"How Old is the Earth?"

Response to the Old-Earth Arguments of Theologian 

Desmond Ford

The Genesis Debate

August 2008


 Dr. Desmond Ford

The Genesis Debate

Sean D. Pitman, MD




Table of Contents






Ford (thick chalk deposits):

Is it quite certain that the earth is old as geologists declare? Yes, it is quite sure. Even the Geoscience Research Institute of SDAs now admits this (after denials of decades). The proofs run into scores, of which perhaps five percent are questionable. For example, under the South Downs of England lie about 800 feet of chalk. These deposits are composed of tiny organisms, which sank to the ocean floor after death, taking about 1,000 years to form one inch of chalk. Think of the White Cliffs of Dover. Every microscopic fragment of it was once living. The present color testifies that these cliffs were not the product of a catastrophic flood.






I'm not quite sure where Ford gets the idea that Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) actively promotes the theory of an old geologic column?  I don't think GRI is nearly that "progressive".  I personally know several who currently work at or closely with the GRI who strongly support a young age model for at least a large portion of the geologic column. Timothy Standish, Leonard Brand, and Arthur Chadwick, to name a few well-credentialed well-published scientists, strongly support the concept of a young age for much of the geologic column and for life on this Earth.  Leonard Brand, in particular, published a fairly recent paper explaining his views on the global nature of the Noachian Flood and of the recent origin for much of the geologic column as a result of the Flood and its aftermath (see Link).  Arthur Chadwick's unique work on paleocurrents is also quite interesting in this regard (Link).


As far as chalk deposits are concerned, thick chalk deposits, such as those as dramatic as the White Cliffs of Dover, are actually evidence of catastrophe on a massive scale - not the slow uniformitarian interpretation so common in mainstream literature.  


These white chalk deposits are a very pure type of limestone composed almost entirely of calcium carbonate, which originally belonged to trillions upon trillions of microorganisms to include foraminifera, calcareous algae, coccoliths, and rhabdoliths.  While living, the habitat of these creatures is in the upper 100 to 200 meters of the open ocean. When they die, their calcium-rich shells settle down on the bottom of the ocean floor up to 5 km below the surface of the ocean.  Below this depth there is little accumulation due to the dissolving of the calcium carbonate into the ocean water before it reaches the bottom.  That is why tall underwater mountain peaks have a "snow-capped" look to them.  When they die, it is estimated that it takes up to 10 days for the microscopic bodies to settle onto the bottom of the ocean floor with an overall average accumulation rate of 1 to 8 cm per thousand years. 


Now, given that the White Cliffs of Dover are about 400 meters thick, it would seem to be a matter of simple math to establish the hypothesis that this much chalk would take at least 10,000 years to produce just one meter of chalk - - or over 4 million years to produce a layer 400 meters thick!  In fact, mainstream geologists suggest that it took around 10 million years to form the Cliffs of Dover. Obviously, that's a very long time.  How then can the Cliffs of Dover really represent catastrophic conditions and extremely rapid formation?


It gets worse than this.  Some geologists have estimated that if all of the creatures that form the chalk beds were living at the same time, they would cover the entire planet to a depth of at least 45cm.1 It is argued that there wouldn't have been enough energy from the sun to support such a biomass or enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to enabled the production of all the calcium carbonate needed by that many microorganisms.2


How are these challenges answered by Young Earth Creationists (or Young Life Creationists like myself)?


Well, under certain conditions these microscopic creatures are able to mass-produce themselves in truly enormous quantities - hundreds of thousands of times more than usual.  These masses of microscopic life are called, "algal blooms". 


Usually, these blooms are associated with significantly increased nutrients that enrich the water as the result of some sort of contamination/pollution event or catastrophe or when the water becomes exceptionally warm.  Sometimes these blooms become so massive that they can be seen from outer space (see illustration; Link). These bloom conditions produce up to 10 million organisms per liter of ocean water.6


Now, consider that calculations that assume only 100 organisms per liter of ocean water show that the entire thickness of the White Cliffs of Dover could be produced within 1,000 years.3 What would a concentration 100,000 times as great due to this time span?    


But what about the sheer mass of chalk-type calcium carbonate produced?  All the limestone contained within the Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary layers form around 17.5 million cubic meters of rock.  Not all of this is chalk, of course, but let's just assume that it is for a minute. Some fairly simple calculations show that only 12.5 million square kilometers of ocean area (only 2.5% of the Earth's surface) is needed to produce 17.5 million cubic kilometers of chalk within 1,700 years given a concentration of only 100 organisms per liter.4 Again, given the nutrient-rich bloom conditions described above, that certainly doesn't seem all that overwhelming to the concept of a young geologic record - does it?


The problem with anti-catastrophist arguments is that many of them assume that these chalk beds had to have been formed within the one year of the Noachian Flood.  That's not true at all.  The Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary layers likely followed the main flooding event before the continents had been split apart and started forming large mountain chains and ocean trenches.  The ocean basins immediately after the main catastrophe of the Noachian flood would have been fairly shallow and filled with massive quantities of nutrients.  The microorganisms would have gone wild producing diatomaceous blooms larger than can be imagined - large enough to bury and preserve very large creatures, like articulated whales!  How does one bury a whale in chalk at a rate of a few centimeters per thousand years?


In this line, the fairly recent discoveries of fossil whales (Miocene/Pliocene) in western Peru are quite interesting. Leonard Brand (Ph.D. in Paleobiology from Cornell) comments, "In our survey of the area, we found the fossil remains of more than 100 whales in an area of less than two square kilometers… What was even more exciting was the well-preserved nature of the fossil remains. . .  Typically, when a whale dies at sea, the carcass falls to the bottom and becomes the source of a rich ecosystem. Many species of sea life benefit from the decaying remains at each stage of the process. Within four to six months, the whale carcass has been mostly stripped down to the bones. At that point, other species of organisms burrow both into the bones and the surrounding sediment. Within a year or two, the whale bones show much evidence of these burrowing animals." 5 


So, how did the whales in western Peru meet their end? "These whales were incredibly well-preserved," Brand observes, "suggesting that they were covered quickly." Brand found that the whale remains were blanketed by a thick layer of diatomite (silica remains of diatoms). These tiny creatures, known collectively as plankton together with dinoflagellates, are part of the food source for whales. In modern times, diatomite normally accumulates on the sea bottom at a rate of a few centimeters per thousand years. "We also found beautifully preserved baleen," he adds. Baleen refers to the filtering feather-like structures in the whale's mouth that are used to strain out food (plankton) from the water. "Whales feed by gulping in water and forcing it out through the baleen, trapping the tiny plankton." Baleen is actually more akin to the human fingernail or toenail in its structure. "The well-preserved baleen supports the theory of a quick burial to an even greater extent." 5 Other similar though arguably less dramatic discoveries have also been published in earlier papers.7


But why did these whales (and other kinds of preserved creatures) die in the first place? "There is more and more evidence that red tides--blooms of diatoms and dinoflagellates--produce toxins which can kill large animals and fish," he says.5 These massive blooms were so large that they not only killed the whales, but buried them in thick layers before any significant decay could set in.  If this find does not prove the reality of rapid chalk deposition, I don't know what does?


The very purity of these chalk beds should cause one to question the uniformitarian paradigm.   It is very hard to imagine how the very high level of purity of calcium carbonate could have been maintained over millions of years without the incorporation of significant amounts of contaminate material?  Rather, given a period of relative calm following a series of shortly spaced massive watery catastrophes on a global scale (as indicated by the Biblical account and numerous extra-Biblical cultural legends of a Noachian Flood), the oceans would have been both relatively warm and nutrient rich (from all of the killed, buried, and floating organic material).  Such a situation would have produced massive algal blooms on a global scale such as the world has never seen before or since.8 



1.     Schadewald, R.J., 1982. Six 'Flood' arguments creationists can’t answer. Creation/Evolution IV:12–17 (p. 13).

2.     Morton, G.R., 1984. The carbon problem. Creation Research Society Quarterly 20(4):212–219 (pp. 217–218).

3.     Roth, A.A., 1985. Are millions of years required to produce biogenic sediments in the deep ocean? Origins 12(1):48–56.

4.     Woodmorappe, J., 1986. The antediluvian biosphere and its capability of supplying the entire fossil record. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism, R. E. Walsh, C.L. Brooks and R.S. Crowell (eds), Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Vol. 2, pp. 205–218.

5.     Leonard Brand, Taphonomy of fossil whales in the Miocene/Pliocene Pisco Fm., Peru, Dept. of Natural Sciences, Loma Linda University, 2004 ( http://www.llu.edu/llu/grad/natsci/brand/whale.htm )

6.     Seliger, H.H., Carpenter, J.H., Loftus, M. and McElroy, W.D., 1970. Mechanisms for the accumulation or high concentrations of dinoflagellates in a bioluminescent bay. Limnology and Oceanography 15:234–245.

7.     (Reese, K.M. 1976. Workers find whale in diatomaceous earth quarry. Chemical & Engineering News 54(42):40.).

8.     http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v8/i1/chalk.asp




Think of the varves that run sometimes into millions in some geographic locations, such as the Green River district in USA. Each varve (a varve is a pair of distant layer of sediment) represents the climatic changes of a single year . . .





