Carl Edward Baugh suggests the Hebrew raquiya (rendered “firmament”) in Genesis chapter 1 can refer to a crystalline canopy, ten miles high, probably made of silicate sugilite a lattice structure. He further suggests a burst of microwave radiation triggered a thermonuclear detonation. This in turn released the “fountains of the great deep” as vertical water and steam jets. These jets then shattered the canopy and caused it to fall to earth, as the deposits of silica and sugilite one finds today.
Any theory of the Global Flood must be feasible. It must also adhere to certain economies of speculation. Without these economies, any form of speculation is possible and would likely destroy the elements of soundness of any theory: falsifiability and predictive value. This paper will examine the Crystalline Canopy Theory to see whether it satisfies these elements.
What are firmaments?
The English word firmament connotes a fixed boundary. The Royal Commission on Bible Translation of 1611, producers of the Authorized or “King James” Version of the Bible, chose this word to connote a “boundary between water and water.”
The Hebrew word they sought to translate is raquiya. Strong’s Dictionary and Concordance renders this as “expanse.” But its root gives the real meaning. No translation of any Hebrew word is complete without its roots.i
The root of raquiya is raqa, meaning “to pound the earth.” So a raquiya is a pounded or beaten object. Again from Strong’s:
7554. raqa, a primary root; to pound the earth (as a sign of passion); by analogy to expand (by hammering); by implication to overlay (with thin sheets of metal); – beat, make broad, spread abroad (forth, over, out, into plates), stamp, stretch
Obviously from those meanings, a raquiya can be a boundary between earth and sky, a beaten sheet, or a stretched sheet. Recall: the Bible repeatedly speaks of God “stretch[ing] out the heavens like a tent.”
Baugh relies heavily on ancient concepts of the boundary between earth and sky. Clearly he believes such quotes as “Who roofs Thine upper chambers with water, or Who layest the beams of Thine upper chambers in the waters,” are not metaphorical. He takes them literally and tries to explain a literal counterpart in nature for them.
Baugh in fact treats two expansive boundaries. One is the boundary between the atmosphere of earth and the place where God dwells – a region literally beyond space. The other is a crystalline layer between the biosphere of earth (where things live) and the higher reaches of the atmosphere.
The upper firmament: fabric of space
Baugh draws heavily from a new secular concept: the “cosmic web.” This report, dated November 5, 2009 from Agence France-Presse, describes the “cosmic web” best of all:
The most widely accepted cosmological theories predict that matter also clumps on a larger scale in the so-called “cosmic web,” in which galaxies, embedded in filaments stretching between voids, create a gigantic wispy structure.
So says Masayuki Tanaka of the European Southern Observatory. In the report cited, he claimed to have seen the filaments of this web.
But Baugh also discusses matter-antimatter interactions, and suggests that electrons and positrons (anti-electrons) are united in a lattice structure similar to the ionic lattice of ordinary salt. If that’s true, are protons and anti-protons in similar balance? Baugh does not say.
He does say the universe seems to be a gigantic birefringent crystal having an “axis of optical rotation.” In fact the universe does have an axis of physical rotation. This axis, furthermore, coincides with the axis of rotation of our home Galaxy.
But Baugh here cites evidence for light behaving differently depending on its direction of incidence. He provides copious references, but no links, and scant excerpts. This makes evaluation of his evidence difficult. But his assertion of birefringence does recall this widely-accepted fact: that neutrinos definitely have a right-hand bias to their spins. So why shouldn’t the universe have an axis of optical rotation? That would be consistent with what others have already reported.
Testing of this part of Baugh’s theory would be difficult, but perhaps not impossible. Nor would this concept of the universal raquiya, or firmament, be inconsistent with cosmological explanations that John Hartnett (Starlight, Time and the New Physics) and Walter T. Brown (In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood) have offered. As mentioned, evidence that space does have a “fabric” does exist. And every model that calls for a “stretching of the heavens” requires such a fabric. This observer commends Baugh for at least trying to discern what that fabric might be made of, and how God might have put it together.
But the upper firmament does not relate to the Global Flood. The lower firmament might. To that, we will now turn.
