Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where did all the oil come from?

Here's a question that puzzles me when I try and consider the young-earth creationist mindset.

Where did the oil come from?

Was the oil all there from the beginning (6000 years ago), and we've been using it up in an exponentially increasing manner over the last 200 years? Or is it created in an ongoing process that has accumulated those trillions of barrels in less than 100 centuries?

If the answer is the former -- and there is no new oil being 'created' -- then the problems related to peak oil and resource depletion apply (you know, those sticky issues that the 'greenies' and 'environmentalists' are so damned concerned about). If we've only got what we started with, then eventually it will run out, and there had better be some alternative energy source available and integrated into our infrastructure long before then, or the world will turn dark, slow and violent in a very short period of time.

However, if the answer is the second choice (continuously created over time), then where is the research in YEC science to find out how this occurs?

Our current annual consumption in the USA is approximately 7.5 billion barrels (that's over 317 billion gallons of crude oil consumed just in this nation every year). That's a lot of oil, but it's small potatoes when compared to the total proven reserves still in the ground worldwide -- over 1.3 TRILLION barrels. If only the US was using it, that amount of oil would last us (assuming we don't increase our consumption over time) over 175 years. Alas, we aren't the only nation in the world using those reserves, and in fact, while our own consumption has leveled off, other developing nations are rapidly increasing their demand as their economies grow and their citizens demand higher standards of living. As of 2008, the total consumption worldwide for oil was about 85.5 billion barrels. Unfortunately, that means that our current oil reserves will expire in less than 45 years.

Now, if we assume that oil is continually produced (option #2 above), and make an unevidenced assumption that at the beginning of the earth there was no oil, then that means there should be nearly 400 million barrels of oil formed per year for the last 6000 years (note: I'm including the historical consumption of oil in addition to the current proven reserve volume as an approximate total originally available). While that 400 million barrels isn't a complete solution to the energy crisis, it does present a unique and tempting opportunity. After all, if it is a natural process that is continuous and currently ongoing, then it should -- in principle -- be possible to duplicate it. And if one can repeat the process, then it can be scaled up and used to produce our own oil!

The YEC crowd often complains of a lack of funding and research dollars to support their "science". What better way to fund themselves than to find a way to manufacture hundreds of millions of barrels of oil per year? Even if they only got a penny per gallon of oil, that's still $164 million dollars PER YEAR!

But then I look at the creationist research on this, and I find something strange and incomprehensible. They aren't even looking at this avenue of investigation. What?!? How can that be? It's a clear winner for them -- not only do they gain scientific credibility for their research and claims, but if they are correct, it's a HUGE revenue stream that will bolster their mission. How can it not be done?

Unless, perhaps, they secretly realize that all their claims and assertions are actually not true...