Varves are sedimentary layers generally interpreted as being laid down in a yearly banding pattern with one varve being laid down once per year, like tree rings.  A true varve consists of a couplet of summer silt and winter clay, a period that is difficult to demonstrate.  It is thought that by counting the varves in a lakebed, one can determine a fairly accurate age for that lakebed. Ancient dates are calculated for these lakebeds using varves, sometimes into the millions of years based on varve estimates. In the fall 1994 issue of Science Speaks, Don Stoner (1994) stated that the Green River Formation of Utah, Colorado and Wyoming "contains more than four million annual layers." He then says, "Obviously, this means that the lake existed for millions of years before it disappeared." 


This is a great theory.  It certainly sounds reasonable at first glance.  However, there are just a few problems with this theory.  Multiple varves are now known to form very rapidly in certain situations.


Buchheim and Biaggi (1988) measured Green River Formation "varves" between two volcanic tuff beds each two to three centimeters thick.  Geologists consider each tuff bed a synchronous layer, i.e., every point on that tuff bed has the same age. The two tuff beds thus represent two different reference times. If the laminations in between these two beds are annual layers, the same number of layers should be present everywhere between the two beds. Buchheim and Biaggi found the number of laminae between the tuff beds ranged from 1160 to 1568. 


Lambert and Hsà (1979) measured "varves" in Lake Walensee, Switzerland and found up to five laminae deposited during one year. From 1811, which was a clear marker point (because a newly built canal discharged into the lake), until 1971, a period of 160 years, they found the number of laminae ranged between 300 and 360 instead of the expected one per year or 160.


Some rather interesting experiments with varve formation have also been done.  Julien, Lan and Berthault (1994) experimentally produced laminations by slowly pouring mixtures of sand, limestone and coal into a cylinder of still water. Using a variety of materials, they found that laminae formed if there were differences in size and density of the materials and that the thickness of the laminae depended upon differences in grain size and density.


Fischer and Roberts (1991) state, "In some cases the observer counting varves is left in doubt as to which couplets are varves and which are subvarve units, a matter that was handled in our image analysis varve counts by arbitrarily counting only variations above the 30 micron level." In other words, they arbitrarily chose 30 microns as the minimum thickness to be used for computer analysis. However, many laminations are less than 30 microns thick. Also, many of the "varves" consist of organic layers squeezed together with very tiny carbonate laminae in between. There is no consistency in varve structure.


Geologists have suggested other causes of lamination as potential contributors to varves, including storm events, turbidites and glacial meltwater. Each one of these is aperiodic, producing laminations with no relation to annual or other cyclic processes. For example, turbidity currents from melting snow or heavy rain produce extra couplets.


Our investigations supported de Geer's first contention that sediment-laden floodwaters could generate turbidity underflows to deposit varves, but threw doubt on his second interpretation that varves or varve-like sediment are necessarily annual.  (Lambert and Hsa, p. 454)


Turbidity currents can mimic varves, especially at the end of the flow that is farthest from the source or sediment. (Hambrey) Many supposed varves are multiple turbidity current deposits and do not represent seasonal changes.


It is very unfortunate from a sedimentological viewpoint that engineers describe any rhythmically laminated fine-grained sediment as 'varved.' There is increasing recognition that many sequences previously described as varves are multiple turbidite sequences of graded silt to clay units...without any obvious seasonal control on sedimentation. (Quigley, p. 151)


Turbidity flows have the surprising ability to deposit silt and clay quickly in equal thicknesses. Under normal conditions, silt usually settles in a few days and clay can take years to settle.


As both clay and silt fractions are transported to the site of deposition at the same time, successive surge deposits are likely to have similar proportions of silt and clay. In other words, thick silt layers will have thick clay layers, and thin silt layers will have thin clay layers. (Smith, pp. 198-199)


Turbidity flows are independent of season and can continuously deposit microlaminae throughout the year, including the winter:


In many cases where large ice lobes or glaciers sit or float in lakes, there is year round delivery of sediments and turbidite activity occurs almost continually resulting in graded laminae that are not true varves. (Quigley, p. 152)

 How many varve-like layers form from year to year becomes anyone's guess. Wood (1947) describes peak river inflows after light rain that deposited three varve-like couplets in two weeks. Just as we have seen in many situations, e.g., stalagmite and canyon formation, strata deposition, and fossilization, time is not the essential factor for their development, although evolutionists insist that such things took much time to form. While evolutionary catastrophists admit rapid formation, they almost invariably propose long periods of tedium between catastrophic events. (Ager)



Steve Austin, who has done much field work at Mount St. Helens, documented in his new book Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe (see announcement on last page) that the volcano eruption produced 25 feet of volcanic ash varve-like deposits from hurricane-velocity surging flows in five hours.


  1. To summarize the above findings:

  2. Controversy exists as to the source material comprising varves as well as the mechanism of their cyclic formation.

  3. Lamination counts in historically known sections have been demonstrated not to correspond to elapsed years or counts are inconsistent.

  4. There is frequently uncertainty as to how many laminations constitute a varve and the use of arbitrary minimum sizes may lead to erroneous conclusions.

  5. There are many nonseasonal mechanisms for producing laminations such as storms, floods, turbidites, glacial meltwater and spontaneous segregation of dissimilar materials. All of these causes of laminar deposits indicate that varve-like laminations are a common effect of many nonseasonal processes.

  6. Various materials that decay rapidly over time, such a delicate leaves, have been found extending through many "annual" varve layers (see above photo).


For references and additional information see Link.




 . . . and a multitude of other features of earth give the same testimony as radiometric dating.




The problems with radiometric dating are legion.  It might not seem like it at first glance, but the whole process is highly subjective.  Many of the methods do indeed "agree" with each other - but this is not an objective agreement because they are calibrated against each other.  I go into the problems of calibration, 'tuning', and other problems with various radiometric and other related dating techniques at:



As just one example of how various dating methods do not agree (and there are many), consider the topic of tektites.  





Tektites are thought to be produced when a meteor impacts the Earth.  When the massive impact creates a lot of heat, which melts the rocks of the Earth and send them hurtling through the atmosphere at incredible speed.  As these fragments travel through the atmosphere, they become superheated and malleable as they melt to a red-hot glow, and are formed and shaped as they fly along.  It is thought that the date of the impact can be dated by using various radiometric dating methods to date the tektites. For example, Australian tektites (known as australites) show K-Ar and fission track ages clustering around 700,000 years.  The problem is that their stratigraphic ages show a far different picture. Edmund Gill, of the National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, while working the Port Campbell area of western Victoria uncovered 14 australite samples in situ above the hardpan soil zone. This zone had been previously dated by the radiocarbon method at seven locales, the oldest dating at only 7,300 radiocarbon years (Gill 1965). Charcoal from the same level as that containing specimen 9 yielded a radiocarbon age of 5,700 years. The possibility of transport from an older source area was investigated and ruled out. Since the "Port Campbell australites include the best preserved tektites in the world ... any movement of the australites that has occurred ... has been gentle and has not covered a great distance" (Gill 1965). Aboriginal implements have been discovered in association with the australites. A fission-track age of 800,000 years and a K-Ar age of 610,000 years for these same australites unavoidably clashes with the obvious stratigraphic and archaeological interpretation of just a few thousand years.



"Hence, geological evidence from the Australian mainland is at variance, both as to infall frequency and age, with K-Ar and fission-track dating" (Lovering et al. 1972). Commenting on the above findings by Lovering and his associates, the editors of the book, Tektites, state that, "in this paper they have built an incontrovertible case for the geologically young age of australite arrival on earth" (Barnes and Barnes 1973, p. 214).



This is problematic.  The argument that various radiometric dating methods agree with each other isn't necessarily true. Here we have the K-Ar and fission track dating methods agreeing with each other, but disagreeing dramatically with the radiocarbon and historical dating methods.  These findings suggest that, at least as far as tektites are concerned, the complete loss of 40Ar (and therefore the resetting of the radiometric clock) may not be valid (Clark et al. 1966). It has also been shown that different parts of the same tektite have significantly different K-Ar ages (McDougall and Lovering, 1969).  This finding suggests a real disconnect when it comes to the reliability of at least two of the most commonly used radiometric dating techniques.     

In short, it seems like fission track dating is tenuous a best - even when given every benefit of the doubt.  It is just too subjective and too open to pitfalls in interpretation to be used as any sort of independent measure of estimating elapsed time. (see Link)


Older, Younger, Older, Younger . . .

Another example that really builds confidence in radiometric dating is the assumed age of the Grand Canyon. Originally, the Grand Canyon was thought to have started to form some 70 million years ago as the Kaibab started its uplift around that time.  This opinion was popular in the early 1900s and lasted for about 50 years or so (Link).  It was even supported by radiometric dating.  However, the popular view of the age of the Grand Canyon began to evolve downward over time and ended up at around 5.5 million years by the 1970s or so.  

This view lasted until around 2002 when researchers from Arizona suggested that catastrophic lava dam failures in the Grand Canyon would have significantly reduced the time needed to carve it.  They estimated that the age of at least the western part of the Grand Canyon should be reduced from 5.5 Ma to around 600,000 years. They even started calling the Grand Canyon a "geologic infant" (Link) (Link). 


