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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The New Creationism

Posted by jlwile on January 26, 2012

Paul Garner is a British environmental scientist and Fellow of the Geological Society of London. He is a very active young-earth creationist researcher, currently doing original geological research in collaboration with Dr. John Whitmore and Dr. Steve Austin. He also recently authored a book called The New Creationism.

The word “new” in the title does not mean that he is offering some fundamentally new concept in creationism. Instead, the purpose of the book is to give the reader an understanding of the latest creationist models in the areas of astronomy, geology, and biology. In this purpose, Garner succeeds admirably. He is not only a very understandable writer, he is also very knowledgeable in a wide range of fields. As a result, this book is easy-to-read and (mostly) accurate.

There are many things l really like about this book, and one of them is that Garner makes sure the reader is not fooled by terminology. For example, in his second chapter (“The Sun, Moon, and Stars”) he discusses how astrophysicists think main sequence stars (such as our sun) eventually turn into different kinds of stars (like red giants, white dwarfs, and supergiants) and perhaps even supernovae. He then says:

Some creationists have instinctively reacted against this idea because the process of change is usually referred to as ‘stellar evolution.’ However, it is perhaps better to think of it as ‘stellar ageing’ because the changes are nothing more than an outworking of the law of entropy, the tendency of all natural systems to move towards a disordered state. (p. 37)

This is a very important point. What is generally referred to as “stellar evolution” has nothing to do with evolution as the term is generally used. It certainly has to do with change, and “evolution” can mean “change.” However, the general use of the term “evolution” implies an increase in complexity, and that is certainly not what goes on in stellar evolution.

Another thing I really liked about the book is that it concentrates on the evidence that supports creation and only discusses the evidence against evolution when necessary. Many creationist books are nothing more than attacks on evolution. While it is important to show a competing theory’s weaknesses, science should never be focused on shooting down opposing ideas. It should be focused on building up your own ideas. As a result, Garner gives the reader a lot of evidence that supports various creationist models.

For example, in his section on geology, he gives evidence for the idea that majority of the geological formations we see today were formed rapidly. In his section on the age of the earth, he gives evidence that radioactive half-lives were much shorter at some point in the past. In his section on the diversity of life, he gives evidence that indicates God created organisms of basic kinds, and those kinds then diversified into the various creatures we see today. He also discusses Dr. Todd Wood’s proposal that there are mobile genetic elements designed by God to produce genetic diversity.

Probably his best chapter, however, is the one on catastrophic plate tectonics. This is where his knowledge of the subject matter and his excellent ability to explain things are on prominent display. He gives an excellent “blow-by-blow” description of the process by which the continents separated, the ocean floors rose, and the seas’ waters were pushed onto the continents. He even discusses an event in 2004 which mimicked this process on a small scale. In addition, he gives an excellent explanation of why one would expect rapid reversals in the earth’s magnetic field as a result of catastrophic plate tectonics. He then discusses evidence that indicates such reversals did, indeed, take place.

This brings me to another thing I really liked about the book. While he spends a lot of time presenting positive evidence that supports various young-earth scenarios, he is not at all shy about discussing the problems that exist with those scenarios. As he says in his section on geology:

The evidence that we have considered so far supports the idea that the sedimentary layers were formed rapidly, and this is consistent with the short biblical timescale. It must be acknowledged, of course, that there are also challenges to this catastrophist interpretation of the geological record and we need to address them. (p. 86)

A lot of scientific theories have problems when faced with the data, and the young-earth creationist theories are no exception. If we are to engage in real science, then, we must examine both the data that support the theories we like as well as the data that speak against them. Garner does an admirable job when it comes to this important part of the scientific process.

Since I have been telling you all the things I liked about the book, let me also tell you a couple of things that I didn’t like. He includes a chapter on young-earth theology. Most of his points are very good, but he doesn’t present the objections to young-earth theology as well as I would have hoped. For example, after presenting the strong theological evidence that the days mentioned in the creation account were 24-hour days, he then considers the objection that the events discussed on day 6 seem to require more than 24 hours. I find that a very weak objection. The stronger objection is about the events on day 3. Those really do seem to take more than 24 hours. There are ways around this objection, of course, but they are not nearly as simple as those around the objection related to day 6.

I also noticed one spot where Garner used evidence that has been thoroughly refuted. As part of an excellent discussion about creationist cosmologies that utilize general relativity, he discusses their assumption that the earth is at or near the center of the universe’s expansion. Garner then cites a paper by Russell Humphreys which claims there is evidence to back up that assumption. Unfortunately, that paper cites older studies (from 1997 or before). In 2002 and again in 2005, significantly more detailed studies were done, and they showed that the previous studies were simply not correct.

Even though there were a few things I did not like about this book, overall I consider it an excellent resource. It is full of a lot of great information, and honestly, the chapter on catastrophic plate tectonics alone is worth the price of the entire book.

Comments

33 Responses to “The New Creationism”
  1. Steve Rosenoff says:

    I will pick this one up. Thanks for the GREAT review.

  2. gracekalman says:

    I think that book is destined for my summer reading list. On a side note, I am taking The Human Body: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made for my senior year. I can’t wait!

  3. jlwile says:

    Thanks, Steve. I am glad it got you interested in the book.

  4. jlwile says:

    I hope you aren’t disappointed by the Human Body book, Grace. Actually, I doubt that you will be – the human body is incredibly interesting. It was probably my second-favorite book to write. My favorite one was chemistry, for obvious reasons.

  5. Eric H. says:

    Hello Dr. Wile! I was wondering about the assumption that the earth is near the center of the universes expansion. I was wondering, based upon your experience, if perhaps any of the studies done could be biased, considering the huge implications of our galaxy being at or near the center of the universe. I’d like to know if the opposers truly are using perfectly sound science that can not be biased. I did wonder exactly how much variability there is in these types of observations, if preset parameters could influence the results, such as in the same way a computer programmer can influence the result of his programs by his outlook from the start. Personally for me, I don’t care much one way or another weather we are at the center of the universe or not, but it would be highly interesting if we were, and would make sense from a biblical perspective because, by all apparent reason, we do appear to be the center of his attention. That does not necessarily mean that God has any obligation to place us in the center of HIS universe. As the Psalmist says, “What is man that though art mindful of him, or the son of man that though visits him.” In other words, I was wondering if you could put in layman terms the contradiction of the previous claims made my Dr. Humphreys and the new studies done by Su Min Tang and Shuang Nan Zhang as well as if there has been any reply by Dr. Humphreys to the studies done in 2002 and 2005, because I have not been able to find any. Thank You!

