing the continental surface. As the water retreated, however, huge lakes remained trapped on the continents. Having no established draining patterns these huge lakes grew even larger until they broke loose catastrophically rapidly forming such features as the Grand Canyon in the south-western U.S.A. In the aftermath of the flood, increased precipitation caused by the warm seas produced the earth's polar ice caps and led to an ice age lasting perhaps two or three hundred years.
In brief, this is our best scientific understanding of Noah's Flood.
For the technical report on CPT see:
For other questions about the Flood, Noah's Ark, ice ages, etc. also see: http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/qa.asp.
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