Clouds, coins and creation

An airport encounter with professional scientist and creationist Dr Edmond Holroyd

by Steve Cardno and Carl Wieland

Having had help from U.S. atmospheric scientist Dr Edmond Holroyd with reviewing articles, we were delighted to be able to catch up with him during a brief flight stopover at the airport here in Brisbane, Australia. Dr Holroyd (B.S. in astrophysics, Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the State University of New York at Albany) works for the U.S. Government, involved in such things as remote (satellite) sensing, weather studies, cloud seeding, and measuring snowfall by radar.

Some aspects of Dr Holroyd’s work are particularly highly regarded—he currently works with a Doppler radar system called ‘NEXRAD’ which has for years been calibrated for rain. It was long regarded as too difficult to calibrate it to detect snow, but Dr Holroyd has now written special software so it can be used for reporting snowfall. This has been successfully tested in two U.S. States and will shortly be expanded to be used nationwide.

Ed Holroyd told us that he grew up in a somewhat ‘liberal’ branch of his church. In due course he became a truly converted Christian, but he ‘just sort of accepted that God used evolution.’

While in Australia for a three-year stay after completing his doctoral studies (during which time he worked for Australia’s premier scientific organization, the CSIRO, in the Division of Cloud Physics), Ed encountered his first ‘full on’ creationist literature. The most important book, he says, was Whitcomb and Morris’s The Genesis Flood. He says:

‘I didn’t like these new ideas, but I realized I had to pay attention to them because they were properly justified. It took me a decade of reading more creationist literature before I made the switch completely.’

He says that his ‘conversion to trusting what God taught in the Bible’ was helped also by Francis Schaeffer’s books, and seeing powerful, direct examples of God at work.

Dr Holroyd says that in the 1970s, he was discouraged by coming across some scientifically poor work by some defenders of creation—‘all faith and no brains.’ But in 1986, he attended the First International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh, where he was impressed by the quality of the presentations.

Dr Holroyd says:

‘Evolution has been strongly promoted by those people who want to deny any accountability to a Creator God. It is a stumbling block that prevents many people from even considering the claims and teachings of Jesus Christ, whom the Bible identifies as God the Creator Himself. The Gospel only makes sense in the light of Genesis—mankind created perfect in a perfect world, which was ruined by sin. Sin passed down to the descendants of Adam and Eve has permanently flawed all of us, and is the reason why we need the sacrifice on the Cross of Jesus Christ, the “last Adam” [1 Corinthians 15:45].’

Dr Holroyd has been undertaking tertiary studies in geology of late, which is where his current interest in creation studies lies. One of the things he has written on extensively is a phenomenon called cavitation, which he says is very important in helping us understand how massive erosion would have taken place in the early stages of the Flood. He says:

‘When water less than 10 metres deep is flowing at very high speed (say 30 metres a second) and goes over a bump, it can turn into water vapor via the formation of tiny bubbles. These collapse again when the pressure is restored, and they do so at a supersonic speed which creates shock waves with incredible pressures. This pulverizes the surface right next to where the bubbles are collapsing, so it can “eat” rock surfaces away much, much more quickly than normal erosion. In the laboratory, such cavitating water will even rapidly “eat” a steel surface.’

We spoke to Dr Holroyd about the well-known fact that where a lot of water vapor condenses, such as to make rain during Noah’s Flood, there is a large amount of heat released. Could clouds (in his area of expertise) be enough of a cooling factor to solve this ‘heat problem’? He said that the modeling is extremely complex—clouds are able to keep heat in like a blanket, but they also cool the earth in two ways. First, they reflect the sun’s energy back into space, and secondly, they radiate their own heat energy directly into space:

‘The weather satellites that look in the thermal infrared band are sensing that heat going out into space. I haven’t worked through the numbers yet, but it seems clouds would have been a source of major cooling after the Flood.’

Dr Holroyd’s favorite evidence for creation is the uniqueness of the planets and moons of the solar system. He said,

‘No evolutionary theory was able to anticipate all of the details revealed by the space probes. Whereas the only unusual prediction verified was that by Dr Russell Humphreys, a creationist scientist. He correctly predicted the strengths of the magnetic moments of Uranus and Neptune. It makes me think that God placed such an unsystematic variety out there so that we could never come up with a workable atheistic mechanism of their formation.’

Enquiry about the proposed Answers in Genesis museum in Kentucky received a vigorous ‘thumbs up’:

‘I think it’s great, it’s needed in our country—to help get across the creation message to the general public, which doesn’t have that much access to creation materials. And speaking of materials, I just love your Creation magazine—it’s the best available in this field—I recommend it first above anything else.’

Dr Holroyd left us with this advice to young believers:

‘There are many problems in science for both sides, evolutionists and creationists, but I am confident that creation, based on the Word of God, is the only way to go and will in the long run always produce better science.’

Bible money

Biblical coins

When he is not solving problems in atmospheric physics, one of Dr Ed Holroyd’s passions is collecting coins from Bible times. We were fortunate that he had some of his extensive collection with him in carry-on luggage when we chatted with him at Brisbane airport. Three of them are shown here on Dr Holroyd’s palm.

The small one is a bronze lepton. The ‘widow’s mite’ mentioned in Mark 12:42 would have been a lepton.

At the top is a tetradrachm or silver shekel. The 30 pieces of silver which Judas received were likely 30 of these. A shekel was the temple tax for two men. Images of foreign gods on coins were anathema to the Jewish priests, but all shekels from foreign countries had them. The least offensive were the ones minted in Tyre (such as this one, around AD 3, which features the minor Greek god Melqarth) or Syria. These two types were therefore the only ones acceptable in the Jerusalem temple. Matthew 17:27 records Jesus instructing Peter to catch a fish which would have such a coin in it to pay the tax for himself and Jesus.

The third is a silver denarius, a Roman coin from the time of Tiberius Caesar, emperor during Jesus’ public ministry. It refers to Tiberius as ‘PONTIFex MAXIMus’ (high priest). In the famous passage in Matthew 22:17–21 Jesus, asked (by his enemies trying to trap him) whether taxes should be paid to the Romans, calls for such a denarius (KJV: ‘penny’). He asks whose image is on it, and says, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ A denarius was the daily wage for a laborer (Matthew 20:1–16).