Saturday, August 29, 2009

Creationists love pointing to the Grand Canyon, saying that it shows evidence of massive flooding. But the dirty little secret they won't tell you is that it shows evidence of not one flood, but many floods.

In the upper-left photo, Dr. Genie Scott illustrates one piece of evidence of multiple flood events. The photo was taken on a hike through North Canyon, one of the tributary canyons along the Colorado River. This would put these rock layers in the mid-Supai group, probably the Manakacha Formation. At her shoulders, is a layer of sandstone which is pretty smooth and clean. It looks rather solid. But at her waist is a layer beneath which is pockmarked and rough. It doesn't look smooth at all. That's because this particular layer once had small invertebrates feeding and digging into the sandy, muddy bottom, looking for food. Later, they were suddenly buried. In geologic terms this is what's called a bioturbated rock layer.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. Above Genie's head is another bioturbated layer, followed by another smooth layer, followed by another bioturbated one, and so forth. Below Genie's feet, is another smooth layer, followed by another bioturbated one, followed by another smooth one, et cetera. So, if the Canyon layers were layed down in a great cataclysm, why did things get calm long enough for little critters to come in and start feeding, then get buried, then get calm again, then have little feeders come in again.... Doesn't this cycle indicate a shallow sea with the occasional hurricane burying things? Doesn't that make more sense than a global flood?

The Canyon is pretty unambiguous about what happened to form it. Many, many floods once passed over those rocks. Not one big one. Many hurricanes, many freezings, many dryings. There will be more on this in later postings, but one big event didn't make the rock formations in that Canyon. To insist so is just plain silly.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grand Canyon's Great Unconformity

Well, I once got my hands on a newsletter from the Midwest Creation Fellowship a few years ago. In it, they list the winners of their 2005 essay contest for junior and senior high school children. The winner? Beth Conway of Alliance, OH. And her essay was about, you guessed it, the Grand Canyon.
Essentially, she argues that one of the best evidences of the Genesis Flood comes from the Great Unconformity. This is a very visible line where angled sedimentary layers suddenly meet perfectly horizontal sedimentary layers. It looks almost as if someone took a kilometer-sized power sander and leveled off everything before more deposits were layed down on top. A picture of the unconformity is shown here, situated behind the portable commode we used while on the NCSE rafting trip. (This way we could contemplate the wonders of nature while, well, answering the call of nature.)
Beth Conway thinks that since the Great Unconformity was caused by the rushing waters of Noah's flood planing off rugged mountainous edges, before the currents settled down and layed down new sediments. But even the biggest amount of rushing water wouldn't level things off in such a perfect way. Waves pounding into a shallow oestuary could level off any jagged edges, but that wouldn't fit perfectly either, plus it would take millions of years, and that doesn't fit the creation model very well. What could have leveled the angled mountaintops before they were buried? What could have caused this pattern?
The best explanation seems to be that it was a glacier which did this. Only a glacier can plane off rugged, jagged mountaintops with such level precision. A massive enough glacier can literally bulldoze over rock, leveling off everything in its path. Also, the rock immediately below the unconformity dates to about 825 million years, while the rock immediately above it dates to about 570 million years, thus making a 255 million year gap in time between the two. Precisely during that gap in time, we know from other geologic evidence that the world was virtually covered in glaciers in the largest ice age the planet had ever seen. It makes perfect sense that a glacier planed off the angled, mountainous layers over 250 million years, before the earth warmed, oceans rose, and sedimentary deposits began to accumulate once again. Certainly, this makes much more sense than claiming that a global flood did it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Blog, Old Blog, and Creationist Madness...

Well, here goes something I have heretofore not yet attempted. I am importing an external blog into my Facebook profile. The Sacred Cow Wursthaus blog is one that I've had going for a little bit, going parallel with a podcast I've had of the same name. The podcast will hopefully return soon, but in the meantime, I'm consolidating my blogging into one area.

Meanwhile I've had another blog for a group which is now defunct: The Milwaukee Evolution League. That group is currently unnecessary with the advent of a new organization called Wisconsin Citizens for Science (which I encourage all my science-minded friends to join).

I'll be taking at least one article from the old Milwaukee Evolution League blog and transferring it to the Sacred Cow Wursthaus each week. Since these articles are not time-sensitive, they're still relevant, and interesting, and I hope everyone will like them. Or agrue about them. Either one is fine.

And now to the good stuff: For those who haven't heard, Creationist kingpin and all-around pain-in-the-ass, Kent Hovind, is currently languishing in jail because he felt that his ministry did not have to pay taxes to the IRS for employee salaries. His son, Eric Hovind, is currently running the ministry.

Well, it seems that a follow-up lawsuit has also not gone Hovind's way. The IRS had moved to seize the property assets of his ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, and liquidate it in order to help pay off the debt. Hovind's family filed to contest that in court. It seems, they've lost again. That means that at least one "Creation Science Museum" will close its doors forever. (One down, about two dozen to go....)

An e-mail, sent out by a desperate Eric Hovind is urging supporters to send in money to help with the transition to new offices in Pensacola, FL, about 1 mile away from the old location that the government is taking over. What's interesting is what he's asking: "It would only take 3,800 people giving $100 to make the difference and help keep Creation Science Evangelism as a relevant and energetic ministry in the creation versus evolution debate." So, CSE is at least $380,000 in the hole, and that's just for relocation. This is less than the amount the IRS says that Hovind's ministry owes, which is to the tune of greater than $500,000. Hovind was convicted in July of 2006, so basically, after three years of begging for donations, he's not seemingly doing so hot.

My personal connection to the story is this: Hovind visited UWM in 2006, and because of the book I'd self-published back in 2004, "Creationism: The Bible Says No!", I was challenged to do a debate with him. He even offered me $300 to debate him. Not having anything prepared, I refused. He later claimed in his speech that "people are too scared to debate," and I think he even said something like "an atheist turned me down today," but I had no intention of being bullied into something I was not prepared for at the last minute. A few months later, Hovind was in jail, and if I'd known that would happen, I might have changed my mind.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. Kent was sentenced to ten years, and three of those are nearly up. An early release is not unheard of, but this is a federal prison, so that's far less likely. When he gets out, and finds that creationism has taken a nose-dive after ten years, he'll go at it again with a vengeance.

Only this time, I'll be waiting for him.