Monday, March 31, 2014

Asteroid craters and evolutionist confusion of interpretation with fact

The problem with leaving EvC, which I finally did recently, is that inevitably somebody posts something I'd like to talk about.  And I've been tempted a couple times recently to go back and join a thread.  What keeps me from it is the very reason I left:  the attitude there is hard to take, and it's a waste of time.  The dragged-out frustrating struggle just to get a simple point across, which often ends in failure anyway, is not worth it any more, and the expressions of hatred against creationists and Christians seem to have escalated and I don't want to be guilty of provoking more of it, let alone my own breakdowns of patience.

But I suppose there may continue to be issues raised I'll want to follow.  This one about asteroid craters I think I'd be foolish to debate anyway -- the mere thought of how it would play out is exhausting -- but I have a few thoughts about it so I'll write them here and leave it at that.   
YECs and Asteroids
...A recent topic on the subject of impact craters on the Moon got me thinking about the impact craters on Earth. On another forum, I posed this question to the creationists in attendance

Something I’ve been pondering, recently.Most people know about the meteor impact that ‘killed’ the dinosaurs. What they often don’t know is that many, many other things died out around this time, too - fish, plants, even certain mammals and birds - it was a worldwide extinction event ...
One of the main things a YEC has to say, and keep saying, to this sort of presentation, is that this idea of a great extinction event rests purely on the evolutionist interpretation of the fossil record. As usual it is presented as fact although the evidence for it is nothing but the absence of those supposedly extinct life forms from some of the sedimentary layers. That's all. Dinosaur fossils don't appear in a certain layer where they are expected according to the theory of the strata as representing long ages of time. They aren't in that sedimentary rock, therefore they didn't live in the era of time the theory assigns to that rock, therefore they must have all died out. Now we're informed that "many, many other things died out around this time, too -- fish, plants, even certain mammals and birds -- it was a worldwide extinction event..." Which means ONLY that these other creatures ALSO aren't present in sedimentary layers where evolutionist theory expects them to be.
... and it left its mark in the Yucatan. [Here he posts a map of the Yucatan peninsula and an aerial shot of the outlines of a crater at that location.]
So this supposed extinction event -- again, merely an interpretation of the absence of some fossils in some sedimentary layers though treated as unquestionable fact as usual -- is interpreted to have been the result of an asteroid or meteor impact on the Yucatan peninsula. Millions upon millions of years ago of course, as the theory goes.

So now we get some information about the evidence for such impacts. Yes, this is REAL evidence. There WERE such impacts on the earth, lots of craters to prove it. I wouldn't take anything they say about WHEN they occurred very seriously of course.

One bit of evidence for such impacts is the presence of a fine layer of iridium on the surface of one of the sedimentary layers, above which dinosaurs do not occur, iridium being known to result from meteoric impacts. This is probably real evidence of meteoric impact but not necessarily of any supposed extinction event as a result of it, which, again, is evidenced ONLY by the LACK of certain fossils in the layer above.
That’s about 170 km wide - quite an impressive impact, and it would have had effects all over the earth, both immediate and longer-term.
This assertion also rests on an assumption that is not necessarily true, which I'll get to.
I’m absolutely not the person to tell you about them...I suck at math. But, fortunately, Purdue University developed this really cool website that actually lets you calculate such things. So we can see what effects such an impact would have, here.Impact: Earth!

What can happen to you would depend on your proximity to the object - for instance, I put in 1,000 km away, and it informed me of all sorts of pleasant things, like my clothes igniting, a fiery hellstorm raining death upon from the skies, and being drowned and/or crushed by the resultant tsunami. Really, really unpleasant stuff. But the thing is, that’s not the first time this happened - most people also don’t know that the KT impact isn’t the only big impact the Earth’s taken, nor is it the biggest.

There are two craters which are even bigger than the one in the Yucatan - the one in Sudbury is about 250 km, and the one in Vredefort is a whopping 300 km.List of impact craters on Earth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaAnd keep in mind - these are just confirmed craters. There unconfirmed ones that we haven’t found yet, that could drawf even that, but for the sake of argument we’ll just stick to what’s been confirmed. So, you’ll notice that there’s quite a few big impacts that would have done huge damage to the earth - not all as drastic as the top five, but still quite noticeable. Forest fire, tsunamis, tremors, et cetera. This would have been quite noticeable to anyone alive at the time.

