The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Creation Geology Society 2010 abstracts

The leading young-Earth creationist geologists (the Creation Geology Society) met in Georgia this summer, and they have released abstracts of the following thirteen talks.

  1. Submarine Liquefied Sediment Gravity Currents: Understanding the Mechanics of the Major Sediment Transportation and Deposition Agent during the Global Flood (S.A. Austin, Institute for Creation Research)
  2. Persistence of Dolomite in the Coconino Sandstone, Northern and Central Arizona (S. Cheung, R. Strom, & J.H. Whitmore; Calgary Rock and Materials Services, Inc. and Cedarville University)
  3. Permian Cross-bedded Sandstones and Their Significance for Global Flood Models (P. Garner, Biblical Creation Ministries)
  4. Deep Ocean Interaction in a Post-Flood Warm Ocean Scenario (S. Gollmer, Cedarville University)
  5. Potential Mechanisms for the Deposition of Halite and Anhydrite in a Near-critical or Supercritical Submarine Environment (A. Hutchison, Cedarville University)
  6. Dinosaur Tracks, Eggs, and Bonebeds Explained Early in the Flood (M.J. Oard, Independent Researcher)
  7. YEC Geology in the Classroom: Educational Materials, Challenges and Needs (M.R. Ross, Liberty University)
  8. Radiohalos in Multiple, Sequentially-Intruded Phases of the Bathurst Batholith, NSW, Australia: Evidence for Rapid Granite Formation During the Flood (A.A. Snelling, Answers in Genesis)
  9. Radiocarbon in Permian Coal Beds of the Sydney Basin, Australia (A.A. Snelling, Answers in Genesis)
  10. How Does an Underwater Debris Flow End? Flow Transformation Evidences Observed within the Lower Redwall Limestone of Arizona and Nevada (D.D. Stansbury, Institute for Creation Research)
  11. Clay Content: A Simple Criterion for the Identification of Fossil Desiccation Cracks? (J.H. Whitmore & R. Strom; Cedarville University & Calgary Rock and Materials Inc.)
  12. Preliminary Report and Significance of Grain Size Sorting in Modern Eolian Sands (J.H. Whitmore, Cedarville University)
  13. Preliminary Report on Sorting and Rounding in the Coconino Sandstone (J.H. Whitmore & S. Maithel, Cedarville University)

I was actually invited to attend this conference by one of the speakers, and wouldn’t mind going some time. Despite my strong belief that young-Earth creationism isn’t necessary Biblically and that “flood geology” doesn’t work, I would hope that our common bond in Christ would prove greater than our differences.

Grace and Peace

HT: Paul Garner

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Geology, Origins, Young-Earth creationism | , , | 32 Comments

Geocentrism lives

Here’s a conference I’m not going to: Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right — First Annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism.

Here are the talks:

  • Geocentrism: They Know It But They’re Hiding It
  • Introduction to the Mechanics of Geocentrism
  • Scientific Experiments Showing Earth Motionless in Space
  • Scientific Evidence: Earth in the Center of the Universe
  • Answering Common Objections to Geocentrism
  • The Biblical Firmament: Outer Space is Not Empty
  • Galileo and the Church: What Really Happened?
  • The Fathers and Exegesis of Scripture on Geocentrism
  • English Ideology, Newton & the Exploitation of Science
  • Carbon 14 & Radiometric Dating Show Young Earth

There are a few Evangelicals promoting this sort of stuff as well. Some time around 2000, a major Christian home school catalog had a book promoting geocentrism on its cover; I wish I had saved that.

Let it be the foolishness of the cross that drives people away from Christ if they so choose. We shouldn’t add our own foolishness.

Grace and Peace

September 22, 2010 Posted by | Apologetics, Astronomy | | 2 Comments

Dinosaur footprints part 4

About two years ago I wrote three posts on young-Earth creationist (YEC) claims of human footprints being found with dinosaur footprints, and the problems that footprint fossils in general cause for the young-Earth catastrophic “flood geology” model.

Following the wrong footprints

Following more wrong footprints

Dinosaur footprints part 3

To their credit, the major YEC organizations, such as Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research, haven’t used the “human and dinosaur footprints together” argument for a couple decades, but many smaller YEC organizations do.