  6. J.S. says:

    Dr. Wile, I agree with your opinion of Garner, and would point out that he also has a very interesting blog: http://thenewcreationism.wordpress.com/

    I did want to mention that not all YEC geologists support plate tectonics, nor do all conventional geologists. I have become more of a plate tectonic skeptic myself, despite, or probably because of having done my Master’s thesis on a spreading ridge off the coast of Oregon. Anyone wanting to learn more about the alternative view could consult the creationist book, “Plate Tectonics: A Different View” (http://creationresearch.org/magento/index.php/plate-tectonics-a-different-view.html) or a self-published book called “Tectonic Globaloney” by N. Christian Smoot, a career oceanographer and veteran of 67 government cruises, who became convinced by the data he’d collected that longitudinal migration of magma through deep sea ridges was a more satisfactory explanation for the data than the lateral spreading required by plate tectonics. (http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0022317001/Tectonic-Globaloney.aspx) The book could have benefited from the use of an editor, but I found the information fascinating, and Smoot’s credentials are impeccable.

    Another book by conventional geologists skeptical of plate tectonics is “The Origin of Moutains,” by Pain & Ollier, who point out that according to standard geological dating, most mountain ranges were uplifted millions of years after the presumed subduction of plate collisions that was supposed to have created them. Ollier also has an online article that summarizes many of the main points of his book, which can be found by googling “Clifford D. Ollier Geomorphology and Mountain Building.”

    One last thing—my kids took your Apologia Chemistry last year, and this year are taking a college chemistry at the local state college, and they tell me your course was much better laid out and more informative than the college course.

  7. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your question, Eric. Astrophysical studies most certainly are biased – in favor of earth being at the center of the universe. After all, earth (or its orbit) is the only position from which we observe the universe, so all our astronomical observations are from an “earth-centric” perspective. Astrophysicists must make sure that any trends they see are not an artifact of that issue. The more data they can collect, the easier it is to make sure their conclusions are not affected by their “earth-centric” situation.

    In layman’s terms, when we see light from distant objects, it looks redder than it would if the light came from something on earth. In other words, the light that we see coming from distant objects looks like it has been stretched so that its wavelength is longer than it would be if it were emitted here on earth. This is called the “redshift,” because red light has the longest wavelength in the visible range. The farther away the object we are observing is, the greater the redshift.

    Today, the redshift is understood in terms of universal expansion. Light from distant objects has been traveling a while to get to us, and the universe has expanded as the light was in transit. This stretched the light waves out, causing their wavelengths to get longer. The farther the light had to travel to get to the earth, the more the universe has expanded while the light was traveling, so the larger the redshift.

    Early measurements indicated that the redshifts observed from different objects in space tended to fall into distinct groups. In other words, rather than there being a wide range of redshifts, there seemed to be preferred values for them. Since the redshift is basically a measure of how far an object is from us, that would tell us there are preferred distances between the earth and other objects. Rather than a star being able to be just any distance from earth, the star could be, say, 10,000 light years from earth or 20,000 light years from earth, but no distance in between. When data can only fall into distinct groups, we say that the data are “quantized.” Therefore, these results indicated that the distances between earth and the rest of the objects in the universe were (at least somewhat) quantized.

    Well, you can show with a bit of geometry that if the earth weren’t somewhere close to the center of the universe, we would not be able to see this quantized pattern, even if it existed. Thus, the very fact that we seemed to observe quantized redshifts indicated that the earth is near the center of the universal expansion.

    The key question, however, is whether or not the redshifts really are quantized. The earlier studies that indicated redshift quantization had a lot fewer data points than the newer studies. The 2002 study I link in the post, for example, had eight times the data as compared to the studies that did see quantized redshifts, and it saw no quantized redshifts.

    I agree with you that there are a lot of physicists who would fight long and hard against the idea that the earth is at the center of the universe. However, I don’t think that can explain this situation. The more data that come in, the less it seems that redshifts are quantized.

    In some ways, you can compare this to the fight over evolution. More and more scientists are leaving evolution (even though there are many that fight, scream, and scrape to defend it) because as more and more data come in, evolution becomes a less and less reasonable explanation. However, in the case of quantized redshifts, as more and more data come in, the idea that redshifts are quantized is less and less reasonable.

    Now, of course, this doesn’t say the earth isn’t at the center of the universal expansion. There is no reason to expect that redshifts should be quantized. Thus, the fact that they don’t seem to be isn’t an argument against the earth being at or near the center of the universal expansion. It just means that redshifts don’t provide any evidence for the idea.

  8. jlwile says:

    J.S., it is interesting to hear from a geologist who is skeptical of plate tectonics. I have read some articles from “anti-plate tectonics” geologists in the peer-reviewed creationist journals, but I haven’t investigated the idea nearly as thoroughly as you have. I will have to look into the issue more carefully. Thanks very much for the links and suggestions of resources.

    Thanks so much for letting me know what your kids thought of my chemistry course compared to their college chemistry course. I am so glad that my course helped them!

  9. Eric H. says:

    Greetings again Dr. Wile! I’ve been thinking alot about the entire field of Astronomy and to me personally, it seems to be the most unstable and least conclusive area of science. We can study the human body and make fairly precise conclusions about it and study chemistry and come to very precise results, but the whole sphere of astronomy seems to be very heavily theory and/or assumption laden to the point where, more or less, I can not seem to make any sense of it whatsoever. I was wondering if you have read any particular books, (or made any), such as, an, “astronomy for dummies” from a younger earth creationists perspective. haha (Reason being that I would rather be informed in a young earth creationists perspective(my personal belief) on the universe first before moving onto secular theories and seeing what is, isn’t wrong with them, just as I’d rather be strong in my biblical beliefs before moving on to outside beliefs to study what is or is not right about them and the differences.) and if you know of any videos promoting young earth views on astronomy, because visuals seem to work alot better when it comes to learning subjects such as astronomy. Thanks again!

  10. jlwile says:

    Eric, you are quite right when you say that astronomy is one of the “least conclusive” areas of science. There just aren’t as many data in astronomy as there are in other fields, and the data that do exist are heavily interpretation dependent. For example, astrophysicists are fond of stating (as fact) that about 70% of the universe is made of dark energy and about 25% of it is made up of dark matter. However, those numbers are all based on calculations that assume the Big Bang is an accurate picture of the history of the universe. Given that a large number of astrophysicists don’t think the Big Bang is reasonable, such statements should be taken with a grain of salt.

    I think the best book to start with is Universe by Design by Danny Faulkner. It’s a good overall introduction from a young-earth perspective. There is a DVD called “Creation Astronomy” by Dr Jason Lisle that is pretty good. You might also want to watch “The Heavens Declare the Glory of God” by Mike Riddle.

