Creationism and the Paluxy Controversy

Wayne Spencer
M.S. Physics

Part 2: A scientific analysis of Baugh's Model of Creation and the Preflood Earth

I would like to give special attention to the original ideas Carl Baugh has published regarding how God first created the Earth. This is referred to as "Creation in Symphony" and "The Model" which are the titles of two video series produced in 1995 and 1996. Mr. Baugh has a number of very unique views of the preflood Earth that do not agree with the work of creationary scientists who have more credentials in science. His unusual theories on the preflood Earth put him significantly off the "mainstream" in terms of creation science. These videos give a number of references to creationist and non-creationist books and periodicals. At least some of these references are used inappropriately and do not support the claims Baugh makes in his lectures. My own paper was used in his video "The Model" as a reference though my paper does not suggest some of the ideas suggested by Mr. Baugh. More will be said regarding this in following pages. Some of the unique ideas he has published in his books and videos are in the following list. This paper will address item A primarily as well as B and C briefly. The other items are listed only for the sake of clarifying Baugh's point of view.

A. An interpretation of the word "raquia" in Genesis 1 which says that
     the preflood canopy in the atmosphere was a thin solid layer of
     crystalline hydrogen in a special metallic form. He attributes many
     special properties of Earth's preflood atmosphere to this
     crystalline canopy. He also suggests there would be many special
     benefits it would provide for humans and for plants.

B. That the Earth as it was first created was about 10% smaller than
     it is at present and that it expanded in size after the Flood event.

C. That the atmospheric pressure of the preflood Earth was
     approximately double the present atmospheric pressure.

D. That the Earth was a kind of nuclear reactor at creation, with
     a layered structure alternating in amounts of radioactive elements.

E. Mr. Baugh suggests that the thoughts of human beings in
     Noah's day somehow had an effect on the Earth itself that
     precipitated some of the processes of Noah's Flood. He
     also suggests that the thoughts of Christians around the
     time of the rapture of the Church will similarly affect Earth
     but in a reverse manner. He believes that after the Church
     is raptured, there will be one supercontinent, similar to what
     existed at creation.

F. He suggests that cosmic rays from space and other
    electromagnetic radiation from space somehow would
    have aided in supporting Earth's magnetic field and the
    crystalline canopy in the preflood Earth.

Note that Mr. Baugh emphasizes intelligent design in the universe and in the Earth as God first created it. God did design the universe to be a stable place for us to live and the Earth is designed for life. I agree with Mr. Baugh broadly on the point of design but some of the examples and arguments for design he uses are questionable and even embarrassing to anyone in science. Mr. Baugh seems to suggest mystical ideas at times that have very questionable validity or little or no importance. There are very good indicators of intelligent design in the universe from the scale of the subatomic to the astronomical. Mr. Baugh rightly points out some of these, but he also uses arguments that I think would seriously confuse a lay person or a young person. Examples are in his treatment of the "gospel in the stars," and the idea of musical "tones" from the planets, for instance. These should never be used as arguments for design, in my opinion.

The book Panorama of Creation, published in 1989 explains Mr. Baugh's model of the preflood "firmament" in Earths atmosphere. First, Carl Baugh bases his view of the early Earth on a questionable interpretation of the Hebrew word "raquia" in Genesis chapter 1. This word is translated "firmament" or "expanse" in English Bibles. The word raquia, as Baugh points out, comes from a word generally referring to something solid that is some kind of extended or spread out surface. Mr. Baugh takes the view that this word must mean something solid in Genesis 1. But, Hebrew scholars would not agree with this interpretation of "raquia", because of the usage of the word in context. In the Hebrew, this word refers to something spread out or stretched out. It does not indicate any particular material or element, nor does it indicate a solid necessarily. The Hebrew usage of the word in context throughout the Old Testament is more important in determining the meaning of such a word than is the origin of the word. So, the Hebrew seems to indicate something spread out, perhaps referring to something thin, but it is not nearly so specific or clear as Mr. Baugh interprets it.

