Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Fun With Flood Geology

Over at the Worldnutdaily, Janet Folger has a column defending young earth creationism. Naturally, it’s just filled with preposterous claims. I’m not going to bother responding to all of them, but I want to look at the claims about geology and paleontology because it provides a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the utter absurdity of young earth creationism and flood geology to explain the evidence. She writes:

And what about the fossil record? If the account of Genesis is true, and the flood really happened, the fossil record would be very explicit and predictable. Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, explains it this way. If there was a great flood, you would expect the fossil record to reveal “billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water all over the earth.” What we find in the fossil record is: billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water all over the earth. What do you know?


This claim is just plain silly. Whether those layers were deposited in a single global flood event or over the course of 4 billion years, there would still be billions of dead things buried in them. But flood geology requires three things that mainstream geology does not:

1. That all of those fossil-bearing strata be deposited underwater.

2. That all of the billions of dead things had to be alive at the same time when the flood occurred.

3. That all of the other events that we see evidenced within those strata – volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, meteor craters, tracks and burrows, terrestrial events, etc – also had to occur within the single year of the flood. And underwater.

These three requirements for flood geology all prove to be fatal to the claim. Let’s take a look at them one at a time and see why. We’ll start with the first problem:

Many fossil bearing strata at all levels of the geologic column could not have formed underwater

Creationists love to talk about how floods form “layers”; what they rarely tell their followers is that different types of layers – geologists call them strata – require different types of depositional environments. In the geological column you will find a wide variety of sedimentary formations – limestone, shale, sandstone, and many variations of each. Each of these requires a different type of depositional environment; importantly, none of them can form in the midst of a flood.

Limestone and shale are both marine sediments, meaning that they form underwater (but in very different types of marine environments). Sandstone formations can be deposited both underwater (subaqueous dunes) or on land (eolian dunes), just as one would expect; after all, we see large formations of sand underwater, near the water as dunes, and far away from the water as deserts. And when we encounter sandstone formations throughout the geologic record we can tell which one of these environments they were deposited by examining them in some detail.

Most of this examination is perfectly logical. For instance, it’s obvious that different types of animals live in a desert sand dune than live in an underwater environment. Thus, we expect different types of tracks, burrows and fossils to be found in them. And we know beyond any reasonable doubt that many of the sandstone formations around the world were terrestrial formations formed as deserts. Many such large desert formations, called ergs or sand seas, are easily identified throughout the geologic column at various levels. Flood geologists are at a loss to explain how such strata could possibly have formed in the middle of a global flood.

And even those formations that do form underwater are difficult to explain by reference to flood geology because they could not possibly have formed during a raging flood. Some sediments can only be deposited in tranquil marine environments over very long periods of time. Limestone, for example, is deposited primarily in shallow marine environments where the calcium carbonate can leech out over vast periods of time (this is how coral reefs, which are almost 100% calcium carbonate, are formed). It can also be deposited in deep marine environments, but there the limestone is made up of the shells of microscopic animals that build up on the bottom as they die over extremely long periods of time. In neither case are such sediments transported there, they must build up over very long periods of time in tranquil waters.

Shale is another sedimentary rock that must form in tranquil environments over long periods of time, because they are very fine grained and moving water will suspend such small particles in solution and they can’t settle out. It’s really only conglomerate deposits that are deposited by moving waters, for obvious reasons. The point is that each type of sedimentary rock requires a different type of depositional environment, including many that simply cannot occur in a year-long global flood.

Let’s move on to problem #2:

All of the organisms found in the fossil bearing strata could not have been alive at the same time

And I’m not just talking about all the big animals found as fossils. Many geological formations, like some limestone and chalk formations, are formed of the dead bodies of microscopic animals and they form over enormously long periods of time. We have enormous deposits of chalk around the world, particularly in Europe (the famous White Cliffs of Dover are the best example). These sediments are made up of coccoliths and calcium carbonate that accretes together at the bottom.