Then, in 2007, a group of researchers (largely from Arizona and New Mexico) published their work on argon-argon dating (40Ar/39Ar dates) of the Grand Canyon.  They argued that earlier 40K/40Ar dates indicating that Grand Canyon had been carved to essentially its present depth before 1.2 Ma, were significantly off base.  Their own calculated ages were all <723 ka, with age probability peaks at 606, 534, 348,192, and 102 ka (Link).  As low as 100,000 years?  Wow, now that's a significant reduction!


This view didn't last very long before being challenged by the research of another group that decided, in 2008, to date the canyon with another radioactive dating method (uranium - thorium).  Using this method on samples taken from near the bottom of the Canyon, these researchers think they have "pushed back [the Grand Canyon's] assumed origins by 40 million to 50 million years" and maybe by as much as 60 million years "to the time of the dinosaurs" (Link).


During this same year (2008) a different group from New Mexico used a "recently-improved technique [uranium-lead dating of calcium carbonate precipitates] to date mineral deposits in cave formations in one layer of the canyon's rock and arrived at the more ancient age of 16 million to 17 million years old" (Link). 


What's going on here?  The assumed age of the Grand Canyon starts out old, then becomes a "geologic infant" and then gets old again - all depending upon which dating technique one decides to use?  That's a real confidence builder in the reliability of various dating techniques and how well they "agree with each other" if you ask me.  I mean, the differences in these age estimates aren't just a little bit different.  They are orders of magnitude different! 


In this same line, the very same thing happened to Mather Gorge and Holtwood Gorge in Pennsylvania. These gorges were once thought to have eroded over the course of 1.8 million years based on geochronological and radiometric age calculations. However, in 2004 research measuring  beryllium-10 levels (the measurement of beryllium-10 that builds up in quartz when exposed to cosmic rays) done by Luke J. Reusser, a geologist at the University of Vermont in Burlington, and other colleagues, suggests that these gorges my be as young as 13,000 years instead of 1.8 million years.  


Now that's a real confidence builder in the reliability of radiometric dating if you ask me!  It seems like one could probably do better by just guessing!  Yet, mainstream scientists scoff at the idea that these features, many of which show clear evidence of massive catastrophe involved in their formation, could not have been formed within just a few thousand years?  - based on what?  Can these scientists produce anything significantly more reliable?  Judging from their historical estimates, it doesn't seem like they really have anything all that solid to go on.




Do not evolutionary scientists reason in a circle when they date strata by the fossils and vice versa? George McCready Price, that good and learned man, taught so. But he was wrong, as almost all SDA scientists now admit. Radiometric dating and comparison of the sequence of strata in all continents have made Price's views untenable.




Not if the assumptions of radiometric and other forms of dating are themselves largely subjective and often circular - and many of them are.  Outside of the problems with radiometric and other dating methods already mentioned above, consider the following report of a conference in which the whole concept of tuning was attacked by Richard Muller.


        "Muller scored the most points at the meeting when he attacked a standard technique, called tuning, that oceanographers use for dating layers in sediment cores. The task of dating these strata is difficult because sediments may accumulate more quickly during some eras and more slowly in others. To tell the age of layers between known benchmarks, researchers often use the Milankovitch orbital cycles to tune the sediment record: They assume that ice volume should vary with the orbital cycles, then line up the wiggles in the sediment record with ups and downs in the astronomical record.

        "This whole tuning procedure, which is used extensively, has elements of circular reasoning in it," says Muller. He argues that tuning can artificially make the sediment record support the Milankovitch theory.

        Muller's criticisms hit home with many researchers. "He scared the hell out of them, and they deserved it," says Broecker."


Richard Monastersky, "The Big Chill - Does dust drive Earth's ice ages?", Science News, vol 152, October 4, 1997, pages 220-221. (http://www.muller.lbl.gov/pages/news%20reports/ScienceNews.htm)



See also the related topic of Milankovitch Cycles and the Age of the Earth (Link).



Uranium-Lead Dating


Also consider the problems with Uranium-Lead dating - thought to be one of the most reliable independent dating methods of all.  This dating method has very subjective elements to it.  Consider a paper published in the October 2004 edition of the journal Geology - by Turner et al.  The authors in this paper dated the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary at a location in Germany to 360.7 million years using uranium-lead dating applied to thirteen zircon crystals.  The zircons were subjected to air blasts, then heating and soaking in acid solution for days to make as sure as possible that any contaminants were removed.  After all of this cleaning, only 5 of the 13 zircon dates were kept and published.  Why where the results of the majority of the zircons thrown out?  Because, they "yielded impossibly old dates" and were said to be "inherited" zircons that were previously formed and then included in the younger magma during its formation and subsequent ash production.  


            "On the basis of 13 analyses (single zircons or zircon fragments), a younger zircon generation of 5 analyses is distinguished from older zircon generations (Table 1).  The latter, obviously inherited [i.e., formed in earlier periods], yielded 207Pb/206Pb ages of 444 to 2044 Ma (Table 1).  The abundance of Precambrian ages is a remarkable feature; note that no inherited zircons were detected in the study of Claoué-Long et al. (1992).  The error ellipses of the older zircons are clearly separated from a tight concordant cluster of the five youngest zircon analyses, which yield a 206Pb/238U concordia age of 360.5 ± 0.8 Ma (Fig. 2A).  This age is interpreted as the crystallization age of the comagmatic zircon population and thus the time of eruption of the ash." 

Trapp et al., “Numerical calibration of the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary: Two new U-Pb isotope dilution-thermal ionization mass spectrometry single-zircon ages from Hasselbachtal (Sauerland, Germany),” Geology, Vol. 32, No. 10, pp. 857–860, doi: 10.1130/G20644.1.



Plutonium-Uranium-Xenon Dating


Another example of selective use of data to meet preconceived notions is from 2004 paper published by Turner et al in the journal Science.  The scientists discussed evidence for extinct plutonium-244 in Australian rocks dated at 4.2 billion years old.  Plutonium-244 has a half-life of 82 million years.  The authors, Turner et al., begin by assuming Pu-244 was well mixed within the cloud that presumably formed the solar system.  Since the Australian rocks are assumed to be among the oldest on earth, they wanted to determine the ratio of plutonium to uranium (Pu/U) for clues to the early evolution of the earth.  Xenon-136 would have been produced primarily by the more rapidly-decaying plutonium-244 in the early years of the earth, then the slower-decaying uranium-238 would gradually have predominated; but the ratio is so low, .004 to .008, that U tends to overwhelm the contribution from Pu unless the rocks are older than 3.8 billion years - according to the authors.


To test their hypothesis the scientists extracted eight tiny zircon crystals, just 50-200 millionths of a meter in size, from rocks they claimed are up to 4.1 to 4.2 billion years old.  Detecting xenon in such a small grain – a quadrillionth of a cubic centimeter – is beyond the range of most instruments, "comparable to blank levels and sensitivities of conventional noble gas mass spectrometers" (i.e., the instrument would show no xenon at all).  So, Turner and his colleagues developed a more sensitive instrument - two orders of magnitude more sensitive (i.e., 100 times more sensitive).  Using this new instrument, they found a few thousand atoms of xenon per zircon crystal. They then measured the xenon isotope ratios from the eight zircons and graphed their results.  Only two of them fell on the expected Pu/U ratio line expected from the age of the rocks, compared with ratios measured in meteorites which presumably predate the formation of the earth.


The other six were "discordant," or off from their expectations by 24% to 97%.  The authors explained that, "This could be the result of preferential loss of the earlier-formed Pu xenon or the result of chemical fractionation of Pu and U during or before the formation of the zircons."  How can this be, since they say "Xe is at least as strongly retained as Pb" in zircon crystals?  Well, lead has also been found to leach out of zircons, and these crystals have been through a long, wild ride: "Nevertheless, Pb loss associated with metamictization is commonly observed in zircons, and, given the antiquity and complex history of the ancient [sic] detrital zircons, it is likely that loss of Xe will also have occurred in a portion of our samples".  This history could have included "diffusion or recrystallization events" and other metamorphic processes.  Most of the loss would have been early on, when plutonium production of xenon dominated, according to their model, so that explains why the ratio fell short of expectations.  "To be more definitive requires an additional relationship between the time of Xe loss and the degree of loss," they suggest. 

Turner et al., “Extinct 244Pu in Ancient Zircons,” Science, Vol 306, Issue 5693, 89-91, 1 October 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1101014].


Now, I don't know about you, but all of this sounds quite subjective to me with more than a few indirect assumptions being brought to bear on the final calculations.  Again, the majority of the measurements aren't even accepted as being correct.  Not quite a directly calculated non-biased radiometric age. . . or so it seems to me.

Additional information can be found at the following Link.



"God spoke, and it was. He commanded, and it stood fast," refers to the certainty of his creative work, not its duration.




I suppose that is why God took the time to repeat himself so often by describing his act of creating life on this planet "in six days"?  - - to include the additional description of "evenings and mornings"?   I find it hard to imagine how one could describe literal days of creation any more clearly if one wanted to?  If all God wanted to convey to us is the "certainty of his creative work", why all the extra filler detail describing spans of time and other specifics of his creative or miraculous activity that weren't quite accurate - not even close?   It seems to me that it would have been better to say nothing at all than to say so specifically that he created "in six days" delineated even more specifically by "evenings and mornings".  


You see, in order to establish a firm basis for belief in the certainty of God and his creative work, we must have some sort of evidence of his activity that is actually testable and consistent with his own claims of what he has done.  Otherwise, where is the basis for a reasonable belief in the very existence of God - much less the certainty of his creative work?