Mr. Baugh's "crystalline canopy" model is fraught with scientific problems that make it clearly impossible. Mr. Baugh attempts to develop a scientific basis for this same view of the firmament in the preflood atmosphere of the Earth. He claims that at about 11 miles altitude, the preflood Earth had a structure present in the atmosphere that is quite different from anything known of today. It would consist of two solid water ice layers with a zone containing hydrogen in between. Some of this hydrogen is said to have been in a special metallic form. Baugh also suggests some of the hydrogen could be in liquid form. He describes two layers of water ice which sandwich hydrogen, some of which has "clumps" or zones of metallic hydrogen and perhaps some liquid hydrogen between these zones. Baugh cites physics research on metallic hydrogen from the journal Science and argues that this structure in Earth's atmosphere would have a number of special properties. He claims it would be transparent, superconducting, ferromagnetic, and fiber optic. These properties are said to have produced some special benefits for living things and people in the preflood world. Mr. Baugh implies in his video series that the firmament would be held up by superconducting levitation, aided by the likelihood that the preflood Earth would have a stronger magnetic field than at present. The fiber optic nature of it is claimed to cause light to be transmitted within the hydrogen zone between the crystalline shells, and this would transmit some low level light to the dark side of the planet, preventing total darkness. Baugh further claims that the ferromagnetic properties of the hydrogen in the firmament would have special interactions with radio waves and light from the stars that would somehow convert the electromagnetic energy to audible sound that could be heard by human beings on the Earth. All of this involves a lot of physics that most people know little about. Is all this possible? No.

I would say there is not the slightest question that the above ideas on this firmament model are impossible based on physics. Mr. Baugh comments at length about special design benefits for man that this firmament would provide. Some of these benefits claimed for man in the preflood Earth by Mr. Baugh depend on the metallic form of the hydrogen in the firmament. Some creationists believe in a water vapor canopy in the preflood Earth. This water canopy would be very different from what Baugh describes. The main benefits of the more common vapor canopy idea relate to there being a global mild climate more constant than today. Sometimes Mr. Baugh describes the firmament as a "bubble of water." This description is totally inconsistent with Baugh's actual model. Also, it is not possible for an actual bubble to form in Earth's atmosphere; so this is a very misleading description in which Baugh is actually contradicting his book and his videos. It is not that he has changed his model, because in his 1995 video series he describes his firmament model in the same manner as in the Panorama of Creation book.

The main problem with the whole idea is that metallic hydrogen and liquid hydrogen could never exist in Earth's atmosphere. In fact, it is questionable whether metallic hydrogen could ever exist in any atmosphere. Some scientists believe there may be metallic hydrogen in a liquid form deep near the core of Jupiter. But this is only possible because of the very extreme pressures there. Some astronomical research suggest stars may contain some metallic hydrogen. This is very different from proposing that metallic hydrogen could exist in Earth's atmosphere. Even if it were miraculously created, which Baugh seems to believe, it could not possibly continue to exist in metallic form in Earth's atmosphere. It requires extremely low temperatures or high pressures to cause hydrogen to go to the fluid state. Even more pressure is required to make it undergo a transition to behaving as a metal. If Mr. Baugh insists on believing in this hydrogen firmament based on Scripture, then he should present it that way, and stop attempting to make it sound scientific.

Mr. Baugh suggests that this firmament would scatter and filter light differently than the gases in todays atmosphere on Earth and this would make the sky look various shades of pink or reddish to people on Earth's surface. Baugh is not very clear what he bases this on. The experimental research on metallic hydrogen used as one of Mr. Baugh's references is entitled "Optical Studies of Hydrogen Above 200 Gigapascals: Evidence for Metallization by Band Overlap", by H. K. Mao and R. J. Hemley, Science of June 23rd, 1989. Let us take a look at what this Science paper says about the experiment.

Carl Baugh incorrectly applies the results of this study to Earth's atmosphere. This paper addresses the transition undergone by hydrogen under extreme compression. The experiment was conducted at liquid nitrogen temperatures (-196 C or -321F) and at extremely high pressures using a special device known as a diamond anvil. The Pascal is a metric unit of pressure and the prefix "giga" indicates 1 billion times the value (109). This experiment involved very very high pressures, even greater than the pressures produced when a large meteorite strikes solid rock in an impact from space. One gigapascal is the equivalent of over 9,800 atmospheres of pressure. This means that 200 Gigapascals (mentioned in the article title) is nearly 2 million times Earth's atmospheric pressure at sea level. Under these extremes of pressure and low temperature, hydrogen was found to alter its form and become metal-like in its properties.