Coccolithophores live near the top of the water and when they die, their calcium carbonate shells slowly settle to the bottom and over vast periods of time large deposits form. We find deposits in Europe that are hundreds of feet thick, which would require millions and millions of years of calm, tranquil environment to accumulate. Now think about this: according to flood geology, all of this had to form within only a few months, which means all of the organisms whose dead bodies make up the chalk formation had to be alive at the same time.

But these organisms are incredibly tiny, less than 1000 angstroms typically, so if enough of them were alive in the oceans to form a layer hundreds of feet thick, there would have been no ocean at all – the water would be so thick that you wouldn’t have to be Jesus to walk across it. That would have killed off every other form of life in the ocean, for crying out loud. But this is the type of reasoning you have to engage in if you want to compress hundreds of millions of years of geological activity into just a single year.

That brings us to problem #3:

There are many features found at all levels of the geologic column within the fossil-bearing strata that simply cannot have formed underwater.

Throughout the geologic column at all levels you can find features that could not possibly have been laid down during a flood – mud cracks (which require drying by the sun), meteoritic craters, dinosaur nesting sites (were they raising their young underwater?), glacial deposits, river channels, burrows, footprints or terrestrial volcano sediments. All of these things can only be formed at the surface, not underwater, yet we find examples of them at every single point in the geologic column somewhere around the world.

Let’s look at dinosaur nesting sites, which have been found all over the world. Perhaps the best example is in Montana at what is now called Egg Mountain. This formation contains an extraordinary number of dinosaur nests containing fossilized eggs and the fossilized remains of their parents as well. Why is this a problem for flood geology? Well, because that formation sits on top of a mile of sediments below it, sediments allegedly deposited by the flood, and it is around 80 million years old, so it would then have been covered by more alleged flood sediments as well. One has a hard time imagining how a group of dinosaurs were alive and going about their day, peacefully building nests to hatch their young on solid ground, in the midst of a global flood that had already deposited thousands of feet of sediment below them. They must tread water really, really well.

Another feature that simply cannot be explained by flood geology is the order of appearance of animals in the fossil record. They try to explain this by reference to ecological zoning, claiming that based on the environments they lived in the order of the fossils would look just like it is – animals along the shoreline buried first, mammals up in the mountains buried last, with smarter animals making it to higher ground and living longer, etc.

There are many problems with this claim. I’ll let Stephen Jay Gould point out many of them, as he did so brilliantly in an essay called Genesis vs Geology:

Since God created with such alacrity, all creatures once must have lived simultaneously on the earth. How, then, did their fossil remains get sorted into an invariable order in the earth’s strata? To resolve this particularly knotty dilemma, creationists invoke Noah’s flood: all creatures were churned together in the great flood and their fossilized succession reflects the order of their settling as the waters receded. But what natural processes would produce such a predictable order from a singular chaos? The testable proposals of “flood geology” have been advanced to explain the causes of this sorting.

Whitcomb and Morris offer three suggestions. The first — hydrological — holds that denser and more streamlined objects would have descended more rapidly and should populate the bottom strata (in conventional geology, the oldest strata). The second — ecological — envisions a sorting responsive to environment. Denizens of the ocean bottom were overcome by the flood waters first, and should lie in the lower strata; inhabitants of mountaintops postponed their inevitable demise, and now adorn our upper strata. The third — anatomical or functional — argues that certain animals, by their high intelligence or superior mobility, might have struggled successfully for a time, and ended up at the top.

