The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Updates: job search, upcoming posts

There is nothing new on the job search. I am seeking employment as either a geoscience or geospatial professional (or both combined in one position).

As I told one of my daughters a few months ago: “I’ve found plenty of jobs; they just haven’t found me.”

Click here for a brief resume, or go to Ten reasons why you should hire me.


I’m just about done with my final post in my “Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis” series. My next series is going to be “The three pillars of young-Earth creationism,” where I’ll take a look at problems with the three basic YEC Biblical arguments for the Earth being only 6000 years old:

  1. Genesis 1 requires six, consecutive, literal 24-hour days.
  2. Genesis 3 requires no animal death before the fall.
  3. Genesis 6-9 requires a global flood that produced the Earth’s sedimentary rock record.

I hope to demonstrate that each of these pillars rests on a questionable foundation based on what the Bible actually says, rather than what the young-Earthers read into it. The science against young-Earth creationism is a slam-dunk, but I’ll stick mostly (or entirely) to Biblical arguments for this series.

Grace and Peace

August 29, 2009 - Posted by | Misc

13 Comments »

  1. I look forward to your new series. I am very glad that you have been responding to AiG’s arguments, though they have been way over my head. I’m sure I could find this info elsewhere, but how would you respond to someone saying that trees have been found growing between geological strata? (Sorry if you have already addressed this.)

    Comment by Thomas | August 30, 2009

  2. I thought about emailing you this question, but then I thought it might be something for you to use for a blog post if you felt like it, so I’ll post it here.

    I was doing some research on the Coconino formation and what AiG says about it. They hold it is a water-formed formation. However, on their pages which talk about it ( http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v15/i1/flood.asp ) they have apparently self-conflicting descriptions.

    I have a rule of thumb I use: most people aren’t obviously self-contradictory, so if I see someone who is saying something that seems stupidly self-contradictory, then the more likely answer is that I don’t understand. They may be self-contradicting, but probably not stupidly obviously so.

    However, that said, I’ve put several days of looking into this, and as far as I can tell, AiG is blatantly contradicting itself within a single article. (the one linked earlier)

    In explaining the Coconino, they have to explain the footprints and the dune-like formation. (there are a couple other issues they don’t address in that article, but that’s not of issue)

    Their explanation of the footprints is that they were made in shallow, relatively sedate water in the sandy bottom. Their explanation of the sand dune formations is that the Flood with 300 ft deep water moving at 2-4 MPH made them. (that may not sound fast, but is actually whitewater-river speed)

    Aren’t these totally contradictory? On one hand the footprints were made in shallow water and the other the dunes (which the footprints are made in) were formed in rushing water 300 feet deep.

    I started looking at this while examining Garner’s latest blog post about the Coconino. I asked him, but he isn’t very active on his blog, and hasn’t gotten around to approving/replying to the comment. Would you have some insight into why the AiG page isn’t as immediately contradictory as it seems to be?

    Comment by WebMonk | August 31, 2009

  3. Webmonk – they are totally contradictory. You’ve detected a common trick of the YEC/flood geologists — For locations or subjects that are popular with the YEC writers, the young earth arguments written by different people (or sometimes even the same person) often contradict each other. People in groups such as AiG just hope you won’t ever notice them.

    The source of the underwater footprints argument is Leonard Brand. You can read one of his papers on footprints left by salamanders in a water tank at http://www.grisda.org/origins/05064.htm. Austin and others then incorporated Brand’s ideas into their own writings – e.g., in 1992, AiG published an article entitled “Startling Evidence for Noah’s Flood.”

    The other argument about the current necessary to deposit the Coconino while forming sand waves matching the formation’s cross beds came from Austin’s “Grand Canyon Monument to Catastrophe” published in 1994. Here’s a nutshell summary of the contradictions:

    1. The current in Brand’s water tank (8 cm/sec) was much less than the 90–155 cm/sec specified by Austin as necessary to form sand waves suggested by the Coconino cross beds. Also there certainly weren’t any 500 cm/sec tsunami currents in Brand’s water tank, which Austin mentioned would move large amounts of sand. It’s hard to visualize salamanders leaving foot prints (or even surviving) in those higher current situations.

    2. Brand wasn’t adding sediment to the tank at over one foot per hour, which is the rate of sediment accumulation for the 150-day “early flood” period if you buy Austin’s scenario (4,000 feet of Grand Canyon layers divided by 150 days = 1.11 feet/hour). Other YEC scenarios require even greater vertical accumulation rates. Hard to imagine salamanders surviving that either.

    By the way, Brand later admitted he had “philosophical reasons” for conducting the study — he is a Seventh Day Adventist.