Mr. Baugh attempts to use this as support for his preflood atmospheric model, but for a number of reasons, this experiment cannot be applied to hydrogen in the Earth's atmosphere. First of all, for hydrogen to become metallic it must be first cooled and compressed to the point where the atoms come within a certain distance of each other. This level of compression could never be possible in Earth's atmosphere. Baugh contends that hydrogen in the preflood "firmament" described above would be in the same metallic state described in the above experiment. Baugh seems to acknowledge that the high pressures could not exist in Earth's atmosphere to have a totally metalized hydrogen layer, but he believes a layer which is partially metalized and partially fluid hydrogen could exist. But fluid hydrogen is just as impossible in Earth's atmosphere as is metallic hydrogen. Hydrogen in a gaseous state would not have the special properties Baugh is suggesting. Water ice in Earth's atmosphere could never confine fluid or metallic hydrogen as Baugh implies. Scientists believe it is possible there could be metallic hydrogen in or near the solid core of Jupiter, but not in its layers of gas. Gases by the nature of what they are cannot be metallic.

Baugh also suggests that somehow "electromagnetic energy" would help contain this hydrogen. This is another aspect that Baugh is very vague on, no real physical mechanism has been proposed for this. But it seems to depend on the hydrogen behaving as a superconductor, which is very doubtful. If you look at a list of superconducting elements in a solid state physics book or a physical data handbook hydrogen is not listed. The only liquids known to be superconductors are a few materials that are liquid metals, such as the element Mercury, for instance. Superconductivity generally requires that the material be a solid which contains certain metals in unusual complicated crystal structures. Superconductivity is also easily hindered by even very small impurities in some cases. If hydrogen were in a metallic state, it may be possible it could superconduct, but there is no published physics research I have ever heard of suggesting that hydrogen is a superconductor. Even if it is possible for hydrogen to become a superconductor, it is completely unreasonable to expect it to be possible in Earth's atmosphere. Since the metallic and liquid configuration Baugh suggests would not be stable in Earth's atmosphere, the hydrogen would not superconduct and therefore electromagnetic fields would make no difference to the hydrogen. Such a layer of hydrogen would immediately dissipate, possibly violently. This is an inescapable problem with Baugh's crystalline canopy, even if it were miraculously created in the beginning.

In the metallic hydrogen experiment conducted by Mao and Hemley, the sample is viewed through the diamond anvil. The solid hydrogen was observed to darken and become opaque, not transparent, at the high pressures. Baugh says the firmament would be transparent, but metallic hydrogen is not a gas and it is not transparent. Baugh does not make this clear in his materials. He seems to believe that a partially metallic hydrogen layer would be transparent. This is not likely based on physics, but it depends on characteristics of the canopy that Baugh has never specified. He has never published any physical specifications of the canopy, such as the mass of water ice involved, the mass of hydrogen, the size of the metallic grains, or other such parameters. These parameters are important because the issue of whether such a canopy could be physically stable needs to be addressed first before addressing any special benefits it would have in the preflood Earth. Baugh has suggested a number of special benefits of this canopy without ever explaining in detail a physical mechanism that would enable it to exist and be stable from the Creation week to the Flood.

The experiment mentioned above by Mao and Hemley did not address other properties of the metallic hydrogen, such as it being superconducting or ferromagnetic as Baugh says. Even in the complete list of Baugh's references used in the video series, there is only one actual scientific reference on metallic hydrogen, the Science paper by Mao and Hemley previously mentioned. Baugh's reference list states "Metallic Hydrogen Transparent to Light Until Superconductive" referring to this same paper by Mao and Hemley. However the Mao and Hemley paper says nothing about superconductivity. Baugh seems to have no actual reference to support these last two properties of the hydrogen, namely being superconductive and ferromagnetic. The book Panorama of Creation (pp 50-51) mentions research done at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories showing that supercold hydrogen possessed superconductivity, as well as other special properties. But Baugh gives no reference on this point, only a third-hand report. This is totally improper procedure, facts need to be documented much better than this.