Answers in Genesis recently put a new article on its website about the formation of dinosaur footprints: Fossilized Footprints—A Dinosaur Dilemma. The article focuses on dinosaur footprints found in Israel in the Cretaceous Judea Group (A “group” in geology is a sequence of two or more sedimentary rock formations).

The footprints are found in a rock called dolomite. Chemically, dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2) is similar to calcite (CaCO3), which is the primary component of limestone. The author correctly states that dolomite forms only in rather exotic environments, such as desert salt flats and hot springs, or in ocean water of rather unusual chemistry. Dinosaurs could not have survived in large numbers in salt flats, and wouldn’t have been walking through hot springs, so the layers of dolomite must have formed from ocean water. Here’s the explanation in the article:

The pre-Flood ocean floor would have been littered with the remains of mollusk shells, in the form of lime. (Mollusk shells are made out of calcium carbonate, the main ingredient in lime.) When the fountains of the great deep broke up at the start of the Flood, massive earthquakes would have caused the ocean waters to rise and sweep in across the pre-Flood supercontinent, like tsunamis, carrying the lime sediments landwards with them.

The water temperature would have progressively increased as hot volcanic waters were added to the ocean. Also, many volcanic eruptions would have added magnesium to the lime-rich Flood waters. This combination of hot water, lime, and magnesium would produce the layers of dolomite. Thus, catastrophic plate tectonics can explain the increase in Flood water temperatures, the inundation of the continents, and the formation of enormous amounts of “marine” carbonate sediments on the continents.

As all of this gets washed up onto the continents, some dinosaurs who have survived the previous parts of the global catastrophe manage to walk around on the newly deposited dolomitic mud.

There are two major problems with this, in addition to the numerous problems with fossil footprints and “flood geology” I have outlined elsewhere.

  1. Most dolomite in the geologic record is not what we call primary dolomite, that is, dolomite that was formed directly from water solutions. Instead, most dolomite is secondary, formed by the conversion of limestone that was formed in a wide variety of environments. Magnesium-carrying fluids move through pores in the limestone, and react to change the calcite to dolomite. Multiple lines of evidence point to this: obvious recrystallization of calcite to dolomite (the two minerals have different internal atomic structures), studies of strontium isotopes in the minerals, and studies of tiny inclusions of fluids trapped in mineral grains. A quick search on the internet for “Judea group dolomite” brings up articles that discuss all of these as having occurred in the rocks in Israel in which these dinosaur footprints were found. The sediments were composed of lime (calcite) mud when deposited, not dolomitic mud.
  2. The scenario where volcanoes added heat and magnesium to ocean water as the flood progressed doesn’t work either. First of all, seawater is considerably richer in magnesium than in calcium to start with (though I suppose a YEC scientist might argue that in might not have been so before the flood). Basaltic magma (which must be what is being considered in this model, since the seafloor is made of basalt) is rich in both magnesium and calcium, so I don’t see how this would make the ocean into a dolomite-producing brew. Second, the ratio of dolomite to limestone decreases as one goes up the geologic column. If this YEC scenario were correct, the amount of dolomite should increase as the flood progressed.

I outlined the general problems with the “dinosaur footprints formed by the flood” hypothesis in Dinosaur footprints part 3, where I focused on dinosaur footprints in Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks at Dinosaur Ridge west of Denver:

Here’s what would have had to have happened:

  1. The flood covers all the Earth, eroding the continents down to their roots. Most erosion, according to this model, would have had to have happened early in the flood.
  2. At this point, the world-wide ocean was a slurry of water, sediments, and fossils.
  3. Deposition of thousands of feet of sediments, representing Proterozoic through Triassic rocks.
  4. Deposition of some Jurassic sediments. Then some dinosaurs go walking around. Then some more deposition. Then some more dinosaurs–a bunch this time–go wandering around. Then some more deposition of sediments. Then more dinosaurs trotting along the beach. Then more sediments. Wait, how did these dinosaurs all survive the previous part of the Flood?
  5. Deposition of thousands of feet of sediments on top of all of this.
  6. Lithification of the sediments (changing from soft sediments to solid sedimentary rocks).
  7. Uplift of the Rocky Mountains, tilting up these layers to a steep angle (they aren’t horizontal anymore).
  8. Erosion to expose the rocks.

I know that the author of the article read my Dinosaur footprints part 3 post, as it was referenced in the footnotes.  This current AiG article did not adequately address objections such as mine, and its “dinosaurs could not have made footprints in dolomite” approach is a failure.

