Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A little exercise in fantasy science

(This entry has been heavily rewritten since first posting.)

Typical "Scientific" Mystification as expressed at Wikipedia about the supposed formation of the Grand Canyon:
Geology of the Grand Canyon area
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The geology of the Grand Canyon area exposes one of the most complete and studied sequences of rock on Earth. The nearly 40 major sedimentary rock layers exposed in the Grand Canyon and in the Grand Canyon National Park area range in age from about 200 million to nearly 2 billion years old.
Considering the highly speculative history of determining the age of rocks you'd think they'd be a little more circumspect in their oh-so-definite assertions of this sort.
Most were deposited in warm, shallow seas and near ancient, long-gone sea shores in western North America.
Now I'm sure this is all based on an interpretation of some of the contents of the various strata but why do they only give us their conclusions in such flat-out assertive language instead of some discussion of how they arrived at it? What genuine Science talks like this? I'd really like to see the evidence for the warm shallow seas -- contents of the rocks that normally LIVE in warm shallow seas or what? And for the long-gone sea shores. Are there shoreline rings and that sort of thing somewhere? See, I'm a believer in the Flood, so I'm going to have a very different interpretation of whatever the evidence is that they interpret as warm shallow seas and sea shores. For instance, if it's the fossil contents of the rocks that lead to warm shallow seas because that is those creatures normal habitat when alive, the Flood interpretation would say that they were carried there and died there and didn't live on that spot. If there is evidence of old shorelines near the Grand Canyon, I have no doubt they represent a body of water that was left standing after the Flood for some period of time, long enough to leave the shoreline marks.
Both marine and terrestrial sediments are represented ...
Ah, a factual statement amidst the fantasy. That goes nowhere though. I'm sure they can say what makes the sediments marine or terrestrial, but if they were transported there on the Flood all that distinction refers to is their place of origin. It certainly wasn't the walls of the Grand Canyon. least including fossilized sand dunes from an extinct desert.
And now back to speculative interpretion. You know this how? Your evidence is what? Any creationist writing like this would be scathingly dismissed as an idiot. Again, whatever the evidence that leads them to fossilized sand dunes, their sand had to have been transported on the Flood to their present resting place. And again, why don't they describe their evidence?
There are at least 14 known unconformities in the geologic record found in the Grand Canyon area.
Another of the very rare factual statements, presented without a hint as to their relevance or scientific import. Second thought: Depends on what sort of unconformity they're talking about. There is certainly a huge "angular unconformity" at the base of the canyon which I've discussed many times before, but there is also a purely fictional "unconformity" that is a "missing" layer, that is, a layer of fossilized sediment that their theory says is supposed to be there but isn't. Of course there isn't the faintest sign that such a layer was ever there; the strata are all just as neatly and tightly and horizontally stacked through those "periods" of "unconformity" as everywhere else in the column.
Uplift of the region started about 75 million years ago during the Laramide orogeny; a mountain-building event that is largely responsible for creating the Rocky Mountains to the east. In total the Colorado Plateau was uplifted an estimated 2 miles (3.2 km). The adjacent Basin and Range province to the west started to form about 18 million years ago as the result of crustal stretching. A drainage system that flowed through what is today the eastern Grand Canyon emptied into the now lower Basin and Range province. Opening of the Gulf of California around 6 million years ago enabled a large river to cut its way northeast from the gulf. The new river captured the older drainage to form the ancestral Colorado River, which in turn started to form the Grand Canyon.
You see how they talk as if this is observed fact rather than
interpretation of various geological formations. Obviously we're expected to just sit quietly and receive it unquestioningly as revelation from Those Who Know, without a discussion of how they arrived at it, without evidence or anything to engage us in thinking about it.

Anyway, again, I would really like to know what the evidence is for this mountain building period, and actually I don't doubt that there IS evidence, what I doubt is their interpretation of the evidence. Especially of course the time factork, how it got associated with a particular block of sediment layers. And I love thinking about this stuff. I've many times wondered about the formation of the Great Basin as well as the Grand Canyon, love to look at maps that show the topography clearly.