Other evidences of the earth's great age, which are almost universally accepted by specialists in the earth sciences include the following:  The multitude of oil drills in the U.S. alone testifies to the reliability of accepted geological data. A fortune is regularly spent based on this research. There are literally hundreds of places around the world where the same sequence of strata appear.






The massive size of similar sedimentary layers covering major portions of continents and sometimes the majority of the entire globe is actually more consistent with catastrophic conditions acting over a very flat landmass.  Notice that these sedimentary layers are universally very flat relative to each other. The world millions of years ago must have been a very very flat place indeed.  Notice also that there is little erosion preserved between these flat layers.  The contact zones themselves are very flat as well.  Strange that such features should exist given the uniformitarian notions of those proposing such long spans of time to explain these sedimentary layers.






Is the geological column an established fact? It is, and has been so since 1849, by which time correlations had been made between strata in England and European countries.




Agreed.  The geologic column is a fact.  The question here is not if it exists, but what does it mean?   Does it support slow uniformitarian ideas or a more catastrophic interpretation?  As it turns out, catastrophism is actually gaining some ground - even within mainstream science.  Consider the following statement of Robert Dott published in a 1982 edition of Geotimes:


"I hope I have convinced you that the sedimentary record is largely a record of episodic events rather than being uniformly continuous. My message is that episodicity is the rule, not the exception. . . We need to shed those lingering subconscious constraints of old uniformitarian thinking."


Dott, Robert H., Presidential Address to the Society of Economic Paleontologists & Mineralogists, Geotimes, p. 16, Nov. 1982


Even in mainstream thinking, the huge amounts of elapsed time are no longer thought to be recorded in the building of the layers themselves within the geologic column.  The majority of elapsed time is thought to have passed by in-between the layers - for the most part.  This is a big step away from uniformitarian thinking and toward a notion of some form of "punctuated equilibrium".  It isn't too much more of a leap to end up with a rapid shortly-spaced sequence of massive catastrophic events to explain both the geologic and fossil records.





Think of coral reefs, sometimes forty miles long and of great height and thickness.




This is a common argument, which is interesting to me since these supposed "reef" formations aren't really reefs at all.  In other words, they do not represent in situ growth and formation.  Rather, they are conglomerate deposits of fragments of coral and other materials into an embankment of sorts.  For example, the Thornton Quarry 'reef', near Chicago, does not match any of the characteristics of a modern reef.  The 'core' of this reef shows no growth structures and is the wrong shape.  The angle of the reef is too steep, reef binding organisms are absent, a solid foundation rock is absent, and the reef is riddled with fossil tar, indicating rapid deposition, not slow growth.1  Also, investigations of assumed 'reefs' in Australia2 and Europe3 also reveal that they did not grow in situ, but were transported and dumped into place. 


When investigated with more than superficial interest, fossil reefs really do not pan out as true reefs, but are depositional structures much more consistent with catastrophic flood models than with slow uniformitarian notions of formation.  Rather than being a problem for catastrophic models for the geologic column, these 'reefs' actually provide very good evidence for the catastrophic model.



1.     D’Armond, D.B., Thornton Quarry deposits: a fossil coral reef or a catastrophic Flood deposit? CRSQ 17(2):88–105, 1980.

2.     Roth, A.A., Origins: Linking Science and Scripture, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Maryland, pp. 239–241, 1998.

3.     Scheven, J., The Flood/post-Flood boundary in the fossil record; in: Walsh, R.E. (Ed.), Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pp. 247–266, 1990.



The oilfields of the Great Lakes area, Texas, and Alberta were originally beneath the sea and the thousands of feet of sedimentary rock that piled up contain multitudes of marine fossils. On top of these sedimentary deposits coral reefs grew which ultimately because fossilized into limestone. Some of these are many miles long and about a thousand feet thick and required many thousands of years to develop. On top of these reefs are more layers of sediment upon beds of mud - only after the sediments became rocks did coral edifices begin.

The Bahamas Banks are underwater mountains of sedimentary rock enormous in size and containing what has been described as "one tremendous stack of fossil material". These banks have steeply sloping sides, evidence that the fossils grew in place and were not deposited from elsewhere. Millions of years were required for these massive banks to grow.





The coral reefs of the Bahamian Banks are tertiary reefs.  Even according to mainstream thinking these reefs are no older than 120,000 years old.  No older in situ fossil corals, or other subtidal deposits, have been found subaerially exposed anywhere in the Bahamas (Link).  Millions of years where not required for these in situ formations to grow - even by mainstream thinking. 


Beyond this, other reefs, like the Eniwetok Atoll (~4,600ft thick) thought to have taken around 175,000 years to form, aren't really built entirely of coral.  The Eniwetok Atoll rests atop the surface of a submerged volcanic seamount. The entire thing is composed of corals as well as calcerous algae, foraminifera, echinoderms, oysters and so forth, which are cemented together to form the 'reef' (Link).  In other words, the framework of a coral reef can trap sediments and other materials.  In this situation the live coral would not have to build the entire mass of the reef, but only build a framework to hold the sediments. This situation would allow for a much more rapid growth of a reef vs. that suggested by coral growth rates taken from surface measurements (i.e., usually less than 10 mm per year).  In fact, actual soundings of reefs carried out during the 1930s suggest that a reef framework can grow much more rapidly.  Sewell (1935) reported 280 mm/year in the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, and Verstelle (1932) reported a maximum rate of growth of 414 mm/year in the Celebes (Dutch East-Indian Archipelago). At such a rate, the entire thickness of the Eniwetok Atoll could have been formed in less than 3,500 years instead of the usually suggested 175,000 years of growth.  Even by surface measurements, some species of coral can grow quite rapidly. Lewis et al. (1968) found in Jamaica a maximum rate of 264 mm/year. Shinn (1976) studied the growth of this species following destruction in a hurricane near Florida. He estimated linear growth rates of 100 mm/year.  Experiments also suggest that one can nearly double such rates of coral growth by raising the temperature 5ºC or by increasing the carbonate ion content of seawater (Link).


Even by conventional dating, the seas are supposed to have been over 100 meters lower 20,000 years ago, before the "great ice melt", and, before then, the sea-level was abruptly higher and the coral could not have survived. Therefore, a continuous coral reef vertical development "for 175,000 years", according the uniformitarian calculations, would be highly improbable.




J. Verstelle, ‘The Growth Rate at Various Depths of Coral Reefs in the Dutch East-Indian Archipelago’, Treubia 14:117–126, 1932.




Sedimentary rocks become metamorphic rock only under the combination of tremendous heat and pressure - temperatures of about 600 degrees centigrade and pressures of 30 tons per square inch, for long ages of time. . .







The creation of metamorphic rock does require great heat and pressure, but not great periods of time.  Given sufficient heat and pressure, metamorphic changes can be realized in very short order.  For example, fairly recent studies on Norwegian metamorphic rocks have shown that their metamorphic condition must have been produced in "ten years or less" - and this is according to mainstream thinking (see Link; and references below).






The Bible says nothing precisely about the age of the earth. Chronologies indicate descent not a chronological line. Terms such as, "begat", and "son", do not in Scripture always have the meaning we now give them. "Begat" can mean "the ancestor of," and "son," can mean a distant descendant. Scripture begins its story of the human race at the time when both writing and civilization began (and when earth's population was much less than one percent of what it is now), and never attempts to convey supernaturally any information man himself can find out by using the gifts God has richly bestowed upon him. We see this truth best illustrated in the teachings of Christ himself, and it was his Spirit that inspired the Old Testament writings.




I suppose that is why Jesus specifically referred to the prophecies as evidence of God's hand behind the scriptures?  He also specifically referred to the creation account of Genesis, as well as the flood, as literal events. 


If we could find out all of the truths listed in the Bible concerning us, our origins, why we are here, and where we are going, what is the point in having the Bible given to us by the miracle of Divine inspiration?  - a supernatural interference by God himself?  Beyond this, what evidence is there that God had anything at all to do with the creation of the Biblical texts if they contain nothing within their pages that is actually beyond the capability of human ingenuity and/or creativity?


I would like to ask Ford upon what basis does he rest his belief on other metaphysical claims of the Bible that are clearly beyond our human ability to test or confirm - such as the so called "virgin birth", the incarnation of God, the resurrections of the dead, the New Earth, Heaven, and eternal life?  Perhaps these notions are simply symbolic as well?  How do you know?





Continental drift with its inconceivably slow movement also demonstrates the earth's great age. Denied by scientists till after World War II, continental drift is now widely accepted.








Even I believe that continental drift happened and is happening.  The question is, did it always happen in the past at the same rate as it is happening today? - in a uniformitarian manner?  The clear answer to that question is no. The drift was much much faster in the past than it is today.  In the same way that crashing cars slow down very quickly after the initial point of impact takes place, the continental plates are slowing down very quickly after their collision with each other. 


Consider that it takes a great deal of energy to form great mountain chains and ocean trenches.  That energy is rapidly being dissipated.  There is simply no known force that can continue this sort of energy expenditure over hundreds of millions of years without being rapidly exhausted.  The current drift is simply the feeble remnants of the original catastrophic release of energy, rapid drift, and massive continental plate splits and impacts.