I write this with love and respect for YEC advocates. They love the Word of God, as do I, and share the desire to see people pointed to Christ. However, I don’t think that the whole YEC flood geology hypothesis works—nor is it Biblically necessary—and for many people it drives them away from Christianity rather than pointing them to Christ and his gospel.

Grace and Peace

September 21, 2010 Posted by | Apologetics, Geology, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , | 7 Comments

Stephen Hawking’s mistake

When Stephen Hawking writes a book, people pay attention. His latest volume, The Grand Design, coauthored by Leonard Mlodinow, has made a media splash because Hawking, who used “god language” in his earlier works, has come to the conclusion that there is no need for any sort of god to explain the origin of the universe.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing new or groundbreaking in this book. Instead, it is a very readable explanation of how the laws of physics—especially quantum mechanics and general relativity, which is the theory of gravitation—can explain how we got here with no need for divine intervention.

Basically, from the reviews I have read (I confess I have not read the book), Hawking argues that our universe, with its hundreds of billions of galaxies, is just one of a huge multitude of universes that have been spawned within the larger multiverse, which we cannot see. Each of these baby universes has its own laws of physics; ours just happens to be one that has laws that work well for forming heavier atoms, stars, planets, and life.

Let’s say the basic outline of the author’s story is all true, that there is a larger multiverse that contains or creates baby universes. Think of the Wood between the Worlds in The Magician’s Nephew in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series. Let’s even say that this multiverse really did create the universe we live in. This still doesn’t solve the basic questions that Hawking and Mlodinow are seeking to answer: Why is there something rather than nothing? Is God Necessary?

This goes back to the cosmological argument for the existence of God. Every effect has a cause. What caused the universe? If the answer is, “the multiverse” or “the laws of physics,” then all the authors have accomplished is to put the question back one step. What caused the multiverse to exist? Has it existed forever? If so, why and how? Did it cause itself to exist? The same questions need to be asked of the laws of physics, or perhaps of the deeper, underlying laws of the multiverse. What is the origin of these laws?  To go back to the Chronicles of Narnia: Where did the “Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time” come from?

To propose that “God” is the answer to these questions is certainly at least as rational as to propose that the multiverse has existed forever or that it created itself. I would say that the “God option” is in reality the most rational answer, as the first option—the multiverse has existed forever—doesn’t answer the “Why is there something rather than nothing?” question, and the idea of a self-creating multiverse is inherently illogical.

The Washington Post review of The Grand Design is here.

Grace and Peace

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Apologetics, Astronomy, Christianity, Origins | , , | 12 Comments

The Reason for God — the open-mindedness of Christians

A common misconception among skeptics is that Christians are narrow-minded and ignorant, and that skeptics and atheists are open-minded “free thinkers.” Perhaps these generalizations are true in some cases, but it was my pleasure Sunday morning to spend an hour with a group of fifteen Christians who certainly don’t fit the narrow-minded stereotype.

Yesterday at my church was the first session of a three-month adult Sunday School class in which we will be going through the book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller. The chapters in this excellent book include:

  • There Can’t Be Just One True Religion
  • How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
  • The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice
  • Science Has Disproved Christianity
  • The Knowledge of God
  • The (True) Story of the Cross
  • The Reality of the Resurrection

Many skeptics I have met haven’t investigated both sides of these issues. They “know” that science has disproved Christianity, or that religion is the root of most evil in the world, or that the resurrection didn’t happen. So why bother to dig any deeper? Case closed, and mind closed too.

On the other hand, many Christians, including those in this class I am teaching, have had to face the skepticism of the world towards Christianity. They have themselves asked the tough questions, and come through with their faith intact. Or perhaps for some, they are still asking the tough questions (that’s OK) and still seeking answers. In our discussion, I asked them to come up with a list of objections to Christianity, and they had no problems coming up with a rather comprehensive list. I also had them write down a list of evidences for the validity of Christianity, and they came up with a pretty good list there too.

Too many free-thinking, open-minded skeptics are content with a “Christians are ignorant morons” approach, and wouldn’t be able to come up with a comprehensive list of the reasons to believe.