  11. Eric H. says:

    Wow! Thanks for your quick reply to my questions! You definitely put it into much clearer terms. It would seem to be clear from all the available data that redshifts are not quantitized,is that spelled correctly? so Dr. Humphreys simply lacked data that was not yet available to him, it does make me a little upset that the creationist website who posted the article has not put up additional info on the theory and the contradictory nature of new findings, I think it is important to keep your website updated in those regards as to not lead users to rely on old arguments when new information has come to light to discount or at least cast into serious question previous observations, perhaps they have put up another article, but I can’t find it. I can see the part about being biased about our galaxy, and, or earth, since it is the only place we can make observations thus far, thanks again for the quick response!

  12. Eric H. says:

    I will look into the materials you have given me. I have not read the Universe my design nor watched the two dvds. Looking forward to reading and watching them!!

  13. jlwile says:

    My pleasure, Eric. The correct spelling is “quantized.” The Humphreys paper was also published in 2002, so he didn’t have access to the more detailed studies. Of course, as you point out, that’s no excuse now. The more detailed studies have been out for several years now. If Humphreys has some reason to think the more detailed studies are wrong, he should publish a paper as to why. He has not. If Humphreys cannot answer the more detailed studies, there should be a note added to the paper that is there now, indicating that more detailed studies indicate that the paper’s reasoning is no longer valid.

    This is one of the many reasons it is important to read from multiple sides of an issue. The only reason I know the other studies exist was because I also read old-earth creationists, theistic evolutionists, and atheists. One of those sources discussed the studies, so I looked them up and read them.

  14. Kevin N says:

    As an old-Earther, I consider Paul Garner to be the best young-Earth geologist out there. His field descriptions and discussions of geology are generally excellent, and he does a good job of defending his position. Back when he allowed comments on his blog, I had several good online discussions with him, and though neither of us were convinced by the other’s reasoning, the dialog remained courteous and respectful.

    I have not read his book (it is in my Amazon shopping cart, along with seventy other books) but I have little doubt that it is the best book out there defending young-Earth creationism from a geological perspective. I also have little doubt that I will still disagree with many of Garner’s interpretations, on things such as the nature of the Coconino formation in the Grand Canyon (it has footprints from land-dwelling vertebrates on the bedding planes, along with traces made by spiders and millipedes and such, and so is clearly terrestrial!) or on floating vegetation mats as part of the explanation for the principle of fossil succession (did all Late Cretaceous dinosaurs stay on their floating mats until just the right time, and they all jumped off together?).

    I think Garner’s basic problem is that which plagues young-Earth creationism in general, which is that the whole system is Biblically unnecessary. The Bible simply does not state how old the Earth is, and it does not say that Noah’s flood was global or that it is responsible for the sedimentary rock record. Garner, on the other hand, believes that we must find some way to fit the geological record into the Bible, and is determined to find a way to do so.

    Paul has also been working on a documentary DVD that will be released soon. His description of it is on his blog and the trailer is on YouTube.

  15. Kevin N says:

    One additional thought on why I name Paul Garner the best YEC geologist: his willingness, as Jay pointed out, to be frank about the weaknesses of YEC geology. He admits that there are things that don’t work (he would say “don’t work yet“). He has listed some of these in his blog post The top five challenges for creationist geology.

    Again, I disagree with him from the beginning, where he lists five areas where he believes YECs have made progress, but I applaud him for being up front with the problems.

  16. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your comments, Kevin. To be fair, there are many Christians (including some theologians) who do think that the young-earth view is Biblically necessary. I personally don’t think it is necessary, but I would expect that even you would have to admit that a young-earth interpretation of Scripture is the most Biblically straightforward view. Now, of course, the straightforward view is not always the best one, because a straightforward interpretation of Scripture supports some sort of geocentric solar system. However, I think it is still rather obvious that while Scripture can be interpreted to be consistent with an ancient earth, it is definitely not the most straightforward interpretation. Thus, while not Biblically necessary, I find it the most Biblically reasonable view.

    Also, I find it interesting that you don’t like the floating mats view. After all, it is a staple in old-earth geology as well. In addition, you are clearly mischaracterizing the way young-earth geologists use floating mats. No young-earth geologist says that the animals on the floating mats “jumped off together.” Perhaps you think that’s the case because that’s how old-earth geologists use floating mats. For example, in the article linked above, the old-earth geologists think hoatzins, Caviomorph rodents, platyrrhine primates, various amphisbaenian and gekkotan lizards used the rafts for conveyance, jumping off in the right place to explain where their fossils are found. I agree that’s a rather silly view of floating mats. However, that’s not how young-earth geologists use them.

    In addition, Garner does not dispute that the Coconino formation began as a terrestrial ecosystem. What he says is, based on the evidence, water is an integral part of how the fossils were preserved. Terrestrial systems can be inundated with water, especially during a Flood…

    Garner is certainly honest about the weaknesses associated with YEC geology. As I said, this is one of the reasons I like him so much. I would love to find an old-earth geologist who is just as honest about the many weaknesses of old-earth geology.

  17. Dr. Wile –

    I asked a few people about the Quantized redshift papers. I know very little about the subject, but I asked a few creation-oriented friends about them, and they said that the pro-quantized paper was discussing *galaxies*, while the anti-quantized papers were discussing *quasars*, not ordinary galaxies which Humphreys bases his arguments on.

    Jon

  18. jlwile says:

    Jonathan, the 2002 paper and the 2005 paper I linked used both galaxies and quasi-stellar objects (quasars). Thus, I don’t understand what the people you talked to mean. In addition, if redshifts are really quantized, then the quantization should appear in all objects that emit light. Thus, I don’t see how their statement helps.

  19. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    I agree that the YEC interpretation is straightforward–when stripped of some of its YEC additions–and therefore I cannot rule it out Biblically. Is it the most straightforward or reasonable? I would say the answer is “not as Biblically straightforward or reasonable as most YECs assume.”

    I believe that many YECs are guilty of over-interpreting the Scriptures, in that they make the Bible say more than what it actually does say. Examples of this include dogmatism on the meaning of “yom” (day) when there are Biblical reasons to question the “literal” interpretation, the insistence that there was no animal death before the fall when the Bible is silent on the issue (I know you agree with me on this one), and the teaching that Noah’s flood was global when the Hebrew is more ambiguous on the extent of the flood than our English tranlations are. Insertion of these assumptions cannot lead to what I would consider a straightforward, reasonable interpretation. Unfortunately, this is what has happened, and then the YEC interpretation has been held forth to the church as the standard of orthodoxy in regards to origins.

    Floating vegetation mats have their place in geological interpretations, but the YEC use of the concept goes far beyond what is reasonable. Did all the Pennsylvanian mats stay “together” and then get stacked one on top of each other hundreds of times to form cyclical coal deposits, complete with soil horizons with preserved tree roots? Did all the Cretaceous critters stay on their own mats (to the exclusion of pre- or post-Cretaceous critters) and never get buried before pre-Cretaceous critters? I know that YEC geologists don’t say all the animals jumped off a floating mat together, but that is what would have had to happen if these mats had anything to do with explaining the vertical distribution of fossils (we’re back to the previous discussion on the geological column, which I won, by the way :) ).