As evidence for a fairly recent separation of the continents consider the fact that they still seem to fit together pretty well (see illustration) despite separating from each other some 200 million years ago?  - really?  Continental erosion and deposition rates along the edges of exposed continental plates alone are far too great for the continents to fit so well if at all after 200 million years of elapsed time.  


For further discussion of continental drift see the following Link.




It is estimated that ninety-nine percent of coal seams are readily explained by the burial of vegetation in tropical swamps to be ultimately metamorphosed into coal. Coal reserves equal approximately 65 pounds of coal for every square yard of the planet, and yet a whole forest of full-grown beeches can only yield a seam of about 2 centimeters. No universal flood could ever have produced the gigantic coal contents of our globe. Most coal seams are devoid of flowering plants, trees, or the pollen found in recent sediments. Most of earth's strata, including the coal layers are finely arranged and not at all what the destructive work of a great flood would have yielded.






Ford seems to forget that before the Noachian Flood there were no great oceans.  The Earth was one vast landmass watered by four great rivers and innumerable springs and "fountains".  It didn't need to rain because of this extensive watering system that turned the whole world into one huge very rich garden paradise. There were no vast deserts of either land or sea.  All was rich and green and vibrant.  The amount of animal and plant life sustained before the Flood at the same time was truly enormous. 


The notion that the massive coal seams that exist today can be generally explained by slow burial over massive amounts of time in tropical swamps does not explain the general purity seen throughout some of the worlds most massive coal deposits.  Note the following comments published in a 1993 article in Earth Magazine, "Powder River Coal: Geologic enigma, environmental dilemma":



Powder River coal seams run remarkably thick and unsullied by other material.  Usually, unwanted sediment such as clay washes over a deposit before coal seams can get very thick. But Power River coal is packed in immense strips, some more than 200 feet thick. These seams stretch vast distances up and down the basin. "They're hundreds of miles long. They're fifty miles wide." says James McClurg, a geologist at the University of Wyoming.  "They're not little pods of an acre or two. They're immense things."  McClurg, who has studied the basin for more than a decade, says "No other place in the world has as many seams 50 feet or more thick.  But, the Powder River basin is not only an economic resource.  To geologists, it's also an intriguing scientific enigma.   Geologists have been studying the basin for more than a century, largely to answer a baffling question: How did the seams get so massive? Or more precisely, why weren't the seams diluted by influxes of clay and other impurities before they thickened?"  He adds, "It would be like blindfolding yourself, spinning around, and hitting the center of a dartboard one-hundred times in a row."



Rather than the sorted and purified features of coal being a problem for a concept of a Noachian flood deposit, these features are very difficult to explain without the sorting and concentrating properties of water on a massive catastrophic scale ( see Link ).


And, as far as pollen goes, does Ford not know that pollen, spores, and fragments of vascular plants have been found in both Cambrian pre-Cambrian deposits? such as the Salt Range beds in India?  - and that these findings have been published, unchallenged, in mainstream literature? (see Link )


The Yellowstone Fossil Forests have in one place 44 successive forest layers that are encased in rock that was formed by volcanic ash. Beneath the forests are thousands of feet of fossiliferous rock. SDA paleontologist, Dr Richard Ritland, after considerable field work at the site, wrote, "The transport theory for the origin of the fossil forests of the region as suggested by Whitcomb and Morris is not in harmony with the facts." Creation and Evolution, p. 130





What kind of argument is this?  An argument from authority is simply not convincing here.  Where is the evidence to support the notion that these successive 'forest' layers are actually forests? 


What is interesting about these places (ie: Yellowstone National Park were up to 65 different layers can be found with trees in the vertical position) is that the trees are still oriented in their positions with each other.  Their “soil” is also found to be water sorted (course to fine), and often is found half way up a tree instead of at its base.  This organic material also averages only 3 cm in thickness and, for many of the "forest" layers it is missing altogether.  In some areas, such as Mt. Hornaday, as many as 43% of the forest layers have no organic layer at all.  The lower layers of Specimen Creek generally do have organic layers (96%), but the upper layers of Specimen Creek have far fewer organic layers.  It turns out that the average "forest" without an organic layer to is about 24%.  It seems rather strange for a forest to grow into full bloom without forming an organic layer.  How is this explained? 


Another strange finding of the organic layers is the fact that they are sorted in various ways.  Take for instance the fact that pine needles and leaves are not mixed together, but are found in separate organic layers despite the fact that there are both pine and hardwood trees "growing" from the same organic layer(s).  Also, the are proportionately less pine needles than there are leaves even in areas that are dominated by conifers.  In a real forest, conifers drop a much higher mass of needles than deciduous trees drop leaves.  And yet, in the fossil forests of Yellowstone, needles are relatively sparse even at the bases of large fossilized conifers.  This interesting fact has been recognized as far back as 1899 when Knowlton remarked about the absence of needles in the organic levels associated with the large fenced petrified tree near Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone National Park.  One would expect to find great numbers of sequoia needles and some cones, since most of the upright trees are sequoia (70%). However, large numbers of broad leaves and only a few pine needles are seen in the organic levels. Sequoia needles were rare or absent. Although petrified sycamore stumps are not common, leaves of sycamore are the most abundant broad-leaf fossils.  It is also interesting to note that, despite a heavy predominance of sequoia trees, fossilized sequoia cones are very rare in the fossil forests of Yellowstone National Park.  This taxonomic sorting seems quite strange indeed unless one uses a catastrophic model involving flood such as occurred during the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.  In water, pine needles become saturated and sink before leaves sink.


Pollen is another problem.  Trees with wind-transported pollen, such as walnut and sycamore, should have left a pollen record in the forest floor, but little or no pollen of these two has been found.  Modern forest floors contain pollen in abundance inversely proportional to the distance from the source trees especially trees for which wind is the pollen-transporting agent. Research done on four levels of Specimen Creek Petrified Forest showed no positive correlation between fossil pollen abundance and the proximity of possible source trees.


The organic layers themselves also show no significant decay as one goes from top to bottom.  In a real forest floor, organic material decays.  Evidently, this does not happen in the forests of the past because the leaves at the bottom of organic layers are just as well formed as preserved as the leaves at the tops of these organic layers.  Also, the material between the leaves is sorted, course to fine as one moves upward (Consider the figure at the right).  Evidence for such water sorting occurs in about 70% of the organic layers. 


There is yet another problem with the intermittent burial of forests by volcanic activity and mud-slides.  If a volcanic mud slide buried only the lower parts of the trunks of the trees of a growing forest (as might be suggested by the fact that some of the upright trees penetrate overlying layers), the taxonomic composition of the new forest that grew on this new surface would be similar to the composition of the forest that was buried. The cones, seeds, nuts, and fruits would fall from the unburied branches and foliage and repopulate the new surface with a similar forest. Such correlation between adjacent levels of the Specimen Creek Petrified Forest has not been found.


The normal maturation of soil also involves the slow breakdown of feldspar and other minerals into clay.  Out of 65 layers of Specimen Creek in Yellowstone National Park, only nine bands of clay were found among only seven organic layers.  Horizontal sampling of two of the clay bands at 2.5 - 3 m intervals for 30 m showed a constant mineral distribution. Abundant unweathered feldspar is scattered throughout the Yellowstone organic levels, suggesting repeated rapid burials. None of the 58 organic levels outside the 9 bands of clay contained detectable amounts of clay. The apparent absence of clay in the majority of levels (implying that normal weathering of soil did not occur) raises questions about the passage of long time intervals between levels. This datum also questions the validity of the assumption that the organic levels (upon which trees with hundreds of rings sit) represent true soils. Furthermore, the sudden abundant appearance of clay in a few horizontal bands that included both organic levels and layers of clay in the associated breccia beds between levels suggests transport rather than in situ formation of the clay minerals.


Despite much study of the Yellowstone Petrified Forests, no animal fossils have been found. Why are animal remains absent from the plant fossil-bearing levels of Yellowstone? Because forests would be expected to harbor a wide variety of animals, some of which would be buried by the successive mud slides, the absence of animal fossils has been a mystery. Volcanic activity could have caused larger forest animals to flee elsewhere, but flight cannot be used as an explanation for the absence of all animal remains because many animals could not or would not leave their forest habitats. Land snails, some amphibians and reptiles, many insects, arachnids, and worms would not escape burial. Immature members of many types would be unable to flee. In addition, bones, eggs, teeth, scales, molted skins, castings, droppings, burrows, etc., would qualify as evidence of animal life. None of these have been found in the fossil forest organic levels during a century of research. Considering that delicate plant parts are excellently preserved, animal remains should also have been preserved if they were present. Only one exception is known. Remains of termites have been found in chambers within the petrified wood.19  If the petrified trees are standing where they originally grew and if the organic levels are the growing surfaces still intact and undisturbed, the absence of animal fossils is difficult to explain. If, however, the trees and the organic debris making up the soil levels were transported by water, the separation of animals from the plants before burial is much easier to explain. 


The volcanic ash found in the various layers is itself is quite interesting.  The chemicals that make up the ash are uniform throughout all the layers.  In fact, there are only four unique chemical patterns to be found in the ash of Specimen Creek.  Spark source mass spectrometry analysis of trace elements in the bands of ash revealed pulses of ash from four source areas for the Specimen Creek Petrified Forest.  The four trace element profiles interweave in an irregular manner up the sequence of 65 organic levels of Specimen Creek Petrified Forest. If these 65 ash layers (organic levels) were laid down over a long time span, the ash that was laid down thousands of years later near the end of the series of ash eruptions would have changed sufficiently to produce a new and different trace element profile (a new "fingerprint"). This has not been the case. The rapid burial of the whole sequence seems to be required. 

