I shy away from religion and politics on this blog, but I’m going to hit them both head on in this post.
The New York Times had a cover story today on creationist geology.
The article starts off with this winner:
Tom Vail, who has been leading rafting trips down the Colorado River here for 23 years, corralled his charges under a rocky outcrop at Carbon Creek and pointed out the remarkable 90-degree folds in the cliff overhead.
Geologists date this sandstone to 550 million years ago and explain the folding as a result of pressure from shifting faults underneath. But to Mr. Vail, the folds suggest the Grand Canyon was carved 4,500 years ago by the great global flood described in Genesis as God’s punishment for humanity’s sin.
“You see any cracks in that?” he asked. “Instead of bending like that, it should have cracked.” The material “had to be soft” to bend, Mr. Vail said, imagining its formation in the flood. When somebody suggested that pressure over time could create plasticity in the rocks, Mr. Vail said, “That’s just a theory.”
Wow. Where to begin.
- Its not a theory. There are two labs here at the University of Minnesota where they deform “hard” rocks. They do it by applying extreme temperatures and pressures to rocks. (the type found deep below the surface). Rocks are mineral assembelidges and their behavior is pretty well known based on the properities of the minerals.
- Sedimentary rocks like the type found in the Grand Canyon were never “soft” like magma is soft when it comes out of the earth. They started out as loose grains and gradually cemented with pressure and time.
- If all the sedimentary rocks on Earth (or most) were deposited in one big catalysmic event, you should see an ordered layering of sediments by grain size. You can prove this yourself with a bucket and some dirt. Fill it with water, throw in some sand, silt, small rocks, clay and soil. Stir it up and let it sit for a while. Like a week. What you will see is that the big chunks fall to the bottom first, the smaller chunks go next, and the really small bits which are suspended in the water column take a long time to settle. You wont find a layer of small stuff below a layer of big stuff. However, you see this all the time in the field. You see layers of shale below layers of sandstone. This can’t be if you had only one major sedimentation event.
They don’t spend much time on geology, because its way easier to prove them wrong than with biological evolution and natural selection. Also, when you start to look too closely, you quickly come to the conclusion that if geology is wrong, then the basis of all physics and chemistry have to be wrong too.