The interpretation from the Flood perspective includes volcanic and tectonic activity as part of the Flood event, perhaps causing it to some extent or caused by it, in any case associated with it. It's frustrating to read the descriptions from the establishment point of view that don't provide enough fact for a Floodist to think about. All you get is the Official Party Line. If I could afford a good geology book or an online course in geology MAYBE it would give the evidence behind such things? Or maybe not -- probably not part of a basic course. Ideally one could ask a geologist about all these things but they are a prickly bunch with creationists. For all their supposed interest in educating us stupid creationists at EvC, if you start asking questions to clarify such things for your own purposes, forget it, they don't want to give you a free education, go take a course.
Wetter climates brought upon by ice ages starting 2 million years ago greatly increased excavation of the Grand Canyon, which was nearly as deep as it is now by 1.2 million years ago. Volcanic activity deposited lava over the area 1.8 million to 500,000 years ago. At least 13 lava dams blocked the Colorado River, forming lakes that were up to 2,000 feet (610 m) deep. The end of the last ice age and subsequent human activity has greatly reduced the ability of the Colorado River to excavate the canyon. Dams in particular have upset patterns of sediment transport and deposition. Controlled floods from Glen Canyon Dam upstream have been conducted to see if they have a restorative effect. Earthquakes and mass wasting erosive events still affect the region
What might have some basis in reasonable deduction from evidence is so mingled with what is most likely sheer conjecture based on nothing but assumption, and the possibly reasonable deduction is presented so utterly devoid of evidence for it in any case, EVERYBODY should object to this sort of thing, not just creationists. But no, anti-creationists accept it as wisdom from on high and offered as science, expect a creationist to swallow it without question or else be branded an anti-scientific ignoramus. How ironic, how sad. I really want to see the signs of the lakes that were backed up behind lava dams, what traces did they leave? What is the evidence of ice involvement?

Well, the rest of the article goes on in the same vein, a mix of a few facts that just stick out like islands among one description after another of purely fantastical ancient deserts and seas and so on that of course nobody was there to witness and can therefore be nothing but speculation based on who-knows-what, and the who-knows-what is of course not given, because this is NOT science, this is Fantasy.


Here's a thread of my own at EvC that spun off one on the Grand Canyon, in which I take pains to be clear about what I mean about the difference between conjecture and fact. Unfortunately here and there I wasn't quite as clear as I thought I was being and I'd make some changes now, but the basic idea is still there. But all anyone did in response to my pains was make absurd straw man arguments.

I'll try to state it again now:

The reason references to ancient landscapes, deserts, inland seas and whatnot are conjecture as opposed to fact is that there is no way to validate (or invalidate) the interpretation. It conjures up a scenario in the distant past that is described almost as if it had been seen, but nobody witnessed it so there is no way to corroborate the conjecture; it remains forever a conjecture although they treat it as a fact.

There's nothing wrong with conjecture of course, it's the normal first step to a scientific explanation; perhaps it should be called a hypothesis. The problem is that any other possible interpretations of the same facts that led them to a particular conjecture are pre-empted when they don't bother to describe the facts and that renders the favored interpretation unfalsifiable.

Exactly what is the factual evidence that leads them to the scenario of an inland sea on the North American continent, for instance? I'd really like to know but that part they normally leave out of the discussion. Of course I suspect that "inland sea" would be well interpreted as a stage of the receding Flood. A slow-draining leftover body of water could probably explain the facts quite nicely if only the facts were available. Not a sea that stood for millions of years, but perhaps weeks or months or a few years.

Someone on that old thread compared my argument to an argument whether the claim that Henry the 8th was King of England was fact or conjecture. There is no comparison and it was irritating to have someone try to hang that on me. Henry the 8th had witnesses galore, histories written about him and no doubt all kinds of vestiges of his existence and influence remain in English institutions as well. Paintings of his royal self abound. Show me a photo of the ancient landscape you've conjured up. An "ancient desert" has NOTHING from its own time to show for itself. Henry the 8th had corroborating evidence; inventions of ancient scenarios have nothing to corroborate them. And really, it is STUPID to make such a comparison.

Where's the data that should be available to scientists who want to test your theory? Laboratory science is replicable by anyone. This kind of "science" remains conjecture forever although ordained as Fact.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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