Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Fun Creationist Weekend, Part Four. The Lost Paradise of Carl Baugh

In my previous entry, I described the psychological experience that I had when I visited Carl Baugh’s Creation Evidences Museum in Glen Rose, Texas on March 5. Baugh created an aura of scientific truth by presenting little fragments of information, just enough to mesmerize the audience. I mentioned that the actual claims he made were incredible, and had no scientific or Biblical basis. I present these claims here.

First, Baugh claimed that a chemist in Louisiana (Edward Boudreaux) had proved how God created the Earth from a ball of plasma (which is a form of matter in which electrons are torn away from nuclei in atoms). The chemist’s calculations proved that such a ball of plasma would have cooled down in 47 hours, which was plenty of time for the “dry land to appear” on Day 3 of Genesis 1. There is, of course, no mention of any ball of plasma in Genesis. So why would anyone go through the trouble of inventing the idea that God created the Earth from a ball of plasma? According to Genesis 1, before God began to create the heavens and the Earth, there was water. Therefore, some creationists claim, God made everything out of water. Everything, including uranium and lead and other heavy atoms. The only way for God to do this would be to transform the water into plasma, which could then form into every kind of atom. Therefore one motivation for this theory was to make sense out of the Biblical statement that water existed before the universe.

The second motivation was to prove how there could be both uranium (a radioactive element) and lead (a product of radioactive decay) in the crust of a very young Earth. The fact that there is lead in the rocks makes it look as though the Earth is old. But, Baugh claimed, Boudreaux’s plasma theory shows how the original rocks could have had both uranium and lead in them. (Baugh, and the chemist he was quoting—the one who had written the book the last copy of which sold for a hundred dollars—seem to have overlooked the fact that it is not just uranium and lead that allows scientists to calculate the age of the Earth, but the fact that zircon crystals contain both uranium and lead.) It may have occurred to you that, while God was performing miracles, he could have just made the uranium and lead and all the other atoms, skipping the plasma stage. Boudreaux’s calculations are totally unnecessary, because they simply posit a different set of miracles.

Next, Baugh started telling tall tales about what the Earth was like before the Flood. What a fantastical world! Creationists often claim, without Biblical evidence, that the pre-Flood Earth was surrounded by a vapor canopy, which would have created worldwide tropical conditions and very high atmospheric pressure. I expected to hear about this from Baugh, but he barely mentioned it. Instead, Baugh made the claim that, prior to the Flood, the Earth year consisted of only 336 days, allowing the moon to circle it exactly twelve times at 28 days per cycle each year. In some unexplained way, the Flood slowed down the revolution of the Earth but not of the moon. Now, what is so important about the 28-day cycle of the moon? You guessed it—because the moon regulates the ovulatory cycles of women! Most of us would assume the ovulatory cycle fits the moon, but Baugh claims God made the moon fit the ovulatory cycle, and the Earth fit the moon. The whole movement of the Solar System was originally created for the sake of the ovulatory cycle of women. None of this is in the Bible but, well, at least nobody can accuse Baugh of misogyny, can they?

Baugh was on a roll. We all know that the surface of the moon has dark patches created by volcanic eruptions. But, Baugh claimed, before the Flood, the moon had a perfectly smooth surface. In some unexplained way, the Flood caused volcanic eruptions on the moon. A pure white moon would have been seven times brighter than it is now, and it would have emitted light at 518 Hz (I didn’t quite follow this part) which would have stimulated DNA repair enzymes that would have allowed people to live over nine hundred years—but only if the moon was brighter. (It is not quite clear how moonlight could have gotten through a thick canopy of water vapor.) The moon had phases before the Flood just as it does now, explained Baugh. Apparently the reason for this, if I understand his explanation, was that an unrelenting full moon would have worn people out by making them have sex every night for nine hundred years. I may be misunderstanding this just a little, but I am not making it up. (From what I have read about Baugh’s look-alike Garner Ted Armstrong, the latter might have attempted such a marathon.)

It is both entertaining and disturbing to see that many creationists think that God has given them permission to just make stuff up and claim Biblical authority for it. This practice is without theological justification, but it works. Baugh craves adoration, and there was a room full of people giving it to him, gladly yielding to him the authority to invent scripture as he goes along. Meanwhile he raises thousands of dollars to buy Bibles to prove what the exact words of the Bible ought to be. I wonder why he does this. Since he just makes stuff up, about changes in the length of the year and the face of the moon, why does he need to be so careful about the exact wording of the Bible?

The high air pressure underneath a vapor canopy would, Baugh claims, have caused giant vegetables to grow and animal wounds to quickly heal. Off to the side of the museum is what looks like a gigantic barrel, which Baugh intends at some future date to make into a hyperbaric chamber, with high air pressure (and presumably a source of 518 Hz light). Maybe he will grow some giant vegetables in the barrel, or maybe he will experiment on himself to see if he heals up quickly. Hospitals do in fact use hyperbaric treatment to help wounds to heal. If this is all that Baugh wants to prove, there is no need for him to have his own hyperbaric chamber. So why is it there? Maybe he and his staff someday will disappear inside and live forever, in complete separation from the world of inconvenient reality.

I then proceeded to look at the displays in the museum, about which I will write in the next entry.

Don’t miss my new book, Life of Earth: Portrait of a Beautiful, Middle-Aged, Stressed-Out World, just published by Prometheus Books.

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