Researching the flood, professor emeritus’ scientific research glorifies God

Through innovative research and the development of simulation codes for the Genesis flood, Liberty University faculty member John Baumgardner has been a pioneer in the field of creation science for decades. His story first began in his mid-20s, when he had a dramatic conversion experience during a small group Bible study examining the Gospel of John.

“I came to realize Jesus had to be who he claimed to be,” Baumgardner said. “One night in my room I said a simple prayer: ‘Jesus, I want what you’re offering.’ Within days I was a different person. I had just amazing insights, and I found myself with the passion to read the New Testament. I started reading through the New Testament about once every week.”

“I believe that it’s important for a person to have some understanding of creation science in order to have confidence that the Bible is true from the very first verse,” Baumgardner said.

Photo by Chase Reed

Shortly after becoming a Christian, Baumgardner began working for the Air Force, where he helped design a project called the Airborne Laser Laboratory. 

“The project put the biggest laser in the free world into an aircraft. The objective was to show we could shoot down missiles with an airborne laser,” Baumgardner said. “The success of that program allowed President Reagan to sell his ‘Star Wars’ program about five years later.” 

Baumgardner first became interested in creation science while on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ.

“I became keenly aware how the secular university faculty was deliberately targeting Christians … to destroy their faith with evolution,” Baumgardner said. 

With his strong background in the sciences, Baumgardner began giving lectures on creation science. During this time, he had what he described as a major insight. 

“I realized that, in addition to being a water catastrophe, the flood logically also had to be a tectonic catastrophe that resurfaced the whole planet in a few months’ time,” Baumgardner said. 

Finding that this was a major gap in creation science literature, he left Campus Crusade for Christ to attend graduate school at UCLA and pursue a doctorate in earth science so he could work on his research of the flood at a professional level. 

“(My thesis project at UCLA) opened the door for me to get up a job at the theoretical division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a very prestigious place to work. They were so eager to hire me they offered to allow me to work half-time on my own research knowing it pertained to the Genesis flood. I saw that very much as the hand of God,” Baumgardner said.

Photo by Chase Reed

While working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Baumgardner broke new scientific ground. With the help of co-worker and mathematician Paul Fredrickson, Baumgardner was the first to create 3D simulation codes for the earth’s interior. While speaking at a workshop about this project, Baumgardner was approached by a German scientist who invited him to Germany to help create the next-generation global weather forecast model.

Over a period of four years, Baumgardner worked in Germany for six weeks every fall. Building on his previous experience with numerical modeling, he helped to develop the programs still being used today in over 20 countries to forecast the weather on a global scale. 

Baumgardner moved to Lynchburg in late 2018 after being invited by Mark Horstemeyer, Liberty’s dean of engineering. 

“He asked me if I’d be willing to come join him and help get the graduate engineering school launched,” Baumgardner said. “It’s just exciting to be here at a place Christ is exalted, where the Bible is honored and believed, and to be able (to) encourage students that not only is it historically accurate, but it is scientifically accurate as well.” 

Perez is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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