A Snail’s Tale: Debunking a Global Flood

Consider the plight of poor Discus macclintocki. Actually, in this story, both of them: snails.  A pair of lovers that would eventually become bit players in a Hollywood movie starring Russell Crowe.

Discus macclintocki

Discus macclintocki

Now an endangered species living mostly in Iowa, the two particular snails we’re speaking of are even more endangered at the moment, because they’ve just stepped… err… slithered, off the long plank of an ark that’s come to rest on Mount Ararat in what’s now modern day Turkey.

These two snails are having a bad day. It’s a 20 hour, 35 minute flight to the closest airport near the Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa (the only place we know they can survive) but airplanes won’t be invented for several thousand more years.

Map: Mt. Ararat to Iowa

A 10,050 kilometer journey

There are no buses or cars either. Not that a snail could drive.  They could hitch a ride, but  the only boat in existence has just been ditched on a mountain, where it will be found, unmoved, in multiple locations, over and over again, thousands of years later (6).

These snails need to get to Iowa, and they need to get there in a hurry. They can’t survive harsh temperatures, requiring a cool habitat such as the north-facing talus slopes of their eventual home, where the ground temperature rarely exceeds 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) thanks to underground ice caves that don’t exist where they’ve just been stranded, or anywhere along the route they must travel (4).

Another problem for Discus macclintocki is that there is no food for the journey. These snails feed mainly on leaf litter, but a global flood has just destroyed all life on the planet. The flood lasted for over a year (1) (2), so there’s no leaf litter left behind — it’s all soaked up and rotted away.

Hopefully, some type of miracle will happen and there will be leaf litter available when the snails reach Iowa, but they’re going to have to move fast. They’ve got at least 6,200 miles (10,050km) to cover (8).

The problem is, snails don’t move fast. They’re lucky they weren’t trampled by the elephants and other animals coming down the gangplank of the ark.   References from hypertextbook.com have snails moving between 0.013 meters per second (fast) to 0.0028 meters per second (slow) (6).  Let’s ignore for the moment that we have an ark full of hungry creatures that would love to feed on these slow-moving snails…

And let’s be generous and say that Discus macclintocki is a speed demon and moves at the faster rate, 0.013 meters per second. If this pair of snails doesn’t stop to eat, go to the bathroom, mate, or smell the roses, they can cover the 10,050 kilometers in 24.497 years.

24 years to make the journey to Iowa with no food, traveling non-stop. But there’s a problem.

The life span of Discus macclintocki is 5 to 7 years (3).

So maybe the snails, realizing they were never going to make it to the promised land, decided to stop and breed and let a future generation complete the journey.

But there’s a problem.

These snails reproduce by laying eggs in leaf litter, and require a cool habitat (~ 50 degrees F), and none of this exists where they’re stranded.

But let’s pretend a miracle happened, and the snails somehow found food and somehow survived the post-flood temperatures, and somehow lived much longer than the 5 to 7 years required to make the 24 year journey to Iowa. But…

You guessed it: there’s a problem.

It’s name is the Atlantic Ocean.

You see, snails breathe air, and they don’t swim.

(1)  Yes, Noah’s Flood May Have Happened, But Not Over the Whole Earth

(2)  How Long did the flood last?

(3)  Iowa Pleistocene Snail (Discus macclintocki)

(4)  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Discus macclintocki

(5)  Speed of a Snail (The Physics Factbook)

(6)  Noah’s Ark Found in Turkey?

(7) WordPress Ready, Set, Done PingBack Link

(8) Latitude, Longitude, Distance Calculations
39.7019° N, 44.2983° E  (Mt. Ararat)
42.4981° N, 96.3956° W  (Sioux City, IA)
Distance 10050 km (6,244.78 miles)


Was the Grand Canyon Caused by a Global Flood?

Was the Grand Canyon carved by a global flood?