Mr. Baugh speaks at some length about the pinkish light that would result from the hydrogen in the firmament. Baugh states that what he calls "energized hydrogen" gives off light at a physical wavelength of 6563 Angstroms, which is a reddish or "magenta" color. It is correct that hydrogen can emit light at this wavelength, this is what scientists refer to as atomic emission, when an atom said to be in an "excited" state gives off light energy. This particular wavelength is hydrogens strongest emission line. Baugh claims that this emission of hydrogen is what makes our sunsets look red today and that the same process would make the whole atmosphere appear magenta in color in the preflood Earth. Actually, beautiful reddish sunsets and sunrises have nothing to do with hydrogen emissions. The reddish color is because the other colors in the light such as blue are scattered more than the reddish colors. The process known as scattering of the light is very sensitive to the color (or frequency) of the light, so blue light gets scattered more by the atmosphere than the reddish light. Thus when we see the reddish sunset in the evening, it is because the bluish light has been scattered off at angles where we don't see it but the reddish light transmits through the atmosphere along our line of sight. On a clear day, the sky is more blue if you look away from the Sun in the sky than if you look in a direction near the Sun. This is the effect of the scattering of the blue light. The process is accentuated in the early morning and late afternoon since sunlight passes through the atmosphere a greater distance before reaching our eyes. The more air the light passes through, the more the shorter wavelengths of light (like blue) are scattered away at sharp angles, so the reddish light is what remains in the light that transmits in a straight line to our eyes. Atoms in the atmosphere are not "excited" in this process and so emissions are not involved.

Baugh suggests that the hydrogen in the crystalline canopy would be excited, apparently from some kind of electromagnetic effect. Then this excited hydrogen would give off the magenta light from the canopy. Again, this depends on the hydrogen being stable in the configuration he has proposed, but it would not be stable as has already been discussed. Also, there is no clear physical mechanism explained in detail by Baugh for how this hydrogen would become excited. So, the plausibility of the uniform magenta color in Earth's preflood atmosphere seems doubtful. Of course, the preflood Earth was different in a number of ways and there are many unanswered technical questions about how Earth's atmosphere was different before the Flood.

Carl Baugh and Noah's Flood

Mr. Baugh seems to advocate a view of Noah's Flood that is a mix of ideas from various creationist researchers. This is an acceptable and reasonable approach. However, Baugh does not follow this approach when it comes to his crystalline canopy idea. On the nature of the preflood canopy Baugh parts company with all other creationist research. Baugh seems to advocate a view of the tectonics of the Flood that follows the model of Dr. Walter Brown in several respects. Walter Brown's model suggests there was a subterranean reservoir or layer of water under Earth's crust that was put under pressure and ruptured at the onset of the Flood. This rapid rupturing of the crust is said by Baugh to be followed by an expansion of the Earth as a whole after the Flood. This rupturing of the crust caused powerful ejections of superheated water into the atmosphere. Dr. Brown rejects any kind of "canopy" in Earth's atmosphere, he does not hold to Baugh's crystalline canopy. Baugh also suggests there was strong radioactive heating in the Earth during the Flood, a concept that is somewhat controversial among creationists. Other creationists have done research relating to the many catastrophic processes at work during the Noahic Flood. Some of these used by Mr. Baugh include the effects of the tides during the Flood based on the work of M. E. Clark, and rapid reversals of Earth's magnetic field during the Flood from the research of Dr. D. Russell Humphreys. Overall, I would say Baugh's comments on the Flood, fossils, and the geologic column are largely in agreement with the work of other creation researchers in the sciences. Many details on how the Flood took place are still very uncertain. There are sometimes multiple plausible explanations of the same facts, so there is room for a variety of models of the Flood.

One unreasonable suggestion Baugh makes is that if the preflood earth had a diameter of about 85-90 percent its present size, this would make the atmospheric pressure about double its present value at sea level. This is impossible, from size alone. This reduction in the size of the Earth would increase the acceleration due to gravity by about 20 to 40 percent. This change in gravity would be linearly related to the atmospheric pressure, meaning that there would also be the same 20-40% increase in Earth's atmospheric pressure. This is not nearly as dramatic a change as Baugh is suggesting. So, these changes in the size of Earth alone are not enough to explain how the preflood Earth could have double our present atmospheric pressure as Baugh suggests. This is not to rule out the possibility of Earth's preflood pressure being greater, it merely means that if it were double the present atmospheric pressure, the difference could not have been due solely to the change in Earth's diameter suggested by Baugh.

Baugh also suggests the presence of the canopy would add to this pressure. But this is not plausible. The canopy would have to be a large amount of hydrogen and water to add appreciably to the atmospheric pressure. The trouble is that any canopy with too much mass in it makes Earth uninhabitable at the surface because of the greenhouse heating effect it causes. This problem would exist for Baugh's model as well, unless it were relatively thin, with a small mass of material. Mr. Baugh seems to describe it as thin, so he therefore has no sufficient explanation for the increase in atmospheric pressure. Again, this does not rule out Earth having higher pressure, but Baugh's scientific explanation on this point is not accurate regarding the effect a 10-15% reduction of Earth's diameter would have on the pressure.