The root systems of the upright stumps seems to be a main argument in favor of their in situ growth.  Of course, some of the petrified trees have broken roots; but when were they broken? Even if a permit to collect petrified wood within the park is obtained, excavation of stumps is not permitted; furthermore, digging is difficult in the hard rock. Consequently, to determine if the root breakage seen is pre- or post-petrification is difficult. Several examples of abrupt root terminations from Mt. Hornaday, Mt. Norris, Tom Minor Basin, and Specimen Creek strongly indicate that, at least in some cases, the tree roots were broken before the trees were buried by volcanic gravels and muds. This evidence supports the view that the trees were transported.  However, small rootlets can be located at the bases of upright stumps, and this feature has been used to argue against transport.  Observations in Spirit Lake near Mount St. Helens and of trees uprooted by bulldozing operations show that the small roots and rootlets are usually still intact, but the larger roots are usually broken (See Figure).  The presence of small roots extending from the base of a petrified tree therefore is not evidence for an in situ interpretation unless large roots also extend unbroken. Broken and frayed large roots could be the result of changing stream currents eroding the bases of growing trees, but such activity should leave evidences in the sediments. Furthermore, erosion must be limited; otherwise, trees would be removed or toppled.


If a forest were killed by a mud flow that buried the bases of the trees, the tops of the trees would extend above the new ground surface. They would overlap a new second forest that would commence growing on the new surface. During the time of the growth of the new second forest (before it in turn was buried by another volcanic mud slide) the old first forest snags would have time to rot, to be infested with insects, and to break drown. Even the tops of stumps that reached only to the root area of the second forest level (no actual overlap) would also be expected to experience decay. The soil in which the roots of the second forest grew would not be a good preserving medium for the tops of the stumps extending up from below. One of the striking features of the Yellowstone petrified trees is their good preservation. If pieces of the petrified wood are prepared as microslides, the wood tissue may look nearly as fresh as tissue from a living tree. Seldom do they exhibit any evidence of decay and weathering. This suggests that the trees have not been subjected to these processes during the passage of time.


The parallel orientation of the horizontal logs, mentioned earlier, is better explained by water or mud transport. The dip of the beds from which the trees arise seldom exceeds 7° which is not enough to cause all the trees to fall downhill. Prevailing winds or volcanic blasts could align fallen trees, but they would not cause the long axes of the cross-section of the upright stumps to have a similar compass alignment. The asymmetry of the cross-section of a stump, especially at its base, is usually a result of the influence of major roots that cause flare to extend for some distance up the stump. Volcanic lahars (fast-moving volcanic mud slides) or currents of water or mud could be the forces that acted on roots and trunks to produce similar alignment for both stumps and logs. Modern forests do not show the degree of orientation that the fossil forests of Yellowstone show.  This orientation seems to speak for catastrophic transport and against in situ forest growth.


One of the first observations made when research commenced on the petrified forests was the barkless condition of both the horizontal and upright trees. Subsequent examination has revealed some thin layers of bark remaining on a few of the trees. In addition to the trees being mostly barkless, all the branches have been broken off. Even large branches, 25 cm or more in diameter, have been removed. Only scoured stubs remain on the tree trunks. Trees buried and later excavated by water erosion during the eruption of Mount St. Helens did not have all the bark or limbs removed. Trees floating for a period of time in turbulent water would more likely lose bark and branches due to softening of the bark and abrasion. Considering the fact that modern trees often sink in water in the vertical position, a catastrophic model seems to be the best explanation for these findings.  A massive flood, burying layer upon layer of sedimentary material in quick succession, seems to be at the very least, plausible. 


The eruption of Mount St. Helens and the resultant flooding in locals such as Spirit Lake might offer some insights into how the stacked forests of Yellowstone might have formed.  The floating log raft in Spirit Lake does in fact provided some insights on taxonomic sorting. Most of the stumps sitting erect on the bottom of Spirit Lake are Silver Fir, Nolle Fir, and Hemlock. Douglas Fir, abundant in the surrounding forests, has only 2.2% representation. Sampling of the trees in the floating raft solved this discrepancy; 48% are Douglas Fir. Apparently this species is more buoyant and resistant to water saturation. Cedar was represented by 2.2% of logs floating in the lake; yet the surrounding forests contained a higher percentage of cedars. Sampling of the broken wood pieces along a transect on the shore gave 11% for cedar. Some of the erect trees floating in the lake or standing on the lake bottom are over 20 m tall. The argument that tall petrified stumps must be in position of growth does not apply to a flotation scenario. The flotation of organic matter (including trees in an upright position) as illustrated in Spirit Lake at the base of Mount St. Helens provides a model for interpreting the upright petrified trees of Yellowstone. Trees and plants will float vertically when there is sufficient water and time. The research at Spirit Lake helps explain the presence of the organic layer at the level of the roots. Saturated organic debris sinks to the lake bottom to produce a layer of organic matter. Upright floating trees also have dropped out of suspension onto the bottom of Spirit Lake in a spacing pattern similar to that of growing forests. They are not jumbled together in log jams as might be expected.


Some have argued that Spirit Lake is not a good analog for the Yellowstone Fossil forests, because the large number of logs accumulating on the bottom of Spirit Lake very different from the more scattered fossil logs and stumps in Yellowstone. However, one important difference between the two deposits is that Spirit Lake has not had adequate sediment input to bury the sinking logs and stumps. If the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption had been followed by a series of volcanic breccia flows into Spirit Lake, spaced long enough apart to bury successive sets of logs and stumps as they sank, it would likely have produced a deposit very similar to the Yellowstone Fossil Forests.


If this is not yet convincing, these same trees were studied to see if they might have matching patters of growth in a tree-ring analysis.  Matching patterns of growth would be highly unlikely if the trees lived thousands of years apart in time.  In 1991, Dr. Michael Arct presented such a study for his PhD dissertation (building upon research that he had been doing since 1979).  He sampled fourteen fossil trees at different levels in a twenty-three foot section of the Yellowstone formations.  Analysis showed that all fourteen trees matched and that ten of them died at the same time.  The other four trees died seven, four, three, and two years before the other ten died.  The theories of ancient formation no longer seem to match the facts available.


For references and further information on this topic see Link.



But what about the universality of the Deluge? Because there is no geological evidence of a worldwide deluge, most evangelical scholars believe that the Genesis Flood covered the existing civilization, not the entire globe. Others believe that the inspired writers took a well-known historical event of limited proportions and used it to teach theological truth, transcending mere history, which is never an end in itself in the Bible. When John Morris of the Creation Research Institute was asked if he had ever convinced a secular geologist regarding flood geology, he answered, "No." Furthermore, flood geology is no necessary accompaniment of belief in a universal flood.




This argument is like asking Ford if he had ever convinced an atheist of the existence of God.  The same could be said for the story of Noah - was the truth of Noah's claim of a pending flood dependent upon the belief of the "expert opinion" of his day?  Does a lack of belief among mainstream "experts" today really mean there isn't any solid evidence?  Hardly.  Take a look at the story of J Harlen Bretz for a striking illustration of what mainstream bias can do to cause the experts of the day to ignore or misinterpret otherwise overwhelming evidence (Link).


Beyond this, John Morris has been instrumental in convincing several secular scientists of the relatively young age of the geologic and fossil records - even if he didn't realize it.  Walter Veith is an interesting example (Link). Walter J. Veith obtained his doctorate in Zoology from the University of Cape Town in 1979. While senior lecturer in Zoology at the University of Stellenbosch from 1979 -1987, he became convinced that the theory of evolution he was teaching was fundamentally flawed - and that young life creationism actually made more sense.  This change of heart was in no small part due to the work of John Morris.


As far as the Biblical story of the Noachian Flood goes, this story doesn't make any internal sense at all unless it refers to a truly universal flood.  It makes no sense to tell Noah to build an Ark over the course of a hundred plus years if the flood is going to be some local event.  Why not just tell him to move out of the local area?  It also makes no sense to bring all the varieties of land animals into the ark for preservation if the flood is going to be local.  What about the wicked people?  How is a local flood going to wipe out all the wicked people described in the Genesis account?  Is the building of the Ark simple a curiosity to act as a decoy to get everyone concentrated in the same flood valley to wipe them all out at once?  The story simply makes no sense at all give the notion of a local flood - - even without mentioning the fact that Jesus read it very literally and so did all of the other Biblical writers that mention it (as does Ellen White who claims to have been shown the Flood in vision and to have discussed it with her angel messenger).  For those who claim to be SDAs and to believe that Ellen White had any form of Divine inspiration, how can such a liar be inspired at the same time?  Either Mrs. White was honest in her claims of what she was shown, or she was a liar - or perhaps just schizophrenic?  How can you have it both ways? 