    Juby and Oard have similar contradictions – they have tidal fluctuations allowing islands of accumulated sediment to appear on many days throughout the flood, allowing dinosaurs to swim ashore (no explanation of how they could swim so long!) to lay their eggs and leave all those footprints we now see. The contradiction is that the incredible vertical sediment accumulation rates necessary to form the world’s stratigraphic record during a year-long flood would preclude this.

    BTW – Whitewater speed is really greater than 4 mph. When you’re rafting through Lava Falls, you’re doing more like 10-15 mph.

    Comment by Tim Helble | September 1, 2009

  4. For whitewater speed, I admit I am using the generally less impressive east-coast standards. I would LOVE to go rafting at Lava Falls!!!! I am so jealous!

    Over on this side of the Mississippi, we have decent rapids in SPOTS, but the general speed of the rivers is slow. I’m sure that in the rapids spots the pace picks up for a bit, but I was shocked to hear that the water over a 12 mile stretch of rapids only moved along at 4MPH on average. That shattered a lot of my self-awesomeness thoughts after my rafting. :-D

    Anyway, thanks for the in-depth details about Brand’s paper. I started working through it, but then decided it probably wasn’t going to resolve my questions, so I would have to ask elsewhere. I had noticed the difference between 8cm/s and the 90-155cm/s, which was what triggered my question.

    The possibility I was thinking of was an initial shallow bit of water at the beginning of the flood for animals to leave footprints, and then that might be followed by the deep water and high water speeds which would cover over and preserve the tracks somehow even through the sand wave formation and the transportation.

    It seems to me that this would be a problem since from the description of how sand waves form, it would completely wipe out any traces of footprints from before. I would think that even the transport of a huge body of sand would wipe out any tracks even if the water wasn’t deep enough/fast enough to make sand waves.

    I’ve never taken a geology class or even studied a textbook, so while it seems unlikely that prints could be preserved through the formation of sand waves and the transportation of massive quantities of sand, I can’t exactly state that with any sort of authority.

    What are the thoughts of the geologists here?

    Comment by WebMonk | September 1, 2009

  5. Oops, I just got a response from Paul Garner. He is slow to respond to things (he must have a life outside the Internet!) and so I want to post it here to get a faster review of it. Thoughts?

    He suggests that the absence of tracks in the upper part of the Coconino formation might indicate that the tracks were laid down in low water conditions, and then the heavy water came along afterward and transported the preserved tracks. He also suggests varying water depths.

    But, the tracks are made IN the dunes/sand waves that are supposedly made in deep water. Am I missing something?

    “You’re asking some interesting questions. Our latest research has indeed uncovered multiple lines of evidence pointing to the Coconino being a water-laid, rather than wind-deposited, formation, and to form the large-scale cross bedding in the Coconino the water would have to have been pretty deep and relatively fast flowing. However, we also find trackways of vertebrates (and invertebrates) on many of the dune slip faces and this suggests that the water can’t have been too deep for organisms to be moving about on the substrate. We’re thinking about these things and trying to develop a consistent model that makes sense of the entirety of the data. Of course, water depths and velocities may well have varied considerably during the time that the Coconino was being deposited. Another curious thing is that the vertebrate trackways are only found in the lower half of the formation and are absent higher up the succession (see Brand 1978). Had the strong currents washed the animals away by that point?”

    Comment by WebMonk | September 2, 2009

  6. WebMonk – This thread really doesn’t fit under Kevin’s job search – maybe the whole thing should be moved under one of the “Six Bad Arguments” series.

    See if Paul will provide you copies of his “latest research.” If he shares any of it with you, please email me and let me know. It must be tough to conduct research on the Grand Canyon from over in the U.K., based on what was learned during an ICR rafting trip. Hopefully, he’s done more than that. Don’t expect to be given a reasonable explanation for the reason for the difference between the 8cm/s and the 90-155cm/s – it just isn’t there. You’re right that the water must be deep. Steve Austin said it was “54 meters deep,” and this has been cited by YECs all over the web, including AiG’s web page. Also, realize that in the world of flood geology Coconino deposition begins after day 100 of the flood, and there’s no time for calm water as the deposition rate must be at least 1 foot per hour throughout the duration of the flood. Meanwhile, I suggest you check out the Answers in Creation web page, specifically Greg Neyman’s article on the Coconino Sandstone at:
    http://www.answersincreation.org/coconino.htm Also, if you really want to get into why Grand Canyon is the way it is, try to secure a copy of Beus and Morales’ book “Grand Canyon Geology.” Amazon may have it by now, but I bought my copy from the Grand Canyon Association. It’s quite pricey and very technical, but that’s where you have to go if you really want to learn about Grand Canyon. Also consider “Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau” by Ron Blakey and Wayne Ranney — great graphics and it’s available on Amazon.