All three proposals have been proven false. The lower strata abound in delicate, floating creatures, as well as spherical globs. Many oceanic creatures — whales and teleost fishes in particular — appear only in upper strata, well above hordes of terrestrial forms. Clumsy sloths (not to mention hundreds of species of marine invertebrates) are restricted to strata lying well above others that serve as exclusive homes for scores of lithe and nimble small dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

The very invariance of the universal fossil sequence is the strongest argument against its production in a single gulp. Could exceptionless order possibly arise from a contemporaneous mixture by such dubious processes of sorting? Surely, somewhere, at least one courageous trilobite would have paddled on valiantly (as its colleagues succumbed) and won a place in the upper strata. Surely, on some primordial beach, a man would have suffered a heart attack and been washed into the lower strata before intelligence had a chance to plot temporary escape. But if the strata represent vast stretches of sequential time, then invariant order is an expectation, not a problem. No trilobite lies in the upper strata because they all perished 225 million years ago. No man keeps lithified company with a dinosaur, because we were still 60 million years in the future when the last dinosaur perished.

But this is only half the problem. When you begin to look closer at the order of appearance you find that within particular groups of organisms, they are also sorted perfectly by characteristics that have nothing to do with where they lived or would have been buried. For example, trilobites – our most common form of fossil life – are sorted perfectly according to traits like the complexity of their eye and the number of sutures on their shell, traits that would have no effect at all on how they would be sorted in water.

This is only the beginning of the problems. One could literally go on all day listing them, from the evidence of terrestrial volcanic eruptions smack dab in the middle of the strata allegedly deposited underwater (we can tell the difference between lava emitted by eruptions underwater and and that from terrestrial eruptions; the later form pillow basalts, the former do not) to the hundreds of major meteor craters found at all levels of the geologic column. Flood geology is a patently ridiculous idea that conflicts with all of the geological evidence. It can only be advocated out of sheer ignorance or rank dishonesty.

Comments

  1. #1 DougT
    June 15, 2007

    we can tell the difference between lava emitted by eruptions underwater and and that from terrestrial eruptions; the later form pillow basalts, the former do not

    Ed, I think you may have that backwards.

  2. #2 Chuck
    June 15, 2007

    “Let’s get our facts straight. When the “scientific” community proclaimed the earth to be flat, it was the Bible (Isaiah 40:22) that said otherwise: “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth.”

    Wrong again. The scientific community in the West never proclaimed the earth to be flat. For as long as there can be said to be a scientific community in the West – as far back as Pythagoras, educated men have contended a spherical earth. Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy all gave virtually undeniable evidence that the earth is a sphere.

  3. #3 Royale
    June 15, 2007

    Very interesting post. I wish I knew more about geology and rock formations.

    Anyway, this is from Folger’s post regarding the Creation Museum:

    “The loudest criticism came from those who complained that the (cool animatronic) dinosaurs are displayed as coexisting with humans. They were supposed to be dead for millions of years before humans existed. If that’s true, then who drew all those cave drawings that look like dinosaurs?”

    My goodness, arguments like that just hurt my ears. I didn’t know that the cave paintings looked like dinosaurs. They look like deer and antellope to me.

  4. #4 Mark Duigon
    June 15, 2007

    DougT is right; pillow basalts are formed under water. But Ed has done a good job ob pointing out many of the absurdities in the Creationist’s version of flood geology. To put it bluntly, these people don’t know shit about geology or hydrodynamics. They refuse to see the evidence which, as Ed notes, includes such things as terrestrial settings stratigraphically higher than marine settings–in fact all sorts of interlayering between terrestrial, marine, and fresh-water paleoenvironments. If they deny the science of Geology, we might expect them to also deny the scientific reasoning explaining things like climate change, ground-water flow (I know local governments that have spent taxpayer dollars on water witching), environmental protection, and other serious matters.

  5. #5 Dave S.
    June 15, 2007

    Indeed we could go on and on all day describing geological features totally at odds with a Young Earth/Global Flood model…laminated varves, paleosols, salt domes, coal/oil deposits…yadda yadda yadda.