On the flip side of the coin, if Ford doesn't believe in the Biblical support for a world-wide flood or a literal creation week, what kind of support does he have to believe in any other statements of the Bible that are not directly verifiable?  - like the Virgin Birth or the resurrection of the dead (both of which are scientific impossibilities as far as modern science is concerned)?  At some point, even Ford, as a theologian, has to disagree with the opinions of mainstream scientific experts when it comes to the basis of his own religious beliefs.  Otherwise, what can Ford point to as evidence for any of the metaphysical claims of the Bible? - to include the very existence of God himself?  


If someone asked Ford for some sort of solid testable potentially falsifiable evidence for God's existence, I wonder what Ford would come up with as an answer? - an answer that did not contradict mainstream science in some fundamental way?  Would Ford argue, as some theologians do, that, "Belief in God is based on Faith, not Science"?   I hope not.  What good is blind faith or personal revelation when it comes to giving someone else a solid hope in the future?  We'd be better off not having the Bible and its pages of fairy tales and moral fables.  I would think God would do better than that if he really wanted us to have some sort of solid basis for belief in not only his existence, but the goodness of his character, his love for us, and the trustworthiness of his promise to "give us hope and a future" beyond this life of endless heartache, pain, and death (Jer. 29:11).  



The geological column points to death long before the arrival of man. Did not death begin at the Fall? Scripture teaches that all human death began with the Fall. In a creation such as we live in, existence is protoplasmic--that is, acting upon existing life. Otherwise, the sea would soon be solid fish, and the atmosphere a mass of insects. When Adam ate his first piece of fruit, obviously he took its life. It may help to remember, as we look at difficult questions, that God's work in creation is as mysterious as his own nature. Indeed, mystery is a key word used by many recent scientists as they discuss both the beginning of life and of humanity.





We aren't talking about orange peals here or some prick on the finger.  We are talking about the self-aware suffering of billions of sentient creatures over hundreds of millions of years.  Would anyone want to worship a God who would call such situation "very good" (Genesis 1:31)?  If even we in our fallen human condition have sympathy for sentient animals, what does God feel when he sees even the suffering of a little sparrow as it falls wounded to the ground (Matthew 10:29)?  What is the need then to make everything new? - to notice that all sentient life on this planet groans and travails in pain together until now?  (Romans 8:22). Would any of us actually feel absolutely at ease in a place where a lion is able to happily munch on a lamb?  How is that "Good"?  Yet, according to Ford's argument, it seems like this sort of thing might actually be a "necessary evil" in the New Earth - - in order for the current order of things to continue.  Otherwise, "the sea would soon be solid fish" or the land a solid mass of lions, tigers, and bears . . . oh my! 


I think Desmond Ford mistakes the current "order of things" for the way they have to be or were intended to be.  The sea would not be a solid mass of fish given a limited need for reproduction in a place where there is no need to replace the dead.  I mean really, Ford's argument here doesn't hold water since the very same argument could be used for humans as well.  Without death, even relatively slow human reproductive rates would fill the planet to overflowing in very short order.  We'd be wall-to-wall humans before the start of the next millennium without death to cull the population.  Will these "necessary evils" have to be applied to human life as well in the New Earth?  I don't think even Ford would like that idea.  So, how does his logic really apply here?  Think about it.  Things will hopefully be very different than they are now in the New Earth - for humans as well as all other sentient creatures in God's universe.  As a theologian, how does Ford get around this?


But what about the argument that when Adam ate the fruit of the garden, the fruit lost its life?  Therefore, there obviously is death - even in the New Earth and in Heaven as well!  It is true that once the apple is eaten, it no longer exists as an "apple".  That can be defined as a sort of "death" of something that used to be and no longer is.  I agree, but no one cares about the death of non-sentient things that are not self aware. Plants, bacteria, and the like, while arguably alive, are essentially biosystem robots that help maintain the place.  They have no apparent sense of self and cannot experience suffering or pain in any real sense of the word.  That is why the diet of all sentient animal life, to include human life, was originally limited to a plant-based diet. (Genesis 1:29,30).  This is also why Inspiration specifically points out that modern meat eaters, like the lion, will no longer eat meat in the New Earth, but will "eat straw like an ox" (Isaiah 65:25).  What is the point of such a promise if it were not a painful aberrancy in God's universe to have sentient creatures eating and being eaten by other sentient creatures? - the Law of Tooth and Claw?  If that is such a good law, why change it for a creature like a lion?


Now, I have had very intelligent people tell me that if a lion became vegetarian that it would no longer really be a "lion".  Well, I guess that all depends on how one defines what it means to be a "lion".  Certainly the current nature and dietary requirements of a lion will not be the same in the New Earth - according to Inspiration.  The old lion "order" will no longer exist - that's true.  That sort of lion, with its degenerative dietary requirements (it is functionally more complex to be able to eat straw vs. meat), will indeed be extinct.  But will anyone wish to trade the new and improved vege lion for the old meat-eater version?  Not me!



"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev. 21:4)



Additional Related Topics:


Review of Ervin Taylor's Review

Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 46, No. 1, 83-90.

Sean Pitman

August, 2008



Review by: 


Prof. Emeritus, Anthropology, University of California

Riverside, California



[Canale] insists that scientists “dismiss supernatural revelation as an invalid source of information on which to build their views” or that scientific methodology “disregards the existence of God and his revelation in Scripture as fantasy”. In point of fact, for the vast majority of scientists of whom this author is aware by personal contact or reading of their writings, it is not a matter at all of “dismissing” supernatural revelation as fantasy or “disregarding” the existence of God or his revelation. The core of the scientific impulse in Western scientific thought, almost from its inception, sought to express no opinion on the subject of the supernatural—it neither rejected nor accepted the existence of God. A “scientific approach” to a given topic is characterized by a set of methodological understandings—one of which is that naturalistic causes are the only agents to be employed in any scientific argument. The “supernatural” was defined as outside of its purview. That Canale is not aware of this simple consensus understanding suggests that he either may have not read very deeply in the history of science or perhaps finds it difficult to understand this approach.




It is also my own experience that many if not most mainstream scientists try very hard to separate "science" from "religion" - - as if these studies do not overlap at all.  While this certainly is a common argument, I for one do not understand it.  How can one arrive at any opinion of any "truth" that exists outside of the mind without at least some testable potentially falsifiable evidentiary basis? - i.e., "science".


I once asked a prominent scientist at Loma Linda University (who also believed that his religious beliefs were independent of his scientific theories) to name just one thing that he believed to be true that was not subject to testing or potential falsification.  He quickly responded, with a sly smile, that he knew that his wife loved him and that this truth was not subject to testing or to potential falsification.  I then asked him what he would do if I gave him a video of his wife having an affair?  His face turned a bit red and he said rather sharply, "I'd believe my wife".  He then suggested very strongly that I never put my own wife, "to the test". 


The problem, of course, is that we all put our loved ones "to the test" every day - even if it is done subconsciously.  My notion that someone else loves or does not love me is based on some sort of physical testable evidence that gains predictive value over time.  I mean really, if I came home one day and my wife hit me on the head with a frying pan as I walked through the door, told me all kinds of hateful things, and continued to do so on a regular basis over a many days and months (and I knew that she wasn't medically ill), I might begin to doubt my love hypothesis - - as would anyone in a similar situation.  Why?  Because the physical evidence is no longer consistent with the predictions of my love hypothesis.  That's what makes it a valid potentially falsifiable "science" - in a very real sense of the term.  It is the basis behind a book that was fairly popular recently (part of the Oprah book club) entitled something along the lines of, "She's just not into you".  When this sort of thing happens, there's really very little that one can do about it.  One can live in a fantasy world and ignore all the signs, as some battered and abused spouses often do.  Or, one can accept the reality of the evidence and move on.


Sure, some truths are known absolutely, without the need for testing or potential falsification.  For example, the fact that I love my wife is absolute.  No one can argue with me.  I need no external physical evidence to derive this truth - because it is internally known.  The same is true of the fact that I like vanilla ice cream.  I don't need to test it.  It isn't open to potential falsification.  No one can argue with me.  Why?  Because it is an internally-derived truth. 


So, is God like vanilla ice cream?  Is the idea that God exists or that God actually loves me an internally derived truth? - a truth that is beyond the need for physical evidence or potential falsification?   Unless God specifically talks to me directly, which he has yet to do by the way, how is it possible for me to know that he exists at all, much less believe that He loves me? 


Erv Taylor, in particular, noted in a very public forum that he would not know what to tell his own granddaughter if she asked him for evidence of God's existence.  Yet, he says that he believes that God does in fact exist.  Based on what?  How can a belief that God exists be more meaningful than a child's belief in Santa Claus without any physical testable potentially falsifiable evidence?  Is such a belief anything more than wishful thinking or living in a fantasy world? 


This sort of thing seems to me to border on a form of benign insanity.  In fact, I think that some atheists, like Richard Dawkins, are much more consistent in their thinking than is Erv Taylor and many others in his camp (Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller, Fritz Guy, John Baldwin, Desmond Ford, etc) who try to draw a sharp dividing line between science and religion.  Rather, it seems to me that the two can and should be one in the same.  In fact, many of the most brilliant scientists who have ever lived believed them to be one in the same - i.e., that there was no dividing line at all between science and religion.  These great pioneering scientists actually believed that their science was an attempt to study the very mind of God Himself.