    Comment by Tim Helble | September 3, 2009

  7. Good point. It was originally a simple question. I didn’t expect it to take off with a full thread of its own.

    Comment by WebMonk | September 3, 2009

  8. Oh, and the thread I’m posting on (I still have two posts waiting to be approved) is at http://thenewcreationism.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/coconino-project-and-conference-reports/

    Comment by WebMonk | September 3, 2009

  9. Wow – Garner says “It seems as though the animals might have been washed in, transiently made tracks as they struggled against the currents, before they were washed out again.” I think their answer is just on the other side of a huge wall that has the following written on it: “No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”

    Comment by Tim Helble | September 3, 2009

  10. You can’t see it yet, but my waiting-to-be-approved counter question is essentially,

    “Since the tracks are in and on the ‘sand waves’ which were formed at 300 ft depths of rapid water, they must be formed at the same time – animals can do that, even momentarily?”

    Actually, I would adjust that wall saying as “… if it contradicts OUR INTERPRETATION OF the Scriptural record.”

    Comment by WebMonk | September 3, 2009

  11. Maybe the bible is just a fairy tale. That seems to make sense.

    Comment by Bahram Farzady | September 4, 2009

  12. Thomas (#1):

    In regards to “trees have been found growing between geological strata”:

    1. Some of these are clearly formed in place. For example, there are tree stumps associated coal deposits. These have roots in the underlying coal or soil (paleosol) and extend up into sandstone layers. These sands are interpreted to be floodplain deposits. Evidence indicates that these trees grew in place rather than being washed in from another location by a flood. Their roots, as I said, extend down into the underlying layer, and they are upright, which would be unlikely if they were washed in by a flood.

    2. Creationists point to trees floating upright in Spirit Lake following the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens. All that this shows us is that in a volcanic environment trees can become partially waterlogged or mineralized in such a way that their heavier roots sink while the rest of the tree floats, resulting in an upright alignment. Spirit Lake might tell us something about the deposition of petrified forests with upright trees in places like the pyroclastic deposits around Yellowstone National Park. They don’t tell us anything whatsoever about deposition of trees in normal freshwater or saltwater settings.

    Young-Earth creationists use the term “polystrate trees” for these. It is not a standard geological term.

    I hope this helps a little. I apologize for taking a long time to get back to you.

    Comment by geochristian | September 4, 2009

  13. WebMonk and Tim Helble:

    I’m sorry I haven’t jumped into this conversation yet, but you guys have done a great job of discussing the Coconino Sandstone. I am not an expert on the Coconino by any means, but I’ll add a few comments:

    1. Paul Garner is a good guy. He is trying really hard to come up with geological explanations within the YEC framework that fit both laboratory and field work. He is perfectly willing to say, “I don’t know, but we’re working on it.” His problem is that he is trying to force the geological data to fit into a model that is not Biblically necessary. The Bible simply does not say that the geological record was formed by the flood, so we don’t have to try to fit the Coconino, or any other layers, into Genesis 6-9.

    2. An important question is “what sort of bedforms would be formed by deep water moving at a few meters per second with high rates of sedimentation?” There are no sediment tanks large enough to completely model this in the lab, but there may be natural analogs. For example, large dune features are formed in areas with very strong bottom currents northeast of the English Channel, in the southern North Sea. It is not a perfect analog, as there is not a rapid influx of fresh sediment. (Grrrrr. Most of my library is still packed in boxes).

    3. In terms of the dune cross-bedding present in the Coconino, the question is whether these more closely match wind-blown dunes, or water-formed dunes. There are differences, such as the angle at which wet sand and dry sand can stack (the angle of repose) and the ways in which adjoining dunes relate to each other. Most geologists who have looked at the Coconino have concluded that the cross-bedding was formed by wind, not by water.

    4. The vertebrate tracks in the Coconino are a serious problem for the young-Earth creationists. These tracks are strong evidence that the dunes were formed by wind, not by water. One thing to remember is that the Coconino is near the top of the Grand Canyon, not way down by the base. Any flood model that has salamanders and lizards surviving the deposition of well over a thousand meters of sediments—and then wandering around either on the sea floor or on exposed sand—is seriously flawed. Most of the tracks appear to be formed on dry land, not under water.

    You all brought up some of these points already, and as I said, did a great job.

    Comment by geochristian | September 4, 2009


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