    One could literally go on all day listing them, from the evidence of terrestrial volcanic eruptions smack dab in the middle of the strata allegedly deposited underwater (we can tell the difference between lava emitted by eruptions underwater and and that from terrestrial eruptions; the later form pillow basalts, the former do not)

    I think you have this backwards. Pillow lavas form from lava that erupts under water. Lava extrudes and quickly a crust forms…new lava breaks through the crust, oozing like molassis, and another crust forms. Repeat as needed.

  6. #6 Dave S.
    June 15, 2007

    Wow…two others beat me to it while I was writing. Them’s some fast postings boys!

  7. #7 kehrsam
    June 15, 2007

    If dinosaurs didn’t live with humans, how do you explain the Flintstones? Science indeed.

  8. #8 Robert
    June 15, 2007

    I would just like to take a second to contrast the comments here with the comments at sites such as Uncommon Descent.

    Here within half an hour of posting we have at least three people jumping in to correct Ed on a minor scientific error that was most likely typographical in origin. Can’t let any mistake slide here.

    At Uncommon Descent you have the commenters falling all over themselves trying to justify whatever drivel is currently being spouted.

    Its like a microcosm of the interactions of science and organized religion.

    Interesting.

  9. #9 Royale
    June 15, 2007

    This is also from Folger’s essay:

    “And what of that Tyrannosaurus Rex found in Montana that contained soft tissue and blood vessels? Can blood vessels really last 65 million years?”

    I know woofully little about fossilization. Could one of you more knowledgable folk answer that?

  10. #10 OsakaGuy
    June 15, 2007

    Royale, See the post and comment thread here:

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/04/did_trex_taste.html

  11. #11 Dave S.
    June 15, 2007

    I would just like to take a second to contrast the comments here with the comments at sites such as Uncommon Descent.

    Here within half an hour of posting we have at least three people jumping in to correct Ed on a minor scientific error that was most likely typographical in origin. Can’t let any mistake slide here.

    That’s because Ed, like many of his his readers, values truth and accuracy for its own sake. Mistakes are openly admitted and corrected.

    At Uncommon Descent you have the commenters falling all over themselves trying to justify whatever drivel is currently being spouted.

    Its like a microcosm of the interactions of science and organized religion.

    Interesting.

    Case in point, check out the latest Sal Cordova nonsense on the new junk DNA paper. No-one there bothers to ask how ID can “predict” functionality when supposedly ID can tell us nothing about the designer or his methods.

  12. #12 Kevin
    June 15, 2007

    To those saying that creationists don’t know anything about geology, I say, so what? Neither do I, but I could tell immediately through simple logic that it was impossible for a flood to make all the features found in the strata.

    It isn’t their lack of geolgocial knowledge that is hurting them. It is there shameless , pathetic attempts to cling to a hyper-literal version of their religion. No sane person, regardless of their training and education can look at the evidence and say with a straight face “yup, that was a flood that did that”. you don’t need a degree to realize that a flood deposit having different meteor impacts at different levels miles apart is complete and utter horse shit.

  13. #13 Alan Wagner
    June 15, 2007

    “But these organisms are incredibly tiny, less than 1000 angstroms typically, so if enough of them were alive in the oceans to form a layer hundreds of feet thick, there would have been no ocean at all – the water would be so thick that you wouldn’t have to be Jesus to walk across it. That would have killed off every other form of life in the ocean, for crying out loud.”

    I don’t think this is true. Wouldn’t the little critters just displace the amount of water equal to the aggregate of the volumes of their bodies? If so, then the ocean levels would rise accordingly, but there would still be the same amount of free (unoccuppied) water volume for the rest of the marine life.

  14. #14 Andrew Dodds
    June 15, 2007

    The interesting thing is that once upon a time, geology WAS flood geology. Early geologists assigned features in rocks to the flood (including such hypotheses as granite crystallising out from water..).

    Then cam the ‘many floods’ hypotheses, along with other biblical style cactalysims, to explain the obvious problems with a single-flood model and igneous rocks. Finally we settled on the more uniformitarian model (with the proviso that dramatic events sometimes do happen).