Now, with an old-earth model, I don’t see it a major problem. When the big first two hit, life on Earth wasn’t [sic] still microbial, and wouldn’t have been affected by it too much, I don’t think. These impacts are few and far between - there are a lot of them, but that’s about what you’d expect if the planet’s been around billions of years. You can only dodge the bullet so many times.

I’m not sure how this works with a young-earth model, though, and I’m curious if any of the reside YECs could proffer an explanation. Obviously, these meteors haven’t hit since the flood - if they’d all struck within a relatively short amount of time, they would have utterly annihilated life on this planet.

Just one big one, like the one in the Yucatan, is enough to cause mass extinctions worldwides. Two, within 4,000 years, would be utterly devastating. The top five largest craters are quite close to or exceeding the Yucatan’s in size, and there are dozens of smaller, but still significant craters around the globe. Clearly, they haven’t hit in recorded history, so what does that leave us? Before the Flood?

If they’d happened before the flood, there wouldn’t even need to be a Flood - everything would be dead, not to mention that it’s not given note anywhere in the Bible. I think I recall someone saying that the Flood could have caused the meteor impacts in the first place, but I don’t see how that make even a little sense, not to mention that the acid rain, massive fish extinctions, and fireballs raining all over the place are something that Noah would have made notice off.

So I’m curious what the YEC ‘interpretation’ is for these impacts. I really didn't get much of a response - one of them talked about angels holding battles inside of protective barriers, but it wasn't very serious, and none of the creationists seemed interested in providing any real feedback, which is odd since they're usually a chatty bunch on that forum. So in interest of refining the argument, I thought I might bring it here to see how well it stacks up and what possible objections there might be.
All I can do is guess from a Floodist perspective of course.  If these meteors hit during the Flood they'd have hit land that was under water, and the lower the land the deeper the water above it, which could have mitigated the drastic effects predicted above.  I checked all the craters referred to and they are all a few thousand miles away from where Noah would have been (even assuming the continents had not yet split).  I didn't check the altitude of the areas where they hit but obviously a few of them hit in lower altitudes.  So these hits might have rocked the water enough to make Noah and family seasick but most likely they wouldn't have produced flame or even as much heat as supposed here. 

If they all occurred during the Flood event, especially if some occurred during the first phase of the forty days and night of constant rain, the result might have been surprisingly minimal. Perhaps a lot of steam rose, which turned into rain in its turn. (The timing would have to take into account when the strata were laid down, and I don't know how to calculate any of that.)

Since I think the strata were all produced by the Flood I also think the iridium layer was deposited during the Flood. What got deposited in any given layer of course is simply a matter of what the Flood happened to deposit there, and nothing to do with great aeons of time.

There's my guess.  SO glad I don't have to "debate" it with all the usual misreadings and angry denunciations and weird denials of the obvious. 

The main point here I think is the way the interpretation of the absence of fossils in a certain layer is treated as undeniable proof that there was a huge extinction event in the distant past. Typical presentation not of FACT, not of simple PHENOMENA, but always of interpretation, of theory, masquerading as fact.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Compromising the Bible to Accommodate Science

On a thread at EvC Forums I was presented with the information that some of the greatest Christian preachers of the 19th and early 20th centuries had accepted certain compromising ideas about the Bible in reaction to the claims of science of their day.  They believed what science was saying about the Old Earth, though not about evolution, and they came up with various ways to make the Bible fit the claims.  I don't know how many resisted the claims altogether, that would be interesting to know, but the fact is that there were some of the best of the best who came up with ideas that accommodate the Bible to science. Spurgeon was one for instance.

