...also believes that fossils were deposited in rare catastrophic burial events, as far as I can tell. But not that the entire fossil record was a single event (the global flood).
I answered him that the actual facts don't support "rare catastrophic burial events" any better than they support gradual buildup OR a single worldwide Flood and such a Flood is overall a more plausible explanation.
But I'd like to continue with my previous theme of asking ourselves to imagine how all this could have come about, this time not in terms of gradual buildup but in terms of periodic rare catastrophic burial events.
How does that work? The layers of different sediments -- sometimes layers of similar sediments, but clearly recognizable separate layers in any case -- can be seen worldwide. Layering of sediments is something we know water does. It is hard to imagine any other way such layers could be created.
However, let's follow it out. Think of a layer of say, sand, full of dead life forms of a certain predictable kind. Well we know we're going to get a thick layer of sandstone eventually, in which are embedded some arrangement of fossils, and this is how it had to start out, as loose sand. The layers do contain predictable fossil contents, so that they can actually be named by their fossil content, but they all had to start out as loose sediments full of living things that died in the burial process.
The layer has to be fairly deep, and it has to get compressed over time somehow, in order to harden into rock, into sandstone. How this could happen without a stack of layers on top of it to do the compressing is already a puzzle that destroys the whole idea, but we'll proceed on anyway. It has to be hardened.
This is a periodic rare event, remember. So time has to go by while it's hardening and fossilizing, which, again, isn't going to happen because there is nothing to make it happen, but then for some reason after a VERY VERY long time ANOTHER layer of a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT sediment full of DIFFERENT dead creatures suddenly catastrophically arranges itself neatly and horizontally on top of the sandstone.
Well, what we actually see IS different kinds of stone in layers in which different kinds of fossils are embedded. If this happened in periodic catatrophes something like this is how it would have happened. Isn't it? Am I being silly? Are geologists being silly? I don't know. Would they rather I imagined a whole bunch of layers at once? But then I have to imagine water sorting them, OR SOMETHING sorting them, and water is the only thing I know that does that, usually on a very small scale, so it's REALLY hard to imagine water on a less than global scale sorting layers so neatly and to such a depth and full of so many pre-fossilized and even pre-dead things as we actually see had to have occurred.
So, continuing the silly scenario, this next layer is also quite deep -- many feet deep -- and it's a completely different sediment from the first layer and it's also full of predictable dead things, DIFFERENT dead things just as the layer of sediment itself is a DIFFERENT sediment, let's say it's pulverized seashells that harden into limestone.
And again, without anything to explain how it gets hardened into a neat horizontal layer and the dead things get compressed so that they can become fossilized over time, this happens. And if it happens in say the American Southwest, then we are going to keep on imagining layer after layer after layer of different soft sediments full of different collections of living organisms being periodically sloshed over previously hardened layers, there to harden themselves before the next catastrophe.
If I'm totally off the wall, please explain.
Craig also said:
I can't believe the idea that ecological zones or hydrologic sorting would so perfectly arrange the fossils into such distinct layers, in a sequence that can be seen globally. Sure, I could imagine a general trend if the flood model were true, but I'd expect to see much more mixing, much less perfect sequencing.
Basically I answered that it's no more likely that periodic catastrophic burial events OR gradual buildup could have so perfectly arranged the fossils into such distinct layers EITHER, and really, it's less likely, so that of all the possibilities the Flood is far and away the most plausible explanation.
Also, Craig, there is no way to have an Old Earth scenario if you believe what Genesis actually says. Its time scale is very specific and doesn't lend itself to other interpretations without doing violence to the text.========================
P.S. It sometimes helps to keep an image in mind of just WHAT we're trying to explain either in terms of gradual buildup over millions of years, or periodic catastrophic burial events over millions of years or a single worldwide Flood. I think all you really have to do is keep in mind the Grand Canyon to see that there's no way the layers into which the canyon was cut could have been laid down gradually over millions of years OR laid down in periodic catastrophic events either. Geologists continue to talk about the formation of the canyon layers in terms of those millions of years, dating each layer to specific time periods. But keep the picture in mind: horizontal layers that cover miles and miles of terrain, all stacked on top of each other while maintaining their flat horizontal appearance. No way they happened gradually or in periodic events either. Of course it's staggering to think of the magnitude of a Flood that could have created all that all at once, but the Flood WAS of such staggering magnitude -- the usual ideas people have about it are paltry indeed compared to what a worldwide Flood would do.
Just LOOK at all that layering to such a depth! Hard to imagine a flood on such a scale but all the other explanations are much less reasonable.