    So this creationist model was where it all started out – they cannot claim it was never considered. It was just discarded over 300 years ago; time the creationists caught up..

  15. #15 Andrew Dodds
    June 15, 2007

    The interesting thing is that once upon a time, geology WAS flood geology. Early geologists assigned features in rocks to the flood (including such hypotheses as granite crystallising out from water..).

    Then cam the ‘many floods’ hypotheses, along with other biblical style cactalysims, to explain the obvious problems with a single-flood model and igneous rocks. Finally we settled on the more uniformitarian model (with the proviso that dramatic events sometimes do happen).

    So this creationist model was where it all started out – they cannot claim it was never considered. It was just discarded over 300 years ago; time the creationists caught up..

  16. #16 jimmiraybob
    June 15, 2007

    Limestone, for example, is deposited primarily in shallow marine environments where the calcium carbonate can leech out over vast periods of time (this is how coral reefs, which are almost 100% calcium carbonate, are formed). It can also be deposited in deep marine environments, but there the limestone is made up of the shells of microscopic animals that build up on the bottom as they die over extremely long periods of time. In neither case are such sediments transported there, they must build up over very long periods of time in tranquil waters.

    Just the Redwall Limestone of the Grand Canyon would have had to have had a deposition/formation rate of 400-500 feet (~122-152 meters) per year – if it was the only stratigraphic unit in the sequence.

    If you consider the entire sequence thickness, and don’t forget that it represents a de-watered and compressed thickness, you’d have to consider a depositional rate of miles (kilometers) per year, over at least the area of the Grand Canyon. Then consider correlating flood deposition over the entire Earth. Given that the fastest modern sedimentation rates are measured in centimeters per thousand years (maybe meters if your talking reefs) this is well beyond preposterous. It’s magical wishful thinking.

    And, if your considering a depositional rate of miles per year, you have to consider a pretty amazing erosion rate just to supply the clastic sediments (sands, silts, clays). Think of your favorite mountain and think of the processes that would remove it grain by grain, transport it to the nearest deep basin and deposit it in an orderly sequence by next spring. Then, imagine hundreds to thousands of Rocky Mountains doing the same thing in a year to supply enough materials to explain “flood geology.” Yeah, right.

    But then again, maybe with unicorns….beer….pixie dust…..

  17. #17 Ben M
    June 15, 2007

    My two favorite anti-flood-geology arguments, not that one needs to be so picky, are

    1) evaporite deposits. There are several ten-meter-thick salt/gypsum beds under the Mediterranean, indicating that the whole sea filled and dried up several times (the Messinian salinity crisis). In flood geology, when exactly did this happen? Now, I din’t know if evaporites generally are a surprise to young-Earthers. They can probably gin up some excuse for making, e.g., Death Valley, or the Great Salt Lake, or the Dead Sea, form post-flood. But not the Mediterranean—the “great sea” is mentioned in Numbers and Deuteronomy, and I’m pretty sure that “great sea” is not a mistranslation of “endless superheated playa”. So the Bible specifically rules out mid-flood playa formation (since Noah was floating around right there) and post-flood playa formation (since the Caananites were fishing right there), and yet those evaporite beds are demonstrably there, deep underwater (and above, having been uplifted at Sicily) with supposedly-“Noachian” fossils both above and below.

    2) A year or so ago on Panda’s Thumb (?), someone pointed out the existence of reprocessed fossils: a bed of fossil-rich limestone gets uplifted and eroded, creating fossil-bearing pebbles which get washed downstream. The pebbles wind up in a placer deposit deep in the geological column. How could a Noachic flood give you enough time mid-flood to fossilize one set of organisms, erode the fossils in a riverine environment, and bury the whole thing under more sediment? I thought that was a nice clean point.