There was an exchange of posts on the subject, starting with a post by "kbertsche" HERE:
From about the mid-19th to mid-20th century, most conservative Christians accepted the geologic evidence for an old earth and incorporated it into a view known as the "Gap Theory". This view was popularized by Thomas Chalmers in the early 19th century, and became the de facto view of conservative Christians after C.I. Scofield incorporated it into his reference Bible in the early 20th century. As Bernard Ramm wrote in 1954 (see the wikipedia article referenced above):
"The gap theory has become the standard interpretation throughout hyper-orthodoxy, appearing in an endless stream of books, booklets, Bible studies, and periodical articles. In fact, it has become so sacrosanct with some that to question it is equivalent to tampering with Sacred Scripture or to manifest modernistic leanings".
Who held to an old earth in this period (mid-19th to mid-20th century)? Most of the conservative Christian scholars and Bible teachers, including most of the scholars who opposed the Tuebingen school and modernism. Here are a few of them:
  • James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000). Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia; chairman of International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.
  • William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925). Prominent anti-evolutionist; prosecutor in Scopes “monkey trial”.
  • A.A. Hodge (1823-1886). Old Princeton Theologian.
  • Charles Hodge (1797-1878). Old Princeton Theologian.
  • H. A. Ironside (1876-1951). Bible preacher, commentator, and author.
  • C.S. Lewis (1898-1963). Literature professor and Christian apologist.
  • J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937). Theologian.
  • J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988). Founder of Thru the Bible ministry.
  • C.I. Scofield (1843-1921). Known for his Scofield Reference Bible.
  • Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892). Known as “the prince of preachers”.
  • R.A. Torrey (1856-1928). Editor of "The Fundamentals"
  • Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921). Theologian; Champion of biblical inerrancy.
  • Edward J. Young (1907-1968). Theologian; Champion of biblical inerrancy.
In a subsequent post kbertsche explains that not all of them adhered to Gap Theory, some arguing for Day-Age theory that makes the word "day" in the first chapter of Genesis refer to a very long period of time, and in one case Theistic Evolution.

The last post in the sequence to this point was mine, which follows:
[Ringo quoting me] All I see in this barely plausible scenario is the desperation of these men in the face of the science of the day that they were unable to criticize.

[Ringo] That's a pretty good description of creationism in general.
[Faith} I agree in general with this.  The turn of science to antibiblical assertions put Bible believers in a difficult position.  Having always admired science, and thinking it a gift from God, many scrambled to accommodate their beliefs to what the scientists were saying.  I believe this was a fatal error, understandable though it is.  By coming up with accommodating ideas like Gap Theory they avoided the conflict and appeared to find common ground sufficient to let them continue in their faith and preach their faith to their congregations.

But the conflict is inevitable and can't be avoided.  Gap theory is a wild speculative solution that ends up being no solution.  Same with the other ways the Bible was compromised to accommodate science.  I hadn't known until kbertsche demonstrated it that so many of the greatest preachers had succumbed to this kind of solution, and it was quite startling because those men preach solidly Biblical sermons, the best of the best.  I had no idea there was a rotten spot in the floorboards as it were, that could bring the whole house down.  That's the problem with ALL compromising efforts. 

It's the same problem with the modern Bibles.  Christians can go along for years trusting in those Bibles and then suddenly grasp the implications of the untrustworthiness of the Greek texts that underlie them, and their lack of knowledge of the history of these things, and the corrupted nature of those texts, then cause many to lose their faith and leave them with a bitter cynicism about Christianity. 

Those great preachers who gave into the Old Earth and tried to make the Bible conform to it have built a house of cards that subsequent generations can blow down with a breath, leaving them with very flimsy support for their faith.

I appreciate that they didn't have the time, and it wasn't their calling either, to try to answer the claims of science, but a strong stand on the Bible against the science they couldn't understand might have served us all better in the end.  Others might have been inspired to learn more science earlier, might have seen through the purely interpretive and speculative and unprovable nature of the claims that were being presented as Fact for one thing, might have stayed on top of the claims down the decades instead of being lulled to sleep by a false reconciliation at the expense of the Bible. 
It was quite a shock to me to find out what these men believed. While most of them didn't give in to evolution it is painful to see them accommodating to the Old Earth, which the Bible really can't be made to support without strain.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review of Grand Canyon Argument against Old Earth Geology

UPDATE: Because the argument I'm presenting here based on the Grand Canyon that I try to keep focused on in the debate, is so simple it easily gets dismissed as simply ignoring the other pieces of this enormous puzzle, so I feel I have to explain why that's not the case.

The idea is that I'm pointing out something so essential that nothing else can challenge it no matter how many questions people might want to raise otherwise. If this argument shows as definitively as I believe it does that the strata cannot possibly be hundreds of millions of years old, then no other considerations can undo that conclusion. If this is true, then the particulars such as the angle of repose of the grains of sand in the Coconino Sandstone, for instance, simply cannot be used to prove the Old Earth but are going to have to be understood some other way.