The Solar System

A few comments are in order regarding the solar system. Baugh's video presentation "The Model" shows pictures of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. These pictures are captioned with statements that each of these planets have a canopy. This is not accurate at all. Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune are gaseous and fluid planets and so a "canopy" doesn't really have the same meaning at all. These gaseous planets have many layers of gas. At any rate, the existence of a layer of water or hydrogen on these planets does not give evidence that the same could exist on the Earth because they are too different from Earth. On Mars, because the gravity is weak and the atmosphere is thin, water tends to escape into space, so no canopy would be likely, though huge dust storms are a regular occurrence and a temporary atmosphere due to some catastrophe has been suggested. The only planet with anything that could be described as a "canopy" would be Venus, which has a definite division between its upper atmosphere, with thick sulphuric acid clouds, and the lower atmosphere. But, very little water is present in Venus' atmosphere. None of the planets have a crystalline canopy of the type of what Mr. Baugh describes.

The second presentation in "The Model" video set also suggests that God stretched out the heavens, including the orbits of the planets, both at creation and after the Flood. Baugh suggests that after the Flood this would be out of God's mercy to reduce harmful effects of radiation and electromagnetic energy falling on Earth from space. He suggests that the firmament somehow amplified electromagnetic waves from space and after the firmament had collapsed in the Flood, the radiation from space would pose a greater threat to people's health, so God stretched out the heavens after the Flood to protect mankind. The whole idea of the firmament amplifying this energy from space as Baugh describes has no physical basis.

Then Mr. Baugh references my paper published in the proceedings of the Twin Cities Creation Conference of 1992, "Design and Catastrophism in the Solar System." Baugh makes no comment about my paper, but the reference is shown on the screen in the portion of the program about God stretching out the heavens after the Flood. My paper does not suggest the heavens "singing" or that the orbits of the planets were "stretched out", nor does it address any possible health effects of radiation from space to people on Earth. My paper does address some issues related to design, a young solar system, and other issues that Baugh and myself may agree on. But, it is not clear what the point of the reference is in Baugh's presentation.

The Sun's radiation and cosmic rays (which are particles from space) certainly do have bearing on health and life on Earth. Other radiation from Jupiter also affects Earth. But, these are not mentioned by Baugh, instead the electromagnetic energy from stars is mentioned, though that energy's effect on Earth is completely insignificant compared to solar system radiation sources. If this reference to my paper leads people to read it, then I am glad. But I do not subscribe to the strange and completely unscientific ideas of Carl Baugh regarding the solar system in the above videos. I would agree with Baugh broadly on design, but I would not agree with a number of his examples. My paper outlines some regular patterns in the solar system that suggest God's intelligent design, as well as evidence of catastrophes throughout the solar system. I have also written on the solar system elsewhere, in the Proceedings of the 1994 International Conference on Creationism and in Creation Ex Nihilo magazine.


These comments are just some of the main issues I felt should be addressed regarding the publications of Carl Baugh. Creationists must correct each other and creationists must be honest about errors. On occasion I have had to admit mistakes and retract arguments I have used. Indeed, my Twin Cities Paper includes an incorrect definition of the term "ecliptic", which was an oversight. (I can provide a free copy of the corrected paper to anyone interested.) I feel to maintain a standard of integrity and honesty I must be willing to give up on something that doesn't fit the facts or does not fit Scripture. Baugh has some questionable interpretations of Scriptures that I have not mentioned. My intention is to focus more on the issues that pertain to my scientific training. Creationists have to be careful in handling both science and Scripture.

I believe Mr. Baugh should issue a public retraction of his firmament model, and try to only use arguments that are well documented and backed up by solid research. If not a public retraction, even just explaining that he believes it because of his interpretation of Scripture, with no attempt to justify it scientifically, would be an improvement. On some issues, such as the "canopy," presentation of more than one creationist explanation would be advisable. Baugh generally does not present more than one view in materials he publishes. Totally new ideas should be critiqued at a technical level before taken to the public at a popular level. Laboratory test results commissioned by the Creation Evidences Museum, should be published or made public in a technical level publication so it can be scrutinized by the peer review process in one of the technical creationist journals that are available. It is better to make one small statement that is reliable and well documented than to make lots of dramatic claims that impress some people but which do not stand up to scrutiny.