  18. #18 Ed Brayton
    June 15, 2007

    Doug is right, of course; I got my former and latter mixed up. It wasn’t a scientific error, just a grammatical one. I knew that pillow basalts form underwater, I just put them in the wrong order. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, guys.

  19. #19 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    June 15, 2007

    “Let’s get our facts straight. When the “scientific” community proclaimed the earth to be flat, it was the Bible (Isaiah 40:22) that said otherwise: “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth.”

    Wrong again…

    Extra double wrong, because a circle is flat.
    Circle != Sphere.

  20. #20 Bourgeois_rage
    June 15, 2007

    Great post to read, Ed.

  21. #21 rubble
    June 15, 2007

    Good post, Ed. In the interest of tightening up your arguments, I offer the following considerations.

    Seldomly, limestones can form within lakes. These are called lacustrine limestones. While most limestones indeed require marine environments to form, not all do.

    Limestones don’t require still waters to form. Limestones associated with a reef structure imply proximity to a surf zone, where tidal waters are moving back and forth roughly perpendicular to the shore line. The resulting limestone will vary in structure, depending upon its depositional area relative to the reef.

    Shales obviously require still water, as you correctly noted. But likewise with limestone, shale can form within a lake environment, albeit seldomly.

    Finally, apart from the fossil record, a typical outcrop will usually vary between several types of rock. The gorge walls of Zoar Valley in western New York State, for example, will have several thin layers of shale, followed by a somewhat thicker layer of sandstone, followed by seveal more shale layers — hundreds of times over, as one ascends from the Cattaraugus Creek riverbeds. Since this alternation requires different depositional environments alternating — still water for shale, moving water for sandstone — this is obviously a big problem for flood geology to address.

  22. #22 Brian
    June 15, 2007

    Good post.

    Depending on the day, I either get a good laugh from the flood ‘geology’ theories or I feel like breaking stuff.

    If you’ve ever spent any time (professional or amateur) looking at sedimentary rocks it becomes immediately apparent how ludicrous the flood theories are. As a commenter above pointed out, you don’t even need to be trained as a sedimentologist to see how illogical this is.

    The flood creationists still love to pit uniformitarianism and catastrophism against each other. They go to great lengths to point out all the Earth surface processes out there that are catastrophic. The ‘logic’ is that if catastrophic processes exist that shape the Earth (and can be observed in the stratigraphic record) then ALL processes must be that way. What they don’t realize is how we’ve moved on from catastrophism vs. uniformitarianism. Catastrophic sedimentation does indeed happen… a lot of the record (depending on the environment as Ed nicely points out) is a representation of those processes. When these processes/results are viewed within the context of uniformitarianism as we think of it today (emphasizing deep time) there’s no conflict. Yet, the flood creationists continue to spend the vast majority of their time with this.

    Next time one of these people make a big deal about sandstone beds that were deposited in an instant…say “so what?… yeah and there’s a shale bed in between those beds that is 1 cm thick that represents 500,000 years…what’s your point?”

  23. #23 DuWayne
    June 15, 2007

    Royale –

    “And what of that Tyrannosaurus Rex found in Montana that contained soft tissue and blood vessels? Can blood vessels really last 65 million years?”

    It really depends on the preservative. I was watching a show on Discovery Science, about the tenacity of life on earth a while back, and they talked about bacteria that was found suspended in drops of water, in salt deposits about two miles below the surface of the earth. They estimated they pre-dated dinosaurs, by several million years. Not only had they been preserved for millions of years, they were only dormant, not dead. When they came into contact with an oxygen rich environment, they started to reproduce, as though the intervening millions of years were mere moments.

    They went on to explain the obvious implication, that this is how life could have been seeded on earth, after catching a ride on a comet, having journeyed for millions, possibly billions of years through the vacuum of space. Hows that for a giddy sort of awe and wonder invoking notion?

  24. #24 Royale
    June 15, 2007

    Thanks DuWayne and OsakaGuy.

