Letter to the Editors


Rev. Monsma’s book review of Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch by Daniel Patten requires an answer.

The very thesis of the book leaves much to be desired. The author states that the book rests upon two important definitions of Earth history which are opposite and mutually contradictory concepts.

Catastrophism: The doctrine that changes in the earth’s crust have generally been effected suddenly by Physical forces.

Uniformitarianism: The doctrine that existing processes, acting as at present, are sufficient to account for all geological changes.

In the development of the book. these two theories are set against each other. However, this is not answering the questions that many have regarding the relationship between faith and science. In reading the book one finds no reference to God’s direct intervention in the “catastrophies” envisioned by the author.

For example, in the chapter entitled “Tidal Nature of the Flood” the author attempts to show that the flood was general rather than limited. “Now, if the Flood had been a local phenomenon, then the accounts of an overwhelming flood might presumably have come in from one or two particular regions or localities of the earth. Yet accounts of an ancient Flood of continental proportions persist in over 40 different cultures in each hemisphere.” Here he clearly does not read Scripture correctly, since the account tells us that all the earth was populated by those eight persons who were saved in the ark. Since this is true, one can readily understand how the flood story is part of the culture of all races.

Nowhere in this chapter is there a reference to a direct intervening act of God. The animals entered the ark because “apparently there were significant forewarnings, microvibrations or minute foreshocks of the coming catastrophe, seismic in nature.” It is difficult to understand why one who has “experienced conversion to Biblical Christianity” so studiously avoids any reference to God, or gives any credence to the miraculous.

In the chapter entitled “Greenhouse Effect – Antediluvian Canopy” the author writes (in reference to Genesis 9:13–15) “that rainbows are a result of the prismatic effect of bending of rays of light through water droplets. Rainbows can occur only after rains, and require the direct action of sunlight. This time after the Flood was the first time that rainbows were observed. This suggests again that direct sunlight and blue skies, along with water droplets in the atmosphere, were new phenomena.”

This is inaccurate. If rainbows are formed from the action of sunlight on water droplets, then it must be that rainbows form in rain, not after. Consider the rainbow in a lawn sprinkler spray. It is visible while the water is turned on, not after the water has been turned off. Also, if direct sunlight and blue skies were not visible until after the flood, it would seem to be impossible that the moon and stars were visible before the Rood. Yet the Bible teaches that the moon had been the ruler of the night since the beginning.

In this same chapter he alludes to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but again, this was not a direct intervention of God.

The curve of declining longevity that is given in this chapter plots two unrelated types of information. The curve plots the number of generations from Adam and the years that the representative of that generation lived. The curve so obtained happens to be exponential, similar to the curve obtained from radioactive decay. From this he extrapolates to other types of exponential relationships, which does not seem to be warranted.

In many book reviews one gets the impression that the author is highly competent in all areas except that of the reviewer. It is in this way that Rev. Monsma seems to be impressed with Patten’s science. This reviewer finds poor science in every chapter. This book can do nothing to strengthen one’s faith in Scripture, and certainly cannot be recommended as an important contribution to the literature of the relationships between Faith and science.

MARVIN DE YOUNG, Department of Physics, Dordt College    



In response to Dr. De Young’s criticism I should like to make the following remarks:

Granted that flaws in the argumentation of Mr. Patten occur (which would not be exceptional, since that happens in many treatises), yet the thrust of his work is clear; catastrophism vs. uniformitarianism. The Bible teaches catastrophism, evolutionism, uniformitarianism. Since the author pleads for catastrophism I appreciate his attempt and have welcomed his book. Dr. De Young asserts that the book “cannot be recommended as an important contribution to the literature of the relationship between Faith and science,” yet a contribution it is and we do well to consider it in these days of well-nigh unrestricted sway of the hypothesis of evolutionism.

Secondly, if it be true that the author could at times have gone beyond the so-called “secondary causes,” and referred his readers to the Primary Cause, God, yet this neglect does by no means imply a denial by Mr. Patten of God as the Primary Cause. Such a “deficiency” does not decrease the value of the attempt as such nor of the thrust of the book.