    I don’t think you will find standard geologists who are “just as honest about the many weaknesses of old-earth geology” because nothing has yet come out of YEC geological thinking that would seriously challenge the standard interpretations about the age of the Earth or sedimentation and stratigraphy.

  20. jlwile says:

    Kevin, I agree that YECs tend to overinterpret Scripture in some ways. Certainly, the insistence that there was no animal death before the Fall is an extraBiblical concept that many YECs have tried to force on Scripture to make their theological case more compelling. I also agree that the dogmatic way they say that the Genesis days must mean 24-hour days is incorrect. I would disagree with you on the Flood, however. While I agree that it is possible to interpret the Flood account as being local, I do think it is most certainly not the straightforward interpretation.

    Actually, the way old-earth geologists use floating vegetation mats goes far beyond what is reasonable. When animals are trying to escape imminent death, they will do things that otherwise they would never, ever do. Old-earth geologists are forced to believe that animals actually chose to take long trips on floating vegetation mats, even though there was no harm in staying right where they were to begin with. Then, when the floating mat had reached some far-off destination, the animals decided to leave, despite the fact that they were happy to get on the mat to begin with. That’s not at all reasonable. When animals are fleeing a flood, they will take any refuge, including floating vegetation mats. That’s a reasonable use of floating mats.

    You say you know that YEC geologists don’t say that all the animals jumped off the floating mat together. Then why did you say it to begin with? That kind of mischaracterization of your opponents’ position does nothing to further your case, and it makes you sound very desperate. Furthermore, that’s not what has to happen in order to explain the vertical distribution of fossils. In addition, floating mats didn’t have to “get stacked one on top of each other hundreds of times to form cyclical coal deposits.” If you actually took the time to read Flood geology seriously, rather than mischaracterizing the view, you would know that.

    You might think you won the discussion about the geological column, but I think those who read the discussion would say otherwise. As our discussion shows, the geological column regularly makes predictions which are falsified by the data. You can try to make excuses for why that happens, but you can’t deny that the predictions are, indeed, quite false. In most areas of science, theories that continue to make false predictions are discarded. For some reason, the geological column gets a pass. That’s not science – it’s dogma.

    Interestingly enough, in the long post you made on your site, you spent only a few lines on the false prediction made by the geological column (the topic of the discussion) and, when you did touch on the topic, you mischaracterized what the science says. You said, “The discovery of grass in dinosaur dung isn’t that big of a change. Paleobotanists had been saying that grass appeared sometime in the Paleocene or early Eocene (perhaps around 55 million years ago), and now we know that there was at least some grass around in the very late Cretaceous (a little over 65 million years ago). ” That is utterly false. As the authors themselves state (and as I quote in my original post), “The new Oryzeae fossils suggest substantial diversification within Ehrhartoideae by the Late Cretaceous, pushing back the time of origin of Poaceae as a whole. These results, therefore, necessitate a re-evaluation of current models for grass evolution and palaeobiogeography.” So far from it being not “that big a change,” the authors of the study say it will require a re-evaluation of current models for grass evolution and palaeobiogeography! In addition, far from indicating that “at least some grass” was around in the very late Cretaceous, it indicates that substantial diversification had already occurred by the Late Cretaceous. This means there was lots of grass around in the late Cretaceous. It’s hard to imagine how you think you won a discussion when you mostly ignored the point of the discussion and when you did touch on it, you mischaracterized what the data say!

    There are many, many geologists who would disagree with your statement that nothing has come out of YEC geological thinking that would seriously challenge old-earth geology. Indeed, the geologist you think is the best YEC geologist out there would strongly disagree with that statement! There are many, many other serious geologists who would disagree. However, let’s forget the YEC interpretation. There are still many, many problems associated with the old-earth geological interpretation. The geological column makes false predictions. Old-earth geologists are forced to believe in paraconformities simply to preserve their interpretation of the geological column. Overthrusting is used to explain out-of-order rock layers, even when there is little or no evidence for an overthrust. The list goes on. Where are the old-earth geologists who are honest enough to talk about these issues anywhere except in the most technical literature? Why can’t they be found? If old-earth geology is so rock-solid (pardon the pun), why are old-earth geologists not honest about its weaknesses? Why do old-earth geologists continually mischaracterize Flood geology rather than actually addressing what it says?

    I can find YEC geologists who are honest about YEC geology’s weaknesses. I cannot find old-earth geologists who are similarly honest about the weaknesses in old-earth geology. I think that speaks volumes.

  21. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    You are usually pretty accurate in your statements, but now you are clearly misrepresenting the other side. I’m not sure that you can point to anything in the literature on rafting that would indicate that animals consciously choose to hop on vegetation rafts, and then are so happy to be on those rafts that they wouldn’t dream of getting off at the other end of the ride. In reality, it can be observed that animals can get washed out to sea on dislodged vegetation following storms or other catastrophes. Rather than being “happy” to be there, most of them die of thirst, starvation, heat exhaustion, or drowning. The few that cross large bodies of water are undoubtedly “happy” to get off. What is unreasonable about this?

    What is unreasonable is to suggest that all the Carboniferous rafts stayed together (and stacked neatly on top of one another by the hundreds to form cyclical coal deposits), and that all the Permian rafts “waited” until all the Carboniferous rafts were set in place, and then all the Triassic rafts “waited” until the Permian rafts were in place, and…

    Why did I say that animals must have jumped off the floating mats together? Because Late Cretaceous animals are found in Upper Cretaceous rocks and not in Paleozoic rocks, and often without a coal seam anywhere nearby. It doesn’t matter whether the transport was by floating mats or floating forests; it just does not explain a key observation of the fossil record, and that is the principle of fossil succession.

    I am surprised that you used overthrusting as an example of something that is a challenge for conventional (old-Earth) geologists. This argument was prominent in post-The Genesis Flood creationism, but seems to have quietly faded into the background in the past decade or two. And rightly so, as the evidence that thrust faults exist, both in the present and in the geological record, is convincing. First of all, we now know of a source of significant horizontal stress in the upper crust, and that is the movement of tectonic plates. This is sufficient to cause thin-skin (i.e. upper crustal) deformation over a distance of hundreds of kilometers. Second, despite the statements of some YECs, thrust faulting is almost always accompanied in the rock record by intense deformation and/or presence of gouge layers (pulverized rock) at the formation contacts. Third, there have been significant earthquakes in which all fault movement was on thrust faults in the subsurface, with no surface faulting. Some of the earthquakes in the Los Angeles area in the past few decades have been of this type.

