Monday, May 23, 2011

More reading in Lyell prompts a brief stock-taking

Been reading in Lyell, not just his Elements of Geology, but also the Principles of Geology which I finally found online. The internet is a gift from God.

In the Principles Lyell goes into the history of theories in this area which is quite fascinating, such as the very strange ideas about the nature of fossils which some had entertained down the centuries, and of course arguments for and against the Flood. His entire Chapter 3 is devoted to this history.

Wishing I didn't have to work so I could put more time into this. Wishing I could afford more books. Wishing I weren't so old and physically disabled for anything as strenuous as poking around in fossiliferous strata. Never had the slightest interest in geology until I began reading up on the creation-evolution disputes, and now I can appreciate why people would choose to go into this field, completely apart from the two theories at issue I mean: what the earth is made of has become interesting to me. I used to see it as nothing but "dirt," dirt of different qualities of course, such that some of it would grow a luxuriant garden while some was death to all living things, the alkali flats of the desert areas for instance, but all just varieties of dirt, rocks, dirt, rocks and more dirt. Not dirty dirt, just dirt.

Of course my overarching interest remains the evidence for the Flood. Now I see the earth as a fascinating collection of chemical and physical ingredients in various combinations and situations that have been scattered and rearranged by the Flood, from some primordial condition of perfection I can barely even guess at. Everywhere I look I see the Flood, just as everywhere they look, establishment geologists see evidence against the Flood. Including Lyell. Although it took Hutton to convince him.

Obviously they have a different sort of Flood in mind than I have.

In any case, it seems to me that arguments for the Flood would benefit from more knowledge of the history of these ideas I'm finding in Lyell.


As I continue to read, sometimes going back and forth between Lyell's Elements and his Principles, I also have to express some gratitude for these writings. They are thorough detailed simple readable descriptions of actual phenomena, something that is hardly ever found, in my experience, in the usual scientific reports having to do with geology or biology wherever they assert various evolutionary interpretations. What you get is interpretation presented as fact (a fossil creature defined by its supposed age for instance) instead of simple description of the phenomena themselves. SO happy to find in Lyell just such a simple description of where fossils are found and what kinds they are, and how their presentation LEADS to the interpretation currently in favor, as in this description from Lyell's Elements, Chapter 1:

If a stratified arrangement, and the rounded form of pebbles, are alone sufficient to lead us to the conclusion that certain rocks originated under water, this opinion is farther confirmed by the distinct and independent evidence of fossils, so abundantly included in the earth’s crust. By a fossil is meant any body, or the traces of the existence of any body, whether animal or vegetable, which has been buried in the earth by natural causes. Now the remains of animals, especially of aquatic species, are found almost everywhere imbedded in stratified rocks, and sometimes, in the case of limestone, they are in such abundance as to constitute the entire mass of the rock itself. Shells and corals are the most frequent, and with them are often associated the bones and teeth of fishes, fragments of wood, impressions of leaves, and other organic substances. Fossil shells, of forms such as now abound in the sea, are met with far inland, both near the surface, and at great depths below it. They occur at all heights above the level of the ocean, having been observed at elevations of more than 8000 feet in the Pyrenees, 10,000 in the Alps, 13,000 in the Andes, and above 18,000 feet in the Himalaya.*

These shells belong mostly to marine testacea, but in some places exclusively to forms characteristic of lakes and rivers. Hence it is concluded that some ancient strata were deposited at the bottom of the sea, and others in lakes and estuaries.
Of course the OBVIOUS interpretation that OUGHT to spring to the mind of anyone in Lyell's day since it was still being defended in respectable geological circles, is THE FLOOD. Good grief, it's SO obvious and yet even Lyell is now blinded by the mere speculative imaginations of Hutton and others.


  1. I'm just a tad confused, how do you interpret the section as proof of the flood? If Lyell had found salt water animal fossils in the middle of continental fresh water lithology, you would have something more interesting to discuss, also there are other sedimentary features that are out of place in the young earth theory, extreme dessert deposits in what is currently the Alpine Rock Mountains is an example. I personally find that Geology is the strongest leg in old earth argument. Even with the arguments against relative age of strata using Paleontological succession of fauna. Quantitative dating of rocks, "radioactive dating" is scientifically sound by all counts, even including statistical error from observable reactions of nuclear material the age of the Earth ranges 4.55 to 4.65 billion years ago. Now if the argument is made that it was "created" to seem that old then you are being unscientific and are acting all merely on belief, nothing personally wrong against it, but a lack of answer is never proof or disproof merely a reason to continue examining the question by the scientific method.

    If you have more to present I am interested. I've personally found most of the theist and non-theist debates to be that of the philosophy of the individuals. I enjoy trying to discuss all topics of the debate, I am trained only with a Bachelors of Science in Geology, so most of topics I only have a basic understanding of the deeper concepts. However, I have found that the largest source of attack by either side is over simplification of science and benefits of religion. So if you like to have some back and forth discuss I'm all for it. I'm sure by now you have a guess which side of the debate I more strongly support, but I enjoy exploring the counter arguments and seeing where the limit of science currently extends.

  2. This is the first comment you've made that is not clear enough to me to want to try to answer it, beyond saying that I never resort to the "appearance of age" argument but TRY to find answers that accord with the Biblical record as I read it, which to my mind is very straightforward that the earth is only 6000 years old.

    If you want to have an extended discussion of any of the topics you've commented on, would you do me the favor of presenting your argument at my most recent post, where it's easiest for me to answer. It would help if you include a link to the post you are responding to.

    (By the way I have an idea from what you've said here that I may know who you are)


PLEASE just register somewhere, there seem to be many options. A Google account is easy. And give SOME kind of pseudonym at least. THANKS!