There are a lot of ways to debunk this myth. One is to look at the photos attached to this post. That’s the Colorado River winding its way through the Grand Canyon. See all those lazy “S” curves? That’s what slow moving rivers do over long periods of time. We see it everywhere on the planet. Keep this in mind as you read, please.

Now think about the Grand Canyon. It’s almost 300 miles long and around a mile deep. In spots it’s as much as ten miles wide.

Grand Canyon

Portion of the Grand Canyon from space. Note the 180 degree S-curves. (Image: NASA)

A rough estimate of the volume (how much rock it would take to fill the canyon) is 386,115,840,000,000 cubic feet. If you were kind to the global flood believers and assumed the entire canyon had been filled with light sandstone having a density of 2.8 g/cm3, the total amount of rock that would have to have been immediately gouged out by the flood would have weighed an amazing 33,746,194,212,283 TONS.

That’s over 33 TRILLION tons of rock in one fell swoop. And we’re assuming the rock is sitting there loose, waiting to be moved — which it isn’t — it’s bound to the surrounding rock.  This is supposed to be a non-technical discussion, but for those of you who remember high school physics, think back to Newton’s First Law of Motion: a mass at rest will stay at rest until it encounters a force great enough to move it.  Over 33 trillion tons of rock.  You just can’t get water moving fast enough to do the work, so the discussion should really stop here.

But let’s keep going, for the benefit of that one person out there who’s shouting “but then a miracle happened and the water moved really fast!”

Remember that picture of the canyon? Those slow, twisty “S” curves? Now, think about flood water moving at impossible speeds. Or just think about flood water moving at possible speeds. It flows FAST.

And what does our magically-fast moving flood water do?

It cuts straight lines.

Remember those “S” curves? The ones cut by slow moving water? Aha!

I had a creationist challenge me on this point once, after he claimed he understood Newton’s First Law.  Big mistake.  We know from this law that a mass (such as flood water) will always travel in the same direction (a “straight line”) unless acted on by an outside force.  We also know that if the mass (such as flood water) is acted on by an outside force, such as hitting rock, it will change speed.  It could change direction (be deflected), but that leaves the rock behind (no canyon!)  If the water slows down, it has no way of speeding up again, so it doesn’t have the necessary force to cut the rock (no canyon!)

So at this point you have to choose: was the flood water moving fast enough to move over 33 trillion tons or rock, or wasn’t it?  If it was, then it cut a straight line.  If it wasn’t, then it slowed down and couldn’t cut a 300 mile long channel in solid rock.

The Grand Canyon was carved over a very long time, slowly, as the Colorado River twisted its way through, eroding the rock, grain by grain, as it’s still doing today.

At this point, creationists will inevitably bring up Mount St. Helens, the Washington volcano that erupted in 1980, killing over 50 people and cutting a “miniature Grand Canyon” in the process.

The first thing creationists are forgetting/ignoring is that Mount St. Helens cut its “canyon” through loose volcanic ash and dirt, not rock.  That’s much, much easier.

The second thing creationists are forgetting/ignoring is that Mount St. Helens is approximately 100,000 times smaller than the Grand Canyon.  Using a 1/100,000th specimen cut in loose ash to as a model for a 300 mile long, mile high, 10 mile wide canyon cut from solid rock isn’t very good science.

But in the context of this article, perhaps the most important thing creationists are forgetting/ignoring can be best illustrated by comparing the photo of Mount St. Helens (below) to the photos of the Grand Canyon elsewhere in the article.  See all those straight lines cut by fast moving debris on Mount St. Helens?  See all the S-curves in the Grand Canyon?.

Mt. St. Helens from space

Mt. St. Helens from space. Note the straight lines cut by fast moving flood/avalanche debris.  Compare/contrast to the 180 degree twists and turns of the Grand Canyon in the other images. (Image: NASA.)

In a future post, we’ll look at the idea that the canyon wasn’t solid rock when the flood came. Believe it or not, there are people pushing the theory of a 300 mile long, one mile high, ten mile wide wall of mud. No, really!

(All images courtesy NASA. Used with permission).