    Most paraconformities (i.e. subtle unconformities) do show relief over long distances. YECs often assume that if there is a hidden gap of millions of years, that erosion should have created significant topography on top of the older layer. This would be true in an area elevated to some degree above sea level, but not necessarily true along a coastal plane or marine platform/shelf.

    As far as Cretaceous grasses go, I’ll stick with “fine tuning.” The investigators were concerned with the fine details of the fossil record. But in the bigger picture, to have grasses appear in the Late Cretaceous rather than in the Paleocene or Eocene is not that big of a deal. We’re not talking about finding camels in the Cambrian.

  22. Kevin N says:

    I’ll add something positive. If one is to be a young-Earth creationist, it would be far better to use Paul Garner’s arguments than those from either the past history of young-Earth creationism (hence the title The New Creationism) or from the fringe of creationism (e.g. hydroplates). Geologists such as Garner have done a good job of weeding out the worst of the worst.

  23. jlwile says:

    Kevin, you are correct that I was mischaracterizing how old-earth geologists use rafts. I did it to make a point. You immediately recognized that I was mischaracterizing the literature and took umbrage. You were right to do so. However, you seem unwilling to admit that you are mischaracterizing Flood geology in exactly the same way. Nowhere in the creationist literature is it even suggested that “all the Carboniferous rafts stayed together (and stacked neatly on top of one another by the hundreds to form cyclical coal deposits.” In fact, the article on floating forests that I linked earlier gives a mechanism for how cyclical coal deposits are made by floating forests. It details how individual parts of the forest were torn apart and those individual parts stacked on top of each other. If you had actually read the article, you would have known that. In addition, nowhere in the creationist literature is it even suggested that “all the Permian rafts “waited” until all the Carboniferous rafts were set in place, and then all the Triassic rafts “waited” until the Permian rafts were in place, and…” No Flood geologist mentions such silliness because it is not needed to explain the vertical progression of fossils. Why is it wrong for me to mischaracterize old-earth geology but it’s okay for you to mischaracterize young-earth geology?

    Now…while I was deliberately mischaracterizing the old-earth geologists’ use of rafts, I still must point out that the old-earth geologists’ use of rafts is significantly less reasonable than the young-earth geologists’ use of rafts. When we see animals being washed out to sea on dislodged vegetation today, they don’t make it across the ocean, as old-earth geologists require that they must. Instead, they either get back to where they were originally or they die. That’s because during “business as usual,” there isn’t enough floating vegetation to produce a stable raft that will be able to survive a trip across the ocean. Only a very large catastrophe can do that…like a global Flood.

    You are absolutely incorrect that Flood geology cannot explain a key observation of geology – the succession of fossils. Of course your mischaracterizations of Flood geology cannot do that, but no young-earther believes in your mischaracterizations of Flood geology.

    You might be surprised that I used out-of-order rock layers as an example of a real problem, but that doesn’t make it any less of a real problem. You claim that this has “faded into the background,” but you know that’s not true. Indeed, in the last discussion we had (the one where you mischaracterized what the data say about grasses in the Cretaceous) you mentioned a post by Dr. Steve Austin. You quoted part of it quite approvingly. Here is a part that you did not quote, but I quoted later:

    Misconception No. 4. Strata systems always occur in the order required by the geologic column.

    Hundreds of locations are known where the order of the systems identified by geologists does not match the order of the geologic column. Strata systems are believed in some places to be inverted, repeated, or inserted where they do not belong. Overturning, overthrust faulting, or landsliding are frequently maintained as disrupting the order. In some locations such structural changes can be supported by physical evidence while elsewhere physical evidence of the disruption may be lacking and special pleading may be required using fossils or radiometric dating.

    Thus, this argument hasn’t faded into the background, because it is real. Very real. I am sorry it bothers you that I bring it up, but it is a real problem with old-earth geology, and I don’t know any old-earth geologist who addresses it honestly – at least not in the popular literature. You say that thrust-faulting is “almost always accompanied in the rock record by intense deformation and/or presence of gouge layers (pulverized rock) at the formation contacts.” I agree that this often is the case. The problem is that with some of these out-of-order layers, there is absolutely no evidence of any kind of thrusting, sliding, etc. That’s a major problem, and the only thing I have seen old-earth geologists do in the popular literature is try to sweep these inconvenient facts under the rug.

    Not surprisingly, you are trying to do the same thing with paraconformities. You say that “most” of them do show relief over long distances. I haven’t seen any literature to suggest that, but let’s suppose it’s true. What about the rest? You claim that significant topographical effects are “not necessarily” expected along a coastal plane or a marine platform/shelf. However, there are paraconformities that exist in areas that were not thought to be part of a coastal plane or marine platform/shelf. What about those? As the article about paraconformities (Dr. Roth calls them “flat gaps”) I linked previously states:

    The flat gaps, with their incredibly widespread sedimentary layers just above and below, severely challenge the many millions of years proposed for the standard geologic time scale. The complete absence of the deep erosion expected at these gaps over their alleged long ages is very difficult to explain within the long-age uniformitarian paradigm.

    That’s very true, and once again, I don’t know of any old-earth geologist who deals with this honestly in the popular literature.

    I know you want to stick with “fine tuning” when it comes to grasses in the Cretaceous. That’s because it fits with what you want to believe about geology. However, the data say otherwise. A “a re-evaluation of current models for grass evolution and palaeobiogeography” is not a matter of fine tuning. It is a result of the fact that geological column reasoning failed spectacularly, and the entire evolutionary history of the grasses needs to be re-written as a result. You can try to mischaracterize this as “not that big of a deal,” but the authors who discovered the data would strongly disagree with you. I agree that we are not talking about finding camels in the Cambrian, but I don’t know of any geological model that would expect to find camels in the Cambrian. If you think Flood geology would expect such a thing, you are once again thinking of your mischaracterizations of Flood geology, not actual Flood geology done by Flood geologists.

    I see that even when you are trying to say something nice about Flood geologists, you end up mischaracterizing them. Garner’s title The New Creationism has nothing to do with distancing himself from earlier creation science arguments. As I state in the post, the title simply indicates that “the purpose of the book is to give the reader an understanding of the latest creationist models in the areas of astronomy, geology, and biology.” I truly wish you would start talking honestly about Flood geology and Flood geologists. This constant mischaracterization doesn’t help your cause in any way. It simply makes it look like you haven’t honestly investigated the other side.

    I truly wish I could find an old-earth geologist who does “a good job of weeding out the worst of the worst.”

  24. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    The difference between your mischaracterization of rafting and how I “mischaracterized” (according to you) YEC rafting is that the the old-Earth use of rafting makes sense and the YEC use of rafting doesn’t. In conventional geology, rafting is proposed as a mechanism for moving organisms across wide bodies of water. The larger the body of water, the less like it is to occur. There is nothing illogical in this.