I had a blast leading the discussion on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to going through the book with this group of people. My objectives are to build up the faith of the believers, and to equip them to give good answers to a world that has been misled into believing that there is something irrational about the Christian faith.

thereasonforgod.com

Grace and Peace

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity | , , | 16 Comments

“Apologetics Study Bible for Students” on the age of the Earth

I recently paged through the Apologetics Study Bible for Students from the Southern Baptist B&H Publishing Group, and was pleased to see a balanced approach to the questions of the age of the Earth, the extent of the flood, and even somewhat on the role of biological evolution.

Here’s the section on the age of the Earth:

How Old is the Earth?

Chris Sherrod

There are two main views among Christians. Old earth creationists (OEC), also known as progressive creationists, believe God created the universe and all life forms in stages separated by long periods of time. They believe the geologic record accurately portrays a very long earth history. Young earth creationists (YEC) believe the universe and all life forms were created in six successive 24-hour days, meaning earth is only thousands of years old. Major arguments for each view include the following:

OEC

  • Speed of light measurements and the distance of stars indicate an ancient universe.
  • The Hebrew word yom (day) does not always mean a literal day (e.g., Gn 2:4).
  • Genesis 1:12 says the land produced vegetation on Day Three, indicating growth from seed to maturity. That takes longer than 24 hours.
  • There is too much activity on Day 6 to fit in 24 hours (see Gn 1:24-31; 2:15-25).
  • Many animals are specifically designed to prey upon other animals. This indicates that by God’s design, animal death preceded the fall of Adam and Eve.
  • The sun was created on Day 4; thus Days 1-3 could not have been 24-hour solar days.
  • The testimony of nature powerfully indicates an ancient creation.

YEC

  • The usual meaning of yom is a literal 24-hour day.
  • “Evening came, and then morning,” seems to indicate a literal day (Gn 1:5, etc.).
  • Sabbath rest (Ex 20:11) seems to imply six literal days of work during Creation week.
  • The sun was not created until Day 4, but there was life on Day 3 (Gn 1:11-13). Life cannot exist for long periods without sunlight, and so the days were not long ages.
  • Plants were created on Day 3 and animals on Day 5. The interdependence between plants and animals implies that their creation was not separated by long ages.
  • If death is an enemy (1Co 15:54), was God’s original paradise free from killing, or was it filled with violence, decay, and death? Man was not permitted to eat animals until after the Flood (Gn 9:2-3).
  • If decay and death were originally part of creation, why is creation looking forward to liberation from bondage to decay (Rm 8:20-22)?

Despite these differences, Christians in both groups are committed to God’s supernatural creation of all things. Similarly, both are committed to the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Also, it is important to note that even if earth is many millions of years old, this still is not enough time for life to arise naturally and then evolve into the complex species we have today.

Though Christians sometimes passionately disagree about the age of earth, we should not break fellowship about issues of peripheral importance (Rm 14:1). Both parties can work together, support common ground (such as Intelligent Design), and work “side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Php 1:27). We can have friendly “in-house” debates, graciously discussing our viewpoints in a spirit of love while standing united against the world’s deceitful philosophies (Col 2:8).

I think the author could have made a stronger Biblical case for the possibility of an old Earth, but it wasn’t bad for a very brief introduction. Also, there are other old-Earth options than progressive creationism, but I suppose the author had to keep it to one page.

The approach taken here is excellent for teaching the topic of origins to students. I believe that the typical if-the-Earth-isn’t-6000-years-old-the-Bible-ain’t-true approach of many in the church sets up our students for a fall. When they figure out that the young-Earth creationist interpretation has all sorts of problems, they often throw out their Christianity along with their young-Earth views.

The Apologetics Study Bible for Students allows for the possibility of a local flood rather than a world-wide deluge. On the question of evolution, young-Earth creationism, old-Earth creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution are presented as four ways in which Christians have responded to the question of biological evolution.

“It is important to emphasize that each of these four views confronts Naturalism and holds that God is the maker of all: ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good’ (Gn 1:31). Ultimately, the merits of each view depend on how faithfully they’ve handled the testimonies in Scripture and nature.”

From what I saw, I would certainly recommend the Apologetics Study Bible for Students as a gift for a teenager or young adult you know.

The Apologetics Study Bible for Students uses the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation.

Grace and Peace

September 4, 2010 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Christianity, Creation in the Bible, Geology, Old-Earth creationism, Origins, Theistic evolution, Young-Earth creationism | , , | 1 Comment