The lower firmament: a crystalline canopy
Baugh’s treatment of the crystalline canopy is twofold:
- What is it made of, and:
- What holds it up?
First he treats “what holds it up.” His answer: the earth’s magnetic field. Where did this field come from, during Creation? Here Baugh accepts the magnetic field creation theory of D. Russell Humphreys. In 1984, Humphreys supposed that all celestial bodies began as globes of water, with the molecules aligned in such a way as to produce an aggregate magnetic moment. Based on the masses of the various bodies, he predicted that the planets Uranus and Neptune would have magnetic fields, and that the magnetic field of Mercury would decay at a specific rate. Voyager II, in its flybys of Uranus (1986) and Neptune (1989), seemed to vindicate Humphreys. More recently, the MESSENGER mission to Mercury revealed its magnetic field was decaying – rapidly. In fact the Mercury field was decaying more rapidly than Humphreys predicted. What that means for Humphreys’ theory is impossible to determine.
Baugh’s reliance on the Humphreys model is almost vital. Without a magnetic field at least as powerful as the magnetic field of Earth today, Baugh’s canopy cannot stay aloft. He admits that.
Baugh also suggests water vapor would electrolyze under the influence of this field, and that free molecular hydrogen and oxygen would “collect in the flux lines of force in Earth’s newly-generated magnetic field.” Where are these gases today? Baugh cites Linsky’s 1996 paper describing a “wall” of gaseous hydrogen around the earth, and a similar wall around the solar system. This is consistent with the terrestrial and solar magnetic fields but does not tell how old these fields are.
Baugh then turns to what the canopy is made of. He carefully describes eight candidates:
- Silicate sugilite, KNa2(Fe,Mn,Al)2Li3Si12O30
- Metastable hydrogen as a superconductor under pressure
- Ice Phase VII
- Solid hydrogen peroxide
- “Warm ice”
- Laminated with chemical elements besides water
- Incorporating a catalyst
- Incorporating “super atoms” either of carbon, aluminum, or even gold.
Of the eight, Baugh chooses sugilite. He cites “rigorous scientific calculations” by Messrs. Edward Boudreaux and Eric Baxter. Again, he gives no link.
He suggests the magnetic field supported a 1-cm thick sugilite shell ten miles above the surface of the earth. He also seems to say the earth’s radius was 95 percent of what it is today. But that would imply the days were shorter before the Flood than afterward.
What did this lower firmament do for earth?
Carl Baugh suggests several benefits to earth and humanity from this lower firmament, the crystalline canopy. First he says the canopy itself would somehow recharge the earth’s magnetic field. The field decays today because the canopy is no longer present to charge it. But that smacks of perpetual motion—and perpetual motion would be an unattested miracle.
Baugh suggests the canopy filtered out most ultraviolet (UV) rays. He blames the lack of such filtration for the human lifespan being much shorter than Noah recorded it to be (Genesis 5).
He further suggests the canopy would make stars shine more brightly – and that the sugilite would filter the sun’s light to produce a magenta hue. In fact, red and blue light are the most productive for photosynthesis.
Other effects of the canopy that Baugh predicts include:
- Transparency to radio frequencies, and even their enhancement.
- Amplification of sound, producing a musical effect.
- Optimal magnetic field interactions for all living things. (Maybe he blames the loss of this optimization also for the decline in human and animal longevity.)
- Increased atmospheric pressure. Baugh has done many experiments on the effect of hyperbaric oxygen on plant growth and animal health. Thus far his results are distinctly positive.
What triggered the Global Flood?
Here Baugh takes a chance his colleague Walt Brown did not take: suggesting a specific trigger for the Global Flood. First he says a burst of microwave radiation, acting in bodies of subcrustal water, shifted several radioactive elements in the earth’s crust. This shift, he said, triggered a thermonuclear detonation. That detonation cracked the crust, enough to release the subcrustal water as hot, steamy jets reaching ten to seventy miles in altitude. This, he suggested, shattered and collapsed the canopy. The “opening” of the “windows of heaven” thus referred to the holes the water jets blasted in the canopy.