    We will get nowhere as long as you hold to the YEC denial of fossil succession. Carboniferous rocks (with their cyclical coal deposits — neatly stacking hundreds of floating forest mats stretches credulity) occur beneath Permian rocks, which occur beneath Triassic rocks, which occur beneath Jurassic rocks…. I’m sorry, but you absolutely do not find exceptions to this in undeformed rocks.

    I am not misrepresenting YEC geology. I am merely taking what they say and take things to natural conclusions.

    The overthrust argument has indeed faded from its earlier prominence in YEC literature. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, when I was still a YEC, it was a prominent part of the YEC attack on standard geology. But, as I said, the evidence for the reality of thrust faulting is conclusive. If you search the AiG site for “thrust fault” or “overthrust,” you get just a handful of results. I’m surprised that this has not made it to AiG’s Arguments we don’t use site.

    The truth is that geologists do not invoke thrust faults to explain layers “out of order” willy-nilly as is implied by YECs. They don’t have to resort to this in relatively undisturbed areas (Grand Canyon, Great Plains) because the rocks in these areas really do consistently occur in the order Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian… No YEC model offers an explanation for the consistency of this observation.

    Where overthusting is invoked as an explanation, there is good structural and stratigraphic evidence that this has occurred. You really should take a field trip to the overthrust belt in someplace like Montana to gain an appreciation for the complexity of the deformation that has occurred in strata that has been subjected to thrust faulting.

    I think Paul Garner has distanced himself from the earlier YEC arguments, and this is a good thing. YEC flood geology has matured to some degree, and so what he presents is not always the same old YEC arguments. Their arguments are more sophisticated, whether it be about seawater composition or pluton emplacement, but still suffer from a huge number of fatal defects.

  25. jlwile says:

    Kevin, as I have explained, the old-earth use of rafting does not make sense. Once again, during “business as usual” times, you do not expect floating vegetation mats to be big enough to allow for trans-oceanic voyages, as the old-earth view requires. In a time of large-scale catastrophes, however, you do expect such rafts. Thus, it is the young-earth use of rafting that is reasonable, not the old-earth use.

    I am not denying fossil succession, and I don’t know of any YEC who does. This is another one of your mischaracterizations. What I am saying is that Flood geology can explain fossil succession in a given location, and anyone who has honestly investigated it knows this. Indeed, a lot of Flood geology literature is devoted specifically to this topic. And once again, you are still mischaracterizing how YECs use floating mats. Please find me the YEC statement where hundreds of floating mats are neatly stacked in order to explain cyclical coal deposits. It doesn’t exist. It is also not necessary to explain such coal deposits, as Roth’s paper discusses.

    You most certainly are misrepresenting YEC geology. You are not taking it to its natural conclusions. You are trying to make it say something it doesn’t say, and I will not let that go unchallenged on this blog.

    The overthrust argument certainly has not faded, as Dr. Austin’s link (which you previously quoted approvingly) demonstrates. In addition, your own search of AiG’s site shows that it has not faded. As you indicate, when the data conclusively show a YEC argument to be incorrect, AiG includes it in their Arguments Creationists Should Avoid site. The fact that this argument is not there and that you can find references to it when you search AiG’s site indicates it has not faded from view. It can be found on any exhaustive creationist site, such as ICR’s site, CMI’s site, AiG’s site, RAE’s site, etc., etc. I expect you wish it would fade from view, but until it can be addressed adequately by old-earth geologists, it most certainly will not fade from view.

    The truth is that old-earth geologists must invoke various explanations for the many examples of out-of-order rocks. Sometimes, there is evidence to support such explanations, and they are reasonable. Sometimes, there is no evidence for such explanations. This is the problem, and unless old-earth geologists start honestly addressing this problem, they will never convince those of us who are focused on the data.

    You may think Dr. Garner has distanced himself from earlier YEC arguments, and you are most certainly free to do so. However, that’s not what you claimed in your previous comment. You claimed that the title of his book was an attempt to distance himself from those arguments, and it most certainly is not. Once again, then, you mischaracterized a YEC geologist, even when you were trying to be nice!

    You may think that YEC geology suffers from fatal flaws, but several geologists do not. There are challenges to be sure (as there are for old-earth geology), but they are not fatal. In addition, at least some of the YEC geologists are honest about the problems that face YEC geology. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for old-earth geologists.

  26. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    You cannot say “I am not denying fossil succession” unless you are willing to admit that the geological column is real. Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian…

    I did a search on “thrust fault” and “overthrust” on ICR’s web site and came up with only eight articles, six of which were over ten years old. One of the articles — Catastrophic Superfaults and the Biblical Flood — acknowledges that the Heart Mountain Thrust in Wyoming (I can see Heart Mountain from the top of the cliff at the end of my street) is indeed some sort of horizontal fault:

    Heart Mountain’s strata are known to be “out of order,” with the “older” layers stratigraphically above the “younger” ones. Earlier creation scientists considered this to be merely a depositional anomaly that disproved the geologic column, but consistent investigation has demonstrated the “reversed” order.

    Again, the time is drawing near to add thrust faults to the YEC trash bin, along with the Paluxy tracks, vapor canopy, and moon dust. Which means that YECs will be left without one of their favorite “proofs” that the geologic column is nonexistent.

  27. jlwile says:

    Kevin, I think you are a bit confused about what “fossil succession” means. I am not denying that in a given region of the world, there is a succession of fossils in the strata that exist there. What I am denying (because observation denies it) is that there is a fossil succession from Precambrian all the way to Quaternary rock anywhere in the world. I understand that given certain assumptions (some of which are rather unlikely), you can construct a hypothetical fossil succession that goes from from Precambrian all the way to Quaternary rock. However, based on the data that I know, I seriously doubt it is a valid construction. If nothing else, the construction has a lot of problems that old-earth geologists are not willing to deal with honestly (at least not in the popular literature).

    Yes, I agree that the rock strata of the Heart Mountain Thrust really were moved. I agree with that because there is evidence for such movement. But what about The Franklin Mountains, Glarus, Red Rock Canyon, The Empire Mountains, etc., etc.? The fact is that the geological column doesn’t allow for any out-of-order strata unless some sort of movement occurred. Without evidence of movement, this counts as a problem for old-earth geology.

    Please note that I never said that out-of-order strata are “proof” that the geological column doesn’t exist. Indeed, if you read my blog, you know that I understand that science cannot prove anything. What I said (and what is quite true) was that out-of-order strata are a problem for old-earth geology. Unfortunately, I cannot find old-earth geologists who are willing to discuss this problem with the honesty that Dr. Garner (and other YECs) deal with problems that face YEC geology.

