A flood of evidence

Scientists are still seeking an explanation for a significant gap in the geological record:

When the famed explorer John Wesley Powell bumped, splashed and thrashed his way down the Colorado River in 1869, he discovered one of the most striking geologic features on Earth. Not the Grand Canyon — although that too is a marvel — but a conspicuous boundary between the sunset-colored sediments of the upper walls and the dark, jagged rocks below them.

Powell had learned to read the layers of desert rocks like pages in a book, and he recognized that the boundary represented a missing chapter in Earth’s geological history. Later, researchers realized it was more like an entire lost volume, spanning roughly one-fifth of Earth’s existence, and that a similar gap existed in many places around the world.

There must have been some sort of special event in Earth’s history that led to widespread erosion,” said Steve Marshak, a geologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies what has come to be known as the Great Unconformity. (emphasis added)…

Since there are so few rocks from that period, the researchers had to look for other kinds of clues to figure out what happened. They reasoned that the missing layers probably went through the full geologic spin cycle: They would have been broken down into sediment and washed out to sea, then deposited on the ocean floor and recycled into the mantle during subduction before finally melting into the magma that feeds volcanoes.

Keller’s team found stark variations in the oxygen and hafnium in zircons, consistent with the continents losing an average of 2 to 3 vertical miles of rock.  “We are talking about an absolutely huge amount of crust being eroded,” he said. “In which case, we should have noticed it missing — and we have.”  (emphasis added)

The story’s headline notes a leading theory for this erosion being repeated eras of glaciation — “snowball earth” — but the story also notes the theory may not explain the rate of erosion.  Here’s another idea:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.  And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights… The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:6-10, 24; emphasis added)

The Flood was more than just torrential rain.  The “springs of the great deep” imply massive tectonic upheaval — just the sort of thing to produce the enormous recycling of crust described in the linked article above.  There’s no question these combined effects could account for the erosion and “Great Unconformity,” because Scripture also tells us:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.  (2 Peter 3:3-7; emphasis added)

There IS a ‘great unconformity’ between the world that is, and the world that was.  There is an even greater unconformity between the world that is, and the world that is to come. The present world is filled with evidence of the Creator and the truth of His Word — for those who “have ears to hear.”

No matter what credentials are attached to one’s name, there is no excuse for denials.  Sadly, that won’t prevent many of today’s most brilliant scientific minds from reflexively ruling out any chance that Scripture has something to tell them.


Initial thoughts on the debate

My apologies, as I’d meant to publicize the Ken HamBill Nye debate on this blog but got wrapped up in other things and didn’t get to post the past couple days.  The family did, however, make time to watch it live.  You can still see the whole event here.

As a former competitive debater, it was difficult to be a mere observer — a part of me wanted in the ring.  That said, here are some impressions:

The long-form opening presentations were much more informative/effective than the multiple shorter rebuttals.  I thought Ham’s opening was more traditionally methodical on definitions and premises, but it had to be, since Nye could assume audience understanding of what is now the prevalent naturalistic worldview.  This was where I thought Ham was most effective, exposing some of the hidden assumptions people now accept without questioning the underlying chain of logic (or lack thereof).  Ham’s overall performance would have been even stronger had he continued to hammer at this aspect.

Both presenters became more scatter-shot as time went on, jumping from point to point instead of fully exploring what had already been introduced.  I’m probably more annoyed by such because I’m used to the tournament rules where “you can’t introduce a new argument in rebuttal.”  That this wasn’t followed allowed Nye to take the traditional atheist approach of constantly shifting ground in order not to be pinned on a particular point.

Mr Ham’s opening presentation was on the debate resolution, whereas Nye’s approach throughout was increasingly to make the question one of why people should accept Ham as an authority.  Had I been Mr Ham, I would at some point have noted this scoffing ad hominem  by saying “you keep asking why people should accept my interpretation of things, with the implication I am a radical cultist or some such.  But creation is not my theory or invention; it is God’s Word, the authority of which I accept and which many people have accepted over centuries — including the scientists I’ve noted today.  Part of the reason I accept it is that the account it records explains the world around us, from the majesty of creation to the frustration of sin and tragedy and the hope in something larger than this earthly existence.  I admit this as the starting point of my worldview — my assumption, if you will.  We all have these.  You, on the other hand, actively exclude any role of a Creator in creation, assuming a self-existent universe that in the words of your mentor, Carl Sagan, is “all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”  Those words are a religious worldview of secular atheism, no more falsifiable by observational science than my own belief in the authority of Scripture.  So on what basis are you asking us to accept your personal choice of a starting assumption that there is no God?

That would have been an interesting turn to the discussion, I think.

