As I discovered when I did a little reading on it:
At Wikipedia I found this completely evasive remark:
Geologists see no need to invoke a global flood to explain upright fossils. This position of geologists is supported by numerous examples, which have been found at numerous locations, of upright trees completely buried within either late Holocene or historic sediments. These buried upright trees demonstrate that conventional geologic processes are capable of burying and preserving trees in an upright position such that in time, they will become fossilizedCreationists certainly do argue for the Flood against the geologic time table of millions of years per flat horizontal slab of sedimentary rock, but referring to the Flood as if that were the only creationist argument about the significance of polystrate tree fossils completely evades the point.
The problem with polystrate trees is that given the enormous time spans assumed by current geology no tree could remain intact while the sediments were depositing, so as to appear whole after the millions of years it supposedly takes for them to deposit. But they do appear whole. Go look at the photos at the links. Their wholeness through what are supposed to be millions of years proves that the assumption of millions of years for sedimentation to occur is false.
[Later: It needs to be said in here that they claim that RAPID DEPOSITION occurred in the case of the polystrate trees. But rapid deposition of more than one layer normally identified as a time period of millions of years simply eliminates those millions of years altogether -- but it certainly fits the Flood, which somehow they manage not to notice. More on this farther down the post].
And yes, the far better explanation IS the worldwide Flood which would have rapidly buried them in a sequence of sediments in very short order, which is the necessary condition for fossilization of a whole upright tree buried in many layers of sediment.
Polystrate tree fossils DISPROVE THE TIME SCALE OF CONVENTIONAL GEOLOGY. This is "just another PRATT" only in the dreams of evolutionists.
I then went to the article on the subject at Talk Origins, probably the most famous website on the creation-evolution debate on the web, and found them being evasive in a more convoluted way (anything to mystify the reader I guess).
I next found a creationist discussing the Talk Origins article, which you can find at his site. Here he's elaborating the point I just made above:
...This argument craftily avoids the issues while claiming to explain them. The issues in question are:This writer also makes the intelligent point, which I unfortunately don't let myself believe sufficiently, that you cannot win the argument with an evolutionist. He won't listen to your argument for starters, he will simply bury you in his claims for "evidence" for evolution which he accuses the creationist of failing to appreciate and refusing to learn about, and aggressively drowns out all contrary ideas with as much abusive insulting language as he can muster.1) How did the tree survive during multiple catastrophes without rotting or being knocked down?This is not a problem for evolution? Regardless of how you slice it, the tree had to stand erect without rotting, falling or being knocked down for millions of years. The layers of strata have fossils representing different time periods according to the evolution model. It DOES pose a huge problem for evolution. If the tree was buried rapidly as Dawson hints toward and as creationists have said all along, evolution is out the window. If all layers were deposited together, then there is no such thing as millions of years. That would mean that all fossils were laid at the same time.
2) How can anyone reasonably believe that a tree could stand for the length of time it takes to build up the additional layers?
3) How can a tree representing a short life span (on evolution’s geological time scale) stand erect through geological layers representing millions and often hundreds of millions of years?
...If the trees were not covered rapidly, then there is no explanation as to how a tree could have embedded itself into layers of strata that accumulated over millions of years. The article does not attempt to answer any of these questions. Yet it claims (as all evolutionists do) to have the answers.
Here's DWise on this subject a couple years ago at EvC:
But even more telling was what that article said about rates of depositation. While Steve Austin was being paid by the ICR to get a post-graduate degree in geology (so that they could finally claim to have a degreed geologist on staff) he would write creationist articles for them using a pseudonym, "Stuart Nevins". As Stuart Nevins, he wrote an article in which he claimed that geologists believed that strata formed at a completely gradual and constant rate, even though even undergraduate geology students know full well that that is a complete and utter lie -- and Austin was writing that while he was a graduate student. He had to know better and yet he still repeated that lie!Typical snide suspicious accusatory anti-creationist post from someone who hasn't the grace to give the benefit of the doubt on any point whatever, is willing to utterly trash anyone he disagrees with.
Well, had Austin actually read that article (I learned to not make such an assumption about creationists with the ICR's NASA document moon-dust debacle), he would have learned what he should have learned years ago in his undergraduate classes: geologists can distinguish between layers formed by rapid depositation and layers formed by slow depositation. It's described in Broadhurst's article. Those "polystrate" tree stumps were buried in layers formed by rapid depositation.
TELL US, MR. WISEACRE, HOW geologists distinguish between layers formed by rapid deposition and those formed by slow deposition. The question is HOW. Give us the "science" involved. You can't get away with a flat assertion and call it science. What exactly is it that tells them the difference? And give us all the independent tests that verify it too.
HOWEVER, since you admit that they were buried in rapidly deposited layers, THEN tell us how we are to distinguish the rock strata built up in such a fashion from those built up more slowly. Must be pretty subtle differences, Mr. Wise, of gossamer fine subtlety I suspect, mystifyingly fine just to stand back and look at a stack of strata and wonder which might have been which. Oh the ones with the polystrate trees in them, THOSE were rapidly deposited. Right.
HOWEVER AGAIN, we're talking about MANY LAYERS OF STRATA THAT ARE NORMALLY IDENTIFIED BY GEOLOGISTS AS ENORMOUSLY LONG TIME PERIODS. The "Carboniferous," the "Holocene" are specifically mentioned in connection with polystrate trees. Are these millions-of-years-long ages or not? Did the lower "age" deposit rapidly and then WAIT a few million years for the next "age" to start depositing, while the tree just sat there twiddling its thumbs instead of rotting away?
If you have three or four "time periods" all rapidly deposited around a tree trunk, guess what you have? You no longer have "time periods" at all, YOU HAVE THE WORLDWIDE FLOOD.
RAPID DEPOSITION IMPLIES THE WORLDWIDE FLOOD, and there is NO way they can talk their way out of the evidence of the polystrate trees against an Old Earth except of course by the usual evolutionist "scientific" methods of ridicule, accusation, snide put-downs, self-delusion and lies.