  28. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    One can construct a “hypothetical fossil succession that goes from Precambrian all the way to Quaternary,” as you stated, or one can go to a place like the Williston Basin in North Dakota (and many other sedimentary basins) and find rocks from all of the geologic periods in order. The end result, whether constructed by lateral correlation of layers or by observation in deep sedimentary basins, is the same: Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian…

    This order holds true in all undisturbed strata around the world. The same order can be reconstructed in disturbed strata—as evidenced by folding and faulting—by “undoing” the deformation. For example, in thrust belts, one can “decompress” the thrusting along the fault planes and show that the original layers all slide back into place, in the expected stratigraphic order.

    I won’t look into each of the thrust faults you listed, but encourage you to look at a cross-section of the Keystone (Red Rock Canyon) thrust in Nevada that is here. The image quality is poor, but it illustrates what is going on. Note in both cross-sections that the lower layers are bent, or folded, by the drag of the upper layers sliding past. This is a common feature associated with movement along a fault plane, but is not a feature associated with sedimentation. This thrust fault really exists; it is not just a construction by geologists desperate to uphold their dearly-held theories.

    If conventional geologists, including Christian geologists, are unwilling to discuss “problems” with their science (and note that I put “problems” in quotes), it is because they don’t perceive that the “problems” pointed out by young-Earth creationists are problems at all. In addition, YECs have not come up with what we would consider to be credible alternatives.

  29. jlwile says:

    Kevin, you know very well that the Williston Basin does not hold a fossil succession from from Precambrian all the way to Quaternary. It holds strata that have been identified as coming from Precambrian all the way to Quaternary, but that identification is based on the hypothetical construction of the geological column. You can’t use layers identified from the hypothetical construction to provide evidence for the hypothetical construction! There is, in fact, nowhere in the world that provides the fossil succession that you believe in. I am not saying that your belief is irrational. The construction of the geological column is rational. Based on my understanding of the data, however, it is also incorrect.

    Just in case there are people reading this thread who have not read the previous thread in which we discussed the geological column, I need remind my readers that the identification of geological strata is not nearly as straightforward as Kevin wants you to believe. In fact, as another geologist (Dr. Steven Austin) puts it:

    Misconception No. 5. Because each strata system has distinctive lithologic composition, a newly discovered stratum can be assigned easily to its correct position in the geologic column.

    Sandstone, limestone, dolomite, shale, chert, salt, conglomerate, coal and other rock types are not diagnostic of specific strata systems. Therefore, a rock’s physical appearance cannot, with certainty, distinguish the system or strata level to which a rock may belong. The sequence of rock types is more useful, but hardly an infallible guide to correlation. Thus, the Cambrian System on an intercontinental scale is typically composed of quartzose sandstone, overlain by glauconitic sandstone with dark-brown shale, overlain by impure, light-brown limestones. The correlation of “Cambrian” strata is further strengthened by the presence on an intercontinental scale of an unconformity (surface of erosion) at or near the base of the system. Each rock type is not distinctive of the Cambrian, and neither is the unconformity, but the sequence may be.

    Kevin approvingly quoted from part of this post in our previous discussion, but he left this part out. Since it is not at all straightforward to identify strata of any given “era,” the fact that the same order can be reconstructed in different places is not very impressive at all. Given enough assumptions, I can reconstruct all manner of things that are not true!

    I agree that the geology of Red Rock Canyon indicates that some movement happened, but it doesn’t look like nearly enough. Remember, The Valley of Fire also has the same out-of-order problem, and it is quite a ways away. Thus, you have to believe that the overthrust occurred over about 150 miles or that two separate overthrusts occurred or that at one time, the formations were closer together and then were spread apart. Any of those kinds of massive movements should have left some significant signs, and yet all you see are some bends. I am not a geologist, but I see no evidence of the kind of movement required to put the rocks out of order, and at least some geologists seem to agree with me on that point.

    I am sorry that you don’t want to look at the other formations. I would love to read an old-earth geologist’s view after he or she honestly looks at the evidence. It could be that you are right about none of these sites (or the others where out-of-order layers exist) challenging the old-earth interpretation of the geological column. However, based on what I have read so far, the evidence seems to say otherwise.

    I am most concerned about your last statement, however. First, as I have said before, the problems I have pointed out (falsified predictions, paraconformities, and out-of-order sequences, among many others) have nothing to do with YEC geology. They are problems with old-earth geology, irrespective of any competing views. We don’t do science by saying, “Well, no one else has a better theory, so let’s ignore the problems our theory has.” We do science by honestly investigating all the data related to our views, regardless of whether or not the data present us with problems. Only then can we begin to understand what the data are telling us. In addition, based on what I read, YEC geology seems more credible than old-earth geology. Even though I am not a geologist, I can find geologists with all levels of qualification who agree with me on that point. It seems to me that if YEC geology really wasn’t credible, you couldn’t find so many scientists (many of them geologists) taking it so seriously.

  30. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    The strata of the Williston Basin are not a hypothetical construction. The Cambrian rocks contain fossils that are consistent with Cambrian rocks throughout North America. The Ordovician rocks contain fossils that are consistent with Ordovician rocks throughout North America. Et cetera. On top of that, the layers can be correlated laterally (sometimes by subsurface well data, sometimes by seismic reflections, sometimes on the surface) with rocks throughout the continent. You say that there is “nowhere in the world that provides the fossil succession” accepted by almost all geologists (including most Christian geologists), but the reality is the opposite. In undisturbed strata, the order is always Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian…

    Young-Earth creationists cannot point to a single example in undisturbed strata where this is not the case. And upon closer examination, their “thrust fault” case against the geologic column fails as well. I don’t have to look at each thrust fault in order to come to this conclusion.

    Young-Earth creationists say that it is hard to imagine thrust faulting occurring at both Red Rock Canyon (near Las Vegas) and the Valley of Fire at the same time, being that they are 150 miles apart. However, there is really no problem with thrusting occurring along a belt that is hundreds, or even over a thousand, kilometers long. When tectonic plates collide, they do so along a broad front. This sort of thrust faulting seems to be occurring today inland from the Sunda Megathrust, which was the source of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

    I had quoted Steve Austin to point out that even a prominent YEC geologist was willing to acknowledge that there is something to the geologic column. My quote was in no way an endorsement of all of Austin’s statements. For example, I don’t even know why he included “Misconception No. 5,” which you just quoted, in his list. I have never seen a statement in a geological textbook or article that would imply something like, “it is a quartzose sandstone, therefore it must be Cambrian.” It is true that the base of the Cambrian usually has a distinctive quartzose sandstone (e.g. the Tapeats Sandstone in the Grand Canyon; the Flathead Formation in the Northern Rockies), but quartzose sandstones are not unique to this position in the column.