Canale is also profoundly misinformed concerning the relationship between evolutionary biology and geochronology. While it is correct that biologists utilize the geochronological framework in their efforts to understand rates of evolutionary change, the contemporary geological time scale does not depend on any assumptions about biological evolution. The core data that geochronology depends upon derives primarily from research in such diverse fields as biochemistry, geochemistry, geophysics, and, above all, nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry. None of the critical data derives from evolutionary biology. It is simply factually incorrect to state, as Canale does, that geochronology is structured “by assuming biological evolution”.




The fact is that Darwinian-style evolution is dependent upon there being vast spans of available time.  Without these millions and even billions of years of available time, Darwinian-style evolution wouldn't be tenable - even within mainstream thinking.  It is largely because of this recognized need for vast spans of time that many experiments and observations within mainstream science have been bent to match this bias.  Consider, for example, the dating of the hominid scull KNM-ER 1470 (Homo habilis).  The dating of this skull and the overlying volcanic ash (KBS tuff) was dramatically modified several times (ranging from 1.8 to 220 million years).  The original 220 million year date for the tuff was not questioned until it became necessary to question this date. The parameters upon which "acceptable dates" were determined were largely based upon pre-established age parameters which where themselves based on evolutionary assumptions.  For more information on the dating of KNM-ER see the following link:





Dalrymple and Lanphere sum what may be taken as a circular element to radiometric dating in the statement, "If the potassium-argon ages of a group of rocks agree with the stratigraphic sequence, determined on the basis of physical relationships of fossil evidence, then the probability is good that radiometric ages are reliable..."


Dalrymple and Lanphere, Potassium-Argon Dating, Principles, Techniques and Applications to Geochronology, pp. 197.





Finally, although there are some scientists who do indeed argue that “real things are only those that can be ascertained through sensory perception and/or technological enhancement”, the core constituencies of the mainline modern scientific community express no views about the ontological nature of reality. This is a domain of philosophy and theology. Scientists in their personal lives can and do hold and express a whole range of views—from an absolute ontological atheism to membership and active participation in very traditional faith communities.





I'm not sure I even understand this argument.  Ontology is all about determining or at least questioning what actually exists vs. what does not exist.  It seems to me that science is fundamentally involved with answering certain ontological questions . . . like, "What are an object's properties or relations and how are they related to the object itself?"  That is an ontological question and it is also a scientific question.  As another example, one might ask if there is any evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence?  - - as in the search for ET (i.e., SETI science)? Does ET exist or is there any evidence at this time for the existence of ET?  This is both an ontological and a scientific question. What about Santa Claus?  Is there any evidence for the existence of Santa Claus?  Are you telling me that this question is absolutely beyond the realm of scientific investigation?  If so, how can anyone reasonably come to a point where they believe the existence of Santa Claus to be at least unlikely? 


The same thing can be said for God.  Is there evidence of God's existence?  That ontological question is indeed within the realm of scientific investigation.  Those scientists who hold membership in faith communities without this sort of evidence are living in a fantasy world as far as I can tell.  They are doing nothing more than wishful thinking.  God is nothing more than a nice comforting fairy tale, like Santa Claus, but not really anything more solid than that.


I mean really, Erv Taylor sees no evidence for the existence of God which he is willing to share.  Yet, he calls himself a Seventh-day Adventist Christian in good standing?  How can he really be part of anything more than a social club given that sort of thinking?


This sort of thinking, "Has a form of Godliness, but denies its power" (2Tim 3:5).




In the view of this reviewer, the most glaring problematic aspect of this volume is the author’s assumption that his interpretation of the data received from his reading of the Bible comes directly from God. Creationist perspective, which a reader would assume means his view, he argues, “springs from divine revelation, God’s summary account of his handiwork. . . . Theological data originates [sic] from divine revelation and inspiration.” It appears that it is on this highly questionable foundation that Canale builds the core of his complex arguments. It would appear that Canale assumes that theologians who agree with him obtain their information directly from God and thus can be trusted to provide entirely accurate information about how the world and life upon it came to be. Theologians who disagree with him and almost all scientists obviously do not receive their information from God and thus cannot be trusted to provide the correct answers to these questions. This reviewer will leave it to the reader to evaluate that position.





The argument that the Bible is Divinely inspired in a very special and often in a very direct way does not mean that the Biblical writers or us readers were/are without error.  Information is not perfectly transmitted from God through the Bible to us by any means.  However, this does not mean that the Bible is nothing more than an ordinary human work without the clear markings of superhuman input.  That's not true at all.  Yet, it is because we humans are subject and even prone to error both in recording and in reading the inspired word that it should be left to the individual to determine what God is trying to say through the pages of Scripture.  Sure, it may be helpful to have access to the thoughts and experiences of others to help one come to a better understanding of the Inspired Word, but ultimately, it must be a personal effort outside of the forced influence of anyone else.  Even God himself will not force truth upon anyone outside of his/her own consent.




It has been pointed out to this reviewer that Canale is either not aware of or disagrees with the clear and unambiguous views of Ellen White that the “Bible . . . is not God’s mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. . . . The Lord speaks to human beings in imperfect speech” (Selected Messages, vol. 1: 21 (1890 ed.), 22 (1891 ed.).




As noted above, it seems like this is a misrepresentation of the concept of Inspiration when it comes to the type found within the pages of Scripture.  A lack of perfection of information transfer does not mean a complete lack of evidence, even scientific evidence, of the Divine - a power well beyond human capabilities or even complete comprehension.





Canale’s arguments are conceptually complex but, at their core, they advance an essentially fundamentalist approach to Scripture and employ that approach to endorse retrogressive arguments about how twenty-first-century Adventist Christians should understand the Genesis creation narratives.




It is always interesting to me how people tend to style their own positions as "progressive" while the positions of those who might disagree are "retrogressive". It is also interesting to me how change is always seen as good, while any effort to maintain, in its original form, any aspect of the past as valuable is also seen as "retrogressive" or short sighted.




A number of other Adventist theologians have already pointed out that a positive appreciation of the role of the biblical Sabbath in an Adventist Christian context does not depend on or require interpretations that the Genesis creation narratives be understood as representing actual or literal history.




I'm sure there are a large number of reasons to keep or appreciate a Sabbath rest - any one of which might be quite beneficial and helpful to at least some degree.  It is the position of the SDA Church as an organized body, however, that understanding the Sabbath as a memorial of a literal creation week has additional benefits to those who understand the Sabbath in this context.  In fact, the official organization of the SDA Church sees this particular view as so important and fundamental that it has seen fit to include this view in its very name.  The SDA Church isn't just the Adventist Church, as some at the progressive journal Adventist Today might like, but is in fact the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 




Despite its philosophical sophistication, Canale’s treatise is an exemplar of an Adventist approach to a theological topic that is fatally trapped by its wholesale commitment to a historically and culturally particularistic American nineteenth-century conceptual package. The Adventism of the twenty-first century in North America may have a meaningful future if it can reappropriate and renew the commitment to “present truth” that was exhibited in the nineteenth century when its original conceptions were formulated. However, the general difficulty that established faith communities have in reevaluating the validity and relevance of their original “present truth” messages do not give us much confidence that this process can occur. The tragic results of the recent Seventh-day Adventist Faith and Science conferences provide vivid testimony of how difficult it is for religious traditions once solidified and institutionalized to come to terms with reality.




I really don't see why this is a problem in a free civil society - like what exists in the United States of America at least.  If anyone really thinks the SDA Church is stuck in a rut - or is "fatally trapped by its wholesale commitment to a historically and culturally particularistic American nineteenth-century conceptual package (whew - now that's a mouthful!), then one is most certainly free to leave and go elsewhere - or even create a new Church with new "progressive" views. Why stay with any organization that is so obviously and tragically off-base?  Why would anyone wish to continue to carry the label of such an organization?  Why does Taylor call himself an SDA when he really doesn't believe more than 4 or 5 of the stated fundamental positions of the SDA Church? 


We aren't talking about a question concerning one or two side doctrinal issues, but huge fundamental questions that remove everything about the SDA Church that makes it truly unique.  Taylor's positions, if accepted, completely remove the SDA Church from viability as a unique entity. That, in my view, would be tragic indeed.



 Video of Lecture: Theologians for Darwin


PowerPoint (Link)








. Home Page                                                                           . Truth, the Scientific Method, and Evolution   

. Methinks it is Like a Weasel                                                 . The Cat and the Hat - The Evolution of Code   

. Maquiziliducks - The Language of Evolution             . Defining Evolution    

. The God of the Gaps                                                           . Rube Goldberg Machines  

. Evolving the Irreducible                                                     . Gregor Mendel  

. Natural Selection                                                                  . Computer Evolution  

. The Chicken or the Egg                                                         . Antibiotic Resistance  

. The Immune System                                                            . Pseudogenes  

. Genetic Phylogeny                                                                . Fossils and DNA  

. DNA Mutation Rates                                                            . Donkeys, Horses, Mules and Evolution  

. The Fossil Record                                                                . The Geologic Column  

.  Early Man                                                                                . The Human Eye  

. Carbon 14 and Tree Ring Dating                                     . Radiometric Dating  

 . Amino Acid Racemization Dating                   . The Steppingstone Problem

.  Quotes from Scientists                                                           . Ancient Ice

 . Meaningful Information                                                          . The Flagellum

 . Harlen Bretz                                   . Milankovitch Cycles

 . Kenneth Miller's Best Arguments                                      . Desmond Ford's Best Arguments

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