  25. #25 Kent McManigal
    June 15, 2007

    Excellent post! It won’t convince a single creationist (of any stripe) because they are immune to logic, but I enjoyed it a lot!

  26. #26 Pierce R. Butler
    June 15, 2007

    John Wilkins recently took a nice whack at the flood fantasy, though he neglects to point out it was all started by Jesus’s horny older brothers.

  27. #27 richCares
    June 15, 2007

    during the period that fundamentalists claim the flood occured, the Chinese were writing history and bulding many things, and they didn’t know about the flood. And those silly egyptians were building mud burial mounds that didn’t get washed away in the flood that they didn’t know about. It seems the most famous aspect of the flood was the invention of ear plugs so Noah would not hear the screams of all those innocent children that the “loving” god was murdering. What a nasty god that was, lucky that the Chinese and Egyptians didn’t beleive in him.

  28. #28 David Marjanović
    June 15, 2007

    They estimated they pre-dated dinosaurs, by several million years.

    The salt in question is Permian. That predates the dinosaurs by several tens of millions of years.

  29. #29 mark
    June 15, 2007

    For many years, geologists have been experimenting and observing the processes of sedimentation in various environments of deposition. At the same time, Creationists have been arguing about dinosaurs on the ark, how many begats it takes to date the flood, and doing everything but scientific research.

  30. #30 DuWayne
    June 15, 2007

    David Marjanovic –

    I rather assumed that it would have to have been a startling amount of time, as they went on to explain that this bacteria predated a time when there was thought to be no life left on earth. The wording they used however, was several million years, so that is what I used. I would rather err to the side of conservative estimates, especially when discussing things I know little about. Most of what I learned about that, was in that particular broadcast, which of course, was somewhat dumbed down for consumption by laymen.

  31. #31 Ebonmuse
    June 15, 2007

    Terrific post, Ed. I’d like to cite another example of a geological feature that couldn’t possibly have formed during a flood: fossil forests. There are places in the world where there are fossilized trees, still upright and rooted, buried in mudflows or volcanic ash.

    That alone is implausible enough in the midst of a violent deluge, but it becomes downright impossible when you consider the places where these fossil forests are stacked on top of each other in successive strata. So, we’d have to believe that the flood buried a forest in sediment, new trees then grew (underwater) on that sediment, reaching substantial size in less than a year… only to be buried again so that another layer of trees could grow on top of them, and that this whole process recurred several times in the course of a single year. (Here’s a link.) If a god created the geological record in a flood, he must have been trying damned hard to fool us.

  32. #32 Grumpy
    June 15, 2007

    Assuming Gould summarized Whitcomb & Morris accurately: “Denizens of the ocean bottom were overcome by the flood waters first, and should lie in the lower strata” is patently silly. Aquatic life wouldn’t notice a flood, even a global one, until the continents had been scoured clean. Except possibly if a deluge of freshwater rain radically altered the salinity of the surface layers… in which case, the denizens of the ocean bottom would be the last to be affected.

    Speaking of surface layers, I thought the absurdity implied by the simultaneous existence of all the world’s coccolithophores is that they would be stacked so thick that the ones on the bottom would be unable to survive in darkness.

  33. #33 celdd
    June 15, 2007

    Clays

    Flood proponents never explain where clays came from to be able to form the thick shale formations. Although clays are present in small amounts in igneous rocks, the vast majority are formed by chemical weathering of other minerals (ie VERY Slow to form).

    Sands or other clastic deposits can be formed just by breaking existing rocks into smaller pieces mechanically. Clays require chemical reactions. The creationists never quite get around to describing what the earth looked like before the flood, and I’ve never seen how they explain the existence of mudstones or shales.