    The old-Earth explanation for the geological record works. None of the “problems” raised by YEC geologists (even the good ones, such as Garner, Austin, and Snelling) raise serious challenges to conventional geology:
    – The geologic column — fossils really do occur in a consistent order.
    – Thrust faults — observable today, and good structural and stratigraphic evidence for them in the rock record.
    – Paraconfomities — There is nothing unreasonable about there being flat surfaces between layers in settings such as carbonate platforms (Bahamas), coastal plains, tidal flats, or shallow inland seas.

    The young-Earth explanation, on the other hand, is plagued by a number of problems. One of these, that has not come up yet, is “too many events, not enough time.” In my neck of the woods, one would have to compress too many events into the flood year and its aftermath: erosion, marine sedimentation, in-place formation of carbonate buildups, more marine sedimentation, mountain-building (accompanied by faulting, multiple igneous intrusive events, volcanism), more marine sedimentation, more volcanism and igneous intrustion, more mountain-building and erosion, more sedimentation, and then multiple glaciation events.

    Why should I even consider dropping a system that works for one that doesn’t? If the Bible required any of this, I would, like Garner et al., try to find a way to make it work. But the Bible is open-ended on the age of the Earth, and ambiguous on the extent of the Flood, so I’ll go with the geological explanation that really works.

  31. Kevin N says:

    To be fair (as I’ve thought about what I have written), the thrust faulting associated with the Sunda Megathrust may be somewhat different than the other thrust faults you listed. I’ll fall back on what I mentioned earlier: current thrust faulting in the subsurface of the Los Angeles basin. The conclusion is the same: thrust faulting occurs in the present in compressional tectonic settings. If you search the internet for “Quaternary thrust fault” there are a number of articles.

  32. jlwile says:

    Kevin, I agree that the Williston basin is not hypothetical. It is real. However, the identification of all the strata is based on the hypothetical construction of the geological column, because there are not index fossils in each stratum of the basin. As a result, the fossil succession you believe in is simply not present there. In addition, the identification of some of the layers is very, very tricky. You claim that “The Cambrian rocks contain fossils that are consistent with Cambrian rocks throughout North America. The Ordovician rocks contain fossils that are consistent with Ordovician rocks throughout North America. Et cetera. ” The problem is that the fossils examined in the Williston basin are mostly (for most layers only) microfossils. This is very tricky, because microfossils are often found out of order. There are good reasons to suspect that microfossils can be reworked upwards or leaked downwards, of course, so I don’t see these out-of-order fossils as a problem for the hypothetical construction of the geological column. However, if microfossils can travel up or down the strata, what’s to say it isn’t happening in the Williston basin? In the end, there is no way to independently determine the identity of each stratum in the basin. The strata are identified based on the hypothetical construction of the geological column, and thus they cannot be used to support the hypothetical construction.

    You claim that “In undisturbed strata, the order is always Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian…” However, that’s not even close to being true. There is no area on the world where the fossils can be put together in that order, because there is no area in the world where the fossil succession you believe in actually exists. In one area of the world you find some of the fossils, in other areas of the world, you find other fossils. The only place the fossil succession that you (and most geologists – even Christian geologists) believe in is a textbook, where the hypothetical construction of the geological column is presented.

    You claim that “Young-Earth creationists cannot point to a single example in undisturbed strata where this is not the case.” Once again, this is false. I have listed several such areas for you. Instead of investigating these areas, you admit that you “don’t have to look at each thrust fault in order to come to this conclusion.” I wonder how that is possible, since the only way to know that they are truly undisturbed is to look at each one. Remember, the hypothetical reconstruction of the geological column cannot allow for even one situation where the layers are out of order and not subjected to massive movements. In order to believe in the hypothetical reconstruction, then, you would have to investigate each instance in which out-of-order strata appear.

    You claim, “Young-Earth creationists say that it is hard to imagine thrust faulting occurring at both Red Rock Canyon (near Las Vegas) and the Valley of Fire at the same time, being that they are 150 miles apart.” This is simply another one of your mischaracterizations. Nowhere has any YEC said it is hard to imagine thrust faulting at both locations. What they have said (and is quite true) is that there is no evidence for such massive movement. I bet that if you examined the Sunda Megathrust, you would find strong evidence for large-scale movements, whether or not they are the same as what you hope for at Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire. You can feel free to believe in such massive movements when there is no evidence to support them. I prefer to believe things based on the evidence. Based on the evidence, then, it seems that the layers at both Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire contradict the hypothetical construction of the geological column.

    You say that you quoted Dr. Austin “to point out that even a prominent YEC geologist was willing to acknowledge that there is something to the geologic column.” However, if that was your intent, it was yet another mischaracterization. As anyone can tell from reading the article, Dr. Austin is not saying that there is something to the geological column. Instead, he is listing the misconceptions that lead to people thinking there is something to it. You wonder why he included misconception #5, but the reason is clear – it’s because old-earth geologists try to convince people that it is easy to connect a stratum of a given era in one location to a stratum of that same era in another location. This is clearly not true, and he is trying to educate people on that point.

    The old-Earth explanation for the geological record does not work. It is riddled with problems. You can’t even address the three problems I listed for you, not to mention several other problems that exist. The best you can say when it comes to the false predictions produced by the geological column is that they just represent a need for “fine tuning.” However, that’s clearly a mischaracterization of the data. When scientists call for a complete “re-examination” of the evolution of grasses, they are not talking about “fine tuning.” For the out-of-order strata, you aren’t even willing to investigate the various examples to see if there is evidence for the kind of movement necessary to explain them. In the case of Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire, you believe in massive movements despite the fact that there isn’t evidence for them. For paraconformities, you simply claim there is nothing unreasonable about them. I am sorry, but the existence of paraconformities is unreasonable in the hypothetical construction of the geological column. If millions and millions of year pass with no deposition, erosion is expected to occur. However, in paraconformities, it doesn’t. That’s a major problem, and you can find paraconformities all over the place. Once again, I can’t find an old-earth geologist who is willing to discuss the problem honestly.

    The young-earth explanation, on the other hand, is much more consistent with the data at hand. Sure, there are problems, and many YEC geologists are open and honest about those problems. The same cannot be said about old-earth geologists, and as I have said before, this speaks volumes. You claim that one of the problems with YEC geology is “too many events, not enough time.” However, that is only a problem given your starting assumptions. You look at certain geological features and say they must have been caused by separate events. Thus, you have a list of many, many events that have to happen to produce a given geological formation. However, as field studies of catastrophes as well as laboratory experiments have shown, what you see as separate events do not have to be separate events. When you follow that evidence, you don’t come to a “too many events, not enough time” problem.

    You ask, “Why should I even consider dropping a system that works for one that doesn’t?” That’s exactly what YEC geologists ask. They see fatal problems with old-earth geology and see that YEC geology works much better. Furthermore, they can’t find old-earth geologists who are willing to deal honestly with the problems that exist in an old-earth view. As a result, they wonder why they should consider dropping their system. I happen to agree with them.

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