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Aquatic organisms could have survived the Flood (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Aquatic organisms could have survived the Flood (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 CH541:

Present-day fish and other aquatic organisms could have survived the Flood. Many freshwater fish can survive in salt water, and many saltwater fish can tolerate fresh water. The floodwaters may have been layered by salinity, allowing others to find their preferred habitat.

Source: Woodmorappe, John, 1996. Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study. Santee, CA: Institute for Creation Research, pp. 140-152.


CreationWiki response:

Talk Origins' wording of the claim is a gross over simplification. Talk Origins reduces an entire chapter down to two sentences, and in doing so they misrepresent what Woodmorappe was saying.

Talk Origins totally ignores such factors as post-Flood adaptation, which Woodmorappe does deal with. The descendants of the aquatic life that survived the Flood have adapted to the post-Flood world and many varieties would be more sensitive than their pre-Flood ancestors.

It should also be noted that lab experiments show that freshwater and saltwater may remain separate enough to allow the survival of their inhabitants for about four weeks.

Smith and Hagberg, "Survival Of Freshwater And Saltwater Organisms In A Heterogeneous Flood Model Experiment" CRSQ Volume 21, Number 1 Jun 1984.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Layering of the floodwaters contradicts the Flood model, which proposes that the Flood was turbulent enough to stir up sediments on an incredible scale.

In most Flood models the turbulence that stirred up the sediments would not occupy every cubic inch of the Flood water during every moment of the Flood, so there would be areas where layering could occur.

* The model proposes that the floodwaters became the present oceans, so all the water flowing into the oceans would have ensured that they were well mixed. The freshwater fish would have had no place to find fresh water.

This type of mixing would only occur during the run off, and then only in the water actually draining into the oceans as opposed to that being left in inland depressions.

2. The fact that many fish can tolerate wide ranges in salinity does not mean that all can. Furthermore, the problem applies to more than fish. Freshwater invertebrates are commonly used as indicators of the health of streams. Even a tiny amount of pollution can cause many species to disappear from the stream.

The key word here is species, not kind. Those species having such narrow ranges are post-Flood adaptations. Their pre-Flood ancestors were probably a lot more tolerant.

3. Aquatic organisms would have more than salinity to worry about.

While this is true, none of them are as problematic as Talk Origins suggests.

* Heat. All mechanisms proposed to cause the Flood would have released enough heat to boil the oceans.

WRONG! This is based on a misunderstanding of one or more models. Even for those that do produce large amounts of heat, the problem can be dealt with.

  • The deposition of limestone would release enough heat to boil them again.

This assumes that all the limestone deposits formed during the Flood were by chemical deposition. However much pre-flood limestone would have been eroded and redeposited as normal sediment, thus no heat problem. Also TO completely omits the fact that we are still trying to understand the nature of lime stone production. According to Friedma, "Hypotheses relating to the origin of lime mud (limestone or carbonate rocks) have been discussed for more than a century." His work at the Bahama Banks shows that we do not truly understand how the bulk of lime stone is formed.

Friedman GM. 1994. Great Bahama Bank aragonitic muds: mostly inorganically precipitated, mostly exported — discussion. Journal of Sedimentary Research A64:921.

  • Meteors and volcanoes which occurred during the Flood, as implied by their presence in layers attributed to the Flood by Flood geologists, would probably have boiled them again. [Isaak 1998] (Woodmorappe [1996, 140] dismisses the problem of volcanoes but ignores all the other sources of heat.)

Rather than dismissing the problem of heat from volcanic activity he successfully explains it. Under water lava forms a shell that slows its cooling. Furthermore, once covered with sediment, heat would go into the sediment and not the water.

The impacts in question would occur in water and still-soft sediment, and this would dramatically reduce the heat produced. Much of the heat that is produced would go into the rocks, not the water.

  • Acid. The volcanoes which erupted during the Flood would also have produced sulfuric acid, enough to lower the pH of the ocean to 2.2, which would be fatal to almost all marine life. [Morton 1998b]

This is based on several assumptions.

  • The sulfuric acid produced by the Flood's volcanic activity was of the same concentration as modern volcanic activity. This may not be the case. The removal of magma during the Flood would have caused mixing, possibly increasing the concentrations still in the Earth.
  • The sulfuric acid got evenly distributed around the world.
  • All of the sulfuric acid released entered the water and was not buried by sediment.

If any of these are inaccurate then the argument is invalid. The possibility that caves were carved by sulfuric acid suggests that much of it was buried and did not get into the Flood water.

Morton's arguments concerning a lethal amount of X killing off marine life have been proven fallacious before. For example his argument concerning mercury is riddled with assumptions and errors.

Mercury and the Genesis Flood: A response to Morton, Proceedings of the First Conference on Creation Geology, by Dr. Aaron Hutchison


  • Substrate. Many freshwater and marine invertebrates rely on a substrate. They anchor themselves on the substrate and rely on currents to carry their food to them. During the Flood, substrates would have been uninhabitable at least part of the time, especially on land. Woodmorappe (p. 141) suggests floating pumice as a substrate, but it would float with the currents, so currents would not bring nutrients to animals on them.

The flaw in this argument is that the situation even in present day oceans is more complex than this. As they moved along they would intersect other currents, picking up nutrients that would get to the invertebrates.

  • Pressure. The Flood would have caused great fluctuation in sea pressures. Many deep-sea creatures invariably die from the decompression when brought to the surface. Other surface animals would die from too much pressure if forced deep underwater.

Did any one at Talk Origins even read Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study? Woodmorappe answers this and Talk Origins ignores his answer.

Most fish can survive the change both ways if the change is gradual enough. The rain during the Food lasted 40 days so any increase in pressure at a given point would be gradual enough. Additionally, not all fish of any type would be affected by such changes. Finally, the fact that it would be a problem for some present-day fish that have adapted to these depths does not mean that their pre-flood ancestors had the same problem.

4. Woodmorappe predicts a sudden extinction of fish caused by the Flood. "[P]resent-day marine life is but an impoverished remnant of that which had originally been created and had existed before the Flood." [Woodmorappe 1996, 142]. However, the actual pattern of extinction we see shows convincing disproof of the Flood. Living genera become decreasingly represented in fossils as one goes deeper in the geological column, until there are no recent genera in the Triassic, and only about 12% of recent genera have any fossil record. Extinct genera continue back to the Cambrian. [Morton 1998a] This pattern exactly matches what one would expect from evolution. It contradicts a global flood, which should include modern fish more-or-less uniformly throughout the flood-deposited sediments.

Actually such a pattern fits the Flood model quite well. The Biblical kind can extend beyond genus to family, and this changes the pattern significantly. However, those genera that survived the Flood would be the least likely to be buried particularly in lower deposits, since they would be able swim above the deposits. In this case the pattern would be based on how well a given genus could survive the Flood. So even in the Flood model the fossil order in question would be an order of death and even extinction.

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