I also think Ham should have pointed out Nye’s dismissal, without discussion, of the distinction between observational and historical science.  Nye kept asking Ham what predictive models creationism could offer that could be tested.  All Ham had to say is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death,” then ask Nye to point out any demonstrable examples of one “kind” of animal becoming another, as macroevolutionary theory demands.  While Ham did point out more than once that mutations involve a loss of information or a switching on/off of existing genetic info, I’d wager most of the audience lost the point that evolution is falsifiable because there are no examples of mutations ADDING genetic information in the way “molecules to man” would demand.  Asking Nye to provide such an example could have been telling.

There was much to appreciate about the event (to include the fact my three kids willingly watched the entire thing and even had comments afterwards!), and much I would have liked to have seen gone differently.  It goes without saying that it’s easier to be a commentator and Monday-morning quarterback than a participant, so I tip my hat to both men for getting in the arena for an event that devoted a worthy amount of time (2.5 hours!) to the topic.  In the end, I was humbled to watch a Biblical worldview explained clearly to a very large potential audience.  It is my prayer that this will challenge people to earnestly seek after truth, because I know to Whom such an honest search leads.  Any of us who seek to testify to the truth are merely flawed vessels being used by a Holy God.  So I thank Mr Ham and his AiG team for the obvious preparation and prayer they put into this opportunity to present what Scripture has to say.

May it generate more such opportunities!


From scripture:

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.”

Personally, I find it persuasive that the ‘fountains of the great deep’ included massive volcanic activity — that more than water was at work during the disaster in which “the world that then existed… perished.”

But then there’s this interesting little news item:

Scientists scanning the deep interior of Earth have found evidence of a vast water reservoir beneath eastern Asia that is at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean….
Previous predictions calculated that if a cold slab of the ocean floor were to sink thousands of miles into the Earth’s mantle, the hot temperatures would cause water stored inside the rock to evaporate out…
Although they appear solid, the composition of some ocean floor rocks is up to 15 percent water. “The water molecules are actually stuck in the mineral structure of the rock,” Wysession explained. “As you heat this up, it eventually dehydrates. It’s like taking clay and firing it to get all the water out.”

Fountains of the great deep, indeed.  Whether the disaster of Noah’s day involved volcanoes or merely gathering all the water in and on the planet to cover the surface is less important, though, than the fact it happened… and what that portends.  Just as it was in Noah’s day, it’s a call to repentance.

Shut up, you…

The British Broadcasting Company apparently has decided it’s not enough to ridicule those who question anthropogenic global warming.  Instead, they will now officially exclude such points of view, since they don’t conform to the alleged majority scientific consensus.

The BBC is set to publish a report tomorrow on its science output announcing changes to rules on impartiality.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the report draws heavily on an independent review of BBC coverage by Steve Jones, a professor of genetics at University College London.  ((a position that emminently qualifies him as a media critic, I’m sure…  — Jemison))
Professor Jones is understood to have cleared the BBC of any suggestion of bias in its programming.

But the main conclusion made is that in cases where there is a widely held scientific view, such as on GM crops or the MMR injection, the BBC shouldn’t give airtime to critics of the scientific consensus.

So… it’s not bias if you just outright ignore the other point of view. 
Whew! Good thing we figured out Ptolemy’s astronomy and the theory of spontaneous generation were wrong before the BBC came along.  Naturally, such rules mean that thorny subjects like catastrophism won’t be troubling the public mind, either.

There’s a reason the words “ignore” and “ignorance” have a common root…

The blink of an eye

This piece of information out of Japan got a lot of attention over the weekend:

The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.

Most people will simply marvel at this geological feat, then move their attention on to the next video by Charlie Sheen or something. But it’s worth pondering for a moment…

This violent hiccup by the earth is yet another reminder that uniformitarian theories about the age of the planet are not reliable. Case in point: one of many different processes geologists refer to when estimating the age of the earth is that of ‘continental drift,’ or the shifting of tectonic plates. By gauging the present rate of movement, then projecting this back to the point where all the continents were supposed to have been one large land mass, one gets a certain period of years.

It should be obvious such a calculation doesn’t take into account 8-foot hopscotches by entire islands. Even if one is generous and supposes the current rate of movement is more of an average, this is still making quite the assumption given the time periods allegedly involved.

As with Mount St. Helens thirty-plus years ago, we’re finding the earth can turn itself inside out with amazing rapidity. And that’s just a normal result of a creation cursed by sin and decay. Such glimpses should give us pause to wonder about the potential for catastrophe if the Creator removed even more of the common grace

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

That was no gentle rain that accumulated over forty days — it was, almost literally, all hell breaking loose from above and below. We were promised such a worldwide flood would never occur again and indeed, it hasn’t. But as noted yesterday, creation itself groans under the weight of corruption and sin. We are told that one day–no one knows the time–those ‘birth pains’ will reach a crescendo unlike anything ever seen, but that on the far side of that lies a renewal both of God’s people and His creation.

“Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!”