This theory assumes that radioactive elements were part of God’s Creation. Baugh specifically held some mechanism must exist to recharge the earths magnetic field; else God’s Creation would have a key feature subject to decay and could not therefore be mo’ed tov, or “very good.” (The Hebrew means absolutely excellent.) How, then, could the earth’s crust contain elements that decay by nature? Walt Brown at least suggests radioactive elements were a product, not of Creation, but the Flood.
The rest of Baugh’s description of the Flood, and specifically the deposition of the sedimentary layers, reads almost like a summary of Walt Brown’s “flood phase.” But Baugh says very little about the “rupture phase,” other than how it would destroy the sugilite canopy, and nothing at all about the continental-drift and recovery phases. Nor does Baugh answer one important question: how could Flood waters possibly cover a mountain, namely Everest, that reaches as high as a modern airliner flies? Baugh seems to assume the mountains of today were just as tall pre-Flood. If so, his model is unfeasible, or at best incomplete.
The Baugh model is incomplete for another reason: it ignores the moon. Baugh all but concedes the earth had a subcrustal ocean, or else many aquifers far more vast than those known today by several orders of magnitude. Would not the moon have tidally pumped them? However long the day, or the month, was before the Flood, the moon would have caused tides. And it would have pumped the crust, especially above a subcrustal ocean.
One more objection is far more serious: where did those microwaves come from? Baugh’s answer: they are “the voice of God in judgmental disruption of Earth’s internal structure.” In other words, a miracle to which the Bible does not specifically attest.
Baugh answers his critics
Carl Baugh devotes his last paragraphs to answering some of his critics. He spends much space insisting the word raquiya, or firmament, is not and cannot be metaphorical only. He also answers the objection that no 1-cm thick mineral shell could possibly stay ten miles aloft while trying to orbit the earth.
He acknowledges an earlier mistake: proposing metallic hydrogen for the canopy. Such a canopy would be opaque, and so Adam would never speak of stars as we recognize them today. He repeats that a sugilite canopy would enhance starlight, but gives no reason why such enhancement would be necessary.
The crystalline canopy theory, in its present form, is more narrow than the other two theories – perhaps too narrow. Furthermore, it accepts, as initial conditions, many of the conditions of the present Earth. In so doing, it is inconsistent. Why does Baugh insist on strict conformance to one part of the Biblical creation story (detailed descriptions of the firmaments) but fail to conform strictly to another (a “very good” earth, with no part of it subject to decay)? In fact, Baugh in one case insists on a no-decay model (for the magnetic field) but not in another case (the presence of radioactive elements).
Baugh also invokes an unattested miracle. Baugh will no doubt protest that the Bible, and more particularly the Annals of Noah (Genesis 5:1b-6:9a), do attest to the “judgment miracle” he describes. Noah records (Genesis 6:2) that God gave him warning of His judgment 120 years in advance. But the Bible does not specifically attest to God pronouncing or otherwise “speaking” a judgment on the earth. The Bible gives a date for the Flood, and tells how the Flood broke out, but does not state its specific and proximate cause.
Baugh also accepts another unattested miracle, one that Humphreys proposes: the transmutation of a large mass of water into the stuff of which the earth is now made. This holds also for all other celestial bodies. True enough, magnetic fields beg explanation. But we have no reason to suppose that any planet except earth ever had a powerful magnetic field. We need not even suppose the earth’s magnetic field was as powerful as it is today before the Flood.
Any compatibility between, say, the Baugh theory and the Brown hydroplate theory would necessarily rest on the existence of a pre-Flood magnetic field, of a strength at least as great as it is today and presumably significantly greater. It also rests on showing a global quantity of sugilite that can account for a 1-cm thick shell of radius R + 10 miles. Even if Baugh could meet those obstacles, he would have to abandon some of his assumed initial conditions for the earth.
iIt is to the credit of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who re-popularized Hebrew for his Jewish brethren, that he made such careful use of ancient roots. Today the Academy of the Hebrew Language uses the principles he laid down, to decide what is a perfectly good Hebrew word, and what is not.