  34. #34 Dave S.
    June 16, 2007

    Grumpy says:

    Assuming Gould summarized Whitcomb & Morris accurately: “Denizens of the ocean bottom were overcome by the flood waters first, and should lie in the lower strata” is patently silly. Aquatic life wouldn’t notice a flood, even a global one, until the continents had been scoured clean. Except possibly if a deluge of freshwater rain radically altered the salinity of the surface layers… in which case, the denizens of the ocean bottom would be the last to be affected.

    Whilst the continents are being “scoured”, the solid sedimentary material scoured off has to go somewhere. I think that material is going to end up settling on the ocean floors, particularly near the coast. As it settles out, it will cap off and bury those “denizens of the ocean bottom” (note the quote doesn’t mention all aquatic life, e.g. pelagic, although those will be affected negetively by the runoff too). They will be buried in mud even while the Flood is still rising on land.

    Speaking of surface layers, I thought the absurdity implied by the simultaneous existence of all the world’s coccolithophores is that they would be stacked so thick that the ones on the bottom would be unable to survive in darkness.

    Like many Creationist notions, there’s more than one absurdity implied. They often have multiple fatal defects.

    This if course doesn’t make them any less convincing to the Creationist.

  35. #35 Keith Harwood
    June 18, 2007

    Those silly egyptians weren’t building mud burial mounds during the flood. They were building pyramids before, during and after it. The conventional date for the flood puts it towards the end of the reign of Unas, last king of the fifth Dynasty. They were building his pyramid at the time. There is no evidence of contemporary water damage, so presumably they used a coffer dam some nine kilometres high so that they could continue working. Much of his processional way is still in existence. It illustrates many of the events of his reign, but does not mention the dam so we can conclude that they thought of it as business as usual.

  36. #36 Lee
    June 18, 2007

    I wonder how flood geology explains Pinnacles National Monument, where the western half of a volcano, residing on the Eastern margin of a fault, sits in central California. The eastern half of the volcano, residing on the eastern margin of the fault, lies several hundred miles away in southern California. It seems that transform motion of the fault tore the volcano in half, and transported the two sides several hundred miles apart.
    Musta been some flood, to move those two parts of a mountain several hundred miles in a few thousand years.

  37. #37 Chris
    June 18, 2007

    I think I’m misunderstanding something here. You say that:

    “Limestone, for example, is deposited primarily in shallow marine environments where the calcium carbonate can leech out over vast periods of time (this is how coral reefs, which are almost 100% calcium carbonate, are formed).”

    This seems to imply that reefs are natural formations. But reefs, of course, are the product of lifeforms that secrete calcium into their shells. What am I missing?

    Aside from this one small nit, I’m enjoying this thread greatly. Thanks!

  38. #38 David Marjanović
    June 18, 2007

    as they went on to explain that this bacteria predated a time when there was thought to be no life left on earth. The wording they used however, was several million years, so that is what I used. I would rather err to the side of conservative estimates, especially when discussing things I know little about.

    There are no different estimates here. At the end of the Permian, 251 million years ago, there was a mass extinction (perhaps that’s what they mean by “no life left on earth”, though that would still be an exaggeration), and around the beginning of the Late Triassic, some 228 million years ago, the first dinosaurs appeared.

    Most of what I learned about that, was in that particular broadcast, which of course, was somewhat dumbed down for consumption by laymen.

    Not at all. It is distorted by the misunderstandings of the journalists who wrote it, because they themselves didn’t understand it. Most science journalism is like that.

  39. #39 DuWayne
    June 19, 2007

    David Marjanovic –

    Thanks for the clarification, I appreciate it.

  40. #40 Ian Gould
    June 19, 2007

    4. That all those dead things died by drowning.

    Makes you wonder where all the marine fossils came from.

    Not to mention all the dinosaur tracks and all the fossils suggesting death from causes other than drowning such as predation.

    5. If all but a handful of living creatures were drowned only a few thousand years ago we SHOULD find “billions” of dead animals. So how come we only find thousands.

    Were are the millions upon millions of gazelle, wildebeest and buffalo fossils?

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