This is the kind of argument I'm always looking for, the pivotal argument, the one that undoes all the others, and I think I've found it in this case (also the genetic argument but that one got garbled in the last debate round at EvC so I'm going to have to work on it some more.)

============================================ The original post: After some months of debate at EvC Forums I feel the need to restate my arguments here.  Over there anything I say is subject to such a barrage of strange objections it's easy to lose track of the simple point I'm trying to make. 

So I want to restate the argument for the Flood which is really mostly against the Old Earth point of view that has the earth about four billion years old. 

I have one very simple argument about that which is based on cross sections of the Grand Canyon - Grand Staircase area that runs from Arizona to Utah.

I've been unable to load any images into my blogs for some time so all I can do is paste a link to one of these cross sections:

Grand Staircase image

This shows the depth of the layers of rock at the north end of the Grand Staircase to be about two miles, and the number of layers to be roughly about 26.  Clearly these layers were originally continuous at that depth for more than two hundred miles to the Grand Canyon area and beyond, but the strata above the Kaibab level eroded away over the Grand Canyon and chunks of the strata above that level also eroded away in the Grand Staircase area, forming the stairs of the staircase.

This shows that all those layers were in place at one time, and this fact is emphasized by the intrusion of the magma dike at the north end of the Grand Staircase which penetrates upward through the entire stack from bottom to top, showing that it did not occur before they were all laid down.   It is also shown by the fault lines that split the whole stack; It is also shown by the distortion of the whole stack as a block as it follows the curve of the mound over the Grand Canyon.  If that rise had occurred before they were all laid down, the upper layers that were laid down later would not have remained parallel with the lower block of layers but would have been horizontal and butted up against the upgrades and curves.  That is not the case.  The entire stack as a whole follows the curves across the entire landscape, the layers all remaining parallel to one another.  It is also shown by the fact that the canyons and stairs were cut after they were all laid down.  Clearly they were all laid down and THEN there was a violent upheaval of some sort, tectonic force no doubt with attendant earthquakes plus the volcanic activity that is shown in the magma.  All this occurred TO THE ENTIRE STACK after it was all laid down.

What is my point?  My point begins with the observation that according to conventional Geology each of those layers represents a time period of millions of years.   Here's another diagram  showing the time periods assigned to the layers in the Grand Canyon. Scroll down about half way to see it.   Really wish I could post just the image, sorry it's so awkward this way.

Now consider that conventional Geology describes the planet Earth as a "very active" planet, and ask yourself why in that case those strata are depicted as so neatly parallel over what adds up to hundreds of millions of years, how ALL of them were obviously laid down one on top of the other before the land was tilted, before the mounded rise formed, before the canyons and stairs or cliffs were cut, before the magma rose up through the layers and before the faulting occurred.

The obvious conclusion is that those hundreds of millions of years did not happen.  It's all a fiction.

When I presented this scenario at EvC of course I got all kinds of objections.  "Well but surely each of those layers would show a great deal of activity if you looked into them minutely" for instance.  But of course that doesn't answer why they ALL follow the same contours as a block.   And "Really there's nothing odd about there being no activity on the planet for hundreds of millions of years, and then a lot of activity all at once."  Really?   They also suggested that this could have happened in this particular area and nowhere else. To this I can only say that you also find blocks of strata everywhere distorted by tectonic force as a block. There is nothing quite like the Grand Canyon of course which shows the Geologic Column to such a great depth. And they objected to the use of a diagram at all, as if the artist wouldn't have known not to draw the strata parallel if they weren't parallel. And of course the usual objections were raised about the Young Earth arguments as well, which became a major distraction from the main point I was making. 

But this one simple observation stands against the whole Old Earth argument.  I think it's open and shut myself.

From there I go on to argue that the actual appearance of the strata in that area is much better explained by the Flood, and that gets into all kinds of other considerations.  But rather than lay those out here I just want to keep it simple, showing that the conventional explanation does not account for the actual formation of the strata.

And yes, there is The Great Unconformity at the base of the Grand Canyon too.  I believe that also occurred at the same time as all the other activity I've described, and there are some posts on this blog about it, but it's not necessary to insist on that to make the point I'm making here.  Many creationists treat the Great Unconformity as already there when the Flood occurred and laid down the strata above it.   I don't, but it doesn't interfere with the point I'm making here to leave it at that.